Surprised by fee
I have an Emirates Islamic Bank Visa credit card since August 2007 with a credit limit of Dh20,000. When applying, I was told there would not be any monthly finance charges or annual subscription fees. However, there would be a Dh233 monthly membership fee. When I received the card statement for July and August 2009, I was charged a Dh350 monthly membership fee and a Dh250 annual membership fee. When I contacted the customer service centre, their supervisor said that one annual membership fee was erroneously debited to my account and would be refunded. However, due to the increase in monthly membership fee, it is apparently within the rights of the bank to amend the charges without even notifying the customer. That means, for my credit limit of Dh20,000, I have to pay Dh4,450 yearly as membership fee, irrespective of my outstanding balance. I request Emirates Islamic Bank to give me more clarifications on this so-called membership fee.
From Mr Mohammad Riyaz

The management of Emirates Islamic Bank responds: Unlike conventional credit cards, Emirates Islamic Bank’s credit cards are fee-based cards. Monthly membership fee is a service fee and is charged for the first time on the issuance of the card and thereafter periodically, i.e. the customer is charged a flat fee every month (irrespective of the card usage as in Islamic Banking, the fee is for providing the service and not the amount of credit as in a conventional bank), which allows the customer to use his or her card to the maximum approved limit. The same is being communicated up-front, as this is highlighted on the application form and on the terms and conditions booklet which is an integral part of the welcome pack.

Reduced credit limit
Recently, I received an SMS on my mobile phone from Mashreq Bank. My credit card has been blocked and my limit has been reduced to Dh3,000, when it used to be Dh31,700. I have been a customer for 11 years. When I called them, they said that they cannot do anything about it and urged me to apply for a new card. I enquired about my 77,000 reward points and they said that I could not use it. Their staff members did not respond clearly about why this happened. I don’t even have a single dirham pending in my account!
From Mr Farhat Ali

The management of Mashreq Bank responds: It is quite unfortunate that the customer was inconvenienced. However, it is important that we clarify our perspective. The bank has reduced and blocked the customer’s card, since we noticed that there was no purchase or transaction on the card for a period of six months. As an on-going security procedure, Mashreq has sent an SMS to the customer, informing him that the limit on the card will be reduced and blocked. The message also stated that to restore the original card limit and unblock the card, the customer would need to contact the bank. In the meanwhile, we have restored the customer’s limit and unblocked the card, effective on September 24, 2009, at 1.01pm. In any case, we convey our apologies to the customer for the inconvenience caused.

Missing laptop
At the time of departure from Karachi, Pakistan, my luggage was scanned at the check-in counter and records showed the presence of my laptop. Upon arrival in Dubai, when the luggage was scanned again at Dubai International Airport, records showed that the laptop was missing. I lodged a complaint with Malaysia Airlines. Their explanation: under certain articles/clauses of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the carrier is not liable for the loss of a list of items. They have no empathy.
From Mr Iftikhar Yaqub

Ms Merina Abu Taher, Regional General Manager Middle East & Africa, Malaysia Airlines, responds: We empathise with Mr Yaqub on the loss of his laptop and would like to assure customers that Malaysia Airlines is concerned for the safety and security of our passengers and their belongings. However, under general conditions of carriage as specified by the IATA, airlines do not assume liability for valuables, including electronic items in checked-in baggage. Furthermore, based on our investigation, his baggage was delivered intact, with no damage found.

Mr Yaqub responds: The thief cut the hook which held the padlock, in such a clever way that it appeared as if the baggage is intact. The theft was reported to senior Malaysia Airline staff at the Arabian Travel Market the following day. The airline is not replying to my request to investigate the record of the two scans during check-in at the departure time and arrival time. It is a very serious breach of security that baggage is prone to such break-ins and tampering after check-in. Imagine the enormous risk of thieves having access to baggage after a security check. What good is this security? Where is their credibility and reliability? They must promise to investigate the security lapse, more than the loss of the laptop.

Ms Merina responds: With regards to investigation of baggage scans and security, we would also like to emphasise that the movement of bags and airport security matters falls under the jurisdiction of the airport authorities. As such, it is not appropriate for us to comment on this.

Waiting for refund
I booked a ticket with Emirates and unfortunately, had to cancel it. Emirates agreed to refund the ticket value, minus the cancellation fee and they promised it would be refunded within 14 to 21 days. It was cancelled on May 6 and even a month later, I did not receive my refund. The call centre staff refused to let me speak to a manager to solve the issue and insisted on trying to solve the problem themselves, yet they all failed. The level of customer service I have received is appalling and far below my expectations from Emirates.
From Ms Sarah Brooks


A spokesperson from Emirates responds: Our customer affairs team has been in touch with Ms Brooks and we apologise for the delay in the refund of her ticket. We have offered to waive the refund charges, which she has accepted. We regret any inconvenience caused by the previous delay. The refund has been processed within five days.

Ms Brooks responds: Thank you Gulf News, for your assistance in this matter. I believe it has helped resolve the situation.