Banking and Being an OFW

OFW means Overseas Filipino Worker.

Yes, that’s what I am. In the Philippines, they fondly call it as the New Heroes (Bagong Bayani). Why? Because a big chunk of the country’s economy comes from the remittances of us Filipinos working abroad. We send money to our family at home, they have spending money, there’s taxes to what they buy, country continues to earn, in a way. It’s a cycle.

Yet, why do they make it so difficult for OFW’s to make transactions in the Philippines? They encourage you to continue to open bank accounts yet they make ridiculous requirements like you need to collect your ATM Card in Person (if applying for a new account under your own name) or other stuff.

My credit card with BPI has expired this month and mid last month I have been trying to get them to deliver the cards to my home address in Manila. Last Friday, my mom told me that she was contacted by BPI that they had tried to delivered the cards three times and no one was answering the gate. They had also been trying to contact me and I was not answering. So they were going to make arranges to send it to my home branch.

Now, why do they only contact my home number after failing three times? Why couldn’t they have done that on the first attempt? Or even the second or during the third attempt? I did get a missed call last Thursday while I was asleep, but it was at a time I would not have expected for the bank to contact me. Unless BPI does business now after 7pm, that’s news to me.

Call from BPI Probably

I missed the call by 5 minutes and there was no voicemail left. If they had really been trying hard to contact me, another attempt at a call or even a voicemail would be proof that they were really trying, don’t you think? That’s what voicemail is for after all, to leave messages in if it’s important, right? But ONE phone call and maybe another one to my roaming number which, of course being how dumb Philippine mobile phone providers are especially with prepaid accounts, I couldn’t accept the call even if I have a ton of credit in it. And they call this “an attempt to contact me several times.” I’m sure having an overseas number is a good clue that I’m not in the country. A very good clue.

So now my mother has contacted my branch about getting the cards and they said they cannot accept her postal ID because it is not a valid government ID (REALLY?). They also cannot accept an authorization letter without the original IDs. So what now, you want me to send my passport and SSS ID over there? I actually do use my passport for identification here, in case you are not aware. And the SSS officials here in Malaysia require you to show your SSS ID for inquiries and transactions.

I don’t know if it is worth all the effort to continue my credit card with BPI. I really liked BPI’s customer service before and even its services until now, but this is making me think twice. My mother has another supplementary card with Citibank so it is not a big loss if I cancel this card. I just have to pay off the installments my father and brothers incurred on the account but it’s not really a big deal.

It’s such a waste though. I would be glad if they could straighten this out or just send the darned card to Malaysia.

I will be keeping the savings accounts of course because it’s a hassle to enroll the other payables to other bank accounts. Why? They require paper forms and signatures for these. I know it’s for the security and to avoid fraud, but I’m sure there can be other ways to get around this securely. The country is so backward in so many things that it amazes me.

Malaysia is also a developing country but it’s not so bad when it comes to banking. They effectively make use of the fact that almost everyone has a mobile phone so secure transactions or changes or requests can be done. All banks have deposit machines scattered everywhere. You can pay for services and online shopping with just your online bank account. 

So what now if I have no intentions of visiting home this year? It’s all so effed up. Let us now await for BPI’s callback, if they will call me back. I left a message on twitter and called them and no one picked up and left a voicemail. Whenever I send an email it takes them 2-3 weeks to reply. Okay, I’m done ranting for today.

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