Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Frustrations of Doing Business in Kosovo

Yesterday I decided to go withdraw some money from my local Raiffeisen bank account using the cash machine at UN Admin HQ.  The machine was out of order so I had to go downtown to the Grand Hotel.  By the time I got downtown, I had pretty much forgotten my new pin number.  My old card expired in March so I was issued a new card and given a pin number by the bank.  Now the funny thing is, you couldn't change the pin number before (starting this month it's a new option on the cash machines.)  But because I got the card back when the bank issued you a pin number along with your card, it wasn't a number that had any meaning to me so after not using my card for a month, I couldn't quite remember the numbers in the right order.
Anyways, I tried three times with the wrong pin number and the machine spit the card out and told me that I had to go visit a local branch.  So today, I went to the Admin HQ branch and spoke to the teller.  She informed me that since I had picked up my card at the downtown branch near OSCE I would have to go back to that branch to put in a request for a new pin code and it would take three weeks.  Sorry, three weeks???  And there is no way you could just unlock the card and allow me to use the old pin number???  No, sorry, you have to go downtown.

Sheesh, what's the point of saying that you have branches all over Kosovo if a customer can't take care of their business at any of the branches?  I've been a customer of the bank before it was even Raiffeisen back in the good ol' days of the American Bank of Kosovo...and there was only one branch during that time and it was downtown.  What if by chance the branch downtown burned down???  Would I then be stuck and never be able to get a new ATM card or pin number because the other branches feel incapable of assisting me as a customer?  It seems strange to me that I am allowed to withdraw my money at the bank but they are unable to help me with other bank business at any other branch than the one that I registered with.