x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Can my bank demand my salary?

Have a problem? Been treated unfairly? Our consumer advocate is on the case for you.

I have a personal loan with Emirates NBD, but after numerous problems with my account I have opened another current account with a different bank, and now have my salary paid into that one. I have been contacted by Emirates NBD asking why there is no regular payment and insisting that my salary be paid to them. Do I have to comply and if I don't, what will they do? DT Sharjah This is standard practice from most banks in the UAE, and a spokesperson from Emirates NBD has clarified as follows: "With reference to your query regarding personal loans, kindly note that if a customer wishes to take a personal loan then he must arrange for an automatic transfer of his salary to his account with the bank. The condition applies to personal loans. If he then arranges for the salary to be paid to another bank, then the loan should be fully settled."

This stipulation is one way that the bank ensures loan repayments are met each month and treated as a priority by the borrower, thus reducing the risk of debt defaults. This condition is part of the loan agreement that was signed at outset. Last year, I booked airline tickets with my Emirates Islamic Bank (EIB) credit card. The day before the departure from Dubai, my wife was admitted to hospital. I tried to cancel or postpone the flights, but Air Arabia's customer service said they were unable to issue a credit note as the flight was less than 24 hours away. My EIB insurance covers "trip cancellation" so I thought I could claim through this. Firstly, it took several calls to EIB before someone acknowledged that it offered this insurance, after which they gave me an e-mail address to make a claim. After I submitted the claim (and chased it up several times), I was eventually told that the insurance would only cover me if the flight was cancelled by the carrier, not by myself, even though it was a medical emergency. When I pointed out that their insurance "benefit" made no sense, I stopped receiving responses.

RP Dubai The issue was passed to Emirates Islamic Bank, which responded quickly. A spokesperson advised: "While the bank sympathises with the situation that the customer went through, the terms and conditions of the flight cancellation policy are quite clear in that our customers are covered in the event of a carrier cancelling the flight. Outside of that, then the customer is liable. The benefit the customer is getting here is that usually an airline may just book the passenger on another flight and not refund him in case of flight cancellation." EIB has been directly in touch with RP to clarify the issue and to apologise for the failure in responding properly sooner. My advice would be to contact the airline directly to see if they would be willing to consider a refund given the specific and serious circumstances, but I suspect that too much time has elapsed for this to be considered now.

After getting laid off from my government job, my visa is being cancelled and I have now 30 days to leave the country. But I don't want to leave yet. A local friend is willing to sponsor me privately while I search for another job, but he does not know exactly how. He has a PRO (public relations officer) but asked me to find out exactly what I want. What are my options? I know of three: 1. setting up a company, which costs money; 2. private sponsorship, which is when he hires me at one of his companies (which I assume he has); and 3. individual sponsorship, which means I'd be on personal staff. Is this correct? What would you advise? What kind of forms does his PRO need from me? And which government institution knows most about these types of issues?

DP Dubai At the time of writing, DP had yet to have his visa cancelled, but the employer has this in hand and it should only take a day or two. Once this has taken place, he will have 30 days' grace before he has to leave the country. But as an Austrian national, he will also then be able to do a "visa run" to obtain a visit visa for a further 30 days to provide more time to search for a new job. He can set up a company, but that is costly, either as an LLC or in a free zone. It is not a particularly quick option, and unsuitable for a short period. DP's nationality precludes him being employed as a houseboy, or similar, on a domestic sponsorship, but if his friend wishes he can take him on as an employee at one of his companies, assuming a suitable role is available. This would involve full sponsorship with the employer, providing both a residency visa and labour card, although these will pertain to work for this company only. As the companies are based in Dubai, the company PRO will make the arrangements with Dubai Naturalisation and Residency Department (DRND) and as the application is by a company they can do so online, although paper applications are also available.

DP will need to supply his passport and photographs and attested degree certificate. He may also need to accompany the PRO to the DRND to expedite the visa application. There should be no requirement to leave the country to validate the new visa once it is added to his passport. Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser with Holborn Assets in Dubai. Write to her at keren@holbornassets.com

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