Credimax suspends airline staff credit cards
Manama, February 19, 2013
Credit cards of Gulf Air and Bahrain Air employees have been frozen by Credimax following announcements that the country's two airlines were laying off staff.
Credimax confirmed it had taken the controversial decision to suspend accounts of expatriate Gulf Air staff and all Bahrain Air employees as a precaution, our sister newspaper, the Gulf Daily News reported.
However, the move has sparked anger and some of those affected said they only found out when their Credimax cards were declined as they tried to purchase goods.
A Credimax representative defended the move and said it was done to ensure people who lost their jobs did not run up massive bills and then leave the country - or clock up debts they could not pay back.
He added staff who could prove they were still in their jobs would have cards issued by Credimax reactivated immediately.
"It would be a credit risk for us not to, but we are not cancelling the cards - we are just asking for a salary certificate so that we can know they are still employed," he told the GDN.
"If a certificate is supplied then we will reactivate their account immediately."
He explained that expat staff were those most affected by the Gulf Air downsizing, which is why only credit cards of its foreign employees had been frozen.
"The decision was made because Gulf Air laid off expatriates and there are plans to lay off more," added the Credimax spokesman.
"It is a decision that would be made by any financial institution and it was made as a precaution to protect us, as we don't have indemnity on credit card debt.”
"The Bahraini staff members (at Gulf Air) have not been flagged, but the problem with expatriates is if they are fired they can run up a huge bill and leave the country.”
"Then how will we cover those losses?"
He said the decision had been taken at management level to ensure the financial security of Credimax, which was the first credit card issuer in Bahrain.
The representative also claimed efforts had been made to contact those affected, but those who could not be reached had their services suspended pending confirmation of employment.
He added the decision had been taken to freeze all Credimax cards held by Bahrain Air staff because all of its employees were being laid off in the wake of the decision to liquidate the carrier earlier this month.
"Following the announcement that Bahrain Air was liquidating, the accounts of those members were also suspended until they provide proof of new employment," he said.
The representative added that if Gulf Air informed Credimax of any staff being laid off, there would be no need for such measures.
Gulf Air employees said they were shocked when their Credimax cards were frozen without explanation.
"My card was suspended without getting anything official in writing and I don't understand how they are allowed to do that," one of them told the GDN.
"I didn't think anything of it because a week before there was issues with my ATM card and I found out that everyone had the same issue so I thought it was a repeat of that.”
"By Saturday I called the Credimax call centre to find out why my card was still not working and I was told that it was cancelled because I worked at Gulf Air and that I need to find another job to get it again.”
"I was furious and didn't know what to do, but on Sunday I received a call from Credimax saying that they were updating their information and that I needed to give them a salary statement for their record.”
"I asked to speak to a superior who told me that Gulf Air staff will be required to provide statements of salary as proof of employment."
Meanwhile, another of those affected said that she had actually left Gulf Air four years ago and was currently working with another firm that had nothing to do with either airline.
"I tried to use my card at the supermarket when it was embarrassingly declined, so I called the customer care line," said the former Gulf Air employee.
"They told me that they have suspended my card because I worked for Gulf Air, but I haven't worked for Gulf Air for four years.”
"I did receive a call before from them saying that they were updating their information and asked me to send my salary certificate to an e-mail that ended with invita.com, so I was suspicious.”
"I asked them to write me an official request because I don't trust giving any information on the phone these days with all the warnings and fraud out there, but I didn't get a response and later I found my card service was suspended.”
"All I wanted was written confirmation because when they first called they said they just wanted to update their information - there was no warning of suspensions or anything.”
"What is even more puzzling is that they have the information from my current employer and the mailing address is to my office.”
"Couldn't they have seen that as a sign that I am employed elsewhere?"
Both people who spoke to the GDN later confirmed that their credit cards had been reactivated by last night after supplying the necessary information to Credimax. – TradeArabia News Service