ABSA, joining the FNB camp of non-cooperation – not interested in the blind or visually impaired

Difficulties regarding independence, recognition, rights, etc. is an ongoing fact of life if You are a person living with a disability.

Recently I got quite involved in the accessibility and disability rights arena.

I encountered touch screen card machines on one of my shopping trips but, dismissed it and shopped somewhere else instead but, when I received an email regarding the experience of another person, I realized that this is going to become a problem.

I quote:

My request to you then, do you have sufficient contact with the others banks mentioned above to address this matter? It simply is not acceptable that a blind person will have to be dependent on someone else to enter his / her PIN at these point of sale machines.

End of quote:

Now, this is only one issue that was raised.   There are a number of other concerns such as:

ABSA Consultant: Who is going to sign for you?
Me, wondering to myself **Am I not a legal entity? Can’t I sign for myself?

ABSA Consultant: “What would you like your pin to be?”
Me: “Huh? WTF?”

ABSA Consultant: “Go that way, then walk straight and go that side… they can help you.”
Me: “Okay?”

ABSA Consultant: “Ooh! INJA! I’m scared of the dog.”
Me: “Right, now I’ve got to wait until someone else, who is not scared of guide dogs, is available to assist me.”

ABSA Consultant: “Sorry, you are disabled, you cannot open a bank account.”
Me: “Head-office is clearly far removed from reality on the ground.”

There are obviously more issues but, the above spirit dictated my interaction with ABSA via Twitter.

The conversation started yesterday, on Thursday, 15 October, 2015.

I requested them to contact me so that I could discuss various matters and to table our concerns as visually impaired and blind persons.

I learned that there was special cards for blind and visually impaired people, something that I have never ever heard of in my life. Their consultants obviously went out of their way to notify me and my wife of this; this is why we don’t even know about it.

I will now, to the best of my ability, represent our conversation below:

Thursday, 15 October, 2015.

AccessTech: @ABSA now sports inaccessible touch card machines so, I as a blind person have no way to independantly enter my PIN. What’s wrong with you? 2015/10/15 02:11:40 PM

Absa: @AccessZa Hi there, all our ATM’s are equipped with Brail keys and a specialised Card is issued for the visually impaired and Blind. 2015/10/15 03:50:17 PM

AccessTech: @Absa Hello. Why are we as clients with visual impairments not aware of this or informed when visiting the @ABSA branches? 2015/10/15 03:52:44 PM

AccessTech: @Absa Also, my tweet refered to card machines with touch screens used by @ABSA merchants & not to ATMs. 2015/10/15 03:53:43 PM

Absa: @AccessZa We are sorry for the inconvenience and the level of service received.1/1 2015/10/15 03:58:42 PM

AccessTech: @Absa Is there anyone from @ABSA that would be so kind as to engage us on the matters raised? 2015/10/15 05:25:30 PM

Absa: @AccessZa Please DM us your ID number, contact details and email address. We will follow up on your query and provide you with feedback. 2015/10/15 05:32:17 PM

to Absa: Hello Please note that I am interacting with you not only in my capacity as an
individual but, also on behalf of the Advocacy and Information Committee of BLIND SA, a national consumer organization of blind and visually impaired persons.

In any case, here are my details:
ID: ………….. Contact numbers:
Mobile: +27……..55
Home: +27……..90

You may also look at http://www.AccessTech.co.za
http://www.BlindSA.org As I am being questioned about various accessibility issues around the banks by many people, it is something that is critical to discuss as this touches and threatens the very essence of our financial independence.

Thanks for your consideration and time. 2015/10/15 06:49:54 PM

to Absa: My email address is: grr@.w…..com 2015/10/15 06:50:24 PM

Friday, 16 October, 2015.

Absa: Hi there, thank you for the info. Please note that Merchants are available that can be used by visually impaired individuals. 1/1 08:34:39 AM

Absa: However, it is dependent on the stores whether they wish to order these devices. 1/2 08:34:53 AM

AccessTech: @Absa Hello. As requested, I’ve submitted my details via DM however, I haven’t received a call as yet; as promised. The day is almost over. 02:58:11 PM

Absa: @AccessZa Hi there, as confirmed on our communication yesterday that we would follow up with our team and provide you with our feedback.1/1 03:04:57 PM

Absa: @AccessZa The information provided earlier was in response to the same post.1/2 03:05:21 PM

Absa: @AccessZa The info provided to you remains the same. 1/3 03:05:33 PM

AccessTech: @Absa So, I may use your response as an official response at my next advocacy and information committee report for Blind SA? Just verifying 03:22:41 PM

Absa: @AccessZa We have given you the actual information which can be shared. 03:27:38 PM

It is clear from the above that we’ve already lost the struggle with ABSA. Not only are they totally unable to grasp the concepts that I tried to get across but, they also try to make as if I am the stupid one.

I do understand from this that their merchants can probably select not to use PoS devices provided by ABSA, i.e. they can use third-party devices but, ABSA is otherwise not really interested in engaging.

I guess the banking association of South Africa together with the Payments Association of South Africa might have to be considered to intervene.

At least I tried.

So, for those, blind and visually impaired persons, it looks like our choice of banks are decreasing by the month.

First FNB refuse to interact with the disabled community on their web site accessibility issues, and now ABSA refuse to meet with us to discuss issues that we are facing.

Standard bank, at this point, is the only bank who showed a willingness to engage with us on issues that we are facing as a community.

SARS also met with us and things look really good on the eFiling side of things.

Choose your bank carefully.

I hope to have the banking survey ready soon.

Just remember; support the banks who care; those who acknowledge their corporate social responsibility. Do not entertain them, if they don’t care.

This is not about guide dogs being permitted in KFC, this is about our financial independence and dignity.

There is no way in hell that I will allow another person, a by-stander or anyone else for that matter, to enter my pin. OVER MY DEAD BODY! Not if I can help it.

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2 thoughts on “ABSA, joining the FNB camp of non-cooperation – not interested in the blind or visually impaired”

  1. Maybe the advocacy group needs to advocate for more accessiblility legislation, which will force service providers to comply with certain minimum accessibility requirements. It is said that the DPSA’s of this world had, for a while went against the wishes of many people with disabilities who wanted disability specific legislation.

    I hope these and many other issues of accessibility have been raised in the 42nd biennial SANCB conference held in Bloemfontein since 14th October.

    1. Hello Sechaba.

      Thanks for your input.

      I don’t know if this was discussed at the SANCB conference as we were not invited to participate; even though we have requested for an invite.

      If you have any feedback on this, please let us know.

      Coming back to the issue of accessibility related legislation; I agree with you however, South Africa is still a young democracy and my approach is to interact with companies to assist them to provide a better service to us as people living with disabilities by appealing to the moral side of things but, also to provide them with solutions that will not necessarily cost an arm and a leg.

      In the case of FNB and ABSA, it is clear that they are not interested in any sort of constructive dialogue and thus, the legal option might be the only option left for us.

      Banks like Capitec and Standard Bank, even though there are some challenges, are more than willing to admit that there is room for improvement but, they are also keen on engaging with us to empower their staff so that they will know how to correctly interact with us as clients who are blind, visually impaired, hard of hearing, deaf, etc.

      We have to stand together and fight the fight. We cannot, and should not, wait for other bodies to do this for us.

      It would also be naïve to hope that ABSA and FNB will comply out of kindness. We have to turn the heat up, I think.

      Thanks and have an awesome day further.

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