Why banks like Absa Ghana are Useless when needed! You’ll die in your Emergency

TL:DR; After several failed attempts to increase transaction limit on my ATM withdrawals (even before I traveled), I needed to withdraw more than the limit (mere 2,000 Cedis is the limit) today and so called from a foreign country to get the limit increased. They said the limit is hardcoded on the ATM Card, which means to remove the limit, I’ll need to travel back to Ghana to do that.

The other option is to manually reset the daily limit counter remotely. Absa bank NEVER did it, and NEVER got back to me.

Life Happens. Emergencies/Accidents do happen. In a foreign land, you need more than the hardcoded limit on your card? You’re on your own. Happy Dying!

UPDATE: 18:22 Kenyan Time, about 7 hours since I made my first request, I get a call from Absa Ghana. The limit timer has been reset. Guess what, the day has already ended in Kenya. Whatever reset is of no use – that’s right, useless!

7 hours turnaround time. So much for treating it as of urgency.

So tomorrow, if I wanna cash more than 2k cedis, I need to phone in again to Ghana, wait 7 hours for them to reset. And the cycle continues. Why?

Because in all their wisdom, the 2k Cedis withdrawal is hard-coded on the physical ATM card. The only solution is for me to go PHYSICALLY back to Ghana, and PHYSICALLY take my PHYSICAL ATM card to a PHYSICAL Absa bank branch for them to PHYSICALLY slot it into whatever PHYSICAL machine to PHYSICALLY increase the limit.

Fantabulous! Absa, you’re doing well!

“Ooh, but before you travelled, why didn’t you call them?”, you ask? Well, ladies and gentlemen, I EXPLICITLY called Absa – a work colleague of mine is my witness. We were on our way to buy food at Adjiringanor. I told him, lemme call these bank and tell them to release my account from bondage.

I did. Talked to a rep. She said she’ll forward my account/card to the respective department to have it noted or whatever they do when someone tells them they’re traveling.

I was never told of any hardcoded limit on embedded on my card, nor that I should physically go to the nearest branch to unlimit it.

Kwadwo Sheldon will say, “Mind Borsting Analytics!”

Absolutely NOTHING about ANY of this makes ANY form of sense! NOTHING!

My previous article was about Republic Bank and my Absa Bank Debit Card

This article is specifically about Absa.


To begin, let’s define what a useless bank is to me is. According to my definition, at any point in time, at a critical moment, that I critically need my bank i.e need to retrieve my money or need to confirm something, as in I need the bank, if for whatever reasons, the bank deliberately fails me, that bank is useless to me.

Got it? Good!


Lemme start from the ‘beninging’.

For many times, I can easily remember 4 times, I’ve requested from my bank, Absa to have the ATM transaction limit on my account lifted. As I’m writing this, the ATM withdrawal limit on my account, somehow is still 2,000 Ghana Cedis.

I have explicitly, several times, called in, and requested, MULTIPLE TIMES, to have the transaction limit on my account lifted. Yes, I’ve repeated the same statement.

Each time, the bank manages to give me a BS reason why they can’t. I’ve been told, ‘Oh you’re not a premium account, so you can withdraw more than 2,000 Cedis’, to what I was told today.

I am currently in Kenya. In this land, the only thing they understand is MPesa. Literally! The country is run by MPesa, at least the part I’m at, Kiambu.

As a foreigner, I managed to get myself an MPesa. The only means to get money from my Ghana bank account into my MPesa is to go to the nearest Absa ATM (or any ATM that accepts VISA), withdraw, then dumb into my MPesa account.

This means, anytime for whatever reason, I can’t withdraw an amount I need, life can literally halt for me.The country is run by MPesa.


Well, this morning, I went to the ATM to withdraw money here in Kenya. I needed about 60,000 ksh (about 3,200 Ghana Cedis). I could only withdraw about 2,000 cedis. The Absa ATM wouldn’t allow me withdraw pass 40,000 ksh.

Note that, the next closest Absa ATM to this one I went to is about 4 km away. I asked why, and the long story short I got was that, Absa (back then as Barclays), was so full of themselves, people stopped banking with them in the Kiambu town and around, therefore the branch ended up being, you know, a literal brick and mortar place.

Instead of the bank being a bank, and adapting to the needs of the people in the area, not Absa. They packed their tools and left, and only left behind an ATM, which I guess we the customers should be fortunate to have.

Ohh dear!

And so I thought, maybe, I can send money from my card to my PayPal, and push to my MPesa. To verify my card on PayPal, I needed to pick a bank statement code from PayPal, which means I needed to log into my bank account.

Lemme log into my Absa Account through the Mobile App. I tried and tried, I couldn’t log in. I would login with fingerprint, screen loads and loads, to nothing!So how about I log on PC. Guess what, the OTP message only goes to phone number.

I didn’t have my Ghana phone number with me, so I can’t log in. I had to go back home to log into my bank account, although I have my email also on file. Duh!

Anyway, I digress. As a stupid Absa customer as I am, I thought, ‘Oh, that should be easy, lemme spend about 30 cedis (that’s how much I’ve spent this morning calling from Kenya to Ghana to talk to Absa) to call back home to see if, even temporarily, I can authorize withdrawal of more than the 2k Ghana cedis.

How foolish I was, looking back now!


I made my first call, about 11:16 to Ghana. Call went like this

Me: Hi. I’m in Kenya at the moment, I need to withdraw more than 2k Cedis set on my account. Lady: Okay, kindly provide us with details of your account
Me: [I provide all the details for validation]
Lady: So it isn’t possible for us to increase the limit from our end. The limit is set on your ATM card.
Me: What you say? I don’t understand. What do you mean?
Lady: So the limit is on the physical card, and so we won’t be able to increase the limit?
Me: Aah, set on my card? How?

I never imagined it’ll get to this point a bank will program my card so that in times of emergency, when not near any physical brick and mortar bank branch, I still won’t be able to withdraw. What a sick banking establishment have I gotten myself into! Geeeesh!

In summary, the only option given me was that the limit timeline is refresh. You see, the limit is reset each day. So if there’s a way that can be, at least reset manually remotely so that I can withdraw, great!

The lady informs me that she’s gonna send an email to the card department or something, and so she’ll get back to me with how it goes. More like a foolproof tactic, she asks me to confirm my phone number, which I thought was dumb, considering you can already see my phone number on your system live and colored, but hey, I repeat the numbers she’s already looking on her screen.

Call ends. I calm down hoping I’m gonna hear something in, say tops, an hour.


After about 2 hours of hearing nothing, I call back, and ooh I had lost it at this point!

Call went like this. This was with yet a different lady

Me: So I called about 2 hours earlier, I needed to have my account withdrawal limit increased. I was told I’ll be updated, but haven’t heard anything. What’s up?
Lady: [as usual, same ol’ validate yourself]
Me: [Validates]
Lady: So I’m gonna have to send an email to the Card Department
Me: Wait, that’s what the first lady said 2 hours ago, and I heard nothing back.
Lady: Yes, such matters are handled by the Card Department
Me: Aaah, but am I not talking to the card department? What are you?
Lady: Yes, we’re the card department, but your concern will be forwarded to the Card Department.

At this point, I knew I’ve gotten myself into a Card Department Paradox. Like an inception, there’s a card department in a card department.

Me: You don’t care and see the urgency of what my issue on the ground is at the moment
Lady: I understand. I’ll send an email to the card department, and include how urgent your issue is
Me: Stop saying you understand, if you understand, you won’t send an email. You’d rather pick the phone up and call whatever/wherever that card department is, wait on the line, and get my card limit reset immediately.

I go on to rant and rant. She listened and said nothing. Too bad, she’s a part of cog system that’s so abnormal, I guess she didn’t have much to say.


Good question, but a stupid one at the same time. Lemme tell you why

Let’s say I need 60,000 Shillings (about 3k cedis) to buy one giant big ice cream to enjoy on a hot afternoon. Why should the bank stop me? Is that any of their business?

But on a serious note, let’s say it’s a medical emergency. Something has happened to me. I got into an accident. I need immediate medical attention, which is gonna require, say 3,000 Ghana Cedis (or about 90,000 shillings)

What Absa and the ladies who took my call are saying is, although I need my OWN money at the bank, in my EMERGENCY, because the BANK, has REPEATEDLY REFUSED to increase my limit, the best they can do is SEND AN EMAIL to a CARD DEPARTMENT that’s within a card department, and then I hope that the issue is resolved.


At the time of writing this about 4:33 pm Kenyan Time, I’ve heard NOTHING from Absa. No email, no call back. Na da! Nope. Zero concern.

What a classic way to get stranded on a foreign land, not because you don’t have money, but simply because your bank won’t give you back your money as and when you need it. All because there’s a CLANDESTINE card department somewhere, absolved of the real world issues of the ordinary customer.


What bothers me is that, sometimes in the middle of night, Absa bank will call me from South Africa to confirm if I made the 50 or 100 Cedis transaction, at a merchant I’ve been using my card with multiple times.

What sick bank, hassles their customers just because they made sub 50$ transactions, yet requires a CLANDESTINE card department to reset how much a customer can withdraw?

Calling me to confirm transactions I do over and over at the same merchant, with Absa felt like spamming.

Misplaced priorities. ‘Oooh, he made 100$ transaction, let’s call him from South Africa to confirm’. But ‘Ooh he needs the withdrawal limit reset, that one, let’s email that CLANDESTINE card department’


Like I said at the start of this article, a useless bank is one that when you need the most, at critical times, fails!

Life happens. Bad things happen to people. Emergencies come up. If it’s this hard to withdraw your own money saved in your account, isn’t that a useless bank to deal with?

My Thoughts Addendum

Just random thoughts and observations. The more I interact with many people who work at the bank during their banking (not outside of their work hours), they seem disconnect from what it means to be human.

Sometimes I wonder, what is it that goes on at the bank? What do they tell them? Do they see ordinary people in society who bank with them as some deranged folks, worthy not of care?

Are the workers overworked to the extent to have lost the human touch? Because playing back what happened today, I’m still shocked.

A customer, calls in from a foreign country, that they need access to their account money. Not to mention this customer had earlier EXPLICITLY CALLED the bank before they travelled, that whatever limits on their account should be turned off, since going to a different country, anything can happen.

When I called, I was expecting to hear, ‘Okay, hold on, lemme call the department responsible and follow up on whatever reset that needs what happens’.

But no, both ladies EXPLICITLY told me, they’ll send an EMAIL. So for whatever reasons, someone in a foreign land, calls in because they need access to their money, and the fastest means of help you can give is, lemme send an email? I am dumb, so couldn’t send an email myself?

Both ladies assured me they were gonna call me back to give me feedback. None did. Not even an email or SMS.

You have absolutely no idea why the person needed the money so badly, so badly that the person literally phoned in from a foreign country. But the best you could do is send an EMAIL?

The absolute lack of sense of urgency is so unsettling, I was like, ah, is that what it has gotten to?

Increasingly, banks and many of the people who work there getting more and more disconnect with realities of life, sometimes I wonder what the fix is. Are customers who don’t have money seen only as ones and zeros to the point there’s no need making their needs a priority?

Good ordinary people, they enter the corporate banking customer care cog machines and they somehow are turned into low key demons. They go to work, they treat customers horribly.

They go back home and I believe are nice fathers, mothers and siblings. What is it at these banks that make them disconnect with human needs?

Is it that the banks system attracts cold, stone people, or genuine people go there and end up being transformed into weirdos?

I can’t think far!

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