Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Blech, banks!

One of the first things you should do when moving to a foreign country is to open a bank account. Otherwise, you will spend all your money in ATM/currency exchanging fees. But opening a bank account in another country is practically impossible.

Firstly, you will enter the bank, and start waving your arms around to attract the attention of the bored employees. When you've snared one, she will give you a long list of documents to bring to the bank. You will not know what most of these are. But after several hours of research and running back and forth between various government offices, you will have assembled all but one. You think "they don't really need document X, I've got all of the other 99 documents." WRONG! When we moved to England, this document was proof that I lived with my husband. Our friend Corrynn had to legally prove that she was single to get a bank account in Amsterdam.

But, after more government building hopscotch and pleading with the bank manager, you will get an appointment to open your bank account. At the Postbank in Munich, I got 5 minutes with a harried clerk who didn't fill out my form correctly and lost my original documents. They will tell you to look for your new ATM card and pin number in the mail in 5-7 business days. It will not arrive. You will go back to the bank and ask about it. They will offer to resend your card in 5-7 business days. And so on, and so on, into eternity.

I have just spent 2 months waiting for my ATM card for my Postbank account. Finally, I was fed up. I went and closed my account yesterday (having never actually used it) and opened a new one at Deutsche Bank. My DB card should arrive in 9 business days or less. I was feeling fairly confident that the employees at DB will be more responsible than those at PostBank, but when I checked the mail today, my PostBank ATM card finally arrived! No pin number, of course. So, I now have an ATM card for a closed account, a new account with no money in it or card for it, and we are still keeping our money in a jar.

Maybe I should start my own bank for foreigners. I will require no documents. You will give me your money and I will put it in a jar. When you come ask me for it, I will give it back to you. And I will charge no fees.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

(sigh) Yes, I share your pain - my HSBC account isn't up and functional yet, but my current bank (WaMu) is in its death spirals (basically wandering around Wall Street in a trench coat, asking people if they wanna buy a bank) - So, basically all my money is sitting my parent's account, waiting for me to have a functioning bank account again. :) - Bonnie