Category Archives: Banking

Banking 2.0

It’s been a while since I’ve ranted about the banking system

Since my last post, I was finally added to our accounts. I have my own cards and everything.

No more begging Mike for advances on my allowance! Whew-hew!

So, the next logical step in my plan for world domination was to set up online banking. That should be relatively simple…

HA! Haven’t I learned that nothing, and I do mean NOTHING, is as simple as it should be here?

We attempted to log on to the site and were blocked. The outgoing message informed us that before setting up ONLINE banking, we must first call their PHONE banking to verify our details.

Once that is completed, the bank will MAIL (as in by Royal Post, not e-mail) a 9-digit log-in, which we can then use to set up online banking… and each step should take… umm, 3-5 business days.

FINE!

When their letter arrived in the post this morning, I hopped online immediately. Instead of then allowing me to access our accounts, the site spit out another reference code (15-digits, that’s SIX more digits than the last one…) along with instructions to call their PHONE banking again and give them this code…

…and then, they really will (promise, promise, cross-our-hearts-and-hope-to-die this time) authorize us to access our very own money online.

Is your head spinning yet? Oh you just wait for this next part…

After 10 minutes on hold, I’m told that the code I have in hand is Mike’s, not mine or even ours. So, I just have to answer a few quick questions to prove that I’m also on the account. (Fine. Whatever.)

I am transferred to another rep, who verifies this, but proceeds to tell me that I still cannot access OUR accounts with MY HUSBAND’s code.

In fact, it is ILLEGAL and I will need to apply for my own super secret code, which must never be shared. Not even with my partner

“I don’t get it. It’s the same accounts.” I argued

“Yes, but we do this for YOUR protection. Customers can only can access their individual accounts,” he replied.

“Okay, but this is a joint account. We’re married. We live together. We share the finances…”, I sputter.

“Madame. (dramatic pause) People don’t always stay together,” was his sage and worldly response to my obviously naive claim to wedded bliss.

“That is THE most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.  We’re talking about the two of us accessing the SAME accounts. We share the exact same accounts!”

“No. It makes perfect sense. If you were to separate, you would want to…”

I cut him off with my hysterical laughing. I’m so used to this insane run around by now that I’m past the frustration. All I CAN do is laugh.

“Okay, whatever. Just send me the papers.  I guess I’ll talk to you in 3-5 business days,” I said once I regained my composure.

Besides, if I were to ever leave Mike, don’t you think I’d drain our bank accounts first…

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As an aside,  all paperwork and official documents, from my bank cards to our phone bills to my library card, are issued to “MRS. G Duffy”. (As opposed to “Grace Duffy”, unique and multifaceted individual with a separate identity from Mr. M Duffy…)

Prior to moving to the UK, the only time anyone ever called me “Mrs. Duffy”, it was usually in mocking. Still, it amuses me to no end to live in a country where titles actually matter.

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Filed under Banking, Marriage, Undiplomatic Behavior

A System of Cheques and Imbalances

Living in the nation that inspired Pax Britannica, there are plenty of times when I just want to yell…

“You conquered two-fifths of the world, now ACT like it!”

…but never more so than when I’m dealing with the bank.

Oh. My. Goodness. I could start an entire blog just on my rantings about the banking system in the UK.

In fact, I think I will.  I know, I’ll call it “Lloyds is Pants” just to see if it gets deleted.

(Go ahead. Click on the link. I’ll wait…)

When our bank isn’t busy changing its customers’ passwords, it’s…. well, I’m not exactly sure what it does…

There is the time when our bank LOST a huge transfer only to realize six weeks later that they had actually credited it  to the account of a Mr. M. Durby rather than ours…That’s something, right?

Wait. I shouldn’t even call it “our” bank since apparently I’m still not allowed to bank there. This is in spite of having personally submitted the paperwork to be added to the accounts over a MONTH AND A HALF ago.

Of course, we couldn’t just go to the branch around the corner from our house. Oh no! We had to go to the branch in the middle city…

… during lunch

… on a Friday.

There were several bank employees basically milling around since Friday isn’t really considered a work day here. (Come to think of it, neither is Thursday and definitely not Monday…)

We still stood in line for over an hour to see the one sucker who was actually still taking customers.

Once it was our turn, we handed over the paperwork- completed, signed, and dated. We provided proof of our identities and our London address, copies of our marriage license, and even references and past statements from our American bank.

(All required before you can even discuss having a account in the UK, by the way, but this was just to add me to an existing account.)

It took all of five seconds for the teller to see that everything was in order. She promised to mail the papers to their home office in only God knows where and that I should be added to the account straight away…

Two weeks later, Mike received a call asking him to clarify if I was opening my own accounts, or simply being added to his. (HIS! ugh!)

Assuming it was handled from there, I didn’t think anything of popping into our local bank branch to deposit a check… er, cheque into our account.

I pulled out a deposit slip from our book, helped Avery with his raincoat, and the two of us headed across the street.

Teller: You can’t deposit a check into this account. Your name isn’t on the deposit slip.

Me: I know. It’s an old slip, but I should have been added to the account by now.

Teller: Should have?

Me: (explain, explain explain…) So, you see, my name should be on the account by now.

Teller: Well, it’s not. Do you have your own account? I can deposit it there.

Me: No, I don’t

Teller: Why not?

Me: Because I was supposed to be added to… Wait, can I open my own account?

Teller: Umm… no.

Me: Well, what can I do with this cheque? Can I cash it?

Teller: No, we can only deposit it into an account for you. If you could just give me the account number and sort code…

…and we went through this about five times. Each round my frustration and volume increased until I realized that I had become noticeably hysterical loud. I backed off and just left, too exhausted to come up with something more dramatic.

Not that arguing would get me anywhere. Anyone immigrating into the UK starts off with ZERO credit history. Even if you moved here for a job, it takes YEARS before you can get one established. So ,basically being “jobless” here leaves me… persona non grata.

Some banks will let you get around this by depositing a sizable amount of money from your home country. In our case, it was the amount that they  had “lost track” of for over six weeks…

Unfortunately, having a British bank account is a necessary evil. Most employers will only pay by direct deposit and a checking account is needed before you can set up utilities or rent a home.

The problem is, in addition to the various documents mentioned above, first and foremost you need a valid UK address before you can open an account here.

An act of the Crown helps, too.

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Filed under Banking, Rantings, Undiplomatic Behavior

The Buck Stops Here

I’ve been living in London for almost three weeks and I still haven’t been added to our British bank accounts, and from what I understand, this is nothing

Some people we know had to wait months before even being allowed to open a bank account in the UK. These are gainfully employed adults with regular salaries, valid work permits, children, dogs…

Okay, you get the picture.

I mean, even our two-year-old son has his own bank account in the States!

Meanwhile, I (a grown woman, wife, and mother) have to ask my husband for money each day like Lucy asking Ricky for her allowance. Finally, Mike just started leaving his debit card with me, which makes a lot more sense seeing as I handle all of the shopping and errands for our family.

I’ve been using it just fine until today, when a snotty sale girl tossed it back in my face and snidely remarked, “This is NOT your card…”

I explained that it’s my husband’s card and that I’m waiting for the bank to send me mine. I even pulled out my Texas Driver’s License to prove that we share a last name, but nothing. The store would not take the card… period.

This happened at two more shops before I just called it a day and went home empty-handed and defeated. I was miffed, but understood. After all, it’s all for our protection even if it is extremely annoying.

And here’s the ironic part…

Over the weekend and 4,757 miles (7,656 km) away, someone used our credit card number to charge over $500 worth of hoodies and skinny jeans at an Aeropostale in Dallas…

We’re still seeking a resolution with our bank in the US… and again, it’s taking FOR-EH-VAH.

Until then, I have the dubious pleasure of being effectively cut off from our funds in TWO COUNTRIES. How ’bout that!

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Filed under Banking, Life In The States, Marriage, Undiplomatic Behavior