Thursday, March 08, 2007

Bank Purgatory

The other day I stepped into a branch of my Tel Aviv bank to get some information.

What rate do you charge for converting a pound check to shekels?
I don’t know, said the clerk. Go see the manager.

I knocked on the door, entered the manager’s office and repeated the question.

Do you bank at this branch? asked the manager
No. I replied
They’ll have the answer at your branch.
But I’m asking you.

I didn’t budge.
The manager proceeded to shuffle papers, concentrate fixedly on his computer screen, leave the office, return, sign papers, take a phone call…He doesn't know..I realized. But he doesn't want to admit it and he doesn't want to find out either. HA!
I waited.

What was your question?

I repeated my question. He exited the office again and I strained to listen as he quietly asked a clerk my question.

He returned. Sat. Said:
When you deposit the check, a window will pop up on the bank computer screen with the amount we charge for the service.

Okay, I warned. I’m switching to English. (uh oh, look out. here comes mother tongue)
That is an Absolutely Ridiculous Answer. You base the charges that “Pop up on the Screen” on a Percentage. What is that percentage? I asked.

Enter helpful clerk who explained the rate - less than 1% of the total amount of any foreign currency check. I exited with mixed feelings of incredulity and blase. My acculturation must be coming along.

For the record, the ACTUAL rate turned out to be a fixed $3 per check fee. Nada on anything remotely close to a percentage base. AHHHHH!!!!!!


Liza said...

If you ever find yourself in that bank again, ask the bank manager is he happens to have a sister who works in my local Super-pharm...

nominally challenged said...

I'll admit, I thought you were asking about the exchange rate, not the commission.

Having said that, it's fairly usual for banks not to be terribly helpful unless you're their customer. That's why I bank using a telephone only bank. They are, all things considered, wonderful.

Stefanella said...

In Hebrew it's easier i.e. the Amlah versus the shaar. Thing is, I AM a customer. Just of a different branch of the same bank. Telephone only? and then you deposit/withdraw via atm, right and ask q's over the phone? Same same. But different. hee hee

Anonymous said...

I like Liza's comment about Superpharm. The terrible service at the checkout line has had me dumping all my stuff and walking out more than once. Long suffering Israelis do not know what my problem is.