We've moved from Baltimore, Maryland USA to Venice, Italy in pursuit of living our dream!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Could this day get any longer????

Today didn't turn out anything like I anticipated. It was way worse, but it gave me yet another huge reminder that living in a  foreign country isn't always fun and games.  Just maneuvering the simplest of tasks can often times be frustrating beyond belief.  Here's a case in point:  this morning I needed to go to the bank to make a payment to someone elsewhere in Italy by sending money from my bank to their bank account, sort of equivalent to a wire transfer. Here it's called a bonifico.  I was diligent about gathering all of the information I would need before I set out for Via Garibaldi. I'd done this before, I thought I knew what to expect. Confident this would be a piece of cake, off I went.

First there is the fun of just getting inside the bank door to contend with you. If you've never tried this in Italy, I highly recommend you give it a go if you are here, just for the fun of it.  There isn't a normal door at the entrance to bank, but rather a rounded glass door, sort of like a pod or transport system you might imagine being used to "beam you up".  To get into this portal of sorts, you must press a green button located to the right of the door.  You go into the bank one person at a time. First the outer pod door opens, allowing you to enter this portal type thing. Ok, you are now inside the "pod".  Then, you press yet another green button, and a second rounded door opens, allowing you to exit the pod and into the bank.  I get a kick out of this every time I have to use it.

Once inside the bank, you wait your turn. Fortunately this morning, the wait was almost non-existent. I took my seat opposite the clerk on the other side of the counter, whose name is Fabio. I see him frequently up and down Via Garibaldi. Fabio is an interesting looking character, with shoulder length flowing white hair. He looks more like a rock star than a bank teller.

I explain to Fabio what I need to have done, he accesses my account on his computer and announces that I must go to the branch location where I opened my account, at Piazzale Roma, to answer some questionnaire and sign a document before he can do anything for me.  Nothing. I am at a branch of my bank, but he cannot process whatever this questionnaire is, and I can do no banking until this is handled. I have no clue what he's talking about, but decide I need to get to the other bank and get whatever it is taken care of.  I exit the bank, again using the 2 green buzzer door system, and get to the nearest vaporetto stop as soon as I can. It's nearly a 55 minute boat ride on the #1 boat from Via Garibaldi to Piazzale Roma, and the #1 was the boat pulling up.  Rather than wait for a boat that would take less time, I hopped on this one and quickly figured I could disembark at Ca'Rezzonico and walk faster than do the whole ride on the boat.

My decision to walk paid off, I arrived at the bank 20 minutes before the boat would have docked. Again, I entered the bank using the green buzzers and the beam-me-up portal, and waited my turn inside.
When it was my turn at the sportello (that's the counter, in American terms), the clerk tells me that yes, I must answer the questionnaire and sign it.  The questionnaire turns out to be about money-laundering. The bank wants to know where I got all the money I deposited into my account since March 2013.  Here's where things get very funny, and I really wanted to laugh, but knew that would piss everyone off. See, I deposited only 200 Euros in this account in the last 12 months. I kept a straight face as best I could, filled out the form, signed it, and proceeded to handle the matter I went to the bank for in the first place. I had a second matter at the bank this morning also, but decided I needed a big break. The second matter could wait until my screaming headache went away.

Home I went.  I relaxed over lunch and a cup of tea.  At 3:15 pm I made my way back to Via Garibaldi to my local branch, which would be able to service my banking needs now that my money laundering questionnaire had been completed. Fabio, my teller from the morning, was busy with someone else, so I had the pleasure of being served by his colleague (whose name I am trying to forget, so I won't bother to mention it here. HE knows who he is).

The teller processed my transaction 3 times, and reversed it twice, because he couldn't quite make up his mind how he wanted to do it. He could use money that was already in my account, or I could deposit money into my account, or I could just pay in cash for the payment I needed to make. I told him I didn't care how he did it as long as it got done.  What probably should have taken 5 minutes took him 40 minutes. It got done, and I had another whopper headache.

Before I left the bank, I decided to take on one more task. The reason I had to hike all the way to Piazzale Roma to the bank to sign that f-ing form this morning is because I had not moved my account to my local area after I moved apartments. I use the bank about once a year (and you can see why not) so this wasn't a priority for me.  Big mistake.  In Italy, not all services can be done for you in a branch office if it's not the location you opened the account at. I never wanted to have to haul my butt to Piazzale Roma again. Solution: stick around a bit longer and go through the process to have my account moved. I had to see a different agent for this.  (Thank goodness, because I probably would have strangled my friend Teller #2 if I had to deal with him one more minute).

Moving the bank account was painless, thankfully.  However, the whole thing is not a done deal yet. It will take some time, a few days, it is explained to me, to have his colleague at Piazzale Roma do who knows what, and at that time I will be issued a new bank account number. Huh?  Same bank, different branch and it needs a whole new number? I am in disbelief. I don't really care for an explanation at this point, I just want them to do what they need to do and get it all done with. With my headache pounding even harder, I made a very quick exit.  At least in a few days some of these woes will have been resolved. Hopefully my headached will be gone by then also.

Pazienza. Pazienza. Pazienza.


maryk said...

Oh Karen - how extraordinarily complicated for something that I can sit at my laptop and do in a second or two by the magic of 'pay anyone'!
No wonder you ended up with hair-tearing frustration and pounding head.

I just love your description of the 'pods' On my must-try list for next visit!

I rarely ever go into a bank anymore as I don't ever need to - to the point where I 'lost' my local bank. A week or so ago someone sent me a cheque that I had to deposit (thanks guys but don't do it again please) so I set off to the nearest branch only to find that it had closed (apparently 12 months ago) and moved somewhere else. Did I ever feel stupid!

karen said...

Maryk- oh, absolutely, try the bank doors. Just go in and out. First time I tried it, I got stuck in the pod, couldn't figure out how to get the second door to open at all! Who invented this system???

Andrew said...

€200 eh? That's not money laundering;just a very delicate hand wash. How's your swearing in Italian coming along?

karen said...

Andrew- I've got a good handle on curse words, but it wouldn't have done any good to let out a good stream of it in the bank. They didn't care what I thought, I just had to go along with whatever they wanted. I had such a roaring headache when I got home I was good for absolutely nothing! Thankfully, it was all over and done with by the end of the day.

Dianne said...

Karen, I never had such an experience with my bank in France (although my husband has had some weird dealings with them whenever he went to try to accomplish something). We have to maintain an account in France because he gets a small pension from the time he spent working in Paris.

However, I did once have a big problem with trying to buy train tickets when my parents were coming for a visit. Since we were going to be taking several train trips during their visit, I wanted to arrange for all the tickets at the same time. Trouble was that tickets could only be purchased a certain number of days in advance if you wanted reserved seats. Since I would be on one of the trips when it was time to buy tickets for the other trip, I needed to buy them before I left. My father was really not of an age to have to risk standing for any part of the trip, I tried and tried to explain in French the necessity for them making an exception to the rule. Finally, I just started crying and talking in English -- worked like a charm. Seems French train personnel at the time (this was the 80's) couldn't stand to see a woman crying. Don't think it would work now though.

karen said...

Dianne- crying might have helped! Believe it or not, the bank has still finished the process to transfer my account to the new branch. I got an email from them 2 days ago telling me half of it was done and they would contact me again when it was all complete. It's been 2 weeks!!!!! Slowest service on earth.

Dianne said...

Sorry you are having to wait so long. Maybe by this time you have the rest of your money transferred.

Anonymous said...

I discovered, completely by default-no one really gives you info of new bank products or anything for that matter in Italy( lived in the UK where the info is off the charts but I digress) Posta Click. No charges/no queues. yay.

Online heaven avoid doors, branches and bureaucratic red tape.

You'll need to be a postabank account but that's easy if you have your 'tessera sanitaria' and your ID card

karen said...

Excellent suggestion about the Postabank. I may have to resort to that one of these days :)

karen said...

Excellent suggestion about the Postabank. I may have to resort to that one of these days :)