Bank balance…

19 Nov

I think i may have mentioned briefly that i finally got a French bank account. About 12 months late i know, but hey, we’ve all had things to do right?

It all seemed to go off without a hitch (aside from the fact that i had to return the next day as the guy “forgot to take the good copy of my passport”) and i was beside myself with delight.

I even managed to choose the bank, have the interview and sign everything all on my own, which i was thrilled i could manage. Of course for the most part i had no idea what the hell i was signing, but i thought about how often i had no idea what i was signing in my own language anyway. (No one reads that shit right?)

All in all, it was one of those rare, perfect, french administration dreams.

You all know there is a BUT coming now don’t you.

I’ll get to it shortly…  just let me do a bit more setting the scene first, to create some dramatic build-up.

So there i am, standing outside the bank, clutching my little folder with all the important nonsense i have signed, with a huge grin. I had a feeling that perhaps i just have a knack for beating the odds. I can arrive at the other end of the administration tunnel relaxed and happy, like no one in history has ever done before.

What an idiot.

I checked the mail every day for 2 weeks with a giant smile on my face, waiting for my little Carte Bleu to arrive, when it struck me that maybe i’d been taken for a ride. That little Carte should have been here by now. (I can picture myself as one of those naive little characters in a silent movie – joyfully running up to the mailbox time and time again, only to be met with utter dismay when the letter isn’t there, every time.)

I gave it a couple more days and then decided to get a second opinion. The prognoses was not good and I decided i’d have to go back to the bank. But this time i would take a French reinforcement with me.

As it turned out, something had happened. The account was blocked. Not my fault though, and no explanation. Only that they unblocked it for me, and i would now wait another week. Cue letterbox process again.

What i don’t understand is the logic (surprise surprise). If the account was blocked, surely it was for a reason. If they don’t know what the reason is, how can they unblock it? Right?

I want an explanation. I feel it is my right as a customer and a human being to be told why. I don’t trust anything when i don’t know how it operates. I’m a control freak!

I explained this to my friend, and was met with a Gallic shrug, and a “you’re not in Australia now my girl”. Everyone here just accepts that sometimes there are no answers, and it infuriates me to hell. I’m a woman of principles. It’s like being a child again facing the “pourquoi?” “parce-que” rhetoric on a daily basis. (Which now that i think about it, i do get a lot of here)

But i guess i’m going to have to learn to go with it. There’s no other choice.

And my friends are going to stop accompanying me on administration expeditions if i continue to abuse everyone and throw everything in sight when i don’t get my way. That i am sure of.

So i wait…

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5 Responses to “Bank balance…”

  1. Expat Stu November 19, 2010 at 4:21 pm #

    You’ve reminded me of the hilarious story of my own first French bank account. This was in the small market town in the Midi where I’d just bought property, and really needed an account to pay property taxes. However, it was so long ago that in those days étrangers weren’t actually allowed to have bank accounts. So, in the middle of the utter chaos of the Saturday market, I walked into the Crédit Agricole with a wad of 100Fr notes and opened an account. It seemed to go smoothly enough because it was so unusual that the caissière didn’t realise the whole transaction was illegal.

    Well, apparently it only took half an hour for somebody more senior to catch on, because in about that much time the poor caissière came running through the market, waving my cash and yelling “Monsieur! Monsieur! Vous n’avez pas le droit!!!”

    It was another four years before the law changed and I got an account at the Société Générale — and another four years after that before they’d issue a cheque book to the suspicious étranger. By that time I knew the manager quite well because his mother was one of my neighbours, so it was all very chummy.

  2. Poulette November 19, 2010 at 9:01 pm #

    It’s all about who you know, not what you know eh? But in a sort of reverse capitalist way. Kinda.

  3. Expat Stu November 19, 2010 at 9:35 pm #

    In those tiny villages everyone knows everyone’s affaires. For a while I had an account at the SG in Paris, Halle aux Vins branch on Blvd St. Germain. That was easy for some reason.

  4. Deux ou trois choses November 21, 2010 at 4:51 pm #

    I think they blocked your account because of your non-French status. A lot of foreigners open bank accounts at the post office because they get rejected from all the banks. But taking a French person with you helps a lot! If this doesn’t work, ask a French friend to schedule an appointment with their bank manager and go together. This is what I did and I was the only foreigner out of the assistants to have my application accepted first go.

  5. Poulette November 22, 2010 at 3:13 pm #

    I think that the account was blocked because the guy forgot to photocopy my passport, so when i had to come back to give them ‘the good copy of my passport’, he forgot to press the ‘enter’ key. He was a trainee…i could tell when i first entered the back their eyes lit up with the promise of opportunity to give a new guy a go at the computer….

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