Protecting our customers - Bank of Ireland
We re-posted this story for the new reader to learn about how banks tick. We observe that the system starts to close down doors... it's needless to say that we don't bank with Bank of Ireland anymore.
Our company’s secretary was unavailable so I needed to do a payment in a Bank of Ireland branch. Being located in a different area from our branch in Kinsale I needed to go into the local branch and get this transfer sorted.
Now, as a Bank of Ireland customer you are able to process transfers, lodge money, etc. in any branch – that’s the theory.
As time is of the essence in the gold business we have to transfer money same-day. Prices move quickly and we have a guaranteed price with our customer, so if the price ticks up 1% it wipes out a significant percentage of our margin.
We’re in a gold bull market that means if we loose time in getting the money to our distributors we’re loosing money. Business rule #1: One can’t run a business on losses. Well, Enron tried it but on the long run – doesn’t work.
Anyways, it was a Friday morning and I needed to do a 50,000 Euro transfer to our German distributor. In banking terms that means ‘International transfer – same day express – charges apply’. In this case 25 Euro.
I had to fill a form, providing all details and then to queue up in the cashiers queue. But in order to get the form I needed to go to a ‘gnarly’ lady at the front desk. I kindly asked for the form and if I would be able to stock them as these transfers may happen again in future.
First she agreed but then a colleague said: No. These forms have numbers on them and we can’t just give them away. Ok, well I negotiated two forms. One form for now and one for later.
I filled all the necessary data, queued up. By the time I was at the cashier’s desk, the cashier looked at me saying I was wrong. Please go to the front desk.
Oh, well back to the gnarly lady. Hello again, may I please get this transfer done here? She snarled at me refusing to take action, saying I needed to go back to the cashier. I said: “The gentleman has sent me over here. What should I do?”
She fell of her stool, landed on her two feet moving slowly to the cashier’s desk giving the form to the cashier. After coming back she looked at the transfer document and became quiet. She said: “I wouldn’t be able to process this payment.” and then she whispered to me: “It’s a huge amount of money, it’s 50,000 Euro.” It all was a big secret for her.
I said: And… what’s the next step to getting the transfer done?
She said: I need to talk to the branch manageress.
She fell off the stool again and went off to see the branch manageress. After 5 minutes she came back saying this couldn’t be done in this branch and she needed to post it to Kinsale. I asked how long will this take? And she said Monday.
I said, look the reason for a same day credit is, same day, not next day.
Well, to cut the story short the discussion went on for a bit until she finally agreed to call Kinsale branch. The problem was to verify that I’m a real, physical person and being known in Kinsale.
She called Kinsale, while she was waiting to get our account manager on the phone she looked into my passport that I had ready for identification.
Imagine the immigration desk at the airport with the suspicious officer. First looking at the passport picture and then looking at you; then again at the passport picture and then at you again in the attempt to check if the passport matches your appearance.
I had my Irish tweed cap on that day and then she really asked me to lift my cap. When she made contact with Kinsale branch, she whispered into the phone: I have this gentleman here, Mr. Kramer and he insists we do this transfer (..pause… still whispering) it’s 50,000 Euro; such a huge amount.
In the meantime while the gnarly lady talked to Kinsale branch the manageress rocked up, saying they couldn’t do the transfer and needed to call Kinsale. I said, the front desk lady is on the phone right now. The manageress didn’t listen. I repeated myself two more times until she noticed the front desk lady is actually on the phone.
After the phone conversation was finished the manageress looked at me, taking a deep breath in and said: We can’t just do this transfer – We need to protect our customers!
I smiled and said: Hello? … I’m your customer.
Manageress: But this is a high amount.
I: Well, we’re dealing with these amounts on a regular basis – nothing really to get excited about.
Bottom line is the banks are not functioning. And they protect you from accessing your assets. That’s the protection measure that’s really all about.
Following on we had chat about the pros and cons of bank drafts. As it turned out the money in our account was not accessible at that time but did show on our online statement.
Who understands this? The manageress said the money is there, I said well, let’s transfer it out then. She said, but it’s not accessible. So I said, ok it’s not there. She said, no, no, no it’s in your account but you can’t transfer it.
So we had laugh about money that shows in the account but is not transferable. If you have money in your bank account, call up your bank and ask if it would be possible to transfer it out – just to be sure, eh?
That was an interesting Friday morning; we have finally been able to transfer that money out next Thursday. Almost one week later.
I hope you had fun reading this little story – all true, I swear.
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