Last week, I gathered some of my miscellaneous currency – you know the bits you have left over after a trip and are too lazy to do anything with? I had notes from Romania, Croatia, Serbia, Switzerland, and Turkey. About €10-20 worth of each so not an unreasonable haul. Me and my man in the Northline booth, a young lad of about 30, were getting on just fine until I went to give him 30 Turkish Lira. He waved it away, dismissively, with an attitude. When I asked why, he roared at me.
I asked why again, thoroughly confused, and got an even louder: I SAID NO!!
Up till this point, language hadn’t been an issue. And I had no reason to expect it to start now. I counted to six and asked again, quietly, Why? Sure after four consecutive transactions, I at least deserved an explanation.
And I got another maniacal: I SAID NO!!!!
Still in control (barely), my heart thumping and my teeth clenched I told him that there was no need to shout at me. I could hear him perfectly well. [Man, I sounded so like my mother.]
He screamed: I SAID NO!!!!!
I didn’t know where to go with that so I told him that I really hoped his day would get better.
THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH MY DAY. I SAID NO. NO.
I didn’t stay to argue. And I won’t be going back there any time soon.
I called my bank today. I wanted to transfer money from my euro account into my Hungarian forint account, both of which are in the same branch. I was curious to know what it would cost me and what sort of rate I’d get. I also needed to clarify the difference between foreign currency and foreign exchange.
Because I’m an individual not a corporation, they could offer me 301 ft for my euro. If I was a business I could get 305.
But I have a business, I said. I can transfer it to that account. It’s with your bank, too.
No. As I would be the one transferring the money, it would be classified as an individual transaction.
So I thought, if I withdraw the money, walk outside, change it at a different Northline office, I can get 308 ft. Then I can come back and deposit the cash in forint.
Yes. But withdrawing the euro will attract a 1.09% charge, he said. Of course, we wouldn’t charge you anything to accept the forint.
How do banks get away with this crap?
Last week, Louis CK commented on how we’re all using the Christian calendar to date our cheques. I, for one, would love it if we could all use the same currency, too. Think of how much it would improve my life: no mad men with a pathological dislike for handling Turkish lira screaming at me, no unseemly profits for my bank for its discrimination against individuals and its penury currency exchange rates.No blood pressure issues for me.
On the grateful side: I didn’t shout back. I’m learning that I need to pick my battles and that sometimes, I simply can’t win so best not to even attempt the try.