Saturday, December 6, 2008

I Really Hate the Banks Here

I am a hot ball of fury right now. Once again, the banking system in Ecuador has proven to be run by simple-minded goons. I feel as though I've been more than patient with the banks and system of getting paid up to this point, so excuse me if I've finally lost it and need to vent about it all. In orientation they went over the "roller coaster of emotions" that you go through when you're abroad. There are ups and downs. This is definitely a down.

As usual, I wasn't paid on time for last month, so I went down to the treasurer's office to find out why. I was also paying for my Spanish lessons, which took 20 minutes just to get a receipt. Instead of just clearing the payment and giving me direct deposit like they should, I was given a check for the amount owed. So today I went down to the bank to deposit the check. Not very familiar with how deposit slips work here, I filled it out as best I could and waited in line.

When I finally got to the teller, she told me I had to fill out some more information and kicked me out of line. I wrote down the account number again as well as writing it was from the university to me. I got back in line and the teller took the check, looked over the slip, and stamped the check. Right before she was going to hand me the receipt, however, she looked over the slip one more time and was confused.

She was talking about something I couldn't understand, then brought over another woman. This woman disappeared for a few minutes and came back telling me that they put the money in the wrong account. I didn't understand so she asked someone if they spoke English. That got me a little annoyed and I said I speak Spanish, but I don't understand what she's talking about. Talking loudly enough so the whole bank could hear, she said that I'd filled out the wrong line and made myself a third party to give the university my money.

So instead of having the university pay me, I'd signed over my check, from the university, to the university. The teller had put my money into the university's bank account. Now I had no money. Instead of trying to be helpful and find a solution, they essentially kicked me out of line and told me to go to a different bank to get my money. What I want to know is what was the teller thinking when she looked at my slip and check? She obviously saw that the check was made out to me from the university, so why would she only question the slip after she stamped it and signed it over to the university? Shouldn't she be doing her job and making sure the money goes in the right place before she finalizes a transaction?

I walked across town to the other bank, sweating in the heat and furious. I was just looking for an excuse to punch someone or scream. Entering the other bank, I was shocked to see a line nearly out the door. There must have been two hundred people in there not moving at all. It was like the check in counter at an airport during a holiday week. I waited for 5 minutes and then realized it was pointless.

Walking back, hot and angry, I dug my nails into my palms, white-knuckled and ready to destroy something. It just isn't my day. I've tried to brush off the inefficiency and lack of concern as just a cultural difference. I realize that it's not my place to revolutionize their system. But today it has finally driven me nuts. It's so hard to get anything accomplished here, that I feel bad saying I can understand why people label this country as 3rd world.

Now I have to hope that I can get the university to give me back the money, but I'm certain that whole process will be another headache. It could take the university weeks to pay me for the last month of work, yet they expected me to pay the first day I had Spanish lessons. One professor told me that when he started he was literally starving because they hadn't paid him for 2 months and he couldn't afford food. It's been an extremely aggravating process. Today I am not happy with this place.


chiletom said...

I left the USA, country of my birth, which no longer exists, about 15 years ago.
I got married in Guatemala, lived there for 8 years. To get a marriage license cost me about $2000 because they need paperwork that does not exist in the northern system. I managed to open a bank account quite easily, but that was befor the paranoia of 911 had set in. Now, because of the stupid reactions of the USA, all gringoes must suffer when they try to opean a bank account overseas. Not the fault of the country of your host country, but fault of the USA with their stupid anti terrorist measures. I now live in Chile, a very progressive country, where I managed to get a bank account. It took about 2 months. First I had to get permanent residency in order to start applying for the bank account. And I had to put down a $2000 deposit just for the privilege of having the account. And filling out a deposit slip can be a trying experience. The date is not the USA date with mm.dd.yy
the dd comes first. And what really pisses me off, is that the comma for thousands, is now replaced by a period and the period is replaced by a comma. But again when you are outside of the USA things are different, and who knows, maybe they are better. Best to leave your attitude behind. Humility is a good trait to develop when overseas. I will never go back to the USA of my own volution. I have also opened bank accounts in Honduras and Costa Rica, but all before the stupidity of the Bush administration which has fucked up the entire world banking system. Soon I hope to migrate north to Ecuador and pass through another labyrinth of tramites, the secret is humility and patience and the better Spanish you speak, the more respect you get. I never utter a word of English when I am in a Spanish speaking country.
I wish you success. I dislike intensely Argentina, but really like Uruguay.
I have made up a list of requisites for various countries including Brazil, where I had planned to go, but fuck them and their visa required only for US citizens.

tom pavlovich

Jon said...

Thanks for commenting. It's interesting to hear how you need to take big steps to get bank accounts in other Latin American countries also. Hopefully that information you've posted will help someone in the future. Thanks for reading.