I have a cheque to pay in to the bank. It’s drawn from a UK bank and in sterling (obviously). I want to pay it into my bank here, in Milan. The bank is through the Post Office as it’s the cheapest around (we don’t get free banking here, guys).
I go to the PO and take my ticket. This is much, much better than the old days. Previously, going to the PO was a nightmare, queuing not really being an Italian thing. But now you have to have a ticket, just like at the deli counter in a UK supermarket. When your number shows up at a counter, you go to that counter. All very civilized here.
As it is holiday time and nobody is back yet, my number comes up straight away. I go to the counter and hand over the cheque, explaining that I want to pay it into my account. The nice lady (who is, by the way, bloody useless) looks at the cheque. Reads the cheque (except she can’t read English). I explain that it’s a cheque from England and in sterling and that the bank on the cheque is a UK bank. She turns it over. The back has nothing on it. She returns to the front of the cheque. She reads it all again. She has a discussion with another teller (who I’ve never seen before, so I guess is new here). They discuss it but I don’t know what they are saying.
She says we should go to the wonderful lady (WL) at the end counter. She is wonderful because she a) speaks a little English, b) seems to know what she is doing and c) is extremely helpful to us whenever we go.
So WL looks at the cheque. She has a conversation with the nice lady (who then darts back to her counter, never to be seen again. I think she was just glad to be rid of the problem. WL and I have a small (because my Italian is very poor) discussion about the cheque. Other PO employees come over to join in. A man who looks like the manager of the PO also joins in. WL checks the general terms and conditions to see how, or even if they can, accept a cheque that is not Italian and, worse, not in Euros. But the Ts&Cs are too general.
She suggests that I go to the main post office in town. I ask if we can try here and because she is the WL, she says OK
She tries entering the details via the computer. Unfortunately, but obviously, the computer wants the value in Euros. The cheque is in pounds. She goes away.
I look at things. Leaflets, posters, etc. I wait. I wait some more. I cannot see where WL has gone. I move up the counters to see if I can see her. She is on the phone at the back.
I wait some more……!
She comes back with a form. A different form to that used for paying in. Not a normal duplicate form but it may have been faxed to her.
She explains that it may take up to a month to clear. This is no surprise. I had read about this on another blog/site. I say that it’s OK. She says it may take less, as if to apologise for how tardy they are here.
She fills in the form and gets me to sign it. Then, because it is not a duplicate form she has to take a photocopy so that I have a copy of it.
And that’s it! Well, obviously, I now have to wait to see how much I get charged and how long it takes. We shall see and I will try to remember to post the results on this blog.
Then she tries to get me to sign up to online banking. I think she thinks that it may stop me coming in so often :-). I explain that I’ve tried but it seems difficult. She fills in a form (absolutely every transaction you do requires a form).
I sign the form. Then, on her computer, she shows me what site to go to to register. Apparently I will get a telegram with a code that will finally allow me to bank online. She gives a long list of terms and conditions with prices. And she writes a helpline number on top to call if I have problems and suggests that, maybe, someone will speak English there.
I go home. I try. It doesn’t work. It doesn’t like something. I think it’s my Codice Fiscale (like National Insurance Number – but used for everything here – almost to the point of being required for supermarket shopping) but I can’t be sure.
I read some of the charges. I note that, even if I pay a bill online, it will still cost me 1 Euro. I can’t wait until the banks here are in foreign hands and there is some real competition.
That was all yesterday.
Today, I go back. I explain that I couldn’t do it and that I tried to ring the helpline number but nobody spoke English and it was too difficult to explain my problem. I ask if we can try it here – on her computer.
We try. She gets the same message. And then we have a whole conversation about whether I am a resident. I’m not. Not yet. I’ve applied but it takes three months! I only did it for the car (that I now need to sell).
She looks on my initial application for the bank and sees that I’m not a resident. But then finds that, on the computer I am classed as a resident. She suggests that I try the alternative registration option of non-resident. We start to try it but it requires different information that she doesn’t have.
I say I’ll try it at home. I did. It works. It says I will get a telegram (I think). This will be interesting to see if it works. I’ll let you know.