Posts Tagged ‘banks’

When we first bought our small apartment in Spain, it followed a fair bit of research (mostly by Sharon) and we even tripped over to Manchester to visit a Holiday Roadshow put on by one of the various T.V. shows.  All sorts of help and advice was available and from here we made what we thought was the good decision to use English lawyers, based in Spain. With our (then) complete lack of Spanish and uncertainty of the rules, we used a company that has their Costa Del Sol branch in Marbella.

banco-santanderWe asked those lawyers to set up a bank account for us in Spain, something that the roadshow representative said was part of the package, but which they, when it came to it, had a reluctance to do. Suffice to say, they made something of a minimal effort to help us with that task and we ended up with a Banco Santander account, at an office on the Puerto Banus side of Marbella – roughly 40-50 minutes’ drive from our apartment.

The manager was ok, he spoke good English and he did what he could to help us get up and running.  However, no matter how many times we tried or what he told us could happen; getting our account transferred to our more local Los Boliches branch was impossible.  We had to trail to the far side of Marbella for all sorts of reasons, including a new debit card for Sharon which could not be posted to our apartment – (“we can only post these to your home address but cannot post them outside the country and your home address is in England”!!).

We also found the local branch in Los Boliches so unhelpful at all stages that we decided to change banks. That isn’t easy over here, there’s no real help from the banks themselves, but we were lucky enough to have Banco Sabadell recommended by the local lawyers we are gradually transferring our business to.  The manager we dealt with helped us with everything he could – which did not include closing our Santander account.  Following yet another unsuccessful visit to the Los Boliches branch (along with a Spanish speaker) we had to go to the Marbella branch (again!).

indexWe phoned first and were assured that we could (only) close the account at the branch that held the account. So off we went.

Only to be told, after they had cut up our bank cards, that they COULD NOT CLOSE the account because there was a c.€55 charge due on 8th January (to cover charges for period ending 31st December). Why couldn’t they take cash for that?  “es impossible!”. Our Spanish speaker was as perplexed as we were but, in the end, we had to leave €100 in the account to pay whatever the exact charge would be on the 8th January.

We are assured that we can then close the account at the Los Boliches branch.


We’ll see.

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Today’s news that Elaine McDonald has had her care package altered by the local council (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-14042703) comes as no shock, but it should be a warning to us all. Cash strapped councils are looking for any way they can to save money as their resources dwindle – and the easiest targets are those who need any kind of social care, no matter what cost to that person’s dignity or what contribution that person has made to society itself.

Just last week, the best part of a million public service workers went on strike to protest about the way in which hard earned pension contributions are becoming ever worthless and mismanaged. Remember that although teachers took part in this strike, it was NOT a teacher’s strike, it was a strike to raise awareness of the pension plight of anyone working today. Even those in the private sector.

But let us remember why these occurrences are necessary. It is not generally through any mismanagment by the councils themselves, who have become more and more accountable for the way in which they spend our money and it is not that the government have only just realised that we are getting older and healthier; they have known for forty years that I know of – they might just have got over the hump had it not been for the downright, criminal recklessness of banks and that fear that if they (the government) didn’t give our money to the banking system, the world as we know it would collapse.

Well, when the supreme court rules that a non-incontinent stroke victim has to have incontinence pads instead of someone to help her to the toilet – it has collapsed and we’re all lost. Blame the banks for that.

Lest we forget.

Picture Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/arimoore/408920461/in/photostream/

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Man shown up a treeThis week’s walk actually took place on a Saturday. We both had errands we wanted to carry out too, so the walk pretty much revolved around those. I needed to drop a letter off at the bank and John needed some oil for his new thumper machine (which is a machine for thumping up and down on his new path, rather than a machine that turns out Disney rabbits).

I now have the RunKeeper App on my iPhone so I set that up and recorded most of the walk. http://runkeeper.com/user/dsugden/activity/27588875 however, I must say that if we’d stayed out another hour, there would have been no battery left, despite it being fully charged when I left. It saves me having to plot our trips on Google maps when I get back. Although that is the best way of finding out how far we’ve walked, it’s tedious and time consuming. Using RunKeeper makes it so much easier.

My letter for the bank had contained some documents for the bank manager to see, following a sneaky attempt by them and my credit card company to rob me. I really am not surprised that bank are almost all back in (huge) profit now, because they have most of us over a barrel. Tesco Bank for example, who supply my credit card, send Sharon a text some days before our payment is due. She then makes sure that money is transferred amongst our accounts (we have an off-set mortgage, with several ‘pockets’ of money making up the account total) and into the one which pays Tesco. However, last week she missed Tesco’s request for money by about an hour. She wasn’t to have known this as they asked for the payment five days before it was due!

The first we knew about the problem was when a letter from NatWest (our bank) arrived on our doorstep. This was written on 25th February and we received it on 4th March. No rush then? They said that they’d had to refuse Tesco’s request as there were insufficient funds in our account! Two things to note here: banks no longer re-submit requests like this and we are all therefore, susceptible to a fine for allowing this to happen …. (wtf?) Now, I have a good relationship with my bank manager and he checked straight away and said he couldn’t see what the problem was as there had been money in the account – don’t worry. But I did worry and insisted that he check further and deeper. It turned out that the ‘technology’ did it’s stuff at xx o’clock, about half an hour before Sharon transferred the money (thinking that she still had over a week before the money was due).

To shorten a long story, we have been able to STOP the fine by NatWest and the fine by Tesco Bank (as well as the ongoing interest payment that would have been then due), by assiduously following this through. But how many of us would notice, or bother to do something about it? Why Tesco ask for our money over a week before it’s due and why our bank take a week to let us know only adds fuel to my question – are banks there to serve us, or to rob us?

Answers on a postcard please to your local bank manager.

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