Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Barriers to Entry

My french friends must pay their credit card bills at the end of the month. And they pay and annual fee. Ok this is like an Amex card. But they also pay a monthly fee to actually have an account. My boyfriend pays over 10 Euro a month to "have" his account. hmm

So imagine my surprise when I tried to open a french bank account and after arriving with my life in one file folder (social security card, birth certificate, diplomas, Carte de Longue Séjour -aka visa, registration from my current school, doctor's notes, etc. etc. - really if this file disappeard I would officially cease to exist) and a nice first check that they would to give me an account. This on the grounds that I would need to make an appointment, meet with a banker, decide if it was the right bank (i.e. see how the actual charges were hidden - ATM withdrawls, cards, etc.) and then sign papers.
This in addition to paying a monthly fee for having an account. REALLY?

Yes, apparently, Really. I visited, with my little file folder and check, 5 banks and was told the same things. So I after crying and stamping my feet, I accept that I will not be able to get an account for another week, and thus have to be paid by check from my company, and take appointments with 4 banks in my neighborhood.
What a treat to visit 4 banks at 9 a.m. on Saturday morning and to tell them each that I think their banking charges are ridiculous and that I will not pay them 8 euro per month for them to hold my money and make interest off of it. Finally I find one bank that will do the trick and I get a student discount so I have to pay only 2,50 per month. I pay charges if I take money out of ATMs that are not my bank if I do it more than 10 times in a month.

And Finally.....
another delight, having my account totally electronic and then being charged for asking them to print me statements so that I can take it to the police to renew my visa. Also not being able to deal with any other office of my bank. I can take money out of the ATM but the people inside cannot do a thing with my account - including see what is in it.

Note: We also asked my boyfriend's bank, also his parents bank, for the price for an account (which should be beneficial to everyone involved). Not only did she wait two weeks to respond she wanted to charge 13 euro per month. SERIOUSLY?!

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