maarmie's musings

Thursday, November 15, 2007

UK v. US - round three

Banking. Why do the British have to make it such a fucking hassle?

From my limited experience, you go into a bank in the United States, wait to talk to an accounts person, fill out paperwork, hand over money, show ID, and, voila, you have just opened a checking or savings account.

Over here, they can't make things that simple.

This week, I've checked out four local banks having branches on the high street (the main street downtown). At the first bank I tried, the Royal Bank of Scotland (or RBS), the lady told me I needed a water bill with my name and current address as proof of my new address. Goodness knows I have tons of other kinds of mail to prove I live where I do, but that's not good enough. I need a utility bill. Bah! Even if I had one, the only account they'd let me open would be the most basic one - one that doesn't even come with a debit card! Can you believe that?

I worked my entire adult life to build up my credit score in the states (and can proudly boast a score of 826) and I move here only to be treated like a financial leper. What's worse is the banking people tell me they can't check my financial history in the United States. I have to start fresh.

The second bank I went to, Clydesdale Bank, told me I'd have to apply and, after my history is checked, they decide which account I can have. The third bank, Lloyds TSB, told me I could just come in and open an account. When I tried to do this, I was told I'd need an appointment, which I made for the next morning. When I showed up, I was told that I'd need employment (and a minimum of £500 being direct-deposited into my account each month) to qualify for even the most basic current account. Since I'm not yet gainfully employed (though I DO start a month-long temp job doing secretarial work for the National Health Service tomorrow), I would only qualify for some kind of what they call a "cash account." Again, no debit card. I can only deposit money and withdraw it from an ATM.

The fourth bank, and the one I have decided to go with, required me to fill out an application and mail it to some office in Leeds. Where the fuck is Leeds, anyway? I went into the branch to see if I could drop the application off there and was told I'd have to mail it. Even though that was my only question, the guy still felt the need to ask, "How long have you lived here?"

Jesus Christ, dude! None of your business how long I've lived here, how long I'm planning on living here (a favorite question) or why I live here! As long as I am legally allowed to be here and I want to put money in an account in your bank, what the fuck is your problem?

The downside at the bank I chose (and the downside at all the banks here considering my lowly status) is that I don't get any kind of overdraft services and I can't make deposits using a teller at a branch. Apparently, they have drop boxes and ATMs in which low-class people like me can make deposits. But at least, if I'm approved, I get a goddamn debit card.

These people are starting to piss me off.


Anonymous said...

The U.K. sucks. This is a well known, and well established, fact. Most of the inhabitants of Britain will agree with you. The question is not, "Does the U.K. suck?" but "Why do more than 60 million people put up with all this sucking?"

Answers on a postcard, please.

maarmie said...

I wouldn't go so far as to say all this. However, YOU seem to have an awfully strong opinion on things. Why don't you elaborate so you don't continue coming across as some kind of anonymous idiot?