Thursday, 18 September 2008

Battle of the Banca

You already know that we have a strange and wonderful relationship with our Italian bank that has in the past thought it good customer relations to bodily remove me from the premises so all the staff could all go off together for a three hour lunch.
We have this arrangement with them whereby when we receive a nice chunk of rent money we move most of it into an internet savings account with the jolly title of Moneybox, leaving the balance in the current account to pay our bills, taxes etc. We had to go to the bank personally to open this account, we made an appointment and were duly kept waiting for about an hour. During this time Mr FF did try the attack of taking one of the numbered tickets and when our number was called going up to the cashier and explaining that we were waiting to be seen, they sent us back to wait. We managed to open the account after a lengthy interview, none of which we understood, basically they shoved papers in front of us and we signed them. At that time they failed to mention that we needed a special 'key' that plugged into our computer with a code to enable us to carry out online banking, so we collected that next time we were in Italy and there we were up and operational.
The money stays in Moneybox for a couple of months then the bank moves it back into our current account with about a week where it is in neither account, we move it into the savings again and so it goes on. We accepted this and it worked fine until this week when Mr FF went to transfer the money back into the savings account and wasn't able to, we received a message saying that we needed to go into the bank for an interview. I then embarked upon a series of emails explaining that we didn't plan to be in Italy again this year but wanted to earn some interest on our money. The bank insisted we needed to attend because it was a European directive. I suggested we might be able to have an interview with their associate bank in Scotland, The Royal Bank which is our lovely organised, helpful bank here that has never heard of this EU directive, no we needed to attend in person. I asked if we could maybe have the interview with our Italian lawyer here in Scotland who could have their power of attorney, no we needed to attend in person. I half threatened to close our account but of course they have us stitched, we are only allowed a small amount of our own money from our current account each month unless we make a special arrangement and attend in person, it would take the best part of a year to filter the money out.
Finally I emailed them and said we as their customers needed them to offer a resolution, they replied that we needed to attend in person. I had suggested to Mr FF that I could go over to Rome for a while, maybe a month, and sort if out but he pointed out that we would both need to be there for the interview as it is a joint account. The time off and travel would amount to more than any interest and be a total waste of time. After much ranting about how a bank might in the current climate be glad to have investors who left money with them to use as they wished in return for sod all interest, we spoke to Franco, our friend in Rome who said he would get on the case. He phoned back last night to say he has arranged to visit our bank, will collect the interview forms and post them to us for completion and return. As we say in Italia, sono senza parole - I am without words.


  1. Defies belief they can be so bloody-minded for so long and then change so swiftly!

    Hubby and I have yet to experience the pleasures of Italian banking red tape, but will no doubt be tearing our hair out like you in a few of years when we make the move out there.


  2. You poor thing!! I lived in Germany for a year in 1989 - and had tremendous trouble with banks - made more difficult by the fact that they didn't do overdrafts. At all!! (Well, they might now, but I doubt it).

    I also had the whole rigmarole of registering at the police station (I don't know if you have to do that in Italy, but it wouldn't surprise me if you if have to at some point) - where you are quizzed in detail about where exactly your entire family for three generations were born - all to be issued a permit to live in a small sleepy town.

    The red tape was astounding, and I thought it would have all changed by now (especially as the Iron Curtain has lifted in the meantime) - but perhaps not. (I even have a certificate which states that I am free from TB and can therefore work with German people...).

    Thank you as well for stopping by my blog and reminding me to keep life and deadlines in focus!!

  3. I hate Italian banks and their regulations and fees! Every time you turn around they are charging you a fee, even the postage to mail you your statement! I can understand the temptation to stuff money into a the end I think you'd keep more of it.