samedi, juillet 07, 2007

French Bureaucracy: How to close a bank account

OK, while I'm no longer in Paris, I had an amusing/frustrating experience closing my bank account in France that probably merits a blog post. And all the more so because of my encounter with Chicago bureaucracy on Thursday.


Random Receptionist: Can I help you?

Me: Yes, I'd like to close my bank account.

RR: Alright, then, you'll have to make an appointment.

Me: Really? To close my account? I can't just do it?

RR: No. You'll have to make an appointment with the consultant that has been assigned to your bank account.

Me: I don't even know who that is.

RR: We'll have to look it up then.

Me: When is your earliest availability?

RR: Your consultant is available Friday morning at 9am.

Me: Don't you have anything later in the day? I have my departure party the night before.

RR: No.

Me: But what about all that empty space on the calendar? It looks like he's available around 3pm as well.

RR: (sigh) I suppose so. 3pm it is. Here's your appointment card.

[At this point, she takes a blank index card with the bank's logo and writes "Friday, June 29th at 15h00" in longhand. Because apparently I'm too retarded to remember a meeting time.]

Friday, 3pm

Me: Hi, I'm here to close my bank account.

M. Khellaf: Ah yes, you must be Monsieur Garcia. Please sit down. (pause) So you want to close your bank account?

Me: Um, yes.

K.: And your reason for closing the account?

Me: I'm leaving France.

K.: For good?

Me: Yes.

K.: Will you be returning to France later?

Me: No.

K.: Will you be keeping another bank account?

Me: No.

K.: Will you still have an address in France?

Me: No. I'm leaving France. To North America. Forever.

K.: Oh, I see. Well, you'll need to remove all the funds before I close it. Here, take your bank card and walk to the ATM around the corner and take out all your money. You have 446€, so take out 440€ from the machine.

Me: Really? Um, OK...

[5 minutes later...]

Me: So, it all came out in 10€ bills. All 440€'s worth.

K.: Oh, I suppose that they haven't restocked the ATM machines yet. Sorry about that.

Me: So can you exchange these for larger bills?

K.: Nope. We don't have cash here.

Me: Really?

K.: Yes.

Me: No cash?

K.: No.

Me: At a bank?

K.: Well, some branches keep a cash teller, but most do not.

Me: Oh.

K.: So your bank account is closed.

Me: And the remaining 6€?

K.: Well, as I said, we don't have a cash teller here, so we can't give you the 6€. And 4€ of that will go towards bank fees for this transaction. If you had another account in France we could wire the remaining money to your other account. We could always wire the money to an international bank account...

Me: Yes?

K.: ...but there is a 16€ fee.

Me: Oh.


Me:'ll be keeping my remaining money?

K.: Yes.

Me: Oh. Well...I guess I'm done here.

K.: Thank you very much for coming. Have a lovely day.

Me: Thank y...well, um...goodbye.

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