I Moved To Oaxaca

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Oh, more on that love/hate thing:

It just worked out this way, but the only bill we have due on the first of the month is the fee for the parking lot. Everything else is due around the 10th of the month: rent, cable, electricity. We split the electricity with our landlord, Juan Carlos; so far we've just given him the money to cover our half, but this time he handed us the bill to pay. And unlike in the States where everything is paid by check and mailed in -- or, if you're a Bay Area geek, paid for online with a credit card -- here everything is cash. You can pay your electricity bill at the supermarket, or at neighborhood payment centers. We went to the local payment center and saw a bank of machines similar in appearance to BART ticket machines. But oh so much simpler: stick the electricity bill in front of the barcode reading eye on the machine, and a display comes up confirming how much you owe. Stick your money in the slot and the machine gives you your change and a receipt. Damn! Way, way, way better than anything back home.

Now for the hate: I finally went in to tell Banamex that their ATM ate my debit card, and that I have a new address. I had a note with handy banking phrases all written out in Spanish, and my dictionary. Well, the teller said, you have to call this 800 number and report it. Well, I said, can I just have the money from my account? No, first I have to report the card lost, then I can get the money. I didn't bring my phone, and she certainly wasn't going to use bank resources to call for me, so I trudged back home, called Banamex and managed to report the card stolen. Then walked back to the bank to get my money. Hey, no money in this account -- you took it all out in Puebla. Ah, I haven't been in Puebla for some time. Okay, you need to report that via the phone number. Can I at least change my address now? Nope -- only over the phone. I'm not exactly sure what it is they do in the branch. So, back home to make another call.

Anyone who's dealt with a big bank can pretty much guess what happened: transfers, please hold, transfers, whispered conferences in the background, hold, transfer. Until the battery on my phone ran out. I plugged it in to the charger and called again. More transferring, holding, waiting. Finally, I got two different (or was it five?) somebodys to take down my new address and to take down the report of stolen funds. Here's the kicker: since I have reported the card lost, though, I can't actually put in for a change of address until I get the new card ... although I've already moved and will never receive the new card. Even though I can go down to the bank with three forms of picture ID to prove it's me and not the thief trying to change the address ... no can do. Fine, I say: I have one more item. I want to close my account. Hey, there's something they can't do over the phone -- I have to do that at the branch. Before I could get really wound up, my phone went dead, this time from running through all my minutes. I went down one more time to the bank to cancel the fucking account in person, but it had closed for the day. I seriously considered testing whether an isshinryu straight punch could take on a bank window, but the disadvantage of bringing your spouse along when you're royally pissed is that they tend to stop you from those kind of experiments. So I had to content myself with an anti-anger Corona and asking Patricia, the director at Berlitz, to cancel the account the next day. At least she agrees: Banamex sucks.


Post a Comment

<< Home