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When Good Banks Go Bad!!! (deliberately over-sensational title ☺)

A few Saturdays ago I went to the bank to deposit money from my pay (paid into a Post Office account) to "the real bank" that is handling my car loan. It is a bit of faff that I do once a month as in five-odd years I never got around to sorting out the "permissions" necessary to let an electronic transfer between accounts in two different establishments to work (it is somewhat more regulated than the UK, and being French it'll require infinite amounts of paperwork).
As we were going to big-town-south, I didn't do the transfer at the normal branch in the town where I work. I went to the local smaller branch. Hey, an ATM is an ATM, right?

The ATM took my card, I entered my PIN, and the menu appeared as normal. I went to the deposits/transfers menu and the only option on the screen was for doing a transfer between accounts. It was not possible to pay money in.
I went to the girl behind the counter - this required pressing a door buzzer to be let into the bank. Unlike the British banks that I am used to, you can go into a French bank and actually sit opposite (and maybe shake the hand of) the bank employee. With no bulletproof glass in the way. There's no point, except in exceptional circumstances, anything to do with money is handled via the machine in the wall. You want money from a person? Forget it, unless you want a large amount and have specifically booked it a long time in advance.

So, I went to the girl behind the counter, and at this point my mother would want me to point out that she may be mid-twenties or so, wearing heels, tights, shorts that barely covered her panties, and a low slung top. I wasn't really paying much attention (yup, I'm that sad) but mom figured it was an appalling way for a bank employee to dress.

So - enough with the devations - I went to the girl behind the counter (actually a table, same difference) and said I wanted to make a deposit. Treating me like a bit of a retard, she walked me over to the ATM and had me sign into it, call up the menu, and - yes lady - same thing happened. Happy?
Apparently not. As instead of saying "oh, the machine must be out of envelopes" or "I wonder if an envelope got jammed" and going around back to check (this was not the first time this machine would have either eaten a payment or run out of envelopes), she told me that there was something wrong with my card, and that she could order me a new card. Huh? Seriously? You're blaming the card?
Fine. Whatever.
This new card. Does it support contactless payment? She told me yes, they all do now. I asked her if there was an option to disable this. She said that was not possible, but don't worry, there is insurance against fraud.

I will detour slightly here to point you to this webpage on the bank's own site that says quite clearly: Vous aurez la liberté de désactiver et réactiver ce service sur le site, dans votre espace de gestion des comptes et des cartes. Cette désactivation n’est pas définitive, vous aurez ensuite la possibilité de réactiver ce service si vous le souhaitez.
This says, for those who can't read French, that you are free to activate and deactivate the contactless feature from the bank's website. Just log in, go to manage your cards, choose the option. You can change your mind at any time. Why did the bank employee not even know this?

So I handed over the banknotes and they were counted and put into an envelope, and I was handed a receipt. A few days later the money turned up in my account, so at least that bit wasn't screwed up.

For what it is worth, I went to the branch in the town where I work a couple of days later and deposited a fiver, just to see if it worked. With my "broken" card. It did. I would be willing to bet actual real banknotes that the problem was the ATM, not my card.

But, there's more. As I have been working more than five years, I will receive a thirteenth month's worth of pay (some complicated "pro rata" for pay divided by days of attendence). I plan to take a part of that plus try (try in italics!) to put aside around €50 a month. The plan? To save five or six thousand to organise a journey to Japan before I turn 50 (I'm nearly 41) and turn into an angry old git (though I'm getting there quickly). There are a number of savings accounts offered by the bank and, frankly, I'd like the one with the highest interest and the least risk. I'm not concerned if I need to give a period of notice before withdrawing money.
There is a savings account for ethical development that interested me. I would be happy if my money could help do some good in this world when I'm not using it. But, it is hard to know what is the best choice when there's a selection of five or six different. Why so many? What is different between them? Which option would be best for me?
So I asked her.

Big mistake.

As soon as she clocked that I was English, she picked up the phone to schedule a rendez-vous at the sister branch in a nearby (by French standards) town because (quote) somebody there can speak English. Wait - what? This girl is too bloody lazy to attempt to speak to me, so it's fine to send me twenty odd miles out of my way to talk to somebody "in English, maybe"? I tried again to ask her but she was having none of it. She just held up the phone and kept saying she could make an appointment for me at the other branch.
Sorry, thanks but no thanks. It was not a difficult question. I understand that my pronunciation is not particularly good, but in my opinion she could only have been more offensive if she started saying stuff like "me no speak English". She just was not interested in even attempting to talk to me.

So - you know what? I'm going to set up an appointment to discuss savings options. With La Banque Postale. Not the Crédit Mutuel.

Now, it takes a lot to really annoy me. Minor annoyances happen all the time, and this little McNugget of the web is where I get to bitch and moan (and be surprised that people actually read it), but this rudeness and unwillingness to help pushed me to actually write a letter.
To the bank's head office.

Here it is. And as is usual, names and places have been munged. French speakers might get a wry smile out of some of the replacements.

(the DTP software is OvationPro)

For those who cannot read French, here's a paragraph by paragraph translation, with annotations/comments in square brackets:

Le samedi 8 novembre, j’ai visité votre banque à Nulle-Parte pour déposer l’argent dans ma compte et aussi pour chercher l’avis.
On Saturday 8th November, I visited your bank in <nearby town> to deposit some money into my account and also to look for advice.

Le première problème, apparemment mon carte ne fonction pas plus pour faire les dépôts dans le distributeur de billets. Quand j’ai essai, il n’avait pas d’option pour déposer les espèces. Le femme là me dire que ca c’est une problème avec ma carte, et elle commander un remplacement. Alors, aujourd’hui je visite le banque a La Grosse Fesse et mettre un dépôt de €5 avec aucun difficulté. Pourquoi le femme me dire que c’est un problème avec ma carte? Si la carte marche au Fesse, elle marche, non? Donc, c’est un coût pas nécessaire pour la banque, le création d’une nouveau carte bancaire...
The first problem, apparently my card no longer works to making deposits in the ATM. When I tried, there was no longer an option for depositing banknotes. The woman there told me that there was a problem with my card, so she ordered a replacement. However, today I visited the bank in <town where I work> and made a deposit of €5 with no problems. Why did the woman tell me that there was a problem with my card? If the card works at <town where I work>, it works, right? Therefore, this is an unnecessary expense for the bank, the creation of a new bank card. [yes, I'm stirring slightly]

Pour le demande d’une nouveau carte, j’initialiser trois feuilles de papier et signer le dernière. Je lire vite quand elle me demande de ce faire, mais après, elle ne me donne pas de copies de les papiers. Pourquoi?
In order to make the demand for the new card, I needed to initial three pieces of paper and sign the last one. I speed-read them when she asked me to do this, however afterwards she did not provide me with copies of these papers. Why? [this is bad form - the bank employees have always given me copies of all paperwork - maybe she actually thinks I can't read French?]

Je demande si le nouveau carte marche avec paiement “sans contact”. Elle répondre oui. Je demande s’il y-a un option de choisir de n’avez pas sans contact dans ma carte. Elle me dit ce n’est pas possible, tous les cartes posséder cet option, et il existe une assurance contre les activités frauduleux. Chez moi, je cherche votre site web et découvrir vite que je peut activer/désactiver cet fonction sur Pourquoi elle ne sais pas ça?
I asked if the new card had contactless payment. She said yes. I asked if there was an option to not have this [I read TheRegister...]. She told me that it was not possible, all of the cards have contactless, and there's an insurance against fraud. At home I looked at your site and quickly discovered that I could enable/disable contactless right there at Why did she not know this? [fair question, don't you think?]

Enfin, je souhaite de épargner l’argent pour un vacance au Japon. Je anticiper d’épargner environ €4000-5000 dans plusieurs années avec un dépôt quasi-mensuel. Je suis intéressé en le “Livret de Développement Durable”, mais je ne sais pas si c’est le meilleur choix pour moi. J’essai de demande ces questions de le femme au banque, mais quand elle comprendre que je suis anglais, elle n’avez aucun intérêt de m’aider, elle me dit plusieurs fois de faire un rendez-vous au Petit Lointain, parce que “quelqu’un là parle anglais”. Elle fait aucun tentative pour me comprendre. Pourquoi j’aller au Petit Lointain parce qu’elle n’est pas intéressé de parle à moi? J’accepte que mon française n’est pas parfait, mais je travail dans le même entreprise au Fesse pour six ans (je suis embauché), et je trouvé sa comportement d’être impoli. Cet lettre a été écrit par moi-même, pas par Traduction Google. Dans le passé, je aucun problème avec mon ancien conseiller, Mr De’Ath.
Finally, I wish to save some money for a holiday in Japan. I anticipate saving about €4-5K over several years with a quasi-monthly deposit. I am interested in the "Ethical Development" savings account, but I don't know if it is the best choice for me. I tried to ask the bank employee these questions, but once she understood that I was English, she had no interest in helping me, she told me several times to make an appointment in <not so nearby town> because "somebody there speaks English". She made no attempt at understanding me. Why should I go to <not so nearby town> because she isn't interested in talking to me? I accept that my French is not perfect, however I have worked in the same company in <town> for six years (I am hired, on contact [as in, not seasonal or anything like that]), and I found her behaviour to be impolite. ["bloody rude", actually, but I wanted to keep this letter polite] This letter was written by myself, not Google Translate. [truth!] In the past, I had no problem with my previous bank adviser <and I named him>. [gee, lady, who d'you think set up the car loan? my death insurance policy? sure as hell wouldn't have been YOU!]

Peut-être cette femme devraient de rappeler qu’elle représente la banque.
Maybe this woman would do to remember that she represents the bank.

Je ne sais pas le nom de cet femme, a Nulle-Parte autour de 11h le samedi 8 novembre, l’appli CMB me dit que mon conseiller est Charlotte Rampling. Si c’est le même personne, permettez-moi de changer pour un autre conseiller? Si possible, je n’avez aucun problème de transférer mon compte vers La Grosse Fesse. Je travail là, et l’homme de l’agence là me comprendre quand je parle votre langue.
I do not know the name of this woman, at <nearby town> around 11 o'clock on the 8th of November. The CMB app [on my iPad] tells me that the name of my bank adviser is <name here>. [and I pick Charlotte Rampling because she's known for French connections and "arty" films (as in: doesn't wear much)] If this is the same person, please allow me to change to another bank adviser? If possible, I would have no problem with transferring my account to <town where I work>. I work there, and the man in the branch understands me when I speak your language. [zing!]


I few days later, I received a letter advising me of my PIN number which was, thankfully, the same as it was. In France, unlike the UK, the bank tells you your PIN and that's that. So I went to collect it. Same woman. I swear if there wasn't a table in the way I probably could have described her panties. I hadn't realised her 'shorts' (not even culottes (skirt/shorts)) were that short. The top was slightly less revealing today, I guess she won't be hooking up with lonely cow farmers...... anyway, bad news. The card was handed over and my old one destroyed. And on the receipt was the name of the employee that handled the transaction. Yup. This girl is my allocated advisor. Marvellous. Sorry Crédit Mutuel, but we aren't going to have any sort of relation, her and I. A relation between client and bank employee involves two people interacting, talking, listening. Well, one of us tried to, at least.


I held off writing this because I wanted to hear what the bank's response to this would be. The letter is dated the 10th. It was handed to the post lady on the 13th (had to go into town after work to buy a stamp). As that place with the peculiar name is in the same region (Brittany), it should have got there the day after. Saturday at the latest. A week passed. It's the 24th as I write this. No response as yet. I'll update this when I hear. If I hear...


Paid advert fail?

I couldn't remember David Pilling's OvationPro URL off the top of my head, so I Googled it.

David Pilling is a great bloke. I've never actually met him, but his contribution to RISC OS is undeniable. I'm so pleased I can buy my own David Pilling from Amazon!

It is actually a writer of historical fantasy (as far as I can work out from the book covers shown) based in Wales. Perhaps Amazon could have worded it a little better? I'm gutted that I can't buy my own David Pilling. Just a lousy book... Hihihihi.... ☺ ☺ ☺



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Zerosquare, 26th November 2014, 02:09
Well... if you take a dim view of Crédit Mutuel, you're not the only one, far from it: 
It's unrelated, but I left a comment there (I don't know if you read comments on older pages):
Merchant Banker, 26th November 2014, 18:16
You think that's bad? UK banks are far worse. You go a few pence overdrawn. They then charge you £20 for going overdrawn (by a few pence). Then they charge you more for going further overdrawn because of the penalty charge they put on you. Then they send you a letter, for which they charge another £20. Then charge another £20 for going further into the red. 
Before you know it, your 43 pence overdraft has turned into £400 in penalty charges. 
Complete bunch of merchant bankers, the lot of 'em.

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