Bank issues

My first pay cheque
Image by dmmd303 via Flickr

You think the banking system is the same all over the world. OK, maybe not so the same in India or Uganda but in Europe all the banks use the same method to transfer money from one account to the other. Right? We discovered that’s not the case.

We started to become superstitious about the French banking system when we went shopping on a Saturday at a large Carrefour. In our lane right in front of us a family had piled up their caddie (shopping cart) and when the sweet caissière finally bleeped all 241 items, they grabbed their paychecks.

“You mean those paper receipts we used in the 80’s of last century?”
“Hell yeah, those!”

Without even a glimpse of embarrassment they copied the total costs hand written on a check and handed it over to the cashier. She stamped it and the shopping were paid. Deal done.

This all looks quite innocent. But what do you do when you have to transfer large amounts of money? Like when you want to buy a kitchen? Believe it or not: a paycheck does it all. And that’s where it really went wrong.

We ordered the Warendorf kitchen for the watermill last year and had to postpone the delivery two times because we just weren’t ready. Finally it would arrive March 24. Just three weeks before we received an alarming phone call from Warendorf, our kitchen supplier. They didn’t receive our money. The real shock came as we called our French bank to ask what happened. They told us the check was cashed.

“Excuse me? The CHECK was CASHED? You mean: a pay check worth 20,000 euro was cashed by some one else than our kitchen supplier? Never heard of digital money transfers?”

Apparently some one got nervous and one hour later we received another call from our bank. It was all true…the check was indeed cashed by another French bank who operates for the Dutch bank of our kitchen company.

“So we don’t have to worry?”
“No, monsieur. It’s still not solved. They can’t trace it in their system and they have no idea on which account they’ve put it.”

“Excuse me? They cashed 20k of euros and they’ve just put it somewhere where they can’t find it?”
“Oui, monsieur.”

The kitchen supplier waited but told us (in good reason) they will have to cancel the delivery if the money is not transferred on time. And they are right. It’s merely a matter of entering the amount and the account details and hit ‘enter’. You’d think. But the story does not end here.

The French –in between banks– bank, the one that received the money really could not trace the cashed check. They needed to know when the money came in in order to find it. After a few calls our bank was able to tell us which courier send the pay check.

“Excuse me? You mean some one actually carried our pay check to transfer twenty *F* thousand to one French bank to another French bank who now lost trace of it? When was this? In the Middle Ages?”
“No. monsieur, last week.”

It all ended up with an official Cancel Delivery of our long-awaited beautiful design kitchen untill March 25 –one day later– they ‘found’ the money and transferred it to our Dutch supplier by…a computer. YES.

New kitchen arrival date April 1…the kitchen saga continues.

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