I sold my house! Well, before you all get excited, I sold my house in Holland and I did take a rather serious haircut on it. Of course the ‘haircut’ was only relative to the value I had hoped to get, rather than what I had paid for it or the mortgage on it. However, all this is rather irrelevant to today’s story. What is interesting is what happened as I try to repatriate my money.
I decided to do a little market research and sent four lumps of money (all exactly equal four figure sums) to four different bank accounts, with three different banks. The money was all sent at exactly the same time from one single account in Holland.
On the Dutch side I logged into my account, filled in the IBAN and BIC information (if you are not familiar with these, best you figure it out, as it is becoming the standard in European banking), and sent the money in pounds. The exchange rate was slightly better than expected and the charges were … absolutely nothing!
I have previously sent money the other way and the charge was £25 and I had to go to the Barclays branch at the time to do it.
The money from the Netherlands arrived in the UK 3 days later. Now keep in mind the whole transaction was completely electronic, so you can imagine it needs to take 3 days! The bankers must really believe we are all plebs.
Two accounts showed the money as available that morning. The other two, not until the next day. Interesting to see was that the business account with Barclays showed the money a day before the personal account with Barclays did. Makes you wonder.
Now comes the interesting bit. Two accounts charged for receiving the money, even though they had played with it for 3 days. The Coop needed £6 and NatWest, the bank you and I own, charged £7. I was unable to find the charge listed anywhere, so I called both.
NatWest took 25 minutes and 4 different departments to not give me an answer. Steve, in customer service (calls may be recorded for quality purposes) put me through to Lak in complaints. Lak told me it would need the investigation department to look into it and they will get back to me in 5 days!
The Coop told me to call back on Monday. Somewhere I found some indication of what the Coop thinks it should charge for receiving money from abroad, but I could not get it to match up with the actual charge. NatWest was even more obscure. Over 250 pages of terms and conditions, but this is not listed, or at least I could not find it.
It looks like those businesses trying to export those few goods we still manufacture are still being penalised by our banking system. Within the Eurozone the charges are now zero and there is no exchange risk. We have to keep sponsoring the banking system so they can keep up their gambling activities, even the banks we own. Thank you NatWest and the Coop – I thought better of you.