I am starting to see more and more clearly what is going to be the most challenging part of being back in France: the administrative side of everything…

Last week, I accidentally withdraw more money from my checking account that I had put in there (I also have a saving account with the same bank that had more than enough money to cover the difference but I guess that does not really matter!!).

Here in France, it seems that everyone is assigned a “conseiller financier” or some kind of financial counselor who is meant to be the one link with the bank. So on Thursday, my ‘special’ person called to let me know that I was in the red and to ask when I would be able to put money back in my account. I told her I would do it by the end of the day: the reason I was in the red was because I had to spend a bit too much money to travel last minute to Cannes for an interview but I already had a check in hand to cover the expenses and was going to take care of it right away. And I did! I also transfer money from my savings to my checking account the same day.

However, my card was still blocked and I later found out that it was not part of the procedure to alert me of it. No email, no phone call, not even a message when I would access my accounts online. So only Monday afternoon, did I realize that I was left without any money.

I immediately walked to the nearby branch, only to be told that the one and only person who could do anything about it was my very personal “conseiller financier,” who also happened not to be working that day (most banks are closed on Monday, yeah!).

After a few phone calls and emails, my card was finally unblocked at some point on Tuesday afternoon and later that day, my ‘special’ person finally called me, starting the conversation telling me that she was communicated that she needed to get in touch with me but did not know what it was about.

After a somewhat lengthy conversation where she successively stated that she did not know anything about the situation, then admitted that she was the one who had blocked my card (hence confessing that she knew very well why I was trying to reach her), and later acknowledged that it was indeed her mistake, I was left to realize that her lack of professionalism and honesty was mostly motivated by fear and by what seemed to be a habit of being defensive and following the CYA policy.

Anyway, the situation has been solved and I am now shopping for a new bank. But this attitude of “I can’t do it” and “it simply can’t be done” is starting to get to me already. Turns out ‘impossible’ IS a French word!


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