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Wednesday, 9 November 2005

Conversation With A Bank Teller

In which I manage to get to town and attempt to lodge money to my account.

"Can't put money to your account."
"Why not?"
"Access nothing computer card flashy here."
"Excuse me?"
"Nothing number screen now."
"Excuse me?" I think he is speaking Gerbil. It may be that I am not hearing him right, as I have malaria yet again and I fear that my brain is now permanently damaged. I give him the benefit of the doubt and try once more.
"What's the problem?"
"It's finished."
"Pardon?"
"It's finished, the account."
"What do you mean? I just opened it."

It transpires that Barclowns Zambia have a unique way of operating their banking system. To open an account you must first fill in 957 pieces of paper, provide them with photographs, fingerprints and the right foot of your firstborn child. Then, after several months, they will open an account (if you're lucky). They will not, however, notify you that the account has been opened. As soon as they open it they will immediately charge you fees, which you have not been notified of either. This will send your account overdrawn. You are not allowed to be overdrawn. Then they will add lots of interest onto the illegal overdraft. Rinse, repeat. Then they will close your account even though you have only just managed to get it open.



*Note: previous mentions of using the ATM refer of course to my UK bank cards. Now imagine the horror of losing them in this country.