Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Time Travel, Taiwan Style

If only the banks were as advanced as this.

Want to travel in Taiwan? You don't need expensive equipment or new theories of time and space. You just have to go to your local bank, where it is still 1961.

Went into the bank today to deposit (note: not cash) a US$1000 check from my mother. We've deposited checks from overseas with them many times during our nearly 15 years with that bank. I sign the check and then we fill out the onerous and unnecessary paperwork. A waste of time, but like all Taiwan procedures, if all the proper papers are filed, eventually you get what you want.

Not today. First, the teller informs us that we have never done that before. She was very polite and apologetic. "We have no record of any checks from you." Patiently we explained. Finally, after much back and forth in which we identified dates of specific checks, and conferencing between several employees, and, no doubt, viewing the intestines of slaughtered chickens to see whether the auguries were positive, they did indeed find the records.

Then they told us, which much apology, that we would need a third person guarantor. New rules, ya know.

Let's put that in perspective. We're depositing a check -- we won't be able to use the money til the check clears. If there is a problem, it's a check. No money comes in, bank loses nothing.

And think about this: if I want I can swipe my credit card from this bank, which I have had for 15 years, for many times the amount of that check, and I don't need a guarantor. I can pick up the phone and ask them to enlarge or reduce the amount of credit on the card. I don't need a guarantor.

But I can't deposit a check without a guarantor?

"How about my wife?" Nope.

"But we've been customers here for 15 years! Steady, no problems! This is an insult!"

Downcast. "Sorry."

My wife and I look at each other. Who are we going to invite into our financial business? Who can come down during working hours to guarantee a check for us?

"Who can we use for a guarantor? Is my father in law ok?"

First they couldn't really define who an acceptable guarantor would be, except that it had to be a Taiwan citizen. Finally they agreed my Dad in law would be ok.

That's right. Two people, one a citizen, both with identifiable and legal incomes and assets, can't sign a check which they've done 100 times before. But an 87 year old retiree on a fixed income in ailing health, that's no problem.

As my wife said in consolation as we headed out the door, "Lucky we weren't trying this India."

Taiwan is not quite that primitive. But for a mighty trading nation, the banking system is incredibly backward, especially when it comes to foreigners. Everyone has their own horror story, but the real problem isn't the occasional horror story, but the fact that everyday activities like this are so time-consuming, bureaucratized, and difficult to use...
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David Stig Hansen said...

I've had a Jinrong Ka ( Debit Card ) with Taiwan's Standard Charter Bank which lost it's printed info (it peeled off). I had continued using it as Visa Card for a couple years, but it was finally time to ask them to give me a new one with printed numbers on it. They happily gave me a new one, but the Visa function wouldn't work after I tested it at my local starbucks. The ATM function was fine, but I couldn't use it as a debit card. I went back to the branch on Hsinyi Rd. They informed me because I was a foreigner, they were hesitant to open the charge function. I said in the most impolite way: I walk in here with a working debit card and somehow walk out with only an ATM card? I pounded my fist on the counter. I told them they were going to face discrimination issues. They fixed the problem.

Anonymous said...

This took me back. I completely gave up on depositing checks in Taiwan because the fee was something like US$50. Instead I added my mother to my US bank account so she could deposit checks into it for me.

an angry taiwanese said...

Tsai yinwen is not interested in solving that small problem with the bank of yours or anyone else's. Well, as for the bigger Mega Bank problem, allow me to inform you: she is not interested, either. Hmmm...

Today's newest poll done by the pro-A-Bian think tank put her to the bottom of sanctification barrel. More problems for Tsai.

Folks! Please get a number slip for the queue!

Anonymous said...

If you have an American bank account just use their app, take a picture of the check and it will automatically get deposited in your account. Why even bother with the Taiwanese system and the exchange rates in the first place?

Anonymous said...

Ha. This place can be frustrating with it's "arbitrary logic" mental processes...

Anonymous said...

LMAO. That DOES work here!

Leanie Wessels said...

haha yes, banks in taiwan. i remember my first time i transferred money with my aprc ( you know they need the card) i can do just about anything in taiwan , buy a car, insurance , medical insurance , swipe my card but heaven forbid a wire transfer,my bank of 14 yrs still had to request a proper passport, occasionally.recently i had to renew my passport and am in the process of getting my new 1. i went to the nia to ask advice on what to do you know incase my tw bank refuses to let me transfer incase my aprc card is not enough& they wont accept my passport due to the proximity of the exp. date,you know. the look i got. my response was well you know, everywhere else is fine just not my bank, they are not clued up. i asked if there was a form i could give to my bank to explain it .I still even remember the time the teller turned my aprc card several times the first time searching for that exp date, despite the fact she already knew me for 10 yrs then. it's an old joke I usually tell a newbie aprc holder to go to a bank and try to transfer money... see what happens.

channing said...

If you love paperwork and primitive/inexplicable regulations and conditions, try banking in Japan...