Friday, February 08, 2008

Even though this is only my second post here on my blog I hope I am still allowed to say that this will be the first post including a complaint. I am certain that there will be many to follow, still this is the first and there will never be a first complaint again.

Having said that, on to the complaint. I have had a Japanese bank account since the beginning of time when I was an exchange student here at a time when you only needed one digit to say what year it was (I know it is difficult to understand but it means the times before Heisei 平成 10. Along with this bank account I also had a cash card or an ATM card. It had only the Sumitomo name and logo and not the Mitsui Sumitomo thing, which I was a bit proud of, a relic from old days so to say. Unfortunately the card broke the other day. To be honest it really broke in two pieces..... So needless to say I needed a new card.

Here my problems begin. I went down to the local Mitsui Sumitomo branch just around the corner from where I live, which is totally irrelevant but still. I enter the bank, walk up to the elder female clerk sitting not behind the counter but standing by machine where you get your queue number. I let her know that I would like to get a new cash card since mine is now in two pieces. She asks if I brought the bank book, an ID-card and the cash card itself. Of course I had forgotten the cash card which wasn't really needed but if I couldn't show it I would be charge 1,000 yen. Fair play, it is not that far to go back to the flat and pick it up.

I come back to the bank, get directed by the lady to the form that I need. The form is rather straight forward, the Japanese is not too difficult and she helps me with the things that I don't understand. After having filled in the form I walk up to the counter with: ID-card (Alien Registration Card 外国人登録所 (a card all foreigners with a visa is required to always carry with them. I will probably post concerning this card later), the form and the broken cash card(s).

The clerk looks at the form and at me, and you can see that here comes trouble, and not any kind of trouble but troubles involving a foreigner. How can I see it? I see it in his face, he's nervous and why is he nervous? Because he doesn't know how well I speak Japanese and he probably thinks that I will be very angry and make a scene if things don't go the way I want to.

Apparently since the account is opened at a different branch I need the address I had when I opened the account. Fair play you might think, one usually remember the addresses where one have lived. Well first of all, I have moved almost 30 times, and when I opened the account I have no idea where I lived to be honest. It could have been an address of the host family where I stayed for a month before moving out, it could also have been the student house where I lived for nine months and finally it could also have been the address of the university. Needless to say I had no idea. It didn't help that the university was not even in Tokyo but in lovely Osaka and have also relocated in the last years.

Since the clerk isn't helping me much I take command and say that it might be easier just to get a new account and tie a new the cash card to that and the ancient address won't be needed. Right. He directs me to a different counter manned by a younger woman. She smiles at me and asks how she can help me. I tell her that I would like to open an account and get a cash card to go along. Excellent she replies and asks for some ID while I fill in some form which I have already done, but theses are new forms so.....I'm filling in forms again. She looks at the ID, and.......apparently you can't open a bank account in Japan without having been in Japan at least 6 months. WTF!!! I wonder if this applies to Japanese ppl that live abroad and comes back, for instance take my partner who lived abroad for several years wouldn't she be allowed to open an account before she has been in Japan at least 6 months? I usually refrain from calling Japan a discriminating country, but wait there is more to follow.

Right, I can't open a new account. Ok, perhaps we should try to see if we can't get a new card to the already existing account anyway. Please remember that this wasn't possible before since I didn't have the address. Well what do I spy on one of the forms, the old address. Apparently the bank had it all the time. Wankers!!

So the "only" thing that I need to do is to fill in some forms again since apparently my current address needs to be written the Japanese way, which starts the city and ends with the street name, even though here in Japan that is a combination of digits instead of a street name. I fill in everything, decides on a cash card with an IC-chip which can be used for withdrawals in convenience stores too and after-hours. Right, please sit down over there it will only be a minute (or rather five minutes) she says. Please note that I have already been waiting for an hour and a half since first coming to the bank.

I wait for 15 minutes and then the elder lady that helped me out first comes back and says that it will be a couple of more minutes. I let her know that I have already been here soon two hours. She apologises like everyone does here and walks away.

After four more minutes I am called back to the counter by yet another woman. She says that the IC-card that I have chosen is impossible for the bank to issue since I don't have a stamp, a hank or inkan 印鑑. The account can't be opened using only a signature. Would I instead be interested in the internet bank service which is shite here in Japan. I look at her for 10 seconds without saying anything, my patience is not what it was when I first entered the bank two hours earlier. I ask her to get me all my money from the account except for one yen. It was actually quite a bit of cash which I receive.

It goes with out saying that I left the bank without saying thank you.
Japanese banks are what you would expect a bank in a developing country to be like. So unbelievably backwards. To keep it short: BLOODY TOSSERS!!!

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