Thursday, 16 October 2008

The Voice Of Doom

There is something heart-stopping when you hear the voice of your bank manager on the answer-machine, asking you to meet with him in his office.

When Richard phoned him back, he asked specifically for me to be there as well. Oh dear.

Richard and I duly presented ourselves, having no idea what it could be about. He formally shook our hands and started to explain.

The bank was offering (from 1st January 2009) a new type of account.

But we are happy with our current one! I explained. Richard in particular, because he can always remember the easy account number and does not want to change it!

We would of course get to keep the last 4 numbers/characters of our current account number - the ones that Monsieur has to remember.

But we do not want to wait for all the new cheque books and paying in books to arrive! I complained.

These would not need to be altered.

But why go to all the hassle of moving our standing orders! I queried.

That will not be necessary either.

So why change?! I questioned.

Because the bank will be paying 4% interest on anything you have in your current account.

But we never have any money worth mentioning in our French bank account! I reminded him.

But you will get 4% on the little you have.

But we do not want all the hassle of declaring minuscule amounts of interest to the Taxman! I exclaimed.

This interest is exempt from taxes.

What?! Good grief - I wish we had a million euros to put in!

So do I. He replied.


He explained further that up until now, only the Post Office could offer interest on current accounts, exempt from taxes.
And that this was a major change in the rules governing French banks.
And that he was required to have a meeting with all his clients to ensure they were fully aware of this new option.
And that we would have had to sign a paper confirming that he had done this, even if we did not infact change to the new account.

Seeing no reason not to change, we agreed and signed all the forms that put us on the waiting list for New Years Day. From that date, we will be the proud holders of a Livret A rather than a Livret B.

Mr Palumbo smiled at Richard - and said he knew Madame would ask all the questions!

They still look at me slightly bemused, because I know all about mortgages, loans, pensions, etc....and indeed used to work for their 'partner' HSBC.
***
Richard went to pay in a cheque, and as he was entering the bank, the usual man behind the counter shook his hand and recommended that Richard came back later. He then went across the road to the café to have his morning noisette.

Slightly unsure, Richard ignored his advice and went inside the bank....to find Mr Palumbo (the bank manager) the only one working behind the counter!

Ah. That explained why the queue was so long.

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