Moving money internationally is always a pain. The myth perpetrated by Hollywood is that arranging wire transfers just requires a computer and an internet link. Yeah, right. My experience, over the last week, was a drawn out process with multiple layers of security and ID verification which took my cell phone, landline and Internet connection in combination with a VPN. It also involved, at least as far as the retail level banks are concerned, long waits on hold via occasionally fuzzy transatlantic phone lines.
This week was a case in point. I had to shift a six figure sum from Canada to Ireland via my currency brokers. In three tranches, because retail banks put limits on this sort of thing to prevent all manner of dodgy doings, so they say. That and charge like a rhino with a bad migraine and a land rover fixation, and give a lower rate than my brokers.
The first amount on Monday was only five figures, because that was my account limit. The second and third however, required extra, in-person verification and couldn’t be done online alone.
On the second transfer, this being the largest slice of capital, I was handicapped by interference on the line from a solar flare. Such is the nature of transatlantic phone calls. The more links you have to go through, even at the speed of voice communications, the more likely things are to fall over. Solar flares make the international phone links fuzzy. Hence my second episode.
Ten minutes after dialling, entering my account details and getting multiple verification codes I spent a frustrating twenty five minutes battling against a fuzzy line and an English as a second language call centre person. I swear I thought I was going Mutt and Jeff for a while there because I could not make out more than one in three words. But through sheer bloody minded persistence I was able to get through another three layers of verification and get the transaction pre-approved. The rest was fairly routine, including a call from the fraud department early yesterday afternoon, just to check it was l’il old me shifting large amounts of cash around.
For the third transfer on day three I got repeatedly cut off by ham fisted call centre people twice after spending over thirty minutes plus on hold on each occasion. Good job I have a low cost international package on my phone account. Even so, I’m not looking forward to my next phone bill.
All I wanted was to confirm was, yes, I have the funds to transfer, no I’m not under duress, it’s not going to the UN or foreign ‘charity’ to unlock some hidden funds, no I’m not a terrorist (But at this rate I’m thinking of becoming a gorilla) and would you mind letting me move my own bloody money if you would be so kind. Yes it is a large amount isn’t it? Yes it is mine and I want to move it to these people, no, not those, I have a brokerage account to send to because I’m buying a house in Ireland. NO! I do not need a mortgage or financial advice. I just want to move what is mine and no I do not want you to ‘protect’ me. Yes I’ve already cleared this with fraud prevention once today. You should see that they’ve already put a mention in the notes. Just authorise the sodding transaction for f*cks sake. DO NOT put me on hold yet AGAIN. Tell me what details you need and I’ll verify my personal details and the account to which I want the money sent. Yes it’s on my list of authorised payees. Here is the name of my brokers and their escrow account, here is the IBAN (International Banking Number). I’ve done this twice already this week. Yes, I do have a tax free savings account, I also have a financial adviser, and he’s very good. NO! I do not want to change, I’m not giving you his details for a cost comparison. Just authorise the transaction FFS! Thank you. No I wasn’t being sarcastic, honestly. Have a nice bleeding gender neutral day.
These are truly the times that test your blood pressure.
Commercial and non-retail banks by contrast use differing protocols and have better and more competently manned call centres. My experience with them is totally different. So long as you maintain a six figure balance they are a delight to work with. Staff are usually better trained and well motivated with a good grasp of several languages and accents you could use to cut glass. Retail banking, not so much.
So yes, I’ve had a day. But have come through triumphant. Matters proceed toward their hoped for conclusion. I hope. Now I need a beer.