Blogs in this series

Life in Culebrón is a disconnected series of pieces about the banal and ordinary of everyday life in an inland Alicante village seen from my very British perspective.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Strange and bizarre

We'd popped in to town to do some exciting jobs - buy screen wash was one of them. I was also going to bank some money. Take note of the opening sentences and be warned now that this blog is not going to be the usual emotional roller coaster ride of an entry.

My phone rang when I was in the bank queue. It was our next door neighbour to say that Iberdrola, the electricity supply people, wanted to get into our garden. You will remember I talked to Iberdrola about moving some supply cables that were either menacing or being menaced by our palm tree. Nothing has happened for months. The discussion that I'd had with some Iberdrola employed tree trimmers had suggested that we were talking thousands of euros if we got the cables re-routed and I'd quietly let the whole thing slide.

We hurried back from town. I feared the worst. I could imagine the euros flowing out of that bank account to pay for new cables, new installations and a new meter. The three blokes said they wanted access to our garden. The three blokes said they were replacing the uninsulated supply to our house, and those of our neighbours, with a beefier insulated cable. There was no mention of the palm tree, there was no mention of me having asked for the work. So far as I could tell, and I didn't want to ask too many questions, it is a simple, routine upgrade of cables that haven't been changed for thirty or forty years.

We left them to it, in fact I couldn't get away fast enough. When we came back, they had happpily run the new cable through the palm tree branches and left enough slack in the wire for it to be able to deal with a bit of a pumelling from a palm tree thrashing around in the breeze. They are coming back tomorrow to connect it all up. How strange. Provided that there are no last minute hitches it looks as though our palm tree has just been saved and our electricity supply ensured.

I went back to the bank. As I've said in an earlier post I've been driving to the nearest branch of my bank to pay in cash at the start of each of the last few months. Last month though I read an article about the huge differences in fees charged by the different banks. It seemed that a bank with an office in Pinoso would only charge me 2€ in transaction fees. That seemed a lot better deal than driving 30kms to stand in a long queue to pay the cash in at my own bank. It was a short queue in Pinoso but the man wouldn't take my money. He said I couldn't pay the money in to another bank from their office. I was amazed. I explained that I understood there was a fee. No it's just not possible said the man. Why don't you go to the Santander office around the corner?

Now it is true that there's an office in Pinoso that has a Santander Bank sign outside. I'd tried to do some form of banking there a couple of years ago without success. The chap behind the counter told me they only sold financial products and did not offer banking services. Today I poked my head around the door of the empty office but for the man at his desk playing some sort of game on his phone. "Can I pay money in to a Santander account here?," I asked. "You can indeed," he replied. I was pleasantly surprised and handed over a piece of paper with my 20 figure account number on it. "Ah, it's an old Banesto account," he said, "I can't pay into that." I asked him if it were possible to pay into the account from other banks. "No, you have to go to a Santander branch, an old Banesto branch," he said.

Now Banesto had been largely owned by the Santander Bank since the early 90s though both banks continued to have a high street presence till 2012. It was then that the Santander bought up the last of the Banesto shares and combined the two entities closing down various branches of both. The Banesto logos disappeared. Later the websites, account names and everything else took on the Santander name and look. Everywhere that is but for the office in Pinoso where the division was still alive and well. I have to give the man his due he did try to access my account but his computer said no and that was the end of it,

How bizarre. A banking system which won't, apparently, let you pay money in except under very strict conditions. I don't understand. I've done it in the past. It seems crazy if it is no longer possible.

I drove to Monóvar and paid the money in there. "Oh," I asked the teller as I was about to leave, "Can I pay into this account from other banks?" "Course you can," he said. "They usually charge you to do it though."


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