Tuesday, July 1, 2008

French Banking: Lesson One

We went over to Chalabre today on business and decided to stop into the bank to see what had become of a deposit we'd made a week before and which had not shown up in our account. Depot Vente in Mirepoix had sold the floor joist we had taken there about a year ago. (You of course remember the sagging, spongy, ancient floor joist we had removed?) They gave us a check for 80 Euro, which is something like $126 U.S. greenbacks. As we passed by a branch of our bank, Credit Agricole, where we often withdraw beaucoup euros, Nancy ran in and filled out a deposit slip and gave them the check. What had become of the check, we wondered. Violetta, who thankfully speaks excellent English, as well as German, French and Spanish, solved the problem for us.

We live in the Ariege. If you look on the map, you cans see that the border with the Aude is between here and Chalabre. Leran is in one department and Chalabre is in another. Not too dissimilar to living in Moab, Utah, and having to do some shopping or banking in Grand Junction, Colorado. Right? Wrong. Credit Agricole in Ariege is not the same bank as Credit Agricole in Chalabre because they are in different banking regions. The check from Depot Vente is floating around in the black hole of Credit Agricole, Ariege division, not able to make it's way to Credit Agricole, Aude division. Violetta could not find it over the phone (She kept explaining to them we were "Americaine", which I guess explalined almost everything.) and asked us to come back in a week to learn the outcome of our blunder.

As we drove home we were thinking "Someone warned us about this." We'll keep you posted.


Harley said...

When I lived and sort-of-studied in Aix-en-Provence in 1960-61, I banked at La Societe Generale, founded by the Romans, I believe. All transactions were recorded in ledgers in perfectly beautiful script. I usually dealt with Mlle Lefroid (?), a tall freeze-dried woman whose teeth were never seen. She dressed in grey, with removable starched cuffs and collar and with spectacles perched on the end of her nose. The only sign of emotion ever displayed was an occasional flaring of that anatomical feature when I wantonly destroyed her language. I went to the bank to cash my monthly allowance check of $60, $30 of which went for room and breakfast. I paid one franc (25 cents) per meal at the student cafeteria. (I ate there for three months before I discovered that the main meat served was horse meat, but it was always tasty.) I could do whatever I liked with the remainder of my money. I felt very fortunate.

Anonymous said...

Oh mon Dieu! I hope Violetta can solve this mystery! Bonne chance, mes amis!

Anonymous said...

Some day when you are old(er) and grey(er) and you have completed every renovation that you desire in your lovely Leran home...and you are sitting around feeling bored...you will recall all these "incidents of French/American culture clash" and write a best-selling book detailing your adventures!

The most seemingly simple daily tasks can turn into such a crisis sometimes...can't they? Luke reads your blog, smiles and shakes her head and whispers "merde"! (I think that's the word I want, isn't it?)

I will be first in line to buy your book when it's published!