Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Oh the banks!

There are times when I secretly wish we didn’t have to have a bank account.  Honestly.

Which,  by the way,  makes me think of an older gentleman who used to live in the tiny village not too far from the dump where we grew up as kids.    OK fine,  it was a farm,  but it had a rather pronounced  “Little house on the Prairies”  theme happening.   Let’s not go there.

At one point in time my Dad worked at CFB Greenwood,  and he and this gentleman would “commute” together.  Actually,  this was a long,  long time before the idea of car-pooling ever became popular.  Hm,  I guess they were pioneers.  Which brings us back to the “Little House”  theme again.  Gah!

Well,  this old fellow was pretty frugal.  I remember my Dad saying he wore the same pair of rubber boots for as long as he could remember.  The term he used was actually “Lumberman Rubbers”.  I know that sounds like a prophylactic,  but it was some sort of rubber boot-like footwear.  The best reference I could come up with was an advertisement from the Stanstead Journal from 1911.

Yes kids.  1911.

Anyway,  he wore those same boots for a long,  long time. We’re talking a couple decades here, maybe longer.  That was the other reason for the whole “car pooling” thing.  Even though gas was probably about 19¢ a gallon,  it was all about saving money.   Turns out that when he died,  there were several thousands of dollars tucked away in his house.   By that I mean,  over $50,000.   He just never spent a dime.  And never put it in the bank either,  apparently.

Now,  I’m not quite that bad.    Why,  just yesterday I did manage to throw out a sock that had a hole in it.  Maybe I threw out the pair?  I’d have to check,  since I don’t recall.  Sometimes I will keep “the good one” just in case it might mysteriously mate up with one that’s off there by its lonesome.  Seems a waste to turf out a perfectly good sock,  even if there’s no mate.   Even though I might have turfed out that one good sock with its holy mate,  I’m by no means advocating wastefulness.  I’m just saying.


So where was I?

Right.  The flippin’ banks!

It so happened that the coffers were getting a tad low by Saturday afternoon,  so on our way out to do a little grocery shopping together,  Travelling Companion and I stopped in at the Bank Austria location out on Mariahilferstaße to use an ATM,  only to discover that my bank card was “invalid”.   What? 

Tried a couple different machines with our two different cards,  and got the same result.  Can’t get any money.  Dang!

I should just say that,  I can take cash out of Bank Austria,  since we have an account there,  along with a couple bank cards and all that,  but that money is to pay the bills.  Our “walking around” money comes out of our account at Scotiabank,  back home.   Besides,  if I take Euros out of Bank Austria,  we just have to go through the rigmarole of transferring it back in again from Canada.  That’s where T.C. gets paid.   It’s complicated,  and we won’t go there either.


So,  there is a number on the back of the card that you can call.  Of course,  it’s an 800 number if you’re in North America somewhere,  but if you’re not,  then you call the number in the 416 area code direct,  or “call collect”.   I don’t know what that means,  since I’ve never been able to call collect.  Turns out,  there’s nothing wrong at the bank end of things,  but on the two occasions that I called the 24/7 service centre in Toronto,  there was really no explanation given.   No “hold” on our account or any of that kind of stuff.  And no other clue to speak of.

What that meant was,  having to call the branch. *sigh* Have you ever tried to actually contact any of those people wandering around behind the scenes at your local bank?  Good luck with that.  

So first I called the “Manager of Customer Service”,  only to discover that she’s off this week.  OK,  but wouldn’t you use that thing called,  “call forwarding”  and have the call go to one of the people working there?   Just an idea.  So I didn’t bother leaving a message with her.

Then I dug through our little treasure trove of business cards and such,  and came up with a card from the Branch Manager.   Hopefully they still have the same one.  They seem to change them more often than I throw out a holy sock.

Ended up getting her voice mail,  and the message she had left was from last Thursday.  I didn’t think that was a good sign.   Good Friday was a holiday of course,  but this was already Monday morning,  and the bank had been open for a while.  

I diligently left my Austrian phone number (that’s not that simple,  trust me,  it’s thirteen digits)  but then thought I’d call the service centre again,  to see if there had been any changes.   The results were the same there of course,  since everything look “OK” from their end.  I wanted to be certain that I understood that the banks were indeed open on “Easter Monday”,  and was assured that they were,  but they had only been “open for a half hour or so”.   By then it was 11:00 a.m. at the branch.  Please.  What are you doing?  Pick up the stinkin’ phone!

By the way,  if you want to read this aloud in the style of Andy Rooney,  I’d completely understand.  It’s starting to sound that way to me.

It turns out of course,  that Travelling Companion was going to be late yet again last night,  so that meant that the two of us got in the door (I had chauffeured,  remember) some time around 8:30 p.m.    I though I’d try my luck with the bank one last time for the day,  left a message AGAIN (and this woman had still not changed her last message from Thursday) and lo and behold,  twenty minutes later the phone rang!   It was the Manager.   Thank goodness I was sitting down.


Long story short,  like that’s a possibility at this point,  there’s nothing wrong with the cards or the account,  it’s some sort of glitch in the network.  It so happens that the Branch Manager had experienced the same problem just the other day,  and is waiting to hear from wherever,   as to whether or not this issue will get resolved over the next day or so.  

She says she’ll call me back today.  Right.

Let’s hold our breath,  shall we?


No pictures today,  but I did surreptitiously take this one when T.C. and I were in the grocery store.   It didn’t quite turn out,  but if you click on it you’ll notice the staff are wearing their bunny ears.   Swell.



Thanks for moving your eyes back and forth.


Enjoy the rest of your day.




  1. I hope that you get things sorted out. It is always harder to do these things when you are out of the country. Try to do these things without a phone, like us!

    My Mum and Dad were the same misers, actually my Dad still is! If he got a hole in his sock my Mum would have to darn it for him, now that she is gone he actually has to go out and buy a pair. I usually save Kevin's good sock, he has a number of pairs that are the same so I have no problem matching it up with another good sock.

    Kevin and Ruth

  2. your poor socks sitting alone in a drawer waiting for a mate!..I do the same thing ..they all look the same anyway and one is bound to get a hole in it eventually and then voila..a new match made in 'heaven'!.
    Banks?.grr...same over here in Canada!..phoning?..and actually speaking to someone?..lets just say it is a tad difficult!!

  3. Since we just moved last year to a new location 8 miles away Kathy has been to the bank 4 times to have her card reset and they keep saying she must be doing something wrong. How come she didn't do anything wrong the previous ten years?
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.

  4. The sock saga sounds familiar. When hub gets a hole in one sock and is discarded, the lonely companion sock sits in the drawer until a new used mate comes along.

    Banks - I'm sick of them. When all else fails, blame the technology.

  5. Funny, I just had a ATM card rejected yesterday. I would like to blame the bank, but the fact is I was using a pin from another account:(

    I was also thinking about that poor lonely sock in the drawer. I bet if it could make a choice, it would have rather made the final journey with its mate:)

  6. Man-o-man that bank business you had sounded just like a copy of my own today. Away from the office until April 16 or lets have the wrong email so that mail bounces back a.s.o. a.s.o. Grrrr....


Well, I've been getting too many spam comments showing up. Just a drag, so we'll go another route and hope that helps. So, we won't be hearing anything more from Mr. Nony Moose.
I guess I'll just have to do without that Gucci purse.