Friday, June 5, 2009

Phrase of the Week: Más Tarde

It's been over a month ago, April 21st to be exact, that I had my last three hour bout with the bank. So perhaps the time was right for another round of misstatements and let downs as we tried to REOPEN our bank account. That's correct, ladies and gentlemen, the bank CLOSED our account. Shut it down, kaput, cerrada...

Last week, before our road trip to Tequis, Nick tried to withdraw some money from the ATM. "Operación no está disponible. Intente más tarde (Operation not available. Try again later)." Más tarde (later) we tried again, to no avail. Obviously, we weren't going to get any money out for the weekend, but we had around 200 pesos ($20) and our credit card to get us through. Fine, lessons learned: 1) always keep a stash of cash at home because ANYTHING can happen here and 2) don't wait until Fridays to withdraw money. 

The weekend passed, and on Monday, we gave a call to customer service because we were not only having problems withdrawing money, but our online banking hadn't been working for nearly two weeks. Customer service, too, was having some computer issues and asked me to call back "más tarde". Several calls later, I find out our account's been CLOSED and am directed to my branch to find out why. 

Más tarde the next day, Nick and I trek far over to our branch. **Note to all newcomers: open your account where you will live or where you will think you will conduct most of your banking** We stand in line, wait about 30 minutes (for the bank, that's amazing!), and find out that the government closed our account because we had a US address registered as our main address. HUH? Where'd the money go?!? He says, "Come back más tarde with the appropriate documents to reopen your account and everything will be fine."

A few days later, when Nick and I both have a good half day to devote to this endeavor, we trek over once again to our branch. Documents in hand, we are about to step in to the branch, excited to see a really short line, and we are stopped. The guard says, "The systems are down, regrese más tarde." MÁS TARDE ME BACK MY MONEY, HSBC!!! 

30 minutes más tarde, we return and find things up and running. Without making this story too much longer, I'll just say that another Friday's gone by and we still don't have our account reopened. When we both find a full day to devote to the matter (because I don't think half a day cuts it anymore with getting things accomplished at the bank), we are going to march in there, get it done, or else we're taking our money out and shoving it under the mattress!


  1. Alice,

    A few tips:

    1.)Most regular workers get paid on Friday and by law they must be paid in cash so on Thursdays and Fridays the banks are all wrapped up in preparing "nomina" (payroll)and it is not a good time to go to the bank.

    2.) It is not a good idea to keep all your money in one bank. If you have enough to divide I suggest that you divide it into thirds and keep it in three different banks.

    3.) It is not good to keep it in your mattress but you can get a very good strongbox at Sam's or Costco for between 1500 and 2500 pesos which you can bolt to the floor in your closet (when your landlord isn't around).

  2. Hi Bob, Yes, I'm seeing the necessity of more than one bank account. For being "the world's local bank", HSBC sure doesn't have it together.