Italian Banks and their Service ~ Romancing Italy
1:

Nov 28, 2010

Italian Banks and their Service

...or the lack of it. Take note of their hours (at least here) and their impeccable customer service.

I have an account that I needed three years ago when I first came here. I use it so little since then that what balance I had was slowly eaten up with bank fees. I kept it open with the thought that I might need it again but I recently decided to close it.  Unlike banks in the States, an open account will go into a debit instead of just being closed and the patron will be responsible for the accumulating fees.

At my first visit, I was encouraged to consider other options before closing and I agreed. After some more thought I again went to the bank to close the account and thus began one of the most unbelievable experiences I've ever had from a service.

Keep in mind bank hours are strange in my area.... 8:25 am to 1:25 then 2:30 to 3:30pm. I went at 2:30 and the teller told me that I needed to come in the morning to close my account. (What!!!!!!!) But then she noticed there was Mr. Fiorello in the office and she sent me around the corner. He looked at my account then talked to the same woman who approached me and again asked why I wanted to close. After briefly explaining she pushed me again to reconsider, then lost patience with me, walked away and spoke over her shoulder that I couldn't close unless I returned the ATM card and Internet key. I'd forgotten the key at home so I said I would return. The gentleman was very helpful, gave me a printout of my account with the necessary info to close it and told me to give it to the next person if he was not in the office when I came back.

Considering the teller had said I needed to come in the morning to close the account, I returned in the morning. The same teller saw me and her first words were "What are you doing here?" What a greeting! I explained I'd returned to close my account with the items they requested and asked if I needed to go around the corner again.

"How would I know?" was the answer. I stepped back in astonishment muttering "She doesn't know". This prompted her to ask me what her colleague had said. When I explained that I was to return etc etc, she raised her voice to say that I needed to come back IN THE AFTERNOON when he was there to finish the job that he had started.

I responded that I couldn't keep coming back to the bank to just close the account. Certainly there was another person who could help me. She became more agitated and insisted that I had to come back to see the same man, which of course made me angry. Speaking a little louder for that, I said that was absurd, that this was a bank and supposedly a service for their clients and that I wanted to speak with someone else. She refused so I repeated my request to close my account, said I was convinced I was doing the right thing and then asked that woman what on earth she had against me. She seemed to have taken personal offense to me taking care of my own business.

She claimed to have nothing against me but was about to dismiss me by calling another patron when another woman came up and for the benefit of both of us, she took care of my request. It is surprising that one can not just close an account, take the balance and leave that chapter behind you. They hold the account, perhaps for people who have checks etc outstanding, but from my account it is obvious that there is absolutely no activity. So I am still waiting to finalize and I am sure they are waiting for the next cycle so they can deduct another month of fees.
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