There is a defined gulf
Between credit and character
If you doubt this, ask any banker;
He will advise that character is nice
But it is not collateral.
Evan Rhys, Poems from the Ledge
I am mindful of the fact that I promised a brief note on the… challenge – shall we say… of recovering monies from Canada to the UK once thence transferred. I am aware that in the normal run of things this would not pose any particular difficulty. Our case – as you might expect – does not entirely fall within that disposition.
Last year – whilst the Kickass Canada Girl was living in Victoria – we evolved a stratagem in service of which we would transfer to Canada such of our savings as could be spared, preparatory to the purchase at the appropriate point of a property there. To this end we opened a joint bank account and transferred funds to it using an online currency exchange – both of which operations were accomplished with encouraging ease.
When the situation deteriorated and the Girl was forced – immediately before Christmas – to return to the UK we agreed that – since our long term plans remained essentially unchanged – we would leave our funds in BC. Shortly thereafter – however – it became apparent that we would need to recover a small percentage of the monies to the UK to cover immediate expenses. At this point things became messy.
A little research indicated that we would need to initiate the funds transfer from our bank in Canada. A call to their telephone banking line was not particularly helpful. I learned that – whereas small transfers could easily be made – anything above a few hundred dollars would rapidly fall foul of the limits imposed on daily, weekly and monthly total transfers. The telephone banking operative suggested that I should speak directly to the branch in Saanichton.
The call to the branch was not much more help. I was told that I could certainly transfer the funds required – by making an ‘arrangement’ so to do. Unfortunately this could only be done by visiting the branch in person. We had not made any such arrangement before leaving – of course – because we didn’t know at the time that we were going to need so to do.
Given that a personal visit was clearly not possible I was advised instead to consult my bank in the UK, the implication being that they might be able to effect something by themselves calling Canada in my presence. I duly paid a visit, queued for an advisor and was told in no uncertain terms that they could do nothing to assist and that the onus was on the Canadian end to instigate the transfer.
I called the branch in Saanichton again – this time speaking to the lady in charge of our account. She was sympathetic – but ultimately unhelpful.
At this point – rapidly losing patience with a system seemingly designed to render impossible that which should have been a relatively simple operation – I called Canada again, this time to the bank’s customer service line. I finally encountered someone helpful – an eager and charming young lady. Why – she said brightly – did I not simply write myself a cheque?!
I pointed out that I didn’t actually have a chequebook for this account.
No problem. I could order one online…
It is – apparently – quite impossible to arrange for funds to be transferred from Canada to the UK – either online or by telephone – unless one is actually in Canada at the time or has had the prescience to make the necessary arrangement. It is – however – a trivial matter to order a chequebook online – have it delivered to a Canadian address (our dear friends in Saanichton, who forwarded it on to the UK) – and then to write myself a cheque for any amount that I please.
My attempt to pay in this cheque-to-myself at my bank in the UK caused only momentary confusion for the front of house assistant, the resolution of which involved my being whisked peremptorily to the front of a long and somewhat irritable queue of other customers to obtain the necessary advice. I beat a hasty retreat before the murmuring behind me turned nasty – content that I had finally been able to get my hands on my own money!