adventures in spanish banking.

30 Mar

¨Nothing in Spain works.¨ ¨I miss American efficiency.¨ ¨Siesta time is a SICK JOKE!!¨ Anytime I´ve been a little bit frustrated during my time in Spain, I´ve yelled one, two, or all three of these statements over and over again. Most noteably during the many painful weeks it took for Telefonica to get our wifi installed en casa, and most recently, during my latest (self-inflicted) banking fiasco with everyone´s favorite, Santander. A ver…

It was the night of St. Patrick´s Day and I was proudly celebrating the fact that I am at least 1/32 Irish with the best micro-brewery beer Madrid has to offer. (No, seriously, on the day before St. Patty´s my mom alerted me to the fact that she recently discovered that we have a distant Irish relative, whose last name happens to be ¨Lawless.¨ Winning). Anyway, in my happy-go-lucky state of mind, I thought it would be a good idea to sacar dinero from an ATM before my early bus ride to Valencia the following morning, so it would be one less thing I´d have to do on the race the bus station.

Fast-forward to the following morning. I´m sitting in a bus for Valencia, when I look in my wallet and realize I idiotically left my ATM card in the machine. I immediately call and cancel my card, while obtaining many stares and chuckles from the Spaniards on the bus for my stress-laden Spanish. (I mean, really, who forgets that ¨cajero¨ is the word for ATM?)  Santander promised that my replacement ATM card would be whisked away to me in ¨pocas dias.¨ I made sure to clarify how many that meant, because it took me over two weeks to get the debit card the first time around, and that was after I corrected their mistake in trying to originally ship it to my US address.

My card arrived Tuesday – I really thought Santander was getting its act together. That´s when I had another think coming…

In the states, I could simply show up at any Wells Fargo ATM, slip in my new debit card, and activate it there. Nothing works like that in Spain. I called the number to activate the card, and when I presented my passport number so they could identify me, they claimed to have no one with that number in the system. That means I´d have to go to a branch, in person, and deal with it. Piece of cake, right? Wrong. Banks in Spain are only open Monday through Friday, 8:00 to 14:30. Too bad 80% of the country works during that time.

Friday morning, bright and early, I high-tailed it to the nearest Santander. I managed to get cash and activate my card, all while the teller was blatantly g-chatting his friends or other co-workers. I may be that dumb American who loses everything, but I can understand what is work-related conversation and what is not. Good one, Santander.

On my way out, I asked the teller when I could receive my PIN in the mail, and he said that it would be shipped to my house very soon. Last night, I realized it had been a week since I got my card, and the PIN was still MIA. I had been borrowing money, rationing food…you get the idea. I finally call Santander to ask what the deal is – and as it turns out, replacement debit cards allow you to use the same PIN as the original. I just went to the ATM. All of my money is there. The old PIN works. Talk about being a dumb American…

Moral of the story: Sometimes, nothing in Spain works. Other times, however, the problem is user error.

One Response to “adventures in spanish banking.”


  1. two thousand eleven: the playlist. « That's G - December 31, 2011

    […] Valencia for the Las Fallas festival, showed my sorority friend Amy around Madrid, and dealt with Spanish banking inefficiency my own idiocy. I chose this song for Madrid because it basically pokes fun at how the party scene in Spain is just […]

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