Friday, April 30, 2010

Ultimate bank queue nightmare

Stuart kindly directed me to this hilarious story on the excellent Chengdu news & listings site GoChengdoo yesterday. Lord knows, I've had some horrendous experiences with queueing in China, particularly in Chinese banks, but at least I've never found myself waiting behind a customer who was trying to deposit 500,000 RMB in one-yuan notes!

In any other country in the world, you'd immediately be thinking "Hoax! April Fool!", but here it is entirely plausible, almost indeed expected: "Oh, yeah, China - of course!"

And, alas, I find it illustrative of a number of the things that are most disappointing, most vexing about this country: obtuse bureaucracy (why are the bank's procedures for handling cash deposits so goddamned intricate??), lack of foresight or common sense in customer service (why do the banks not have special provisions for dealing with businesses which handle large amounts of small change?), the primitive condition of the financial infrastructure on which the supposed 'economic miracle' precariously rests (why is China still so predominantly a cash-only economy?), and the selfishness, vindictiveness or sheer lack of consideration that people so often show to each other (I mean, what was the guy who did this thinking? Did he have a grudge against the bank, or did he just not give a toss about anyone else?).

I have no sympathy for the bank. Chinese banks entirely deserve any grief that is visited upon them. I don't feel particularly sorry for the tellers: I'd hazard that spending several hours counting and re-counting stacks of soiled banknotes was actually rather more 'fun' than their regular duties. But if you were one of the other customers who went into the bank that day (or week?)...... boy, were you screwed!


Don Tai said...

I too have no sympathy for Chinese banks, though I do feel sorry for those that work there. Then again I also have no sympathy for Canadian banks.

Here in Canada we hardly use cash anymore, opting to wave a credit or debit card at each other, and settle up at the end of the month. Present an international credit card in China and you'll starve before you can find a store that takes one.

Froog said...

Ah yes, credit cards. I have a story or two to tell about those.

Amazingly enough, a friend and I in our first year here (2002) stumbled upon a small Chinese department store that did accept international Visa cards - but did nothing at all to advertise the fact. We had been much vexed earlier at two much larger stores that were displaying the 'Visa' sign, but protested that they could in fact only accept Visa-backed credit cards issued in China (I'm not sure that the Visa people would have been too happy to learn of this!).

On that occasion, I was making use of my friend's credit card to get a few necessary electrical items, shortly after arriving here. I haven't had a credit card of my own since I lived in Canada in 1998. I am occasionally tempted to try to get a Chinese credit card, but I somehow just know that it would be more trouble than it was worth.