Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Bureaucracy Busting

So, following on from my last blog, today was my Israeli bureaucracy busting day. Unfortunately I had to take my sick baby with me so that provided an added challenge.

So, after queuing half an hour at the bank I presented my passport, ID Card, and Credit Card to the bank, as instructed yesterday. The teller bashed about on the computer, asked colleagues for help and finally told me that they do not provide cash for my particular credit card. He told me that I should visit other banks as they may well provide this service.

In the end it took me four hours in three banks to get cash out and retrieve yesterday’s ‘swallowed up’ cash card. During this time I had to amuse the baby, communicate my needs in Hebrew and stay both patient and sane.

It really does wear you down. You spend on average around half an hour in a queue. This is not a normal queue but an Israeli queue. Because Israeli’s can’t be trusted to queue in a fair and cordial manner, the banks have installed machines that give out numbered tickets. However, Israeli’s have no time for this and many take a ticket and then leave the bank. They carry out another chore or two and after a short while, return to the bank and re-join the queue at the front.

But it’s not only this! They also try to circumvent the queue system by sitting in empty chairs as they arise at the counters. Sometimes another member of the queue or a teller will send them back, sometimes they just get served.

Whilst I was at the counter there were two people arguing behind me as to who was next for my teller. They both had numbers but even this was not enough. At one point I stood up to calm the baby and one of them actually sat in my chair! I had to send them away as I am sure that they would have tried to get served even though I was mid transaction!

At the last bank, a lovely young lady called Ina took the time to complete the much needed change of address form for me and also gave me access to their internet banking. She was a reminder to me that among all those, ‘computer says no’ people, there are still real gems out there who go the extra mile.

Incidentally, I found out that my inability to withdraw cash using a cash card from my UK account is not just a problem for me. A friend I met on the bus is also having the same problem. Her bank informed her that there is a general problem with the use of cash cards on ATMS from foreign accounts at the moment. At least it’s nothing personal.

So that was my morning; 4 hours, 3 banks, a returned cash card and cash finally withdrawn from my credit card to fund hubby’s trip abroad. I am sure that to undertake these tasks in the UK would have taken around half an hour and been much less stressful and eventful. However, since moving here, I always know that when I have a trip to the bank planned for any transaction that is not routine, that I need to expect the unexpected. Whatever can go wrong usually does.

Sharona B


Jessica Fishman said...

I also moved to Israel- nearly 5 years ago and just started a blog myself about my experience - http://aliyahsurvivalblog.wordpress.com/

It's more personal writing, but in a bit of a funny and cynical tone - you know like an Israeli's sense of humor!

I hope to keep seeing other bloggers sharing their experiences in Israel.