Wednesday, March 26, 2014

money makes the world go around --

not always.  Especially, if you can't get any.  Money, that is.

For the past two years our local message board (Tom Zap) has been awash with angst and anguish about our local ATM machines.  A bit of background might help.

Our three villages of Melaque, San Patricio, and Villa Obregon -- along with the neighboring village of Barra de Navidad --share one bank.  A Banamex.  With two very popular ATMs out front. 

"Popular," that is, if you count the number of people who visit them.  But not so popular for a large group of people who walk away with the type of look you see on people's faces following a political speech trying to reconcile additional spending with no increase in revenue.

About two years ago, the ATMs started refusing to deliver any pesos to some users.  Mainly Canadians (the lion share of our visitors) using debit cards with a security chip.

That was the working myth -- the chip was interfering.  So, some cardholders put scotch tape over the chip to confuse the ATM reader.  It worked for some; not for others.  But the myth claimed credibility on the theory that temporal proximity was the equivalent of actual causation.

This year, the ATMs were no more northern-friendly.  Lots of Canadian cards were refused.  But the American cards and Mexican cards seemed to work fine until the bank started switching out ATM machines.  Then, everyone seemed to have sporadic problems.

This weekend, the sign at the top of this post showed up on the wall next to the ATMs.  I had no trouble withdrawing money.  But I was using a Banamex debit card.  I was not amongst the USA, French, and Canadian cardholders mentioned in the sign.

And I am a bit curious why that group does not resolve their ongoing problem with these machines by doing as I have done.  Their cards work in the next big town over -- about a 20 minute drive.  But rather than waste the time and money of finding a machine to spit out cash, why not open a bank account in the country where you are living for up to six months at a time.

With my Banamex card, the machine almost always works.  And when it doesn't, I can withdraw what I need from the teller.  I am also baffled because some of the same people have permanent resident cards in Mexico -- declaring their interest in being a resident here.

This business of resident intentions is a topic for another post, but it helps bring into focus the impossibility of being a legal resident of two separate sovereignties.  And the Canadian government seems to agree.

Earlier this month, The Financial Post carried an article that the United States and Canada are now sharing border crossing information to assist the Canadian taxman in ferreting out Canadians who are using Canada's government-provided benefit programs, but who are living outside of the country's borders more than six months.  (Some provinces are a bit more generous to their national vagabonds.)

One of the reasons a lot of Canadians do not spend more time in Mexico is that their government will shut off the tap on some benefits (such as health care) if they stay away from the north too long.  The article also warned that the loss of resident status could result in the imposition of a departure tax or making Canadians subject to the income tax systems of other countries.

Maybe that is why Canadians are reluctant to set up a financial relationship here in Mexico -- even if they do spend half of their lives here.  If so, I am not certain I see the logic.

I guess I don't have to.  They can run their finances as they choose.  And they can complain that Banamex is doing little to win their customer loyalty.

Ernestine said it best: "We're the phone company.  We don't care; we don't have to."

Note -- If the title of this post has John Kander's tune and Fred Ebb's lyrics running through your head, let me give you a hand with this.

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