Friday, April 09, 2021

moving to mexico -- banks part 2

Let me repeat the most important factor in my recent tale of woe dealing with Banamex -- it is my fault I am now going through a learning experience about the Mexican banking system.

When I moved to Mexico, I initially solved the problem of how to turn dollars into pesos by transferring money from my BanamexUSA account to my Banamex Mexico account. That gave me two potential sources to pay my bills: 1) withdrawals from my Banamex account, and 2) withdrawals from the few local ATMS using a northern debit card. When BanamexUSA closed down, I was in the same position as most northerners. I had to rely solely on ATMs.

It was a risky life. The ATMs in our area are often out of service. Even when they are in service, they will regularly refuse to recognize northern debit cards.

When BanamexUSA closed, I kept my Banamex Mexico account active. I would regularly withdraw extra pesos from the ATMs in times of abundance -- when the ATMs were working -- to deposit in my bank account. When the inevitable ATM famine set in, I could withdraw pesos from the bank. I called it the Joseph Project.

Following the advice of several readers, I opened an account at Intercam six years ago when it expanded its banking services. That account quickly became my prime source of dollars to pesos. But I kept the Banamex account for emergencies.

Apparently, I have not had any financial emergencies, because Banamex has now frozen my account for three years of inactivity. I told you about my hours-long visit to the bank two weeks ago to get the account unfrozen (moving to mexico -- banks).

Sergio, the Banamex customer service representative, told me to return this week. My understanding was that I could then deposit money in my account as if nothing had happened.

I went to Banamex on Wednesday. Either I misunderstood (which is very likely) or something went amiss because I spent another couple of hours in the bank waiting for or talking with Sergio about the account. Apparently, my visit two weeks ago was just the prelude to reactivating my relationship with Banamex.

Once again, Sergio made copies of my bank card, my permanent resident card, and my passport, and attached the copies to documents that would then be forwarded to Banamex headquarters. Headquarters will then determine whether I can reactivate my account.

Sergio said he will call me to come back to the bank in four or five days to let me know the results of our request. Even the answer is "yes," there will be more paperwork to complete.

While Sergio was reviewing my account on his computer screen, I asked him a question. Even though I should have thought of it last month when I was at the bank, a reader on Facebook, Patti McCoy, reminded me of a similar program in Oregon for inactive bank accounts. Unclaimed money eventually ends up in the hands of the state by being sent to the Department of Lands -- or the Department of Loot and Booty as I would have it.

With a bit of trepidation, I asked Sergio how much money was in my account. There should have been about 60,000 pesos. He responded that the computer showed a balance of zero pesos -- but, he quickly added, that does not mean the money is not still in my account. It merely means that no money is available for withdrawal because the account is frozen.

The answer did not surprise or bother me. As I said at the start of the essay, I am where I am because I failed to use the account for three years.

So, now I will wait for the telephone call from the bank (just as I am waiting for the telephone call telling me when and where to get my second vaccination jab). When it comes, it will come.

For some reason, I suspect there may be another chapter of this tale that will underscore my ongoing mea culpa

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