Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A "quick" trip to the bank

Yesterday my husband and I finally decided we had to go to the bank.  I've been putting it off for months, because it is not one of my favorite things to do.  It mainly comes down to time.   I really don't like spending a whole afternoon to try (emphasis on try) to resolve problems that really should be able to to be dealt with over the phone.  But yesterday, it was time.

We have been out of checks for a month.  My husband had already gone to our "agencia" or home branch to try to pick up checks that we had been told were available and waiting for us.   He went, waited a while, found out that there really weren't any checks there, waited some more, and found out that he had to talk to a manager who was on his lunch break.  My husband hadn't budgeted a whole afternoon to this, so he had to leave.  I'd been told that we could print out checks at the ATMs, but I've not been able to figure out how to do that.  So, back to the bank.

We arrived at around 2:00 pm, hoping that the managers would all be returning from the their lunches.  There is no system to speaking with a manager at our bank.  There's no line, there's no "take a number."  You take a seat, take stock of who has already been waiting and try to figure out where you are in "line."  But it's not just about waiting for your turn.  It's really a competition, a fight to get and hold the attention of the managers.

There are always people coming up to the managers' desks, interrupting whatever they are doing with the customer they are already helping.  These interrupters are usually very polite, telling the customer who is already being helped that they just need a little favor.  Then they proceed to ask for whatever it is that they need.  Who do I talk to about opening an account?  Is João is working today?  Etcetera etcetera.

And then, the phone is ringing.  Pretty much non-stop.  And what I've found is that a ringing phone trumps a waiting customer.  So the manager answers the phone, and has to deal with whatever the person on the phone wants.  It's like this spinning plates act, and the only way (as a customer) to get what you want is to keep putting yourself and your request in front of the manager. 

So, back to yesterday.  We arrived at 2:00 pm, and there were only 4 people already waiting for the 2 managers that were working.  Then another manager came back from lunch, and only got interrupted by one person, so it was our turn!  We only had to wait about 15 minutes!  Her computer had been off, so we had to wait for it to boot up, and then she got a phone call.  While she was on the phone, she opened up a package someone had just dropped off at her desk.  It was a 2011 desk calendar.  Yes, it is September 7th, and she just got her calendar.  After about 5 minutes (so quick!) she got off the phone, and proceeded to update our address.  She tried to order checks, but because we just changed our address, we have to wait 24 hours to place the order.  Unfortunately, today is a holiday, so we'll have to wait until Thursday to order the checks.  She opened up her brand new calendar to make a reminder to order our checks tomorrow, but for some reason, her calendar was missing the page for September 8th !?!

So, hopefully tomorrow Alessandra at the Itau Branch on João Pinheiro will remember to order our checks, and we will get them at our new address in 10 business days.  I'm a little skeptical, because I only sacrificed about an hour of my time to the bank beast, and I'm really not sure if that's enough to pay for checks.  We'll see.



  2. You don´t need to go to the bank to get the checks, access the Itau webpage and request new "talões" and they will send the checks to your home in 5-6 days.

  3. Tell me about it Jim. I was thinking about going on and talking about our next errand that day--a trip to get the atestado for my husband's sick day verified. My hubby essentially had to get an atestado for the atestado--ahhhhhhh!

    Eri--thanks for the tip. I saw that option at the caixa, but since we didn't have our address updated I didn't want them sent to the old address.

  4. Hi Shelley,

    You can request the address change in the webpage too. I have a Itau account for more than 15 years and I went to the bank only 3-4 times.

    The "agências" are always full, because many people don't know how to use the ATM or don't trust/don't know how to use the Internet Banking.