One of my goals is to open a bank account. Today was the last day from deadline and my account still doesn’t exist. So, here I am, immigrant in the bank, trying to sort out the problem.

Immigrant in the bank, on the entrance

I caught directly a manager, as my business adviser told me. Asked the lady, she checked and her conclusion was “you have a basic bank account and this might stop you.  We need to upgrade it”.

-Mmm… I’d prefer to leave it as it is. From my knowledge, an upgraded bank account means a higher overdraft and I’m not the biggest fan of it.

-Not necessarily. The full bank account comes with a larger range of saving accounts, with credit card.

-Exactly. Credit card. I would prefer to not have it around. For savings I use ISA and am more than happy with it.

-OK. Just a moment, to make a call and see what’s going on. Please take a sit in the waiting area, she concluded.

Immigrant in the bank, waiting area

I stopped in the middle of the bank looking for a place to take a sit. She directed me to the waiting area. Ready for a long waiting time, I extracted a book from the purse to read. One paragraph later, a young lady, from the bank, appeared close to me.

-My manager talked with the people responsible for reviewing your application. I overheard that it might be a problem with the fact that you have a basic account and that you avoid having an overdraft.

-Yes, exactly. I would prefer to keep it with a very tight overdraft limit. My financial education is too poor to deal with this complicated banking system.

-But you just have to keep an eye on your bank account, that’s all.

-You’re right, but I’d prefer to not do it. I don’t like to stay stressed all the time. What if I see a great T-shirt and want to buy it? Without overdraft, if I don’t have the money I just don’t buy it. But with overdraft, I might buy it with money that I don’t have.

-Yes, but on your business account you can make an overdraft too.

-The buying decision is different. On the business I calculate a lot before deciding, compare different prices, try to get it for free.. while in my private life I’m relaxed, not in the mood to check my bank account. Plus, I’m on benefits, I have direct debits and stand orders, they can bring me to overdraft too.

The manager appeared, had the same conversation, and she added “But you can have the same with the full bank account”. After agreeing to make a plan for managing my expenses, me and the young lady moved at a desk and she stated again:

Immigrant in the bank, desk area

-So, what I’m gonna do is to upgrade your bank account.

-OK.

She entered into my account and started to make a list with all my direct debits and standing orders to see my situation. She stopped to ask her manager (the left office) whether she can print one. Meanwhile, I removed my coat. She can’t print anything. After writing an entire paper, we noticed that the situation is not pink. So, I asked her:

-Is there any chance to go back to the basic once I have my business account approved?

-No, I can’t reverse it. But why would you do it? she answered a bit irritated.

-Cause I don’t want to stay without overdraft limit on my bank account.

-Yes, but this limit won’t look nice on your account. In the future, when you’ll want to take a mortgage or a loan, this limit might stop the lender.

-I’m not participating on any competition about having a beautiful account. Also, I will never take a loan, nor a mortgage.

-Maybe you don’t want it now, but over the years you might change your mind.

-I’m not gonna change my mind. If I’ll want to buy a house and won’t afford it in UK, I’ll simply leave the country, go somewhere else. I never borrowed money and never will do it. I preferred to starve in Greece than to borrow money. You can be absolutely sure that I’ll never do it.

-OK, just a moment to ask my manager, she said and, decided, went to the manager from the right.

I removed my scarf. Such a mental effort heats me up. In a minute, she came back:

-Yes, we can do this for you.

-So, it is possible to upgrade my account, leave it without limit till I receive my business bank account and then come back to you to add the limit.

-Just a moment to ask my manager, she said and went to the left.

Heard 2 banged doors behind her, a bit of silence, then came back even more decided to solve the problem. I removed my jacket and purse. She took a sit on the desk and told me:

Immigrant in the bank, drawing level

-Look, this is a way of mine to explain things. I’m gonna draw it.

-Excellent!

She made diagrams, numbers, examples… the whole universe was on that piece of paper. Finally, I understood and the application proceeded. While she was doing stuff on the tablet, I asked her:

-Sorry, may I ask you a question?

She ignored me. I waited for her to take the eyes from the tablet and asked again:

-Sorry, may I ask you a question?

-Yes.

-A couple of days ago, somebody called to tell me something about a… refunded… claim from a… PPI…

-Yes, never give your bank details or send any money, she interrupted me.

-It’s fine, I’m too stupid to be scammed. No scammer has patience with me. (she smiles) But I was wondering if I could report them without being a victim.

-No, we have a reporting system but it’s only for emails and text messages. For calls we don’t have.

-Understood. Thank you.

Immigrant almost kicked out from the bank

She finished with my application, wrote correctly my name (what a miracle!), checked everything to be fine. On the end, she repeated 3 times:

-Now you have a full bank account. Please keep an eye on the overdraft and when you decide, please come back to add the limit. I’ve already added a note into the system and asked both my managers. This can be done for sure.

-Oh, thank you very much. I think this day is worth a mention in your CV after so much explanation.

She offered me a “hope you die soon” smile, so I quickly grabbed all my belongings and went in another corner of the bank to assemble them on me. Forgot to mention: she gave me her business card. And guess what: her surname was the same as my ex-manager, the one who fired me for waking up similar feelings inside him.

Written by Katrina

If you have a funny story about being an immigrant in UK, please send it to us. You can text it into a comment, with the title “Story” or email it at immigrantschool@yahoo.com