Thursday, 18 October 2018

Spanish bankers

Spanish bank Bankia logoThe Spanish bank world is one full of mysteries. The nicest thing that can be said about Spanish banks is that they do not function in the same ways as banks in countries to the north of the Pyrenees.

I have an account with Bankia.

I did not ask for an account with Bankia.

I used to have an account with Caja Murcia. That was taken over in a more or less orderly fashion by Banco Mare Nostrum.

The one day I went to the bank and it had turned into Bankia. No warning had been given. No information as to why or when the change would take place. No option.

The thing is, nothing worked. I was unable to pay for thing with my debit card and the bank itself was absolutely full of other customers in similar situations. There was no organisation of customers into queues, no attempt to provide extra staff, and the manager stayed carefully in her office behind closed doors.

How long would the problem last? No idea! What can be done in the meantime? Get money out and pay in the old fashioned way. Can you give me money? No, that's a different desk…

The problem lasted more than three weeks. The bank remained crowded with unhappy customers.

Now the Bankia website. It's okay. Nothing to write home about, but for checking your balance, fine. Try to add a fiscal residence (a legal obligation), however, and things go terribly wrong.

I speak and read Spanish and have always used the site in its Spanish form. I have never been able to add a fiscal residence.

I have spent far too much time on the phone from Belgium talking to Bankia customer support in Madrid trying to add a fiscal residence. All to no avail. I was pointed to Madrid from my branch office. Madrid finally said to ask my branch office.

No matter what I try, I am told:

  • We have not been able to complete the operation
  • Es obligatorio dar de alta el pais de res. de datos basicos

See the two languages?

That's because I had first tried in the normal Spanish version of the site and kept getting the error (the fully in Spanish). I thought that I was having trouble understanding, so tried the English version of the site. I should have known things weren't going to be any better when, at the start of the procedure, I received this piece of mumbo-jumbo:

You do not have declared no fiscal residence country.
For tax legislation, is necessary that provide fiscal residence your details, although you have as only residence country district attorney Spain. You can add up to a maximum of 5 fiscal residence.
From 01/01/2016, to comply with the standard CRS related to the automatic exchange of information in applicable fiscal matter to Spain, you must provide your/s residence/s district attorney/is via the signature of this Autostatement CRS of way fiscal residence compulsory, although you have as only residence country district attorney Spain. To obtain more information can consult the R.D. 1021/2015 of on 13 November 2015.

Pardon? Really, you'd think that an organisation such as Bankia could get someone to do at least a half-decent translation: this looks like a quick run through Google Translate.

Still, I carried on and ended up with the same error, only now half in one language and half in another.

I have searched and searched, but am unable to find anything about datos basicos (basic information). There's a section on personal information, but there my country of residence is already indicated as Belgium. I have emailed my Bankia branch on several occasions, receiving either no reply or no help at all. Their latest solution is for me to visit the branch when I am next in Spain.

If I had any faith in Spanish banks, I would try elsewhere, but experiences with others do not stimulate confidence. Can anyone suggest a bank that works well and does not require a mobile phone?

And have you been able to declare your fiscal residence online with Bankia?

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