Monday, June 04, 2007

Being Illiterate

After a panicked email to my travel agent, I was able to get an extra working day to pay for our tickets for our summer trip, so now they are all paid for, though it wasn't a painless process.

I hate going to my local bank branch. There is a woman there that decided she didn't like me from the first day I walked in their door. She doesn't even try to hide her dislike. She sighs loudly at me, rolls her eyes and sometimes even refuses to talk to me. Today, she did all three.

I had to do a domestic bank transfer, a furikomi, if you will. The problem today was while it was to a Japanese company, in Japan, the invoice and banking details were written in English. Good for me, but apparently not for the bank. The sighing woman, sighed heavily, rolled her eyes and thrust a furikomi form at me. All in Japanese off course. I looked at her, I looked at the form and then I looked back up at her with what I hoped was my best "please help the illiterate gaijin" face. She sighed heavily, rolled her eyes and walked off.

The younger teller who I'd been thrust in front of looked at the furikomi form and looked at my invoice. Repeatedly. For about fifteen minutes. At the form, at the invoice, back to the form.... It was like watching a flea tennis match happening on the counter. I wasn't much better. In time with her worried "mmm"s and "ohhh"s, I looked that the form, looked at the invoice and looked at her. My "please help the illiterate gaijin" face had more effect on her, she was trying but just had no idea what to do. She ran to the sighing woman and was only sighed at and then ignored. I'd like to say that at least it's not just me that she sighs at and ignores, but I think really she was sighing and ignoring the other teller as an extension of me. If she helped her, then really she was helping me, and she certainly wasn't going to do that.

After running around a little more with a "please help the young teller" face, she came back to me and told me, "Please fill in the form." I had kinda figured that much, it was the how-to I was having problems with. I would have to translate everything from English into Japanese. I asked if it was OK if I wrote in romaji. That question caused another ten minutes of "mmm"s, "ohhh"s and "please help the young teller" faces.

Finally, another teller came back from lunch and to the rescue. She explained that I would have to fill in the form in kanji. I explained that while I didn't really write kanji, I could copy it if it was written for me. This lovely rescuer teller then filled out the form in kanji for me to copy, as the form could not be in their handwriting. When I handed it back to her, she was even kind enough to compliment my badly completed form.

After another 30 minutes in the bank, it and another furikomi through the ATM were complete.

Since my last post, I've been told of a bank with a branch in Nagoya that offers Internet banking in English. I think it's time to sign up for that!


southofreality said...

In a very customer service-oriented place like a bank, I'm surprised by the obnoxious behavior of that nasty teller. I know it's difficult, but do what you have to do to put in a complaint against her. It really will make a difference. Even if the manager just takes your complaint and says, 'I don't know if there's much to be done', you can bet she'll catch a little heat over it. I usually do my best not to rock the boat, but I do let people have it sometimes here. You can bet people catch a lot of crap back home for exhibiting such behavior.

azumarisan said...

Yeah, no way would i put up with that from her. It is YOUR MONEY that they have in their hands so they should treat you with respect. By all means i would make a complaint and i would take another Japanese person with you if you could so that they know you mean business. If you go by yourself they might just think they can treat you any old how, i know it's wrong but thats what seems to happen if they think a gaijin doesn't have any connections, then they don't have to do the right thing.

James Clarke said...

I've always found banks to be a place in Japan where the excellent customer service Japan is renowned for goes out the window, especially when dealing with us gaijin. When I was in Japan during Mr Kiyozumi's "Youkoso Japan" campaign it wanted to add "(except in Banks)" to the end of the phrase.

Maria said...

Shinsei Bank - its what I use and its internet banking in English. Love it - even the customer service is in English when I had to reset my PIN.

melanie said...

Yeh, I know I should complain, but I suppose she's touching on a guilt I have - I feel like I should be able to do it in Japanese..... I think it's the only reason why I let her get away with it.