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Problems opening a Spanish bank account

By The Equalizer - Sun 10th Jul 2011

I have just spent the last two months trying to open another Spanish Bank account.

I say 'trying' because I have given in and reaslised that fate never meant me to have another account.

It all began back in April when I cashed in my QROPS Pension and had a lump sum paid into one of my current accounts in the UK, and I decided to look into moving my money over to Spain for 2 main reasons :

1.) As a Non-UK resident I really had to have a bank account that was suitable for somebody in this situation. Although the chances of anything untowards happening are pretty slim, I didn't want to give any bank the excuse not to let me have my money.

2.) The interest rates in the UK for a short-notice account were so poor, that I could do better by putting my funds in a sterling account with a Spanish Bank.

So all that remained was to find a Bank that could offer me half decent terms and go through the formalities of opening up an account.

The Mrs and I found a sterling account with a British owned, but Spanish regsitered Bank and arranged a time when we could pop into the branch to arrange this, given that we wanted to open the account in joint names.

We went through all the details in some length and settled on the account in question, signed a few documents, and asked for advice on how to proceed.

The funds we wished to transfer were already sat in a joint account with same bank, but in the UK - could we not just transfer the money across online - sterling to sterling ?

- No, that was not possible without incurring a hefty charge for an overseas transfer - even though it was still technically 'in house'.

After a bit of thinking time I was then advised to transfer the money from my account with their UK division to yet another dormant online Bank account I held with their sister branch. From then on I could transfer the funds in one hit online, or authorise by telephone to ove across to Spain. The only issue was that becuase this dormant account was held in just my name, we had to open the new account in Spain in just my name or another hefty charge would ensue.

The Spanish Bank asked me to make the transfer as possible as they had arranged with their head office to hold a special interest rate open for me, as it was 'supposed' to have finished the previous day.

This was now the Tuesday evening, ahead of the Easter weekend. I rushed home and transfered the sum from the account in the UK to the dormant account. Except that the transfer maximum limit that they said would not be in place, actually was. I would have to make 5 seperate transfers in order to move the whole sum across.

I phoned my Bank in Spain, they said this was not the case, to leave it with them and they would get back to me. They got back to me the next day and said oops, yes, we were not aware of this recent change, etc... ect.... and that I would have to do the 5 seperate transfers.

So this I did. However, having little faith in bureaucrats who don't seem to know the Banking regulations of their own company, I wanted to wait until each transfer had ben completed until I processed the next. And, allowing for the Easter weekend, closely followed by the Royal Wedding weekend, together with 3 working days for each transfer to clear, it took almost 20 days for the money to be sent between my two UK accounts.

After a few anxious calls from my Spanish Bank I advised them that I refused to be rushed or bullied by them into moving the money when I had acted on their recommendations and instructions, they agreed to keep the agreed rate open for me but asked me to get the funds to them as soon as possible.

Now, when I tried to move the funds from the new account with their sister branch to the Spanish account, I found that although permitting a transfer of the value I needed in one hit, and without any charges, this particular online account did not allow international charges. And with Spain being 'international', this caused a problem.

Another hasty call to my branch in Spain, another promised to call me back later with an answer : No, I couldn't do the transfer online, but I could do it over the phone if I called their sister branch call centre.

This I did, the answer came back - no I couldn't.

I called Spain yet again, they went away, came back to me : yes, it appears even more changes to internal procedures that they had not been made aware of. I would have to open up another account online that DID permit this kind of transaction, move my funds to this new account, and from then on to Spain.

So on trying to open up a new account online, the system asks to check my residential status against the electoral register, sees that I am non-resident and not only refuses to open an account for me, but locks me out 'for security reasons'.

After much messing about on the phone to the UK, the password is reset and I find, purely by chance that there is a long forgotton (Zero Balance, but still open) account showing - surely I could transfer my money across to THAT account instead of opening a new one ?

By thsi stage I am knowing the gravity of the situation and want an answer in writing as opposed to speaking to yet somebody else on the phone that seemingly hasn't got a clue.... after much searching on their webpage I e mail their customer services asking " Can I use thsi account to make an International transfer either online or over the phone ". I am promised an answer in 48 Hours.

8 Days later I recieve a reply, apologising for the delay in getting back to me, but 'unfortunately queries of this nature can only be answered over the phone'. AAAAAARRGHH !!

I make the call and am told that the account is dormant and I would need to open a new one, which I can't do becuase I am not resident. I 'could', they kindly tell me, transfer the money back to the original account and from then on transfer it to Spain.... with a hefty charge.

By now this process has taken 2 Months (That's 3 month's loss of interest then), cost me an arm and a leg in time, international phone calls and patience, AND now looks set to cost me a fee for transfering the funds ( Sterling to Sterling ) - All for following the advise that they gave me in the first place !

I calculated the cost in financial terms to myself and put it to my Bank in Spain that I should be refunded, however, they did not see it like that.

Fortunately, I did a bit of research on How to complain about your Bank in Spain and, although my money is safetly ensconced with a.n.other bank, my case is with the Defensor del Cliente.

Please click here if you wish to read more about How to complain about your Bank in Spain.

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