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May 17, 2006

International banking is a bore

We've been lucky with some things, but the telephone, and trying to wrestle some money out of the UK, have both been pretty long drawn-out unhappy processes.

I finally think some money is on its way to us from our UK bank at the third attempt. The first time I didn't have all the right details. The second time I did have all the right details, but because I wanted over £5,000 I needed to fax a confirmation, and we don't have a phone.

Today after another €16 worth of phone call, and by asking for less than £5,000, I think we are getting somewhere. All the usual banking caveats apply. The funds disappear from our account instantaneously - bye money! - but can take at least 6 working days to then get our Greek bank account, where my UK bank cautions me "foreign banking practices may further delay the crediting of the funds".

Where does the money hide in these mysterious lost days? Do they send it by carrier pigeon? Does it actually physically have to move between banks in adjacent countries until it reaches Greece? By Sunday will there be some international banking agent somewhere in Bulgaria with our cash stuffed under his mattress for safe-keeping?

At times I genuinely believe it would be easier, and only a little bit more expensive, if I could get some unsold charter flight seats, fly back to the UK, draw the cash out, exchange it myself, and fly back and deposit it in person.

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You're in luck. I have a Nigerian friend who is quite the expert in these international money transfers...

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