Monday, January 08, 2007

Regular readers will know I’m no fan of Spanish banks, seeing them as inefficient and expensive in equal degrees. So I wasn’t too surprised to hear that merely operating a current account and a credit card costs between 152 and 305 euros a year, or an average of 229. Nor did it come as a shock to read that this has risen by 52 euros in only two years, despite a so-called ‘commissions war’. And that further increases are now in the pipeline. An oligopoly? Or merely the consequence of the very immediate, personal and face-to-face service demanded by Spanish customers?

The new French rolling news channel had a feature recently on the top 5 concerns of people in France, Germany, Britain and the USA. There were some interesting differences but Global Warming was high on each list. I may be sticking my neck out here but I suspect this subject has yet to penetrate Spanish consciousness to anything like the same extent. I certainly can’t recall seeing it on the regularly published list of what does worry Spaniards. The most recent of these has, naturally, seen Terrorism climb back to its traditional place.

I’d like to add a comment to those posted yesterday about US TV comedy programs – Among the best of these is Curbing your Enthusiasm but my pleasure at watching this is diminished by the knowledge that my two daughters think the ageing curmudgeon featured in it is really me.

And talking of me, I’m going to have to replace the new photo in my profile. I’ve been told it makes me look a lot older than the previous one and that I’m a dead ringer for the British art critic, Brian Sewell. Much as I enjoy his scathing opinions of modern art, the guy is at least 10 years older than me!

Finally on the subject of TV – The original compere of the British quiz show, Mastermind – Magnus Magnusson - has passed away. This has allowed the press to print things such as these 2 lists:-

1. The 5 Strangest Subjects permitted:-

- The Sex Pistols and Punk Rock
- Famous British Poisoners
- Burial Grounds of London
- Theropod Dinosaurs
- Anorexia Nervosa


2. The 5 Strangest Subjects Rejected

- Orthopaedic Bone Cement in Total Hip Replacement
- Routes to Anywhere in Mainland Britain from Letchworth by Road
- Farm Wagons and Carts of England and Wales
- Sweet Peas
- Life and Times of the author and broadcaster Magnus Magnusson

But, for me, the program will always be associated with the subject allegedly chosen by the ex Middle East hostage, Reverend Terry Waite – Lebanese radiators 1976 to 1978.


murcian said...

Re: banks - started off with Santander and was appalled at the lack of service, general inefficiency, and costs.
Changed to Cambank two years ago and they've proved very good. Have an excellent internet site where you can carry out the majority of banking activities, including interaccount and interbank transfers, swift payments, phone top-ups, etc. If you have a pension paid in current accounts are commission free. Only downside is to have them prepare a "paper" bank draft where it's on a percentage basis. End of commercial.

markS said...

Not ten years older, surely? Brian Sewell is only 72 :-)

Anonymous said...

Hi Colin,

I didn't realize how good we have it with our credit cards here in the US.... I pay a $20.00 a year fee. I have a $25,000 credit limit (which I never get close to, because I pay it off every month). Since they have a 20+ day grace period on purchases I never pay interest. I have most of my home bills automatically charge my card. I get $250,000 free travel life insurance (on any ticket purchased with the card). I get a mile per dollar for frequent flyer miles (mostly 20,000 miles for intercontinental US).

Once it was stolen ($5,000 charges - which they wiped away) and twice ripped off on the internet - both times the debts were wiped away by the CC company.

I've never paid interest or had a fee outside of my $20.00 per year (for the last 15 years that I've had it).

My credit card is seperate from where I do my banking (credit union). I have a checking account and ATM card there. Other than buying the personalized blank checks, I have no fees. I automatically have my bi-weekly paycheck deposited into my account. I also have those companies that won't auto-deduct from my credit card so at with my bank account. There is no charge for using the credit unions ATM machine.

Most of our home finances is the reviewing of statements. Though, I do some tranfers etc online. I rarely have to go in unless cashing someone elses check to me.....

Sorry to be so long winded.

Are we closer in services & experiences than I think? Maybe your expressing some exceptions rather than the rule (?)

John P.

Richie said...

RE: Curb Your Enthusiasm! A real gem of a programme. But in my opinion Larry David is not a curmudgeon! It's the world that's at fault I tell ya!

Colin said...

To John, Sorry about the delay with this but sometimes the messages don't come through to my designated email address and I only see them later on the Google 'dashboard'. In the UK, things are even better in that I have never paid any bank charges on my current account and even get a small rate of interest on the balance, plus a free overdraft up to 500 pounds. And my credit cards have always been free and I have never paid interest in 30 years or more. No fees for ATM transactions, of course. All rather different in Spain . . .

Colin said...

For Mark[s] - Ha, bloody ha. . . .

For Murcian, Yes, I now have accounts with Citibank and ING and things are a lost easier and cheaper. Neither of these is Spanish, of course. Though the employees are and can be expected to operate in much the same way as those in, say, BBVA. Except I am more important to Citibank than BBVA.