Monday, August 31, 2009

Money matters

Hi all, Craig here....

As most restaurants here (those that charge less than $A200 for a meal) don’t accept credit cards, we will soon need to shift some money across from back home so today I tried to open a local bank account. Surprisingly, all I needed was a passport and drivers licence (Australian one OK) and everything went pretty well. That is, until I tried to use my new ATM card.

Before getting to that, I was served after waiting about 40 minutes in what I’ll call "the economy queue". If you pay a ~$1000 pa bank club membership you get served by the ‘Prestige’ teller (First/Business Class teller – just like the check-in queues at the airport). My economy queue was very long and I could count on one hand the number of First Class ticket holders.

Anyway, when the teller took my paperwork away to get the boss to sign off on it she returned and said I had to re-sign the signature card. She said I had to “do more writing than just a line”. Those who have seen my signature might understand this; Renee has often referred to it as my "scribble".

After giving them a pre-1995 (extended) signature I was impressed that they did give me a new ATM card on the spot and also a sealed PIN envelope. I was expecting to have to wait for them to posting them out separately in 5-7 days, as happens in Australia.

After saying thank you very much I then joined the queue for the ATM machines to withdraw the $HK500 which I needed to deposit to open the account, and also to change my PIN to one I’d remember.

I opened the letter and the first 3 paragraphs were all in Chinese except for 2 sets of 4 digit numbers side by side. Then in the bottom half there were three paragraphs in English which stated, “Please find above your PIN number”. Eight numerals was a long PIN I thought, but after inserting the card (and finding a "convert to English" button) I followed the prompts and entered the eight-digit PIN.

After two failed attempts and before letting the ATM eat my card, I cancelled and started heading for the 40-minute bank queue again when PTL I noticed the lady who had served me heading off to lunch walking through the bank. After indignantly advising her, "My card does not work when I use the PIN" and pointing to the eight numbers listed, she politely smiled (whilst no doubt inwardly bursting with laughter) and pointed to a 6 digit number up the very top on the right hand side.

Apparently the number I was entering was the bank’s phone number.

Welcome to an ESL (English Second Language) country!


  1. LOL. This is a classic! Poor Craig, but at least he's retained his sense of humour!

  2. ROTFLOL! Oh Craig my heart goes out to you! May these incidence become easier with time! :)


  3. Got to love you Craig. Read twice act once!!!! Or maybe read three, four, five times!!! These are the stories that you will have for ever. Love seeing the pictures. Renee, Emma and I had a look in Ikea for the quilt but we didn't see the right colour sorry. Love to all. Missing you - everytime we walk outside or sit on the couch we are reminded of the Harvey's. Prayers and blessings, Kirsten