January 2008


Inner-American Struggle

I’m an American, so when I deal with “Things German”, I try to tread lightly because I don’t know if I have unreasonable American expectations, am a whiney jerk, or completely clueless.

So far I’ve been remarkably restrained when it comes to the farce that is my bank and its credit card problems.

Two weeks for a new card because the database was stolen? That seems like a long time by American standards, but sure—it’s Germany so I am probably unreasonable in expecting it FedExed to me immediately—even if I need it to buy plane tickets.

Unfortunately the ticket prices have shot upwards and on Wednesday Chica and I headed back to the bank only to learn that they don’t have any idea when I will get a replacement credit card—the bank’s processing company keeps telling them to “call back next week.”

The American in me would have changed banks a week and a half ago; the Expat in me is frustrated; and the German Native accompanying me is amazed at the bank’s slowness.

The person we spoke to made me a “generous” offer though: they would wave the annual fee for the time that I was unable to use the credit card—which amounts to something like a whopping 1,67€ savings so far.

Meanwhile I’m out an extra 100€ for a trip in March and, worse still, I’ve had to charge it to my American credit card, which I pay from a bank account that I keep relatively little money in, so I now must find a way to get some extra dough into that account.

My inner-American jerky self has some ideas about how to deal with the situation, but my Expat self is telling me to ask others what they would do: Write a rude letter to the bank asking them to reimburse me the extra 100€ I am spending on my travel or write a really rude blog entry where I hyperlink the phrase “miserable customer service” (in German: “Miserable Dienstleistung”) to the bank in a minor form of Google-bombing?

Bad Me.

5 comments to Inner-American Struggle

  • I keep finding myself similarly restrained when dealing with my European Country and the citizenship process. I get frustrated at all the changes I keep encountering. I have everything ready to meet the citizenship officer, only to have the person in the position change, with a change in requirement and procedure.

    I’ve been told that is typical when dealing with the country I’m dealing with. So I remain flexible. However, like you, I would have given someone an a$$ chewing a long time ago if this was government in the US.

  • haha. great.
    that’s good for now. tomorrow we burn it down.


  • IUMike

    Sometimes there is a good reason to let your inner American out…this is one of them.

  • @cq: dealing with governments is different: i fully understand that I have zero voice in German governance, and that’s fine with me. I do expect the US government to treat all citizens equally; I expect german government to treat citizens equally–they can treat noncitizens different based on nationality, just like the US.

    However, the bank is a consumer issue–I think customers are for life in Germany and unwilling to change banks on a whim.

    @chica: you’re the german. I do as you direct.

    @IUMike: You and Chica agree; we should work together 😉

  • I vote for the Google-bombing. Cliff did that when he experienced some customer service stupidity at a large bike sales/service place here in town. He managed to score the front page on google for a relatively innocuous search term, so it can totally work.