Banks

I am becoming less hopeful for the future of Namibia. Not just because they were stupid enough to request me and have me delivered by courier halfway around the world but because of the banks.

Banks are, universally, b*****ds. I have known this for many years (especially NatWest who are, let’s be honest, the biggest suckers of Satan this side of Chris Moyles). Not only do they charge you obscene (and laughably in the UK, illegal) amounts when you deem to mis-calculate your balance but it now transpires that the international banking sector has spent the last decade looking at computer screens and manipulating a system so complex and utterly flawed that nobody actually understood what was happening until it was all too late.

They have nothing on Bank Windhoek, the bank that likes to look at you like you are dirt, tut and moan whenever you make the slightest request for actual banking services.

There are two banks in Opuwo – FNB (First National Bank, some sort of illegitimate offspring of Barclays) and Bank Windhoek. FNB is always busiest and further away so I opened my account at Bank Windhoek.

On opening the account (over two hours) I also managed to cajole them into cashing some travellers cheques (no mean feat I assure you) and so avoided hawking organs on the back streets.

Having opened the account and thusly become a paying customer (and I really do mean paying – it costs N$2 to get a balance) I thought things might go slightly easier but no.

The bank itself is split in two, there is a brick building inside which various snotty (and spotty) cashiers work except they’re not cashiers they do enquiries only. If you actually want cash you must visit the coach on bricks (I am not making this up) that is “parked” outside which has an ATM in one end, a customer entrance at the other and a solitary cashier in the middle.

Around and about are various two to four year old security guards each with at least one massive gun each. Last time I was there it was a shift change and as a holstered pistol was passed from one to the other it was fumbled and dropped on the ground. Luckily nobody was accidentally shot.

Having cashed some travellers cheques on opening the account I decided that, as I had to return anyway to collect my high-status Visa Electron card, I might as well cash some more and add to the thief-inducing pile of dollars I keep under the bed in case of an emergency such as civil war.

“No David” (David in the bank you see – no formality like here at work or at home in the bank) “these are travellers cheques” (Well Done Sherlock) “and… you are no longer a traveller, you are staying in Opuwo”.

Eventually even more lies, threats, tears and temper tantrums and I did manage to get them paid into my account at least and this was “the absolute last time David”. I still have £400 worth which evidently I am going to have to actually travel elsewhere to cash. Arse biscuits.

Next week I’m going to have to run the gauntlet again to find out my actual account number (each bit of paper they give me says something different than the last) and try to activate cellphone banking in the vein hope that I won’t then have to ever actually deal with the bank again. Ever. Tossers.

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