December 18, 2005

An odd take on Stephen Leacock, these past two days.

I work commonly in multiple currencies, and keep separate bank accounts so as to minimise currency exchange costs ... or at least, that is the theory.

The post office sells money orders in different currencies: but after the most recent overhaul of the computers, one can no longer pay for those money orders in the respective currency. Instead, when I came in with the appropriate amount in the appropriate currency in cash, I was informed that that first it would have to be converted to the local currency (in cash), then back to the other currency for the money order itself: each time paying that hidden currency exchange cost reflected in the percentage exchange difference.

So I went to my bank, asked them to encode a cheque against that currency account, and deposited the funds in question. It was only after processing the deposit that I was told that I would have to special-order other-currency cheques. (In other words, another cost, and 1-2 weeks wait.) Fine, say I, can we just cancel the whole transaction? ... Apparently not. I could ask for a withdrawal if I wished: at the standard withdrawal charge for an other-currency account.

(This is the same bank that managed once to bounce a certified cheque. I spent at least two weeks working my way up the chain of command on two separate sides to convince the relevant person that (1) yes, I had paid by certified cheque, and (2) yes, the bank had bounced it. Everyone seemed to strand on the concept of a certified cheque bouncing at all.)

I came home to a letter from my landlord corporation -- or, to be exact, an eviction notice, telling me that I had not paid enough rent last month. interestingly, they had written on the notice the amount I had paid ... which happens to be exact to the penny to the amount they had, in writing, asked me for when they had re-evaluated my rent two months ago. (Photocopy, photocopy, highlight relevant sections in fluorescent marker: for these are the same people as have a habit of sticking "Your rent is late!" notices under my door, even though they had already cashed my cheque on the first of the month.) By this point I was shaking my head and laughing, the whole thing was growing so ridiculous.

I really don't go out of my way to seek these things out. They find me!

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