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French bank tribulations


Peter Forrest

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After ten years with Banque Tarneaud in Limousin, we have had a 'Denonciation de Relation' letter, which is basically notice that they will terminate our account. I talked to them on the phone, and the guy explained that they are doing this because I have asked for too many international transfers - and being only a small bank, it is very difficult for them.....

I suggested that even small banks do this sort of thing as a basic part of being a bank. But it's no good - it seems to be an irrevocable decision that's been made without any consultation or warning.

There were about ten quite large international virements, all in euros. They did make a complete mess of some of them, and I did email them describing one three-week delay as a debacle... this seems like it could almost be retaliation for that!

("Well, if this Englishman doesn't like the way we do things here he can go elsewhere.")

The funny thing is that the people at the branch have always been charming and helpful in person, and on the phone.

The letter they have sent is a form letter which is clearly designed to be sent to people who have been reneging on payments or generally being bad clients - there's lots of talk of claiming money owed back, pursuing debts etc....

Our account has about 13000 euros in it and has averaged about 20000 in the last two years.

It's going to be a nightmare to change banks.

Any help or advice much appreciated.

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When you have a look around for a new bank, I think you will find that most now offer to take care of the transfer from the old bank, including standing orders. Because I thought it was a comparitively new thing in France I wasn't confident enough to let La Poste do it when I transferred from CA  about 18 months ago but hopefully you will get some more replies with more recent experiences.

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Thanks for the reply. In principle I'd like to change to la Poste. Does anyone know if I would be likely to have trouble with receiving and sending euro payments with them like I have done with Banque Tarneaud?

And do people have other pros and cons to mention about la Poste? I don't often go to the town where my current bank is situated, so the ability to do distance banking is very important.

The organisation of la Poste is huge, but are each of the branches going to be just as unused to making international transfers as Banque Tarneaud seem to be?
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How would you expect a British Post Office counter to handle international banking queries?

That's about how well you can expect things to be with La Poste, with La Poste probably being slightly less efficient!

In addition if you use a large town branch you can expect lengthy queues. If you use a small village branch you can expect a total lack of privacy at the counter.

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Two reasons

1. They closed their counter, so all paying in (cash or cheque) had to be done by posting an envelope into a not very secure letterbox.

2. By opting for a basic La Poste account with cheque book & online banking (no card) I saved myself over €70 per annum.

An extra benefit is that I can draw cash here in the village in our Agence Postale - and pay in of course.

I used to fund my accounts with cash withdrawn from my Nationwide a/c but since they started charging I am waiting until I need 5k & will then do a transfer. I have done a smaller test transfer via Moneybookers & La Poste didn't charge anything.

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La Poste is quite capable of making international transfers and you can do them quite efficiently on line, provided that (a) you have signed up for their on-line banking service, and (b) you are willing to submit details of the recipient of the transfer, in writing, ahead of time; the processing takes 10-12 days in my experience.

In other words: it works well if you have repeated transfers to the same beneficiary.  If you want to make a transfer at short notice to a new beneficiary, it's not so good.

But my experience is about 6 months out of date.  Banks do improve their services sometimes: it might be worth your while to enquire.

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