Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Have to Go to the Bathroom? Sorry, You Need a UK Bank Account to Do That...

(Note of Preface (not that it matters to the blog, however): I currently have seven assorted truck stickers attached to my person as I type these words).

Not long after we arrived in the UK, Jennifer and I planned on opening a bank account here. Not only would it save us those annoying fees charged by our US bank for using our cards abroad (1% of every purchase, plus any charges deducted by vendors here...), but we knew it would be a way to feel settled and begin to come to a comfortable way of knowing that this is our new home for a few years.

However, we were unaware that in order to do just about anything in England, you need a UK bank account.

For instance, on our second day in the land of the Queen, we stopped by three cell phone stores. Our thought was that we'd "pop" in and get two phones so that we could begin communicating with one another while Jen was off at the University, and make any other calls to people that we'd meet here.

There would be no popping in to get anything of the sort.

The somewhat-zoned-out gentleman who spoke with us (while pop-rock music about a guy doing something to someone blasted through the T-Mobile store), essentially said the following:

"Sorry, mate, you can't get a contract account without having a UK Bank account."

"Really?" I responded. (Now that I think about it, really is not a very good question. Did I suddenly expect said gentleman to think for a moment, turn down the rock-pop (or was it pop-rock?) music, and say, Oh, actually, no. Now that I think about it, you can get phoens on a contract plan if you want today?)

"Yes, really, mate," He replied.

"Okay," I said (but really what I said (wihtout really saying it) was: That's ridiculous! Really? We can't get phones without a UK bank account? But we just got here!)

"Okay," the gentleman replied (but really what he said (wihtout really saying it) was: Silly Americans! Silly, silly Americans!)

The other two cell phone stores were a replay of this first (though with admittedly softer pop-rock and rock-pop, though its presence was still made known).

Easy enough dilemma, right? Simply open up a UK Bank account.

However, (as we learned by going to Barclay's bank and then HSBC) opening up a UK Bank account is no small matter.

Us: "Hi, we'd like to open up a UK bank account today."

Them: "Wonderful! [large smile] Do you have your visas?"

Tyler: "Uptrucks! Uptrucks!"

Us: "Yes, we've got our visas right here."

Them: "And of course you have an electricity or gas bill addressed to you at your UK home with both of your names on it and your full UK address, right?"

Tyler: "Uptrucks! Uptrucks!"

Us: " We need that?"

Tyler: "Green uptrucks! Yellow uptrucks! Red uptrucks!"

Them: "Yes."

Us: "Oh."

Tyler: "Cookie."

And this scene replayed itself at both banks.

However, easy enough solution, right? Get an electricity or gas bill.


Gas / Electricity Company: You will receive yoru first bill wihtin the next three months.

We found the dilemma repeat itself when we tried to get internet for our home, as well.

Thus, we resorted to something called "pay as you go" whereby one needs to "top up" all the devices you use after using them for a little while.

We don't yet have a UK Bank account, but rest assured, that glorious promised land is coming our way shortly. After we achieve victory in that great struggle, so we hear, The Queen will be set to knight us.