A Wunch Of Bankers

Banks are the scourge of my life. You would think that since I give them all my money, they would be nice to me. But no – I hand over them my cash, which they invest in whatever scummy company takes their fancy, and in return they give me…um…nothing.

That’s right – until last month, I was getting no interest whatsoever. None at all. There are banks in Sweden that pay interest but mine, SEB, was not one of them. And so my money was sitting in their electronic vaults losing value at the rate of 3% a year, gathering virtual dust.

And then last month SEB announced they would suddenly have savings account, as if it were an utterly new concept that they had knocked together in a brainstorm at the local after-work cocktail establishment.

So I went to my bank and told the lady I wanted one. She looked up my account and said, “But this is all in a current account. You’re making no interest on this at all!”

“Yes,” I replied slowly.  “I know. That is why I am here. Please fix.”

I also mentioned to the lady that I was paying 2 euros a month for a special kind of bankcard that was useless, as I had another bank card that did the same job for free.

“Oh yes,” she said. “You should have changed this years ago.”

Again, it was apparently my fault that I didn’t know this, and not the fault of the bank whose job it was to know such things and inform me, the customer, of them.

And then there is Internet banking. Hey, what a great idea – let’s make the customer do all their own account management, so we save paying as many staff, and then – heh heh – we’ll charge him for it! And the suckers will pay, oh yes they will. And now I consider myself clever because I pay them for the work that I do for them.

The Internet banking service, by the way, is available only in Swedish. Considering that the corporate language of SEB is English, and they happily allow non-Swedish speakers over here to open accounts with Internet banking, this is a little rich.

I sent a letter to the customer service department in SEB, posing this question in the following way:

“Hello. I am an Irish citizen living in Sweden. I have Internet banking with SEB and I wonder why this service is not available in English?I know that SEB’s corporate language is English, and that SEB is present in other countries than Sweden, so this does not make any sense.

I understand Swedish so I can use my Internet banking, but I have many friends who live here and do not have Swedish, and this means they cannot use theirInternet banking (which they pay for) without help.

Why does SEB offer Internet banking to people who have no hope of understanding the site? Why are there no help documents available in SEB’s own corporate language? And why is there no English version of the banking site available?

I work in Internet and I know that fixing multiple language versions of a website is NOT a difficult job. It seems strange that SEB does not prioritise this, and instead chooses to ignore the needs of many of their customers.”

And so 2 days later I get a reply, and here it is:

“Thanks for your enquiry. I completely understand your point of view, but I am sorry, we can’t offer you Internet banking in English. My only explanation is that it probably cost too much to develop it in English. Tell your friends to call us (0771 24 11 11) if they need instructions in English or our help. Regards, A. Moron.”

So I intend to mail them again and propose a new motto for their bank: “SEB – take the money and run.”


/ paddy (sticking it to the man since 1846)


7 thoughts on “A Wunch Of Bankers

  1. I’m sorry Paddy, but I’m don’t agree with you at all. How can you live in a country and not bother to learn the language of that country? It’s arrogant and stupid to think that you don’t need to. Ofcourse you do! When my English husband ( now deceased) lived in Sweden, he spent many hours going to evening classes learning Swedish and by the end of the first year he could both speak and write it very well. Why dont you and your friends do the same and stop moaning?

  2. Jag håller med Paddy!
    Vi infödda bör väl ändå göra det vi kan för att underlätta livet för nya svenskar och dessutom (samtidigt) för tillfälliga och mer permanenta besökare…
    Paddy, kan du inte starta en kampanj för att införa engelsk information/texter på 1.Muséer 2.Tunnelbanan och andra kommunikationsmedel…
    I höstas träffade jag en italiensk turist som var helt chockad över hur otillgängligt Sverige är för icke-svensk-talande. Jag höll med och skämdes.
    Att det sen är önskvärt, bra (och roligt!) att kunna språket i det land man bor är en helt annan sak…

  3. Och bank på internet borde självklart vara gratis.
    Jag har startat två sparkonton på seb, väl medveten om att det lldeles säkert finns konton elsewhere med bättre ränt, de är inte dumma de jäklarna…

  4. Lillan: I agree – people who move to a country should of course learn the language! I never suggested that they shouldn’t. Where in my entry do I say that? I may “moan” – and I do like to moan – but I _never_ suggested that all of Sweden should be in English for lazy foreigners. Not once.

    Och självklart har JAG lärt mig svenska – varför skulle jag inte det!! Lillan, jag tror att du har inte alls förstått min poång…

    To summarise – my point was that it is very customer-unfriendly of SEB to offer banking services to people who are only here for a short time – I was thinking mostly of foreign students – when there is no English version of the banking site. This is all the more bizarre given that SEB actually have English as their official internal corporate language.

    Ellala: There is a lack of written “international” information in Stockholm, but that is OK since most everybody can understand English and will answer questions when asked. Except for the people who work in the metro, who have been trained to be as rude as possible…

  5. Yes Paddy, that’s right, you did not mention that people living in a foreign country should not learn the language of that country. But neither did you mention that the friends you refer to were not settled in Sweden, so I’m afraid I just assumed that they were. Hence my comments. :)

    I’m glad to hear/see that you know Swedish well. The reason I thought that you did not speak or write Swedish is that you always write in English on a Swedish blog that we both visit. :)

    I understand the point you are making about SEB ( is that the bank known as Enskilda Banken in the past?) and internet banking. Yes, it may seem obvious to you and me that they should make it available in English but banks work, and I include British banks here, in mysterious ways. Or perhaps not so mysterious after all, as it is pretty clear that they only have their own interests at heart.

    ( who worked for Svenska Handelsbanken once upon a time:)

  6. Hate to point out the obvious but banks like every other business exist to make as much money as possible – not to provide a service. A bank like every other business is not going to turn around and give money away even when they are obtaining it in dubious circumstances (charging for a service they do not provide).
    The only way to get them to change is to threaten to and then ultimately move to a different bank. Its your money – you decide what to do with it.
    I had an account with AIB (Ireland) for years from the age of 10 or so. About 6 years ago they decided to bring in bank charges unless I kept a minimum of IR400 (no pound sign on this keyboard!) in the account at all times. When I complained about this to a manager and threatened to move to another bank, the response was, “yeah its terrible but as bank employees we don’t have to pay”!
    So I moved banks to one which provided free banking, NIB.
    Yesterday I saw an add for AIB describing their “new” free banking account. Progress.
    By the way, AIB is the most profitable bank in Ireland. Thats why I still have shares in it!

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