Not ready to be Nicaraguan

Sometimes I become aware that I am not ready to be Nicaraguan. The past few days has made me very aware once again. Don't think of this as a complaint -- just a reality check.

Last week I went to BanPRO to re-activate a savings account which they had de-activated because I wasn't making any transactions. Ignoring that stupid concept, the real issue was that they changed the rules for what they needed on file (for a business account). So, I did all the stuff they requested and went to do the re-activation. After about an hour of answering questions they already had the answers to interspersed with the usual interruptions the muchacha said "Everything is ready now. You just need to submit a request to re-activate the account stamped with the company seal."

Now, writing letters is easy and stamping them with the company seal is easy -- if it isn't 1.5 hours away. So, I told them I would probably get back to them some time next year.

A couple of days later I was back in the bank involved in a different transaction. A person had wired money from the US and was told by BanPRO in Managua that the money was now in BanPRO. Bottom line is that it magically wasn't and, in fact, never would be because the US bank screwed up the wire.

Today I went to Estelí to pick up my pump/tank. I was told it would be available in the afternoon. Here I made a mistake. I always think that expression means "after lunch" but the reality is that it generally means "around closing time". This, by the way, is not unique to Nicaragua. The same interpretation is needed in Costa Rica.

Forgetting this rule, I got to Estelí at about 2PM. I confess this part was my error -- but the following was not. I was told the pump would not be there until 3PM. I ran a few errands but mostly wasted time until almost 3PM Nicaragua time also known as 4PM clock time. I went in and asked the muchacha how much longer before it was Nicaraguan 3PM.

She explained that the pump was on the bus and she would pick it up herself at the bus station at 5 "y punto". I told her I would come back some day and left.

Having run a business where missing a deadline could mean a magazine not getting printed for weeks, I am probably a bit more anal than most about wasting time/being on time. I probably will never recover. For the rest of you, think about how flexible you will be.

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Fy, you gotta pound pavement more often...

Today, the bank discovered that they had deposited $300 in our account twice. The bank manager and teller came over to the house to discus their mistake!!

OK we said, just reverse the second transaction and we all all good to go.

"Phew" was the look on their relieved we were not going to make it an issue.

Why Do I

have this vision of Nicaraguan banks using those big books you see in the Registro,

and manual double entry bookkeeping a la Bob Cratchit in "A Christmas Carol" ?

Unfortunately, they do not

I saw this same misuse of technology in Costa Rica. One day I was doing what was effectively moving money from Point A to Point B all within the same, highly-computerized bank and having to sign five different receipts all produced by the same printer in duplicate. The person helping me also had to sign and stamp all of them and appropriately file them.

In general, as automation entered the banking business, it did so as an add-on. That is, all the same manual stuff is done as before with just a copy going into the computer.

To further complicate the process, the software being used sucks. While not unique to Latin America (I saw time per transaction at a Seattle-based Credit Union increase by about 400% when a very keystroke-efficient UNIX-based teller system was replaced with a Windoze-based, mouse-click based system), there seems to be more acceptance of bad system design.

At least this error was in Juanno's favor

Most US bank errors are in the bank's favor. I had an amazing time getting a bank safety deposit box rental straightened out -- I had paid cash but fortunately had a receipt, unfortunately in Virginia, fortunely a friend there could find it. It took quite some doing to get the bank to admit that yes, they're screwed up on entering my payment erroneously. They're still my bank though, but I don't have my credit card with them.

Moral of that story is never give a bank cash.

Rebecca Brown

It's worse

Nicaraguan banks have computers! . “If you voted for Obama in 2008 to prove you were not a racist,

vote for somebody else in 2012 to prove you are not an idiot”. Anon.

When I Had

some dollars parked in a Mexican bank many years ago, during that period when the peso was 3000 + to the dollar, when I cashed a check the teller would look my account up in this 4 inch thick pile of 14 x 18 formfeed paper, make a manual notation of the check amount next to my account, and then give me my money. I guess they ran one "book" every day. There was only one, all the tellers accessed it.

Interest rates for peso accounts were something like 36%; these were go-go times. . .Having a peso account meant you converted going in and out at bank rates (except for the money you took out in pesos), and with the peso devaluation I never was able to figure out if I was ahead of the game or not. They offered dollar accounts, but the interest rate was only 12%

Pemex was always behind the curve, so gasoline, diesel and aviation fuel was a bargain.

They re-valued the peso to ten / dollar, and then we had two different bills and coins for quite a while. That was interesting. You needed a degree in higher math to buy a loaf of bread.

No social security numbers in those days and I usually didn't even have to show ID. Teller would smile in recognition, greet me by name, that's all it took.