My own ‘giornata a no’ – the Italian expression for a ‘bad hair day’ – began like many others (and, I must say, my hair was a mess). I tried to recycle my plastic, but every single bin within a 1/2 mile radius was filled to the brim. So, setting my sights on the Bancomat to get some cash, it was in its customary ‘Out of Order’ status. At the Post Office, I discover that some smart thieves – or one seriously irate customer – had rammed a truck through the front window. Off to the main post office, the manager comes out shouting, “Tutti Fermi!” – “All freeze!” Luckily, it was just to perform a backup (during operating hours?) and not another heist in progress. [After they've doubled - doubled - postage rates, I pondered who, precisely, were the heisters...] Checking the movie times, I decide to head over to my favorite cinema before it is turned into a Diesel store. Once there, I find it already bolted shut, signs plastered, “No longer in operation” – just like the Bancomat. So much for fact checkers. Trying to get home, I board the bus which has a ticket machine aboard. Also out of order.
But, my favorite came in from a friend who, on his way to New York, withdrew $2000 to deposit upon arrival. Withdrawing large sums of money in Italy comes with a lot of pomp & circumstance: letters in writing, lots of stamps, your i.d. card; you would think you had just stolen it and they need to make up Exhibit A. In New York the next day, his bank takes one look at a bill and stamps COUNTERFEIT all over it -- making copious copies, and having him sign declarations, and all that.
He immediately contacts his Italian bank, forwarding the copies.
Their response: “We have nothing to do with this. How do we know it’s ours (denying the existence of serial numbers), and besides, it is your responsibility to check the bills prior to exiting the bank.”
Aghast, he mentions that, to the best of his knowledge, his iPhone does not have an incorporated infra-red machine but, besides, "Isn’t it the institution’s responsibility to check their own bills prior to issue?"
Again, the request is refused.
He then mentions his bank accounts, mortgages on two apartments and other business he may reconsider holding with them, should they not simply look into and rectify the matter.
Their response (ignoring the previous communications and reams of request papers involved): “We cannot possibly honor bills after 8 months have passed since their issue.”
He then reminds them – that those conversant in the banking world might want to keep in mind - that in America, the dates are inverted. "And so no, it’s not from April 1st, but rather from January 4th," the day before, as reported in the initial request and subsequent documentation. He goes on to suggest that his friends in the room, all NYC bankers, will reconsider their business with the bank, and one institution already refuses to do business with them for their lack of – shall we say, propriety – in conducting int’l transactions.
Their response: “We will look into it, but please know that our bank is changing hands, and you’ll have to deal with a new entity upon your return.”
After more negotiations upon his return to Italy, he finally was credited the $100. His time? About $800 worth.