Live or Retire in Mexico: Snakes in the Banks

Live or Retire in Mexico: Many of the Snakes are in the Banks

When you live or retire in Mexico you quickly discover one of its main inconveniences. The banks in Mexico prefer not to provide good customer service. A simple transaction, such as depositing or withdrawing money from your account can take 30 minutes to an hour.

It is a mystery to me why banks can’t train their employees in basic customer service habits, but that seems to be beyond the scope of current possibilities. There is one bank here that allows clients to take a number and sit out the long wait, but my bank isn’t that one.

Here’s how it went for me today at my bank.

11:37: I arrived at the bank and asked a busy employee, who was engrossed in something on his computer screen for a withdrawal slip.

11:38: I got into the serpentine line, where I remained patiently for 30 minutes. I passed the time brainstorming ideas for this web site. I had forgotten to bring a book, but I have passed many an enjoyable hour reading on my feet in line.

11:56: My husband joined me in line, having had time to run another errand while I stood there.

11:59: I got up to a teller window and handed over my ID and withdrawal slip.

11:59 and 10 seconds: I was asked by the teller to go to a desk out on the floor and request approval for my transaction. I requested and was granted permission not to stand in line again.

12:00: The desk employee received, then approved my request for a transaction after a silent and lengthy consultation of his computer screen, my ID, and signature.

12:03: The desk employee walked my documents–me and spouse in tow–up to a teller. He passed her my documents around the shoulder of the customer standing at her window, placing them to the side of her cubicle, and telling her I would be next. She looked at him, looked at my documents, glanced at me, then continued with the other customer’s transaction. I tried to look appreciative.

12:06: The customer ahead of me left.

12:06 and 1 second: The teller stood up, walked briskly away from her window, and through a door behind the secure teller area, all the while maintaining a secure view of her feet.

12:06 and 2 seconds: I looked at my husband. “She has to come back some time,” he commented encouragingly.

12:06 and 5 seconds: We began chatting and joking to pass the time (I was trying to ignore the fact that now I had to go the bathroom.)

12:15: The customer with the teller next window over left. Someone from the still serpentine line ran up to the window. I leaned over anyway and asked the neighboring teller if I could please come to her window because my teller was gone. She had to serve the new customer, so asked me to wait just a bit.

12:23: The customer at the neighboring teller was STILL there. I mentioned to my husband that I had to go to the bathroom. He went back to the guy at the desk and told him that we were still waiting.

12:24: The guy from the desk went up to a different teller window and called out to my vanished teller by name. She appeared from a back room looking bothered. The desk guy then moved my documents from her cubicle to a different one.

12:26: The client at the new window left and we got to begin our transaction.

12:27: My husband sent me to the bathroom, while he finished the transaction.

12:27 and 30 seconds: I left the bank, crossed the street to McDonalds….

12:34: my husband and I reunited in the street outside the bank.

Still want to live or retire in Mexico? Here’s how to make the best of the banks.

Think maybe all the hassles when you live or retire in Mexico are at the bank? Try shopping.

What’s the one thing we are all afraid of before we live or retire in Mexico? That’s right, scorpions.

Here’s how to beat one of Mexico’s most incessant problems and get a good night’s sleep.

What is likely to be missing from your rental place when you move to Mexico? Find out what it is and how to fix the problem.

cover of Mexico: The Trick is Living HereMike Goll, a U.S. citizen and his Mexican wife purchased the first edition of the e-book Mexico: The Trick is Living Here to help prepare themselves for their big move from the U.S. to Mexico. On, July 9th 2006, Mike sent me the following email:

“Well,I devoured your book yesterday. I read the whole thing! It is a very very good book. I learned a LOT of things, especially on behavior and visa requirements. I loved the part about gestures too. I knew [about the] finger wag but not the other ones.

“My wife got a few good laughs every time I would ask her about what you said. She said yes that is right -every time….

“OK have a great Sunday and Thanks SO much for writing that book. I printed out a copy to bring with us so I can reference it back. I think you should do another one now….”

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  1. Dennis Weeks Nov 4

    Try a difffernt bank and know that if you are going to withdraw money and not use a cheque of with a value more than 10000.00 mn that you should just get the signature from “the desk” before getting into line. Also, try a different bank or even a different branch to find one that has good customer service. At Scotia it typicaly takes less than 5 minutes to withdraw cash. At HSBC downtown where I live it will take 30 – 60 minutes, but the branch on the highway typically takes less than 5 minutes.

  2. Julia Taylor Nov 4

    Thanks for the suggestions. Since I don’t have a car, I am more limited in the branches I can use. My work will only direct deposit to HSBC, otherwise I would have changed banks long ago.

  3. tom arnall Jul 8

    i find that Mexicans are willing to wait in a long line at an ATM when there is one a few blocks away with no one using it. i’m wondering if the same applies to banks.

    at any rate, i live in Ensenada and here there seems to be pretty good customer service all around, possibly because the city depends on american tourists.

    how is guadalajara in this respect? i’m thinking of moving there.

  4. Julia Taylor Jul 9

    Tom, I’m not sure because I’ve only visited Guadalajara, not lived there. Hopefully, someone who lives there will reply.

    Regards, Julia

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