Money: The Bank Machine

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One of the first things you must do on your arrival in Canada is open a bank account. Having a bank account is important to establishing your credit history, which will help you purchase your home or vehicle. If you are renting, landlords will need to check your credit history. Potential employers do the same.

I felt so important with my first experience—the bank was so clean, bright and big. Everyone was friendly and the customer service was excellent. When I walked in and saw a long line, I thought that I would be there all day but in less than ten minutes I was up front.

The customer service representative (“teller”) asked me for identification, and I produced my passport and address. We talked about what kind of account would be best for me. Soon I had my bank card and was on my way home.

The next day I went back to check on my account and complete some transactions. I was lucky to get the same teller who helped me the day before. I started talking to him like he was a good friend. His name-tag said Mark and on leaving I said, “Okay Mark, ‘til next time.”

Well “next time” was the very next day. I had forgotten to withdraw some cash and so there I was bright and early the next morning, the first one in. I looked for my friend Mark and walked straight up to the counter.

“Mark,” I said, “I need to withdraw some cash.”

He looked at me strangely, but politely said “Of course… Ma’am, do you have a bank card?” When I showed it to him, he said, “You could have withdrawn your money at the ATM, open 24 hours. You can do many banking transactions at your convenience.”

I stared at him for a while, feeling embarrassed. “Well of course,” I finally said. “I knew that.” I thanked him and walked outside. Having never seen nor heard of an ATM I had no idea what I was doing.

I decided to pose along a pole near the ATM and pretend to be waiting for someone, while checking out what they did at the machine in the wall.

Soon a customer walked up, took out her bank card, did her transaction and was on her way. It was then my turn. I walked up to the machine, took out my card, placed it into the slot and then came disaster. Those two little words ENTER PASSWORD.

I stood there and looked at it, while the words stared back at me. Had I written down a password? Maybe it was the number on this scrap of paper. I punched it in. The screen still said “ENTER PASSWORD”. I found another number and entered that.

“ENTER PASSWORD” said the machine. To my horror, it then swallowed my card and would not give it back, even when I asked nicely.

Imagine the look on Mark the Teller’s face when I came back inside and walked straight up to him (forgetting, of course there were now people standing in a line).

Mark’s manager took me aside as I explained that the cruel ATM ate my card and now it knew my bank account number. The manager and Mark started to laugh, and explained that it was perfectly okay to know my bank number. I realized how funny it all was. They gave me a new bank card and showed me how to use the ATM.

Banking in Canada is so easy. The convenience of telephone and internet banking allows us to complete our day to day banking in our own homes, and is especially so for those of us who work late hours.

To open your bank account, remember you will need your passport, address, social security number if you have it.

Welcome to Canada and happy banking.

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