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Art

The Art and Antique dealing fraternity have unusual professions which do not necessarily “tick the boxes” of normal business as far as banks are concerned. This results in unusual situations not normally applicable to other professions to which the banks often do not respond in a useful or helpful fashion.

A client from overseas wanted to buy a small signed print by a famous artist. She had found the work on the internet and neither party knew each other. It was decided that she would make a day trip to London, meet up, view the work and, if she liked it, take the piece away with her on the Eurostar back to France. This, frankly, was the best and easiest way to get past the “Trust Problem”. Other alternatives such as Escrow services would possibly have been an option but the piece was required urgently for a waiting client and this was the easiest solution. The client arrived, viewed the work, liked it a whole lot and was pleased to pay cash for it in crisp €500 notes. She returned to France happy with her new purchase. An excellent result you might think?

Wrong! The following day I went to the bank to pay in the €500 notes to my € account. Having been told that they would be able to check these (forgeries are known) it was assumed that no problems would arise. Somewhat surprised, the staff at the bank said that they would accept payment into the company € account but, it would take 6 weeks before the amount would be credited. When asked why, it was explained that this was what the system demanded.

The bank was told that these € were needed to make a bank transfer for a new purchase in about 10 days time, however, the response was “that unfortunately this was unfortunate but nothing could be done about it.” The bank was totally unsympathetic to the situation. Why should any Art Dealer be denied access to his money for such a long period of time?

Many Art Dealers have foreign currency accounts in their UK bank branches. This enables them to reduce risks on FOREX transactions retaining € and US$ in their UK bank when it is provident to do so. Banks provide chequebooks in € and US$ which when used abroad can be very useful for making payments. Debit cards in € and US$ are not, as yet available despite their being € and $ accounts - a further anomaly which could and should be easily fixed.

The Bank’s € chequebook has, alas, an endorsement on it : “Payable only in Great Britain”. This results in it being totally useless and unusable in any € transaction overseas. Everyone refuses these € cheques - and why should they not do so with such an endorsement on it? The cheque might just as well say “I AM A € cheque - YOU CANNOT USE ME IN THE € ZONE”. When asked why this should be the case, It was explained “This is the system - it is for your benefit and protection”. Evidently the endorsement does not, in fact, mean what we understand it means. It means that the cheque will take longer to clear by having to go to the UK and this endorsement is merely a warning to the payee. The bank states, amazingly, that the cheque ought to be acceptable in Euroland despite this endorsement. Interestingly enough the US$ account chequebook has no such endorsement so the same impedimenta in usage is in buying overseas in American situations. No explanation has been offered for this anomaly.

It is only recently that Foreign Currency accounts at the bank were eligible for online banking and payments could be made online. This was hailed as a revolutionary new and useful service. It really ought to have been brought in 10 years or more ago. The tardiness in reacting to modern technology is quite astonishing.

The new “Apple Pay” facility is being rolled out very shortly and will be of huge potential benefit to many small businesses. My Bank is one of the few major Financial Institutions failing to adopt this useful new system. Apparently, I will have to continue without it.

It would appear that “The System” is unable to gainsay the Diktat of “Head Office”. Like most banks, it seems, Barclays Bank is run for the convenience of Barclays Bank, and the convenience of the customer is set at second or third place.

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