Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Japanese Banks

The banks here are better than they used to be. At least tourists can now find an ATM that will tolerate their foreign cash/credit/debit cards (sometimes). When I first came here in 2001 it was a little bit more of a challenge.

There are still some challenges though. One of the biggies is the fact that major banks close at 3pm. That basically means that if you miss the ATM during your lunch break, you miss the fee-free withdrawal window (if you're the working type). The witching hour may vary by branch, but that's beside the point.

Sometimes it feels like the banks have manipulated the situation so that the customer is obliged to be thankful for the services of the bank, rather than the bank being grateful for the loyalty of the customer. It is entirely possible, I admit, that my limited ability to read Japanese (kanji) is tainting my understanding of the situation. However, I hardly think that it's appropriate (or necessary) to have to wait 25 minutes just to give the bank my money, or pay an extra fee to use the ATM at my "home" bank (Mitsui Sumitomo or SMBC) just because the bank employees have all gone home.


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