The Magic personnr

We went to the bank today to get some cash, but the ATM refused our card. Hmm, worked fine when we were here in May. Well, the bank is still open for another 20 minutes or so, let's see.

"Oh, those cards are old," the young guy says. Old? "Yes, they don't work from the end of May." Aha. All right, let's get a new one - how much will that cost. 195 SEK !!! Are you crazy? This is only to get OUR money out of YOUR bank?

"Well, the Visa card is only 250 and you can pay in stores with that." Okay, let's take that.

But wait - WiseMan does not have one of the Swedish magic personnr. This is like a social security number in Sweden, only worse. If you don't have a personnr, you don't exist in Swedish society. I have one, because I worked in Sweden 10 years ago and badgered the authorities into giving me one (and that being an American at the time). Without it you can't even get coupons at the local store or tons of other stuff. The young man went to check, but the boss said "No personnr, no Visa."

I demanded to know why - we are rather credit-worthy individuals, I would think. We have had accounts with this outfit for 10 years and never, ever been negative. No, these are the rules. I tried to explain that we have this silly thing called the "EU" and that all citizens of the EU have to have the same rights as all the other ones all over Europe. And Sweden is in the EU, whether they like it or not.

"Oh," she said, "but you wouldn't be able to buy anything in a store if they ask you to legitimate yourself." WTF? I may have a personnr, but I don't have any card-like thing to prove it. No one has ever questioned my not having the last four digits to my birthday. I buy lots of stuff with my Visa, show my American or now German ID, and I get to take my stuff home. The merchants don't care. Or rather, the underpaid clerks don't care.

Then they mentioned the "T"-word: terrorists. , keeping people from getting a Visa card has nothing to do with terrorists! It should have something to do with credit-worthiness. I asked to have the rejection in writing. She began to search. The clock ticked. We still didn't have money. At one minute of 3pm I had WiseMan get over to the other line and get out some cash. More than we normally get, this might be necessary.

She searched and searched. Finally, she found it: on a form. The field for personnr was marked "obligatory". But she can't give me the form. She has to talk to the legal counsel and he is on vacation. I sweetly request to have it in writing, next week will do fine.

And then I am going to test the EU-Ombud. Getting a credit card should not have anything to do with your nationality. That is discrimination. Sure, it is easier if they have a number for you - makes a great primary key in the database, and they have a central register of sinners in Sweden. Well, then they just have to expand that and use something else for a primary key, I think. This is insane, something has to be done, now.

So we ended up ordering the 195 SEK card to get at our own money. It will take a week, and we have to come in to the local office and sign for it during their mini-opening hours.

Maybe it is time to change banks.

No comments: