Had to pay a visit to my bank's main branch today as my bank card was swallowed up by one of the ATMs in Mons yesterday. The screen got stuck at the "one moment, please," bit. I actually managed to stay pretty calm about it. Even when I realised there was no one around to ask for help. It was of course 4pm. Why should anyone be around at such an hour? Even with a 90mins lunch break factored in at 12.30pm.
I did however catch a glimpse of someone working in the office at the back. So, I pressed the buzzer, but was told in no uncertain terms that there was nothing they could do, and to ring the number on the screen to report what had happened. There then followed one of those conversations that only someone who lives in a foreign country, and has yet to fully master the language, has: I start chatting away and think I've made myself clear. She asks me something which I don't understand. I repeat what I've just said. She then asks me something else which I only half understand. I then ask for help. She says no. I ask for advice. She repeats herself. This time I understand her. I say thank you. She hangs up. My card is still stuck in the machine.
So, I pressed the buzzer again, demanding that someone come out and help me. My main worry was what would happen should the machine eventually spit out my card. I'd be waiting for about 15mins now. I couldn't hang around all day.
The woman who came out was rude, unsympathetic, and no help whatsoever. We ended up having the same conversation all over again, only this time I was able to understand her. They can't access the machine themselves. Why should they? It's only a cash machine in the place they work in. I know that I would probably have got a similar response in England. Only more sympathetic, slightly condescending, a few sorrys, but equally as useless. Oh banks. There just aren't enough swear words.
In the end, my visit today resulted in me being given a temporary card whilst I wait 2 weeks for the new one to be posted. All pretty straighforward, and a bit bizarre, as I spoke in French, whilst the man behind the counter spoke in English. At least he understood me, and I certainly understood him.