Banking in Portugal

My banking experiences in Portugal: the good, bad and ugly

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Blogger Piglet shares how she finally found a bank in Portugal that was willing to 'go the extra mile' and for a bewildered expat.

When we opened our first bank account in Portugal the only thing I remember was our lawyer marching us up the road to a bank. The rest of the proceedings were a complete blur because said 'proceedings' were conducted in Portuguese. Various pieces of paper were passed back and forth across the desk, our signatures requested and eventually the account was opened. Then the fun began.

The bank clerks seemed to be anti anyone who could not converse fluently in Portuguese. I thought Mr. Piglet was making a fuss until I experienced the “attitude” first hand. I was convinced all you had to do was “smile” nicely and be polite. Wrong!

The final straw and the decision to change banks came when I needed to pay some money into our account. I confidently joined the queue and waited smiling at other customers and throwing in the odd “Bom Dia”. However, when it was my turn to be served, the cashier deliberately kept his head down; apparently engrossed in some important paperwork. There was not a grunt of acknowledgment or even the momentarily meeting of eyes to register my existence. Nothing! Mr. Ignorant continued to ignore me until his colleague on the next desk took pity on me and beckoned me over. Mr. Ignorant immediately became 'available' and warmly acknowledged his next customer who was Portuguese.

The episode with Mr. Ignorant was the last straw. Why should we have to pluck up courage to face rude cashiers every time we went into our bank? It was ridiculous, so we decided to change banks.

We had heard excellent reports regarding the Banco BPI and decided to investigate further.

What a difference; the staff are welcoming and friendly, going that “extra mile” to help us.

A recent demonstration of their exemplary customer service was the time I needed to draw out some cash but was reluctant to use the cash machine. I went to the counter and the clerk enquired (in a nice way) why I had not used the machine, was there a problem? When I confided I did not feel confident as the machine had previously “swallowed” my card he immediately signaled to a colleague to take his place at the counter.

He escorted me outside to the multi-banco machine and patiently gave me a step-by-step idiot’s guide; translating the Portuguese into English. This is just one example of the excellent customer service we have received.
The icing on the cake, however, is that when we have a query we can telephone our branch directly and actually speak to someone who recognises us as a customer rather than being transferred to an indifferent call centre in India or outer Mongolia. We feel we are people rather than just an 'account number' What a refreshing change from banking in the UK and of course at the bank of 'Mr. Ignorant'…

Do you have to contend with a 'Mr Ignorant'? What do you like or dislike about your bank?

Piglet in Portugal / Expatica

Piglet in Portugal is a blogger from the UK who writes regularly about her and her family’s experiences in Portugal.  Her tales run from the bizarre to the ridiculous and often deal with the challenges faced due to language or cultural misunderstandings of everyday life in Portugal. You can check out her blog here.

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