I have a little knowledge about banks, and am getting quite an expert at the Greek system
The rules are as follows
Queue for everything
Realise that you are getting on the said persons nerves by being there
You will have to sign lots of paper
The ATM is your greatest friend
Before the end of the year - you do have to present yourself in person, so the bank book can be updated.
Smile gracefully at all times, and always speak in the street to the worst cashier.
I use the Alpha bank on the harbour. I have encountered all the above, but am now very happy with the service. In fact they now "Know me" and i have even been bumped up the queue on more than one occasion.
Now i know inter bank transfers can take time, so I had a "Bright idea"
Take the bank book in, get it updated, withdraw the money, and nip round to Emporiki and credit "Athens man" in Emporiki. Only bucking the system is not always that easy ...
There was a hold up earlier this year at Emporiki, so Alpha have had a security door fitted. Its the type that protects computer rooms. Its an Interlocking air lock system and is very efficient.
Press button to enter bank.
Light goes green - Enter air lock
Close door behind you
Press button to enter banking hall
Light goes green - Enter bank
All accompanied in a ladies voice in Greek and English ...
Now it does stop the old fashioned bank robber doing a runner with the cash. It also stops customers getting in and out of the bank. There we were one outside, one in the air lock and one in the inside, all pressing buttons and getting no-where. Anyway when i made it in there were no queues, only one cashier, where there were three previously.
Eventualy i made my way into the street, with the voice of Michael Caine in the Italian Job, springing into my head. "you were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!"
I give it a couple of months and it will be wedged open in summer ...
Into a very quiet Emporiki bank (One hold up and no security doors) A man looked up, looked at his colleague reading the paper, and dragged himself to his feet. He shuffled to the cashiers position, and with no eye contact and hands in pocket said "Were on strike"
"Strike - what strike?" I said
"Two days of strikes against the government and the austerity measures" he replied
"What are you doing here then?" i enquired
"We are on strike - just not serving customers - we are closed" was the reply
I got it, Its still cold, he was keeping warm in the bank, rather than using his heating at home ...
So he suggested an inter bank transfer;
"Go to Alpha -they do not all strike, but it will take two days after the strikes for the funds to reach us" he said, as we made eye contact.
"It must be easier to pay in here on thursday then" i quipped
"You should work for a bank" he replied, not knowing may silent reply ...