Understanding The Modern World, Part X

I’ve never been a rule breaker. I probably entered this world worried about the mess and noise I created. But there are times  when the reason for rules makes my head spin and my inclination to say ‘Pah!’ is overwhelming.

Today we needed some Euros and the obvious place to go was the Post Office. They’re nice and helpful in the Post Office despite spending hours behind a screen as might an exotic and dangerous animal in a zoo. When approached the woman asked, ‘Cash or card?’

’Card, Thanks.’

’Ok. You’ll need ID.’

Ah ha. No ID. Dang. ‘Sorry. I left it at home? Why do I need it?’

’FSA regs. Money laundering,’ she said apologetically.

I do understand why financial institutions have to be careful. Opening a bank account can be a real faff, what with passports and utility bills and what have you. I smiled my regret at coming unprepared and started to turn away when she said, ‘You can change cash without ID.’

I was flummoxed and I’m sure it showed. But I think she imagined my confusion was how to go about getting the cash so she added, still trying to be helpful, ‘If you use your card, I can give you the cash and then you can convert it.’ This was said with the bright confidence of the experienced carer dealing with the somewhat bemused aged when presented an app.

I put my card in dutifully as I framed the first of many questions. ‘So, to be clear, I can’t use the card to get Euros without ID but I can use it to get cash and then change the cash?’

She looked up from where she was counting out the 50s. ‘It’s the same with any currency,’ she answered, misunderstanding my confusion.

I ploughed on regardless. ‘When  I open an account here, what would I need? ID? Utility bill? Then a wait while you checked?’

She started counting the notes in front of me, deliberately enunciating each denomination carefully. But she had time to nod.

’And all this is to be sure that the account isn’t for laundering cash?’

Another nod. ‘Would you like an envelope for that?’

My turn to nod. ‘So I can use my post office debit card which I only get if I’ve satisfied you with two levels of identity including proof of address. But to use that card to obtain currency I need to repeat one level of security…’

Her smile was slipping somewhat. ‘Was there anything else?’

’…whereas if I have cash… cash that might have been obtained by any nefarious means… I can obtain nice clean, freshly washed – laundered one might say – Euros without so much as an explanation?’

Her smile was history, slipping into a memory. Perhaps I shouldn’t have said nefarious.

’No, nothing else thank you.’ To many imponderables aren’t good for a lad. I needed to go to the Park and talk to Dog. He makes more sense.

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published four books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars, Salisbury Square and Buster & Moo. In addition I have published three anthologies of short stories and a memoir of my mother. More will appear soon. I will try and continue to blog regularly at geofflepard.com about whatever takes my fancy. I hope it does yours too. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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37 Responses to Understanding The Modern World, Part X

  1. Ritu says:

    You causing trouble again His Geoffleship?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh yes, being on the front line so-to-speak years ago it has all changed. Gone are the days when you take up references to open an account, D/Ds can be set up over the phone without a signature, you can wave a card at a screen without using a PIN, and make payments with your phone or wristwatch using an Ap. Scares me silly. Someone push the wrong button, technology blows up and we’re all asking ‘what’s cash’ again?

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      I try telephone banking and the nice people regularly tell me what’s in my account which bears no resemblance to the figure when the paper statement comes through. I have no clue which is right but they still give me range of spending tokens at those slot machines each bank has in its wall so I assume I’m solvent


      • I stick to a pen and cash book. We have telephone banking (not internet banking, would not trust that one iota) so I can transfer funds and check balances. With charges being introduced at some cash machines for other bank withdrawals, I go for cashback at the supermarket.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Erika Kind says:

    For now, you guys are still in the EU and therefore need to follow MiFID II, So, either the UK has an additional law regarding money laundry in this specific handling or the lady simply confused something herself. It depends on the amount you bring or changing or to deposit but not on the currency. If there is a trace (like withdrawing it directly from your account) it doesn’t matter at all!

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      So as I can work out all such rules are written merely to obfuscate and confuse; the only people who purport to understand them are those who wrote them and those who need to break them – for the rest of us, they make as much sense as the off side rule or broccoli.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Amen to the dog and making sense of a conversation. I had a similar chat this morning along the beach. Quite therapeutic I might add!! Well, it was until I mentioned to said dog, that he was stopping to sniff one too many times!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. JT Twissel says:

    Absurd! As a process analyst I’ve seen many rules so bizarre that they beg breaking! As they say, easier to beg forgiveness than ask permission sometimes.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You made one crucial mistake in your expectations, Geoff. You expected a government agency’s rules to make sense. Once you give up that notion, you will be happy and add years to your life.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Between you and the illustrious photographer Mr Knight, I’m beginning to think the UK has gone to the – er – dogs…… (With apologies to Milo, Siddy and all other dogs!)

    Liked by 1 person

  8. willowdot21 says:

    Bureaucracy, bureaucracy they all love bureaucracy!? 💜

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Haha. Cash is no longer king. Nobody wants it anymore. Weird rules.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. It is mad. I can understand it with large amounts but when it’s small ones. I had the same problem when we ordered Euros online for my sons school trip. I think he was limited to about 200. I would be a pretty rubbish money launder changing 200 a time. Lets hope the gangs of money launders roaming the streets of the UK do not here about this cash exception. You had better eat this blog post to stop it getting in the wrong hands.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. lol, yes, it’s strange isn’t it, Geoff. I’ve made the same mistake in not taking any id with me. It’s made all the more strange by the fact that after being an additional M&S card holder on John’s account for over seven years, M&S decided (about 18 months ago) that I needed to prove who I was by filling in a huge questionnaire and getting it signed by somebody who they referred to as a professional. They wanted a copy of my passport, and copies of two utility bills from the address they were already using to send us our ‘rewards’ vouchers. The account is paid off in full every month, but all of a sudden they needed proof of who I was. I refused to do it, so now I can’t use that card anymore. No loss to me, though.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      Sometime ago i went to Lloyds to take out some money to pay builders. I did the proof of id piece but then they said they had questions one was what i wanted it for. ‘None of your business ‘. They refused to give me my money. ‘Why do you need to know?’ Money laundering. ‘Put down funding international terrorism’. Can’t do that. ‘Ok. Breast enhancement surgery’. Thank you Mr Le Pard.

      Liked by 1 person

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