Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

A day of unpacking and Canada discoveries

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We’re slowly unpacking and, of course, discovering things and thinking, “Why on earth did we move this?” Arranging things conveniently takes thought and then must be revised by experience, but I am making some progress on the kitchen, where an Italian sort of sausage dish is cooking.

Some Canada discoveries: a relatively small priority mail shipping box, free in the US, costs $5 in Canada. And the postal service seems to be somewhat a mom-and-pop operation. I was not home for a package delivery, so a notice was left with the address of a postal station (in a drugstore) where I could pick up the package the next day after 13:00. I could not get there the next day or the day after, but went to pick it up. It wasn’t there. The postal clerk explained that this often happens, the package being taken to a different postal station than the one on the notice, and it can take a few days for them to notice that the package is in the wrong place. I asked whether I should just come back in a couple of weeks in the hope that it would be there then. She took my phone number and said she would call me.

UPDATE: The following crossed-out information is false. The Bank of America employee who gave me the information was just making it up, probably because he didn’t want to say “I don’t know.” Wire transfers are NOT charged fees by the banks along the way.

What actually happened is this: I have a US-dollar account at my Canadian bank. I had Bank of America do a wire transfer to that account. I assumed that, it being a US-dollar account, BofA would transfer US dollars, but they did not. They converted the US dollars to Canadian dollars before the transfer, and my Canadian bank then converted the Canadian dollars back to US dollars for that account. The double conversion worked like using Google translate to translate an English passage to (say) Chinese, and then using Google translate to translate the Chinese version back into English: you do not end up with the original passage. And the double conversion of the money resulted in noticeable shrinkage. It had nothing at all to do with fees charged by banks along the way.

When I finally was able to talk to the person directly responsible for wire transfers, I learned the truth.

Wire transfers, it turns out, are very insecure in terms of protecting the money you’re transferring. I did a wire transfer from BofA to my Canadian bank, with no currency conversion (the money going into a US dollar account at the Canadian in). BofA charged me $35 to make the transfer and my Canadian bank charged me $15 to accept the transfer, but the amount that landed in my account was short by $300, even taking the $50 in fees into account.

I called BofA and they explained as the money moves through the wire transfer through various banks, the banks just help themselves to as much of the money as they can (through fees), and that’s just the way it is. I pointed out that, depending on the transfer route, it seem theoretically possible that all the money being transferred could be siphoned off through such fees.

I asked whether I could instead do a Billpay check, sent to me. No, BofA said, because they use the US Postal Service to send those checks and the USPS cannot send mail to Canada. This is plainly false—I regularly have sent mail to Canada via the USPS—so they changed the story and said that they could not because it would be against regulations.

As a workaround, I can PayPal the money to my daughter, have her write the check and send it to me (via USPS), and then deposit the check (for which my Canadian bank charges no fee). So that may be the answer. I also have looked at Transferwise.com, and that might also serve, but that involves a fee.

I’ve applied for a credit card here, and due to the limited number of banks and their cooperative arrangements (i.e., little or no competition), the interest rate on charges if not paid within 21 days of billing is 19.99%. That’s common across all banks. (The interest rate at BofA is 9.9%, at least for the card I have.)

Gasoline prices are given in cents rather than dollars and cents, and of course the price is per liter. Weights at the supermarket are mostly metric, but some things are measured in pounds (bacon, at one store). The oven is in ºF rather than ºC, thank god, but weather is all Celsius.

People in general do seem more polite and pleasant, and to some extent that seems to be a matter of self-image: e.g., a current commercial plays on the fact that Canadians are polite to each other, so they seem to live up to that image. I’m sure that there are sullen, angry people, but so far I’ve not run into any.

I continue to follow US politics, which continues to be amazing.

Written by Leisureguy

28 September 2017 at 7:36 pm

Posted in Daily life

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