My bank card will not let me take money out of my usual hole in the wall. Contact your agent it says.
I rang the nice lady in the English speaking department to be on the safe side but did it in french. "I can't find anything wrong. There is not a problem with your card perhaps it is the hole in the wall."
OK I say. It is not a problem that we drew out 600 euros on Saturday (so that Him Outdoors could eat on the Camino)? No she says, you went to one of this bank's holes in the wall and you are allowed to take 900 euros if you do that. Yes folks, you are only allowed to take out 900 euros a week from your own bank, it is only 300 euros a week from any other hole in the wall. We had made a special trip to one of ours.
"Try again in another one."
OK so this morning I go to another one. Still no money. I rang again. The english speaking office is unusually closed - could this have anything to do with the school canteen people being on strike today so the schools are shut. (Yes, you can't have a school open if the canteen is shut.)
I ring our branch of the bank.
I explain my problem to a young man. He asks me for my card number. This in itself presents difficulties because in France all numbers are done in pairs which involves a lot of quatre vingt seize and soixante dix sept. I tell him in individual digits so that I can be sure it is right. He repeats it back to me in pairs. I can see he is going to be really helpful.
He starts by saying that you have taken out too much money, it's obvious. So I explain his system to him and he agrees with me. He then suggests that perhaps they have no money in them!!!! Then gives a huge Gallic shrug and says that there is nothing wrong with their system. And goodbye.
I am spitting feathers and since I am on my own here, I start typing..............
And then the phone rings and a charming manager sounding banque man explains to me in slow french that unfortunately, because we have taken 600 euros out of our bank, we have to go back to our bank to take out more money for the rest of the week (up to 900 euros). It is the system, it is the security. He answers my questions simply, makes sure I understand, is totally charming. He tells me that the sun is shining, life is good and makes my day.
Perhaps, in the end, there is customer service in France.