Eretz Yisrael Time

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Tuesday, December 27, 2005
This is completely off-topic (and perhaps giving out more personal information than usual) but I am completely fed up.

I maintain a couple of accounts at Bank Leumi. I have been a client of theirs for too many years. I’ve tried other Israeli banks to my dissatisfaction, and have various accounts here and there.

If it wasn’t so difficultly annoying to completely switch banks I would do it in a second.

(In answer to the obvious question, switching accounts means canceling/moving all my “standing orders”, credit card payments, documentation, getting all my clients to correctly update their supplier information –which is a huge hassle, running back and forth to lawyers for their stamp on the corporate account papers, etc. – a very time consuming procedure, which on one hand I really don’t have time for, even if I stopped blogging).

1) Bank Leumi recently introduced a new “feature”.
Because service at their branches is so incredibly bad/slow, they introduced “Leumi-call”. Supposedly you can do all your banking over the phone, except when you can’t.

So now I can’t reach my branch except physically, and I can’t get anything done over the phone, so instead I can only leave messages/faxes for my banker to call me back.
(Apparently bank policy says he will get into big trouble if he gives out his direct number, so instead he surreptitiously gave me his bank manager’s instead, which I try to abuse every now and then).

2) Last year my branch bounced two very large checks to the tax authorities.
It wasn’t because I didn’t have to money to pay, it was because the branch unilaterally decided I had so much money in the account it was a shame it wasn’t locked up in a CD to get some interest.

So instead of unilaterally opening up the CD, they bounced the checks instead, which got me a very nasty letter, phone call, and the unwanted extra attention/inspection by the various tax authorities.
(I run a 100% kosher firm, so I wasn't worried, but audits are a very unpleasant experience in general).

3) I had to pay an overseas supplier last month.
Despite the checkmark on the transfer form that clearly indicated that the required “withholding tax” would come from the supplier’s side (as was agreed with the supplier), the bank decided that the supplier would rather have all the money and deducted the “withholding tax” directly from my account instead.


4) When I transfer money overseas they open a temporary Dollar account for the transfer. Otherwise the account is empty. Unfortunately they always forget to close the account (actually I watch my banker close it, yet it never registers as closed), so every few months I sit with my banker and he zeroes out the accumulated fines.

5) Yesterday I went to my bank to do another transfer to a supplier. I finally reached my bank to find out why I didn’t get my wire transfer confirmation.

Answer: Oh, the person who does it is busy with many other transfers, and she’ll try to get to it tomorrow.

Real reason: I complained about her last month when I got hit with thousands of dollars in taxes because she unilaterally decided to hit me instead of my supplier with the “withholding tax”, so now my transfers aren’t that important.

The worst part of this is - all the banks in Israel are just as bad.


Jerusalemcop said...

i closed my account at leumi this past summer after 12 yrs b/c of the games they played with me


tafka PP said...

I hate them too, for similar reasons. See, how much we have in common?!

JoeSettler said...

Now if the poll on 'who you hate the most' had included the banks, then everyone would have been in total agreement.

Anonymous said...


Truth said...

Hey buddy, that's why we call that 'bank', "Bank ScrewMe", and of course you are lucky not to have to deal with "Bank HaBo'alim" [intentional misspelling of HaPoalim, but you have to know Hebrew...]. Furthermore, I'm sure we've all heard of (or experienced) the satisfaction of dealing with "Bank HaMisery" [HaMizrachi], etc.

But they must be doing something right, look at their yearly profit statements :-(

Some guy wrote an interesting article on the Nefesh B'Nefesh website about how to get around most of that nonsense by using certain [international] online banking, it's worth looking into.

Personally, I avoid all that junk by having my business "offshored" [the 'corporate entity' is non-Israeli], which has the added beneficial side-effect of causing many Israeli 'bureaucrats' to make efforts to kiss my hiney ;-)


JoeSettler said...

3 & 1/2 days have passed and I still have no valid explanation as to why my wire transfer (#5) hasn't been processed.

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