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Tuesday, 18 June 2013

On being a fast learner of Slovene

We zigzagged from Sydney to Hong Kong to Paris to Zagreb, where we were got at by an ATM at the Zagreb airport.

I put my St George Visa debit card in the machine on the right and requested 3000 Croatian kune.  The machine did nothing but rejected the card.

To test it, I put the same card in the Bankomat machine on the left, and got my 3000 kune, which indicated that there was nothing wrong with the card, and that the first transaction had not registered: if it had dome, I would not have got my money because the amount was close to the daily limit.  Being canny, I took out the tablet and took a shot of the two machines, with my case in between.

Roll on a day or two, when I went to use the card again in Ljubljana (Slovenia), and it was refused. I tried it the next day on another machine.  It still didn't work.  My canny photography was now about to pay off.

Clearly, the St George Bank in Australia had decided that there is something suss going on.  That's careful of them, but you'd think they might ask first, and if not, then when the customer complains, they might do something about it.

24 hours on, I am still waiting.  I have followed up and told them that I want a response from a named officer, willing to use his or her initiative to think outside the box, as I have done.  All I have is one automated response.

In this, the St George Bank treats its customers with contempt. It requires you ring a number using a "freecall" number that is far from a free call, and phones here are hard to access in any case.  So I emailed them.  I told them I had photographed the two machines, with my suitcase in the middle, asked them to consider that my language should show them I am not an Eastern European crook, offering to send a pic of me, with the same bag, AND the card in question.  I referred them to where the pic was visible on Facebook.

I got back a stupid response telling me to call at a local branch (in SLOVENIA??) or to call their "free" number, and indicating that they could not give out personal details (which I had not asked for!).

Having an email address, I replied, attaching  the pic above

Luckily for me, this is one of three sources of funds available to me, but as the others are not through St George, the St George people don't know that.  A customer of thirty years' standing is thrown to the wolves.

Now the question is: will they pull their fingers out?  If they do, I will come back and edit this.  Note added July 8: while I put the fear of God in the media people at the bank, and got action, the "web support" people are still giving me the run-around.

Meanwhile, we are in Slovenia, and slowly gathering a few words of Slovene.  The Slovenians are the most western (not the most eastern, as I said) of the Slavic nations, and have a common border with Italy, but the language is wholly Slavic.  We saw a bearskin with a saddle on it, outside the WCs at a rural gostilna (restaurant) yesterday, and I established that a bear is a medved, which is also the word in Czech (and I think also in Russian).

This comes from two root words: one is med, meaning honey (think mead!) while the other is ved, knowledge, as in the Vedas.  The bear is the honey-knower.

Sadly, there are few helpful bits like this.

It msy not matter in a century from now.  The local languages are probably at risk: most people have some English, young people have excellent English, and half the TV channels are in English with subtitles, most ads have some English words in them and many of the songs are in English.

In a slightly academic discussion on language and politics, a Slovene explained  that the Serbs were disliked because they came to Slovenia, and because they could be understood when they spoke (the similar) Serbian, they failed to learn Slovene.

How, I asked them, were the English speakers any different from the Serbs?

Somebody commented in one of the papers I read that it is time to find a less loaded name for "English".  I happen to agree.


  1. How lacking in insight is the St George Bank!

  2. St George Bank - glad I don't bank with them. Booooooooooooo!

  3. I have seen the film Idiocracy. I have seen the future. The inflexible bureaucracy of big business coupled with the lard of government bureaucracy will be the end of us all!!

  4. If this happened to me, I'd be firing off angry emails to the bank, and copy:
    The Federal Reserve (I do believe the are the national folks who regulate banks)
    The California superintendent of banking (my account originates in Los Angeles)
    One of my US Senators
    My Congressman

    Depending on the response I get from my bank, I would tell my tale of woe on my Facebook page.

  5. So St. George is dragon their arses. Pathetic.