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French bank accounts - business issue
Thread poster: Joanna Mimmack
Joanna Mimmack  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:07
German to English
Aug 28, 2003

Has anyone had problems with French bank accounts (Crédit Agricole)? I am asking this on behalf of my daughter, a student, who left France a year ago with her account in credit. She was unaware that the bank charges for maintaining an account and for cards and has now run up an overdraft of €58 on an inactive bank account. The bank is unwilling to rescind the charges. She is about to return - to a different part of France - and will unfortunately need a bank account. Is there a bank that doesn't charge? Also any advice on how to get Crédit Agricole to waive their fee would be welcome. Apparently another bank, less obdurate, agreed to do this over the phone for a friend of hers. I know this isn't a translating question but it may be relevant as a business issue and I would be most grateful for advice.

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Sylvain Leray  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:07
German to French
Crédit Agricole Aug 28, 2003

Is one of the worst banks in France, regarding to fees and other pleasures They surely won't do anything for you, I'm afraid. Try the Crédit Mutuel, they offer "normal" accounts for free and are quite honest.
HTH,
Sylvain.


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xxxCMJ_Trans
Local time: 18:07
French to English
+ ...
French banking perils Aug 28, 2003

Many French banks these days are introducing/have introduced charges. For example, if you take money from the ATM of a bank (NOT agency) other than your own, more than a pre-set number of times per month, you get charged commission for the privilege. Idem for the use of cheques. Visa cards are normally direct debit, so I'm surprised at a French bank charging for ununsed cards.
All that said, my suggestion for your daughter would be to go and see several bank managers in her new place of residence, collect the literature that tells her about charges (as above) that may or may not be levied (she could also ask a few pointed questions). Then she should compare all this, following which, if I were her, I'd go off to Credit Agricole (not a very commercial bank) and explain that I was about to settle back in France, needed an account and was looking for the best answer. Then I would tell the tale of these back payments and how they seem totally unjustified and use my "new" business as a lever to get the bank manager to cancel the charges. It's worth a try ! If it works, she can bank a while with them before pushing off to somewhere better after a decent interval has elapsed.... I have tried similar manoeuvres with BNP and Société Générale (i.e. playing one off against the other) when raising mortgages and threatening to abidicate as a customer usually works a treat. My current bank manager and I get on very well now he knows that I know what I want and will fight to get it!!!


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C Greene  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:07
Partial member
English to French
+ ...
Crédit Mutuel Aug 28, 2003

Hello,

I agree with Sylvain that, as banks go, Crédit Mutuel is, IMHO, one of the best. I am not sure however that an account with them is free - my branch applies € 6 every 3 months for 'frais de tenue de compte'.

Much cheaper is 'La Poste' - same services and usually very nice.
They do apply an annual fee of € 2 !!

Hope this helps,

Chris

[Edited at 2003-08-28 13:35]


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Sara Freitas
France
Local time: 18:07
French to English
La Poste is cheapest IMO Aug 28, 2003

I have found French banks to be pretty dismal in general regarding customer service. You really have to read the fine print and some even charge a fee to close an account!!
I have not had any major problems with LaPoste in the past two years and their fees are really reasonable. I think their tellers go through a special surliness training program...they must be penalized for smiling on the job or something!!
Best of luck!
Sara


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Anneken
Local time: 18:07
French to Dutch
+ ...
Have her open a CCP (La Poste) Aug 28, 2003

I would definitely recommend LaPoste. Although I do not live in France, I have a French bank account (CCP) for my French customers and La Poste is really very easy to work with. They do not charge any costs for the account itself (as far as I know) and their other rates (international transfer fees, etc.) are reasonable. Once they even reimbursed me a sum I had complained about, although they were able to prove me that I was wrong. They are definitely a lot nicer and more customer oriented than the other French banks I have dealt with in the past (Crédit Agricole used to empty my account without my knowing as well...).

If your daughter opens a CCP she would be able to move around as much as she wants, she would always be able to manage it from a distance without any charges at all!

Hope this helps!

Kind regards,

Anneken


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TTV  Identity Verified
France
German to French
LA POSTE far away the cheapest... and they are good too! Aug 28, 2003

Having been during long years client of the Credit Agricole, the only way to (perhaps) recover something is to take a "rendez-vous" with the director of the concerned agency. In fact they do what they want! You have to be persuasive enough and also a good client for them. But even in that case, the only way to get something with them is to threaten them to close your account and to change of bank. In that case you obtain something (provided you were "of interest" for them).

Being tired of that "way of dealing", I changed recently to LA POSTE and am very satisfied. For the same services (CB, Internet access, and so one), I pay about 6 Euros every three months at La Poste, against 11 Euros every month at Credit Agricole! Besides, for transfers from other countries, it cost me between 3 and 6 Euros with la Poste, against between 15 et 40 Euros (yes!) at Credit Agricole.


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Joanna Mimmack  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:07
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Aug 28, 2003

Thanks to everyone for all the replies - my daughter is very encouraged by them and the trouble you've all taken in replying. La Poste certainly looks the best bet and she will try using the threat of closing the Crédit Agricole account to get her money back, though I'm afraid with a lectrice's salary they are unlikely to want to retain her business!

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