Good morning, Snoop Dog.
It is 3 AM. I have just finished three different phone calls to Provident Credit Union in Redwood City, CA.
Why you ask, Dear Readers?
Because I need to pay six months rent, IN ADVANCE, to get the apartment I want in Beijing.
Six months rent.
Jump back in time to around 48 hours ago.
I need to get a wire transfer of a large amount of money.
I went to the Bank of China (from now on referred to as BOC) right near my office and many of the foreign embassies.
It is located in the Dongcheng District Branch.
Please no jokes about the district name.
Yes, I know what you are thinking right now.
For the sake of all of us.
Rise above it.
I asked how to wire money, after asking how to get an online account in post Day 19 in Beijing: Look Ma, No Hands!, and was given a piece of paper with the codes and information.
Most of which, sensibly, was in Chinese. I ask them about certain words and characters and they patiently explain to this Laowei what they mean and how to do the wire transfer. I scratch my head a few times and they notice I’m confused and help me.
I go back and check Provident’s website and they can do the transfer. It states that if the Bank of China asks for the transfer instead of them initiating it it is recommended. Supposedly it is faster and easier to verify.
This should be quick.
Not so fast, my dear readers.
I call the BOC and asked them how to start the wire transfer. They reply that they are not able to ask for a transfer and Provident has to start it from America.
Okay, not that difficult.
But wait, there’s more!
They also have an “intermediary bank” in New York called BOCNY (imaginative, eh?) that Provident will have to transfer the money to and then BOCNY will exchange it into Quai (the common term for money in Beijing) and then send it to my account.
This doesn’t sound too hard.
However, there are special SWIFT codes and routing numbers for each bank. They are not easy to find. I do research, call a friend in the U.S., and ask my brother about a thousand different questions in the next few hours.
Where is E.F. Hutton when you need him?
Anyway, I finally find the correct form and start to fill it out. My friend in San Francisco, Jill, is incredibly generous and calls Provident for me and says she’ll fax in the form since I can not email it in to them.
Remember, there is a 15 hour time difference. This is not just a leisurely transfer here.
After numerous attempts to fill the form in correctly and have it checked, I get it right.
I email it to Jill, she prints it out, and takes it to FEDEX to have it faxed over to Provident.
I realize, and this worrisome, that my phone number is my old phone number that I disconnected when I moved to Beijing 21 days ago. They need to verify by my phone and the new number I have here isn’t on my profile page on Provident’s website.
I rush to change it and I get a phone call from Provident right that minute. They used my new phone number that I wrote on the form. It is a Skype number that can contact me anywhere.
The customer service attendant tells me that she can’t do the transfer because the listed phone line is closed. They require a phone line that has been tied to the account for 60 or more days. She will also need a California Driver’s license to prove my identity no matter what.
I tell her that I just moved here, this is my new phone, and I’ve been a loyal customer for 5 years now and I need the money for my rent or I won’t have a place to live.
She will check with her manager and see if they can approve a one-time transfer. I thank her profusely.
It is 1 am, Beijing Time, at this point.
And so it goes.
She also tells me the fax is not very clear and asks me to fax it again.
I tell her that I will email it since i have the original scan and scan in my I.D. and email that also. I asked for enough favors already.
I go to the scanner which my brother showed me how to use yesterday…I should have paid better attention.
I notice the characters are all in Chinese.
I start pressing them and try to remember what he had told me.
After about 10 minutes i figure it out.
I start the scan and it works perfectly.
I then send the information to Provident and wait for a response.
I get a call within a few minutes saying that they can do the transfer but I have to answer security questions.
I start answering and it works fine.
They have to call me two more times to make sure the security checks are real and I am totally cleared to transfer the money by wire to China.
It is now around 3 a.m. Beijing Time.
I hop into bed wondering how long it will take for the money to be wired out of my account. I check my account online and it is already been transferred out.
My cash is somewhere in the stratosphere right now.
I hope it has a nice view of the Pacific Ocean as it flies along.
I sit in bed and think for a bit.
I hope it arrives.
I trust it will.
My 21 days in Beijing have been amazing and everything has worked out about as perfectly as I could imagine..
I fall asleep With My Mind On My Money And My Money On My Mind.
Knowing this will all work out.
Good morning, Snoop Dog.