Thursday, August 26, 2010

PART THREE. Business in Israel. Number One. Bank fees.

Shloimy, you are very lucky.

Today, I am going to teach you how to do business in Israel.

Isn't that nice of me?

Of course it is.

Let's start with banking--because that is the basis for all business, right?

Banking here is not like banking in the US. Here, it's more fun.

You see, in Israel,  the banks charge you fees to do your banking.

And in Israel,  fees are fun.

How do we know this?

Because there are so many of them!

For example, there is a fee to deposit money, a fee to withdraw money, a fee to use the ATM machine, a fee to order checks, a fee to cash checks, a fee to have a credit card, a fee to transfer money,  a fee to pay bills electronically and a fee to talk to the Teller.

Don't get me wrong. Banks do not charge fees for everything.

They do not charge a fee to go to the bathroom.

I think.

They don't miss a trick, do they?


You want to know what the fees are?

Shloimy, do you realize that all new immigrants ask that question? And do you further realize that this is one of the stupidest questions any person on earth could ask?

Every banker in Israel will tell you that; and if they don't say it, they certainly look at you that way.

Look, Shloimy, face it, when it comes to banking, immigrants from America are all alike. It's like, as soon as they walk through the door of a bank, they forget that Hebrew is a foreign language. And they forget that they're in  Israel.

How stupid is that?

Shloimy, listen to me. How are you going to learn how to pass for an Israeli, if you ask stupid, immigrant questions?


So. You want to look like an Israeli?  Well, then, first thing is, you don't ask a banker to explain the bank fees.

What? You ask, why?

Now,  didn't I just tell you not to ask stupid questions?

In Israel, you do not ask what are these fees.

The reason for this, of course, is simple--nobody knows what  they are.

Isn't that fun?

Seems that there are too many fees. I mean, be fair to these people. How are they supposed to remember everything?  You see, the  fees vary, depending on if you do your banking in person, on the phone or online--or a combination of these. So, depending on how you use money in any given month, you'll never know in advance what your total monthly banking fees will be.

It's like a permanent TV game show. You never know what's going to happen next!

Isn't that exciting?

 So what does an Israeli do? He reads his bank statements, that's what.

Isn't that simple?

The bankers tell all the new immigrants the same thing--read your statements. In fact, when you first meet with a banker, that's the phrase they'll repeat to you over and over: read your bank statement. Read your bank statement.

If you read your bank statement, they tell you, you'll figure it out.

Isn't that nice of them?

Oh, wait. Do they charge for the statements?

They don't know. They just tell you again--read your statement.

What could be simpler?

Are you listening to all of this?

As a New Oleh, a new immigrant, it's the only way to learn about banking. The only way,  they repeat, is to read the monthly statement.

Shloimy, can you remember that?

When you come to Israel, you'll appreciate this lesson I'm giving you, because, well, I have to tell you--after you have met with your new banker, and you walk out of that bank knowing absolutely that reading  your statement is all you really need to do--well, Shloimy, you are going to feel just terrific!

You'll be able to figure it out!

Of course, if you want to be like an Israeli, I do have to tell you a little secret.

This secret, you know, spells the difference between success and failure. That's why I told you that today is your lucky day. I'm going to tell you the secret.


Well, it's very difficult to explain;  but it is about how to read your bank statements.

I'm sure you understand that.

I mean, I know you live in America, and I know that you haven't spent a lot of time thinking about coming to Israel.

So I know that you might not know very much.

But listen. it's all about reading your bank statements, right? Do that, and you'll have it all figured out.


But can I give you a hint about what it takes to be successful?


Do you read Hebrew?

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