No doubt one of the most frequent problems that we are asked to deal with are when a Spanish bank for seemingly no reason blocks the account and the clients simply can’t resolve the problem from outside the country. These blockages are often caused by petty reasons and many banks incredible ability to be rude, not at all customer friendly and impossible to communicate with. Spanish Banks will simply not send out any warning if one of their aggerated bureaucratic and paper hungry internal compliance departments decides that you do not comply their unknown and ever-changing rules.
Petty reason, big problem
Most reasons to block an account are to petty to mention, that could have easily been prevented: the need for an updated copy of your passport, sign a form, or they need income data. The problems they generate are not so petty though. Unpaid utility bills that lead to a disconnection, penalty interest and fines because the council tax is not paid, to mention some of wide variety of problems. After that come reconnection costs and the fees for people to assist with paying manually the arrears, deal with the tax office or try to resolve other problems.
Especially now that many foreign homeowners are not able to ‘just fly out’ to Spain and banks simply do not accept ‘online’ solutions, problems pile up.
Solution: your home country bank or online banks
Just stop using Spanish banks. Although some branch office attendants are very kind, their central office superiors and client politics are often rude, they are expensive and there is simply no remedy to their lack of communication skills. There is absolutely no need to have a bank account with a Spanish bank. The European regulation 260/2012 determines that by 1 February 2014 (indeed a deadline way back in the past) the SEPA (Singel European Payment Area) must be implemented. Of course, it took a while to adapt the software of many companies, but today SEPA is the standard. It doesn’t matter anymore if your IBAN account is with a bank in Spain, United Kingdom, The Netherlands, Belgium or whichever other country is. This makes that today there are plenty alternatives to Spanish banks, for example the bank you use in your home country. But there are also completely online banks, who offer IBAN accounts, SEPA transfers and fair currency exchange. I won’t make any recommendation here, but if you search for words such as ‘online IBAN bank pounds euro’ many options pop up. These online banks even offer the possibility to have direct debits against your online account.
We obviously don’t mind charging you for our services to keep helping you every time you have a problem with your Spanish bank, but truly we prefer to prevent them from happening.
Roeland van Passel