I went this morning to take out a small loan (to buy a second hand car on the weekend). Quite a funny and unreal experience.

The first thing I learned is that the rates banks have on their website are simply lower bounds … and pretty bad ones.

Bank1Saar (a local bank here) offered 5.99% online for the amount I wanted (€6,000 over a period of 36 months). When I asked them about this they replied:
“Oh, 5.99% interest rate? That’s only if you have € 1,000,000 in your bank account.” Or at least that was my interpretation. The rate they could offer me, was 11.9%. But, to be fair, they have a very friendly customer service. Really nice talking to them.

Santander Consumer Bank on the other hand have a very unfriendly customer service. The woman who dealt with my application (apparently the boss of the department) never smiled and hardly even looked at me and limited all bits of conversation to the bare necessary things. After contacting the “Schufa” (a credit history check), she then realized that I actually have to sign to give her permission to do that. When I asked her if I could see the information she got from the “Schufa”, she gave it to me … but without any explanations: About 10 line of cryptic numbers and letters … what’s that supposed to mean to me? [Just to clarify: These lines were, as far as I understood, just the standard “everything is ok” information.]

Before the final approval I had to wait for 20 minutes. She told me that, as I had only a (time-wise) limited contract, she had to ask for approval from a superior. Ok, makes sense. Though I didn’t quite get why she didn’t even look at my new contract starting at July 1st or asked me about my level of education or anything. When I came back she was on the phone, apparently dealing with a private bankruptcy. She probably drives 10 people into suicide before she goes out for lunch. Nothing personal, of course.

I cannot remember a time when any company treated me less as a human and more as just a bunch of numbers and risks, which potentially could be profitable to them.

Anyways, I got the loan and also had to (!) take a credit card which comes without any fixed charges and allows you to withdraw up to €3,000 at once at a ridiculous tariff. When I told her that I really don’t need or want this card she told me that then she’d have to contact her superior again and that, as there were no fixed costs involved, I should just take it and shut up (… though she might have phrased it differently). Ridiculous. First I was not trustworthy enough, then she forces me to at least potentially take out an even bigger loan from them. Bastards. But they still had the best rates. 6.99%.

Later I told a colleague of mine that there were only female employees. He then came up with the hypothesis that all male employees work externally with those customers who are unwilling to pay and that they probably even less friendly. 🙂

Anyways, considering the whole thing involved a reasonable amount of money, I felt pretty calm and the whole thing seemed rather remote. But somehow money is just something far too abstract to me. I guess that’s not a good foundation for a long-term friendship between me and the stuff that you need to get less abstract stuff.