Before you came to China, you may have thought the point of telephone banking was to save everyone a bit of time and money. Banks could avoid paying for a full teller while you could conduct your business a bit more efficiently, right? Now you know the truth. In China automated banking is less a service and more an attempt to figure out how badly you really want your money.

Since this is a podcast about robots, we asked Brendan and Echo to liven things up a bit with some exciting banking stories. But they failed. Miserably. So if you're looking for exciting yarns of financial adventure you'll have to go elsewhere. But if you want to learn some useful vocabulary that will serve you well the next time you're engaged in repetitive number crunching or feel like ripping someone's head off, this is exactly the podcast you need.
 said on
August 6, 2009
What's the difference between 再,重新,and 又?

In "Rice isn't a food" podcast,又 was used as "again"he finished all the meal. 再 is used in this podcast to say that the man will put in his password "again."

If you use 一遍 along with 重新, isn't that redundant?

The only "yarn" that I have about banking stories is when I lived in Louisiana, one did not want to spend too much time in one because they were frequently robbed. So ATMs and online banking is the only way to go.

Why is the user (victim) blamed when technology fails?
 said on
August 6, 2009
I have given Construction Bank of China too many second chances... maybe it is because I like their logo the too much, and possibly because their ATMs might be the cleanest. Love is Blind

However on a griping note, In the US you need only open one bank account at any branch, and you have access to all branches nationwide with services . I learned the hard way that If I wanted to transfer money from one bank branch to another, in China, I needed to pay a fee. 胡说!!! I yelled in the bank lobby. I will not be taken advantage of by Chinas perverse banking laws.

Id rather travel with stacks of 100RMB notes tucked in my train carry-on luggage than give the bank 一分元。

Also I do like the animation at the ATM encouraging you to cover your hand while entering you pin number. SOOO Shady
 said on
August 6, 2009
Top ten list of egg-related mild swearing:

1. 坏蛋 - bad egg

2. 笨蛋 - idiot

3. 操蛋 - lousy/bad/no good or talking nonsense

4. 蠢蛋 - idiot again

5. 吊蛋 - inferiors (in a bad/racist way?)

6. 狗蛋 - S.O.B.

7. 滚蛋 - beat it/scram!

8. 混蛋 - scoundrel

9. 傻蛋 - nitwit

10. 酸蛋 - cocky person

Know your dans or the yolks on you! :-)
 said on
August 6, 2009
@luolin,

又,再and 重新, all the three words mean again.

又are for things happened in the past.

再can only used in the future tense.

重新can be used at any time,however,重新+v.emphasize on doing something again from the very beginning. and the actions before that are useless.

eg.

我前天去了一次,昨天又去了一次,今天去了一次,明天再去一次。

我刚才说的不对,现在重新说一遍。

您的密码是错误的,请重新输入。

also, 重新doesn't mean to do something once more, we can also say, 我重新做了两遍,终于做好了。so,一遍and 重新are not redundant.

 said on
August 6, 2009
@paglino9,

haha小虎,不是“一分元”,是“一分钱”。

i like China Merchants Bank (招商银行) most, and ICBC(工商银行)least. Bank of China is also good...

 said on
August 6, 2009
Yet again another hilarious dialogue. Humor makes it so better. Thanks for being a bit different than the other Chinese podcasts!
 said on
August 6, 2009
@magnus,

谢谢 :) If you guys have another interesting topics, you are always welcome to share with us.

--Echo

echo@popupchinese.com
 said on
August 6, 2009
@mat,

Lol, you forget 王八蛋 ! :P

--Echo

echo@popupchinese.com
 said on
August 7, 2009
love your "egg related mild swearing" list mat. it's hilarious! 酸蛋, 吊蛋, 狗蛋 (wtf?) and 操蛋 are all new to me incidentally. I'll try slipping them into casual conversation at the office tomorrow.
 said on
August 7, 2009
Great aren't they! Thanks for the new one Echo :)
 said on
August 10, 2009
补充例句 Supplementary Sentences from this lesson:

[shū] to enter; to input

密码 [shū mìmǎ ] enter a password

账号 [shū zhànghào] input an account number

电话号码 [shū diànhuàhàomǎ] input a phone number

法 [shūfǎ] IME

[cuò] error; wrong

你这样做是的。[nǐ zhèyàng zuò shì cuò de] You are wrong to do it that way.

我犯了一个很大的。[wǒ fàn le yí ge hěn dà de cuò] I made a big mistake.

[chóngxīn] again

你能说一遍吗?[nǐ néng chóngxīn shuō yí biàn ma?] Could you say (that) again?

[kěndìng] definitely

是这样的。[kěndìng shì zhè yàng de.] It`s definitely like that.

[] to provoke; to incite

我生气 [ wǒ shēngqì ] make me angry

我烦 [ wǒ fán ] make me annoyed

离我远点儿,别我![lí wǒ yuǎn diǎnr, bié wǒ!] Keep away from me, don`t provoke me!

 said on
August 21, 2009
Thanks for putting a little humor into the dialogue and responses. I always thought that my GPS should have a nagging wife voice "I told you to turn right! Now I will have to recalculate. Maybe next time you will listen ..."

Even the simple language lessons can teach us something. I speak Chinese conversationally, but since I learned to speak as a missionary, I had only learned one of the eggs.
 said on
August 21, 2009
@scott,

Hi, welcome to the site!

Glad to hear that you like the dialogues. Lol, maybe we can make a lesson on that -- nagging GPS :)

--Echo

echo@popupchinese.com

 said on
April 16, 2010
The ATM starts addressing the user with 您 and then switches to 你的. Is that very common in spoken Chinese? [it almost feels like Quebec French :-)]
 said on
July 8, 2012
Look, banks in China are just awful. And let me give you a piece of advice, if you don't want a good banking story, then don't lose your password for your account. It's nothing but bureaucracy to try to get it back, and it often doesn't work.

I forgot my password one time, and they would tell me oh you can use your bank card. But I don't have my bank card it was lost. okay, fill out this form, we can give you a new card, but you have to pay a fee of 50 R M B. well, I don't have 50 RMB. I only have 20 RMB, which is why I want to get into my bank account. Okay, then enter the password for your bank. I don't know the password for my bank book. Okay then you can use your bank card. My bank card was lost. Okay fill out this form, pay 50 RMB and we can get your card back.

Honestly, this went on for about 20 minutes through the same cycle. They did not seem to understand that no matter what I could not get into the account. The other thing, was that no matter how much identification that I had, they still would not let me into the account without knowing my password. I had my residency registration, my passport, my medical bills with my address, blood sample, urine sample, stool sample, semen sample, and that still was not enough ID for them to let me take enough money out of the account to get a new bank card.

I finally got pissed off, called my agent from the agency that recruited me, and told them that if they didn't fix it I would have to leave China. eventually I was able to get to my money, but don't mess with the banks here.
 said on
July 8, 2012
@seamus5,

Wow, that sounds painful :(

--Echo

echo@popupchinese.com
 said on
July 9, 2012
@seamus5,

Haha, I'm sorry about your painful experience seamus5. And I'm interested how will banks in your country deal with the same situation.

--Amber

amber@popupchinese.com
 said on
July 9, 2012
In America, there would be no problem. At my bank, if I lost my card I would go inside, show them my driver license, they would check the license and the picture to make sure that it was me, and check the name on the account to make sure that it was also me. Then they would go to the back of the bank, get a new card and hand it to me right away.

Also, if I wanted to take any money out at that time, they would give it to me right away. So, if I had to pay a fee to get a new card, I could use the money in my bank account, because there was no forgotten passwords creating a problem. I don't need any other passwords, or bank books, or anything else. Just a driver license. It's all about customer service. Make it as easy for the customer as possible, so they always want to come back and do business with you.

In China, I really wish this was a lesson that business owners would learn. Every time they make it difficult to return a product, or give me poor service, it always makes me want to go to someone else and never come back and do business with them again, nor recommend my friends to them.
 said on
July 9, 2012
@seamus5,

Yeah, I also hate it a lot! I think the banks in Chinese mainland are all the same. Maybe that's the reason why they don't pay attention to customer service.

--Amber

amber@popupchinese.com
 said on
July 10, 2012
@Amber, Seamus5,

The thing about banks in China is that they're far and away superior to Western banks. In China, no minimum balance, I can open up an account with....an ID card and NO money. I can leave that bank account empty for years and the bank charges me NOTHING for it. In China, no over the limit fees, no negative balance fees and the best thing is, with a regular account I actually earn...INTEREST! If you open a 定期账户 then you earn even more. There is none of this charging me to use my own money nonsense, or at least if they do, the interest I make on the account far exceeds any minimal account fees.

Western banks pay zero interest on regular checking accounts and pitiful interest on savings accounts. Yet they use my money to make...well...bank...speculating on investments that they've never consulted with me on through their highly volitile fractional reserve banking system.

You have to consider that that service you get in the west is service you PAY for, ten ways from Sunday....and then some.

Let's start a bank run on the top western banks...who's with me?
 said on
July 11, 2012
@Xiao Hu,

Great points!! I'm in!! But I still don't have an account in any western bank...

--Amber

amber@popupchinese.com

 said on
July 11, 2012
Don't get me wrong, I'm totally down with bringing about the collapse of US banks -- but maybe we should wait until after Chinese bank and debit cards are usable internationally.
 said on
July 11, 2012
@Brendan,

Yeah, there is that whole US dollar is the world's standard currency for all global transactions thing. Will the CNY ever become an international currency? That's an interesting question. I guess we shall see.
 said on
July 12, 2012
@Xiao Hu,

You should try HSBC or ING or a smaller overseas credit union. The Chinese government dictates interest rates in the banking sector and has made many forms of private-sector lending illegal. This results in Chinese savers getting interest rates which are much lower than inflation, official estimates of which are also significantly understated.

At eight percent annual inflation - a low estimate - price levels are doubling in China every nine years. So free use of an ATM machine can be nice, but even at 5 USD per month in bank charges abroad, you'll need to have less than about 1000 USD in savings before the costs of paying for a decade of bank service became comparable with the losses you'll suffer keeping liquid assets in the Chinese banking system.

 said on
July 12, 2012
@Orbital,

So could you tell me how much interest one could earn if they were to deposit their liquid assets into say an HSBC or the like?
 said on
July 12, 2012
http://blogs.wsj.com/chinarealtime/2011/03/18/eating-bitterness-in-china’s-financial-system/

The affronts of personal banking in the US are aggravating to be sure, but don't forget that households parking their money in Chinese banks have bigger complaints, namely getting hosed by inflation year after year. If the government get comfortable with the fact that inflation needs to come up (which they gradually will have to do, like it or not), consumers better hope for some adjustments on their end.

Not that I'm complaining; with 70 kuai in my bank account for the past 8 months and zero overdraft, transaction, or other BS fees to speak of, I can safely claim that the Chinese banking system works perfectly for, ahem, undercapitalized economic actors.
 said on
July 12, 2012
@zjv5002,

Is there no such thing as inflation in western countries? So is China the only country with inflation? Didn't the American Government and the federal reserve announce that 4-5 percent inflation is "healthy inflation"? Did the Chinese government not just implement policies aimed at curbing inflation?

I don't think that the Chinese are the only ones getting "hosed" here.
 said on
July 13, 2012
Xiao Hu,

The Federal Reserve is not even hitting its 2 percent target. So the difference is a percent or two in the United States each year versus much more in China.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703398504576099440536111426.html

How much more? Official inflation statistics in China routinely come in above 5 percent, and there are very good reasons to believe that these figures are understated by about half. I'm not sure how long you have been in China or what your sense of the local market is (it may be different from mine), but in my personal experience, housing costs here in Shenzhen have doubled in the last five years, while food costs have also increased appreciably.

There is another way to think about it too. Chinese GDP is routinely measured at 8 percent or higher. Since most of this growth is driven by capital investment, there should be a lot of competition for capital that should drive up interest rates. We definitely see this in the shadow banking sector, but not in the official banking sector. Japan worked a similar way in the 1970s and 1980s, so this isn't a China-specific thing, but it doesn't make letting Chinese banks manage one's money seem a very attractive proposition.

 said on
July 13, 2012
@Orbital,

www.bls.gov/cpi/cpit01test1111.htm

According to this chart, in the US, overall commodities inflated by nearly 3.5% between 2010 and 2011, some commodities like fuel rose nearly 20%, with a slight drop only in the price of natural gas. With numbers like this, putting any faith in the American financial system doesn't seem like an attractive proposition. Besides, the US has an astounding amount of debt to repay, and the American economy has long been one of debt and credit. Debt and credit economics, at some point will hit a wall, the crash of 2008 is only the beginning. Another crash is inevitable. Working on debt and credit can only carry an economy forward just so far until the burden is too great and the system crashes again.

I have to say that I don't exactly trust these American money managers to manage my financial assets.

Besides that, with Obama having printed trillions in new paper bills further devaluing the dollar, which as everyone knows has zero intrinsic value, and the strength of the American economy resting soley on the value of the dollar and its use as a method of international exchange, and the mountain of debt that the US has to pay back, the future is not looking too bright, in fact the future's looking so dim I gotta remove my shades.

And besides all that, the American economy is notorious for being largely built on speculative investment in commodities with only percieved value, which saw the dot com crisis in 2000, (speculative investment in a company that has just gone public which is essentially a startup, using the stock market investment essentially as startup capital), the real estate bubble of 2008 (slap a new coat of paint on a house and sell it a few months later at 1/3rd more than you bought it for, which is resold on a loan based on the subprime, sliding interest rate), to day traders flipping stocks over the internet, to the insanely overvalued price of gold and silver, to even unfathomable phenomena like the buying and selling of virtual real estate on Second Life. What's next, flipping virtual houses? A virtual real estate bubble, which is founded on the exchange of real money?

Like I said, speculative investment in unreal assets with no intrinsic, only perceived value.

That's the American way.

The Chinese way, as can be coroborated by many Chinese that I've met here who work in the financial sector, all agree that only investments in basic essentials of life and the things with the greatest and most broad intrinsic value, are worthy of Chinese investment.

Which is why I'd rather put my money with the Chinese.

With regards to real estate prices in Shenzhen, I haven't been in China very long, but 2011 saw little in the way of overall price inflation. Although I really don't know much about Shenzhen, other than a friend told me, in some places, rent there is 5,000 per month and some houses go for 25,000 per square meter, so I know that from a financial perspective, things in Shenzhen look a bit scary, especially with regards to real estate. With Shenzhen being a special economic zone however, perhaps the situation there is not indicative of the rest of China.

Also the article you pointed me to seems to be based on the opinions of one man. Do you any other articles that you could reference as well?
 said on
July 13, 2012
@Xiaohu

My comment was not arguing for or against a particular way of doing things, just pointing out one current issue for account holders in China (inflation) while acknowledging some of the same benefits you pointed out (lack of fees). China is not the only country with inflation; lucky for me, I didn't say that. The reason why inflation hurts more in China is the same reason it hurts more for savers in general. One side effect of all currencies having "zero intrinsic value" is that their values change. When inflation outpaces the savings rate, regardless of currency, savers lose money.
 said on
July 13, 2012
@zjv5002,

Yes, it definately outrages people when they aren't getting the full value of their money.

Zero intrinsic value means that the value we give money is not the value on the face, but the value in the eyes of those who use it as a means of exchange.

Money has no value in and of itself, its merely a determiner of value and a means of exchange.
 said on
July 14, 2012
@Xiao Hu,

Thank you for providing those numbers. I agree inflation was higher than normal in the United States 2010 - 2011, but it is currently 1.7 percent. Chinese inflation is lower too now that the economy is slumping: the official statistics used to be over 6 percent and have recently fallen below 3 percent.

So while Chinese banks pay more in interest, the spread between the inflation rate and the interest rate is still greater in China than abroad, and historically has been much greater still. There are alternate indexes of inflation for most currencies (including the United States) and as you point out it can be a matter of opinion, but I don't think it is really honest to assert that inflation in the United States is grossly understated in the same way that Chinese inflation seems to be. My own experience from living here is that inflation is probably around 10 percent, a figure that results in a doubling of the general price level in the course of a decade. When my Chinese friends complain about this stuff, they talk about things like the cost of a bowl of noodles which used to cost 5 RMB in 2006 doubling to over 10 RMB today.

I think to some extent the increased price of housing here in Shenzhen is a result not only of general inflation, but also of an asset bubble as Chinese savers attempt to hedge against the stock market and other investment vehicles and try to find somewhere to put their money that is based in something "real". Also, it is not totally crazy to purchase a house with a 40 year mortgage if you expect the real cost of your monthly payments to halve every 10 years. That said, you are right that savers are losing pace against inflation in both countries and that free chequeing is not unattractive if you do not have a lot in savings.

That said, if the Chinese RMB was freely convertible it is probably safe to say that the currency would fall against the USD as Chinese savers and investors transferred their savings into overseas vehicles which offered a greater return on investment than buying property in China. For all of the endemic problems in Western markets, there are worse issues in Chinese ones. And investors are currently investing in 20 year US Treasury bonds at a loss, so it is actually a good time to be refinancing stuff in the States, and the outlook on the US economy is perhaps not as dire as it might seem.

Thanks for the discussion!
 said on
July 14, 2012
@orbital and @Xiao Hu -- Thanks for the discussion, you guys. I've got no real understanding of the subject at all, so it's great to see things being hashed out in a n00b-accessible way for those of us who keep our savings in bindlestiffs and the First Bank of Mattress.

Subjectively, I'd say that "prices doubling over the course of about a decade" feels about right. Certainly Beijing is no longer nearly as much of a good deal as it was when I moved here in 2003. Particularly since freelancer wages seem to be increasing even more slowly than salaries, at least in the translation industry.

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