Foreign Exchange Fees and Delays

Mon, 2017/11/20 - 4:40pm | Your editor
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Readers may want to know why my Sunday tables were not prepared yesterday and why today's blog is very late. An overnight update for Windows 10 or an update on my coaxial cable link to the world took down my computer, laptop, and telephone service in the office, and cut off my link to my printer. The cable guy came at 7 pm Saturdary and installed a new modem. The rest, Mark said, was up to what I call Macrohard.

After 4 hours on hold with Microsoft and nice techie in India gave me a local number in my own zip code to call for help, and they gave me an appointment for 11 am on Sunday morning. I took my laptop with me. After about an hour their tech support got the laptop working and told me how to make the changes needed on the desktop computer. I still haven't connected the printer to the two computers but that is not serious. The printer in our apartment used by my husband also went out. At some point when I have a couple of hours to spare I will call HP, maker of both my desktop and my printer who are also very good at passing the buck.

Today we discovered that our land-line to the world from our apartment has been cut off, probably not by Microsoft but by some other element of the robotic 21st century. We use a re-vender on a line owned by Verizon and VZ has been pitching its own services to us, and even billing us for it although no service was ever provided. Since my octogenarian husband is not adept with his cellphone I am took on the matter of getting it reconnected. This occurred at 11:45 am. Verizon which owns the lines says there was a “programming error” which “was resolved.”

In my humble opinion, technology is out of hand even if you work at keeping current.


The headline in today's Financial Times reports that huge fines are going to be imposed on global banks for fiddling the foreign exchange rates to boost their profits. Among the banks is the one I use for my personal account, HSBC, which bought out the Williamsburgh Savings Bank taken over by Edmond' Safra's Republic National Bank where I had my account and our mortgage.

On Nov. 4 I received a check for £273 in sterling but sent to my US address with a copy to the IRS. It was for sale of warrants I have no recollection of ever subscribing from a firm I had bought shares in back when I ran a special advisory for institutional investors called, which no longer publishes. It was a relic of a stock I had bought a decade ago called Trans-Siberian Gold, listed on the London AIM as TSG, a market which subsequently was closed to US retail investors in 2015. TSG had been taken over by South African gold interests. The stock no longer trades there. The check was for some long-term rights I had been granted then.

So I tooled over to my local branch of HSBC to deposit the check. This required two managers as well as the teller, and I was issued with a “foreign bank collection letter” and told that it would take 6 to 8 weeks to clear the UK check to me. The exchange rate and fees to be imposed was not disclosed and there was no way to find out. The money which will count as a capital gain will either land this year or next. My husband thinks I am an idiot for not simply using a family member's UK account to deposit the money when we hit London over Christmas, but having been audited frequently by the IRS because of the name of my business, I want to do things according to the rules. I am unsure if the dough will land in 2017 or 2018.
Naturally, I would prefer it if HSBC, itself a British bank, were not intent upon maximizing its “take” from this stupid mistake by the acquirers of TSG. More on this below on other banks affected.


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