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Discrimination or incompetence?

Discussion in 'ENGLISH' started by glissando, Aug 20, 2009.

  1. glissando

    glissando New Member

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    Hello!

    I'm posting this in English in the hope DST can contribute with some advice as well as other members of the forum. I apologise if it's a bit long but I want the situation to be understood. My husband (who has a blue card as a highly skilled migrant) and I went to the bank to inquire about opening an account in his name. (I have had an account with that bank for years). When we first went to the bank two days ago, the lady at the reception had a look at his passport and told us he needs to come back with proof of address and his passport and they will open the account for him. We explained that he doesn't have a job yet as he just arrived in the country, and the lady, after discussing with somebody inside an office, said that this was not a problem. They set up an appointment for my husband for today. However when he went to the bank today, the person who was due to open his account told him to come back only when he has a job. As proof of address, he presented the letter from the Home Office which had accompanied his blue card when it arrived in the mail but the bank person said this was not acceptable because it wasn't letter-headed paper (although it had the Home Office logo on it). She said "How do I know you haven't written this letter yourself, it may be false." He also showed them his blue card but they didn't accept that as an official document. He left, swearing he won't go back to that bank again.
    Because I've been banking with them for years, I wanted to complain about this so I went to the bank myself and asked what the problem was and the person who dealt with my husband said this was because he was Romanian (I am also Romanian). She said conditions are different for Romanians and Bulgarians, who must present more papers than other EU nationals in order for banks to open accounts for them because of our "special status." I asked to speak to the branch manager, who is a very bright and customer-focused person, and who assured me the situation will be solved, as I have been a customer of that bank for a long time.
    I clearly felt discriminated. Just out of curiosity, have you encountered this situation at your bank? How can one deal with such things?
    I have been faced with this problem before and every time I managed to solve it but I dread the moment when I won't be able to solve it anymore. For instance I couldn't get a GP to accept me on their lists (I was simply told at the surgery that they do not accept Romanian and Bulgarian nationals) and when I first rented my flat I was told I had to pay 6 months rent in advance because I was Romanian. On both these occasions I persisted and I managed to persuade them that I have the same rights as other people in this country, but I wonder if there's a "cure-for-all" solution. Any magic bullet? Any secret list of acceptable Romanians? :)
    Seriously now, if anyone knows if the Home Office will issue Romanians and Bulgarians who are here legally with letters asking the organizations they deal with to treat them fairly, please let me know.
     
  2. georgiv

    georgiv New Member

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    Hello!
    When I open my first account they ask me the same : where I work, the adress of employer, how much many I will earn. And now I aply for house benefit I was with all my documents, and after 2 weeks they write me again to ask me about my registration certificate scheme. And I call them to explain that we need just Yellow or Blue to work. She did'n believe me so she told me to write a letter to explain.
     
  3. andreiutzu

    andreiutzu Member

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    Hello glissando,

    I don't know of any silver bullet for the discrimation against Romanians, but I can share my opinion on the situations you have described.

    1. about opening a bank account

    When you and your husband first went to the bank to enquire about opening an account and you were told to bring a passport + proof of address, I would have asked 'what will you accept as proof of address?' I would have tried to make no assumptions (or as few assumptions as possible). And if a bank employee said that a certain document will be accepted and later on a different person rejected the document, at least I would have had solid grounds for complaining to the bank manager about (maybe) being misinformed by the first person. I think the problem is nothing more than this.

    In your case however, I understand you haven't asked exactly what type of proof of address you should bring, and the bank employee hasn't told you either. I'm not sure who should have done what, but I would personaly try to stay away from situations like this, because there is no need to have to deal with a problem that can easily be avoided.

    2. Being refused registration with a GP on grounds of EU nationality, or being offered different commercial conditions on the same bases

    I think this is a violation of the Race Relations Act 1976. I am not entitled to give legal advice, so please treat this opinion accordingly :) But if it so, then the law is stronger than a letter from the HO and you can use it in a county court as well I think. :)

    I hope you don't take this the wrong way, I am only trying to help.
     
  4. rebecca_uk

    rebecca_uk Active Member

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    Hi,

    I would ask for a written refusal, requesting them to clearly state in it that "there are special rules for R & B" and which those rules are. Then, I would definitely take it to the Branch Manager to confirm this and indicate the law or the specific guidance.

    After this, will seek LEGAL ADVICE, first with CAB (Citizens Advice Bureau) and then, if necessary, go further. This is, indeed, discrimination, and "staying away" will definitely NOT solve the situation.

    But that is just how I feel, I wish there were more of us to contend with them.

    Best of luck!
     
  5. dst

    dst Member

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    You should certainly write a letter of complaint to the head office of the bank, setting out the facts as you have here.

    Whether it is discrimination or incompetence is another matter.

    The key points, as I see it, are these:

    Whether it is discrimination depends on what she meant by "more papers". If she asking for proof that he is entitled to work in the UK, then yes, A2s do need more papers.

    Banks can refuse people on many grounds. The bank will want to know that you are going to be putting money into the account, and so that you are a good customer for them. If I open a bank account I will be asked about employment status. Brits can also get refused a bank account.

    In this case the bank has asked about employment status, and of course Romanians and Bulgarians have different conditions attached to them working here. The bank has not recognised the Blue Card as proof of employability and this is clearly a failing by the bank.

    What troubles me is the phrase "How do I know you haven't written this letter yourself, it may be false." This is the key point to highlight when you make your written complaint. You should also give the name of the person that said this.



    I have only had one experience with a bank that relates to yours. A Romanian friend of mine asked me to accompany her to a bank when she opened her account. She had no appointment, we just walked in, although she did have proof of address, ID card and a letter saying she was a student. She had no yellow card at this time.

    There was absolutely no problem opening the account (HSBC) and no awkward questions were asked by the bank about more documentation.



    On the 6 months deposit for flat rental, the question here is would they have asked the same if you were Polish, for example. The point here is that if the landlord thinks someone can just leave the country (and so leave the landlord without income), then they can try to impose additional conditions.

    So they may not have asked this because you were Romanian, but simply because they want to protect themselves from problems that could arise with ANY foreign national.

    I know it is tempting for Romanians to see discrimination in everything - and I am sure there are many occasions in which it is present - but not everything is, or rather not everything is just because you are Romanian.
     
  6. glissando

    glissando New Member

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    Thank you all for your replies, we went and met with the branch manager today, who as I said is a very professional woman and she said that because I have been the bank's customer for so long, they will take my statement as sufficient proof of address so they opened my husband's account and apologized for the confusion. I'm sure now that the person who initially refused the application and was rather cavalier about the whole thing was just very inexperienced.

    @ georgiv

    It seems you are running into the same problem, which is that the documents issued by the Home Office certifying the right for Romanian and Bulgarian nationals to live and work here are not recognized by other parties. I don't know the answer to this dilemma, I am hoping that some of the members of this forum who have been through it already can share their experience.

    @ andreiutzu

    Sorry for the confusion regarding the Home Office letter, I forgot to mention in my first post that yes, when we first went to the bank we described the kind of letter we were going to bring and she said it was fine. That (and the "how do I know you haven't written this yourself" remark) was actually why I wanted to make the complaint. Had they said from the beginning "no you cannot have a bank account because you cannot offer sufficient proof of address," it would have been ok.
    In the matter of the GP, I finally called a patient helpline and they told me to go back to the surgery and tell them they must accept me as a patient or else they are breaking the law, and to tell them to call the patient helpline for further details. I told the surgery receptionist these things and got accepted on the spot (they didn't call the helpline)

    @ DST

    If it was the right to work they were asking for, he produced the blue card, which states clearly that he has the right to work either as employed or as self-employed, be a student or live here on a self-sufficient basis, but that wasn't enough. I asked the branch manager today what the conditions were for Romanians and Bulgarians and she said she doesn't know exactly, that there are certain conditions imposed by the government regarding these 2 types of nationals from the EU and all banks must comply with them. I said the blue card shows that we meet the government's conditions but she said there were additional documents needed. She couldn't give me any more details about it and what worried me was that there are conditions that banks must respect regarding Romanians and Bulgarians that we have no idea about. Nobody informed me that my husband would need any other type of document besides the blue card and valid proof of address to open an account at a bank here. The bank manager confirmed that it would have been much easier to open an account if he were from another EU country. Because the issue was solved and they apologized, we didn't make a written complaint in the end.

    Regarding the 6 months rent in advance for the flat, yes, they confirmed conditions would be different if I were Polish or Spanish or another nationality from the EU, to which I replied "well in that case I am losing a good flat and you are losing a good tenant" (I had shown them a reference letter from my job confirming my salary to prove I was able to pay the rent before they came up with the 6-month rent condition). Half an hour later they called me back and said they were happy to accept me on the same terms as other EU nationals.


    I agree that banks have the right to refuse to open accounts for people of all nationalities, landlords have the right to reject applicants they don't find trustworthy etc. but I think the grounds on which they reject people should be the same for everybody.
     
  7. georgiv

    georgiv New Member

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    Alta chestie frumoasa este asta :mi-am inscris copilul la un play group va sta doar 2ore jumate si va incepe din septembrie (aici toata lumea a fost draguta si amabila), insa in paralel am incercat sa caut o cresa unde sa poata sta toata ziua in speranta ca voi renunta la play group si intr-un final am primit telefon de la cresa (Norwich City college).
    Mi-au zis ca au loc liber pentru 2 zile(miercuri si vineri) am zis ok perfect si am intrebat :trebuie sa platesc? Iar doamna care se ocupa de astea a zis ca trebuie sa platesc 34£ pe zi. Urmatoarea intrebare a mea a fost dk nu lucreaza cu guvernul pentru fonduri ca acea gredinita e de stat si s-a facut ca nu ma intelege, i-am zis de 3 ori apoi a inteles in sfarsit si mi-a zis :da, dar trebuie sa aplicati pentru fonduri.
    I-am explicat ca vreau sa aplic si mi-a zis :bine asteptati telefonul nostru pentru programare.
    Deja a trecut 1 saptamana si eu tot astept acel telefon.
     
  8. rebecca_uk

    rebecca_uk Active Member

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    Hi, Georgiv

    As this topic is in the English section, could you please post the same message in English, using "quote"? Thanks. :)
     
  9. georgiv

    georgiv New Member

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    georgiv a scris:
    Other nice thinks is this : I register my son to the play group, and they accept him without problems, but in the same time I aply for him to book a place in to the nurssery. After I mounth from the nurssery I receive a phone call and they announce me that my son can have 2 days there, I accept the offert (I know that will be free but I ask, just in case), and that lady told me that I have to pay 34£/day if I bring my son. I explain that I know about government founding for children bigger than 3 years, and she same not understanding and 3rd time she understand me , she told me that I must apply for, and same one will call me to make an appoiment for this problem. I am waiting for 1 week , and nothing, I am still waiting.
     
  10. thrifty

    thrifty New Member

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    you will know when you meet a good English person who is not racist from the start..however as i am English i can tell you there are a lot of people who are less than co operative to foreign nationals..not just Romanians or Bulgarians..take this as said you need to stand up for your rights..what you hear and what is correct are two different things.even me as English come up against prejudice with my Romanian partner..but with the luck of god I understand and can respond accordingly...how ever the thread satates the best idea and that is to seek legal advice..for sure all these situations are in contravention of UK and EU law with out a shadow of doubt.it frustrates me people in work in public sectors can still get away with this behaviour they need a sharp kick up the rear end.. please do it -nu-ma-uit-
     

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