My Pounds Weren’t So Sterling

Winding down on the QM2/London to-do list, I picked up my order of pound sterling today at Citibank. As the teller was counting it out with me, one of the 20£ notes ripped in half.


She asked me what I wanted to do – tape it or send it back for a replacement. I opted for a replacement. Little did I know how complicated such a simple request would be.

The teller had to……………

  1. Get her manager over to ask the procedure
  2. Be told to call the foreign currency number
  3. Ask where she might find the foreign currency direct line
  4. Call the foreign currency number
  5. Wait. Be on hold. Wait.
  6. Wait some more
  7. Explain the situation to the other end
  8. Tell them I don’t want the ripped bill
  9. Pause to reach a UPS envelope
  10. Read UPS tracking number to other end
  11. Ask me what I wanted to do with the rest of the pound sterling
  12. Be told I’d rather keep it at bank until the replacement bill arrives
  13. I sign the opened pound sterling envelope that I opened it, had it counted for me, and am exchanging one 20£ note.

During all this, at least 15 minutes if not more, I kept asking the teller if I should move over and let others behind me take care of their transactions. She kept saying no, I was her customer. But I could FEEL the glare on the back of my neck and hear the foot tapping of frustrated and impatient bankers.  It’s an awful feeling being THAT person.

To end the merriment at the bank, as I backed out of my parking space, a woman pulled up to double park in front of the bank to let her husband out, making it difficult for me to back out easily. I gave her a good EOS glare. Lo and behold, I knew her. She waved cheerily. I waved, but not as cheerily.Neither she nor her husband is handicapped or informed. or old!

I know, that’s a pretty boring tale for a Tuesday but hey, it isn’t Hillary news. 🙂


9 thoughts on “My Pounds Weren’t So Sterling

  1. how about asking for a refund in us money for the damaged 20 pound note and avoiding any further
    anxiety? american express used to be good when I needed foreign money.

    1. I might have done that if my departure were imminent. With much time to spare, I can wait. The cash is just for incidentals anyway. The default for everything else is an Amex card.

      I remember as a kid in Europe with my parents dad would go into the American Express branches in big cities if he need more Travelers Checks, the default in those days. They came in a blue plastic foldover wallet. Are Traveler’s Checks a thing of the past?

      1. Given the kind of morning you’ve had, decided to look up locations where American Express Travelers Cheques are available (none within a ten mile radius):

        1. KEY BANK, NA
        POUND RIDGE, NY 10576

        2. AAA NORTHEAST
        1101 HIGH RIDGE RD
        STAMFORD, CT 06905

        249 RTE 202
        BREWSTER, NY 10509

        4. KEY BANK, NA
        76-78 VIRGINIA ROAD
        WHITE PLAINS, NY 10603

        3649 LEE ROAD
        JEFFERSON VALLEY, NY 10535

        WHITE PLAINS, NY 10601

        1753 E MAIN ST
        MOHEGAN LAKE, NY 10547

        8. KEY BANK, NA
        3000 E MAIN ST
        CORTLANDT MANOR, NY 10567

        9. AAA NORTHEAST
        495 WESTPORT RD
        NORWALK, CT 06851

        So whatever happened about relating Plan B for Dawg – or are our suggestions just increasing your anxiety?

        1. Thanks. AAA, that’s another trip planning thing of the past – the TripTik. My dad ordered them a few weeks in advance of our trip. They were really wonderful.

          I can’t imagine carrying Travelers Cheques (thanks for correcting my American spelling). They seem cumbersome and unnecessary and so easy to steal. But thanks for going to so much trouble to post locales near me.

          As for Dawg Plan B – we interview the local woman on September 12. She knows that we have already been accepted at Princeton. Dawg has been very strange since we brought her home from the canine kindergarten. I can’t describe it – she seems out of sorts, down, as if she knows she’s about to be left in the hands of others. I know for a fact she understands the suitcase means something she doesn’t like – how they sense a suitcase is beyond me. Whatever is going in her head, I am more stressed today than yesterday and hope that Plan B with a mix of son coming over as often as he can, will make Dawg okay. NOW I see why so many people take their dogs on vacation. Sheesh, this is stressful.

  2. Wow, I remember travelers cheques! And trip tix, too. This summer we drove grandmas old Volvo, circa 1989, to the west coast of Denmark. It is a very simple machine: no a/c had me more panicked than crank Windows and no gps, or radio for that matter. A couple days before the trip I wondered how we were going to navigate, as phones didn’t have data for the most part. I had planned to put it in the hands of the sixth grader and load him with maps in the back seat….but someone loaned us a Gps at the last minute. We missed one educational opportunity there, but I think our trip was lovely and smooth in return. Do you really need cash in local currency? We didn’t bother for the most part, but we do have a Swedish credit card that we pay with money we keep over ther to avoid some foreign transaction fees.

    I missed most of the Dawg convo….ill go catch up. Longwood was great yesterday, but the mushroom farm was closed (along with so many restaurants–I called at least a dozen before we found one open🤔 I guess Philly takes Labor Day seriously). We went to Camden aquarium today and will try again for the mushroom farm tomorrow.

    1. I think your trip up the coast of Denmark was education in itself but I agree map reading is quickly becoming a lost art. I still keep a basket full of paper maps but they are pretty much dust collectors now. Too bad.

      I don’t really need cash on the trip except for a few tips here and there. We are being driven from Southampton into London and I want to make sure I have pounds to tip him. Hotel concierge too maybe. Little things when cash is king.

      Glad Longwood was fun but I can’t imagine many flowers were in bloom. In my day, there was a wonderful outdoor theater and summer stock would perform. It was sensational. I don’t know if the plays still exist.

      Too bad about the mushroom factory being closed. Next time you are there, Come down Route 52 into Centreville and have lunch with the boys at Buckley’s Tavern.

      1. Bah! I wish I’d seen this earlier. We drove all the way back out to the mushroom farm only to be told they only do tours on Saturdays. We then found The Woodlands at Phillips Mushrooms, which was really great. More of a really good information display, virtual tour with various great videos and a room with various mushrooms blooming. Brought home some unusual varieties to cook up. Then we ended up have a delicious and nutritious 🙄 Lunch of ice cream at Woodside Farm creamery, so we were basically there. Thanks, I bookmarked Buckleys for next time👍

        And, yes cash is good to have for tipping. Not much tipping happening in Scandinavia, though.

  3. I agree that tipping needs cash, but in a pinch, good old US dollars work fine.
    There probably is a black market in every tourist town for US Dollars.
    I’m not sure if EU banks charge transaction fees.

    1. This was a no-brainer for me to get pounds at Citibank. My account status means no transaction fee. We’re hoping to eat at a few small put if the way places where tipping in cash makes sense. If I don’t use it all before we leave, I’ll put up a banner in London to find Mr. 85 Broad Street who will be nearby for the Giants game. I’ll hand him off my leftover sterling.

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