We had been warned not to exchange too much money into RMB because we won’t be able to exchange back to US dollars. Something quite funny happened to us at the Bank of China yesterday on this subject:
We needed to exchange dollars to RMBs in this case. Tellers are helping customers, customers are sitting and waiting and we quickly realize that we need to get a number to talk to the bank teller.
The machine distributing the numbers is asking us which service we want: “individual business” or “foreign exchange outward remittance”, so we indicate “foreign exchange outward remittance” (That was probably the wrong answer anyway because we wanted to exchange dollars to RMBs in this case but not the opposite).
Our number is 3040 and the “foreign exchange” counter indicates 3032, but there is no teller there. There are tellers for “individual business” handling clients 1148 and 1149. Minutes pass by. More clients are being helped at the “individual business” counter but no one shows up to help at the “foreign exchange outward remittance” desk.
We try to get the attention of a teller, but without success. What should we do?
After a 20-minute wait, we decide to get one of these “individual business” numbers which will definitely solve our problem, but we smile thinking about this extremely efficient way to not service the customer looking for US dollars. Afterall why have a teller telling people “no, you cannot get US dollars” when you can simply have them wait for a long time, until they simply give up! (Remember, Chinese people don’t like to say “no”.)
For the whole 30 minutes that we were there, no one ever came to that counter for “foreign exchange outward remittance”! Of course, there may be a totally different explanation for what happened but it was funny to imagine that this is a valid explanation.