Skip to main content




I’ve had no problem with PNC Bank for nearly forty years. Free checking. Online banking. Overdraft protection. Hardly a hiccup. But today, if I found myself back in the USofA (besides wondering why the heck I wasted my time, money, and health by returning), one of the first things that I would do would be to get my money out of PNC Bank and into a bank that was dedicated to customer service in the 21st Century and sufficiently competent to provide it.

Although Social Security direct deposits our retirement benefits to our French bank account, the companies handling our IRA investments are based in the US and my retirement package from work can deposit only in an American bank account. And so, we retained our PNC account as our focus moved abroad. There’s one problem, though. One MAJOR problem. We live in France and PNC is reluctant to give us our money when we want it. 

You see, we've bought a new house and we're selling our current one. If we had sold the old one first, we would have our equity in hand and could finance the new with it. And the money would all be in France, in euros. Easy peasy. Unfortunately, if we sold before buying, where would we live? How long would we need to rent? Would we really want to move twice in a short period of time? No. The easy way to do it would be to buy first, sell as soon after as we could, and move at our leisure. And that's what we're doing. But it means that the funds financing the deal had to be in dollars, in our savings/investments in the USofA, and converted into euros as is was electronically transferred across the Pond. Should have been easy peasy too. It wasn't.

A video on PNC’s website explains that PNC is concerned that the tech companies that provide the digital platforms to pull funds out of our PNC account and deposit those funds into our French account are privy to too much of our information and cannot be trusted to handle that information in as secure a manner that PNC approves. PNC says that it is working hard to resolve this matter. But as a result, the major currency transfer companies have to provide people like me with burdensome workarounds, if they can provide their services at all given PNC's security protocols. PNC is apparently notorious in these circles as one of the major banks in the USofA that hasn't climbed on board the electronic banking train.

And given that PNC’s video explanation of their security concerns and their expression of determination to address those concerns is two years old, PNC is either incapable of addressing the concerns that do not prevent other major US banks from granting their clients access to their funds or is simply not interested in doing so. Either way, incapable or uninterested, PNC management’s attempt to convince me that they care about me fails to convince me that they actually do. 

Perhaps they do care about me, but they are simply incompetent. Incompetent. Not a word that you want to be associated with your bank.

In the end, I used the one of four currency exchange companies that I investigated that could actually move our money without requiring that we jump through 15 hoops and mortgage our cat. I will discuss their relative costs, speed, and convenience in a subsequent post.


Popular posts from this blog


Ten sits just off the market square in Uzes, one of the prettiest villages in southern France. The newly renovated space is airy and comfortable with tables of sufficient size and sufficiently spaced to provide for a pleasant dining experience. Service was cheerful, fully bilingual, and attentive without being overbearing. The food presented well to both eye and tongue. And the rate of approximately 30 € per person for a party of five included starters, mains, a dessert or two, two bottles of local wine, and coffees at the finish. Reasonable if not cheap eats.  So why am I hesitant to give an unqualified thumbs up?  It took me a while to figure it out. Uzes is a quintessentially French village in a quintessentially French region of southern France. There are those who will say that the Languedoc is just as beautiful but less crowded and less expensive than its eastern neighbors. I know. I'm one of those people. But the fact remains that for many people, villages like Uzes are t


We've known Duncan since he was about 5 and were honored to be invited to all of the festivities surrounding his wedding to Fiona. The wedding was held in a magazine converted to a military museum in Gosport. Duncan's dream...a wedding in a place where they used to blow things up. I've never been around so many uniforms. Live Long and Prosper! A kiss was the price to continue... That's Duncan's sister Clair arriving on the right. Grandparents...headed for 100 and sharp as tacks. Reception in an old magazine/museum. Mom baked the cake and made the ducks to order. Not from the wedding but seemed appropriate.

Kreuz Market vs. Smitty’s Market: Texas Barbecue in Lockhart

I was born and raised in New Jersey. I didn’t taste Texas barbecue until I was twenty-two years old. What the hell do I know about barbecue? And what could I add to the millions of words that have been written on the subject? Well, I know a bit about food. I’ve managed to check out a few of the finer joints in Texas – Sonny Bryan’s Smokehouse in Dallas, Joe Cotton’s in Robstown before the fire, the dear departed Williams Smokehouse in Houston, and the incomparable New Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Huntsville . So I can speak from a reasonably wide experience. This will not be a comprehensive discussion of the relative merits of Texas barbecue as opposed to the fare available in places like Memphis or the Carolinas. It’s simply a take on our recent visits to Lockhart and the relative merits of Smitty’s versus Kreuz from our point of view. I’ll get all over academic in a later post. On our way out to the ranch in Crystal City, we stopped at Smitty’s. You have to look