Security measures at some banks in Greece require customers to pass “face control,” just to get in the front door.
In place of the burly security man keeping a watchful eye and occasionally nodding hello, the front door of the bank is bolted shut and contains a series of directions and graphics on the glass, with a threesome of lights and buttons to the left in red, green and white.
The graphics are pretty clear — no helmets, no sunglasses, no beverages. To enter the first door, wait for the red light to turn off and the green light to flash, press the white button, you’ll hear a click and pull the door to step inside the small enclosure. The door should lock behind you, if no one is touching or trying to pull it — scowl at or scold the impatient persons doing just that. If you’re claustrophobic or “supersized,” this might not be a pleasant experience.
Once inside, read the directions on how to enter the second door or listen to a woman repeating them in Greek and English (if you can hear her over the angry mob forming in back of you), which instructs you to stand still in the middle of the floor, look up and to the left into a camera, then wait for the red light to turn off and the green light to flash, press the white button, you’ll hear a click and push the door to enter the financial inner sanctum.
Now you are free to take a number and be treated to indifferent service.
What the directions don’t tell you
I was not wearing a helmet or sunglasses that day, nor did I have a beverage. However, I was refused entry to my bank because I was wearing a sun visor and carrying a shoulder bag. It says nothing about this on the door, but any hat, hood, visor, suspicious bag or even large sunglasses is reason to turn you away. If, however, you’re carrying a dog or cat and not wearing a shirt or shoes, no problem.
Since there was no one to inspect my bag to prove it was innocent and I don’t have a car or slave boy at my disposal, I conceded defeat and went home without accomplishing anything. The bank closes at 14:00 and the transaction I needed to complete couldn’t be done at an ATM; it was already 13:30 and would have taken me an hour to go home, drop off my bag and try again. I suspect that unaccompanied mothers with strollers and anyone with a backpack faced the same thing; and those in wheelchairs cannot enter the bank at all, which is a form of discrimination.
I’m all for increased security, as police report that the number of bank robberies fell in 2011. But I saw people with strollers and walkers, and did they have a tough time! And if you’ve ever run the gamut of Greek bureaucracy, this felt like more of the same, though I’m sure we’ll all be beaten into submission get used to it. Besides that, not all banks have these security doors in place, so it’s quite easy to rob or firebomb a bank by going across the street. No problem.
Reception stopped me from taking photos, so I went back when they were closed.
In the News
“i-Bank package offers increased Internet/mobile banking, but savings is not passed to consumer”
“Number of bank complaints up 22.3 percent”
“Υπό προθεσμίαν τα βιομετρικά μάτια της Εθνικής” — published after my article on June 10, 2009
“Five million euros in e-banking fraud in Greece each year” — Ta Nea