Banking in Japan, Part 4

In which I get money in the bank!

Disclaimer: Due to my long hiatus from blogging, I cannot guarantee that my memory of these events is accurate.  Also, this will be long, because I just want to finish the darn saga.

Where we left off our story, I had successfully prepped my Japanese bank account to deal in international wire transfers.  The next step was to register my American Charles Schwab bank account as a transfer/source destination.  Believe it or not, this is something you can do online!

if you have a one-time password (OTP) device.  In order to get an OTP device you have to have provided the bank with your Individual Number.  Which I had!   But all that meant was that the device would be mailed to me sometime soonish.  So back to paper forms it was.  Being a thorough, prepared sort of person, I took the appropriate form with me when I went to the bank to inform them of my Individual Number.  I handed it over to the nice teller lady, sat and waited for 5 minutes, and then was told that instead of providing the SWIFT code (an internationally used bank identifier) for my Schwab account, I  should have provided the ABA (American Bankers Association) number.  This made no sense, because as far as I know, ABA number are only used within the U.S.  I politely disagreed with the teller, sat and waited another 5 minutes, then learned that I had in fact been correct.  Hooray?

At this point, I’d done absolutely everything I needed to do on the Japan side, so I figured I was home free.  Oh, the optimism of youth.  Or something.  At home, I logged into the – all English, no special forms or devices required! — Schwab website, and navigated to the online wire transfer form.  So easy!  Filled it out, hit submit and… ERROR.  SWIFT code not recognized.  I double checked my Japanese bank’s website and tried again.  No dice.  The webpage I was looking at helpfully suggested I call the Schwab International Wire Transfer Specialists, so I did, and was informed by a recorded message that I was calling outside of normal business hours.  The message did not, however, tell me what normal business hours were, nor could I find it anywhere on the Schwab website.  GAAHHHH.  I tried again at another time and got the same message.

Frustrated to be so close to my goal and yet still thwarted, I called regular ol’ Charles Schwab customer service, and they said, oh, yeah, if it doesn’t work online, you can print out a form and mail it to us in Texas.  ::facepalm:: I’m pretty sure I ended up faxing it instead, but still.  On that form, there was a note that I would receive a call to verify my transaction during their normal business hours, which were something like 9am – 5:30pm ET, which is 10pm – 6:30am in Japan.  Oh goody.  I was determined to get this transfer through, however, so I ended up blearily answering my phone at 2:30am to verify the transfer.

Several days later, the money came through, I paid for my Japanese lessons, and I felt an immense sense of accomplishment for having achieved my goal.  I tried to explain this to other people, but somehow they just didn’t think it was that exciting :).

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