Monday, 12 January 2015

Oh The Joys of Buying A Car ....... Or Two in Mexico!

Some weeks ago, I wrote a blog on the trials and tribulations of opening and operating a bank account in Mexico. My aim had initially been to simplify our lives when we moved to Mexico by having an account open and ready to use. WRONG!

I'm not sure whether it would have been any easier to leave the account opening process until we got here - I suspect not - but our problems continued when we tried to buy a car or two.

Back in September when I came here to Ajijic on my own, I ordered a Nissan Note - a nice small easy to drive little number while I learned to navigate my way around the local area and up and down the tiny, narrow cobbled streets of Ajijic. I knew I'd have to pay in US dollars as my Peso account still wouldn't accept funds so I got the Bank Transfer details from the local dealer and promptly paid online. As payment was in Dollars, the transfer had to go to the dealer's USA account and then back to Monex Bank in Mexico.
Barb's Nissan Note

Straightforward? Easy peasy? Not a chance. Five days later, I got a call from S & S Autos saying there was still no money in their account. My account, however, told me the money had left and was winging it's way through cyber space. My bank, HSBC Expat, also confirmed the money had left. A full two weeks later and there was still no sign of the missing £14,000. Spencer, the wonderful owner of S & S Autos and Mariana, his equally wonderful assistant, eventually found out the the money was actually in the Monex Bank suspense account in Mexico but couldn't be allocated to their account because the forwarding bank hadn't given the exact correct account name on the transfer notification. Unfortunately, the only way to correct this was for the money to be returned to HSBC and start the whole process again.

By now, time had gone by and our money had been "missing" for four weeks and I was getting quite frantic. I was so lucky dealing with Spencer and Mariana who did all they could to help and my car order wasn't cancelled. The money was re-sent in October but believe it or not, it got stuck at Monex once again! By November, I had lost all patience and called my Relationship Manager at HSBC who promptly put his top "money tracing" person on the case and lo and behold the money miraculously appeared in Spencer's account later that day. With only two weeks to go before our arrival in Mexico, this was cutting it a bit fine as the car was an absolute essential for getting our dogs from the airport, getting to and from our new house, ferrying household purchases from the shops - we had no bedding, cutlery, crockery or store cupboard supplies at that point!

By the end of December we'd managed to get Pesos into our Peso account - a major achievement. We only spent 5 hours with our Relationship Manager, Luz Elena in the Ajijic branch to accomplish this seemingly straightforward task. So .......... we decided to buy a second car, this time in pesos so nothing would go wrong - no bank transfers needed, we just needed to write a Peso cheque.

Dave's Mazda CX5

We cleared our diary and prepared for another two hour marathon bank appointment on January 5th; our signatures were checked on the bank file and we were advised to present a third cheque - this one with my signature on it as mine is fairly stable each time I sign and Dave's is a typical dentist's signature varying wildly from one time to the next. SUCCESS at last! Dave now is the proud owner of a Mazda CX5 which is his pride and joy.
Wrong again! The first cheque, written on December 26th, was declined because Dave's signature didn't match the one on file. It couldn't be represented as this is illegal in Mexico so he duly wrote a second cheque ........ which was also declined for reasons unknown. Spencer advised us to go to the bank and ask for a direct transfer to be made to S & S Auto's account but even this proved problematic as only the Bank Manager was authorised do this and he was on holiday until January 5th. Ye gods!

What a massive learning curve! The lessons learned are:-
1. Nothing is ever straightforward in Mexico
2. Make sure you have a signature on file that matches the one on your passport and is easily
3. Make sure you have a partner who can sign cheques on the account.
4. Deal with lovely people like Spencer & Mariana!

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