Working in Taiwan, I had to have a bank account in order to receive my salary. When I first got here, time was tight and my Alien Registration Card (ARC) was still being processed. The immigration authority of Taiwan understands the difficulties foreigners face, so once my residence is approved, they issued a tentative document for me to use to open bank accounts and apply for mobile phone lines.
As soon as I received the document, I headed to the Cathay United Bank (國泰世華銀行) near my office to get an account opened. There, I asked one female staff (let’s call her B) about opening a bank account. She asked me why I wanted to open an account with them. I told her I needed it to receive my salary. She then proceeded to ask me why I chose them. I replied that because my office is in the same building (my colleague told me that banks only allow you to open accounts with them if you either work or live near them).
She then asked if I had my ARC, and I replied, “no but I have this,” and while I was reaching my hand into the envelope with the document from the immigration office, she replied, “Then you cannot open a bank account.”
I was dumbfounded. She didn’t even bother to wait and see what documents I have and simply said no. I showed her the document with my passport and told her the immigration office said I could use this. She looked at it and said, “no, this is not a valid document.”
Being the foreigner, I didn’t know what to do. I stepped out of the bank and made a call to the agency who helped apply my visa and the lady very kindly told me that she would speak with B. I returned to the bank and B looked annoyed. She stepped up and asked what I wanted. I told her that my agent wanted to speak with her to explain the situation and so I passed my phone to her. Looking visibly more annoyed and initially refusing to take that call, she asked, “What agent!?” I simply told her to just speak with her and she will understand.
Over the phone, my agent told her the document from the immigration bureau allows me to open a bank account.
B said, “no, we cannot accept that.”
Then my agent asked her, “are you saying that the immigration bureau is lying?”
B then said, “I need two identifying documents from him.”
My agent replied, “He’s got his passport too, isn’t it?”
B replied, “Er… I need to see his proof of residence in the country before he entered Taiwan.”
My agent said, “He’s got all the necessary documents with him, you can get it from him.”
B said, “Even if I have the documents, I cannot open the account for him as I need approval from my manager and my manager is not in today.”
The conversation ended and B handed me my phone looking visibly pissed with some level of embarrassment. I was confused about the conclusion of the phone call. I took the phone and talked to my agent. She said B just doesn’t want to let me open the account and she suggested I visit another bank.
I headed to Taishin International Bank and the very kind lady immediately helped me open an account within 30 minutes.
The reason I’m pissed with Cathay United Bank is not because B didn’t allow me to open an account. I respect every bank’s policy, but B clearly lied. She lied about requiring documents X and Y to my agent but never once did she request for any of those that I did have on me and simply told me no. And as a last resort, she said the manager wasn’t in that day. If that’s not racism or xenophobia, I don’t know what it is.
I wrote a feedback to Cathay United Bank but never received any responses. Speaks volumes about their service, or lack thereof.
Cathay United Bank is a mega bank in Taiwan and having an account with them is probably more convenient, but their service was utterly disappointing and disgusting. I highly not recommend anyone to open an account with them. Then again, if you’re a foreigner, they probably wouldn’t let you open one anyway.