I laughed each time I saw the ScotiaBank’s slogan “Para las personas que quieren mas” (For people that want more) because that’s why I visited them.

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As a Wall Street veteran with 20+ years of professional financial services experience – At the time – in 2002 – I did indeed want ‘more’.

They had been recommended to me by a local Chamber of Commerce of which I was a member and in the previous three years, had ‘mediocre’ banking experience with some of the local banks and figured that ScotiaBank might be different.

“Never would I recommend or use Scotia Bank in Costa Rica, Canada, or where ever else they may be located.”

What a complete farce the ScotiaBank process turned out to be.

In order to apply for a bank account and a Visa card, Ericka in their Escazu branch met with me and told me that the following information was required and must be submitted for their approval:

  1. Previous six months bank statements – Supplied
  2. Previous six months credit card statements – Supplied
  3. Photocopy of the rental agreement for the house I was living – Supplied
  4. The property owner’s name & telephone number – Supplied
  5. Photocopy of my cedula showing my legal residency – Supplied
  6. Photocopy of my passport (I am British) – Supplied
  7. Proof of previous year’s income – Supplied two signed letterhead letters, one from a $15 billion hedge fund company and one from one of the largest investment firms in New York.
  8. Photocopies of the corporate documentation for my company even though I was applying for a personal bank account and credit card and
  9. A completed a legal page sized document detailing my business’s expenses

When I returned to the bank with this information Ericka informed me that she didn’t need the two letterhead letters I had supplied showing my income so I kept them, she said that what the bank actually required was a CPA ‘Certified Letter’ confirming my income.

Being an honest and conscientious person, I figured that at least my money should be safe since they’re so careful with whom they do business. It cost me US$150 to obtain this CPA ‘Certified Letter’ showing, by Costa Rican standards, an incredible income.

I made a small deposit to establish the account and was informed that they would contact me shortly regarding the Visa card approval.

Nobody called me.

After a two week trip to Europe I telephoned them and Ericka assured me that the manager would call me.

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The manager never called me.

I then visited the bank personally and Ericka told me that there are many CPA’s in this country and they can’t verify that the ‘Certified Letter’ they had specifically requested is correct which quite frankly left me speechless!

I then removed my deposit and consider ‘SchizoBank’ a far more suitable name than ScotiaBank. As far as I’m concerned ScotiaBank wasted hours of my time and they owe me $150.

As you well know, when we receive good service we are delighted to recommend professionals to my clients and friends.

In the next edition of my book however, be sure you will find a ‘Banking in Costa Rica’ section “para las personas que quieren mas

You can also be sure that ScotiaBank will absolutely, definitely NOT be one of my recommended banks.

December 2007 Update

Recently one of our Latin American customers deposited $250,000 in ScotiaBank to open a new (not so small) account, assume a mortgage and to begin establishing a credit record here in Costa Rica.

Even after he showed them documentation proving liquid assets of over US$2 million they seemed more preoccupied about a report of an unpaid credit card charge (since resolved) of around $1,000 which occurred because of an expired credit card. Mind boggling!

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19th September 2009 Update Email received from our VIP Members:

“Just want to update you. We had problems with Scotia Bank and our closing on our property in Tamarindo. They asked for information from people that were not even applying for a mortgage. At that point we said enough is enough and paid cash.

The bank was angry and stated that we were approved for the loan and backed off from the request for more information. Even though we had to pay the closing taxes and not bury it into the mortgage we felt more at ease than going through Scotia Bank. Needless to say, we needed to establish a banking relationship in Costa Rica and did so by using the Bank of San Jose.

Never would I recommend or use Scotia Bank in Costa Rica, Canada, or where ever else they may be located.” Jeff & Mary Fresia.

23rd June 2011 Update

After confirming to one of our real estate buyers that he was “pre-approved” to buy a home of $X they led him and the Realtor on for over three LONG months and insisted on two medical exams, appraisals, a ridiculous amount of financial documentation etc.., and then at the very end of this process when the Realtors and the buyer’s attorney started to pressure them to move forward, ScotiaBank told him the application would not be approved.

Maureen Kleiman in Belize emailed me saying: “Never would I recommend Scotia Bank in Belize either. The branch sits in the center of town , convenient to many local businesses. I called to see what info was need to open my account and after advisement collected all my information and headed to the bank. The officer was rude and semi incomprehensible. Belize is an English speaking nation so the language problem was baffling to say the least.

After what seemed like an eternity , another bank representative said they needed original documents – WHICH IS WHAT I HAD PRESENTED, the first rep had made copies and that is what she showed to the second rep. HUH? After a second eternity they claimed they needed to speak with my local US bank before they would consider opening my account.

I left the bank , took all my copied and original docs a few blocks down to Atlantic Bank and had an account within minutes.

Scotia Bank is the most unfriendly bank I have ever visited. I too will NEVER recommend them. In my frequent rants against them, a friend recounted his misery with them. He HAS/had an account with Scotia in Canada and he was not able to draw from that account directly in Belize. He had to use the ATM, withdraw maximum $500bz daily- which is US$250. So he too walked down the street to Atlantic Bank. What a great business resource Scotia is for Atlantic Bank!”

To repeat the most eloquent words of Jeff & Mary Fresia…

“Never would I recommend or use Scotia Bank in Costa Rica, Canada, or where ever else they may be located.”

Do you remember the ‘good old days’ when the banks would bend over backwards to try and get new customers? Now we all have to fight to establish a new bank account…

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Written by Scott Oliver, author of How To Buy Costa Rica Real Estate Without Losing Your Camisa and Costa Rica’s Guide To Making Money Offshore.

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