Thursday, March 20, 2003

I was going to log today about this incredible dream I had last night which had Madlene and Harut (Der Hova) in it, but unfortunately something more interesting happened this morning that I felt a need to log about. Maybe I�ll log about the dream later, as it really is worth sharing.

I spent the night in Stepanagert and this morning I went to the Artsakh Central Bank to exchange $100.

The woman at the exchange window looked at the $100 bill I handed her and told me that it had a small hole in it and was discolored. She said that its value would be lower than the normal exchange rate.

I asked her what she was talking about and said that a dollars value is not based on its appearance, but based on the serial number and the amount noted on it.

She told me that it was the policy of the bank to pay a lower amount to worn and damaged dollars and there was nothing she can do about it.

I asked to see the bank manager and found that he was coming late. I saw one of the assistants, who looked at my $100 bill and told me that it really qualifies as worn and damaged, but for me being from the Diaspora, he would exchange it for the full rate.

I asked him what difference it made to the bank if the bill was worn or not and he said that he buys dollars and turns around and sells them to other people and if there is any damage, no one is willing to buy them. He said the same thing is in Armenia.

I told him that this was absurd and I could understand if it was a private party who was buying and selling dollars, but the main central bank for all of Artsakh should at very least be a place that one can turn in worn money as a normal banks function is to get worn money out of circulation.

I added that if this is the way he is doing business, then he is not in the business of buying and selling dollars for their value, but he is selling pictures and in that case, appearance is the only thing that matter.

Though the picture I have posted is hard to read, you will notice on March 20, 2003, the bank was buying dollars at 590 dram to $1, selling at 593 dram to $1 and if the dollar is worn or damaged, buys at 566 dram to $1, a loss of 24 dram or in my case would have been 2,400 dram (over $4).

One thing that should be noted is that today, the greater share of Artsakh bank is owned by Diaspora Armenians and I would think that if those individuals were conscious that such an unfair practice is taking place in their bank, they would put an immediate stop to it (I would hope so). I think a letter to them would not be too difficult to write (which I have done) and certainly in will be sent (as soon as I can get their mailing address).

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