Changing money can be an uncertain affair in Spain. If itīs not incompetence, itīs anarchy (see "Anarcosindicalista" dispatch) that will get in your way.
Our first morning in Barcelona, we walked out from our pension to La Rambla, the main thoroughfare of the city, and entered a bank to change some US$ to pesetas. (In Madrid, you can only enter most banks one at a time through small glass booths with sliding doors, like in Star Trek.)
Two tellers at separate windows seemed to be taking their time. One teller was a burly man, sucking on a cigar. After a short wait, the other called us to the window. Gregg said "Cambio, por favor" and handed him four travellerīs cheques. The teller counted them, asked the other teller a question, and said in both Spanish and English, "Four hundred". He then disappeared into the back room and minutes later, re-emerged with the cheques and a copy of Greggīs passport. He asked us to sign the check, which Gregg did, three times. It appeared that the fourth was missing. We double checked that they werenīt stuck together, surely not, then motioned that it must be in the back room. Our teller went to the back room again and came out, looking around and scratching his head (which was now starting to bead up with sweat). This went on for the next few minutes until finally, exacerbated, he said to us "You gave me three." I looked at Gregg, still calm because he hadnīt signed the fourth missing cheque. We checked the numbers and were sure we gave him four. I motioned downwards, suggesting to the teller that he check the floor. Instead, he lifts up his computer keyboard and mumbles, "No, no, it is not here, I assure you. You only gave me three."
The adjacent teller, still helping another customer and gnawing on his cigar, started to get involved peripherally. It seems he was saying something like "If you donīt have it, itīs not your problem" to our teller. Meanwhile, a woman emerged from the back room, likely the branch manager. After a few quick exchanges among the three of them, she grabbed her glasses and immediately spotted the missing cheque. "Acqui! Acqui!", she exclaimed. Our teller was summarily dismissed, retreating to the back room (to sweep the floor?). The manager completed our transaction, rolling her eyes in disgust as she handed us the pesetas.
They didnīt waive the commission charge.