Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Seriously Livid

Yes, I should be writing about the wonderful time I am having in Europe, but mostly what I've been having is a giant headache, thanks to pickpockets in Paris and bank bureaucracy. It is more difficult to get your credit card replaced than write a dissertation. Seriously. I've been without access to cash via credit card or ATM card for several days. Thank god for friends or I would have been sleeping on the streets of Paris and London.

After a phone call which lasted one and a half hours (at the courtesy of the bed and breakfast, since my cell phone was also stolen), I finally got my new temporary credit card delivered to my friend's house in England. I figured that I could finally charge things (you know, frivilous things like meals and lodging). But to get actual hard cash, I needed to go the bank to take out a "cash advance" since I cannot use the temporary credit card at the ATM. But what to my surprise when I went to purchase a train ticket on my new card - my bank, who was on the phone line with me and VISA, had put my card on hold. Why? Because I was making purchases in Europe and my address is in the US. They put my new card on hold as a safety precaution against fraud! I kid you not. Why on earth did they think I needed a temporary replacement card sent to England in the first place????

Come on people, use your brains! I know the banks use algorithms (automated ways to aggravate you) to decide to put your card on hold when it appears that transactions are not being performed by the valid cardholder, but what happened in my case was an exercise in stupidity. No one had the forethought to make a note in my file (or whatever they do) to change the standard algorithm? No, I guess that is too time consuimg to pay people to do that; they just wait (on purpose) until the card is automatically put on hold by the system, until the livid customer calls them to ask "why has my card been put on hold?" before they change or suspend the standard algorithm.

In the meantime, the "customer" may have been seriously inconvenienced. I may be a little biased after my recent experience, but for some reason, I do not think that concern for the customer is at the top of the bank's priority list.

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