WARNING: Long Rant
When I got my multi-currency cards for overseas travel a few years ago they gave me two - a good idea, as at some point one wouldn’t work, and I was able to use the other one. To obtain a replacement, I simply rang them, went through the ID process and they sent a new one to me. Now, the other original has expired, as I discovered when checking before travelling next week. No problems, thinks I, I’ll just ring them and they’ll send a replacement. Not so. I am told by their call centre, in heavily accented English, that I have to buy two new cards, then transfer my existing credit to them, then cancel the remaining card. A pain in the arse, but doable. As I’d be cutting it fine for them to send the new cards I rang their phone help line - several times, with a 3 minute wait while it goes through the full fecking menu before you speak to anyone, and am told that yes, I can go to any bank which will issue new cards.
I go to a couple of my nearby banks and am told that no, I can’t do this. What the banks can do is issue their own cards…but I have to have an account with the bank. While the last thing I want to do is open another account with any bank, this is starting to seem like an option, particularly as it will give me the opportunity to transfer all the funds on the cards and tell the current card provider to shove their cards where the sun doesn’t shine. I return home and ring what is jokingly called the card provider’s help line. As I am explaining that what I had been told the day before was incorrect, maintaining with difficulty a calm demeanour, the operator disconnected.
I mentioned that I want nothing to do with a bank. For more than 30 years I have had my accounts with a credit union. Well, it was a credit union. Earlier this year it merged (read was taken over) by a bank. A small bank that no one has ever heard of, in another state. A quick look at their web site showed that they could issue these cards; perhaps things are looking up. However, their web site doesn’t show the location or phone numbers of their offices. Back in the credit union days, I would have rung the nearest office, spoken to the one of the girls there - I knew them by name - and all would have been sorted. Now that office has been closed. No worries, I’ll ring the general enquiry number and they’ll tell me the nearest one.
Sorry, not so simple. The enquiry number (all our operators are busy, we value your custom, please wait - for nearly 10 minutes) happily started to tell me where the nearest offices were. The first is about 100 miles away, the second is about 500 miles away. it is clear that this bloke has no idea of the geography of NSW. However, there are two more branches, more or less equidistant from me. “Great, can you give me their addresses please?” “Sorry, I don’t know their addresses, and I only have mobile phone numbers for them so I can’t give you those.” This bank is starting to sound less substantial than I feel confident with. However, the operator does offer to connect me with the most convenient one. The call rings out. I ring the enquiry number again, go through the “your call is important…” nonsense again, and eventually get through to the same operator. This time he promises to stay on the line until they answer. They don’t, so he promises to email them and get them to ring me.
By now, I have pretty well decided to close my account with this bank, move everything to the credit union that my wife has accounts with and get cards from them. The only problem may be doing it in the time frame available, which is rapidly diminishing due to people who value my custom. I am diverted from this by a call from the less convenient branch. Yes, they can do it. “What time will I be there?” I have no idea - it will depend on public transport. However, I will definitely be there before 3 p.m.
I get there at 2 p.m., an hour by public transport. See the lady I’d spoken to earlier. “Sorry sir, can you come back in about half an hour, the man who knows how to do this is at lunch.” At 2.30, the man has returned, and we go through the process of getting the cards. The “man who knows” doesn’t do the work, he leans over the shoulder of the lady who is doing it for the first time. He answers her questions. At the same time, he is doing the same thing with another lady, who is also doing something that she doesn’t know how to do. It seems tat the “man who knows” doesn’t know much, either. the other lady frequently interrupts my lady to ask her questions.
Eventually, the process is almost completed. The cards are there. They have printed my transaction report (of the transfer from my bank account to the card account). They are about to give me the cards when the"man who knows" tells the woman that she needs to print a copy of this report for their records. Their computer system goes down. They won’t give me the cards until they’ve printed the report. Can’t use the photocopier in the corner.
Finally, I have the cards. I go home, activate them and transfer some money from my old card account to the new account. It seems to have worked. Tomorrow, I shall try the new cards in an ATM. When I return from overseas, I shall withdraw every fecking cent in every fecking account and put it all in a bag that I shall hide under my fecking pillow!
Aah, sorry about the length of this rant, but I do feel much better.