It was my first holiday in nearly 8 years, and one of a handful of overseas trips that I’ve ever been on as an adult. I was in such disbelief that I would even make it that only when I got on the plane did it feel real. I prepared for my holiday by doing my due diligence:
- notifying all of my banks that I was going overseas, (“please guys, don’t block my cards. Call or email me if there are any issues”);
- ensuring I have multiple cards available;
- getting a travel card, even though it was more of a fuss; and
- obtaining some local currency for emergency purposes.
So what was so awful that I am creating a blog? Well, one of my cards unexpectedly didn’t work for a transaction during a particularly important moment. Had I not obtained another card, I’d have missed my train from Paris to London and throw a couple of hundred dollars down the drain. I was trying to buy a ticket to go from the city I was in to go to London and I had previously not had any issues purchasing similar tickets from the same merchant (a UK government body), multiple times a day throughout the week.
When I called the bank to try and investigate, I was sheepishly advised of a few things.
Firstly, they tried to blame it on the ticket sales operator saying that he made a mistake. That didn’t fly because I was able to use a competing bank’s card immediately and I watched him press the same buttons to sell me the ticket.
The bank operator tried to give me a number of excuses, including “I don’t see the transaction attempt on file” even though he read out a particular error number to me about the transaction. I was put on hold multiple times and transferred three times. I had to be security-checked every single time, despite informing each person that I was calling from overseas.
That’s not what I call service and I decided that nobody should ever have to suffer like that. It turns out that in actual fact, it was a bank fault – they had temporarily blocked my card for the day because someone accidentally ignored my overseas travel note that day. It was fixed the next day, but I still would have missed my train to Paris had I not had another card.
It’s important to be prepared when going overseas and consulting with the bank you’re with. I’m with multiple banks to avoid situations like what happened to me. If you do what I did, you might save some heart-ache. Just remember that many of the operators you speak to don’t want to tell you the truth because they might not know it themselves, or they worry that they’ll upset you and it’ll be a negative phone call for them.
Remember to be polite but firm because nobody wants to help a screaming psycho, especially when they’re taking hundreds of similar calls a day. You’ll stand out if you’re kind, cooperative but ask more questions than what they’re used to.