Some time before I came to Sri Lanka, my friend Mary warned me that her card had been stopped out here because she didn’t let the bank know she was coming. I thought it sounded a bit daft and was sure I hadn’t heard that before. However, I duly went into the Bank of Scotland in Gordon St in Glasgow, waited in the queue and informed the teller. She laughed, told me to have a nice time but said she’d no idea why I was telling her this. I explained and she said no, they had no need to know. Fine.
Two weeks after getting here my card stopped working. I called the Bank at great expense, not least because their answer message says to press one if you wish to manage your existing account – but they don’t tell you that’s only if you don’t need to speak to someone. You then find they have nothing to press for: “my card has been stopped for no particular reason and I’m stranded in Sri Lanka”, and have to start the call all over again. Anyway that’s all besides the point.
When it happened two weeks after getting here, it was sorted out pretty quickly. The explanation was that I hadn’t told them I was coming to Sri Lanka. Grrrr. So, I gave them my address out here, my mobile number, my landline number, my date of leaving SL, my date for going to Singapore, my date for arriving in Glasgow, my shoe size etc etc and was promised no more problems.
Just over a fortnight ago I was in Colombo for a weekend and couldn’t use my card. I assumed it was the ATM that had the problem and ended up borrowing money from a friend – something I hate doing.
At the weekend there I went to Kandy assuming my card was fine. I tried to use it but again, something was wrong. I phoned the bank from my mobile once again costing me a pretty rupee only to be told that it MIGHT be because I hadn’t told them I was coming to Sri Lanka. Talk about Groundhog Day! “You see, you really ought to let us know before you travel abroad” I was told. I repeated my entire story, told her not only had I done it in person but I’d already been through all this 6 weeks ago on the telephone from Sri Lanka and they had all my contact details so had there been a problem, surely someone could have called me.
I explained to her that I was in Sri Lanka, a developing country, by myself, as a volunteer with no income and I needed access to my money. This was on Friday last week and she informed me that IF it was a temporary stop because I was in Sri Lanka, they could sort it out for me but not until this THURSDAY!
Apparently every single person who could normally have helped me was on holiday for Easter. Apparently there are no emergency procedures in place to deal with what this was – an emergency. Apparently there was nobody I could talk to about it. She was very sorry but I’d have to wait and she sympathised but really, I should have informed them! Can you believe that?
It’s really not a nice feeling at all to be stranded thousands of miles from home with no money and no access to any. And I think the Bank of Scotland should be ashamed to have put me through that. I cannot believe they have no emergency procedures they can use. Luckily we had paid our transport in advance but what if I hadn’t? I really could have been stuck and although I’ve never felt in danger over here, I think I certainly would have been if I’d had to rely on the Bank of Scotland as my only “friend for life”.
Anyway I was still left with the problem that the person I spoke to last Friday didn’t know if there was a temporary stop on the card or a permanent one. The latter would have meant ten working days for a new card to be made and a further 6 for it to arrive in SL. I really would be in trouble then.
So yesterday, Tuesday, when they were all back from their holidays, I called again. Had to repeat myself over and over (what is wrong with these people?) before she understood that I needed to know whether it was a temporary or permanent stop. All she could do apparently was email the “abroad” team to ask them to re-activate the card. She couldn’t speak to them, they do not have the facility to do that. She could only email.
“And if it turns out after you’ve emailed them that it’s not a temporary stop, what will happen?” I asked.
She couldn’t answer that. She eventually said she’d speak to the fraud team to see if there was any other reason for the stop. Unfortunately my mobile ran out of credit before I got the chance to find out. So they’ve cost me a fortune, spoiled some of my time out here, let me down really badly – and now, not only do I not have money, I don’t have any credit in my phone. And no, they’ve not called me back. Nice way to treat someone who’s been your customer for 23 years!