A perfect storm (going without gold)

I’ve officially spent more than 10% of my time in Hong Kong on the phone with my credit card company. No need to bore you with the details, but it’s quite a story, so here it is for you in bulleted outline form!

  1. Leave credit card in Phoenix Sky Harbor
  2. Arrive in Germany
  3. Purchase flight from Japan to Germany with said credit card number and info
  4. Request a new credit card from issuer following loss in (1). Have them overnight it to a friend so I can pick it up in Japan when I arrive, as there is no time to retrieve it in Germany.
  5. Realize that airline from Japan to Germany requires original purchasing credit card at check-in counter else no boardy on flighty.
  6. Take credit card for same account but with Mandi’s name (as authorized user on account) and leave for Singapore.
    1. Credit card assured me:
      1. I can legitimately use the card as I am the primary account owner for it
      2. They will write a certificate to state that I am the authorized owner of the first credit card that made the filght purchase.
  7. Try to get Sing Dollars from ATM in airport; ATM requires PIN; credit card has no chip and no PIN.
  8. Call credit card company. VISA says that everyone who accepts VISA must accept it without PIN as well.
  9. No one is responsible for the machine. It is faceless. Use backup plan – German bank card.
  10. Fly to Hong Kong; run out of money.
  11. Find American Bank – CityBank; tellers closed; employee says wouldn’t matter – they need a PIN.
  12. Call credit card issuer – they told me earlier a quick call would authorize transaction – they have Cantonese speaking support.
  13. Proceed on phone in bank for an hour while credit card company issues a PIN. They previously told me this was impossible.
  14. Attempt to withdraw cash; PIN fails; card locked out.
  15. Call credit card issuer – they set a PIN for the wrong card (mine, not Mandi’s); hour later, new PIN set for Mandi’s card, I can make withdrawal.
  16. Withdrawal fails.
  17. Try German card as backup; transaction fails.
  18. Call Notrufnummer (emergency number) from back of German card – invalid number.
  19. Call credit card issuer; 24-hour hold is from ATM network, not credit card; we are helpless; not our problem.
  20. Three hours later (standing next to ATM the whole time in middle of city), hold still active, no way to get money. Spoke with credit card issuer and with VISA.
    1. Only two options:
      1. Show two IDs to bank with credit card – a couple of banks told me they could not do this
      2. VISA can send emergency cash through Western Union
      3. All options were open when I started the call to credit card issuer. All options were closed by the end.
  21. Take $1.25 in pocket and make long walk home – taxis, busses, trams, etc… do not accept credit cards. Most food places also don’t – the ones that do are closed.
  22. Find a 7 Elevent that accepts normal credit card transactions (vs cash advance which is blocked) and buy prepackaged salad for gourmet dinner. Sleep.

When you travel frequently, you expect things like this to happen. The most frustrating part is how many people from my credit card company seemed to lead me on like I would be able to make a withdrawal from an ATM in just a few minutes. Throughout the night the excuses kept changing and kept getting closer to the truth. There was a severe not-my-problem feel to the experience, culminating in a joint conversation with my card issuer and VISA at the end. The eighth person from my credit card told me that the temporary hold was completely from VISA. When speaking with VISA, I asked the representative if he could authorize a cash advance at the specific ATM for the specific amount I wanted (information I had been previously asked about by my card issuer). His response was, “let’s check with your card issuer, we don’t authorize or block those transaction.” Irony – she was on the phone with us and had been the one to pull in VISA because she was unable to authorize it. So frustrating and stressful. Had I been given an honest and full disclosure at the beginning, I could have explored a big part of the city, ate at a restaurant that accepted credit card payments, and gotten home earlier.

Somewhere in this is a great lesson about customer service, miscommunication, and bug reports. Maybe I’ll write about that later.

3 thoughts on “A perfect storm (going without gold)

  1. Where was the email to your entire contact list that should have read “urgent. Help! I am stranded in Hong Kong with no money. Please wire money immediately”?!?!?!


    1. Haha, where’s the adventure in that. Besides, I didn’t have a bank to where anyone could wire money!

      I should have instead sent out an email that said, “Help! Please come to Hong Kong IMMEDIATELY and bring money.”

      Liked by 1 person

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