As you may have read, I suffered an unfortunate lapse of concentration when using my credit card in Santiago two weeks ago. The result – my only credit/cash card swallowed and destroyed by a Chilean ATM – shouldn’t have been a big deal. Indeed, if I’d been banking with FNB, I’d have been able to get a new card within 48 hours. It would have arrived before I even left Santiago.
Unfortunately, I chose to bank with Nedbank, so when I contacted them to ask for a replacement card I was given two rather unpleasant pieces of news.
1. It would cost R700 (about US$100) for them to send me the new card. This would have been absolutely fine if it hadn’t been for the second piece of news:
2. It would take 7 to 10 WORKING days for the card to arrive.
This rather boggled my mind, especially since the agent I was dealing with couldn’t give me a definite arrival date for the card. When you’re travelling, it’s nice to have some idea when something critical like a credit card is going to be delivered to you. Fortunately, I was planning to spend 12 days in Los Angeles, arriving there three days after my call, giving Nedbank more than two weeks to get the card to me. Unfortunately, this fell over the Christmas season, which meant Nedbank and their chosen courier would fail to accomplish anything over the public holidays as well as the weekends. Nonetheless, even though she couldn’t specify a date, the agent I spoke to assured me that the card would definitely reach me before I left LA.
Of course it didn’t.
By Christmas Eve, I started to suspect I’d been fed a load of hooey. More than two hours of frustrating international phone calls later, they still couldn’t tell me if the card had even left South Africa yet. It certainly didn’t seem as if it would reach me in Los Angeles. The best I could do was to arrange for the card to be forwarded to me in Buenos Aires, where I will evidently have to sit and wait until it arrives. The best estimate I’ve been given for its arrival date there is 10 January, which means I will have been stranded without access to my money for an entire month.
Thank God for dear friends and family who have put money into my Skype account (for those aeon-long phone-calls to unhelpful and blatantly indifferent Nedbank staff), sent me Amazon gift vouchers (so embarrassing to be unable to buy Christmas gifts for my hosts), fed me, housed me and lent me cash to buy luxuries like shampoo and bus tickets.
To everyone else, I really feel I need to say this:
If you ever travel, close your Nedbank account and get an FNB one. Then you probably won’t need to worry about being stranded overseas without access to your own money. Honestly, it shouldn’t be a big deal to lose a credit card overseas these days, but Nedbank does their best to make sure that it’s a lesson you don’t ever want to learn again.
(Oh yes, and bring two credit cards – one Visa, one Mastercard – just in case.)