Monday, November 15, 2010

Losing a credit card in Spain

I recently had the wonderful experience of losing a credit card. Actually I didn’t really lose it. It turns out that my bank never actually had the correct street address in their files, which resulted in somebody else receiving all our bank statements for the last two years. Stupid me thought we just had switched to paperless billing.

Finally this came to a head when my bank tried to send me a new credit card, as the old one had expired. After two weeks, I got an email telling me I should come to the office to sign for the card. So I walk to the bank office and sign the documents and then ask them for my card. “We sent it to your address,” they said. I hadn’t received it, so we checked the address they had on file. It was wrong.

We tried to correct it, but the computer kept “fixing” the address back to some other street with a similar name. Finally, I was inspired to try the Spanish spelling of our street, which turned out to be the “official” name. Looks like our city government decided to go and change all the street signs to Catalan without actually changing the official name.

So now we had it fixed, and my new card arrived in the mail a couple days later.

Then last week I get a panicked email from my bank manager… “Did you use your previous card to pay for the toll in the tunnels?” Oh shit. I had heard this story before from a friend of mine. He actually had to close his account and switch banks because somebody kept using his stolen bank card to pay for the tolls.

Turns out that tolls and parking lots don’t do online validation of credit cards and thus don’t know about stolen or non-activated cards. For some reason, instead of just rejecting the charge, banks are nice enough to charge the customer anyway. How they get away with something so obviously wrong is beyond me.

Apparently the only way to get around this is for me to go to the “Comisaria de Policia” and file a report stating that the card is lost and that I never had it. Once I have this in hand, I can go back to the bank and have them cancel the charges on my account. In addition, I need to keep monitoring the account until 2015, when the card expires, since there’s nothing stopping them from continuing to use it.


Ashleigh said...

Wouldn't happen to be Santander would it...I still haven't gotten one of my cards and it's been over a year...ugh!

santcugat said...

Not Santander... I happen to have ultra-enchufe at my particular bank, so it's really a matter of complete incompetence rather than anything else.