Stranded in EU by Kiwibank

TLDR: Someone didn’t do their job. Note that this post isn’t aimed at anyone personally. I’m sure all involved were trying to do their best to resolve the situation. But Kiwibank, you can do better. Lets make amends.

Current Situation.

I have €22 Euros in cash. I have an approx range of 80kms of fuel left in my tank. I am 385kms from home base. Although I have funds, I have no access to them. Its 11pm at night and I’m trying to sweet talk the hotel owner.

My German is bad.

Back Story.

Prior to leaving for overseas, I informed Kiwibank of my departure dates and a list of all of the countries I was to visit while here in Europe. I knew that overseas transactions would be deemed fraudulent since I’m a kiwi so wanted to ensure my card wasn’t blocked. The first couple of weeks went without a hitch. I made purchases in Germany, paid my hotel in Denmark and took out $100 Krone in cash at an ATM in Norway. All was looking good but then I started to get declined…

About to start my first leg down to the Stelvio Pass, I thought it prudent to contact Kiwibank again to confirm my card was A-OK. First by their personal online email, but after hitting send and being given a x2 day wait time for reply, I thought better of it and called directly. I was given the all clear.

“Yes your card is fine & we see you are overseas as already noted on your account at this time”.

Great I thought. Must just be unlucky with the terminals here, eg some Supermarkets in Germany don’t accept credit cards as do some petrol stations. But after being declined multiple more times and running super low on cash reserves, I had to call again. This time is was after hours, no customer service staff so I went through to report a stolen credit card….

The Pinch.

This guy seemed legit and immediately told me that a block had been placed on my card. WTF??? But didn’t I just call a couple days ago to confirm that it hadn’t???

“Be cool” he said, “I can unblock it and funds will be available instantly.” going on to exclaim that “someone hadn’t done their job”.

Happy that all was legit, I had a latte….so French! 10mins later I attempt the ATM…..EPIC FAIL!

I attempted to call back. No answer.

I repeatedly attempt to call back.

No answer.

So now I am sitting and waiting for NZ customer support hours…hoping I can get this sorted so I’m not under a tree for the evening…

Resolutions anyone?

After numerous calls via my mobile phone, through numerous CS members, I finally got Josh, a manager assigned to my issue. With all of the resets to my card, attempts to make purchases, using ATM’s from different banks checking the Cirrus and Visa + symbols. Still no funds. At least I still have “some” charm and manage to twist the hotel owners arm. This eve I have a roof over my head.

An actual resolution.

The next morning I attempt to use the card again. Still no luck. It’s after hours for the Kiwibank support team in NZ and the hotel clerk is beginning to “ask questions”. I was really trying to avoid taking the banks problem and making it my best friends’. But he comes to the party in an instant and “Western Union’s all of the monies”. All I need now is to get to the Post office.

Seriously?

Really Germany, when did you start having siesta’s?!?!

Finally.

So after eating some awesome Italian from my left over €22 Euros and being offered free beer via the Italian bartender after hearing my plight (I still have my charm), I manage to collect the funds! Walking back to the hotel to pay, I figure I should get a shot of the ATM machine that caused me such angst this morning and night before. It’s roughly 2:30pm, I insert my card and attempt to make the withdrawal. My camera focused on the screen. We go through the motions as I await the dreaded “This service is temporarily unavailable” message…

It works. Money spits out like it’s Xmas. My jaw drops and I want to shake something. Character building I think they call it. Well at least I can continue my ride now huh???

Contradictions.

1) After talking with the CS team, they revealed that they had only listed Germany as my destination of travel. In addition, I was told that my card was blocked due to attempting to make a purchase in Germany, France and Germany again. Travelling directly south from Cologne, Germany, you can easily see how you cross borders. But if this was true, how did I make purchases in both Denmark and Norway with no issue? Not to mention, my card started to decline well before my trip to the Stelvio???

2) When I’d figured out that there was 0% chance of getting any funds that evening, I asked “What can we do as a last resort, how can I get some of my funds?” I was informed that Kiwibank could do a “wire transfer” through VISA but would rather not. Also letting me know that such a transaction would still take 24 hours. But hang on! First, why would you not want to? I’m in need of funds that Kiwibank has blocked through no fault of my own? Second, the next morning my buddy here in Germany used Western Union to transfer me funds in around 10 minutes?!?! The longest part was the waiting in the queue. Why 24 hours?!?!

3) After having my card decline the next morning, I call Kiwibank again. As it’s after hours for the support team in NZ, I go through to the Stolen Credit Card option. The support agent tells me that there are definitely no blocks on the card and all should be fine. I ask if there are any other notes re: getting a “wire transfer” but this time the support agent tells me they don’t have access to those details about my account. Funny I thought, being that the first support agent for stolen cards had no issue seeing my account notes with my access number?

Retrospective.

I certainly don’t have any annoyance at anyone personally. My annoyance comes from me taking explicit steps to not have this situation occur, and it still did?!?!

So Kiwibank, some questions.

1) What can/could I do (or any other traveller) to ensure this doesn’t happen again?

2) Do you think that 2 days is an acceptable lead time for an online email response?

3) Why would a Visa wire transfer take 24 hours when a friend can do it in 10 minutes?

4) Why would you “prefer not” to complete a wire transfer to a customer in need?

5) Being that I took reasonable steps to ensure I always had available funds, will you be willing to cover the costs associated with my mobile phone calls back to your Support team? I’m not asking for any reparations for the lost time incurred for myself or my best mate. But mobile phone calls from Germany to Wellington ain’t gonna come in cheap.

Kiwibank, you have a real opportunity here to make a bad situation good. I’ll leave that up to you.

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