I check my bank accounts online every week, watching for payments from our renters and various other debits and credits, so when I saw a strange charge on January 25, I was on alert. I meant to call that day, but I got busy and forgot, the next day I got online to see if the strange $10 charge to Time Warner had been reversed, but found another $10 charge AND a charge for Redroof Inn (in South Carolina) for $269, it was certainly time to call Wells Fargo! As most of you know getting a banker on the phone is not an easy task, for us with our "home phone" being magic jack and plugged into the computer to get the best call quality we have to turn off all the downloads and extras so we can get a clear signal. (It's not magic jacks fault, it's the speed of our internet) Anyway, I get on the phone, and after I finally get a real person on the line (I'm pretty sure he said his name was Fonzie, hmmmmph) he tells me since the card was compromised, all he can do is freeze the card, even after I plea and tell him my story, living abroad yadayadayada, he still freezes the card. I try to get a supervisor on the phone, and after some time I do, but the card has already been "frozen for my protection", and it'll take possibly a week to be reimbursed.
Now the problem is getting new cards, I'm trying to get the supervisor to change the address on the account so the new cards can get sent to my mothers house, instead of our traveling mailbox...but he says he can't do that, well that gets Mike on the phone, which just gets us both hung up on, nice! I was going to call back, but at this point I'm livid, and just need to cool off. The next day I get online and change the address, but all I can do is transfer funds to our Ally bank account, this takes two to three days, luckily we never wait til we run out of cash. On February 1 I see the credit has been made. For now we are safe, one glitch is that the Ally card we are now having to use, is expiring...in March! So we have less than a month to get our new cards. Plenty of time?
So, the address is changed, and cards are to be sent out, rushed hopefully. But when after a week I've got no word from my mother, I call. No cards were sent out. Again my blood is instantly boiling! This is Charmaine, she gets the whole story, and then some! I've done some research and found things can be successfully sent here via FedEx or DHL, for us in this part of Ecuador DHL is the way to go. I've got the address of a DHL in Bahia, and Charmaine and I go round and round, yes this is the correct address, no there are no postal codes, please rush DHL, my card and my husbands replacement card, yadayadayada. She is to email me the next day with tracking number. And...she does! A couple days go by and I check the email again to get the tracking number, and upon closer inspection, she has sent them Fedex! I pull up the tracking number, and sure as shit they are sitting in Guayaquil flagged with a bad address! All I can do is call FedEx, of course being Sunday, I have to wait til Monday, I wait, I call, tell the story, she assures me it is all fixed, blah blah blah, will be delivered within 24 hours, another day of waiting, check the tracking number again...SENT BACK TO SENDER! She literally did NOTHING, there were two things wrong, one was it was listed to go to a residence, it was not, and the other was update address, wanted a cross street. Neither had been changed in the computer tracking system. Omg!
Another phone call to Wells Fargo, by now this has been going on a month, new cards to replace the ones sent FedEx were ordered on Feb 25, they were to be rushed to my Moms house, they weren't! We had to wait another 7-10 business days for them to arrive! They both arrived and she sent them via DHL, I sent the address cut and pasted from the DHL website, but the people in the office still asked for a postal code, another day of emails and they were sent. This was March 3. It cost her $63 for an envelope with only two debit cards. They arrived and were ready for pick up March 8, we went to Manta to pick them up, got home, tried to activate them...wrong PIN number. They were to send new PIN numbers, guess what, they didn't! By now our Ally card has stopped working, even though a call to them says it is still active. I had to borrow money from a friend, because we could not access either of our bank accounts!
Yet, ANOTHER phone call to Wells Fargo and this time all they can do is send a pin reminder, and there apparently is no "rush" option on this, so we have to wait another 7-10 business days, ARE YOU F-ING KIDDING ME?! And with Ally, Ive been in contact via email, anxiously awaiting our new cards at moms house, they tell me they are sent out 45 days prior to expiration, well this was 27 days before and they hadn't arrived, so new cards were ordered Mar 4...good grief! Finally this week, the pin reminder came and THANK HEAVENS it worked, and we were able to get cash. (For my card, Mike's card still hasnt received a PIN number, and an email said a new card might need to be issued, good grief!) The Ally card has arrived in Manta and we will go pick it up Monday, it takes $6 and change to ride the bus there and back, and a couple hours, but my gosh, it's a trip we will gladly take to put this fiasco behind us.
The card being compromised is unfortunate, but can happen anywhere, anytime, a lot of this hassle would be avoided if we were living in the States, we could have just gone into a branch and voila, temporary card. But, we choose to live here, and so every so often shit might hit the fan, we try to weather it the best we can. This blog is so much about teaching, and this was a lesson I knew I needed to share. It made me realize a "Top 10 things to know" post should happen, getting your banking set up before you move abroad would certainly be on the list. My mom went into her local Wells Fargo branch and asked about getting a signature card, could she sign it, send it to me, and have me scan it back, they said no. Everybody involved must be in person...we also didn't think to set up our account for wire transfers, and that too is something that must be done in branch. So many things we didn't think of, or know. But, now we do! So watch for a Top 10 post, and stay tuned...the adventure continues!
One of the reasons we live here, happening nightly...