Thursday, 23 January 2020

The Spanish Bank Card Saga and associated ramifications

This is a complicated story that as is usual in such cases commenced from humble,simple beginnings.It may provide entertainment, but far more skilled storytellers and wordsmiths would probably do a far better job of outlining this woeful tale.


I have regularly travelled to Spain for the previous 20 years and 3 years ago decided a Spanish bank account would be a useful addition. I duly opened an account at my local branch of Banco Sabadell(from now referred to as BS) in La Jonquera and received a Visa debit card, usefully, this card was acceptable through the French autoroute tolls and at all petrol outlets en-route. The card had an expiry date of Feb 2020. In October 2019 I sent an e-mail to BS requesting that,when due, a new card be sent to my UK address, followed up by a visit into the branch in November to reinforce that request problem was the response.

Unexpected Recent Trip to Spain 

Last Friday 17/1/20 I received the tragic news of the death of a dear close friend who lived in Spain, and that the funeral was to be on Monday 20/1/20 so with zero time to organise much other than booking ferry and hotels en-route using my BS card we set out virtually immediately, arriving at a hotel in La Jonquera on Sunday, close to where the funeral was to take place the next day. The BS card used without incident for tolls and fuel.
As I had not received my replacement card with less than 2 weeks before expiry I decided yet again to go into the BS branch on the morning of the funeral to reiterate the necessity of providing this replacement card in good time and sending it to my UK address. I signed a form and thought no more about this, but the ramifications were just about to begin.
Later that day following the funeral we called into a Spanish supermarket, filled a trolley up with vast amounts of Kas(Spanish soft drink), San Miguel (lager) and other delicacies. To our horror the transaction was refused, even removing the bulk of the contents the card was still refused. Luckily we still had some cash remaining, so purchased a vastly reduced quantity of 'goodies' and resolved to call into BS in the morning to sort the issue out.

Storm Gloria 

When we arrived in Spain on the Sunday it was a balmy afternoon of sunshine and 14 degs C, however Google and the local weather forecast was full of dire warnings for the next 3 days, again we were only mildly interested in this thinking it would have minimal impact. The storm seemed to commence just prior to the funeral on Monday am with torrential rain and high winds, by the time next morning when we wanted to go to the BS branch to sort out our card woes, the weather had continued to worsen and all main roads into and out of Spain( at La Jonquera) were closed due to snow,flooding etc. Our hotel had a power cut just about 2 hours before the bank was due to open and yes you have guessed correctly by the time we fought our way through the carnage of backed up lorries and cars....the bank was closed.
I could continue this horror story with further details where my partner Eirlys, given instruction to try the card in a BS card machine to see if 'active' put it into a non-proprietary machine and the duff card retained - after I went into this bank to ask for the return of the card, they gave the helpful(???) advice of going to BS and ask for a new card,and refusing to return my card.
We had decided at this stage that the only plausible way of escaping Spain was to travel via the tortuous coastal route, but that we would need some money for the journey. Combining the two requirements we travelled to Llanca where amazingly I went into a BS branch without card but showed passport and driving licence and after a little hassle secured 400 euro. This allowed us to commence our journey home.
A few minor dramas continued but we managed to get home at 04:00, 23/1/20

BS seem to have angry disgruntled customers with a very poor rating,1,,,

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