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The ATM ate my card, and why I couldn't get it back.

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If it happened to me, maybe it could happen to you. So I am writing this in condensed outline format, so as not to burden you with unnecessary narrative. Will be glad to add more in response to any questions you have. This took place in June 2007.

1. My ATM card, issued by a major American Bank, was working in France, and I had used it to get Euros in several cities.

2. A French bank ATM ate my card in St. Emilion

3. The bank manager informed me that the bank could not return the card to me unless it was authorized by VISA France. Apparently VISA France had no information on the card, and therefore refused to authorize its return.

4. My bank discussed this situation with their “foreign desk” and “loss control” people, and informed me:
a) The French bank was wrong – as long as I could prove my identity they had to release the card to me.
b) Technically the card was their bank check card, and it was NOT a VISA card, it was only “branded” with the VISA logo – and that was probably why VISA France had no information about it.
c) As such, the bank informed me that it would not and could not divulge any confidential customer information to “third parties” – i.e. neither VISA nor the French bank.

5. I was having a problem understanding the nuance in 4b, as back at home on occasion I had used the card both as a debit and credit card at shops that accepted VISA cards.

6. I was unable to convince my bank to do anything that would get my card back. I concluded that with my limited French, and the French bank manager’s limited English, that there was no way I could successfully convince him that he didn’t need VISA France’s permission for him to return the card to me.

7, Therefore I did not try again to retrieve my card, and hence was unable to use it for the rest of my trip.

Any comments and thoughts are appreciated.

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