Thursday, July 7, 2011

Whoops I dun it again

I am card-less.


Bank card-less that is.

When we first moved here four years ago I treated my sparkly new German bank cards with the same casual manner that I treated my English ones. Stuff them in my purse and forget about them until I need to flex the plastic. Never had any problems.

But it turns out that German cards are a little more sensitive and less hard wearing than their English counterparts. Maybe this is due to the credit based nature of English society requiring durable plastic, whereas Germany is still very much a cash based society, here visa is what you need as well as your passport to get into some countries, not something to use instead of cash.

My first Commerzbank card didn't last a year, I had to go grovelling into our local branch (had to make a note of their opening hours first, because they take an hour for lunch and some days they shut early in the afternoon) and beg for a new card.

The second card lasted even less time. They weren't amused. I had to undergo a full interogation as to how I had managed to knacker two cards in such quick succession. This interogation session did have a result though (as well as the new card) as I was informed that it was probably the magnetic clasp on my (new) purse that was ruining the bank cards (funny how it was only the Commerzbank cards that couldn't cope with a bit of magnetism eh?)

That replacement lasted until this week. I was running low on cash (not a sensible thing to allow to happen here in 'cash is king' Deutschland) and went to the bank. There are two machines, one's an 'in&out'* and the other is just an 'out'. I tried the one, it asked for my PIN and then the amount, thought about it, chuntered to itself, and then told me my card wasn't valid and to please use one that I tried the other machine and got the same reaction. I'd have gone into the bank there and then but just as the 2nd machine was thumbing its nose at me the staff went to lunch, leaving me to turn the air blue and walk away empty handed.

I went back yesterday, tried the machines again (just in case a miracle had occured) and then went inside to accost some innocent bank teller. I told him my card was 'kapputt' and I told him what had happened. First he checked the bank account (to make sure it wasn't empty) then after much umming and ahhing he got me to show him how it didn't work...He got quite excited when the card wasn't immediately rejected, trying to tell me that it wasn't kapputt, that it was working again. So I told him to wait and then the machine performed its trick for him and he had to confess that the customer was right and the card was indeed knackered.

20 minutes it took to get a new card ordered and still I have no cash - I'm reduced to borrowing from the 14 year old son (who usually has more cash than me) and begging off Simon.

Fortunately we have another bank account (with a different bank) so I do still have an active bank card (therefore shopping is not impeded) unfortunately there isn't a cashpoint in Kettwig that takes this card.

Another cloud on my horizon - each new bank card comes with a new PIN...and no opportunity to change the PIN either. Crap. I'm rubbish at remembering PINs, and the expired card had such a lovely PIN, I could remember it and now I have to try and wipe it from my memory and prepare a space for a new one. Bugger.

* the 'in and out' machine is amazing. You take along all your loose change (except Germans NEVER have loose change as they ALWAYS count out every single bean in order to pay the cashier the exact amount) and tip it into the hole in the machine, stick in your bank card and the machine then sorts and counts everything before depositing it into your account. A-mazing. The weird thing is though that it only takes x number of coins, anything over x gets returned to that must mean I'm supposed to count out the coins so that I deposit only the right number...not happening.


Jayne said...

I wonder if that particular bank card is actually really sensitive Verena, or if it's literally a case of it getting the nadgers with your handbag every couple of months? I sympathise with you, because for whatever reason, you always end up feeling guilty when the card is buggered, when 9 times out of 10 the reason for it being buggered has got nothing to do with you!
My 'cash card' recently got refused at my bank ATM & the 'excuse' spat out by the ATM was that it wasn't valid. I nearly threw a right wobble - how can it not be valid? I went into the bank & a nice lady at enquiries explained to me that numberless cards were extinct & she had no idea how I'd been allowed to use my card for so long! Thankfully I was issued with a new card, with the same pin, so all ended well :-)
I have to ask tho' - what possible reason does the bank give in order for you not to be able to change your PIN?

Anonymous said...

This may be a year later, but it's the same issue I'm having (relocated to German in the last few months)!

My card never worked from the start in ATMs, and I just assumed it hadn't been activated yet. It *does* work in shops with with chip and PIN though.

My wife's card is the opposite - it works in ATMs, but doesn't work in shops!! And today it has even stopped working in ATMs!

I'm surprised I couldn't find any other blogs etc on this subject - all the others must be in German!!