Back in May 2015, I took a quick week long trip to the Iberian Peninsula. Starting from Barcelona and finishing in Lisbon passing by Porto. Everything went fine until my last night in Lisbon… Upon arrival, I encounter an unexpected event: strike on the metro. That surely did not leave me stranded as I was lucky to find a bus passing by the station and terminating in Restauradores. Yes, the bus terminated where I was exactly staying. Such a lucky coincidence! But what was quite unfortunate is my bank leaving me without money on that night and for the next 6 months…
I stayed in a very cool hostel: Good Morning Lisboa. It is very well located and I would particularly recommend it for the amazing breakfast included in the price of the stay. The all you can eat buffet includes fresh waffles and omelettes. Almost a 4 stars treatment! Anyway, shall I get to my problem or keep telling you about Lisbon?
Ok, a bit more about Lisbon. The city is absolutely stunning but it is quite crowded by tourists. It is not so nice but well, it was the start of the summer season when I was there. I had to queue to get to places of interest and one of them is the bakery Pasteis de Belem, the iconic Pastel de Belem with the secret ingredient is a delight. I could eat tons of them in one go. I love it!
Alright, on my last night in Lisbon, something unexpected happens. My credit card is not working on the ATM. I try several times but nothing… I immediately call my bank: Barclays. And I realise someone stole my money. On the spot, I freeze and take a break to think. I went to this pretty garden and observatory called Miradouro de São Pedo de Alcântara, where there was an awesome night view over the city. Perfect spot to just: THINK.
Luckily, I had 50 euros with me. It was enough to handle everything but what if this happened to me on day 1, what if it happens when I’m on a long trip somewhere far. Those were the questions I keep asking myself. Money is not everything but it is safety during travels. So, you want to know what Barclays did to solve my problem? NOTHING. Well, nothing during the next 4 months following my trip.
They identified that this was a fraud. But they mis-guided me over expensive phone calls made from Portugal, Morocco and UK. Their response was so slow that I did identify who was the person who stole my money by myself and faster. This ‘smart’ stealer must have taken my money digitally. He bought for himself flights with Ryanair. And thankfully, on my bank statement Ryanair booking number was available. So I went to Ryanair website and enter the booking details and bam! His name was there. The person who will be using my money to fly on summer holidays. I alert the bank but slow response again.
I started loosing faith in this case that I took help from a financial advisor company who was intermediate between me and poor customer service of Barclays. Their response started to be fast and they offer me £100 reward for my wait. I accept it hoping that it will be over very soon since they are aware that they took long time. But no, the £100 was for me to shut my mouth and let them mishandle this case as they want and when they want without any consideration of my money, my needs and my embarrassment in having my card payments declined due to insufficient funds.
Only almost 6 months after I report fraud, I finally get my money back. It was such a costly, tiring and exhausting process. And that only leads to the following conclusions and morals learnt:
- Barclays has the worst customer service!
- Never trust your bank in case of emergency
- Always carry cash when travelling
- Rely less on credit cards
- Consider taking a travel prepaid credit card
What was a dream city break in Lisbon turned into a nightmare that lasted 6 months after the trip. But still, I will always remember Lisbon’s lights, warm vibes and delicious delights.