Friday, December 14, 2012

it's in the cards

We have a new spectator sport in Melaque.

Well, not so new.  It all started last winter when Banamex installed two new ATMs -- the only ones in town.

For some reason, the winter tourist crowd from Up North had a terrible time last year getting pesos out of the machines.  The culprit appeared to be those new-fangled cards with embedded chips. 

Most Americans had the old-fashion easy-to-use cards where the banks eat fraudulent charges and then feed them back to the consumer.  But most Canadian cards had been Europeanized with a chip that is supposed to provide additional security.

Apparently, security so effective that the cash cannot be retrieved -- even by the cardholder.

But there were -- and still are -- other issues. 

On Monday, I withdrew money from my American checking account using my debit card.  As I stood in line (a long, slow-moving line, mind you), I noticed the machines were not treating northerners very well.

And it was easy to see why.  Many of them simply were not following the directions.  And their cards were rightfully rejected.

Now, I could have stepped up to help, but two things held me back.

First, we know that you are not to take assistance from anyone other than a bank employee when using an ATM.  And, if I am anything, I am a lickspittle when it comes to regulations.  (Just go with me on this one.)

The second reason?  Well, I will let you guess.  The day had not been amusing up to that point.

When it was my turn, I stepped up to the machine, whipped out my debit card, and punched through the steps with hare-like alacrity.  I pinned the bank machine.  And left with peso-festooned fists.

On Wednesday, I needed more pesos to settle some debts that arose in my absence -- and to prepay some bills for my upcoming trip north.  So, I returned to an ATM line just as long.  And just as mistake-ridden.

Out came my card.  In went the data.  And -- my card was rejected.  Throwing caution to the wind, I tried three more times.  Same result.  No cash.

When I got back to the house, I had both a telephone call and an email waiting.  From my bank.  Not the debit card bank.  But my credit card bank.  An entirely different establishment.

They were notifying me that my card was suspended for suspicious activity.  If I had any questions, I was to call.  I did.  And I did.

What bothered me is that I never use my credit card in Mexico.  No local businesses accept credit cards.  And the last time I used it was in Los Angeles -- on Sunday.

A young woman with a honey-suckle Tennessee accent took my call.  Asked me a few security questions.  And offered her assistance.

My credit card had been used in -- she spelled my village name -- for an amount of $471.29.  I told her that was impossible.  I had not used the card since Sunday.  But the amount sounded as if it was an ATM withdrawal of 6,000 pesos.

It hit me just as she said it.  I had grabbed my credit card, which was still in my wallet from my trip north, instead of my debit card.  The credit card usually rests in a safe place at the house.  I didn't even notice that it was black instead of silver.

All appears to be well.  I went to the ATM on Thursday afternoon.  With humble pie dripping from the corners of my mouth.  This particular dessert was thick with crow.  And my debit card worked.

The question is now whether my credit card will work when I get back to The States.  If it doesn't, I should have sufficient time to have a new one mailed to me.

Once again, I discover that hubris is simply a cul-de-sac on karma drive.


27 comments:

John Calypso said...

Card tricks - getting harder all the time to get your hands on your own money - hmmm

Steve Cotton said...

Of course, it helps when we simply follow instructions.

norm said...

I bought some Skype time the other day, my card was promptly put on hold. This order was made from my home computer here in Ohio not some far flung WiFi hotspot in the sun but a hold it was. Funny thing is, I bought the Skype credit mainly so I could call the yahoos at the card companies when they shut down my cards when I am at those far flung WiFi hotspots in my near future. A hoop you say? Well how high I say...

Robert Carter said...

I've done that exact thing before too Steve. Both cards are more or less blue so that's my excuse as well as the failing eyesight.

Steve Cotton said...

I put mine down to hubris.

Steve Cotton said...

They are closing in on you, Norm. They will next probably put a hold on your card for traveling to the bathroom.

norm said...

Well you know "they" can read a licence plate from outer space, why could they not see what I was up to in the can?

Shannon Casey said...

Not really such a bad thing that the credit card companies are watching for suspicious activity.

Shannon Casey said...

Lickspittle??? I had to look that one up too.

Felipe Zapata said...

I love to watch you part-time dabblers messing around down here.

Tancho said...

And instead of little fees, you now were saddled with cash advance fees.....silver and black look alike eh?
You are loosing it far to fast Amigo...
I am always annoyed when I get a call from the cred card,companies asking if I made a such and such transaction. All they would have to do is look 3 or 4 months back and see the same location's activties. they say they are doing it for MY protection, yeah right.....

Steve Cotton said...

Fortunately, the ATM did not cough up pesos. That would have been an expensive transaction.


As soon as the house sells, I will consolidate my three current accounts into one. That should make financial life a bit easier.

Steve Cotton said...

Dabbling is what I do best. I suspect that will be true even after the Oregon house sells. Whenever that will be.

Steve Cotton said...

One of my favorites.

Steve Cotton said...

On that, I agree. And it is one reason my credit card does not accompany me out of the house in Mexico. I have not used it once in four years here.

Steve Cotton said...

Coming soon on YouTube.

Andean said...

"Messing around" can be quite entertaining. Why else would we keep coming down?? :)

sparks said...

Hopefully your bank is challenging the withdrawal that you never got

Steve Cotton said...

It is. The card has no cash withdrawal authorization on it.

barbara eckrote said...

Isn't it true that men don't ask for directions? So why would they read instructions?............

Steve Cotton said...

Interestingly, the sexual mix of customers who made entry mistakes were split about half men and half women. It must have been the sun.

Kim G said...

I've done that more than once. And each time I do it, I keep meaning to change the credit card PIN to something different. It's very annoying really. One innocent mistake, and suddenly one is paying cash advance fees, etc.



Saludos,


Kim G
Boston, MA
Where we don't want some government agency to protect me from my own stupidity.

Steve Cotton said...

To avoid that, my credit card is pinless. I don't need no stinkin' agency protecting me from my stupidity. What would I do for blog material then?

DonCuevas said...

Welcome to the club, Steve.

Saludos,

Don Cuevas

Steve Cotton said...

I guess we just play the cards (credit and debit) we are dealt.

DonCuevas said...

I would tell about the lío bancario that befell us in late October, while trying to withdraw cash to pay a sizable hospital bill in Morelia, but I won't, as I don't discuss my banking nor medical matters online. But it was a madrazo.


Saludos,
Don Cuevas

Steve Cotton said...

Without tales of medicine and finances, i would be a mute voice in cyberspace.