Recently, while traveling for business half way around the world to another land and culture, I wanted to trust things would go smoothly. However, when they didn’t, I tried not to panic. I traveled to Manila, Philippines last fall so I felt comfortable to return. I knew the area well, was staying at the same hotel and felt confident using the currency. Last fall, the hotel was able to exchange my US dollars for Philippine pesos and planned to do the same this time around.
I arrived at the hotel late in the evening and was meeting a colleague early in the morning since we had arranged to have a driver take us on a tour of the city. Before meeting the driver, I stopped by the desk to exchange dollars for pesos. The hotel was no longer able to exchange currency but it was necessary for us to leave for the tour before the banks opened. It was vital to find an ATM and as luck would have it, there was one right across the street…..hip hip hooray! I put in my card, followed the directions, waited for my money and…………nothing happened. My card was returned but didn’t dispense the money I requested. Hmmm…..I wondered if they charged my card and decided I needed to call my bank immediately.
We ran back to the hotel and up to my room to make the call. The woman on the other end could see my request was declined. “Thanks, gotta run and catch the tour.” At the moment all I cared about was my card wasn’t charged, I would figure it out later. Thankfully, my colleague had enough to cover the cost until I could get to a bank. Unfortunately, we arrived back to the hotel after the banks were closed for the day and weren’t opened on Sundays.
No problem, we were determined to find another ATM. Again, followed the directions, waited for my money and…………nothing happened. WHAT THE? For the love of, what was going on? We ran back to the hotel and up to my room to call my credit card company…..again. For the second time, the woman on the other end could tell my card was declined. Ummm….”Can you tell me why?” She wasn’t able to figure it out and needed to call her manager.
OK, she explained……I must admit, it was user error. I was acting like I was using my debit card and not my credit card. She gave me instructions on what I needed to select. At the ATM select one of the following: Cash Advance, credit or line of credit. Awesome, I had it all down now and was confident I knew what I was doing.
I had a corporate card that I could use for business purposes, but needed cash for my personal use. I made a plan and would find another ATM directly after work, since the hotel desk attendant told me the bank/currency exchange was a far distance and could wait until the weekend. I left work that day feeling confident I would soon have pesos in my possession. It’s a little disarming not to have any cash, especially in a foreign country.
I located my third ATM, followed the new and improved directions, waited for my money and…………nothing happened. My card was returned AGAIN and didn’t dispense the money I requested. What the FREAK? Needless to say, the same thing happened at the fourth, fifth and sixth ATM……DECLINED…….I had no words! I swear, there must be a conspiracy going on………”Someone please tell me, why I can’t get my money?” LOL. At the time I’m writing this blog post, I’m getting ready to call the credit card company for the third time. Lord, give me strength and maybe just a peso or two.