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The small frustrations ...

By Dave Snowden  ·  July 18, 2014  ·  Trivia

A pretty frantic day of meetings today including a few in one of the best Starbucks in the world, it even has its own mug and thanks to Zhen I have one!  It is in a converted colonial building (pictured) on two floors and is a good place to meet.  Very unstressed by Singapore standards and worth a trip if you are anywhere near. While that was relaxing I also suffered what is a periodic problem if you travel a lot, namely the fraud check.  

I'm pretty impressed with Mastercard in this respect as I have never had money stolen and about one time in five when they put a hold on my card it has been cloned or stolen so its a good safety net.  But boy is it stressful.   The first time it happened to be was in New Zealand many years ago.  The family were with me and I had a problem with my toe that involved medical treatment.  The staff at the medical centre did not realise they had to phone to verify I was present so they just said the card was not allowed and it then got barred so I could not use it anywhere.  in those days you had to wait for working hours to clear things and also my debit card has a cash limit (a sensible precaution against theft or hijacking).   That meant a weekend with family on very limited cash without wanting to tell them it was a problem.  We managed it but I got a reputation as very mean father denying ice-cream and other treats!

Now of course it is easier and you can phone.  They also send me a text message with a code word, but texts can take days to come through.   So you end up with a refusal to accept the card and much embarrassment all round.   I now carry more that one card and have the fraud team number in my mobile.  So it was a pain but after I had gone through the transactions it was all OK.  I tested it with an on line purchase then tried to use it in Little India to pay for a staff meal.  We told them before they took the card it needed a pin number (not common in Singapore) but they really were not listening, so they tried it without a few times, triggered another fraud check and there was no mobile signal and it all got difficult until I paid with a debit card.

Now that is day to day life if you travel but it really is stressful when the ordinary things you rely on stop working.   And you take it for granted!  When we first went on holiday we had euro-checks and you could only go to banks during working hours.  Mind you they were progress over travellers cheques.  Its not the big things that hit you, its the small things on which you depend not working that is the problem