I lost my wallet on the night of March 14th. Since then, I’ve been living off the goodwill of Faulkner and Sam. Which, in itself, is getting a little old.
Of course, I called my bank— Bank of America— the first day I could. They didn’t make it easy. If you go to their website and click “Contact Us”, it will take you to this convenient list of phone numbers. However, if I do the same, the site will detect I have a Washington account and redirect me to this less convenient list of phone numbers.
To report lost or stolen ATM/Debit card or credit card, please call the telephone number below. Customer service for lost and stolen cards is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Internationally: Use the International 800 Access code from your country of origin
Good luck finding an “international 800 Access code.” But, in case some hapless traveler stumbles across this page, I’ll summarize the
possible ways to contact our bank:
- 602-597-2395 (Card Services): This is the (previously) unpublished International Collect direct access number. Use it!
- 315-724-4022 (???): This is the published International Collect access number. But, you need an “access ID.” If you use 0, an automated system will ask for your account details and social security number. Then, it will say no one is available and hang up on you.
- 800-848-6090 (Card Services - Lost and Stolen): This number, as well as the next two, are free only when calling from the States.
- 877-833-5617 (Card Services - General)
- 800-442-6680 (Customer Support - General): This is the wrong number. Don’t call it unless you want to be on hold for upward of 20 minutes. Not because of call volumes; but, because you’ll be routed through two levels of support since you’re overseas.
Guess which order I learned these numbers? And, bonus points if you noticed that there are no published International Collect access numbers.
First Try: A New Hope
Around noon on March 16th (US/Pacific Time), Bank of America’s Lost and Stolen card department received a phone call from one David Robinson. He probably sounded a little frantic since he was calling internationally from a pre-paid cellphone. That’s really expensive as it stands. But, in New Zealand, making voice calls at all is very expensive.
He was worried about how long he’d be on hold.
But, he politely reported his card stolen. The representatives were polite and helpful. He was transferred between Lost and Stolen to Emergency Card Services. His address in New Zealand was taken down, and it was promised that his new card would be delivered in less than a week.
His stolen card is the one linked to his pre-paid cellphone. So, just before the card is canceled, he tops off his phone with $100 in credit... just in case.
Second Try: A Week Passes...
A week and a day passes, and Bank of America receives another call from one David Robinson. He’s a little worried that the promised courier never contacted him. He’s politely informed that the card was sent to his home address.
He asks what happened. One hour, three departments, and four representatives later... his call is dropped. He learned the following:
- His card was mailed to his Washington state P.O. Box.
- Or, his card wasn’t mailed at all?
- As he changed his address recently, no card can be mailed to him.
He calls again. Thirty minutes, two departments, and three representatives later... he’s accidentally transferred to VISA Emergency Card Services.
He also receives a text message from Vodaphone: “Congrats. U’ve got a free weekend of VF2VF Calls and TXTs. All the VF2VF Calls and TXTs you send this Sat and Sun are FREE. Enjoy!” This means the previous phone call was over $10.
The VISA representative thought he was a bank associate. She wasn’t used to dealing directly with customers! But, she did understand the game. In a few minutes, she had a chagrined representative from Bank of America on the phone. Every time the Bank of America representative dropped the ball, the VISA representative would pick it up. “Uhh, what phone number can I reach you at?” “In New Zealand? 021-202-3139.” “Umm, actually, I don’t know how to call internationally...” “011 64 and then drop the zero on 021.”
Wham, bam! The VISA representative then asked to call back in 30 minutes, promising she’d have all the details taken care of by then.
Mr. Robinson received that phone call in fifteen. “Your account was opened in Washington, which makes it different than most Bank of America accounts. I’ll be able to finish this in the morning.”
Moral of the story: call VISA. They have all the information, and are exceedingly professional. VISA publishes their card services numbers. And, while their New Zealand access number (0800-44-3019) cannot be called from mobiles or payphones— making it nigh useless— their direct number will accept International Collect charges.
Third Try: Despondence
While David was sleeping, he missed a call from VISA. He quickly figured out that VISA’s New Zealand access number didn’t work from mobiles. So, he wandered over to the nearby Britomart Transport Centre in search of a payphone.
Two payphone calls and one conversation with a Telecom operator later, he wandered back to his flat. Not too far of a walk since he lives in the former Auckland Railway Station! And, in the intervening weeks, he’s gotten Internet access so... Skype it is!
- VISA Representative
- “Bank of America denied your request for a replacement card.”
- “I thought they authorized it yesterday?”
- VISA Representative
- “Yes, but they denied it today.”
VISA got Bank of America on the phone again. The bank representative noted the following:
- She didn’t know why the request had been denied.
- She had no information on the previous week’s requests, as they were marked “completed” and then purged.
- She would put in a request for an express delivery of a replacement bank card.
Oddly, there were no supervisors available. She took down David’s number in New Zealand and promised someone would call him back.
Fourth Try: Remember the Basics
He waited five hours. It’s not as if he expected a phone call back. Mostly, he was waiting a good amount of time hoping his request had made some progress in monolith’s systems.
David grew up with his Father regaling him with stories of his travel overseas. Often his Father would over-extend himself, and find himself stuck somewhere... sick and tired. In those times, he needed the help of strangers.
David internalized the lesson of the shit-eating grin at a young age.
Bank of America received another call from David. Falsely chipper and positive, he explained his situation and inquired about the status of his recent request. The representative responded warmly to his upbeat tone, and honest sounding P’s and Q’s. She let him know the following:
- The previous week’s requests had been canceled in a variety of ways.
- The extended duration of his trip precluded the authorization of an “emergency” VISA card.
- A request for an “express courier” of a new bank card had been authorized and put through.
- Her department would have a tracking number available by Friday.
- She had updated his service log to note that he’d be calling back for the tracking number.
When your bank gets you down, cool off and kill ‘em with kindness.
In my years of online shopping, Federal Express has never successfully delivered a package. I always have to drive to their local shipping center, and pick up my package. As it turns out, this unluckiness has continued in New Zealand.
Now I need to pay their local affiliate, Post Haste Couriers, a visit. And I need to get there within the hour. So— bye!