Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Blocked cash cards - time for action

How often do travellers have to complain before Natwest stops automatically blocking debit cards the moment they are used at foreign cash machines? It is now happening with monotonous frequency.

The bank, to be fair, provides an emergency telephone number which customers can call when it happens. I have used it and it works. But calling is not always convenient - if your mobile phone battery has run down, for example, or if you are in a hurry at an airport.

The computerised system, says the bank, is programmed to respond to "unusual activity". There is a lot of fraud, it says. The aim is to protect the customer. But when does unusual become unusual? Using the card at a different branch of Sainsbury's, in another British city? Elsewhere in the EU? And is it churlish to suggest the purpose, in reality, is to protect the bank?

Surely the system could also be set up to allow customers to record the destinations they are travelling to so that using the card abroad does not automatically trigger an alarm.

Come on Natwest. This is becoming tedious. How about showing some initiative and tackling the issue?

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