Trip Start Jun 12, 2007
129Trip End Ongoing
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
It's been a busy few weeks trying to get everything sorted and meeting up with friends and family for farewells.
At this point in time, John is so nervous that I don’t mention the trip at all to him – only when he speaks about it first or if I think the information I have will ease his mind a bit – and I’m quietly going around in the background getting everything ready. He really, really wants to go and I know he’ll be just fine once we actually get going, but right now he’d be the first to admit that he is more than a little anxious!!!
We ended up with a trip into Central London yesterday that we hadn’t anticipated. Every time we go abroad outside of Europe our Barclays bank debit cards get stopped. It doesn’t seem to matter if we ring and inform them beforehand or not, we use them once and the next time we go to use them they’ve been put on stop, then follows the rigmarole of trying to get hold of someone at Barclays to activate the card again. Bearing this in mind I discovered that Barclays did a prepaid travel money card, where you top the card up with money prior to travel and along the way, with a guarantee that it won’t be stopped for any reason – perfect – or so I thought, until I went about trying to open one!!!!
Barclays website tells you its easy – if you have an account with them, just go into any branch as they can only do it in a branch and they’ll open it there and then, brilliant right? Wrong …. you go into a branch and they don’t have a clue what you are talking about and when they realise, they tell you it can only be opened over the phone. I spent a more than frustrating 30 odd minutes in the company of Barclays personnel very happily telling me the rates and what the card does – once she’d eventually found information on the system – all of which I already knew and patiently (for the first 30 minutes) explained that I was fine about what the card actually does, I just want to open one – long story short, I was turned away as 'no one knows how to do it’ and assurances that her manager had to send someone away a few days ago as well because she didn’t know how to do it then either – really didn’t warm me to the situation.
John was originally the one who wanted and suggested this card and when I told him of the outcome, henceforth started a great game that took all day long ringing and ringing and ringing various Barclays numbers we were given – all to no avail as when you ring and eventually actually get hold of a human being the person either knows nothing about the product at all – or, the one person who did assured us that you can simply open one by going into any branch!!! Hmmm tried that one. Eventually John wrote Barclays a complaint email as he’d left 3 unanswered phone messages about it with various people – and one time did manage to get someone who assured him that they would email a branch manager immediately to call us – and again they didn’t, that was nearly a week ago now!!! Upon returning home on Friday (3 days later), John had a letter waiting for him from Barclays – saying basically thank you for telling us your concerns and we’ll get back to you no later than 7th January 2011!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yep helpful, we’ll be long gone by then and following the hassle we’ve had even trying to open the damn thing with them you can forgive us for totally going off the idea of using them at all. If we can’t get anyone who knows anything about it while we’re still here, then what happens if you have a problem once you’re off and away!
In amongst all of this I had also managed to lose one of my bank cards, so I had phone calls going back and forth about that too – and with all the other things I’m trying to get done, time rapidly running out and Johns anxiety about the trip in general, plus him trying to get everything documented and handed over at work - the stress levels in the household were rising high! We never once lost our cool with each other at all, but I wouldn’t have wanted to be on the receiving end of some of Johns phone calls!!
So, we found a company called Travelex, recommended by Which, who do a form of prepaid travel card called a ‘Cash Passport Globe’ and they charge less per transaction than any bank normally charges for money withdrawal overseas and it’s a whole lot easier to access information and top up than Barclays anyway. Only one small inconvenience, due to our lack of time following Barclays messing us around for so long and the postal service being what it is at this time of year, we only had one option – to go into Central London to collect the cards. This we did late yesterday afternoon – Caroline and Femi came with us and with them leading the way through the crowds we were at our destination in no time and had the cards in our mitts within minutes – so here is a big shout out for Travelex, if you want one of these cards – deal with these people, in all our dealings with them we have been given immediate, helpful and pleasant responses. Obviously we have yet to use the cards, but if the pre-service is anything to go by, I have full confidence in them.
Now the real countdown has begun – some more farewells coming up this week – I’m hopeless at them, so no doubt there will be a few tears.
Soon the journey begins!!!!