Tuesday, September 16, 2014

How I Spent the Summer Banging My Head Against a Brick Wall of Bureaucratic Futility, pt. 1

A few month ago I noticed that my credit card was about to expire in August. I was pretty sure that the bank sends you a new credit card automatically, but I called customer service just to confirm and was told that they would send it to my house by the end of August.
It was nearing the end of August and I was getting a bit anxious. I didn't want to be in the position where I was stuck without a credit card for a few days. Who can predict when you'll suddenly need to buy a plane ticket to the Cayman Islands or withdraw a suitcaseful of cash? Certainly not me. I mentioned the fact that I still hadn't received my credit card to my father and he informed me that he and my mother had received theirs a few weeks before (we'd opened our bank accounts at the same time). Well that did not bode well for my chances of receiving it.
I decided to go to the bank and talk to one of the bankers since reaching a human being through the customer service number is a painful ordeal, no matter what company (internet, phone, satellite company- doesn't matter) you're trying to get to serve you. After 20 minutes and the sum total of 3 people (out of at least 10) progressing through the line, I decided that recorded messages telling me to press a succession of numbers were not as bad as previously considered.
According to the customer service representative, my credit card had been mailed to me on July 25th. She made this statement as if that solved all of my problems. Ah, well, if it was sent out 3 weeks ago with my parents' cards which were received 2 weeks ago, then I'm sure it's on the way. Because the post office's track record is so stellar that I shouldn't even consider the fact that it fell out of the truck 5 minutes after being loaded into the truck and is probably even now floating out across the Dead Sea or being snacked on by Bedouin camels. Thank you so much for your help!
According to her, I had to wait 20 calendar days (of which I had waited 18) and that I should call back in a few days if I hadn't received it by then. I was like, great! Looking forward to speaking to you again in 2 days!
Obviously the post office didn't magically reappear my mail Harry Potter style, so I called customer service again in 2 days and the representative informed me that he'd have to cancel my credit card and send a new one to the bank, which I'd be able to pick up in 3 business days. I raised my eyes to the heavens and let out a dramatic sigh.
“Well, if I've got no other choice, I guess you'd better do that.” Three business days fell out on a Friday (not part of the official Israeli work week), my bank branch was closed on Sunday, and Mondays I leave the house early in the morning for work, the gym, then more work. I was finally able to go back to the bank almost a full week after having my credit card canceled (luckily no spur of the moment business deals or flight from law enforcement officials had arisen). This required taking a number, and waiting for an hour watching the arbitrary letter/number system slowly tick by. My number was G104 which was called after F896, which was called after H67 which was called after G103. Most of the hour was spent listening to people try to haggle with the bankers over mortgage terms and attempting to figure out their number system (with little success). Finally, I was able to ransom my credit card from the hands of the bank, in exchange for a signature and my soul. I asked the banker if the card was a different number than the canceled card and she insisted that it was the same number as my old credit card. I informed her that that wasn't possible, since they had canceled my credit card in order to prevent credit theft. She maintained that it was the same number and asked if I knew my PIN or if she should order a new one, to be picked up at the bank in another 3 days. At this point I probably would have signed over my first born as well in order not to have to go back to that metaphorical pit of darkness so I let her know that I was all set.
At home I confirmed that the credit card number was definitely a new number, seeing as I had to change all of my online credit card information and one of my credit card payments had been denied. Over the next few days I made sure that my credit card was in working order and was quite relieved to find that I could make credit card payments.
Payday came around (yes, I'm working again, but that's a story for another day) and I was quite excited to deposit my check, having paid the 4,100 shekel down payment for school. My account was bordering on empty and in order to renew my gym membership and yearly bus pass, I was going to need funds. Well wasn't I surprised when I inserted my card into the check depositing machine outside the bank and my PIN was REJECTED. Turns out I require a new PIN after all.

I had to order a new PIN to be sent to my bank branch since sending it to my place of residence wasn't an option. This means that 5 work days later, I will be forced to return to the bank and wait for another hour, listening to people trying to haggle over their loan payments (this never works) with one of the 2 bankers present (for a population of 40,000) and attempting unsuccessfully to decrypt their number/letter cipher (which was clearly set up by the Soviets).

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