BPI International ATM card failure
Tags :  Services, Banking Services
Posted by :  TCEP
Posted on :  June 26, 2012

I have always relied on my international ATMs for funds when travelling abroad. I can't really see myself lining up at money changers, and I'm not a traveller's check kind of person either.

I have had my BPI Cirrus card since 2007 and have used it on numerous trips-it's never really failed me, until now, so you could imagine my disappointment.

June 2012 takes me to Europe for 7 weeks to attend to some pretty important personal business. The trip takes me to the UK and Italy, and in both countries I tried to use my card to withdraw Pound Sterling and Euros. The first time I used my card, it was fine and I was able to pull out a couple of hundred Pounds off the wall. It was the numerous succeeding attempts that failed.

Later on I find out from my companion (who also relies heavily on his BPI card) that an email was sent to him advising that international transactions are suspended due to some fraudulent activities. I agree that some measures need to be put in place if such is the case, but they need to also be thinking about how their preventive actions may affect travellers.

Actual email from BPI:


Please be advised that we have received reports from BPI concerning a few fraudulent transactions made thru international atms. Furthermore, they are making all the necessary safety measures to ensure that their depositor's funds are secured. In this regard, we would like to remind everyone to be extra cautious when making transactions thru an atm, whether you are a BPI or a non-BPI account holder.

Thank you.

Luckily, I had someone with me who is able to lend me money and I had my credit cards. I had panic-inducing visions of being in the middle of a more hostile place by myself, relying solely on the BPI promise to "Get cash anywhere in the world", on my knees in front of an ATM praying it would spit some money out.

It's not like it didn't work just one time, or only for a period of a week. I tried many, many times in the 7 weeks that I was away, and the same thing always happened (which is nothing). I was offered no alternative, no magic PIN to type in to prove my identity.

Where would this have left me if I had no backup or if there was nobody with me? I think I would have had to come hitchhike my way to the nearest Philippine embassy and beg for assistance.

What BPI should have done to avoid customer hassles:
  • BPI should have taken measures to make sure that the message reaches their customers. I cannot locate any advisory or press release on their websites (www.bpiexpressonline.com and BPI Europe) that talks about this shutdown. Nor can I find anything in Google.
  • The efforts of shortening customer wait time does not fall only on the front liner (in this case the cashier), but on the kitchen staff as well
  • Food is tastier when you don't have to wait standing for many minutes before you eat it!

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