Monday, August 10, 2009

the battle with citibank operators

The next few days are spent walking around Kuta trying to get Carito straightened out with her diving trip she is taking, hanging out on the beach and trying to kick the ear infection. The ringing is unbearable and the pain is painful. Still, I am in Bali. So Carito gets dialed in to head up to Northern Bali where she is meeting a guy so while sitting on the beach I strike up a conversation with a guy from the Santa Cruz area who is here surfing and he tells me what I need to know to get the ferry over to Lombok and off to Lakey Peak, where I plan on staying for a while. Talk to some people there and maybe head to Timor. Well, cancel that. Carito is getting her stuff together and I can't for the life of me find my goddamned debit card. WTF? I just had it. I never put it down, ever. It is always in my back pocket. I value that thing more than my passport! Well, it's not here. I still have my credit card as backup, thank god. Carito and I head over to the local bank and I'll be damned if the freaking card didn't expire in 2006! I never use it and haven't ever looked at the...ah forget it. I cut that thing in half and I talked Carito into spending her last night getting me sorted out with her Skype account. Making a call here is totally expensive-.80-1.00 per minute and I know that calling Citibank is going to take a while. We got over to the internet cafe and I how wonderful! I connected right away with a helpful and caring Citibank operator who understood my plight and truly wanted to help! Oh happy day. Carito wisely brought along the card for the hotel so I gave the hotel address, phone number and even the hotel owners email address to the operator and she assured me that a new card was being sent out right then! She would personally put it in the mail and it would be there by Thursday. It was Monday night. Well, I checked my pockets and I still had about 11 bucks in Rupiah so hell. No problem. A couple days posted up in the room, eat cheap. No beers. I can wait it out. Carito offered to loan me some cash but I put up my hand and proudly declined. I can wait a couple days. She was off in the morning and I did the usual. Off to the small cafe down the street for a bannana pancake and some strong coffee. About 4 bucks. That leaves me 7 bucks. Have a 3 buck dinner and I'm down to 4 bucks. One day to go. Thursday comes. And Thursday goes. No card and not nearly enough money left to make a call to Citibank. The three guys that work at the desk are aware of my delimma so they offer to pick up some dinner when they go to get there own. The usual meal here morning, afternoon, and night is either nasi goreng: spicy rice with a small bit of chicken, mi goreng: spicy noodles with a small bit of chicken or nasi champur, my personal favorite: rice with some sauce, bit of chicken and a small piece of tofu. Sometimes you get a little piece of eggplant if a piece accidentally gets caught up with the other stuff as the cook puts it together. The meal is wrapped up in a folded piece of construction paper and you eat with your hands. Mi goreng costs 5k rupiah, or 50 cents, nasi champur costs 75 rupiah, or 75 cents. I got down with the nasi champur. I also bought a can of melon juice with a rhinocerous on it. It tastes exactly like fresh honeydew melon. There is a photo of both. Well, Friday passes. I get one meal. Saturday passes. I get one meal. Sunday passes. I get one meal. Still no card. I pool all of my money and I have just over one dollar left. I head out to the internet cafe and get the number for Citibank. I then go to a couple local vendors and find one who will let me use their phone to call a toll free number. The next ten minutes I spent trying to convince the citibank employee that I was on a borrowed phone and she had typed my password in wrong, transposing two letters. If I could have reached thru the phone, I swear to god. I finally convinced the lady and she put me on hold. What? AAAAAAAAH! All the while the phone's owner is trying to get me to give her the phone back but I am almost there. They are going to tell me where the card is! Almost there! 5 minutes later the lady gets back on the phone to tell me that the address I gave her was incorrect and that UPS tried twice to deliver but could not. "Where is the card now?", I ask. "I don't know", she replies. "What do I do now?", I ask. "I can't tell you", she replies. I'm beside myself at this point. After I explain to her what a shitty situation I am in, she asks me if I want the tracking number. No. I don't want any possible solution to my problem. What's wrong with you lady? I get that out of her and hang up. I hand the phone back to the lady, who is visibly upset. I thank her profusely and make my way back to the internet cafe. 30 cents to use the internet long enough to get the address of UPS in Denpasar, where my card MIGHT be. No dinner that night. Monday morning rolls around and I head out to the road to get a motorbike driver to take me to the Denpasar office. Problem is I only have 10,000 rupiah left, or $1.00. It's past the airport and when I got here, it cost me 3 bucks just to get into town from there one way. I'm needing a round trip ticket here. I finally find a guy who is willing to take me. I don't think he knows how far it is and if I get the card from this office, which is no guarantee, I plan on kicking this guy some extra. Can't make that promise, though. This is my last buck. Were off and 30 minutes later we pull up to the UPS office. Up to the counter and I show my tracking number. The lady shrugs her shoulders and walks into the back. I follow her to the doorway and watch as she digs into a big pile of boxes. I'm looking for a credit card here. After a few minutes she reaches the bottom of the pile and pulls out an envelope with my name on it! Bastard! I have a look and the stupid Citibank operator didn't put the complete address. Whatever. I take out the card and try it in the closest atm. Nope. A second atm. No dice. It seems I need to call citibank to get it activated. I just have to laugh. I ask the guy to take me back to the lady with the phone. I'm leaving it up to her. If she says yes, ok. I get the card activated. No, I break the fcuking thing go sell my surfboard and my ipod on the street. We get back and the lady is in a great mood and hands the phone over to me! Nice! I get Citibank on the phone and again, with the password! Just activate the damn card so I can go to the atm. What do you mean it's not an atm card? They didn't send me an atm card, they sent me a credit card. I don't have a credit account with Citibank. WTF? Who decides how much $ I get? I just want my own money at this point. Citibank waves a magic wand and tells me to go to a bank and hangs up on me. WTF again. I cross the street to the closest bank and they don't do cash advances there but the other branch does, a mile away. I get the feet going and make it to this other branch. I show my card and my passport and they hand me money. I should have been more careful with that damn debit card.


  1. damn man, that was the most stressful read I've ever had. Hang in there and keep your head up. Love your story.

  2. I think we all should pool our money and send it to gabe his adventures are to good end. make contact with ross and he will handle the details

  3. Thinking about taking out a personal loan for the poor, poor guy. So sad!

  4. Its hilarous that you have to ditch the motorbike guy. Write a book!

  5. Stressful indeed! I'll send a $20 for another story.


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