Last year when were in Australia we were devastated to see all our money drained out of our French bank account, but after overcoming some language difficulties we reported the problem, had our cards cancelled, and eventually had our money refunded. (We reckon our details were skimmed during the one and only time we used our French card when travelling through the U.S.)
Our new cards never arrived in the mail (neither in Australia nor in France) so at the first opportunity we enquired face to face at the bank in France. Sounds simple enough doesn’t it?
Unfortunately the local branch is not where our account was originally opened and, unlike Australia, you must deal directly with your own branch – they don’t seem to even know how to contact other branches, let alone have access to records. Rather archaic. Ours is a 40 minute drive away, they don’t speak English, and are only open in the mornings. Very limiting.
It took us many visits to the local branch before we finally collected our new card (notice the singular!) Each time we managed to get our message across and each time they phoned our branch and organised for our new cards to be sent out. Each time we were told ‘two weeks.’ But in 2 weeks, no luck, and we had to go through the whole process again! How can it be so difficult?
Luckily during the months this took to sort out, we relied on our chequebook, which is as good as cash in France because extremely stiff penalties apply for passing rubber cheques.
Moral of this story? Make sure you open your French bank account at the branch you intend to visit!