May 27, 2024

I Lost My VISA In Paris, Why You Need A Backup Plan

Six days into my stay in Paris, I lost my Visa card. I frantically retraced my footsteps back to the cafe where I last used it, but it was nowhere to be found. Thankfully, I was able to lock my card in case someone had scoffed off with it. This prevented any further charges, and I could unlock it anytime if I found it. However, still uneasy without my card, I contacted Visa to request a new one.

I spoke with a woman from Visa, who confirmed my identity and reassured me that my new card would be couriered to my son’s apartment (requiring a signature and the safest option) in Paris within seven working days. Since it was Saturday, I realistically wouldn’t receive it until ten days after my call. Ten days!

Minutes before heading out for dinner, I switched handbags and noticed a black card—my Visa card!! F***k! I realized that I had used my digital credit card on my iPhone, not the physical card, for lunch. My card was still in my evening bag from the previous night. Ugh!

I immediately redialed Visa and endured the long-winded recordings and options: “Press 1 for English, press 3 for lost or stolen cards, press, press, press! “Hello, I’m your virtual advisor; how can I help you today?” Thank god I’m so patient 😉

I eventually connected with a human. Unfortunately, once a Visa card is cancelled, it cannot be reversed. Seriously, Visa, you need to rethink this policy. I explained to the agent, “But I literally JUST hung up speaking to a customer service representative.” Although sympathetic to my situation, the agent had no other solution than to wait for my new card to arrive in Paris.

Thankfully, I had some euros and my bank card with me, but not enough to last ten days. Not ideal.

Still no Visa

I’m a one-credit card person. I don’t need a bulging wallet (à la George Costanza) with credit cards from everywhere; one does the job for me (until now). Thankfully, I’ve never lost or had my wallet or credit card stolen. Ever! And yes, I’m knocking on wood as I type this.

I waited five workdays for the new card to arrive, but nothing. I was losing my patience and decided to get my bank involved. As a valued client, I hoped they might have some influence in expediting the process. Good plan! Yeah, no, not really. My bank cancelled the new card en route and had Visa reissue another card. I’m not sure if this was the best solution. A tracking number might have been more useful.

My bank reassured me that the new card would take two to four days to arrive. Perfect! They also confirmed that I could use my Visa card in my digital wallet, aka Apple Pay. I was shocked at how this updated automatically on my iPhone. Excited to try it, I used my digital card at a patisserie and then for lunch, but it was declined both times. So frustrating!

Call Security

In the meantime, I reached out to Visa once more, this time connecting with their security department for assistance with my digital card. Yet again, I found myself reciting my personal information for confirmation, which grew annoying. The process involved multiple conversations, prolonged holds, and even a disconnected call (btw, they aren’t allowed to initiate callbacks). I felt like a broken record, recounting my story for what felt like the hundredth time. “Please, stop declining my card! It’s meee!” I exclaimed in frustration. Giving them a full itinerary of my travels so as not to decline my card.

As an aside, each time I needed to make a call, I turned on my phone from airplane mode to data mode. Although the call was free with my telephone provider, I still needed to pay $16 Canadian per day for turning my phone on regardless.

Upon returning to Paris from a quick getaway, I contacted Visa again, hoping for updates on my card’s whereabouts. Since my digital card is only good for up to $250 Cdn dollars, it was becoming more difficult to use with hotel stays and larger purchases.

The agent confirmed, “It was couriered,” but had no explanation for its delay. Sensing my impatience and frustration, she suggested couriering another card (cuz why not? The third time’s the charm). This time, I insisted on a tracking number, “I’m sorry, we can’t provide you with one until 24 hours.”

I called back 24 hours laters (the same arduous drill as before), and was given a tracking number. Excited to locate my Visa, I discovered this tracking number belonged to the original first card sent out and cancelled by my bank. (Insert face-smacking emoji)

Determined to get an answer, I called again, but I was told there was no tracking number available and that I needed to wait 48 hours! This meant another $16 to turn on my phone the following day.

Yay! UPS Tracking number

I’ll spare you the additional calls to Visa afterward (wine required), but I eventually received the correct tracking number. I could see it had arrived in Paris, but it wasn’t clear where it was or when it would be out for delivery.

Using the tracking information, I looked up the UPS sorting facility and proceeded to call customer service. The automated prompt was in French, “Appuyez sur un pour parler à un représentant du service à la clientèle.” As luck would have it, pressing “un” connected me to a customer service representative, and I was speaking to an agent within minutes. Thank you, universe!

Between our language barriers, the agent and I were able to track my package and redirect it to a UPS access point for the following day instead of my son’s apartment. Since my package required a signature, this was the best solution—perfect, I thought.

The next morning, I tracked my package and found out it would be delivered to the UPS access point later that afternoon. However, upon my arrival to pick it up, the shop owner informed me they had not received it and suggested it might have gone to the other access point around the corner. I checked there, too, only to be told they also had no record of my package. WTF! I left my contact information at both locations in case my package arrived at either place.

Where was my package, and what was my next move?! At a loss, I recruited my son’s girlfriend, who is fluent in French and happy to contact UPS. After a long conversation with UPS, we discovered that the driver had tried to deliver my package to my son’s apartment (twice!) but didn’t have an access code for the building. However, they did have his phone number, so why didn’t they call?! Since UPS now had the access code, she confirmed a signature was not required and that my Visa would be redirected to their apartment. However, my spidey senses told me otherwise.

Hallelujah!

Finally, my Visa arrived—actually, two Visa cards arrived—the second and third. What the heck happened there? I was beyond excited, especially since I was leaving for London that week. Except now my son was in Vienna and had the mailbox key! UGH!!

After returning from London, and three weeks later after my first call with Visa, I was united with my new Visa card.

The moral of this Visa saga

So this was a very good lesson for me: Always have a backup plan when travelling! Carry an extra credit card, keep important items accessible, and brace yourself for unexpected hiccups. Plus, patience and persistence are key when dealing with customer service, and having local help for language barriers is a lifesaver. Visa needs to own its part in this debacle and step up its game to avoid future fiascos.

UPS also played a major role in this mess. Despite having my son’s European phone number and my email, they didn’t notify either of us about the delivery issue, which could have prevented a lot of frustration. Their oversight added unnecessary hassle to an already challenging situation, emphasizing the importance of reliable customer service from shipping companies.

Needless to say, I was relieved that my Visa fiasco was over and thankful I had my digital Visa card on my iPhone; it saved the day! Not having my card wasn’t ideal. However, dealing with the endless phone calls, repeating my story over and over, and chasing information to track down my card—now that was a shit show!

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