Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Union Bank

Our traveling has always been a bit of an adventure. Something unexpected always happens when have traveled to different countries. We routinely get lost. We have been robbed. We have experienced intestinal distress more than once. Flights have been delayed and crowds have turned ugly. But we have never been abandoned by our bank.
            Before leaving for a 3 month sabbatical, I spent time at our bank (Santa Barbara Bank & Trust) to set up on-line banking and inform them of ATM use in all the countries we would be visiting. The bank staff told me that the bank was being acquired by Union Bank during the time, but that I should notice nothing during the smooth transition. And I didn’t…until Monday April 30.
            I went to an ATM machine for a cash withdrawal and was denied. That happens occasionally, so I put the card away and later in the day went to a main-line French bank ATM and was again denied. Two times is unlikely, so I went on line that night with the Union Bank site. It was a maze of impossibility. I could not find who to ask about the problem. I sent out about 4 different emails requesting help on Monday night. Now, Thursday morning in my Union Bank message box was a note telling me that they had deactivated my old SBB&T ATM card for the new Union Bank ATM card, which I do not have because I am in France and they knew it.
            I tried finding an email to the Montecito SBB&T branch that I used to ask for help. It cannot be done. There are no email directories except to the main, Union Bank address. Gratefully we are staying with understanding friends, we have some cash, we have our credit cards and in 9 days we will be home. But until then we have been abandoned by the bank.
            What could they have done? Since they knew I was traveling, the could have emailed me ahead of time about the switch so I could have stocked up on cash. They could have sent the card in advance to our address in France (since they knew where I was and had email contact). Or they could have kept my card active until I returned. None of that happened. Is this the new customer care standard for Union Bank? I miss the old SBB&T personal connections. 


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