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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Being There More Fun Than Getting There

We love to travel and we've been fortunate to enjoy some pretty amazing places during the time we've lived in Europe.  I should however amend that first comment.  I like seeing other places, I hate getting to other places.
Yesterday we flew to Bergamo, Italy and everything was actually pretty pain-free even though we were flying on a low cost airline that strictly limits luggage weight.  After fighting with our bags, we finally got them to the required weigh limit by wearing some of the clothes that weighed more!  Silly.  Once through security, I just went into the bathroom and changed.  We got good seats, with a middle seat between us for extra room and we were happy.  The flight was on time, our luggage arrived and we thought, wow, smooth trip.  Then we went to pick up the rental car and that's when the fun really began.
As a prelude to the event that ensued, let me say this.  About a month ago, when I made the actual rental car reservation, Citibank flagged our card as a security risk.  The only reason I knew this was because I went on-line to check some things out.  So I called to find out what was going on.  Apparently, renting a car in Italy was considered suspicious.  So I told them that we would be taking this trip between August 17 and 24 so there was no need to be alarmed.  So you can imagine how surprised I was when the rental guy said that our card had been denied.  Now, we were using the US card because it has auto insurance built into it.  And because we had booked ahead of time, the rental was always paid for and we simply had a voucher for that so to walk away would've been costly.  So we decided that the only thing we could do was to call Citibank which I was really excited to do from my European cell phone.  Of course, the conversation begins with an automated menu.  Finally a live human voice came onto the other end.  After a lively exchange, the woman finally said, the only way we will undue this block is if you can tell me the last 4 digits of the bank account that you use to pay off the card.  OK...we use automatic payment so the money just zips right out of bank account every month without me doing a thing.  Do you have any idea how little attention I pay to actual numbers now?  Everything is on-line and then you just use passwords and so forth.  I took a wild stab in the dark and I had the correct numbers but in the wrong order.  Of course, she couldn't say anything and also could not verify.  So, then I realized that what we needed to do was to get off the phone, access the internet, get onto my bank site, get my bank account number and call them back.  Which we did.  Thankfully the Bergamo airport had a public computer and I happen to have a 1 Euro coin in my pocket.  So I called back and as soon as the automated voice came on I shouted, "Need to speak to an agent."  Doug said, "Jodi, if you are nicer, they will be more helpful."  I said, "It's a machine."  He offered no other suggestions.  At last, the block was lifted and we could use the card, but it was kind of hairy there for awhile.
I will speak with Citibank when we return.  Why would this be a security risk?  Don't people travel?  And why wasn't it noted when I called the previous time?  So many questions...oh well.
We finally got on the road and the scenery was amazing and the drive lovely and all that credit card stress just melted into the passing landscape.
Love being in new places.  But I hate getting there.