I mentioned a few days ago that my Crédit Agricole debit card suddenly stopped working. It was mysterious, and it still is. Here's the follow-up. After the card stopped working and I discovered that I couldn't use it to pay for an order I wanted to place on Amazon.fr, Walt looked at the Crédit Agricole on-line banking site and saw that my card was no longer listed on our account. Pfft, just gone.
I phoned the bank's help line called SOScarte and I was told that the card was listed as inactive (same word in French and in English). I was advised to go to my local CA branch to get more information. It took me a few days to get to the bank, and when I did go it was pretty confusing. Meanwhile, we kept checking our account to see if there was any suspicious activity there. There has been none, except what I'm describing here.
At the bank, the clerk that I talked to looked at her computer screen and told me that the account the card was attached to had been closed. It told her that was surprising, and I couldn't imagine how that would have happened. She kept looking at her computer to see on what date the account had been closed. I told her I was expecting to receive my regular pension payment from the U.S. electronically that very day. Then she said sorry, I was wrong — the account is still open.
Okay, that was good news. Walt had just recently transferred a few thousand dollars from a U.S. account to the Crédit Agricole to cover our property taxes and other autumn expenses. I told the clerk what the approximate balance should be. She said she could see that balance and added that my pension payment had arrived as well.
She asked me if I had recently reported the debit card lost or stolen, or if I had contested any recent charges on it. No, I hadn't, I told her. When had I last used the card? About a week earlier, I said. In Paris, where I used it to buy a train ticket (I was returning from the U.S.) and at the local Intermarché supermarket. Both those charges showed up on the on-line banking site. I hadn't used the French debit card during my U.S. trip, because I have debit and credit cards on an American account for use there.
Somehow, the clerk said, my card had been reported as missing or stolen, and it had automatically been désactivée by the bank. She carefully checked the card number and confirmed everything. She even turned the computer screen toward me so that I could read it. I didn't have time to see all the details, though.
The only thing she could do, she said, was to put in an order for a new card in my name, and that getting it would take a week. She said she could keep my PIN (le code secret) the same if I wanted, and I said I did. She said I'd receive the code secret by mail (even though it's not changing, there was no other option), but that I'd have to go over to the Crédit Agricole in Montrichard to pick up the new card in about a week's time.
Montrichard? I was again surprised. I told her I had asked that the account be transferred to the Saint-Aignan CA branch more than a year ago, and it had been transferred, as far as I knew. She looked at her screen again and apologized. Yes, she said, you can come to the Saint-Aignan office to get the new card. It should be in by Friday.
I have to say that the clerk didn't really seem to be on top of her job. Since Walt also has a debit card on the account, we've been making do with that one, but it certainly is inconvenient. We have just one checkbook for the account, and I'm not sure if we would be allowed to have two checkbooks. Anyway, it's been so many years since I've written checks on any regular basis that I'd have a hard time writing one now.
It occurs to me that somehow our other code secret, the one we use to get access to our CA account on-line, was it too deactivated a few days before my debit card was deactivated, so there must be a connection between the two events. That time, Walt had had to go the bank to get a new on-line access code. It had to be sent to him as a text message on one of our mobile phones — that was the only option. Banks work in mysterious and unsettling ways.