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Dealing with ATM Machines in Brazil Is Easier Said than Done

An ATM machine in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil An ATM machine in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil

An ATM machine in Salvador, Bahia, BrazilIn my previous article I wrote about the difficulties of withdrawing money at ATMs in Brazil. I received lots of emails of readers with many different comments. My dear reader, please notice that this article, along with my previous and next ones,  is a series of articles not just one.

So please be patient and not precipitate in comments before reading all the articles. Before coming back to the story, I am writing about just a few comments.

The first and most common comment was about the simple solution for someone who might have problems in withdrawing money at ATMs in Brazil: call the bank before travelling and tell them that you are going there.

Well it looks so simple that you might think: Why did not Max think about it?

To be clear about this issue I shall list some reasons for it for you not to do it:

1) You might have forgotten or did not know about it: the most common reason for the dozens of foreigners in the ATM lines receiving the message "error in communications;"

2) You do not want to do it. In the old days before travelling you used to make a call to your brother, your relatives, your friend about you next travel. Today you have to do it with you bank.

Frankly speaking you might not want to tell your bank about your plans for a simple reason: privacy.

You might be jealous about your own privacy and do not want people from your bank to know what your travel plans are. It is your own travel not theirs.

3) You cannot do it: just think about the last-minute travellers, the professionals like myself who travel around the world and do not know how long they stay in each country, the globetrotters and every "free" traveller who decides when to travel on the spot and not before travelling. These are real people who cannot call the bank before travelling just because their travel plans are not decided in advance.

4) You have done it: this is maybe the most interesting reason. Even if you called your bank you might get the message "error in communications" anyway. We are going to get back to this point later.

Another very common point was about calling the bank from abroad and get the problem sorted out soon, calling the toll-free number on the back of the credit/debit card.

Well about this point I must admit that the world of credit card is very different; in US you might really have that number in your credit card.

In UK what you find is only the debit and stolen emergency number on the back of the card and it is not a free number. In other parts of Europe there is absolutely no number on the credit card, so you might imagine the panicking situation of somebody nervously looking for the number when the message "error in communications" comes up.

Besides I personally got in touch with my bank Barclays and the story is the following:

Barclays first emailed me saying that the ATM problem had nothing to do with them and was a Brazilian problem.

Only the people who dealt with a Brazilian bank during holidays can understand the pain of asking about this problem to a Brazilian bank employee (as I wrote in my previous article).

In any case I got in touch with Visa Latin America and, after long checks, guess what? Visa notified me in writing that the transactions were dropped by the issuer, namely Barclays.

I was infuriated and got back to Barclays asking why they lied to me. Barclays answered very politely (they are always so polite) that it was a simple mistake caused by their risk management systems and they were going to fix it.

It took them two days to fix the problem. Result: it took nearly 10 days between the first and the last communication to Barclays to solve the problem, not just few minutes.

As you can see my reader I thought about your options before.

But what struck me was that I received many comments but none got to the crucial point: Falcon Fraud Manager.

Therefore in my next article I shall write about the real content of what is happening in international money transfers today. The world of money transfers is changing fast: a real revolution is happening, something similar to a sort of "Big Brother" is controlling what we do with our money and how we spend it.

You want to know more?

Read my next article on Brazzil.com.

Max Bono is an investigative journalist travelling in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil.  You can contact him at researchinrio@yahoo.com.

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