Yest (Saturday) my purse was stolen @ Rome Termini shortly before I boarded a train for Salerno, Italy. I have no money + 5 biscuits until my Mastercard is replaced on Wednesday.

I disc the theft on t train when I wanted to buy tea + a sandwich.

By 11.13 my branch had stopped my Std bank ch card + gold Mastercard after I emailed my branch. The nightmare then began. Std told my son to tell me to ph them to verify my details. Why have they not once called me? They gave two local O800 nos tt obviously do not work internationally. Before I left I bought std bank top level travel ins policy. Alan Hales md of Std card div knows because I refused to put my CV number (bank security code) on faxed forms + complained tt this wld breach my security.

At 11.20am I called Pamela @ std Chartis, london t travel ins brokers. At 4.20pm I again called her to find out what was happening, this time she put me thru to mastercard altho the std policy should pay out for theft of cards, wallet, cash E200 + ret train ticket.


Mastercard is worse altho the prize for total disinterest + nonperformance goes to Std.

My son (in cape town) finally got the uSA Mastercard no. Claims have to b done thru them. I spoke to 1 person who sd Std SA would have to authorise issue of emergency card + cash. Put thru to Adolf in SA who seemed uninterested put on hold for full 5 mins. All these calls will cost thousands of rands altho I intend suing all 3 institutions. All from cellph 1st during 2 hour train journey then + now no access to pub ph.

Then put thru to Meshak. Indian man who sd Std could not authorise Mcd US had too. I asked him to sort out. An hour later my son called him + he insisted I had to call the US’

Spoke to Soni @ MC USA who seemed to hv difficulties w English. I repeated my ph number 3X and she got it wrong. I asked for a suprtvisor + was put thru after another long wait to Ismael Ramos the rudest, most pompous + unhelpful person I have ever encountered. He kept speaking over me. I was now w the Italian police who can tell how upset I became (I hv the officer”s ph no).

At 3,5O I ph MC back to find out what was happening + left a msg w James for Ramos.

At 3.55 I ph back + asked to speak to snr supervisor + spoke to Michael Monk who gave me a long explanation @ my cellph cost of how r system should work. Frankly I don’t care about explanations I want to experience it working which has yet to happen.

At 4.10pm James gets all my details for the fourth time that day despite existing file. He says I shld have emergency credit card by Wed – 5 days for an emergency + em cash in 3 days Monday.

Promises to get back to me. By now cop has arranged transport to my self service apartment. So no tea, coffee nor food nor ph. I have made this clear to all 3 inst + none have offered to put me in hotel + give assurances tt I will pay despite being a v long standing personal + business client of Standard and .Mastercard with a v gd credit record.

4.40 Pamela in London ins puts me thru to mastercard still no word of how + when ins will pay out. Virginia @ MC says Std systems in SA having trouble printing new card number not sure now when I will get card or cash.

Friends offer to help but after walking 10km in rain last night could not find Moneygram or W Union outlet. Have 5 biscuits in luggage had 1 ydy w water + enough for 1 per day till Wednesday.

Shocking sit esp as I bought the top, most expensive travel ins policy from Standard bank.

Monday: 45hrs after theft of purse reported. Not a word from Standard bank. No sign that Chartis will honour travel insurance. Mastercard given no indication in 35 hours of when I might receive emergency funds or card. Only reason I ate after 36 hours of no food is that a friend, an international tv exec sent a stipend yesterday afternoon.

Charlene Smith

Sent via my BlackBerry


  • Charlene Smith is a multi-award-winning journalist, author and media consultant. She has had 14 books published, one of which was shortlisted for an Alan Paton award. Television documentaries for which she has worked have also won awards. She has worked as a broadcast journalist and radio-station manager. Smith's areas of expertise are politics, economics, women's and children's issues and HIV. She lives and works in Cambridge, USA.


Charlene Smith

Charlene Smith is a multi-award-winning journalist, author and media consultant. She has had 14 books published, one of which was shortlisted for an Alan Paton award. Television documentaries for which...

Leave a comment