Before travelling overseas Meili loaded $4,000 onto her travel card. Meili only made one small withdrawal while overseas. Two days after returning home she discovered her wallet, containing the travel card, two credit cards and her driver’s licence was missing. Meili retraced her steps and decided she must have lost her wallet at the airport in New Zealand.
The next day Meili went to her banks and cancelled the credit cards and her travel card as well as reporting the theft to the police. While at the bank Meili asked to check the balance of all her cards. She was relieved to see that no money had been stolen.
About two years later, as Meili was planning another trip overseas, she checked the balance on her travel card. Meili was shocked to discover a zero balance. When she contacted the travel card provider, she was advised the money had been withdrawn from ATMs in New Zealand during the two days before she realised the card was missing.
Meili complained to the travel card provider who responded that Meili was outside the 30-day timeframe for notifying it of unauthorised withdrawals and said it was unable to help.
Meili said this was not fair. When she went to the bank, the travel card provider’s agent, the bank, told her the card had not been used. If the bank had told her about the unauthorised transactions, Meili said she would have immediately disputed the transactions.
The travel card provider did not accept that the bank would have incorrectly advised Meili of her account balance and declined to reimburse Meili’s loss.
Before we looked at the travel card provider’s liability, we suggested that Meili lodge a claim with her insurer. The insurer reimbursed the maximum available under the policy, $1000. However, Meili was still about $3,000 out of pocket. We had to decide whether the travel card provider should be liable for this loss.
We were satisfied that, when Meili went to the bank to report the stolen card, she would have asked about her travel card account balance. If Meili had known about the disputed transactions, she would have submitted a disputed transaction claim form then.
Although the terms and conditions required Meili to dispute transactions within 30 days, she could not do so because the bank had advised that no money had been stolen. We considered the travel card provider could not rely on the 30 day notification clause to decline Meili’s claim.
However, when we looked at what would have happened if Meili had disputed the transactions immediately, we discovered that Meili had written her PIN down on a piece of paper in the wallet that was stolen with the card. The terms and conditions for the travel card state that the travel card provider will not be liable for any loss if the card and PIN are stored together.
When we explained the exclusion in the travel card terms and conditions to Meili, she agreed to withdraw her complaint.
Insights for consumers
Do not keep your card and PIN together. Keeping the card and PIN in the same place makes it very easy for a thief to steal from you and the travel card provider will not be liable for your loss.