Lloyds Bank and security

Lloyds Bank

A WARNING TO LLOYDS BANK ACCOUNT HOLDERS TRAVELLING IN INDIA

Credit and debit cards in India

Well I haven’t written anything recently not because I’m feeling lazy. I’ve actually been busy with the hostel that I wrote about in this post, but because there hasn’t been much happening on that front that would interest anyone too much I’m leaving that for a progress report entry.

However I now have a subject and that subject is banks (may they rot in hell) and banking practices.

Lloyds Bank treatment of clients
Lloyds Bank treatment of clients
I have the misfortune to have a Lloyds account. British people will know who Lloyds are but some of you that read from other countries wont know that Lloyds Bank are one of the biggest high street banks in the UK and fairly well known around the world.

Before leaving for India I went into my branch of Lloyds to make sure that my Lloyds debit card would work while in India and that I’d be able to pay for my dental treatment with the card. The account manager there assured me that the card would work in India however there might be the odd security check. This would take the form of a phone call to make sure it was indeed me making the payment/withdrawal.

No problem I thought.

How wrong I was!

Telephoning Lloyds Bank

So far Lloyds Bank have refused my card on every occasion I have tried to use it in India. Sure it works online but don’t even bother trying to use it in an ATM. Well of course not being able to withdraw my monthly cash is a tremendous pain and total inconvenience. Not to mention that I then have to call Lloyds Customer Service to have the card reinstated.

I have now made five calls to Lloyds Bank to have the card made functional again. This usually follows a lengthy trip to the ATM machine. By lengthy I will say that to travel 80km to Delhi from where I am is a round trip of 11 hours. That’s India – get used to it.

My average call to Lloyds is 33 minutes while they go through their security procedures. So far they have compensated me £150 for calls and inconvenience. Free money. But all this is at the cost of the investors and share holders.

Lloyds have not once bothered to call me to ascertain whether the transaction is genuine. They have called my sister with whom I left some administrative rights on the account. What use is calling someone in England? The answer is: it’s no use at all! It seems that Lloyds are too “cheap” to contact the account holder because he’s out of the country.

Lloyds Bank racism

I have been told by Customer Services that my card keeps getting declined because of fraud prevention. Now we aren’t talking thousands of pounds that I’m trying to withdraw but £100 once a month! I was also fobbed off with the excuse that it could happen in the UK. I admit that this is possible but in my case it is happening every month and every time I use the card in an ATM. I wonder if there is anyone in the UK that has their Lloyds debit card refused on a monthly basis? I think not.

My most recent call to Lloyds Customer Services, on the 1st of November 2017, elicited the response that Lloyds refused my card because I am in India and that there is a lot of fraud in India. Personally I see this as corporate racism. There is a lot of fraud in Spain too but the card doesn’t get stopped there.

I have also been told by Customer Services every time they lift the ban that the lifting lasts a week and then the security defaults back to the original state. So, reading between the lines, this is going to happen every month. This means that my Lloyds account is effectively totally useless.

Foreign travel flags.

Evil bankers
Pic credit: The Financial Brand
My account was flagged as foreign travel in India from day one. They know I am in India. The Lloyds Bank mobile banking app shows that I’m travelling in India. Every time I have called Customer Services they lift the ban and tell me that the card is useable again.

The account manager again informed the IT and Security Department on about the 24th of October that the card was being used in India. One week later it was declined again.

We are encouraged to live in a “cashless society”. Will someone explain to me the use of a debit card if it doesn’t work?

Lloyds Bank security

To me it is patently obvious that the IT and Security Department of Lloyds haven’t got a clue what they are doing. I’m told that this is a “security measure”. I wonder whose security they are talking about? It certainly isn’t mine. Being stranded in New Delhi with no money certainly isn’t secure for me. What would be the situation if I had a medical emergency and I needed cash to resolve it?

I’d die.

Of course the security Lloyds Bank are talking about is their security. Their security to use my funds for their investment purposes and they don’t want to jeopardise that facility with the outside chance that my £100 withdrawal may be fraudulent.

So, what to do? Well I’m now fed up with contacting friendly but powerless people in Lloyds Bank Customer Services. I have withdrawn all the funds in Lloyds Bank and transferred them to another of my bank accounts that at least seem honourable, able to follow instruction and have a security system that works.

I have also draughted a letter to the British Banking Ombudsman. I feel that Lloyds Bank need to be brought to task over this and for the corporate racism they practice. They are morons. India is an up an coming industrial nation and if India has any sense they will blanket ban Lloyds Bank from any business in this country.


Tour Agents in Delhi

(above: double decker train. Photo credit)

and how to avoid them

When I decided to do my Rajasthan trip I opted to leave it to a company called Delhi Tours & Services to organise. I had an acquaintence that worked there and they claim to help organise backpackers’ tours. The plan was that they would put me in the rail system’s computer database and all I had to do was send a WhatsApp 24 hours before I wanted to move and my electronic ticket would be forwarded on to me by Delhi Tours & Services.

I went in to their office in Delhi and booked my trip with them. They charged me 42,000/-. At the time I thought nothing of it as the journey was long and convoluted. It would have been a bit cheaper had I been able to pay in cash, (no government tax?)

I should have smelled a rat when the operative offered to book my hotels and proceeded to show me rooms priced at 8000/- per night (about 104.692€ or 93.473£). I have to offer the excuse that all the zeros in this currency confuse me in the same way Spain did when it used the peseta. None the less in my experience of travelling and backpacking I know NO ONE bacpacking (only wealthy tourists) that would pay that kind of money per night. The hostels I used and that backpackers use worked out at between 250/- and 450/- per night.

Delhi tours & services train ticket
Jaipur to Jaisalmer train ticket – NO PRICE
One of the first things that I noticed when my tickets were sent to me via WhatsApp is that the price was always excluded. Sure all the details, coach, seat or berth number were there along with my name (spelled wrongly as RICHARDS) but the price was always conspicuously absent.

It wasn’t until I had my fall down the stairs in Udaipur (that I mentioned in this post) that I began to see there was a huge differential between that which I’d paid and the price my travelling companions were paying. I resolved to look in to it and to blog it when I had the time to

  • a) see how much I’d been “over charged”
  • b) to try and help any of you travellers that may be reading this to avoid these exorbitant charges.

They are an easy trap to fall into in India.

Two price breakdowns for the Rajasthan trip

So here below are the breakdowns of more or less what I’d have had to pay had I booked the tickets myself and the price of the most expensive tickets that I could find on the same routes that I took. The left column are the prices I found online for the same journey as I took using the same “class” of travel as I had. The right column is for “first class” travel wherever it was available.

Journey Price I would have paid Most expensive
Delhi to Jaipur 820 1,565
Jaipur to Jaisalmer 1,060 2,385
Jaisalmer to Jodhpur 780 1,300
Jodhpur to Udaipur by bus 565 565
Udaipur to Ajmer 740 1,235
Ajmer to Kota 940 1,570
Kota to Sawai Madhopur 540 1245
Sawai Madhopur to Agra 540 745
Agra to Delhi 905 1,495
Total 6890 12105
6 times the price that I paid. 3.5 times the price I paid.

My recipt for travel from Delhi Tours & Services

delhi tours & services recipt
Recipt from Delhi Tours & Services

I think you’ll agree that there is a huge difference? So the moral of this post is: be aware that these “travel firms” will add on huge commissions. Book your own tickets online here. Or check the routes and prices on www.trainman.in

Agreed Delhi Tours & Services have to make some money but 20% would probably be about the right mark. In my case I was charged a whopping 600% commission. I imagine it was a meal for the office, a nice bonus all round and still money in the kitty at the end of the celebrations and a huge laugh that the white tourist had been well and truly shafted.

Needless to say, I will not be using the services of tour operators again!

One other point to note: in India, due to the huge distances, many of the trains are over night. The stations are poorly signed and it is difficult to know where you are. (I mentioned that in this post). One of my tickets required me to exit the train at 04:35 in a place called Mathura and catch a bus to Agra. I could find no buses to Agra at that time of day. (That doesn’t mean there weren’t any.) So unless you really want to sleep on an Indian station platform… I’d try and get trains that have reasonable arrival times. Again, another good reason to do it yourself.

I have also since been informed that every Indian railway station has a tourists desk. You are better off going to them or using the online app. But do bear in mind that some trains are heavily booked and you really are better off arranging all your travel in advance.