Sunday 29 January 2012

WT - Cape Town


We only had two nights in Cape Town but what a beautiful city particularly the western suburbs. Our first day was a bit of a nightmare having arrived at the outskirts of Cape Town during the evening peak hour traffic and at the wrong location (correct address but wrong suburb) and wondering what the heck I had booked us into since we were in a very seedy neighborhood. Once we made some adjustments to the Garmin, we arrived at a very stylish address in the tourist area. The hotel didn't look like much but The Hyde at Sea Point is ultra modern luxury where it counts - the suites (at a reasonable price - the name is not Rockefeller after all as Dad keeps reminding me when I spend more than ZAR2.80 on an ice-cream for him).

We have become quite accustomed to the 'City Tours' red double deckers that we have found in almost every city that we have visited. Cape Town is no exception and we made use of the 'hop on - hop off' policy to enjoy all the sights which came with head sets for the audio tour. Part of the tour included cable car ride up to the top of 'Table Mountain' but unfortunately when we got to the cable car services had been suspended for safety due to strong winds and thermals. Although a little dissapointed at not getting to stand on the top we had a fantastic time. (Little did I know the next 48 hours were going to be a nightmare of my own doing for the most part in two parts).

That night Guy called to advise us that Danny had had a head on collision on his way home. Another vehicle had veered onto his side of the road with a drunk behind the wheel and whilst Danny was uninjured, the car we had helped him purchase was pretty well totalled. The other driver had managed to get his car going and fled the scene but Danny had his vehicle registration which he passed to the police. We are just so grateful that Danny is okay, the rest can be sorted eventually.

Part one;

Later that day we were in town trying to find a camera store/service centre in order to have Ronnie's Nikon looked at since it had started playing up quite a bit. We would need some cash and we were passing an ABSA bank in the Mall with ATM's in a foyer area so I asked Ronnie to wait a moment while I drew out some funds. There were two guys using ATM's and the third was free as a guy was just leaving the machine and appeared to be leaving with his drawings. As is my custom I check the machine for added devices even though the bank was still open for trade. Everything went well until I was about to leave, my cash was in my wallet and all of a sudden one of these guys leans over and grabs my card whilst offering to help me close the account which is open. He palms the card but I missed that and believed that the guy is just a helpful buffoon who had shoved my card back in the machine. Now it seemed that I could not get the card back while another guy advises me that I need to press 'zero, my pin and cancel' in order to release the card - stupidly I give it a go with my hand covering the pin entry.

Unbeknown to me a third guy was crouching down watching while number two was repeating himself and number one was advising me to go into the bank to get my card back - then they were gone and two ladies advised me that I had been robbed after these three had ushered them out in order to roll someone (me). I immediately called my bank and cancelled the card... or so I thought (the lass I spoke to even asked if I needed emergency funds from Visa to which I replied "No, I have my Business Card - I'll simply replace the funds when I get home and get a new card"). I was to find out three days later that although my request was on record the card was not cancelled but internet banking had been suspended. In the meantime I tried to report this incident to ABSA bank staff as they were closing and they simply ushered me from the building so that they could lock the doors - not interested, I should come back the next day. I said I would be leaving for Singapore as the door shut in my face and locked.

A young security guard working the Mall overheard me and took a statement and did his best to assist but I assumed that everything was under control. The incident had taken about 30 seconds and about 2 minutes later I had cancelled the card, they didn't have my pin as I had covered up. That's when Ronnie who had been outside says she saw this guy crouch down while I was at the ATM. Okay still maybe no big deal it's a debit card, it's been cancelled "lets get back to the hotel and check online", I said. On doing this we found that the account was frozen but still had our funds - (I was going to transfer the funds to another account as an added precaution - "over precaution, account is suspended - that will do" I thought). The day after we arrived in Singapore I went to pay for some goods with the Business Visa Debit card and was very surprised to have the transaction denied. I immediately checked in an ATM and found the card had been cancelled - "Blooming heck, they've cancelled the wrong card!" I said to Ronnie. (We managed to settle the purchase with pooled resources but that left us in a really bad position).

We made our way back to the hotel and checked online while ringing the bank. The Personal account showed a balance of several hundreds in un-cleared funds. The bank confirmed that a request had been received and that all the security questions had been checked but for some reason the card had not been cancelled and yes they could see repeated withdrawal transactions on the 25, 26 & 27. No there were actually no un-cleared funds, the account actually had a zero balance. I asked to check the Business card and was advised that it was still active too and would I like to cancel it as well.... what do you say! It was then suggested that Visa could advance me $5K if I transferred the money from the business account to my personal account - which had been drawn down from less than an hour ago... not flipping likely!!

Thanks to Michelle (our good friend and admin manager) who physically transferred funds to an old bank account that I had not closed prior to leaving on holiday - Ronnie has a card and I could split the funds between some old accounts to ensure that not all the eggs are in one basket.

Part two;

Our last night in Cape Town I couldn't sleep very well, probably due to anger at myself for being robbed so easily.  At about 04:30 I gave up trying to sleep and decided to prepare for our flight to Singapore. I pulled out the ticket's and double checked flight number, airline, departure time and ......... what the? Departing from JHB! "No that's not right I specifically asked for Cape Town and was assured that there would be no problem.... how did I miss this for crying out loud?....I've handled these tickets so much that they are falling apart but I missed this!! We are in the wrong city and our flight leaves in 10 hours... BUGGER!" I thought.

Okay, I had to stay calm - "don't panic" I told myself, "put the kettle on and have a cuppa while I consider our options". I did just that and realised that there were several options but the quickest and easiest would be to get to JHB to put everything back on track. I then woke Bonnie Ronnie "We have a problem" I said as I woke her with a cup of tea in my other hand. "What now!" she says. "Here, drink your tea... I have a solution but first, our flight doesn't leave from here, it leaves from JHB" I replied. "What? Why?" she exclaimed. I explained that I had already tried to resolve the issue online, not enough time and the Singapore ticket office wouldn't be open till at least 08:30 which would start to cut things a bit fine. We need to pack immediately and go to the airport and see if we could get a flight to JHB, failing that we could look at changing our flight or postponing.

We packed up, using a bathroom scale we found that we would be about 12kg overweight - nothing to do now but bite the bullet. We managed to find two seats on a British Airways flight which would get us into JHB at about 11:30. Plenty of time for our Singapore flight at 14:30 providing there were no delays....given the last 24 hours... The excess would cost us ZAR40.00 per kg but we were able to negotiate the purchase of additional baggage allowance for ZAR350.00 which was a heck of a savings. Fortunately all went well and we arrived in JHB on time, collected our baggage and checked it, in record time. We had 30 minutes to ourselves so grabbed some Brunch - pheew!

I leave you all with some photo's of beautiful Cape Town, visit if you can but remember you are not safe at an ATM, even in the ABSA bank while it is open for trade.


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