The bad …

Yesterday had my wallet, including all my cash and credit cards stolen. It was pilfered from my shoulder bag while visiting the Forbidden City where the Emperors used to live. Normally I always have my wallet physically on me, but after a sweltering day in jeans on Sunday, I was in shorts so stuck it in my bag.

I retraced my steps in case it had been thrown away after being emptied, as I also had several receipts needed for expense claims in there. Tried to talk to Police but language difficulties make it pointless.

Anyway my first challenge was how to get back to my hotel, with no cash at all. In the best traditions of the developing world I begged! Like a professional I eyed up various potential targets, chose a nice looking elderly American couple and asked them to give me some money. And they did! Of course as I was only asking for US 30c that may have helped.

Got back to the hotel and rang the 24 emergency assistance number for Mike Henry travel insurance. Dealings were totally unsatisfactory as they were unable to provide any emergency assistance at all, as it was after pm in NZ. My problem was that I was leaving my hotel to the airport at 730 am Tuesday (1130 am NZST) and it was currently 2.00 pm Monday (6 pm NZST) and I had to find some way I could pay my hotel bill tomorrow, and get some cash for a taxi to the airport.

I would never use Mike Henry again. Their only advice was to talk to my bank (who were next on my list anyway) and also saying that as I did not have a written report from the Chinese police they may not be able to process my claim (not such a big issue as my focus was on getting back to NZ, not the NZ$250 or so lost).

I then phoned BNZ Credit Cards. They were very good. They froze my credit cards but left one of them open for emergency cash and told me how to ring Mastercard in the United States. By now it is 3.30 p.m. and am getting nervous.

Phoned Mastercard in the US. They were great. First of all they tried to see if the hotel would accept a wire transfer from them to cover my bill and a cash advance. That proved not easy to arrange. So they then arranged for 6,000 yuan to be made available at any branch of Western Union, charging it to my credit card. By now getting close to closing time and I was fairly nervous about whether I would be able to access it in time, or have to try and delay my flight a day. It was a great help that my cellphone worked in China so Mastercard could phone me back on that.

Finally approval came through and I just needed to find a branch of Western Union. The Hotel Assistant Manager located several branches for me, and arranged a driver to take me to them. Got there a few minutes before closing, and walked away with 60 100 yuan notes. Crisis over and mental notes made to always leave some cash in hotel room and my backup credit card.

Incidentally while at Western Union I ran into what I am convinced was a group of Nigerian and Liberian spammers, 419ers etc who were doing some very suspicious money transfers. They offered me a job as their associate in NZ, and I regret that I have not had time to ring them to arrange a meeting. They have said they are willing to come out to NZ to discuss business with me.

I never found the time to mention I am Chair of InternetNZ’s Anti-Spam Taskforce 🙂

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