2005-09-05

Cardless in Geneva: Card retained

It was a hot night in Geneva when my troubles started.

Having arrived a few hours earlier and already checked into my hotel I decided to get myself some cash. I had all my tickets and I’d pay the hotel with my card so CHF200 should be more than enough. Took a stroll to the Cash Service in the Cornavin station. Chose the right out of two
ATM's, selected English as my language of preference, the amount desired and finally entered my pin code. The machine paused for a while, as they usually do, but apparently everything was in order and it merrily prompted take your card. Its mechanics started buzzing in a friendly fashion and a light began to blink just at the slot where my card would appear. Soon. Well, any moment now… More buzzing, more blinking. Then a few seconds of silence before the screen announced card retained.

I suppose the heat contributed to my slow reaction. It took a couple of minutes before the reality of the situation became apparent. The CHF200 never materialized, my credit card had been confiscated for no apparent reason and my cash supply wasn’t anywhere near sufficient for the hotel bill let alone other expenses over the next four days. It was 7.30pm on a busy Tuesday afternoon and I had been robbed by a machine.

So it began, my cardless stay in Switzerland.
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