Bank of Ireland left me ‘high and dry’ in New York

Your consumer queries answered: ‘As it was Sunday there was nothing they could do’

Bank of Ireland  blocked  Oonagh Taffe’s card even though she had informed them she was in New York. Photograph: Frantzesco Kangaris/Bloomberg

Bank of Ireland blocked Oonagh Taffe’s card even though she had informed them she was in New York. Photograph: Frantzesco Kangaris/Bloomberg


Oonagh visited New York last week with friends and all was well until she went to check out of her hotel on the Sunday morning after her friends had left earlier to return to London and Barcelona respectively. “My Aer Lingus flight was scheduled to depart at 18:30 and I booked a taxi to take me from my hotel at Times Square to JFK,” she writes.

“I had to pay a sum of $310 to the hotel prior to my departure. I presented my BoI Visa debit card. It was declined and when the hotel attempted to take payment a second time it was again declined. I had more than enough funds in my account to settle the bill,” she says.

She checked her account on the BoI App and it showed two payments to the hotel of €255.33 each. “However, the hotel had not received payment. I contacted the bank by phone but received no help whatsoever from them,” she says. “They had blocked my card even though I had informed them I was in New York and all transactions being made were by myself. I was informed that as it was Sunday there was nothing they could do. They were not concerned that I was left with no access to my own money while in the US and no way of getting to the airport to catch my flight home.”

She was obviously very upset and distressed and she rang her mother who paid for the hotel on her behalf. Her mother then rang BoI to request that money be transferred from her BoI account to Oonagh’s.

“She was told this could be done online. When she attempted to do a transfer online she had to first register me as a payee and a code would then be texted to her. She rang BoI again to stress the urgency involved but was told even when she received the code the transfer would not be made for 24 hours as it was Sunday.”

Oonagh says the person she spoke to on that occasion – who was not Irish – was “very helpful and when he heard of my plight he advised my mother to send money via Western Union. She located a WU office in Rathmines and drove there. She was able to send me money to arrive within minutes. She contacted me with the WU reference etc and I then went to collect the money from a WU office close to the hotel. In the meantime my taxi had arrived and left and I missed my 18:30 flight. I took another taxi to the airport and fortunately I was able to get a seat on the 22:10 flight when I informed Aer Lingus what had happened.”

While Oonagh was in New York she received an email from BoI inquiring if she was in the US as her debit card had been used in various restaurants and shops. “I immediately replied confirming that I was and that I was using my card and would be continuing to use it. I have been in touch with BoI since my return and was told that a sum of €510.66 was in a shadow account and would be refunded into my account within five working days; as I write this email I am still left with no access to my money. They are not at all concerned that they left me ‘high and dry’ nor that both my mother and I incurred expense for telephone calls and that they caused us upset and anxiety.”

As if it were not bad enough that the bank effectively stole this customer’s money, the fact that it appears to have made absolutely no effort to make amends speaks volumes about its attitude customer service.

In response, the company sent us the following statement. “We sincerely apologise to Oonagh and we have contacted her directly to express our regret. We are currently investigating what went wrong so that we can prevent a re-occurrence. Taking a customer-focused approach is one of our key values, and we deeply regret that we have not delivered on that for her.”