Day 14-2. Larvik via Helgeroa to Gåsodden Camping contd.
We started out of Larvik up that long hill with views out over the bay. The plan was to follow the NSCR signs for the first few kilometres but then take the main road into Helgeroa. We didn't need to to all those little loops down to the coast again as we had cycled them last summer. We had some Norwegian crowns with us so decided on the way that it would be best to do our shopping in the big supermaket on the outskirts of Helgeroa first, take out some more cash and then coast down to the harbour to the campsite. That would save us having to cycle up the hill from the harbour. That seemed like an excellent plan and we were looking forward to a night next to the beach, watching the sun go down and the moon come up. What could possibly go wrong?
We made our way towards Helgeroa (having unwittingly invoked Williams and Jongkinds 1st Law of Cycle Touring), passing Larvik golf course in the process and passing through the rich farming landscape. It must have been nearly seven in the evening by the time we reached the supermarket in Helgeroa. We stocked up on enough food for this evening and the next day, and then went out to take cash out of the cash machine on the outside of the supermarket. My joint account card didn't work. Neither did Damae's. In fact none of our ING cards, debit or credit were accepted by the supermarket cash machine. "Bother" we thought but decided that it would be best just to go down to the harbour and take money out of the cash machine down there. Or we could just pay for the campsite with one of our cards.
Down in the harbour our cards were also refused and at the campsite too. So much for our master plan! But what was going on? We cycled back up the hill fully laden with our groceries and Damae went into the supermarket to the information desk to ask if there was a problem with foreign cards. It turned out that there was no general problem but there was only one bank that supplied all of the card terminal services to all the businesses in Helgeroa. That meant that if your card was not recognised in the supermarket cash machine it would not be recognised anywhere else in Helgeroa.
It was at this point that I decided to phone the ING in Holland to see what the problem was. Maybe our cards had been blocked because we were showing unusual spending patterns or something. The gentleman manning the helpdesk cheerfully told us what the problem was. Our problem was as a result of the rebranding of our old Postbank accounts to ING accounts. It appeared that there were a few banks in Norway that had not updated their payment terminal systems to recognise that bank account brand had changed. This meant that we would not be able to use our cards in cash machines and payment terminals belonging to those banks.
I bit my tongue and did my best to remain civil. I asked the gentleman which banks it concerned, only to hear that, unfortunately, he couldn't supply me with an overview. I also wondered why if this problem was common knowledge within the bank, why customers had not been informed. After all, Norway was a popular destination with Dutch tourists and there must be a few rebranded once-Postbank now-ING customers among them. He didn't have much of an answer to that.I mentioned that this could be a problem for us on a cycle tour as we'd have to cycle at least an hour and a half to find another cash machine. His helpful answer to us was to suggest that we should have planned things better. Like take bank cards from different banks on holiday with us or ensure we had enough cash on us at all times. Although I could see he had a point, it wasn't him that had the problem right now and it wasn't quite what either of us wanted to hear at this moment. Besides, this was the first time in twenty years of travelling in Europe that I had not been able to get money out of a working cash machine or make use of a working payment terminal. All because my bank had decided to change its name.