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This web site may be near its end. My US bank was recently bought out by ING Direct, they closed the accounts of all their customers living abroad. That leaves me without a debit card. Unfortunately, even after living in Taiwan for five years, I still haven’t found a local bank willing to give me one. I made a very exhaustive search in 2003, and then again in 2005 and came up with no success. Automatic refusal of all foreigners, including long term residents seems to be the norm.

I asked my current banks again. Taishin and Huanan refused me outright, while Fubon gave me a card specially crippled for foreigners, to prevent us from buying things online. I don’t really have the energy to check with a dozen banks again, especially since all evidence points to them being just as discriminatory as they were two years ago. Maybe I’ll look for a US bank that will serve international customers, but it will take a while.

For now, no debit card means no way to buy books online, no way to buy Skype credit, no way to order stuff, and most significantly, no way to pay for my web hosting. I’m not quite sure when Dreamhost will try to charge me for this month, but when they do, the site will go down. The same goes for everyone else I’ve been sharing hosting with. Such is life.

Related Posts:
No Debit Card for Round-eye
Denied Banking (frostfox.com)
First Full Day in Shanghai

Update: If you’re a foreigner and want to be able to get a debit card, try calling the government help number at 0800-024-111 and telling them so. They were the ones who ended up helping me find a way for a couple of my friends here to get phone lines (without a local to sign for them), but when I asked about debit cards, they said that it wasn’t an issue for many foreigners.

Oh, how I’m starting to hate you, Netbank. First it was putting a block on my card because it looked “suspicious” when I, an American, left Taiwan to go back and visit my family in Colorado and used my debit card within a two mile radius of their address which you mouth-breathing idiots have on file! After that there was a brief respite from really bad service for a while. It ended when I got stranded in Shanghai with no way to get at my money thanks to the skull-brained set of regulations that herd of ass-ponies you refer to as “customer service reps” follow.

Oh, sure there may have been the occasional odd annoyance during that lull. continue reading…

Yesterday was my first whole day in Shanghai, and it was awesome. After showing late the night before and crashing at John’s place, I was psyched enough about finally being here that I was still able to get up pretty early. John had a final in the morning, but after he got back from that, he showed me around the subway system a bit, and we grabbed some lunch. After that, he took me over to the Chinese Pod studio to check the place out. It was quite a bit different than I expected, but still very neat. continue reading…

Well, I won’t be moving to my own host anytime soon. The reason? I don’t have a debit card. My US debit card expired last month. I’ve ordered a replacement, but I’m still waiting to get it. It seems like this is as good a time as any to bring up the fact that my ongoing efforts to get one in Taiwan have failed.

A debit card, for those of you who don’t know, looks like a credit card. It can be used like a credit card to buy things online, but it’s NOT a credit card. Debit cards don’t involve borrowing money or buying things on credit, they just charge money out of your bank account. If the bank account is empty you can’t buy anything, but on the good side there are no interest fees or any other fees involved.

About two and a half years ago, I went to 10 or 15 banks trying to get a debit card. Some didn’t offer debit cards at all; they weren’t that popular in Taiwan at that point. However, China Trust and Taishin have them. Unfortunately neither will give them to foreigners. The question is why not? Since they don’t let you borrow money, there’s no risk to the bank. One clerk said that since I’m American I “could just leave Taiwan at anytime”. So what? I could leave Taiwan, and then the bank would lose nothing since I couldn’t have borrowed anything from them. In fact, after I left, whatever balance remaining in my bank account would be theirs.

After huffing and puffing and complaining, I got China Trust to send me a written explanation. The funny thing is, they lied to me in it. They said that due to a problem with their system, foreigners temporarily couldn’t apply. That was two and a half years ago. I went in last week, and I’m still not allowed to apply. I showed them the letter and they just said, “Oh, the system still has the same problem.” Does two and a half years count as temporary?