Paris Travel Diaries: That Day When the ATM Ate Our Card in France

Our series of unfortunate events just started in Paris on the day we visited the Notre Dame Cathedral. Then, I also shared the unpleasant dining experience on our last night in the city. But that’s not it! You have to read what happened BEFORE that evening. The geist of the story is the title but let’s get down to the details.

A busy evening in Gare Saint-Lazare

It was a typical Saturday afternoon in the city and we just got back from Arc De Triomphe. We wanted to buy some souvenirs and maybe some coffee after. Everything was fine. I got my Stan Smiths and grabbed some warm drinks. We realized that we needed more cash and decided to withdraw at the ATM inside this mall.

We finished our drinks, went to the ATM and queued. There were 2 people before us. They got their money, left and now it’s our turn to use the machine. He inserted the card to the ATM and typed the PIN. He punched the amount to be withdrawn and poof! The machine displayed a message: HIS CARD WAS CAPTURED BY THE EFFIN’ MACHINE! 


Photo courtesy of google

I didn’t know at first because I was standing behind him and then I heard him raise his voice and when I asked he said that his card was captured. I instantly switched to panic mode.

Of course, we tried getting the card back. But after a few (forceful) taps, bangs and punching of the machine’s keypad, we stopped. Then, we called the “hotline” number posted near the ATM (you know, in case such things happen) and guess what? Nobody answered on the other line. Also, it’s not a toll-free line and you will be charged with a certain amount per minute.

My hands were already cold and sweaty because I am freakin’ nervous. I told him to call the bank’s 24-hour hotline in Singapore so he can immediately report the incident and hold the account for the time being and most of all, so it won’t be used to any transactions. When you are in such situations, you can think of a lot of things and identity theft was one of them.

I was not talking a lot and (believe me, I was quite surprised with myself, too!) I was really pushing him to contact the bank at that very moment. We were both silent. Thinking. To be honest, he looked very calm and it helped me calm myself too. I know he was thinking and I do not want to interrupt the process.

This is the whole situation:

  • His card was captured on a Saturday, at past 4 PM.
  • Our flight back to Singapore will be Sunday (7 AM). It means we have less than 24 hours in the city and to work with whatever we have.
  • We have just enough cash at hand and we still need to eat dinner later and breakfast on Sunday.

WTF gif

Photo courtesy of

So yeah. A bit fucked up eh?

The Solution:

Thankfully our bank has a mobile app that really works and on the spot, he disallowed the overseas use of the card. Then he called the Helpline and informed them of the situation at hand. The bank representative was very helpful and assured us that there were no unusual activities in the account at that moment. After the call, we went straight to the hotel and zeroed the balance of the compromised account. 

This was the worse travel story that we experienced to date.

And I hope nothing will ever top this. Oh please! By the way, we kept the cash we have and used my credit card to pay the bill. After dinner, we immediately disallowed the overseas use of all our cards.

And there goes one of our Saturday afternoon in Paris.


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