I was wondering if your newspaper would be interested in printing a story about Canadians scrambling to access money to buy food and pay for everyday living expenses in the Toledo District. Since about April of this year the local ATM machines at both the Belize and Scotia Banks have stopped working for us here, yet work fine in all other parts of the country.
Back in April when we first complained to the bank, we were told our card chips were most likely damaged and the cards would need to be replaced. In May I ordered two new debit cards (the old ones were only 8 months old) from two different banks in Canada. The new cards also do not work. The irony is that Scotia Bank flies the Canadian flag but won’t take our cards. I have stood in line at the bank here and watched two American women take money out without any issue. Something is surely not right here.
This situation must be treated with some degree of urgency and not take months to resolve. Most of us expats are of an age where we may wind up with a medical emergency and need an ATM that works. Our friends here that have the Euro debit card say that they also have stopped working.
We have moved here permanently and with the high cost of fuel, cannot drive a couple of hours to reach an ATM that works. Our only option so far was to borrow from other friends with a U.S. bank account. The banks here do advertise that they take the cards, so they should do everything in their power to maintain the machines so that they function as advertised.
Another big problem is, can you imagine what this is doing to the economy and the tourism industry in the Toledo District if we can’t get money out of the machines? We stop building our houses and don’t spend it in the restaurants and so forth. The media and a sign at the airport indicate that when we head south, make sure we bring enough Belize dollars from the north, as we will not be able to access them here. Thank you for taking the time to listen to our concerns. There are quite a number of us expats that have settled in the south and have bought homes. We have invested a great deal of time and money here and wish to stay, but without an ATM accepting debit cards from any country, we will have to use our visa and fly home.
P.S. Update: I was recently told that the American nurses from the Hillside Clinic in Eldridgeville are going to Placencia to use the machines there.