British bank Barclays appears to have gone native in Italy with its Barclaycard service.
For a long time, Italian banks have had a reputation for being not exactly helpful. This has saved them money lately. They were largely unaffected by the banking crash because they forgot to loan much money out.
Now it seems that Barclays, which is the only British bank working in Italy, appears to have gone completely native.
Not only are local branches spontaneously closed for no apparent reason, the move to online banking has created a website site www.barclays.it that is full of holes which makes it impossible to do anything basic like order a Barclaycard.
The website appears helpful, telling you all you need to know about the different types of Barclaycard, what you have to pay and how you can do it.
It is more or less what you would expect from a modern banking site, until you come to order the card itself.
The site tells you can order your Barclaycard by visiting the site you are on, visiting Barclaycard.it, phoning up a 24 hour hotline, or going into your branch.
However nowhere on the site does it allow you to apply for a card. Indeed if you go to the Barclaycard sister site www.barclaycard.it, you find similar information, but can't order one either.
If you call up the 24 hour help line to apply you are asked to input the card number that you have not got before they will put you through to anyone. In fact when we tried to contact them on a Saturday the office appeared to be on an automatic message due to an Italian national holiday.
If you decide to go to your local branch you will find a very helpful person who says you have to apply online for a Barclaycard and she can only do paperwork for an American Express Card.
It appears then that the British Barclays is trying to avoid losing money in Italy. It sets up a nice website, which everyone has to be referred to, and then twice "forgets" to stick the page where you apply for one, thus preventing anyone from applying for one and getting into debt.
Unless it really was a mistake and it was just not spotted by the site QA.