Life’s Little Irritants — No 16

When you’ve thought long and hard about spending a wedge of money, done the research on the web and then finally taken the plunge and paid online, what is the point of credit card security telling us that it isn’t such a good idea and we shouldn’t be so frivolous with our cash?

We’ve been mulling over a trip to Cape Town to see Darling Daughter for weeks. Should we, shouldn’t we? If we should, how long should we go for? That slowly evolved into who should we fly with and via which airport?

Today was the day of action, at least for the credit card. We were prepared to grit our teeth and book with British Airways until we realised that over 50% of the fare was going to the Chancellor in taxes, we opted for KLM, the transfer at Amsterdam instead of Heathrow saving us £466. Nice one Osborne — your increased airport tax means that I’m paying mine to the Dutch instead, but that is another LLI in itself.

Anyway, the flights were booked and e-tickets received when the phone rang and a woman with an strong Indian accent saying she was from said credit card company and asking for Mrs P’s security details to the answer was a polite no.

Instead we had to phone the number on the back of the card and negotiate the labyrinth that is the automated telephone. I’ll cut a long story short and miss out the thirty minute conversation that followed, but it came to a frustrating conclusion when they couldn’t tell us if the payment had been authorised or not.

After all the trouble they had gone to to intercept our lawful transaction, you would have thought that simple question would have an equally simple answer, but no. It might have been processed, it might not. We were advised to contact KLM to find out, although that might mean we would be charged twice.

Fortunately, Mrs P’s incompetence tolerance level is much higher than mine, otherwise by then the phone would have been in the middle of the lawn under a mound of snow. As it was, she was finally able to ascertain that the flights had indeed been paid for.

Now I did ask earlier what is the point of credit card security? They would argue that they are reassuring us that they are vigilant for fraud, but that just isn’t true. They aren’t worried about our money, it’s losing their cash that makes them so fretful.

That entire performance wasn’t about making us feel more secure, but to put their own minds at rest that they hadn’t been stung by credit card and our inconvenience is a price they are happy for us to pay. Bastards.

Nobody’s prefect. If you find any spelling mistakes or other errors in this post, please let me know by highlighting the text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

2 comments… Add yours
  • Yorkshire Pudding 2nd December 2010

    Do you know, I hadn’t thought of it that way. This sheds a whole new light on the time when Shirley and I were in Hong Kong and couldn’t get any money from bank machines. Finally, we had to phone our UK bank at great expense and they said we should have told them we were going to Hong Kong! I advised them that they should make it clear to their customers that they need to forewarn the bank about international travel plans. As you say, Illegitimate Offspring!
    Pleased to hear you have bitten the bullet and will soon be off to South Africa. I look forward to your (boastful) blogposts.

  • Mr Parrot 2nd December 2010

    You’ve reminded me that my daughter’s bank did the same when she was in SA last time, when tried to buy two internal flights valued for £120. They’d just noticed where she was even though she had been there for two months.

    february can’t come soon enough, assuming darling Daughter is able to get her work permit and isn’t coming back the other way!


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