Saturday 20 February 2016


I tried to buy a case for a Raspberry Pi on Ebay, costing £1.50. It didn't work. On investigation, Paypal told me that my card had been declined!

Eek! I'm in trouble!

My first thought that this was to do with a recent incident at a petrol station, where I'd filled up, and either I'd got my PIN number wrong three times, or there was something wrong with the keypad. I was tired - nay, exhausted after a day's caching, so it might well have been me. I sorted that out - I couldn't believe how easy that was. Apparently, you go to an cash machine and do a little dance that involves giving the correct number. Of course, I have a strong aversion to using cash machines that might have been compromised with a skimmer reader, so I used one *inside* the bank.

But then I realised - that's a different card.

This was the card I use for Paypal, Amazon and other online stuff. So I phoned my bank.

I very quickly got through to a robot, who took my card number, and transferred me to a human. The human immediately put me on hold, and I was on hold for half an hour. Eventually, she got back to me, and launched into her script as if she hadn't been gone. When that happens to me, I have to stop whatever I'm doing (you think I just sit there listening to the hold music?), take the phone off speaker (you think I'm nestling the phone to my ear?) and switch context to deal with this matter.

So I told her to repeat what she'd just gabbled.

She took me through a couple of security checks (expiry date, amount of a recent purchase) and then we were all set.

She told me that my card was cacncelled, because they'd recently sent me a Mastercard to replace the Visa I'd been using. Yes, I remembered that, but I hadn't realised they'd be cancelling the old card. Problem solved - all I have to do is start using the new card. But first, she wanted me to take a survey on customer satisfaction. But first, I wanted to know the reason for the half hour on hold. Apparently her system crashed. "Does that happen a lot?" I asked. No, it doesn't. "When did it last happen?" Wednesday. Which means that it does happen a lot. A customer-facing computer system should not crash. So I did the "customer dissatisfaction survey", giving them a strong blast of "keeping me on hold for half an hour is not conducive to me recommending you to my friends".

Then I went to the Paypal site to give it the new card, and wasted another ten minutes because adding a new card should be simple to do, but the graphics designer who made the page for doing it, didn't realise that not everyone runs their browser full-screen, and the thing that I needed to click on to update the card, was invisible, off to the right of what my browser showed me. Eventually, I realised the problem, and then it was done.

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