Wednesday, March 28, 2007


"Thank you for calling international card services at this busy time. Be assured your call will be answered as soon as an agent becomes available."

I am assured alright but only of two things; the first being that this call is going to cost me a fortune and the second, that I will now have time to make that first coffee, roll a cigarette and maybe even meditate upon such imponderables as why men have nipples for a sufficient enough time to finally come up with a satisfactory explanation.

Unfortunately, and probably just as I was about to have an Archimedes moment regarding the male mammary papilla...

"You're through to ****** ******, could you give me the last three digits of your debit card please?"

"Well, I could but this is about a credit card."

"Oh...well, if you could give me the number of the card and then I'll put you through." There is a rising intonation and I realise I'm talking to Australia. I accept the fact that I'm in for the long haul and make another coffee.

"You're through to ****** ******," I'm in Scotland this time, "Could you give me the day and the month of your birth, please?"

"A Sunday in January, my dear."

We clear up this little misunderstanding and proceed.

"On the 26th of March, there was an attempted payment of around 600 pounds..."

"Actually, there were several attempted payments. All to the same place and none of them successful."

"And could you confirm that this was, in fact, you?"

At this point, the only thing I felt like confirming was the fact that this girl was just not listening.

"Yes. Well, there was in fact a security flag on your card."

"Again? That's the third time this year!"

"Yes. The computer, you see, didn't recognise the attempted payment as conforming to your usual spending pattern."

"It never lets me use the fucking thing often enough to create one is probably why. Is there anything I can do to ensure that when I want to use the card, I can? How much prior notice would you like?"

"Unfortunately not, sir." I make a note to introduce swearage sooner next time. "It's all done on computer you see, which builds up a pattern of your spending and flags anything not conforming to it."

"I am beginning to understand, yes. Your computer won't allow me to use the card and yet, if I don't use it often enough, your bank is introducing an annual charge of over 30 quid to cover what you describe as administration costs. Just how much juice does this computer use?"

"I'm sorry, sir. But there is absolutely nothing I can's all this fraud, you see. Anyway, I've lifted the block on the card so you can make the payment now."

"Actually I can't. You see, I had to find another way to pay which incurred a 30 pound charge...I don't suppose you could reimburse me for that, could you?"

"Unfortunately not, sir. There is a verification charge of one pound, sir but that won't be coming out of the account."

"I'm sorry, could you run that one by me again, please?"

"There is a verification charge of one pound but it won't be deducted from the account."

"So, what I think you are saying is that there will be no verification charge in this case."

"That's right, sir."

I am sooooooooooo grateful.


Snowbabies said...

Yep, been there recently with my bankers, just ditched 'em, probably take until 2012 for their computer to realise I've gone through...


ECBlade said...

like walking in the rain and the snow...


Roger B. said...

Last time I was connected to a bank's Australian call centre, I found myself speaking to Ned Kelly's great granddaughter.

simon said...

Nice to hear she's keeping the family business tradition going.

Georg said...

Great story, Simon, I loved it. If I had one wish, it would be to organize the public execution of a civil servant or similar blockhead. Rolling drums, trumpets blasting, public reading of the culprits misdeeds and them bum: a full volley.

Afterwards: thanksgiving