Tuesday 17 November 2009


It's not the lions and tigers that get you, it's the rabbits that kick you to death. An old, and very true, saying. Yesterday the bank kicked me to death. Last week they raised a query because my card was being used in Cambridge! Three small transactions, one being topping up my phone I explained the situation. Job done. You thing? Not a chance!

Yesterday I bought OG some more PJs in John Lewis. The young man was very embarrassed when he got a message about the transaction on his screen. He needed a manager and was very tramatised because he couldn't summon one. I stood there patiently, time running out for me to return to the hospital. I joked "what does the message say arrest this woman, she's a shoplifter?" he smiled, sheepishly.

Finally, 15 minutes later a manager appeared. "Sorry" she said "I need to telephone mastercard about this transaction. She 'phoned, they asked to speak to me, asked security questions, authorised the transaction and asked to be handed back to the manager. "Before I hand you back let me exlain that I will be in Cambridge for an undetermined length of time because my husband is dangerously ill in Addenbrookes Hospital". There was no reaction to this. He simply went into his mantra about this was a security issued and was for my own good. "OK, I hear what you are saying, but let me tell you that there was a security issue on this card last week and the situation was explained then, so I don't accept that this should continue 'for my own good'." He then went into the mantra again. I lost it. "Look right at this moment I don't know if my husband will survive. He is very, very dangerously ill and I can do with this etc. etc. etc. etc," Still no reaction. I gave up and handed the phone back to the manager.

When I got back from the hospital I decided to treat myself to a meal at the Pizsa Express opposite the hotel. As I went to pay I thought "I'll just check this card out again". The bill came to just over £17 and the same thing happened again. I apologised to my server and explained what was happening. He was very understanding and allowed me to rant at mastercard again. It's like pissing in the wind. Again the same mantra. The transaction was agreed and off I went back to the hotel.

Sitting in the hotel room fuming about this I rang their number. Again the mantra stuff started. Again I explained my situation. He acknowledged that my comments at lunchtime had been noted on their system and it shouldn't happen again.
"But it did happen again"
"What do you mean?"
"You just told me there is a note on the system, but it still happened again"
"But it shouldn't happen again"
"Not good enough, I have enough stress at the moment with my husband being dangerously ill"

I went on to explain the whole thing again in detail but he would only commit himself to saying
"It shouldn't happen again".
"Look, I need assurances that this REALLY won't happen again, and and explanation why it has happened anyway, and I don't need your mantra"
He then tried to suggest that perhaps there was a problem with the card
"You will have to speak to the fraud department".
"OK, put me through".

He then kept coming back to me to apologise that the fraud department was engaged but he would keep trying the number.
"Ask them to ring me"
"They can't ring out".
If I had had more control of my emotions I would have realised that this was an outright lie.

Finally I got to speak to an Indian lady, went through the whole thing again, lost my temper, cried and finally said
"You know the worse thing about this? not one person has said 'I am sorry that you are going through such a difficult time, I hope your husband recovers'."
This actually seemed to take her aback. She asked me to hold and a couple of minutes later came back to me to reassure me that the card would not fail again and to give me her best wishes for my husbands recovery.

Good news is that my grandson won The Times Chalet Chef of the Year award yesterday and we are going out to lunch at The Three Horseshoes in Maddingly, one of my favourite restaurants and the restaurant that Vinnie worked at before he went out to the Alps last winter. Dare me to try the wretched card again?


DogLover said...

Simple solution: cut the card in half and get a new one with someone else!

DogLover said...

PS Well done, Vinnie!

Anonymous said...

Oh heck, I'm very out of touch aren't I. I'm sorry I haven't been around for a while but you're in my thoughts.

The problem with credit cards is that they have you by the balls. Such enormous organisations where money is no object and customers will always come and go.

You take care
CJ xx

jay said...

Oh good grief. No, you certainly don't need that! Poor you. Bad enough to dealing with your own personal crisis without the bank turning into a giant ninja rabbit on you. :(

I understand why they have to check - we've had this happen ourselves, when using a card for large sums of money abroad (car rentals etc) - but ONE explanation should be enough. It always has been for us.

We have found Smile to be an excellent bank; friendly and with a nice personal touch. I bet someone at Smile would have said something sympathetic about OG. I'm so sorry your card people were so heartless to you. :(

Another advantage to Smile is that you can deposit and withdraw money from any post office. But .. it isn't a credit card.

Congratulations to your grandson!! Very well done indeed. And yes - try that card again. Want me to come and provide back-up? LOL!

Unknown said...

how frustrating! Whatever happened to customer service?!

...praying for you and hubby...

www.retiredandcrazy.com said...

Tried that before DogLover. They are all bankers.

www.retiredandcrazy.com said...

You're in my thoughts too CJ

www.retiredandcrazy.com said...

Our local NatWest Bank is really good too Jay. They care and always ask how OG is doing, but once you get into the credit card zone you are dealing with faceless call centre folk who just read from the script. It's not their fault, but maddening all the same. They just caught me on a bad day too!

www.retiredandcrazy.com said...

PS Jay, yes come and provide backup, that would be fun!

www.retiredandcrazy.com said...

Customer service Sarah? The crazy thing is that if I was to look into this they would probably be bragging about how excellent thier customer service somewhere in their bumph.