For anyone that reads LosingFace and doesn’t actually know me, I am not a shy person. Nor am I afraid of drawing attention intentionally or otherwise. I wear ridiculous socks, deliberately rolling up my trousers, I don’t own a ‘typical’ suit, I will occasionally refuse to whisper at inappropriate moments striking up a conversation with a stranger is an integral part of my day.
It isn’t a natural personality trait, far from it; It is part-and-parcel of being a 6foot 2inch, lanky, quasi-ginger… if it is difficult to blend into a crowd, why not try your hardest to stand out?
Quite a simple philosophy.
So with that in mind, please don’t take this lightly when I say, I have had the most embarrassing two weeks of my life.
What has made my life so mortifyingly awkward? Living without cash and relying on two cards that have both been disabled.
Two weeks ago I was in Tesco, buying my lunch as usual, and made my way to the robo-tills. After scanning my bread roll, my humus and a decadent sized chocolate bar I shoved my debit card in the PDQ machine and tapped my PIN number in.
Wrong PIN number.
Now, I thought this was odd, I have had the same PIN number since my first current account 10 years ago and, beyond that, I’ve used the same 4 numbers to buy almost everything for the last 18 months. I know my PIN number better than I do my own middle name.
I entered it again, in case I’d caught another button by mistake.
Last chance. I start to doubt myself. I really want my god-damned lunch. I decided to go for it again.
With the accuracy of an autistic neuron-surgeon I went for it one last time. Tapping each button with unparalleled accuracy and care. Speaking the numbers at the same time. This time I had to be right.
In a matter of moments I had wiped out my main tool for consumption knowing that I’d have to wait 7 working days or longer to receive my new PIN. Fuming, I resorted to taking out the credit card, usually reserved for particularly fancy purchases in which my grubby 3 year old debit card just won’t do.
I entered in the PIN and blam! – Wrong!
I decided to not chance it again, I moved robo-till and tried again, it worked. The PDQ machine was broken… it had cost me my debit card. I was so frustrated I barely wanted my chocolate treat any more, let alone my bread roll.
I trudged back to the office in a mood and scoffed my lunch whilst whinging to anyone that would listen. This was the first time in a long time I’d faced real difficulty living without cash.
“That isn’t that embarrassing!” I hear you cry. It wasn’t – it was simply setting the scene for the past fortnight – for which I will continue.
So, one card down – not the end of the world. I’m pretty good with my pennies; I can live in credit for a month and know I can immediately pay it off at the end. I decided this would be OK.
I was right for two days; I managed just fine. Better than OK actually, I’d got to use the Paywave functionality on the card almost every morning with my daily coffee on my way to work. It just doesn’t get old…!
After the two days, however, things took a turn for the worse.
I’d waltzed into Pret, like I do every morning, to buy a coffee and a croissant from the same beaming woman that serves me on every single occasion… she can unwittingly dig you out of the darkest of moods – an absolute wonder!
Anyway, without even ordering, my coffee and croissant was put in front of me, all I had to do was pay. I used my credit card and tapped in my new favourite 4 numbers.
My poor coffee lady friend person looked devastated; like she was breaking the news of a loved ones death. I asked, humbly, if I could try again. She agreed.
It was too much; I was embarrassed for her more than I was myself. I conceded, made up some silly excuse and went to leave. She kindly offered me the coffee on the house and I couldn’t have been more grateful (that’s why I love Pret a Manger!)
When I got back to the office, perplexed and worried about living the rest of my month as a free loading hermit, I rang the customer service for my card. It took 3 minutes on hold and two separate attempts at inputting my card details in the phone keypad before I got to speak to anyone.
I wanted to know why my card had been refused.
This is what the nonchalant woman on the end of the phone said.
“You’ve hit your credit limit.”
What?! How?! I hadn’t used my credit card for ages! What the hell was wrong?! Was this fraud!?! I asked how.
“You’ve spent too much. You’ve hit your limit.”
A valuable insight. Not what I was looking for by way of an answer. I ask what my limit was, sure that it was at least £1000.
“£260.” She said.
“What?! Why is that?” I asked, increasingly frustrated.
“Because there was a late payment in April. We reduced your credit limit.”
“But I set up a direct debit in February for that card. There shouldn’t have ever been a late payment.”
“Yes, you did. I can see that. But it takes three months to process a direct debit, so it didn’t go live until May.”
“So if you could see I’d put in place a direct debit to always pay the full amount, why didn’t you think it was a bit ridiculous to then reduce my limit?”
Livid, I paid off the remaining £256 on my account so I could continue using it immediately. I needed to.
Naturally, an electronic payment from one computer to another takes 48 hours, naturally I had to rely on my brother to bail me out. Naturally I was pissed off.
Well, if you’d please excuse my language, what the fuck are they playing at?! When, in the name of all things holy, does it take 3 sodding months to process a simple direct debit from my current account and my only credit card?
With all this technology, with all this singing and dancing contactless transactions, at the end of the day, it is some mindless button basher that holds the entire process up.
And what now? My credit rating is fucked. All because I am trying to live without cash. To anyone else that obviously doesn’t know me, another auto-bot that will decide, without prejudice, that I am unreliable, that I can only be trusted with a £260 credit limit.
I am seriously looking into getting on the property market, it will be a struggle already even before an organisation that has benefitted from me wafting their product in an almost-full-page picture in The Telegraph for piss all has systematically declared me untrustworthy with credit.
This is, singlehandedly, the most frustrated, the angriest, and the closest to giving up I have been so far in over 18 months.
I’ve lodged a complaint, I’ve written to them, I’m even trying the backdoor route through anyone I’ve spoken to by way of affiliation over the last year and a half; hopefully this will get flagged up by their Google Alerts.
Maybe, just maybe, it won’t take them 3 months to process this. Here’s hoping.