Regular readers of the Rust may be able to recall my report last week about being texted by my bank at home and being asked if I’d just spent over £200 on groceries in the United States. Shortly afterwards a phone call to their customer service line revealed that there had been an apparent attempt at a cloning fraud which they then nipped in the bud by cancelling said card and issuing a new one that reached me a few days later.
Today, at the risk of beginning a new series entitled My Unwinnable Battle With The Modern World, I am going to describe my exploits yesterday when attempting to buy a new but cost-effective (cheap) desktop computer.
First the backstory.
With my laptop now funereally slow and having discovered that my smartphone contract was shortly to expire I had decided to research ‘the latest’ mobiles and computers. As with any normal male senior citizen, this involved me travelling to a technology supermarket on three consecutive Saturdays and walking around on a quest – not to assess the detailed intricacies of RAM, memory, speed and power – but to imagine, were I to be chosen to replace Daniel Craig in the role of James Bond, which devices would make me look coolest whilst, deadpan and idly playing with my chips at an exotic casino table, every female in the room looked on dripping with sultry desire and longing.
Despite having hitherto drawn a blank on that front, I had designated yesterday as the occasion when I would buy said items.
Inevitably whenever I go shopping random chance descends. I first encountered yesterday’s when arriving at the venue to find the two-acre car park inexplicably rammed with vehicles. I’d previously heard of ‘Black Friday’ [some kind of retail-organised pre-Christmas shopping frenzy] but had no idea when it was due to occur. Spending twenty minutes circulating the car park before I managed to locate and squeeze into a space provided the answer with a dull thud.
Some forty-five minutes later, having survived the crush up and down the aisles amidst hundreds of fellow shoppers, I arrived at the paying area, laden with an all-in-one desktop computer and a printer, for what appeared to be my regulation-issue quarter of an hour wait to ‘do the business’ with one of the assistants occupying a battery of desks that had specially established to cope with demand.
Once my turn arrived, and having negotiated the necessary preliminaries, the moment arrived for payment.
Out came my brand new (never used) credit card, on which I had been informed by letter I could still use my previous PIN number. I tapped it in …. whereupon the card was declined. Conscious that I was close to being regarded by a prat, both by the assistant at the desk and the ever-lengthening queue of customers waiting to pay, I immediately laughed this embarrassment off by announcing that I would switch to paying by debit card.
This was also declined.
I’m not going to bore you with every detail. However, after my assistant had telephoned my bank and eventually been left on ‘hold’, I offered to ring the customer services line number listed on the back of my credit card as a potential route to sorting out the problem. Some minutes later, the lady at the other end of said line announced that – de facto – no attempt to pay against the card had been received and that the best way forward would be for me to ring my ‘private banking number’ (which she then gave me) because I possess the bank’s private client status.
This I did, only to discover that even my attempt to pay by debit card had also not been ‘registered’ by the bank.
It was about this time that my shop assistant came up with an alternative explanation for the empasse, viz. it might possibly be that – because it was Black Friday – the shop’s own computer system had ‘gone down’ due to weight of traffic.
Some twenty minutes later (all the while spent with him on his shop phone, me on my mobile connected to my ‘private banking’ lady) the incident was resolved, my payment went through and then, to make up for some of my trauma, my assistant arranged for a colleague to carry my purchases to my car – this being no small recompense since, as my readers may recall, I had been obliged to park it about 300 yards from the shop’s front door.
Having returned home some 90 minutes beyond my estimated schedule, as instructed I was then immediately obliged to ring my ‘private banking fraud line’ again, just so that I could be put through some administrative hoops to double-check that everything was in order.
This done – it now being past midday – as you might understand somewhat frazzled by my ordeal but armed with a large gin and tonic, I nipped outside to join Her Indoors (sitting at her table reading a copy of Now magazine) on the garden patio in order to regale her with the tale of my morning’s ordeal.
She listened politely, albeit I sensed more physically than mentally, to my (I thought) rather-well-described litany of pain, frustration and disaster before slowly putting down her rag.
“Please tell me that you haven’t been out and about all this morning dressed like that again …” she said, motioning to my nether regions in that bored tone of hers.
I looked down.
My fly zip was open right to the bottom.
Life’s tough for a senior citizen in the 21st Century.