So, I've sorted out some of the PCC business, but it took a while as it involved a long and sociable chat on MSN. Then I phoned about my credit card. Can you spare a couple of minutes while I tell you the whole story?
About a month ago, I left (I thought) my credit card at home and then needed to pay for £50-worth of petrol. I put my debit card in the machine, put in the PIN and it was refused. The checkout girl said that the 'enter' button was a bit dodgy, so do it carefully. It was refused again, she tried pressing it a third time and it was disallowed. I wrote a cheque instead.
Later, *cough* I discovered that I'd left the debit card at home and so had actually put the credit card in the machine, so it was my mistake as I'd used the wrong PIN.
I phoned the helpline and was kept on hold for more than 20 minutes. Finally I got through and the woman said that the card was fine. I said I'd tried to use it, just to check, and it was refused. She then discovered that there was a 'watch' on the card, which she removed.
A week or so later, on trying to use the card, it was refused again. I rang again. Another 25 minutes listening to a ghastly non-music for 12 seconds followed by an 8 second assurance that my call was important, please hold. Over and again. Every time the voice came on, I had to listen to be sure it wasn't an actual person, but the 'music' was too nasty to listen to and I had to hold the receiver away from my ear. It's not a freephone number, by the way, I was paying for this.
Eventually, I got through to a helpful man with an Indian accent who said that the easiest way to sort it out was to send me a new PIN.
A few days later, I received a reminder of the same PIN. I sighed. This was a couple of weeks ago. In that time, I've used the card several times to buy things online - DVDs from Amazon, train tickets and the TV licence - with no problem. However, it was refused at the wine merchant yesterday.
I phoned again. Is there a policy that makes it always between 20 and 25 minutes on hold before you speak to anyone? I explained quite forcefully, though politely of course, the whole story. The woman said that they can't send out a new PIN, all they can do is send a reminder. I said the man had told me I'd get a new PIN, he evidently didn't know that. She said that I have to take it to one of their ATMs and it will say the PIN is blocked, and that if I enter the correct number it will unblock it. That's the only way to unblock it, they can't do that for me.
I said that evidently some of their call-centre staff don't know this. Please could she pass the word on that this should be explained? I also said that, as a security measure, it is not effective as the card itself can still be used online. She said she'd pass that on too. She sounded helpful, genuinely apologetic and entirely capable. I hope she is.
I want to keep this particular card, because N@t10nw1de has one of the few accounts that doesn't charge extra for using their cards abroad, and I'm going to Madrid in a couple of weeks. Unfortunately, the nearest branch is 10 miles away from here. Nevertheless, it would have been quicker to go there in the first place.