Wednesday, March 16, 2005

You know how it is.

Last week, I was sitting around thinking, "gee, it's ages since I've watched Heathers, and I'd like to." What's a twentyfirst century girlie to do? I've not yet signed up for one of those armchair-online-DVD-rental doodars (you know, the ones that foretell the death of Ye Olde Video Shoppe), so I'm stuck.

Because I'm an instant gratification type, but with laziness thrown in, I order it from for £11.99. What's great is, it just gets delivered to your door. It's in stock, so no problemo.


When I get an email a couple of days later asking for address verification, I have a sense of deja vu - this is what they did last time I ordered something off them, about a year ago (The Breakfast Club, if you must know, as part of a John Hughes box set. You sense a teen-theme emerging, right?) I swore then that it was too much hassle to do business with them. This is because all my credit cards don't have my flat number, but for delivery, I often put it, especially if it won't fit through the letterbox. So my addresses don't match.

So I call up their stupid 0845 number that costs me 5p a minute - which I object to anway - and they say they will verify my address. I tell them my address again, I listen to their stupid music while they verify it, and they come back and say the bank has verified my address. Everything's hunkydory. It takes about ten minutes.


Today, I'm paying my credit card bill online, and I see my remaining credit limit is different from the charge balance. So I call up and discover this: On Monday, made three transactions on my card at the same time: a £10 transaction that was made and reversed (ie £0 cost) and a £10 transaction that was accepted. On Tuesday, they charged me £11.99.

On Wednesday, they send me email saying my goods are being despatched. Yay.

I call them again, for 5p a minute, to find out what the £10 charge is. I speak to Luke, who is charming, but tells me that's their procedure, and a long blurb about the problems they have with flat addresses for new accounts. I say that I'm not a new account, sadly I have done business with them before. He's terribly apologetic, but that's the system. He can get the £10 back to me today. I point out that my credit card statement is due today, so I will probably have to pay interest on the £10, because of how my statements fall. I get slightly ranty, and point out that they did this transaction without my permission, and he says someone more senior will call me back. He can't give me their head office number in Jersey (and if you call the number on their emails, it just routes you to the call centre), and he's not sure who the joint MDs are.

I call the credit card company again, and they say this is a pending transaction, but it will still affect my credit limit, and that other companies who do test transactions do them for 1p, not £10. I'm angry, but busy, and frankly it's only £10, whatever the principle.

Then Debbie, the "call centre manager" (how those words bring a chill to my ear) calls me back and goes on and on about their system again. I don't sodding care about their system. It reminds me of my marketing career guru, a fabulous woman called Marjorie, who always exhorted us on the copy front "don't tell me about your grass seed, tell me about my lawn". Like I'm the customer, I don't care about their sodding inefficienies.

I get annoyed again, and point out that (a) it's an unreasonable business practice, and (b) they used my card without my permission, and after a little interlude it becomes clear that they are an outsourced call centre for and she "doesn't feel it's appropriate to tell me the name of their company." After some argy bargy, she agrees to credit me back with the £11.99, but points out that if I, or any of my friends, use, the address verification puts £10 on your credit card and then takes it off again.

You have been warned, folks.

Me, I'm going down to the HMV shop, to dance in the old-fashioned way. It's a krenk, already with this internet lark. Also, I should get out more.

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