When systems go bad, you know they’ll only get worse.

First thing this morning I received another call from an automated system, this time to my home phone, not my mobile. I was impressed as I could see the originating number (yesterday’s was withheld), but my positive attitude was short lived, as it was the same bank about the same card, so I hung up. Each time I took the phone off hook, Mrs Robot was still spewing forth her instruction which included telling me three times what phone number I could call, so I took a note of the number, tried another 10 times or so to free up the line and eventually got to make my call.

Now that I’d effectively returned a call to the same wretched system rather than one manned by humans, I was quietly seething, so I dug out my paperwork again and called the bank. None of the options would allow me to speak to anyone unless my card was lost or stolen, or unless I keyed in all my details, so I hung up, redialled, chose an option and refused to press any more keys. Finally the system gave up on me, stating that it couldn’t recognise my responses and requested that I press a key – Ha! it wasn’t smart enough to know that my keypad was suddenly working where it hadn’t been for the previous minute or so, and I was transferred to an operator.

I went through security with a very strong feeling of deja vu but did I get to the bottom of the issue as to why they were hassling me again? No, the person had no idea why the card was blocked again so soon. So I was transferred to the security team where I had to go through security, only this time much more security – before they would even consider letting me have my say.

One of the questions was about a valid transaction back in August for which I was only given part of the recipient’s name. Since I couldn’t complete the irritating little puzzle, I asked for another question but was told this was a serious matter and I needed to get it right to prove who I was. So far they had my home phone and mobile number, card number, date of birth, full address, expiry date on the card, credit card limit and yesterday’s transactions, but insisted on my answering the valid transaction details from back in August, for which I would require the statement. I was asked from which bank payment are made by direct debit and I gave the bank name and address, but the security guard was unmoved. She insisted on having the last three digits of the account (with another bank) from which I made payments. Another trek to the filing cabinet to get the details and finally she was ‘happy’ to discuss the issue.

Oh boy, did I protest.

So here’s what happened. My card was stopped again this morning on the basis of the same transaction from yesterday for the attempted purchase of a Secure Certificte. The reasoning given today was that it was in a foreign currency. She tried to justify it by stating that a number of transactions had appeared in US dollars and to internet companies. At least 30% of my transactions are in US dollars and almost 80% are internet transactions. Of the ones she quoted me, one is for the same amount every month and has been in place for almost a year whilst the other is to a UK hosting company I have been making payments to for five years, month in, month out.

Time to bin the card? It surely is, but I have to now go to the trouble of locating the places which have it held securely for regular payments and further inconvenience myself.

A right royal pain in the wallet.

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2 Responses to When systems go bad, you know they’ll only get worse.

  1. Vincent says:

    In the past year I have dumped the Barclaycard Visa that I had held since I was 18. It had been blocked every single time that I tried to use it in the USA, even though on each occasion I informed them of the dates and cities I would be in before I left the UK.
    The card I replaced it with, provided by my bank, has worked when I needed it to but I get exactly the same calls as Lee is describing. Irritatingly freqently and illogically triggered.

  2. Vincent says:

    My bank has an interesting fraud prevention system. If you move more than a set amount of money between accounts, the system is triggered and you get a phone call. As Lee describes, they call you and ask you personal questions to ensure that it is you and of course you don’t play ball but hang up and immediately call your bank to verify it was them.
    Telephone banking verify it is you, pass you to fraud prevention who then again verify it is you (with the same security questions you have just been asked) and then they ask you to confirm the movement of funds. These would be the same funds you moved earlied the same day via telephone banking, answering the same security questions. As far as I can tell the only additional ‘fraud prevention’ step is that they called you on your mobile; given I already get a text message from telephone banking to confirm transfers I fail to see the point of this irritating extra step.

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