I am definitely turning into a grumpy old woman. No doubt about it. This week has been one of rants, complaints and mutterings. "I don't believe it" has figured greatly in any and all conversations I've had for the past few days, along with "is it me, or was that totally thick/ridiculous/bloody dense/a complete waste of time?" etc., etc. Rant, rant, moan and grumble, ridiculous, stupid and crap. Like the village of Trumpton (old kids' TV show), my world seems to be populated by a load of wooden-heads.
It all started off when I ordered some train tickets over the Virgin trains automated telephone service because I couldn't be bothered to go down to the station in person (it was raining) or struggle with the internet (don't ask). Eventually, after negotiating the seemingly endless pre-recorded voice messages I was put through to a call centre probably somewhere considerably hotter and much further away than the UK, spoke to a charming but clueless person in Bangalore or wherever it is, and ordered two return tickets from Birmingham New Street to London Euston for this Saturday. The idea was to take in a show, have a nice meal, enjoy a relaxing wedding anniversary treat. Simple.
Or so you might think. Several days went by and nothing turned up. Then an enveloped which looked a bit like train tickets arrived but was addressed to my husband. As he was away on business (and I don't routinely open his post unless it looks really, really private and smells of perfume) it just got chucked in the pile of bills awaiting his return, lucky man. Over the next day or so nothing arrived addressed to me, so I looked at the letter again, decided it definitely felt a bit tickety, so opened it. Despite the fact that I had bought the tickets in my name, paid for them with my own credit card, for some reason they had been sent and charged to him, which was annoying as this was supposed to be a surprise treat. Now I don't know what you think about that, but I feel it's a security problem if one person can order something and it can be sent to someone else and charged on their credit card too. If only I could do that with clothes, handbags and shoes, my wardrobe worries would be over.
So I rang up and explained that this was just not acceptable, that I was the customer and not my husband, asked how and why they'd used his credit card details instead of mine and how they'd got them. I just got a blanket "we are sorry for the inconvenience" rather like I was on platform 10a waiting for the train to Coventry which was going to be a bit late. Bloody infuriating. No proper explanation was offered, the "operative" said that if I would hold on, he would put me through to a supervisor. I waited for a good fifteen minutes and then the line went dead. So much for customer services, Virgin.
But now it's got me thinking about how safe all our details really are, whoever's hands they are in, not just those held by half-soaked Civil Service numpties. After this week's fiasco at HM Revenue we are now only too aware that some Governmental departments are having a laugh when they tell us our personal files are secure, but I was really hoping that commercial transactions over the phone or the internet were less risky given the volume of business that depends on it. But now I am not so sure, and am wondering if anything other than face to face good old fashioned shopping is unwise. With cash, obviously, if we can all remember what that actually is.
Apart from the obvious ID fraud situation (my husband has always said that it would be a relief if my credit card was stolen as the thieves would probably spend less than I do), can you imagine the consequences if you were trying to get away with something a little bit naughty or secret? With someone other than your partner?
For instance, you've probably seen that credit card company's advert:
"Two First Class train tickets to London: £150.
Tickets for a West End show, with dinner: £180.
Illicit overnight nooky-fest, posh hotel, champagne and chocolates: £375.
Accidentally charging the above to your other half's credit card and thereby dropping you in the shit:
Told you before, you can't get away with anything these days.