Sunday, 25 November 2007

We've Got Your Number, Alright?

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.


menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

You don't even need to leave home to be mugged these days. A few years ago, before I managed to get my Norton security stuff loaded on our new desktop PC some cheeky thieving swine loaded a crappy bit of code that would dial through to a premium rate porno line. I couldn't believe the twat had run up a 189 quids worth of premium call rate. I was bloody furious that he had come into my home via a dialup line and did that. It felt worse than when I had been burgled a few years before that.

I pictured his death daily until I got over it! Little slime ball.

Anonymous said...

That is absolutely terrible. Apart from the obvious fact that security has indeed been breached here, you ordered those tickets, not your husband. My point: Three years ago, my husband and I bought a new Audi. From a dealer in Newcastle. I bought the car in my name. I paid for the car in full.

All correspondence, still to this day, is addressed to my husband, he is the one who gets the Audi magazine, he is the one who gets the offers etc etc etc. My theory was that buying cars must be a man thing!

Crystal xx

Swearing Mother said...

MOB: That is disgusting, in more ways than one! Obviously the fact that someone has infiltrated your system (that sound porno in itself, somehow), the fact that it cost you is a double insult. Bastard. Hope he gets piles from sitting in front of the computer screen for hours.

Crystal, Hi: Exactly the same thing has happened to me. Bought the little grey sports car, paid for it, husband filled in some form on my behalf whilst I was at work and now it's registered to him despite the fact that he put my details on the form. Do I not exist?? Bah. If it had been a washing machine or iron, no doubt they'd have accepted the fact it was mine, but not a car.

debio said...

Oh I could go on for hours about what I can't do here; have a booze licence in my name (because I'm a woman), be an automatic signatory on a bank account (because I'm a woman) - and, oh yes, apply for my daughter's residency visa without permission from her father (because I'm 'only her mother')....

But I 'manfully' soldier on...

belle said...

Deeply irritating, SM, and very not fair. But on the up side, I shall wave at you in London on Saturday - we're off to Les Mis for Tilly's birthday :o)

laurie said...

WOW. this is shocking. how did they get his credit card number? how did they know he was your husband? i'd pursue this because it would be infuriating and also, as you say, a bit scary.

we have the opposite problem here, by the way. doug keeps getting mail and stuff addressed to him with my last name.

rather irritating, especially since he's not exactly an enormous fan of the enormous clan of my family....

Swearing Mother said...

Debio, that's enough to make your head spin off. The injustice of it. Furious on your behalf!!

Hi Belle, how lovely! Hope you have a great time. In typical vintage rock-chick fashion, I booked for We Will Rock You. Have seen it already but up for another go, as ever. Happy Birthday to Tilly.

Swearing Mother said...

Hello Laurie, although the "customer services" were grovellingly apologetic, they didn't give me much in the way of a proper explanation. I personally think it's because maybe he has in the past also bought train tickets either over the phone or the internet, given them all his details including address and post-code thus creating an account, and when I phoned and gave them my details they just saw that our last names, address and post-code was the same and pressed the wrong button, charging him instead of me. Or something like that. Careless mistake, not very satisfactorily explained by them unfortunately. I am expecting a big bunch of flowers from them any minute now by way of saying sorry. Or my husband is, whoever's details they are currently using!

The Grocer said...

What's up with everybody at the moment your all looking for illicit night's of passion, what with you and Wifey it isn't safe to go out. Noticed the full moon last night, a coincidence?

Lord James-River said...

It's ready.

Norman said...

The feminist movement still has a long way to go. It STILL happens sometimes my wife buys things with HER OWN money and the corresponence comes to me who has nothing to do with the transaction. I thought we'd got rid of this hubby-owning-wife concept way back in the 1960s.
I think all you women need to invoke Artemis a bit more. (I think you know what I mean SM.)
As for electronic ID theft, its all too easy. Face to face business is a far safer option. As I said in a previos posting, only give "Geneva Convention" information, - name, postal address, phone number and nothing more.

Tina said...

SM, I would like to buy a new pair of shoes, a new winter coat, and a laptop. Would your husband's credit card be available please?

Dear god, they stagger me. I get their trains nearly every day, will have words on your behalf.

Am so glad that we both like the word 'numpty', it's just so damn expressive, isn't it?

Suzy said...

You would think will all the high end technology, that it would be easier to protect someone's credentials and keep them separate from a spouse's or anyone else's.

Aside from that, if anyone wants my identity, as they say in your country- THEY CAN BLOODY WELL HAVE IT!!
Make sure you take all the pain in the ass day to day stuff too, oh and throw in a little of my childhood. That'll fix 'em.

Great post as always.

Swearing Mother said...

Ooh hello Grocer, It definitely is the season for passion, if only to keep the winter chill at bay. Log fires, Irish coffees, cuddly soft blankets and crisp, cotton sheets........... throw a bucket of water over me someone, quick!

Hello Lord James, how nice of you to visit. Thank you so much for blog-rolling me and the blog focus, I am truly chuffed.

Norman, thanks to your blog I now know how that Artemis gal would have handled this situation, and it wouldn't have been nice!

Tina, I've been trying to get those credit card details myself for the last 30 or so years, and never managed it, then some half-soaked Virgin (employee) does it in five minutes. Typical.

Swearing Mother said...

Hi Suzy, this ID theft stuff is like being attacked on all sides by a plague of locusts, they want to strip you bare of anything you have but leave you with all the horrible bits. Shame we can't download a lot of that on to them too. As you say, that would teach them!

Thanks for visiting Suzy.

toady said...

Thanks for your visit to my blog. The wellies came from Shoefayre and were £12.

Swearing Mother said...

Thanks Toady, you have started a trend! Great blog by the way.

Casdok said...

What more can i add? Not good!

The Rotten Correspondent said...

That would really tick me off too. It's like all kinds of hot buttons all at once - privacy, chauvinism and incompetence. Three! Three for the price of one!

Well, at least I guess they're consistent.

travelling, but not in love said...

I agree, it's shocking. But then the state of 'customer service' is laughable these days.

I'm not that old and I remember when it used to be so much better. I think we're losing our ability to really look after customers - luckily our willingness to complain is growing too!

As a complete aside, how are getting on with Rufus SM? Am I going to have to fight you for his hand in marriage?

Anonymous said...

I so sick and fed up of speaking to any point east of England.
I live in Wales and have a very welsh address, that can never be understood, my name is also unusual so they don’t get that either.
When I have a simple request , it is always made complicated because they have a set patois that doesn’t fit what I want.Grrrrrrrrrrrr
First thing I ask now when I joining anything, or taking anything out -where’s you call centre? I am fed up of being discriminated against because of where I live and what I am called.
I am also fed up with getting mail addressed to Mr .......
and phone rings , is your husband home, yes , butI am the bread winner mate!!!!!!

Swearing Mother said...

Casdok, words fail me too! It's just SO frustrating!

Hi RC. A triple whammy, that's definitely what it was. It takes skill to mess up on that level.

Hiya Travelling: I expect you encounter all manner of irritating stuff like this as you travel a lot and have to cope with it internationally too. Your blood pressure must be higher than mine.

Rufus sure is cool, but I've only heard him, not seen him yet. Let you know if we've got to arm wrestle for him.

Hello Valleys Mam: Can you imagine what it'll be like if we start sending all our NHS stuff overseas to be processed? Only a person with my old favourite "shit-for-brains" syndrome could have thought that one up. Where do they get these dumb ideas from?

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

Well, there must be a price to pay for all this convenience, mustn't there. I just got my letter of apology about the whole child benefit fiasco, which is just beyond a joke. As for the credit card, they probably have both your details in some database, but how scary!!!

Swearing Mother said...

Hi Wakeup: Yes, having puzzled it out I think that what must have happened. Good job I wasn't treating my fancy man to a dirty weekend! From now on I am working in cash.

Re the Child Benefit fiasco, my daughter received the same letter as you, but wrongly addressed to her with someone else's details, including National Insurance number! Can it get any worse?

Stinking Billy said...

"Grumpy old woman", eh? I'm now almost afraid to ask you this, but are you still my fwend? I mean , following my post of a couple of days ago entitled "Class of 2007"?

I made you the star, you know, or so my wife thinks. You make her laugh.

Swearing Mother said...

Stinking Billy, hi! And thanks for featuring me in the play "what you wrote". As I said on your blog, I am as honoured as Andre Previn must have been when Eric and Ernie had him on their programme.

And I had the best lines!

Thanks so much.

dgibbs said...

That's unbelievable! You really can't surprise your spouse or keep anything from them.

Swearing Mother said...

Hi Dgibbs, good job I wasn't up to anything really naughty!

Suzy said...

I tagged you

Take a look at my blog post.


Mopsa said...

Don't get me started - I have had a nightmare with call centres this week. I lost my cool HUGELY and hoped that it had all "been recorded for training purposes".

Swearing Mother said...

Hi Mopsa, I know just what you mean. Why is everything so difficult? Grrr.

Norman said...

Hi SM. Just to go off topic. Nice to see WITN seems to be recovering. She should really limit diving to the swimming pool and not do it on the stairs.
I'm away to St.Ives. Back in a week. Cheers

Swearing Mother said...

Norman, I know, she's a danger to herself at times! Was a bit concerned re the symptoms she described, they sounded a bit dodgy.

Have a good time in St. Ives, doing arty stuff?