Remember, remember, the 7th of November   Leave a comment

Clueless, incompetent clots.

In the first half of July, my credit card was replaced because of some un-named security flaw. It was a bit of a nuisance – changing the number on various accounts, and cancelling/re-making an order. But fair enough, you’ve got to fix problems.

On Friday, I received an email saying that I will be receiving a new credit card that will activate on the 7th of November. This is because, on the 29th of April, Barclaycard bought a load of accounts from Egg, and mine was one of them.

So that knackered any hope for Friday being a good day.

Sounds a trivial thing to get annoyed about, doesn’t it? It’s not having to change credit card details that’s annoying, despite PayPal cocking something up every time I do it. That’s an irritation, but only of the “grumble for ten minutes” variety.

Really, it’s a combination of things:

Firstly, the stupidity of it. It’s completely unnecessary. They bought these accounts over two months before they last replaced my card, so why didn’t they do it properly then? It’s not like BarclayCard is a new start-up that wouldn’t have a few million blank cards lying around. And they didn’t replace the “security flaw” cards immediately, so I doubt waiting an extra week or two would have made any odds there. And if they knew they’d be changing cards again in the near future, why does it have an expiry date in 2013? And, ultimately, why do they need to change the cards at all? Why can’t they just change the database?

Secondly, the new cards have contactless payment tech in them. Now, I’m fine with this in something like the Oyster card (because it doesn’t matter if somebody from outside TfL talks to it; it’s just recording scans and where they occur), but having a payment system which doesn’t require any interaction from the card owner… Who thought that was a good idea, really? And £15 is “low value”? Most of my shopping trips are less than £15. Convenience? That’s just trying to get people to spend money more easily. It doesn’t benefit me*; Typing in my PIN takes about a second (and that’s on useless squidgy key-pads), and if I’m unwilling to go to that much effort to buy something I really don’t want it. It also prevents anyone charging me without my active participation. Oh, and retailers aren’t supposed to give you receipts unless you ask for them, so that’ll make checking transactions easy, won’t it? Maybe you did buy that, but forgot to ask for a receipt? I can’t think how this system can ever be a good thing. You don’t even get to decide what your transaction limit is, or get to opt out, as far as I can see.

But most trivially (although, in the grand scheme of things, “trivial” also includes human life and the planet Earth, so let’s not hold that against it), and most annoyingly, is third. When I got my new card, I used it to pre-order a couple of games. Skyrim, for about £20.40 (due on November the 11th), and Mass Effect 3 for £15 (due in March). I asked Egg customer support, and yes, after the 7th of November my current card will stop working. So much for Expires 2013. I ordered those games because they were cheap, and if I were to cancel and re-place them, the games would cost £26 to £28 each; I’d be out of pocket by over £18, for something that’s not my fault or in any way under my control. Hopefully, I’ll be able to change payment method, or get the companies to charge my card in advance. I’m reasonably hopeful for the Skyrim order (which I’m really looking forwards to), but suspect I’ll have no luck with ME3***.

So they’ve gone out of the way to cock me around, possibly cost me money, and add features with no positive benefit what-so-ever. Well done, BarclayCard. And thanks for selling, Egg.

At the moment I have little inclination to do anything with the new card beyond leave it in a drawer until my cashback pays out next year, and then I can cancel the account. I’m not at all sure it’s worth it. And they were doing so well.

(The good part of the day was having some sweets called “creamy drops”. Imagine Werther’s Originals with goo in the middle. Also the Two Streams Dr. Who episode, which was better than the Doll-house one.)

* And does it benefit retailers? A found/stolen card is potentially worth £75 (you get five contactless payments per chip and pin transaction), and doesn’t require any special knowledge or ability on the part of the thief**. And who loses out on card fraud? It’s not the customer; they get their money back when the theft’s reported. It’s not the thief; they’ve got the goods they bought. It’s not the card company; they pull back the stolen money… From the retailer. Doesn’t sound like they have much to gain either.

** Won’t making cards so much easier for criminals to use increase the appeal of theft and mugging?

*** Update because this and the previous post have been sitting in Drafts, waiting for a title, for days: if Tesco can’t collect payment they send you to a page to re-pay, so Skyrim should be fine. Bee very kindly sorted me out. So, Bee and Tesco are good, Egg and Barclaycard are rubbish, Colthor should get his cheap pre-orders. Hurrah!

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