The Duke - April 15, 2015

Pushing all the wrong buttons
Pushing all the wrong buttons
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Imagine my surprise to receive a Sunday telephone call telling me my Tesco credit card had been “compromised.”

Well for a start I didn’t know what that meant. I had visions of the card being discovered having an affair with another – married – card or perhaps being caught looking at photographs of nude Visa and American Express cards.

Then I assumed the warm and reassuring Scottish accent on the other end of the telephone line was actually some Eastern European criminal mastermind putting on a phoney voice to lure me into giving out enough information to empty my bank account before I could say cock-a-leekie soup.

“We need proof of your identity, he said.

“I need proof of yours,” I responded as pleasantly as possible.

I don’t know who broke first but I think it was me when he told me the compromise in question was for about a thousand quids worth of electronic gadgetry bought on line.

Or “suspect account activity” I think he called it. From “compromised” to “suspect” in one jump, I felt like I was in George Clooney’s next heist movie. Now bearing in mind the only purchase I’d made on my Tesco card was for some essentials (ie wine and beer) at a Tesco store and when it comes to buying things online I have a “special” card and usually end of up with the wrong CD, a bottle of aftershave I didn’t want or a shirt several times too large, the chances of purchasing gadgetry are pretty slim. Anyway he seemed a pretty decent bloke – in a Scottish kind of way – and I said I’d ring back in five minutes.

I waited half an hour in case it was one those scams where they cheat and don’t hang up their end so you call the same criminal mastermind again.

This time I ended up talking to an equally re-assuring Scottish woman who explained what I’d “bought” and completely believed me when I needed her to explain what the gadgets actually were.

I was half way convinced that perhaps I should actually buy one of them just to see what use they were when she said she’d cancel the transactions and cancel my card.

“You can keep your existing pin number,” she added, clearly sussing that it had taken me a couple of years to memorise it – and even then have to secrete copies of it all over the house lest I forget.

Great. New shiny card on its way in “five to eight” working days. Gadgetry purchases all cancelled. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, I’d forgotten about standing orders. No card meant no direct debit account number and no direct debit account number meant a snippy e-mail from AOL (soon to be Talk Talk – and I never much liked the band of that same either) wondering why I’d stiffed them on that month’s payment.

A “manual interim” payment was possible. Now manual to me means taking a wadge of cash into a bank.

Not anymore. Now it means fiddling around pushing every button on my laptop trying to access accounts even that Eastern European identity snatcher would find problematical.

It also meant following the button pushing with a premium rate phone call to make sure it’s all worked out.

Then it meant switching the direct debit account from one card to another – I mean how could I trust a card so willing to be compromised?

Finally it meant a tetchy exchange (“this call may be recorded for training purposes”) with someone who couldn’t tell the difference between a post code (mine) and a sort code (my bank’s).

Next time I’ll just buy the gadgets! At premium rate it will probably be cheaper.

The Manager wasn’t too well recently which meant she was confined to Duke Mansions.

Normally this wouldn’t be a problem but our 122nd wedding anniversary was looming (well the 43rd actually but who’s counting?).

I know it’s not a very blokish thing to admit but I’ve never forgotten one yet (it coincides with the end of one tax year and the start of the next) so I’d got her card well in advance and booked a favourite restaurant for a few days later.

Mrs D did once forget until Mother Dearest’s card arrived to jog her memory later that same day.

This year she remembered the anniversary but forgot that it fell over the Easter holiday period so the all-important card shops would be closed should she feel well enough to leave the house.

Being the understanding sort I suggested she dig out last year’s (I always hold onto things like that for at least a year – and, no, I don’t know why).

She had a better idea. “You nip out a buy one for me,” she suggested.

Now I don’t mind helping with the cooking and cleaning and doing the shopping but I had to draw the line at purchasing a card which would read: “To my darling husband with all my love.”

And even mother’s card 
arrived late this year.