My bank is usually – I say ‘usually’ – very efficient and has an online site that is very useful and user friendly.
I have not just my current account with them but my credit card account.
I have removed the name of my bank from what follows because – hey! – you can never be too careful, never too paranoid, online.
So I bought a new MacBook computer back in January, using my bank’s credit card. Obviously, being Apple, it cost over £1,000.
It arrives tomorrow and, in the early hours of yesterday morning, Apple not unreasonably tried to get their payment from my credit card account.
So I got woken up at 02.21am by a text message from my bank saying they were about to send me a text message.
I then received a second text message from an unknown mobile phone number, not from my bank.
It said (I have removed specifics):
XXX Bank has noticed your XXX Bank Credit card ending XXXX was used on 01-02-2021 02.20.50, at apple.com/UK for £1249.00. This payment was declined. If this was you reply YES, otherwise reply NO. There is no need to call us. Responding to this text is the quickest way to update your account.
Now what is the correct answer to this message from an unknown mobile phone number?
Logically, I think the answer should be NO because, no, it was not me who declined the payment. But I presumed the answer they were wanting was YES because I had used the card, though not on the date and time they quoted – it was several weeks previously.
There was also no reason given why the payment was declined.
But it mentioned the correct account.
I did hesitate about clicking YES on the basis I was answering a text from a totally unknown mobile phone and, by clicking YES, I could well be triggering some premium rate phone call to some obscure country and would be charged insane amounts.
But it was 02.51am in the morning and, rather than not get the computer, I clicked YES assuming the problem was that my bank’s computer was triggered by the unusual £1,249 credit card payment.
I then got another text message from the unknown mobile phone number saying:
Thanks for confirming this was you. If you still need to make this payment, please wait 10 minutes and try again. There is no need to call us.
So I was now being told by the unknown mobile phone number that, despite or because of clicking YES, the purchase had been cancelled and I would have to make the £1,249.00 payment again.
I looked up my bank’s normally useful website and eventually found the number to phone for Help on my credit card.
I phoned it and – obviously I first had to go through two or it might have been three automatic machines giving me choices of where to go – I reached the Helpline which had an answering message saying it was closed until 0700.
I got back to sleep around 0300 and, when I woke up properly around 0900, I checked my credit card account online to discover the £1,249.00 had been un-declined and was quite correctly pending. So all that crap about If you still need to make this payment, please wait 10 minutes and try again was bollocks.
I phoned my bank’s alleged Helpline and was told if I still needed to make the payment I should make it again – in other words buy the computer again – despite the fact the money had now been accepted as legit. Much other bullshit swirled around, too tedious for even me to repeat.
I mentioned all the above to a friend who told me much the same thing had happened to her. She was with the same bank. On that occasion, she simply cancelled her purchase, re-bought it again with another bank’s credit card and had no problem.
She is no longer with my bank.
My MacBook arrives tomorrow.
No thanks to my bank.
If I may be allowed to say one small thing…