A discursive look at Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, plus a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that

Friday, 27 June 2014

Hooptedoodle #140 - Donkey Award - Barclaycard

Not really another rant, just something which has cropped up which seems daft enough to warrant a Donkey Award. I’ll keep it short and to the point. I shall avoid mentioning the fact that the explosion of unsecured, unrepayable personal debt which caused so much damage to Western economies leading up to 2008 (and which hurt everyone, not just those who had those debts) was largely promoted by the credit card companies, who somehow seem to have escaped the public outrage and recrimination which has hit the banks (for example). I am all in favour of public outrage, and I have never understood how they were missed, though of course I am not going to mention it.

Some years ago I was one of a number of people who were scammed by having credit card details cloned by a tweaked card-reading device. I now know exactly where and when it happened. The perpetrators were, I understand, a Sri Lankan revolutionary organization who had managed to gain a presence in the franchise for Shell petrol stations in the UK. However it was done, I suddenly found that I had purchased a surprising number of one-way flights to Singapore, as a customer of Dragon Airlines. My credit card company’s fraud people were very good, and my loss was refunded and my card was changed, all very quickly. I was lucky. Since then, of course, chip and PIN technology has become much more sophisticated, and we like to think that electronic shopping is more secure than it was, but one lasting result of the Dragon Airlines episode is that I maintain a small Mastercard account alongside my main Visa one, and this Mastercard is intended just for transactions on the Internet, or via the telephone to merchants I do not know. It specifically has a small credit limit, to minimise the damage if there is a security failure.

Did any passengers buy their own tickets…?
This was identified as a good idea in post-Dragon discussions with the card suppliers themselves. It is disappointing, therefore, that they keep writing to me to tell me that they are going to do me the big favour of increasing this small security limit. Presumably I am not getting into enough debt.

This week I got such a letter, telling me that my credit limit on the Mastercard will be automatically increased from £500 to £2000 at the end of July. It also tells me, of course, how I may go about telling them not to do this, but this is now the fifth time we have gone through this rigmarole, and I don’t appreciate it.

I phoned the supplied 0800 number this morning, and spoke to a very nice, helpful chap in India. After we had discussed my wish to keep the headroom on the Mastercard low, and the reasons for this, he cancelled the increase, and (for the fifth time now) assured me that my account is now coded so that I will not get automatic increases in the future. We’ll see, but that's OK so far. He also explained that it might take up to 8 weeks for these changes to take effect on the system, which, of course would take us well past the end of July.

BONG!! This is the 12-month waiting-list for the pre-natal clinic all over again. I believe we have managed to sort it out, and it’s not my Indian friend’s fault anyway, but you can bet that I will be checking my Mastercard account online around the end of July.

Be very afraid - you have not yet seen hacks & viruses
Before we ended our conversation, I was asked would I like to obtain the new smartphone app to enable instant Mastercard shopping (so that I will not be a source of embarrassment to my friends by not having it).

No – I don’t want it. Thanks. If they have a long think about it, they might just come up with some reasons why. Too much enthusiasm, not enough common sense.

1 comment:

  1. I can understand your position on the usage of credit and credit cards. You make a very good pitch for throwing the CC companies into the same kettle as banks although most CCs are bank owned. My position is that NO ONE SHOULD use a credit card unless any outstanding balance can be paid off each month to avoid carrying charges.

    That said, the Barclay card you highlight is an excellent CC. By spending a specified amount within a specified time, the holder can receive a lot of rewards points that are easily redeemable.

    A case in point, my wife and I EACH were able to lop off $500 from the price of our recent airfare to Italy by using such mechanism. It is a good card if you can afford it!