20.1.05

Falling to bits


A couple of months ago, my bank took my old Switch card off of me, and replaced it with a Visa Electron. Apparently this is all part of the banks' attempt to eradicate card crime: the old card was swipe and sign, while the new one is 'chip and pin'. There is one slight problem, however: the last two times that I have tried to use it to pay for something, I was told by the retailer that they didn't accept the card. It happened today in the garage, while the time before was just surreal. You see, that time it was the bank who said they couldn't accept the card. Let me explain. I used to pay my credit card bill via my on-line bank account. Recently, however, my bank has been taken over by the Halifax building society. When the Halifax's on-line banking system was superimposed over the Bank of Scotland's, the BofS system simply stopped working, and several calls to the helpline have proven to be futile. Not to worry, I thought, I still have telephone banking... except that too was getting the Halifax treatment. Now the situation is much worse. My credit card is issued by the BofS, and in the past when I wanted to pay something towards it, I simply called the bank and transferred funds from my current account via my Switch card. This worked until the bank replaced my Switch card with their new Visa Electron chip and pin. When I asked to transfer money from my current account to my Visa using the card the bank had issued, I was told that they can't accept their own card, and that I would have to go to a branch to make the transfer. They say the new cards are designed to prevent fraud! What better way to prevent fraud than to issue cards that no-one - not even the bank itself - accepts. Pure genius!

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