PINning down a problem

So, I’ve sorted out some of the PCC business, but it took a while as it involved a long and sociable chat on MSN. Then I phoned about my credit card. Can you spare a couple of minutes while I tell you the whole story?

About a month ago, I left (I thought) my credit card at home and then needed to pay for £50-worth of petrol. I put my debit card in the machine, put in the PIN and it was refused. The checkout girl said that the ‘enter’ button was a bit dodgy, so do it carefully. It was refused again, she tried pressing it a third time and it was disallowed. I wrote a cheque instead.

Later, *cough* I discovered that I’d left the debit card at home and so had actually put the credit card in the machine, so it was my mistake as I’d used the wrong PIN.

I phoned the helpline and was kept on hold for more than 20 minutes. Finally I got through and the woman said that the card was fine. I said I’d tried to use it, just to check, and it was refused. She then discovered that there was a ‘watch’ on the card, which she removed.

A week or so later, on trying to use the card, it was refused again. I rang again. Another 25 minutes listening to a ghastly non-music for 12 seconds followed by an 8 second assurance that my call was important, please hold. Over and again. Every time the voice came on, I had to listen to be sure it wasn’t an actual person, but the ‘music’ was too nasty to listen to and I had to hold the receiver away from my ear. It’s not a freephone number, by the way, I was paying for this.

Eventually, I got through to a helpful man with an Indian accent who said that the easiest way to sort it out was to send me a new PIN.

A few days later, I received a reminder of the same PIN. I sighed. This was a couple of weeks ago. In that time, I’ve used the card several times to buy things online – DVDs from Amazon, train tickets and the TV licence – with no problem. However, it was refused at the wine merchant yesterday.

I phoned again. Is there a policy that makes it always between 20 and 25 minutes on hold before you speak to anyone? I explained quite forcefully, though politely of course, the whole story. The woman said that they can’t send out a new PIN, all they can do is send a reminder. I said the man had told me I’d get a new PIN, he evidently didn’t know that. She said that I have to take it to one of their ATMs and it will say the PIN is blocked, and that if I enter the correct number it will unblock it. That’s the only way to unblock it, they can’t do that for me.

I said that evidently some of their call-centre staff don’t know this. Please could she pass the word on that this should be explained? I also said that, as a security measure, it is not effective as the card itself can still be used online. She said she’d pass that on too. She sounded helpful, genuinely apologetic and entirely capable. I hope she is.

I want to keep this particular card, because N@t10nw1de has one of the few accounts that doesn’t charge extra for using their cards abroad, and I’m going to Madrid in a couple of weeks. Unfortunately, the nearest branch is 10 miles away from here. Nevertheless, it would have been quicker to go there in the first place.

16 comments on “PINning down a problem

  1. Dave

    My card was cloned this week. It’s been cancelled, and I’m now waiting for a new one.

    I shall be posting about this tomorrow.

  2. Steg

    On the subject of non-freephone numbers that one is sometimes obliged to call it’s always worth having a look at Say No To 0870 first to see if the company in question has a freephone number listed there. You may not get through to the correct department initially but 9 times out of 10 they can transfer you and you’re not paying for the dubious privilege of listening to their ghastly “on hold” music!

  3. Z

    I rather wish I’d just reported the damn thing stolen – it would have been much quicker to get a new card. You’re right, Chairwoman, though I didn’t know it at the time. I looked on their website and I couldn’t find any help on what to do in this circumstance. Thanks, Steg, I know one can sometimes use freephone numbers, or local rate ones, but I hadn’t bothered to google to find out how, as I didn’t expect it to take all this trouble. I will another time. I hope it’s sorted now, but not entirely confident.

  4. Blue Witch

    On the (rare) occasions that my card has been refused, I’ve got £30 a time for ’embarrassment’ out of whichever company… asking for that always gets you put through to a supervisor or manager and they are then in a postion to sort out the problem properly. I never trust men in India (and indeed I demand to speak to someone in England).

    The reason most cards are refused is becausue they are reported stolen / over their credit limit / in payment default, and shop assistants know that. Hence why one is justifiably embarrassed and deserves a goodwill payment for all the hassle.

    Until everyone starts taking this sort of stance, customer service will continue to decline in quality. The only way to get it to improve is to hit companies where it hurts – in the profits.

    Nationwide is only good for foreign transactions. Get a chasback card for your UK expenditure. We got over £250 in cashback last year jsut for using htem for our everyday expenditure. will tell you whihc the best ones are at present.

  5. Z

    Typos, schmypos – I make so many I can’t be embarrassed any more. It is a cashback account, though I expect there are better – I don’t use it a lot and only got it for the foreign use, though I grace it with my custom sometimes.

  6. sablonneuse

    How right you are: phoning is a frustrating pastime nowadays, especially when the people you eventually talk to don’t seem to know enough to help you.
    I’m speaking from a similar experience with my bank today.

  7. Z

    I wouldn’t mind if they didn’t know and said so, it’s when they say it’s all sorted and it takes you using the thing to demonstrate that it isn’t!

  8. Blue Witch

    Ah yes, apologies, your Nationwide card is obviously pre January 2006 when they stopped cashback for new customers (as I found here:

    Egg Money (not the standard card) still pays 1% cashback, plus bonuses for spending with their ‘partners’, AmEx a sliding scale – but not accepted everywhere – and Capital One have a 4% for the first few months, so excellent if you are planning a large purchase…

    But you probably can’t be bothered to change, I was just saying in case anyone else was interested 😉


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