Monday, 29 October 2012

Humiliation at the filling station



Last week, on my way home from work, I dropped into my local filling station to replenish the diesel in my Fiat Punto. Tank fully topped-up, I left the car at the pump and entered the payment kiosk, one which doubles as a mini-market, and joined one of the two queues. Upon reaching the front, I inserted my debit card into the machine to pay the £32.58 owing and tapped in my PIN number.

“Try it again” said the young female cashier, a hint of suspicion in her voice.

Dutifully, I removed my card and inserted it again.

“It won’t accept that card. Have you got another means of payment, sir?” Her manner had instantly changed. The warm, animated young female had transformed into robotic mode, no doubt regurgitating, word-for-word, what she had been taught on a recent staff-training event about dealing with a potential fraudster.

“It worked alright yesterday, and there are funds in the account,” I said, already becoming aware of how unconvincing I must sound, “Can I try it in the other machine?”

I was allowed to obstruct the flow of the other queue to try my debit card in another machine, but it was rejected again. My car was beginning to cause an obstruction on the garage forecourt, other garage users awkwardly manoeuvrering around it.

The girl sighed and, still in auto-pilot, said “You can try the cash-point down the road, but you will have to leave your car here sir.”

By now I was convinced that everyone in the mini-market listening to this exchange had concluded there was a con-man of ‘Robert Redford in The Sting’ proportion in their midst.

After some negotiation, the android behind the counter kindly agreed to let me use their own telephone, located on the counter within ear-shot of everyone in the mini-market, to contact my bank. It was quickly established there had been a block put on my card due to some “suspicious activity” on my account. I was put through to the bank’s fraud department.

The first set of security questions, to confirm I was the person whose name is on the credit card, were a breeze; full name, date-of-birth and full postal address, no problem. But when I was asked to name three current direct debits coming out of my account, my performance deteriorated.

“I don’t know,” I mumbled, “my wife takes care of all that. I think we have a mortgage with the Woolwich Building Society.”

“How much is it for?” asked the interrogator in the fraud department.

“Oh, I don’t know,” I said, it used to be about 770 per month, but I think it’s come down a bit.”  

“Do you know your National Insurance Number?”

“Yes, hold on I’ve got it on my mobile phone.” As I fumbled to extract the required number from the “Notes” section of my iPhone, the cashier helpfully put the land-line on speaker-phone so I could respond without having to hold the receiver. Of course, this meant that everyone within a three-yard radius could hear the two-way conversation. I sensed the young girl was beginning to regain some of her animation.

Satisfied that I was not an impostor, the man from the bank (after cautioning me that it is a serious criminal offence not to answer truthfully) began to announce the recent transactions on my account to differentiate the genuine from the fraudulent.  

“£250 to Nigerian Leather in Abuja on the 20th October 2012?”

“No, definitely not” I replied, sensing for the first time, that I might be gaining a morsel of credibility with my listeners. “That’s definitely not mine.”

“£38.75 to the Red Lion Public House in Liverpool on the 19th October 2012?”

“Yes that will be mine; we had a pub-lunch last Friday.” I didn’t want my acquaintances in the mini-market to think I was an addled drunk. I needn’t have worried about such trivial matters.

“£80.00 to Naughty America on the 17th October?”

“Umm, I think that might … it could have …”

“Sorry Mr Jones, was that a debit you made or not?”

“Yes it was.” By this point I was avoiding eye-contact with anything human, staring instead at my car left abandoned on the garage forecourt.  

“What about £90.00 to Viagra Online Generic Pharmacy on the 15th October?”

Identity established, they transiently lifted the block on my card to allow me to pay for my diesel and, head bowed, I sped from the filling station. My Fiat Punto's thirst for diesel will, from now on, be quenched at a different establishment.     

                                                   **************************



I am participating in the Dude Write Starting Lineup this week where you can find some excellent posts by bloggers who happen to be dudes: http://dudewrite.blogspot.com)





31 comments:

  1. No I wouldn't go back there either. I had no idea Viagra was that expensive.

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    1. I guess that's down to inflation, Stephen!

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  2. hahaha! well at least you probably had some fun at home over the weekend, mr naughty america.

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  3. Yes Sir I do believe I would also find another filling station, at least one that will allow you to talk without being on speaker :)

    Our son made a purchase online and the next day was contacted by the bank to see if he was vacationing in Mexico, needless to say his information was stolen and lucky for him he wasn't standing in line attempting to make a purchase as you were.

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    1. Jimmy, Our bank is actually very good - it does pick up on fraud very quickly (like in this instance) and they always give you a full refund.

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  4. It's all a work of fiction, Sherilin - as if a man of pedigree, like me, would watch such material!

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  5. Wow, I would've left at the first question.

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  6. It was so tempting to do just that - but if I had I would have had to leave my car behind.

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  7. we had $10.000 of calls made to phone sex lines charged to our cards. yes, $10,000. In one weekend. yes, one weekend!

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    1. That's in a different league to my experience, Annmarie. I'll even refrain from making a quip about that comment!

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  8. Which was more effective at producing the desired result, the purchase for Naughty America or the Viagra?

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    1. I'll pass on that one Joe!

      Thanks for dropping in.

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  9. I just felt a surge of energy drink enter my nasal passage while trying to prevent myself from spitting my drink and laughing. I absolutely loved this.

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  10. I'm glad it made you snort, Angie. I suspect that your reaction was similar to that of the girl in the filling station.

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  11. Oh, that's awful. At least you're married and hadn't been flirting with the salesgirl before that all happened!

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    1. No, I guess that is some consolation.

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  12. Too funny, dude. When I read the words "Naughty America" I burst out laughing. I guess in certain situations we'd rather our identities be stolen.

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    1. I'm pleased it made you laugh, Youngman. Even I could smile about it (albeit a couple of hours after the event).

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  13. Yeah... I don't think I would go back either. Good call and good post.

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    1. Thanks, Michael, for your generous comments.

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  14. That's the worst, I've had that happen to me before and my wife does the bills too so that makes it worse. I feel your pain.

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    1. It doesn't sound convincing in such situations to say my wife sorts all that out. I appreciate the empathy.

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  15. Oh man, that's both horrible and hilarious. Happy that the problem is fixed though!

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    1. Hi Daniel

      Yes, they've now sent me a new card and I'm back in business. Still feel a degree of apprehension, though, each time I put it into the machine.

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  16. Congratulations on your Dude Write win for this great post. Well deserved!

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    1. Cheers, Stephen. I was only following your sterling advice - thanks for the guidance and mentoring.

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  17. Oh the laughter! Made funnier that the ad at the top is therapy for Christian Sexporn addicts. You do know that don't you? I am not sure how adchoice works but if they scan your blog and somehow match appropriate ads I am afraid you may be in a wee bit of trouble!

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  18. No, I didn't know about the "therapy for Christian Sexporn" ad. At the moment the advert is about bottle coolers, but I'm aware they change frequently - last week there was an image of a woman with tattooed arms inviting readers to join a mature dating site!

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  19. Good lord. If one were to join a mature dating site I am not sure a woman with tattooed arms would be the visual that would attract me!

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  20. LOL! Nothing like getting caught with your pants down at the worst possible time, eh? :) Thank you for the laugh and for linking up with the Humor Me! Blog Hop! :D

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  21. I appreciate you taking the time to comment, Terrye.

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