Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Hard To Spend Your Money

Frequent sufferers here will know of my endless vacillation over the future of computing at Hendo towers. To wit: should I invest in a new PC albeit crippled by the infamous Vista OS, wait some more to see if Windows 7 delivers an improvement, plump for a Mac, or just do nothing.

We got back from Wales to find the big ageing computer under the desk had died so I elected to buy a machine from a well known and very reputable e-retailer of PCs. £750 was promptly pledged on my (very much in credit) credit card and i sat back to await delivery.

Then I got a surprise; the retailer e-mailed e to say the payment hadn't been honoured. I had twenty four hours to get it sorted with my card issuer or the deal was off.

So I ring the issuer. Yes indeedy my card had been stopped. Why? Well buying a computer for 750 was an 'unusual transaction' so they'd stopped my card. Just like that, and hadn't told me. Further enquiries revealed that not only the amount was the problem - apparently for me to spend anything over £500 is now viewed as a probably fraudulent transaction - but the identity of the retailer was an issue. It is on a blacklist of several big companies with whom you should not trade if you value your credit card's health, according to Kelly in the call centre. Unfortunately the identities of those companies on the list is a secret!

As to why they hadn't rung me (they have all my numbers, as well as the maiden name of my late mother) well 'we undertake to do that within 48 hours'.

So two things of note as we go into this retail crisis. One, spending an amount of five hundred quid or more in one go will get you effectively labelled as a fraudster/victim of e-fraud - unless you tell your issuer that you're going to do it in advance and get their permission (and don't forget you have to tell them when you go abroad now too, or risk a difficult situation at the hotel check out desk). And two, there are now certain retailers, well known and highly reputable in themselves, which are viewed as problematic by at least one big credit card issuer - who doubtless operate as a group when fraud risks are assessed.

I'm starting to wonder about my credit card issuer. They seem to be behaving less and less like a lender and more and more like my Dad. The idea of doing anything on a whim using a credit card now seems ridiculous.

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