Friday, 15 October 2010

All The Time In The World

It's late Sunday night and I'm trying to book a series of coaches but after entering my card details my booking fails. Having attempted to book one journey approximately five times, I'm now swearing profusely and decide to give up. Enough of my time is already swallowed up by National Express journeys these days but now unsatisfied by this, they've decided to deprive me of the remainder of my weekend.

The next day, determined to book ahead to get cheaper ticket prices, I tempt fate and go through this rigmarole again. Naturally the same error page is displayed so I decide to book another journey using a different site only to face a similar helpful onscreen message. Complaining to little sis, she asks if I'm with “GayWest” to which I answer in the affirmative. She instantly recommends going to the branch and getting them to check my card, having had her card frozen due to “unusual activity” after buying a bottle of wine from the farm shop next to our childhood home she used to drop-in on daily.

Already attempting to fit the London Film Festival around supply teaching and failing pretty badly, I have an exceedingly busy week that isn't helped by the schedule for press screenings or the process of applying for and collecting film screeners. I am not particularly overjoyed by the prospect of a trip to “GayWest” but I'm unwilling to waste my own precious phone credit to call their Visa helpline when I'm sure I have done nothing untoward with my card. I end up queuing for some time at the information desk to be told there is an error message on my card and I may use a phone in one of the private side offices to contact the helpline. Simple? No.

Typically on a day when I am already feeling pretty ill, all of the phones seem to be out of order. I have to repeatedly wait for an office to become free, only to be met by a dead line. After nearly 40 minutes in the bank, a lady goes to get me the cordless but that's also not working for inexplicable reasons. Eventually she takes my cards and rings from the back office on my behalf but returns to inform me she can't access my account details because she's not me. Really?

Miraculously one of the phones that was earlier on strike, suddenly has a ring tone so I'm put through to the fraud line. As if the 50 minutes I have already been hanging out for in NatWest isn't enough, I'm put on hold while the same lady stands watching me huffing and puffing and soothing muzak worsens my mood. What was wrong? Apparently booking two RyanAir tickets for approximately £80 was deemed “unusual activity” and NatWest decided to act like a protective parent by blocking my card.

Nearly an hour after entering and I'm finally back on the street ready to locate the drop in clinic to see a doctor merely to have my own self-diagnosis confirmed so that I can access the prescription drugs the chemist refused to give me. Ironically, while the NHS waste my time, there are initiatives in place to try to reduce the amount of wasted appointment time. I'm certainly glad the NHS exists but at times like this wish some drugs were more readily available over the counter like in countries like Vietnam and China. But I guess if they were, certain people would selfishly abuse the system, resulting in a rise of “unusual activity”.

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