Thank Goodness Stupidity Isn’t Contagious

, , , , , | Working | July 1, 2020

I admit that several-years-ago me was short-sighted and partially to blame here. I often have to fix her mistakes.

At the beginning of the current health crisis, I got a new phone. I transferred over all of my information and everything seemed fine. I had forgotten that one of my credit card apps required my fingerprint to sign in, and therefore, on my next sign-in on my new phone, I needed my card number and password.

This particular bank has a different policy than other banks I’ve used in Canada. I ONLY have their credit card, but to log into my account I need an “Access Card” which is a completely different number from my credit card. It’s probably “more secure” or something.

When I originally got the card, they never gave me a physical access card, just the number. In my infinite wisdom, I didn’t write down the number anywhere but in the app login. After this, it was encrypted, and not recorded anywhere else, of course, including my own brain or secure files, so it was promptly lost to the aether.

I am considered high-risk for the current health crisis due to my asthma, but I live alone and have to go out to get groceries and things, so I try to limit that as much as possible and wear a mask when I do have to go out. Luckily, I do get to work from home.

I decided to call the helpline and see if I can get my access card number as there is no other way for me to access my account and track my spending — no usernames, no “forgot access card” link, nothing. Again, security, I get it and appreciate it for the most part.

Representative: “Thank you for calling [Major Canadian Bank]. My name is [Representative]. How can I help you?”

Me: “Hi. I recently changed my phone and need my access card number so that I can log into the app again.”

Representative: “I can definitely do that for you. Can I have your access card number?”

Me: *Pause* “I don’t have it. That’s why I’m calling: so I can get my card number. Is there another way I can verify my account?”

Representative: *Sounding confused* “Oh, sure.” *Asks me verification questions* “Okay, so I can reset your password and you’ll just have to make a new one when you log in.”

Me: “What? No, I don’t need a password reset. I need my access card number, essentially the login ID.”

Representative: “Oh. Let me see what I can do for you.”

The rep puts me on hold without asking. Two minutes later:

Representative: “There’s a bit of a wait for me to get assistance, so I just want to check and see if you wouldn’t rather just go into the bank.”

Me: “Well, I’m considered high-risk right now and a lot of branches are closed, so I would rather get this dealt with over the phone if I can. I don’t mind waiting.”

Rep: “Okay.”

The rep puts me back on hold without asking again. Ten minutes later:

Representative: “Okay, so we can cancel your credit card and send you a new one to the address we have on file in five to ten business days. I just need to verify that your address is—”

Me: *Interrupting* “Wait, wait, wait. Why are you trying to cancel my card? Sending me a new one won’t help me with logging in. I need my access card number.”

Representative: “Oh. Well, we don’t give those out over the phone.”

Me: *Gritting my teeth* “Okay, well, is there a way you can mail it to me securely? I don’t mind waiting.”

For reference, the Canada Revenue Agency will sometimes send secure account verification PINs to your house when you sign up for their online services; it CAN be done here in Canada.

Representative: “No, we don’t do that, either.”

I’m getting increasingly frustrated and trying not to snap.

Me: “So, you’ll send me a new credit card, which could be fraudulently activated, but not my access card which is only ever used to log into the app?” *Sighs* “Can you tell me my other options?”

Representative: “You need to go into a bank.”

Me: “There’s no way for me to get my card number over the phone?”

Representative: “No, it’s policy to not give it out over the phone.”

I’m desperately trying to remain polite as I’ve done call service work and it can be h***.

Me: “I understand that it’s not your fault, but that is the dumbest thing I’ve heard of in the current situation. I will not be cancelling my card today. I will go into the bank to get this fixed. Thank you.” *Hangs up*

I do think about asking for a supervisor, but only after the fact as I am so incredibly frustrated that this rep couldn’t tell me initially that she couldn’t do the thing I told her I wanted. After I hang up I just don’t want to have to deal with them anymore.

I do try to log into my old phone, as it still connects to the Wi-Fi and I figure I could make do with that until it is safer for me to go to new locations, but I think the rep went ahead and actually reset the password or did something because it no longer allows me to log in at all.

The story does not end there. I do go into the bank. I wear my N95 mask — I had one for working with natural dye products from before the health crisis. I stand in the (blessedly short) line. They are letting three people in at a time, so I wait my turn. The woman at the door asks why I’m there, I tell her I’m there to get my access card number, and she looks at me in confusion. Maybe she couldn’t understand me from behind the mask.

The rest of this takes place inside the bank.

Teller: “How can I help?”

Me: “I need my access card number so I can log into the app on my new phone.”

Teller: “Did you get a physical card or a virtual one when you signed up for the credit card?”

Me: “For the access card? No, they just gave me the number.”

Teller: “A virtual one, then. Okay, card and PIN, please.”

The teller gestures to the PIN pad. I enter my card and my PIN. The teller goes off and returns with a piece of paper.

Teller: “Here’s your card number—” *shows me* “—and just keep that paper in a safe place for the future.”

Me: “Great, thanks.” 

I took the paper and left so I wouldn’t hold up the bank line, but I made sure the number worked in the app before I drove away.

Time in the bank: probably a minute after I got inside. I didn’t remove my mask, which covers more than half my face — I would’ve been willing to briefly if they needed it for identification purposes. They didn’t ask for ID.

Yeah, super-secure access card number there. I’m considering cancelling that card, since it’s my only tie to the bank, but I don’t generally have problems with them, my card has some good benefits, and I have to sort out some financial things before I want another credit check on my credit report.

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Give That Guard A Ticket For Making Unfounded Assumptions

, , , , | Working | June 18, 2020

A little explanation, since I don’t know if this problem occurs in other countries: in the UK, train tickets have a tendency to lose all of their electronic information when in close proximity to a mobile phone. This means that they won’t scan correctly at automated gates at the stations and have to be visually checked by a guard.

This happens to me one day while I’m visiting the next town over from my hometown. Since I am only going one stop, I haven’t put my ticket away and have not realised that it came into contact with my phone. I follow my boyfriend to the ticket gates.

I call out to the nearby guard.

Me: “Excuse me! My ticket isn’t scanning.”

The guard gives me a disgusted look as she unlocks the gate.

Guard: “Yeah, right. I know exactly what you just did. Your little friend passed that back to you so you didn’t have to pay.”

Me: *Coldly* “No. It’s not scanning because it came into contact with my phone.”

Fuming at being accused of dishonesty over a known issue but not wanting to cause a scene in public, I stalk away before she has a chance to respond. On the return trip, as I scan my — working — return ticket, I hear her having a go at another young lady who is figuring out her journey.

Other Customer: “What, just because I’m a teenager means I’m not going to pay? I am paying!”

Looks like I wasn’t the only one who had troubles with her. I wish I’d gotten her name to put in a complaint, or at least told her I’m actually in my mid-twenties and have a Master’s degree and a steady job!

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Unbending Arms And Weirdly Bendy Security

, , , , , | Working | June 16, 2020

Due to the current health crisis, hospitals are restricting access. I have an appointment unrelated to the outbreak and head over to the hospital but, unaware of the restrictions, I don’t bring the appointment letter. I walk up to the main entrance to the hospital and pass a man slumped on a bench playing on his phone. As I am almost past him and into the building, he stands up.

Man: “Hey, where are you going?”

Me: “Inside?”

He hasn’t identified himself at all.

Man: “Do you work here?”

I’m realising he’s probably security, although he never says.

Me: “No, I have a physiotherapy appointment.”

Man: “No, that department is closed.”

Me: “Really? I was told they’re only seeing urgent cases, but they asked me to come in and sent me a confirmation letter.”

Man: “No, that department is closed. Let me see your letter.”

Me: “Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t think I needed to bring it. I can call them to check, if you like?”

Man: “You won’t be able to get in to visit anyone once you’re inside.” 

Me: “I’m not trying to visit anyone. I’m just trying to see my physio so that at some point I can bend my arm again.”

I vainly wave my recently-fractured, non-bending arm. The guy is seeming to lose interest when his phone beeps.

Man: “Fine, you can go in, but that department is closed.”

I was confused as to why he would let me in if he was so convinced there wouldn’t be anyone there, but I headed up to the physiotherapist and found it open. I told the receptionist and she sighed and said no one had given that information and she’d deal with it.

I totally understand limiting people going into hospitals but if I hadn’t been persistent, I would have missed my treatment. Maybe check your facts before trying to send people away!

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Traveling Through The Final Fur-long

, , , , , | Right | June 1, 2020

I am returning from my first international trip and am going through customs. Due to jet lag, insomnia, hunger, concerns about making my connecting flight, and being a generally anxious person, my brain is pretty much soup.

Customs Agent: “Anything to declare?”

Me: “Yes, ma’am.”

I list off several small items. 

Me: “…and a coat.”

The customs agent points at the coat in my arms.

Customs Agent: “Is that the coat you bought?”

Me: “Yes, ma’am.”

Customs Agent: “Is the fur real?”

I freeze momentarily as I try to process the question and spit out the result as-is.

Me: “Uh, I have no idea, but I paid €39 for it, so no, or I got a h*** of a deal.”

Thankfully, this was accepted as an answer, and I got through customs without delay.

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“Pas Toujours Raison” – For Her

, , , , , | Right | May 26, 2020

I am flying back to the USA from Heathrow airport in London. I get to security and there is a woman in front of me with one of those HUGE purses, larger than the backpack I am carrying. There are multiple signs that explain the limitations of what you can bring on board a flight and even a guy going down the line telling us the limits.

We unload our respective bags and shoes into the trays and send them through the x-ray machine. While I am waiting for the lady herself to get scanned, I glance back at the x-ray machine, which has stopped. A cluster of people around the display are all peering intently at it and pointing at the screen.

After I get through the scanner and start getting my stuff, I see that they have pulled the lady aside and had her dump her purse out into a tray. It is loaded with several scores of bottles of perfume, some of which individually look to exceed the total liquid limit, let alone the single bottle limit. As I walk past I can hear the conversation.

Officer: “You cannot bring this much liquid on the plane.”

Lady: “But it’s just perfume.”

Officer: “That doesn’t matter; you still cannot bring it on the plane.”

Lady: “But it’s expensive perfume!”

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