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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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