Thankyou for holding, sir. Your call is important!

I tried to buy a Surface Pro 3 online. It didn’t quite go to plan…

Originally I tried to “buy now, pay in six months” from PC World but that just ended in YOUR CREDIT HAS BEEN REFUSED, GO AWAY NOW (since “buy now, pay six months” really means “Buy now, pay in six months OR take out credit to pay it off for the next six months at 28% APR”).

This involved a little side quest to Equifax to see my credit report, some trawling of my memory for past addresses and trying three times before their website actually worked. The end result? Nothing weird on my credit report… lots of interesting stuff though, credit companies really do know way too much.

Every single mobile phone contract is on there… since ever…

So yeah, no idea what PC World were playing at, but their till did crash part way through my credit application.

So I went to the Microsoft Store, via QuidCo. VISA card 1 was DECLINED, GO AWAY. Visa card 2 was WEBSITE ERROR, NO CARDS ADDED. After fixing my payment details I tried again and ERROR 30339 CARD DECLINED BY ISSUING BANK.

So no late night Internet shopping for me. Instead I rang the first bank and was put straight through to their fraud team after identifying myself. “Just need to verify some transactions first Sir” “yeah that large one from half an hour ago was me” “OK, that’s your card unblocked, have a nice day”.

Card number 2 was more … entertaining. They figured out it was me trying to buy expensive stuff online, but read out too many transactions. There was also the innocent question of “how come my available credit¬†is smaller than the credit limit?”. This ended up getting me transferred up the call centre to someone with more access to my account.

Seems there’s a pending charge for my failed transaction. “Go ring Microsoft, ask what’s going on” being the thing to do.

Microsoft’s 24 hour helpline sends you off (via Skype I presume) to the US. A land where we English folk have to start speaking very slowly, clearly and precisely with no sarcasm, wit or other funny English things that confuse the literal minded. Also don’t talk to them while they’re doing something, it throws them off their script.

Seriously, it was like talking to an AI system.

“Hi there, this is <garbled> how can I help?”

“I tried to place an order, it failed. My bank says you have charged me, but I have no order number”

“OK, so to confirm. You tried to order from us, you have been charged, but there is no order number. OK”


“OK. Can I have your details please”

“blah blah blah phonetic spelling, twice, slowly, using a variety of words”

“OK. To confirm your details are… ”


“OK, What is the microsoft account associated with this order”

“phonetic @ wish it was easy to say . org . uk”

“OK. I am not finding an order”

“No. That is the problem”

“OK. To confirm. Your email address is …”


“OK. I have cross-referenced orders from today with your email address. I cannot find any.”


“OK. The bank is showing a charge?”


“OK. But there is no order.”


“OK. So what you need to do is log a dispute with your bank to get the payment reversed”


“I can stay on the line while you do this”

(how? and no, it’s 10pm now, I’m losing the will to live talking to you)

“No. It is OK. I will terminate this call with you. Then I will speak to my bank, but because it is 10pm in the UK they might be closed.”

“OK. I understand your decision. Can I help you further?”

“No. Thank you. Good bye”


“OK. Your call log number for this call is ….”

I’m glad I work with computers and teach children. It means I can understand when I’m following a procedure that has specific steps, and that just going with the flow is the way to proceed, rather than getting annoyed. And because I work with kids I know to explain things very simply.

Rang the bank again. They said “Oh it’s pending. If they’ve got no record of you ordering anything, just ignore it. You can’t dispute the payment until it shows on a statement, it’ll be OK”.

Why is buying something so hard? I’m half tempted to visit the bank, withdraw the money as cash and walk into PC World. Although this would probably¬†screw up too. I can imagine some hapless cashier saying “We can’t accept that much money in one transaction, it’s over our floor limit. I need the manager”

PS: Sell your unwanted junk on eBay, it’s worth a surprising amount when added up.

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