Twice now in the last three months, I’ve been late with credit card payments. Nothing serious, but I got an extra charge of £12.00. I think it happened, as did the other one, because I tend to pay my credit cards all at the same time at the end of the month, when my American Express Card comes in and I’ve just had my pension payment.
So as I was flush at that time, I paid off most of the debt on the card. But apparently, I paid too early in the last accounting period or something.
The last time, it happened on another card, they phoned me to say why hadn’t I paid. When I said what about the extra payment they gave it back.
But how many of us, get caught out by rules, that need to be read by a lawyer with a fine tooth comb?
What would help, would be the ability to define your payment date on your credit card. I seem to remember doing this many years in the past. Zopa incidentally, allows this when you borrow and even allows you to change the date, due to a change of circumstances.
In some ways I’m getting my own back. For travel, hotels and large purchases, I now use my American Express card and for small ones, I now use cash. The problem is Waitrose, where their self-service tills don’t take cash. Marks and Spencer and Sainsbury, who both have better tills, do.
In my trip, that i outlined in this post, i needed to book a sleeper from Munich to Paris on the night of the 12th of April. The oracle of all things rail, Seat61.com, recommended Rail Europe, so I tried that last night.
I don’t think I’ll be using that site again.
The main problem was that after choosing my ticket, the site seemed to get into a loop with Verified by Visa and in the end, the time limit to buy the ticket expired, with me not sure, if I’d actually bought a ticket or not. I haven’t had a debit on my account, so hopefully everything is alright,
Then, this morning, I tried to phone them to find out what had happened. After hanging on for several minutes, I got through and they couldn’t even find the account I’d created.
Another think about Rail Europe is they don’t take American Express, the card of choice for my travel.
I also wasn’t sure how they got the tickets to me. I think they are posted, which is not the best way to receive rail tickets if you might have left for Budapest.
So after trying to talk to the monkey for a few hours, I decided I had better talk to the organ grinder; Deutsche Bahn.
I chose the same ticket, at perhaps a few more euros, but at least I was able to get the ticket to my Inbox for printing easily.
Although, why you have to print seven pages for one ticket, I do not know. The British system of little orange cards is so more economical with forests. Incidentally, Easyjet did my flight out in one page.
So if you need to buy a train ticket to, from or inside Germany, I’d use the Deutsche Bahn web site. But isn’t this just the same as buying a ticket to Derby on the East Midlands Trains web site, as I did this morning?
Rail Europe may have failed to sell me a ticket, but they didn’t deduct money from my credit card account.
Barclaycard are pushing their alternative to Oyster for London buses and tubes.
It will be interesting to see in a few years, if credit and bank cards actually replace Oyster.
I don’t mess about with hardware and although, I could probably do quite complicated work on PCs at one time, I couldn’t now, as my knowledge is way out of date.
But this tale from the BBCs web site, shows how you might fall into all sorts of security holes if you do.
Their technology correspondent changed the motherboard on his home PC and consequently, the various security systems thought he was committing credit card fraud, as the computer address had changed.
Now he, thought he knew what he was doing. He did hardware-wise, but he got caught out, by intelligent checking software on the Internet.
when I feel, one of machines is getting to the end of it’s life, I buy another machine and gradually swap everything over, still doing most of the work on the old machine.
So whhen it dies, I just move the last update over and put the old machine in the bin.
I spent some time yesterday, looking for a new credit card holder, that meets the specification I laid down in this post.
I was unsuccessful, although an assistant in Selfridges said, he’d got a leather one and used a safety pin clipped in it, to identify the side to use.
Yesterday, I used my credit cards, twice. I used my Visa card to buy a present in Selfridges and also bought my supper in Marks and Spencer using my John Lewis Partnership card.
Checking my on-line accounts this morning, neither of the transactions have been added. Why not?
In these days of instance pin checking and information, surely the information, should be in my statement, immediately I’ve used the card!
After all, it would be a big security check, for users.
On the other hand, where your partner has a card on your account, it could be major source of friction in a relationship.
The last time, I went to The Hague, I just went to the Eurostar site and booked one ticket to Any Dutch Station.
But now, this simple system has been discontinued at the behest of the Dutch government. For what reason, I will not speculate although, I have had various opinions given to me by my Dutch friends. I’ll give my view after I return from The Netherlands.
So this time, I’ve booked a single ticket to Brussels on Eurostar.
The train I shall be riding on Tuesday, will get me to Brussels just after mid-day. I shall be trying to buy a ticket to The Hague on the convenient 13:18 departure between the two capitals, when I arrive in Brussels.
It’s a real downgrade from the previous service, in that I shall have to change trains at Rotterdam as well. The direct train has been discontinued. I’ve taken that train several times and the standard is similar to what I you get on the fast London to Ipswich and Norwich trains.
So I’ll be getting a quicker high-speed train, but I’d prefer a direct train. In the UK, when I go say from London to Liverpool, I always book direct trains for convenience. I also don’t want to have to wait on a cold platform for a train to arrive. The connection in Rotterdam might be easy, but I’ve only been to the station there, some years ago and can’t remember it.
I thought for safety, I would book a later train in case, I couldn’t fathom out how to buy the ticket in Brussels.
So I went to the SNCB web site to book one. Incidentally, Eurostar allows you to enter Rotterdam into their site, but doesn’t allow you to book tickets, just telling you that there are no tickets available. To find where to book, I looked up how on Seat 61, which gave me the address of the SNCB web site to book the ticket from Brussels to The Hague.
Just imagine someone having to book a ticket urgently, for either business or family reasons and wanting to get to say Utrecht. They would give up or just book to Brussels knowing or even just thinking that they could get a train from there.
So I looked up the SNCB web site and found these trains from Brussels to Den Haag.
13:18 – Dutch high speed train – 15:02 – £21.42
13:52 – Thalys – 15:26 – £38.47
13:56 – Local Train – 2 changes – 16:41 – £24.35
15:18 – Dutch high speed train – 17:02 – £21.42
So by travelling on the slow Dutch train, you have two changes and pay more.
In the end I bought a ticket on the 13:56.
But I had to pay an extra booking fee, just like you don’t do on any British train booked on the train company’s web site. Although I had to pay a similar amount on Eurostar.
The ticket is two sheets of A4 paper, one for each leg of the journey. We may go on about the old British Rail-era orange tickets, but they fit nicely in a wallet.
What do you do incidentally, if you’re booking these tickets on a laptop on a train coming to London to get the Eurostar? Or you’re doing it late at night, and the printer runs out of paper?
I don’t think the SNCB web site gave you an alternative.
I shall be changing my bank from Nationwide, as I just tried to book a ticket using my debit card and the dreaded Verified by Visa screen came up.
I don’t use any card on-line with this facility, so I phoned them to ask them to remove it.
They wouldn’t, so I’ll remove myself from the bank and find one that doesn’t use such an annoying system.
In the end I paid £4 to use my American Express card.
Like many in London, I have my Freedom Pass or Oyster Card in a small plastic folder.
I used to keep one of my credit cards in the same folder, so I didn’t have to carry a full wallet. But now that the Oyster system can read credit cards, I don’t want to confuse the system and get charged as well. So now, I just have the Freedom Pass in the folder. But it is inconvenient, as I often have to get out my wallet to say pay in Waitrose.
What is needed is a folder which is say blue on one side and red on the other. With one colour face up you get the Freedom Pass or Oyster Card on the reader and the other way up, the credit card can be used on a swipe terminal.
It could even be embossed on both sides, so that the blind would get the right card on the reader.
Of course it would be in something better than cheap plastic.
According to this article from the BBC, Wonga are moving into credit card and web fulfilment territory with their latest service called PayLater.
Although, I’m not a fan of Wonga, it could be a good idea, provided they moderate their interest rates.
Would I like to see someone like Zopa or Ratesetter doing the same? Only of course, if they didn’t relax their credit checks.
After all, for years, with many products and some big purchases like cars, finance has been an integral part of the process.
The trouble with something like Zopa doing this, could be, that if the loan is turned down, then the sale could be lost.
But Wonga’s thinking does show how the banks and credit card companies are getting it in the neck from the new financial innovators.