marcel barang

A sad electronic tale

In English on 22/09/2010 at 10:31 pm


I learned a valuable lesson yesterday spending five hours trying to purchase one of my e-books from myself – unsuccessfully. And not just unsuccessfully: my Visa card got blocked into the bargain. Now I understand why so few people buy e-books from

Because there have been no sales for a month, because for months purchased e-books have ended in customers’ spam slots or not arrived at all, we decided to refurbish and simplify our payment and dispatch system. In order to check that everything was easier now, I as a customer decided to purchase an e-book (the cheapest one) from seller me.

Simplify! Easier! There’s nothing simple or easy in e-commerce, as I found out to my cost.

Problems started with the PaySbuy website, a Thai (l)imitation of PayPal. What did I learn?
To begin with, that a buyer can’t be a seller. So customer-I switched to another email.
Sorry, this email is also registered as a seller. When did that happen? No idea.

Luckily, a third email address, an old one I seldom use these days, did the trick. Now, what do I click? PaySbuy? Visa? MasterCard?

After over two hours of fiddling with the various options and getting nowhere, I call the PaySbuy people. From my lengthy explanations, they say all right, I’m sending you right now an email at your seller’s email address. Forty minutes later, I call back to say I never got it. What I got is … a message in the thaifiction back office. Besides, I can’t even access my own account with PaySbuy, having long forgotten my password. They fix that: new password. Their advice: try to purchase that book by filling in the Visa long form, don’t use the PaySbuy option.

When I do that, I sail through the PaySbuy website to my bank’s website, which for some reason wants to verify the ownership of the Visa card. Again I fill in a form, and get stuck on the query: What’s your credit ceiling? How would I know? How am I expected to remember such trivial matter a year after I got that card I’ve never used in between? I try my luck: 50 000 baht? No. 20 000 then? Nah. Oh heck, let’s go for an extra zero. Bang! Visa card blocked.

So I go online to my bank’s website, to find the relevant phone number to call to get the card unlocked. It’s a bunch of 8s. I call … a nightmare: Kort Nee, Kort Nan, Kort Noon, so switch from Thai to English: Press this, Press that and then Press mumble-mumble and then the nine? Press what? On a third attempt, I guess the Thai female voice means ‘and then press the star button and then the nine’. Hooray, I get through. The automaton-man I get on the line at this late hour (ten to seven pm) goes by the book. Fair enough. Date of birth? I tell him. Do you pay cash or withdraw from the account? I tell him. What’s your credit ceiling? At this point, I have to take a deep breath not to shout and explain soberly this is precisely why, I suspect, my Visa card was suspended. I see, says he. Now, can you unlock it? Yes, no problem.

So I go through the rigmarole of filling in forms again. You guessed it: Visa card still blocked. I try once more, with my MasterCard this time. No can do: on the bank’s website there’s a page which asks for the card number, then has a couple of lines in esoteric English at the bottom, so I disregard that and press Continue. The next page asks for my ‘new portable phone number’ and won’t take no for an answer: never had a portable phone in my life, and never will. So I backtrack (meaning I start all over again) and, back to that previous page, realise that those two lines are for: a) checking through … a portable (the option is already highlighted – it shouldn’t be); and b) manual checking. I switch to that, but then on the next page – yeah, right, you guessed it.

In desperation I dart into the bank’s phone labyrinth once again and, with the ease of an old pro, negotiate the corners and within minutes I’m talking my head off to a female of the species, this time, whose English and patience are superb. I’ve prepared myself: the website is in front of me on the computer. She guides me to the relevant page and the relevant slot. I fill in a form. There’s one item requiring my passport number, which is 01RE000000. I enter it. Tough luck: the machine swallows only numbers, not letters. The lady says Hang on while she consults her bosses. A couple minutes of ads and muzak later, she comes back and gives me a special password to override the problem, with instructions on how to use it when this and that and the rest. By the way, she adds, what’s your portable phone number? I don’t have one. Oh? Never mind. Your Visa card is fine. I thank her, wish her a good night.
Start all over again. No slot in sight where I can use that special password. By then, it’s 8pm, I’m knackered and famished, call it a day and, before pouring myself a drink and cooking me a meal, write a short email to the PaySbuy people to let them know as promised about the state of the art.

You think this is the end of it? Think again. This morning, I try again, this time with the MasterCard and, by some miracle or rather the amount of knowledge accrued the day before, get through. My seller’s email receives a PaySbuy notice that customer-me has paid so much for the purchase of such and such book from seller-me. Now we are getting somewhere. So I push the required two buttons and get the notice: Error, operation aborted. I alert my main technician with an email (and in the afternoon pay him a call: he tells me it isn’t as simple as that, his new system isn’t working; when I’m back home I’ll introduce him with another email to the PaySbuy people so they deal with him rather than incompetent me; I’d rather translate yet another Siriworn poem or look into how to transform pdfs into epubs, great fun that!).

What about the Visa card and its wonderful ‘special password’? I access the bank’s website and go back to the Visa card box as we did last night. ‘Your card is already registered.’

So I take a taxi to my bank’s local branch, where everybody knows me as I’ve known everybody for the past twenty years or so. After lengthy phone consultations with … last night’s lady whose name I learn, I’m told there’s nothing wrong with my Visa card any longer but perhaps I shouldn’t use it with PaySbuy as their software might be blocking it. So I say all right, I’ll force myself in a day or two to purchase a book with some other website and see what happens.

You wanna bet?

  1. Bonsoir Marcel,
    Je constate que les tracasseries ne sont pas terminées!
    Bon courage,

  2. Sounds almost familiar to me… hi! hi! hi!
    Mais je suppose qu’il vaut mieux en rire…dans la mesure du possible, bien entendu.


  3. Marcel, I had similar problems with the login and purchase system in trying to purchase your books. And since I own most in dead tree form anyway, I just gave up.

    You mentioned reformatting to epub. How is that going? Are you using conversion software or doing it manually?

    It’s actually quite easy to submit to stores like Amazon and Barnes & Noble. The key links you need are:


    You can also find a walk-through for submitting books to Amazon’s Kindle store here:


  4. Sorry for having to cut short your very useful and thoughtful comment, Rikker: the in-house Big Brother found it too long and told me to ‘moderate’ it. Don’t you love the jargon? So, let’s ‘immoderate’ in our respective e-mailboxes. Cheers and thanks.

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