marcel barang

It happened last night

In English on 13/02/2011 at 8:45 pm


Sometime in April, my daughter will go to Paris for a few days with a bunch of friends, travelling with a cheap airline and an overnight stopover somewhere in the Middle East. While her friends fly back, she’ll be one of the half-dozen staying on for a few days: she’ll catch a flight to Toulouse to see her uncle, 64, and grandfather, 94. Her last visit was three years ago.
So last night, with her return flight finally confirmed, she came over so that we could book her Air France flights between Paris and Toulouse. The Air France website is well designed. We chose those flights that would give her maximum time in Toulouse yet enable her to catch her return flight at Roissy.

We booked the flights using my Visa card. Everything went well. Air France asked for my daughter’s cell phone number and instantly wired a set of figures to complete the transaction. She punched it in.
Then we were transferred to the Kasikornbank website to confirm the legitimate use of the Visa card.
That same Visa card that was blocked when, a few months ago, I tried to purchase one of my own books to check on the PaySbuy payment system of my website (see ‘A sad electronic tale’, 26.09.10).
That same Visa card for which I was issued a new password.
I keyed that password in and guess what? No can do.
Undeterred, we renewed the entire operation using my MasterCard card this time. And guess what? Same difference.
My daughter called the Kasikornbank 24/7 call centre. Yes, a man said, we have records of your booking twice the same flight as you explain. There’s nothing we can do, except wait ten working days to see if Air France has also registered the booking and asks for payment during that period of time.
Are we going to be charged twice? Answer: could be.
Can’t you automatically prevent double payment? No, but after the expiry of the twelve working days, we can cancel the payment. What you should do is contact Air France yourself.
How can we do that since we have no evidence to show for a transaction that may or may not have taken place? Well, too bad. Thank you for using our services.

In early 1978, while in Nepal just before I came to settle down in Thailand, I chanced to befriend a hippie with an attitude. He was the heir of a canned food tycoon in the States. One day, he took out of his pocket the tiniest pair of foldable scissors I’d ever seen, the size of half my index finger sheathed in black leather. As I marvelled about it, he told me he’d bought ‘a few pairs’ in France – ‘see, it says “Inox France” here’. Tickled that a Frenchman would be ignorant of his French find, he gave me one. I’ve been clipping my nails with it ever since.
Tomorrow morning, I’ll go to my Kasikornbank branch and, in front of the relevant officer, will use that pair of scissors on my MasterCard and Visa cards, which he issued to me for no purpose but trouble.
I lived sixty years without a credit card. I figure I can survive without one.

  1. Well, give it a few months and then let us know how you fare without a credit card in these times.

  2. I remember the book-purchase rigmarole. Are little bits of our lives really meant to ruin the larger bits by making such a nuisance of themselves?
    By the way, this very morning I was sent a new magic credit card, my bank doesn’t seem to envisage anyone beeing able to survive without one, you show them.

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