January 30th, 2020

afternoon tea

We made a silly mistake (again!)

In which I explain why yesterday was so stressful...

You may remember that the day before yesterday I mentioned that I had activated a new debit card and cut up the old one. The letter accompanying the new card said that you had to use it with the PIN before trying to use it to make a contactless payment, so yesterday morning I thought I'd use the cash machine outside the bank to get some cash before going on to the regular Wednesday chat session in the cafe.

I put the card in the machine and followed the instructions, entering my PIN when requested, but it said the PIN wasn't correct. I knew it was correct because I use it regularly. Contactless will only work up to £30 and the trolley full of shopping in the Co-op is often more than that. So I went into the bank and explained that I'd had a new card and tried to get money out with it but it wasn't recognising my PIN.

"Did you activate it?" the nice woman behind the counter asked.

"Yes, I did it online."

"I'll just check it's gone through," she said and took the card and typed into her computer and consulted the screen. "Yes, it has been activated," she said. "This is for a savings account."

"Oh, no," I said, "we've done it again!"

So I had to explain how we'd assumed these new cards were for our current account and had therefore destroyed the current account debit cards. She said she'd order a couple of new ones. "I'll say the old ones have been damaged," she said.

"Yes, they are certainly damaged," I replied, "they've been cut up into little pieces and are in the waste bin."

And yes, we did this very same thing probably 6 or 7 years ago. The problem is, the letter just says, "Here is your new debit card," and expects you to check the account number to see which account it's for. We never use the debit cards for the savings account[*] and the current account debit cards we've been using do expire at the end of March, so it was not unreasonable to assume that's what these replacement cards were.

I then went on to meet my friends in the cafe, but I now felt anxious because I knew my husband also had a new card that he thought was for the current account. I knew that if/when he tried to use it, it wouldn't work. I also knew that he had gone on his normal long walk to the coast and would be hoping to use the card on the bus to get back.

Now if G would use a mobile phone like a normal person, I could have phoned him to explain the problem and ask if he had enough cash for the bus home or did he need me to come and pick him up in the car. But he won't use a mobile phone, so I just had to hope for the best. As it turned out, he'd done much the same as me, but had felt patronised by the person behind the counter in the bank in the little coastal town who accused him of forgetting his PIN and wouldn't accept that he was right. He had therefore shouted a bit and done a little rant before coming home extremely angry.

Anyway, all is now well. G has finally got over his bad temper and we've just made a big step forwards with the testing and proof reading of his programming book.

So this doesn't happen again, when we've received the new current account cards, I'll contact the bank and see if they can stop sending us cards for the debit account. We just don't need them as we move money between the accounts online and only use the debit cards for the current account. I cannot think of any circumstances where we would want to get cash directly out of the savings account.