Sunday, December 12, 2010

Shopping in the high tech age

I was buying train tickets for us in Spain on a website. After finding the time, type of coach, etc etc it was time to pay. In Norway you have a little black gadget that gives you a one time pin code every time you use your card (from logging on to the bank website to online purchases and a bunch of things in between). Well, at that very moment the device went crazy and stopped working. Ok, no problem, I called the bank. Soon some answering machine comes to life and starts giving me options in Norwegian... hum... not good. I dial 9, which just restarts the message... I dial 0 and the phone goes mute. Call again... press #, phone goes mute. Call again, dial 1, dial 1 again and again just hoping that at some point a person will pick up. Ok, someone picks up, I explain my problem and she says: "oh, but you should talk to customer service". Duh, I know, but I don't know what the option is in Norwegian, so she transfers me. I talk to the lady that determines that the device needs to be replaced so they will send one by mail. But that means I cannot use my card until then...

Little devil: just like mine but a different color.

So I pinged A. on skype and asked if I could use his French card to pay for the tickets. He gives me the info and I go back to the website, choose everything and finally get a message that I need to register a cell phone and they will send a one time code by sms. I confirm with A. that no cell phone is registered to the account. I figure it might be a security issue with using a French card to buy Spanish tickets in Norway so I ask A. to try from France. He gets the same issue and proceeds to call the bank to register his cell. Many random dials later he finally gets to talk to a person that speaks English and can register his number. Finally, I go back to the website, choose the ticket, enter A.'s card info, A. then send the sms number by skype to me, I enter it and voilĂ , the ticket is finally bought!

And technology was supposed to make things simpler...


  1. I love the cartoon illustrations you add to your blog posts. This one in particular, made me laugh out loud :)

    Had you called that number in the cartoon and pressed 1, you might have heard this:

    You: Can you please explain why this doesn't work?
    Call center: That, ma'am, is "Error Code 12".
    You: What's that?
    Call center: Let me transfer you to our technical department.
    Tech guy: Error code 12 means that the root cause for the error is 12 inches from the screen.

    Just a joke, of course.

    The EU banking system sounds like a real mess.

  2. Yep, but I think we forget that how we take things for granted when they've been around for sometime and chose to forget the world before that.

    For a moment, think how you would have bought tickets for Spain, from Norway with a French card, even 20 years ago (before internet) or in the neolithic age, that is without credit cards!