Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Abstractions and Modern Frustrations

Yesterday I got an e-mail from my American credit card company, asking me to verify a recent transaction -- an attempted $248 purchase from Wal-Mart's web site.

Ummm, no. That was not me.

So I called them and they cancelled my credit card, since someone somewhere had obviously obtained the number. I don't use that card much, because it's billed to me in U.S. dollars -- mainly just when I travel back to the United States. I've been wondering which of my summer purchases in Florida exposed me to fraud. Was it when I bought Oreos at the drug store? When I paid the newspaper for my dad's obituary? When I bought my friend's birthday dinner at a restaurant?

Who knows. At least the fraudulent transaction was declined. I guess someone at the bank knew I wasn't a likely Wal-Mart customer -- especially not from here in England.

And speaking of minor annoyances of modern life, remember when I sent a package from here in London to Florida and it took a month and a half to arrive? Well, I'm having the same issue now, but in reverse. You may recall that when I visited Florida in August, I bought a pair of old drinking glasses from the now-defunct Kapok Tree Inn restaurant. I decided after my return to England to get a third -- in a newer style -- replacing one I got during my visit there in the early '80s. That way I'd have three glasses to display together.

So I got on eBay and bought one -- an identical pair, actually, and why not have a spare -- from a guy in Canada. They were just a few dollars, although shipping jacked up the price a bit. I paid (not with my credit card!), and he shipped them on Aug. 9. He didn't get a tracking number, to minimize cost.

Well, those glasses still aren't here. Who knows where they are -- stuck in Kapok Tree Limboland. (Better known, I suspect, as Customs.) EBay seemed to think they would arrive by Aug. 18. I've let the sender know they are still in transit. We're giving it more time.

(Photos: Top, a footer for scaffolding outside a building in West Hampstead; bottom, peeled paint on a wooden fence panel, Hampstead.)


  1. I thought the peeled paint picture was ripples on a river or lake. Do you see what I mean?

    Today I had an e-mail from this address:- asking me to verify my paypal details. It is a phishing scam... but I realise that your credit card issue is not quite the same. We all need to be very wary.

  2. I'm sorry you went through this grief. The same thing happened to me on an out-of-town visit a couple of years ago, so I limit credit card use and check my vendors often. I hope your package arrives soon.

  3. We've really been having problems receiving mail. I don't know what the deal is.

  4. there are so many ways and opportunities for people to get your card number. we've had to get new cards three times in the past two years. the credit card companies are pretty good at identifying fraudulent charges and notifying you. at least that's been our experience.

  5. That same thing happened to me a while ago and I wondered the same thing. I kept thinking back to recent transactions wondering who it was the snatched my card number. Love that abstract photo!

  6. I hope you didn't phone the number they included in the email, Steve! Lots of people do, I'm afraid.
    Such an irritation, these crooks, and they do take in so many of us.
    Over here (Canada) they even call up and say they are from Canada Revenue Agency, that people are in arrears for their taxes, and that the citizen can pay immediately with iTunes gift cards ... and people actually do it! Perfectly intelligent people fall for it. Scary.

  7. I've read that any information on the magnetic stripe on debit cards, credit cards, etc. can be read by anyone with the right equipment as they are simply walking past you. Scary thought.

    Neat picture of the fence peeling - I was trying to figure it out!

  8. Credit card scams are pretty scary. I check once a month when the statement comes . by that time it's too late.

  9. My card was hijacked too. Someone was trying to pay for $59 cab ride at the same moment I was trying to pay for a $5 Starbucks latte on the other side of town. That tipped them off and they called me and subsequently canceled the card, replacing it with a "chip" card which I gather is less easily read by secret scanners. Scary how vulnerable we are. I try not to think too hard on it.