Sharpthorne, England
Monday, May 21, 2012

Silly little hiccups - not serious - just enough to P you off and ruin an otherwise good day.

Let's start with me not getting a message saying my friends would pick me up at the airport.
The "instant" message eventually appeared two days later.
This meant that my trouble-free journey from Paris to airport; my efficient drop-off of The Slug; smooth check-in and excellent flight, were completely ruined by me attempting to get a train to East Grinstead with two enormous bags (not on wheels).
£50, four trains and 5 HOURS later, I finally make it.
Now this whole debacle would have been avoided if I had had a WORKING MOBILE.
Orange Mobile France SUX!!!

Monday: I'm all set to pick up Henry III but I knew I had to finalise the insurance first. A company had promised to cover me knowing I was not a UK resident - I just needed to pay when I got to the UK.
They reneged on the promise!
Downunda Insurance SUX!!!

I then Googled "vehicle insurance for non-UK resident" and got a whole list of companies.
NOT ONE of them covered non-UK resident but they all had it as key words on their websites. 3 hours of phoning around and they all said the same thing.
The UK bike insurance system is convoluted enough even for UK citizens, but it is impossible for foreigners. One company said they would cover me if I had a UK licence. He processed my whole form, right up to the point of taking my credit card details - but Westpac in Australia had blocked their Merchant status and the transaction couldn't go through. (I found out later that I was not entitled to get a UK driver's licence anyway)

I then had to ring Australia to get them to unblock that Merchant so that I could pay the one and only company willing to insure me. Spoke to a young bloke in Melbourne who put me through to the Fraud Dept only to get a message "our office hours are Mon to Fri 9am to 5pm"
This is Mastercard overseas services and I can only ring them during Australian office hours.
STUPID beyond belief.

I finally find a broker who will do the insurance and so finally the bike shop can release the bike and I can legally ride it home.

I get to the shop, hand over my credit card for new tyres and service... card declined!
Now Westpac have blocked my whole card, not just one Merchant.
Even after I had rung Australia, explained the situation, told them it was a legit transaction, they still refused the payment AND, in addition, blocked my whole card.

I go online to do a direct transfer into the shop bank account. As a security measure, Westpac send an SMS to my mobile - in Australia!!
There is no alternative to this SMS, I can't turn it off or verify with any other means.
So I walked 2kms in motorcycle boots to the village, took cash out of the ATM, from two different cards and three transactions ($20 FEES on each transaction)  because my daily limit had been exceeded; walk 2kms back to the bike shop and eventually get my bike released.

Stayed up till midnight to ring Australia "during office hours" to get my cards sorted and they say they won't guarantee that they won't block them again "because I am overseas". What the hell is the point of multinational corporations operating credit card if they block them at a whim because someone goes overseas.

It's now 1am and I'm so angry after my phone call I can't sleep. Imagine if I were in South America or Russia and trying to deal with this crap with pay phones.

Lotsa good stuff has happened in the last two days but I will write about that separately so as not to contaminate it with this BS.

Oh - and there's another Orange episode as well ;-)

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