Credit Card Fraud? Not Always

So, life on the road in Scotland is not all rainbows and unicorns. I was staying at a hostel in Broadford on the Isle of Skye. With a poor internet connection provided by the hostel, I was trying to purchase a bus ticket online to Fort William for the next day. Little did I know that this simple transaction would test my relationship with my credit card company.

Bad Internet – Bad Transaction

My first attempt at purchasing my ticket was on my iPad via internet, but could not seem to complete the transaction even though “payment was in progress”. Then I tried using my UK mobile phone via cellular waves and was still got a message that payment could not be completed. My next move was to look at my account online to see if there was any record of bus ticket. Apparently my attempts were picked up by the credit card company and at login I received a message that there was suspected fraud activity. Later on I got an email stating the same.

Live Chat Help, Sort Of

  Initially, I tried to deal with the situation via online chat on the credit card website. But that agent told me I needed to speak to an agent at the help desk and provided a toll free number. I replied that I was overseas and didn’t have an international calling plan. Then the agent sent me the international help line phone number with an 605 area code, which is for the state of South Dakota. I looked on the back of my card and lo, there it was — “international collect.“ And I did.  

Calling Collect Is Easy, With Correct Phone

I did a little research online and found out how to place an international collect call. From the U.K. dial 0170 and wait for the operator to come online. I had to borrow the hostel’s phone as my U.K. mobile phone is unable to be used for such calls. (I wonder if other accommodation hosts would be so generous with their phones?) When the operator answered, I provided her with the US number. She dialed it and a recording came on: “We accept collect calls.” The operator released the call to me and I spoke with an agent with my credit card company.

Security Questions Important

The agent who I spoke with asked me several questions, such as to whether I held other accounts with them. If so, I needed to provide details about that account. I had all that info stashed in a safe place with one of my sisters. The agent told me I needed to call back when I and had the additional information.

I quickly pulled the information together and called back. I got it all sorted out with the agent, and she assured me I could start using my card again. Unfortunately my next attempt to purchase the ticket online failed again. Maybe I needed to wait, so I went to bed. In the morning I tried again and failed. So, I called collect for the third time and re-sorted it all again. This time the agent stayed on the phone with me as I attempted yet again to purchase the ticket. As the charge was being processed the bus company’s website crashed! I thanked the agent and she again assured me the hold was lifted.

Off-line Purchase

In the end, I called the bus company directly and booked my ticket. They sent me my ticket via text and I caught the bus to my next destination.

Everyone I spoke with was very nice and I tried to keep a sense of humor about it. It was a relief that it was all a misunderstanding and not actually fraud.

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