Poet on a Hill

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Mastermi … er Card

                                          MASTERMI … ER CARD

A friend of ours, who is an Egghead victor, is now a contestant in the BBC Mastermind 2011 competition. She gave Liz and I tickets to see the production which is in Media City, Manchester. That’s how I ended up trying to book us into a Travelodge on the Internet.
     I go through to the TL website and punch in the required dates. “Go to, ’Continue,’” the machine tells me. The next page says that, if I’m an “old customer,” I just need to tap in my e-mail address and password and the booking will be done for me automatically.
     I am an old customer. I’ve stayed at this very lodge several times. Liz and I were there 3 months ago. Mind, I didn’t know that they knew my PW, but OK, I give them what they ask for, address and PW.
They’ve never heard of me. I thought as much. Who has?
     I go back to the original page and put in all that guff about names, addresses, phones, card details … and so on and so on. Now they say they will charge me £2 for the honour of using my MasterCard; so, OK, I use my Visa Debit instead.
“Go to, ‘Continue,’” it tells me. I do, and get a warning to be patient, “don’t dare touch any keys until we give permission.” Nothing else happens so I wait, and wait, and … I’ve waited long enough. I scrutinize the screen. A little remark in red has manifested. It tells me I didn’t tick the “terms and conditions box.”
     “OK, if you insist.” I tick the box then, “Continue.” Now I get the warning to be patient, “blah blah blah …” Nothing else happens, so I wait … and wait … and … Still nothing … “Sod it.” I scrutinize the screen. Another little red note has appeared from nowhere. It says that I’ve put an incorrect card number in. “No I haven’t.” I check, just to be sure. The buggers have only gone and erased my card number, then blamed me for it. I re-type the number. Now I scrutinize every inch of the screen. No more remarks. I go to, “Continue,” and get a warning to be pat-
     At last, I‟m on the next page. I’m a simple soul really. I don’t ask much from life. I just want to stand in the garden and count the clouds. I just need a confirmation and a receipt from Travelodge and my life will be complete. But they won’t give me a receipt. Instead, they tell me that, “for my peace of mind,” they’ve introduced a new security system for Visa cards; and what I need to do now is to type in my e-mail address and … you’ve guessed it … my PW, which they don’t know.
     But, just a minute, there’s a bit here that says that, if I don’t have a password I can tick this box and get one. So I tick the box, and that gives me another page that demands my e-mail address. So I give it to them – again. Now they want my date of birth, “Eh?!” I give it to them.
     Now they want the “Member number,” of my Visa card. I’m not a member of anything so I ignore it and go to, “Continue.” Now I get a box that says I forgot to enter my “Member Number.” The next thing I know is that they’ve zoomed me right back to square one and I have to do everything over again … as a punishment I presume.
     So, if you go back to the top of the page and re-read everything you’ve just read, if you did read it, you’ll get the gist of what I’m saying.
     I did just that. I went through it all again and pressed, “Continue …” and got a page that said my, “Time has expired. This WebPage is no longer available.”
     That’s when I decided to kill myself.
     Anyway, like she does, Elizabeth made me a cup of coffee and told me it could be worse, I could be young and have to spend another 60 years working with computers. Then she suggested that I make the booking by telephone. “Of course! Why didn’t I think of that?‟
     So I phoned the Travelodge number and got a computerised woman. She gave me a lecture on terms and conditions and all kinds of junk then ordered me to, “Listen Carefully to the following instructions.” Cheeky bitch! She then gave me a string of numbers, one of which would put me through to a carer who would help me to book my hotel. So I pressed the number and it rang, and rang, and rang … Then it cut me off.
     That’s when Elizabeth led me upstairs and told me to lie on the bed.
     Five minutes later she’s back in the bedroom. She dialled the same number; got a human being; booked the hotel; “and the receipt’s on its way.”
     “I’m going outside. I may be some time.”

                                  alpW