The Other End of Sunset

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Today's emotion? Annoyance...

Every now and again, I am blown away by security measures that make it impossible to get anything done.

Well, let's bungle in the jungle
--Jethro Tull

I won't, for the moment, go into the airport security person this morning at Heathrow who told me my carry on bag wouldn't fit. Despite the fact I carried in onto the flight that brought me to Heathrow 12 hours ago. Not to mention the 7 flights I've carried it onto in the past 10 days. Whatever, he let me "carry it, just this once." Thanks, dude.

Nope, this story of security-made-screw-ity is courtesy of that financial giant, PayPal.

Background, I've used the same credit card as my primary means of payment for more than a decade. I've bought a lot of things on that card -- in fact, I have the card details memorized.

Additional context: I've spent the last 4 weeks on a hellish roadshow, going all over the world, and getting far too little sleep. As many of you know, when I don't sleep well, I start forgetting things.

Apparently, at some point on this journey, I left my Kindle e-book reader in a hotel.

Oh, I'm SO bummed about this. I bought it on the first day they became available and got it overnighted to me. I have been a religious user since then, and have -- had -- about 30 books on it when I lost it.

Did I mention I'm bummed about losing it?

So, I hopped onto to order a new one... but they are sold out for the next 3 months. I placed an order, of course, but I don't want to wait that long -- I have a vacation coming up and don't want to have to carry a load of heavy books.


But wait, there is Pierre's gift to mankind, Ebay. Surely someone will be selling a Kindle on Ebay?

And, by the way, which one's Pink?
--Pink Floyd

Yea, verily, there are a few for sale, including a couple that have "buy it now" and same day shipping. I can make it work, I can get my books back!

(Note, I have no idea how to get all my purchases back onto the new Kindle, nor how to reshuffle the content to get the stuff I'm reading onto the Kindle and the older stuff off -- I keep the Kindle full of stuff I am currently reading, not stuff I've read -- and there is some possibility that Amazon won't let me register a new device, etc. But that's a problem for another day!)

OK, now I spend a few minutes checking prices and shipping locations, reading seller feedback, and deciding that it's worth doing a "Buy It Now" option rather than waiting for the auctions to end.

Find one I like, and click "buy it now"... and am told that I need an Ebay account to pay. OK, this should be fine. I enter my details (email, address, etc). And get an error message.

Apparently, I've got an Ebay account tied to my GMail account. Seems unlikely, but... silicon doesn't lie (ask Pam Anderson...)

Hmm, stumped momentarily, I remember a GMail trick. You can add "+" to your GMail address, and put anything you like after the plus. Gmail ignores the stuff after the "+", but the address looks unique. Theoretically, you can filter based on this trick, but I haven't tried. However, I needed a "unique" address, so I filled in my GMail address followed by "+EbayStupidity".

And it worked. Yay!

So, back to bidding -- I wasted 10 minutes on that Ebay administrative garbage, I'm even MORE motivated to get my Kindle.

And the next banana peel is thrown under my feet: I can only pay with PayPal.

OK, sigh, create a PayPal account. Fill in my address, email, and credit card details AGAIN.

And get another error message "You can't have an account with the same email or credit card as an existing account". I assume this is to prevent fraud, although it's stupid.

The email field is marked in red, so I assume I have an account on my GMail address -- again, I don't remember so, but if I have an Ebay account on that address, it's likely I have a PayPal account as well. Smirking at my cleverness, I fill in my address "+PayPalisREALLYStupid" as my email address....

And get the error again. Apparently I used that credit card of mine in some distant past.

Sigh, so I pull out another card that I don't use for online purchases and enter those details.

Did I mention that I don't use it for purchases online? Oh well, it's PayPal, they won't leak my data, yes?

Anyway, at first it gets declined -- for no obvious reason. So I reenter the data, and it takes. Yay! Give me my Kindle!

But, no, there's another step -- I have to become "PayPal verified". Which requires, apparently, linking my account to my bank account.

The irony, of course, being that I used my bank account debit card as my new credit card, but whatever.

I dutifully pull out my check book to enter the details into PayPal. Sheep like, I march down the path to the virtual fleecing point, just to get my Kindle.

By now, by the way, I've almost forgotten what I was trying to buy.

I finally finish putting in my bank information from my check book. And lo, the light appears at the end of the tunnel.

But it's an onrushing train.

I have to verify the checking account, by going online to find some transaction, or by waiting three days for some other verification method. I don't have online access to my bank account -- that I know of -- and I don't have any idea how the "three day verification method" is going to work.

OK, I give up. I'm beaten. I can't figure this all out.

I bail on the purchase.

I wanted to give the seller a healthy chunk of money. I wanted to give Ebay some revenue share of that money, and I wanted to give PayPal transaction revenue.

But they won't let me.

In the name of "security", they have made my money obscure.

Ridiculous. Really. Fraud detection is good, yes, but making it impossible to buy anything is worse.

What's your stock price again, Ebay-post-Meg?

At any rate, I'm sitting in the lounge at Heathrow, with nothing to read, annoyed, and hoping my new Kindle arrives in time for Valentine's Day...

And, yes, the best shopping system on the Intertubes, Google Checkout, doesn't seem to have any Kindles for sale. And Ebay doesn't take Checkout, as far as I can tell.

You can't always get what you want
--Rolling Stones

Anybody want to loan me their PayPal account so I can buy my replacement Kindle before I kindle into flames? Feel free to leave the details on the seat of the taxi that I am taking home from the airport.