Slightly delayed today. I wanted to buy four t-shirts from eBay.
In theory it was simple. I go on eBay and find some cheap Fruit of the Loom. They might be knockoffs but I don’t care. I bought some last year and they've been fantastic. Never shrunk in the wash, heavy quality, and cleaned well until I decided to weather-proof the bike shed the other day and my blue shirt became mottled with Oak stain.
So, I pick out four new shirts and head to the checkout. Proceed to pay via Paypal.
Only, bugger it! I can’t remember my email address and password.
Forget it, I think: I’ll just pay by credit card. So I enter my details. Only, it won’t let me pay with my credit card because it seems to know that I have a Paypal account. I hardly use my Paypal account but never mind… I press ‘Forgot password’.
They promise to send me an email.
Over to Thunderbird. Wait for email. Email arrives so I click the email link and enter a new password.
Now try to log in.
Password don’t work.
Click ‘forgot password’. Thunderbird. Click link. New password.
Log in. This time is works! Hurrah! I can almost taste my new shirts...
Except my credit card is out of date. I said I hardly ever use my Paypal account and that just proves it.
Okay. Down two flights of stair, find my wallet and get my new card. Back up two flights of stairs. Enter details. Submit.
Oh, I have the date wrong. My fault. Enter it again.
Success. New shirts here I come!
Only Paypal now inform me that ‘your account is limited’…
Why the hell is it limited? Go to the resolution centre. They want me to send proof that I’m me.
Christ. I only want to buy four cheap t-shirts off eBay…
So, now I have to go downstairs again (two flights), find some documentation with my name and address on it. Back upstairs to scan it. Save it as a Jpeg. Upload it.
Now it’s in process.
Only it now says that I also need to send them a bank statement. Except my bank is now paperless…
Downstairs again and I finally find a credit card statement… Upstairs again I scan it, save it, upload it…
Again, it’s in process and there’s no idea how long this will take. I click on the Resolve button and it now suggests that they'll need some kind of photo-id…
'Sod it,' I cried and threw down my mouse.
In the end, I gave up, biked into town and bought two new shirts in a shop. In fact, I’m wearing one now and I didn't even have to remember a single password.
And that’s the thing I’m finding increasingly with online shopping. When it started and we didn’t have all the security checks, things were genuinely easier. Online shopping was the future. Yet slowly the whole thing has become so complicated that it’s sometimes impossible to pass the rigorous security checks to prove that you are who you claim you are. Too often I find myself sitting here getting hot and frustrated whilst shouting down the phone to some poor bugger in an Indian call centre trying to explain that I don’t have a passport or a driving license… Or I find that I have to retrieve passwords for email accounts I no longer use but which I’d used to register for some online account for which I’ve long since lost the password. The whole thing turns into an enormous Gordian knot and what seemed like a simple task of buying four cheap t-shirts on eBay takes on the equivalent of some NSA operation to hack some Chinese database.
In fact, the only people who seem to know how to buy things over the internet using my credit card are the Russian mafia types who have the technical knowledge to hack my accounts and discover all my passwords. I wonder how I'd get in touch with them. Perhaps they could order me some shirts...