by Jerry Monkeys, aka Jerzy Morkis
IDENTITY theft... that’s a pretty nasty thing. Trust me, it is.
I had protection against that before my holidays. It came with a new account set-up my bank offered me, just before I headed off to Madeira for a fortnight in the rain.
I also asked the bank to note I was going and not to do anything daft like block my account when I was there – it happened to me in rural Hungary and it was no laughing matter. No cash, no goulash.
With all that duly sorted, I reckoned it was the most organised for a holiday I’d ever been.
I went home, paid my hotel in Funchal online, changed my money into euros, packed on the Saturday and, on Sunday, in a fine holiday mood, set off at a leisurely pace for the airport.
En route, with time to spare, I reckoned it would make sense to fill up the tank so I’d have a straight run home on my return.
As I stepped across the forecourt and into the garage to pay, my identity as upstanding citizen about to go on holiday was stolen by my bank and replaced with that of a penniless petrol thief with an incomprehensible name.
My card was refused and since I had little Sterling, the girl on the till said she’d have to phone the bank; other customers nodded knowingly. An administrative hiccup; one call and I’d be solvent again. Right? Wrong.
It seemed the bank’s call centre wanted to talk to me, I certainly wanted to talk to it.
Unfortunately the continents between us meant our accents caused us to barely understand each other. This was about to get entertaining for the other bemused customers.
Mr Morris, there’s a problem with your account.”
“There will be. My name is Morkis, not Morris.”
“Can you spell that please?”
“Thank you, now Mr Monkeys...”
“WHAT did you just call me?”
“Mr Monkeys, there seems to problem...”
“MORKIS, not MONKEYS! What’s the matter with you?”
“I’m sorry Mr Morris I thought you said Monkeys...”
“MORKIS! NOT MORRIS! NOT MONKEYS!”
After a while, a few more calls, borrowing some money, my accounts were still frozen solid and I ended up with a UK call centre that refused point blank to assist until I could quote any standing order I had on my account... to the penny. Could you do that? I couldn’t.
“Shouting at me isn’t going to help matters Mr Morris...” said the man ruining my holiday.
So I had no option but to race home, find a bank statement and wait to get through again.
“Your name please?”
“Jerzy Morkis... that’s J...”
“I am Polish, I know how to spell this name...”
In a few minutes, my account was unlocked and all that was left was a mad dash to the airport.
So why had this happened? Apparently unusual activity on my account.
“What activity?” I asked.
“There seems to have been a booking for a hotel in Madeira...”