Not So Sob

Stand down the alert team.

It’s not over yet, but I’m a bit more relaxed about the whole credit card/South West Trains shenanigans I reported yesterday. I also know a bit more about the slightly odd way that credit cards work.

Apparently processing a credit card payment happens in two stages. Firstly the trader says to the credit card company, “Mr Gottle wants to spend a hundred quid, is that OK?”. The credit card company say “Yes, he’s a trustworthy chap, we authorise that transaction”.

Stage two is that the trader says “OK, you’ve authorised the transaction, now give us the money”, and the credit card company dob up the dosh. Sometimes there’s a delay between stages one and two, although it’s normally short enough that it doesn’t notice.

What seems to have happened this time is:
South West Trains: “Hello, Mr Gottle wants to spend four and a half grand on getting to work for the next year. Is that authorised?”
Mungo’s Credit Cards: “Hmm, well that would take him just over his credit limit, but he’s a nice trustworthy chap, so yes, it’s authorised”.

The problem came when, ten minutes later, SWT should have said “OK, you’ve authorised the transaction, now give us the money”. What actually happened was:
South West Trains: “Hello, Mr Gottle wants to spend four and a half grand on getting to work for the next year. Is that authorised?”
Mungo’s Credit Cards: “Ooh blimey, with what’s already on that card, plus the authorised transaction that hasn’t gone through yet, that would take him miles over his credit limit. No, it isn’t authorised”.

…and that was when South West Trains phoned me up, told me the card had been declined and I paid on the Cats’ Protection card instead. Meanwhile, although South West Train haven’t taken anything from my Mungo’s card, Mungo can’t let me have any more credit because there’s an outstanding authorisation for a big amount…

According to Mungo’s nice telephone helpline lady Nicola, the authorisation will time-expire at close of business tomorrow. I hope so.

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