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The Story of the Fleeble Widget
Being an Account of a Random Selection of Moments in my life
scan.co.uk 
18th-Sep-2005 08:45 am
hell's coders
We are in the process of ordering a new computer. Most of the bits are coming from Scan. Now, their range is lovely, and their postage policy is reasonably sensible, but they have a dumb policy on debit cards.

If you pay with a debit card (instead of a credit card), you can only have the goods delivered to your registered home address. Now, that might seem ok, because where else are you going to want stuff delivered, right? Wrong. You might want thehardware delivered to your place of work because you're never home during the day. It might be something your buying for a technologically inept relative and you might want it to go to their home, not yours.

Or, like me, you might be a lazy student who uses their mother's address in far-off North Yorkshire as their home address so they don't have to change it twice a year.

Things like this which penalise people who don't use credit cards make me cross. If anyone knows otherwise, please say, but to me it seems that it's all just a big conspiracy by the banks to make us all use a really, really inferior product.

Anyway. Out of a desire not to have the computer bits go to Yorkshire, we've given the money to Dan who'll be placing the prder with his credit card and getting it sent to our new house in PJM.
----
On the subject of the post, my mother called me last night to ask for my new address so she could re-direct some letters from the university. So the items in question will have travelled from the campus to PJM (that is, over the road) via North Yorkshire. How very, very silly.

Anyhoo folks, I've got to go to work. Oh yeah, and house-warming party tonight, number 72 PJM. Punch and cake provided; if you want anything else, bring it with you.
Comments 
18th-Sep-2005 02:51 am (UTC)
Forcing people to have deliveries sent to their registered address cuts down on card fraud, which is moderately freqent at mail order computer hardware stores on account of the high value, discreetness, and availability of the goods. It's not possible to accurately perform such checks on credit cards, but it's easy to with debit cards.

Many banks give special dispensation on their student accounts; allowing them to - for example - submit two addresses which they will automatically switch between throughout the year - or allow two registered addresses to function for card checks (while still delivering the statements to one). Ask your bank if they can do this, and, if they can't, write a letter to inform them that there are banks that can. If you're not willing to let your feet do the talking, there's no way to let these large organisations listen to you.

There's no reason not to own a credit card unless you feel you cannot trust yourself to do so - or the banks won't give you one! For many such cards, there is no interest if you pay them off immediately each month (which can be automated thanks to wonderful schemes like Direct Debit): this increases the flexibility of your purchasing power (particularly when purchasing from overseas) without costing you a penny. On a side note, owning one that you only ever use in this fashion increases your credit rating (which is checked when buying a contract mobile phone, getting a mortgage, applying for credit on a car, or whatever). Just for examples' sake; if you owned an unused credit card, you could have ordered these computer parts and - odds are - immediately transferred the money from the bank account to the card, thereby giving you the bits sooner.

All of that said, I think I've quite aptly (and almost entirely) undermined the sense in preventing expensive goods being delivered only to the registered cardholder's address, because as we've just seen there's always a way to circumvent such checks by routing the money other ways: this leaves a longer paper-trail (banks and credit companies are, by law, required to keep better records for longer than companies that happen to process card transactions), but is otherwise a sensible way to commit fraud without triggering the little alarm bells that debit cards have hanging from them. So yeah; perhaps Scan should be a little less draconian.

Now Chip-And-PIN in the UK: there's a flawed, insecure, badly-implemented system.
19th-Sep-2005 07:32 am (UTC)
What you say is probably true, but there are two reasons that I specifically don't want a credit card.

The first is a general point; I don't approve of the way they are marketed to people who don't have much money and may be tempted to spend what they don't have. This makes them only fractionally better than loan sharks in my mind. As an example of this, when I went for a meeting with an HSBC advisor to set up my ISA this summer, the woman kept asking me if I wanted to sign up for a credit card even though she had my balance (-£1350ish at that point) in front of her. In fact, even after I'd told her that I never want to have a credit card because I don't like them, she kept suggesting one and I saw her pencilling "credit card" into the notes for my next meeting.

The second reason I don't want one is specific to me. I'm not terribly organised, so my preferred way to deal with money is to always check my balance before taking money out of a cashpoint. I don't want a credit card in case I buy stuff with it and then forget.
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