Wednesday, September 14, 2011


For most of the last ten years, I've either been paid in cash, or into my Taiwanese bank account. My UK account remained open only for occasional UK internet transactions.

All this means that when I returned, I had no idea of my PIN number. Even when I'd used my UK debit or credit card in Taiwan, I hadn't needed a PIN, a signature would do - and I never caught anyone looking at it!

On Saturday, I went to a friend's 40th birthday party at a pub in Brighton. For the past couple of weeks I'd been restricted to borrowed cash since the DWP were vacillating over whether to give me any money, but with about a fiver left in my pocket, the payment had finally come through. Into my bank account.

Usually, it's quite simple to take something to a counter, try to pay for it and when your card is rejected, be humiliated and take it back. Beer is not quite like that. You can't put it back into the barrel. So, accompanied by a new found friend, I went to the bar with a couple of possible PINs in my head, on the understanding that if I got it wrong he'd get the round in and I'd sort one out once I'd found a way of accessing my money.

Fortunately, I got it right first time and got the round in. The feeling of relief or freedom even, after an uncertain transaction clears is quite a rush.

When I went back a second time, it seemed sensible to keep a tab open, despite paying as you go being the norm in the UK. They ran through an initial transaction, gave me a temporary receipt and said to come back to complete the payment with PIN when I was finished.

When the pub closed at around midnight I was taken by surprise with half a pint still in my glass. In these days of relaxed licensing hours that seemed pretty early to me. So I approached the bar to close the transaction only to be told that everything was shut down and they'd already forced the transaction without the PIN!

If I'd known they could do that...

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