Later. M&S, Whiteleys, Bayswater
M&S check-out girl: Sorry, madam, your card is blocked.
Me: I can't believe it. F***ing hell. Sorry, I know it's not your fault, but I've been a regular customer at M&S for about 30 years — you're no better than British Telecom. I'll pay in cash.
M&S: Welcome, quality purposes, card number, date of birth, blah, blah.
Me: This is about the sixth time I've phoned and each time I'm told that my card is not blocked. But actually it is blocked — I've just been shopping and can't use it.
M&S: I'll just check...Would you mind holding? Thank you for holding. I'm afraid that once a card has been blocked it's not possible to unblock it. The best thing would be if I issued you a new card. It will get to you within five working days.
Me: Well, there doesn't seem to be anything else I can do. I am astonished at M&S's incompetence. Thank you.
A few days later
Me: Hello, I have just received a new M&S shopping card and am phoning to activate it, as you instruct. You haven't sent a new pin number. Can I use the old one?
M&S: Let me just check. Thank you for holding. Yes, as it's not your first card, you can use your old pin number.
M&S check-out girl: Sorry, but you have put in an incorrect pin number, try again. No, it's incorrect again. Sorry.
M&S: Welcome, etc, etc, blah, blah...How can I help?
Me: Earlier today, I was told by one of your colleagues that I could use my old pin number for my new card, but it's not working.
M&S: Would you mind holding? Sorry to keep you waiting, madam. Our rule is that you always have a new pin number when you get a new card, though you can of course change it to your old one. You should have been sent a new pin number before you received your new card. I will send one right away.
It will take five working days...