Gather around, kids, today we’re gonna jump the track in a big way as I tell you a story about technology run amok with help from some crafty and unscrupulous folk.
Why? Because this is one of those stories ya just can’t make up!
As you know, I am bound for Montana in a couple of weeks to (in theory) see the Northern Lights for myself.
And so it came to pass that earlier today I went to arrange for a rental car. No, I won’t tell you which agency I’m going through, it doesn’t matter in this case. The staff at the local office were very helpful and got me set up with a reservation, after which they said I could pay in advance through the website. Upon returning home to do so, I found that, for reasons unknown, that’s not an option in this case.
What to do? Why, call the friendly folks at Customer Service, of course!
I was routed to a call center in Jamaica. Remember that, it becomes important later.
We’ll call the first person I spoke with “Bob”. Bob pulled up the info and somehow gave me a price lower than what I was looking at on the website. Strange, but ok. He then informed me that I could complete the payment through him.
At this point, the hairs on the back of my neck began to stir.
However, I decided to go ahead. After all, the number I had called had been obtained from the website. I gave him my debit card number and information, after which the call immediately dropped.
Now the aforementioned hairs are standing at attention.
So I call back. This time I’m talking to “Barry”, who looks up the rental info and informs me that no payment was made. Talking to him leads me to talk to “Sheila”, a “Supervisor”, who transfers me to Customer Service.
Ok, wait…transfers me to Customer Service? Then exactly what department do those 3 work in?
By now I had to leave to get to an appointment and decide to pursue the matter once home again. Now I’m talking to Kim, who assures me she’s not in Jamaica. I explain the situation, at which point she drops the bomb on me.
“Sir, we don’t have a facility in Jamaica.”
RED ALERT! RED ALERT!
That’s right…somehow someone managed to hijack the rental company’s toll-free phone number in order to get debit and credit card information. I’ve heard of websites getting redirected, but phone numbers?
That’s a new one, even amongst my old IT buddies.
10 minutes later, I’m at the bank, verifying all the charges on the debit card for today, which are all mine, thankfully, and then immediately ordering the card cancelled and replaced.
Just between you and I, after all that I could use a drink.
And no, this was no dream. But it could have been a nightmare.