‘Travel chaos and combating fraud enliven short break’

October 30, 2014



TIME FLIES: This is one of the life-size model friends of Thomas the Tank Engine at Minehead, which I visited back in 2007. I can just the frown of the train on the Circle Line and the South Eastern train waiting at Borough Green for the bus from Sevenoaks.


IT had crossed my mind to put the fingers to the keyboard in a different way this time around.

I wanted to share some information about a torrid journey to and from Kent and to describe a human interest story that has ramifications about whether we should be totally reliant on doing everything on line. It has a lesson for us all, whether we live in Dorset, Bournemouth, Poole, Yeovil, the rest of Somerset or the New Forest.

I packed up a couple of small bags expecting to get to my friend James in North Kent in about three hours and boy was I in for a shock! A smooth journey from east Dorset to Waterloo without any hitches gave me a false sense of security.

As someone who is no lover of London, it made me even more determined to get across to Victoria as soon as possible.

It is easy to plan ahead with hindsight, but then again what percentage of us actually do? Having reached the station that is the gateway to the Channel Tunnel, the managers of the London Underground had other ideas.

A 15-minute cross the Tube with one change should all it have been. In fact it was five changes and nine stops later to go only from Waterloo to Victoria.

But no, the vast majority of the Circle line was shut down for compulsory maintenance and Sunday was the best day to do it. Gradually station by station, progress was made, eventually getting to Green Park and changing for the Victoria line, for you guessed it, Victoria Station – one and a half hours later.

Next it was South Eastern Trains. Grabbing something to eat via WH Smith I managed to get onto a 3.40pm train from Victoria. We’re on the way to Maidstone or so I thought. I found out it was on the display board but stopped at Sevenoaks.

The first part of the journey came to a halt here at Borough Green. We alighted and found out we needed to get on a bus. There shouldn’t be a long time to wait. Wrong. Actually it was nearly an hour.

A innocent employee got an impatient remark from me: “Does this happen on a regular basis?”

“No“ was the reply, “but Sunday was the most convenient day to the work and cause as minimal inconvenience to the public,” he said shrugging his shoulders.

Eventually I got onto a train from Borough Green and arrived at Maidstone, nearly seven and a half hours after I started on that Sunday. On my return it took less half that time to return to east Dorset and was less time than it took overall to get from my front door to my friend Anna in Bratislava.

On reflection, it is easy to be critical but I didn’t plan the journey yet it wouldn’t have been a great for foreign visitors and many underground staff were collared left right and centre to find out what was going on. The repairs had to be done, but it showed how long journeys can be affected by such work.

The second part of my trip got even more headline-grabbing when James’ friend Charles rang up frantically after we got there to say he had been tricked on line.

Charles was caught at the end of a working day momentarily dropping his guard when a on-line support software company (with a PO Box based in Dubai) persuaded him his computer was running slow.

It was and before long Charles was nodding with agreement that something needed to be done. As certain procedures were put in place to acquire the software to “speed up” his computer, he felt something wasn’t right but felt this needed to be corrected, so the product was bought. The company had his bank details.

Charles had acted the week before. He want to his bank to check his account in Sevenoaks to be told by the cashier that £900 had been spent on-line with a posh retail outlet.

Charles was meticulous in being careful with his personal information but it suddenly dawned on him the only person who could have done it this was the guy he spoke to over the phone.

That chance inspection led Charles to cancel both his debit cards on the spot and having his computer wiped by a PC technician to remove the material placed by the hacker.

A visit to the local police station to report this crime revealed some information that anyone who is reading this should register and take note carefully – A COMPANY WHO COLD CALLS ANYONE AND OFFERS AN ON-LINE SERVICE FOR SOFTWARE PROBLEMS DEMANDING REMOTE ACCESS, PLACING UNNECESSARY ADD-ONS WHILST ASKING FOR BANKING DETAILS IS COMMITTING FRAUD.  So please take note and protect yourself at all times and don’t drop your guard, even momentarily like Charles did.

In conclusion having read this story back, we need to remember that whilst doing many things on-line is convenient for many, it is impersonal as a service and banks and other finance institutions should provide the personal services if customers ask for it and acknowledge the risks for the consumer in expecting all of them to bank on-line.


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