Take My Money – Please! | B.T. Polcari

Take My Money – Please!

I wrote a blog post a few weeks ago called “3 Cables and You’re Done” that emphasized things are never as simple as the proverbial “they” say it will be. I have also emphasized over the years to my children and employees that, from a planning perspective, if you think a task is going to take a certain amount of time, then double it. The point being, things rarely go as planned.

However, there has to be a limit to what this “B.T. Principle” applies to, right? One would think the simpler a task, the less applicable is my mantra. I recently had a fun little experience that throws cold water on this thought. I don’t care how simple or easy or basic a task is supposed to be, you never know when Fate or Karma or Mother Nature or the Internet gremlins rise up and say, to steal a phrase from the legendary Coach Lee Corso (look him up), “Not so fast my friend.”

I started that fateful day all jazzed up to finish an early chapter on book two of the A Mauzzy and Me Mystery series when I decided to first get a book contest registration out of the way. All it entailed was: 1) filling out a brief online form; 2) uploading the eBook; and 3) sending the registration fee through a well-known and popular online payment platform. We’re talking five minutes of my time and then I could get cranking and knock out the chapter. The first two steps I finished in three minutes. The last?

Ninety minutes.

For security purposes, this payment platform uses a two-factor authentication system. The way it’s supposed to work is after the initial login using my tablet, the app texts me a code to enter and then I’m into my account. I’ve done this too many times to count. And the app is very polite because it lets me tell it when to send the text. So, I hit “send code now.”

But the text didn’t arrive.

This was strange because there was never a delay. Whenever I hit the send button, the text showed up right away. Never failed. But not this time. Not today.

No biggie. It had a resend button, so I hit resend. And waited. Crickets.

Thinking maybe the app was the issue, I closed it out, reopened it, and logged in. I hit “send code now.” Nothing. I hit resend. Ain’t gonna happen, dude. A few choice words later, after all – I am an author, I hit resend yet again. Nada.

Now remember – all I was trying to do was send $25 for a flipping book contest. That’s it.

For no logical reason, I checked the phone number the app was supposed to be sending the text to and yep, that was my number.

Resend!

Nothing.

Okay, I was getting a little concerned my account got hacked and all these codes were somehow being sent to the bad guys. Visions popped in my head of hackers hunched over their laptops in a musty basement cackling to themselves as they hacked my account and stole all my information. Because *clearly* that was the only explanation for why I didn’t receive my code.

Then it hit me. Bad guys? They wear black hats, right? Hold on a sec. It was a Friday. Yep – Black Friday!

Maybe the app’s website crashed due to high volume. I went online and found out they were having big issues in New York and also smaller issues around Atlanta, which is less than two hours from Chattanooga. This info gave me a glimmer of hope. I gave it one last shot.

Yeah, I’m an idiot.

When I hit the “send code now” button on my tablet, a message popped up advising that there “appears to be a problem” with my account and I should contact them. They were polite enough to provide a phone number with the message so I didn’t have to search for it.

I called the number. Of course, I got an automated menu, which sent a nervous tremor through me. These things never worked out well – if in doubt – read the aforementioned blog post at the beginning of this post.

After working through the menu options, a recording came on saying that for quality control purposes, this call may be recorded. My hopes soared because this meant a real live human being was getting on the line to sort out my problem.

Wrong.

A recording tells me they cannot take my call and then they hung up on me.

I tried going through the app again – don’t ask me why – by closing it out, opening it back up, and logging in. Please send the code now.

Nope. Back to “contact us.”

Again, just trying to send $25.

I called the number again. Got the QC message again. Hopes began to rise. Again.

All hope was quickly snuffed out when I got a new recording – which I guess was better than hanging up on me – that said to use the “help” feature at the bottom of their website and send them a message.

I jumped on my laptop, brought up the website, and scrolled to the bottom in desperate search of the “help” feature. I suddenly felt like a hapless child lost in the cornfield maze with no chance of finding my way out. Ever. Because—there was no “help” feature!

In the top corner of the webpage, I spied a login button. I went for it.

Send the code.

YES, I got the code! Sweet mother, I was in. Only—there was a message that said: “There’s a problem with your account. Be sure to resolve it to restore full account access.”

Like Charlie Brown with Lucy and the football, I clicked the “resolve account issue” button.

Here we go again.

Nothing.

If I was Charlie Brown, I would have been flat on my back staring up at the sky while Lucy gloated over my prone body.

After my glazed eyes refocused on the screen, I realized I had access to my account and I could send/receive money. Like poor Charlie Brown, I paused.

Was this fool’s gold?

No matter.

I already proved to myself over those last ninety minutes that I was an idiot, so I went for it. I typed in the contest’s email address, it popped up, I entered $25, and hit send.

And the money was sent. Just like that.

No problem.

Simple.

A child could do it.

One hour later, my phone BLEW UP with messages pouring in from the payment platform with something like seven-thousand-million authentication codes.

Relieved their site just couldn’t handle Black Friday volume and my account was good, I jumped back into the chapter I was writing, only to run out of time to finish it because I still had to get my 4-mile walk in.

The next day, before starting work on the chapter, for grins I logged into the pay app and yep, that dang message saying I needed to resolve my account issue was still there. Of course, I clicked on the “resolve account issue” button. And—

NOTHING.

I logged out and spent the rest of the day finishing that chapter.

I haven’t gone back into the app since. I’m afraid what I’ll find. Or won’t find.

So, remember. If you have a task to accomplish, double the amount of time you set aside to finish it. And pray that it’s enough.

-B.T.