Friday, December 17, 2010

Merry *@%&!£+ Christmas!

Peter here. My apologies for not having much to say for myself this week. I have been sorely distracted by a fraud on my bank card - the second time in six months, with different cards!

Apart from the fact that nearly 1000 dollars’ worth of unathorised transactions was made with it over two days, I have now developed an unhealthy (or perhaps healthy) paranoia about where the thieves are getting details of my cards. The search for that source continues.

However, living in France, there are certain peculiarities that one confronts when dealing with such a situation. In the UK I would have had a telephone number to call which would immediately put a block on my card.

But my French bank does not allow that. First I have to go and report it to them. Then I have to go to the gendarmerie and lodge an official complaint of fraud. This is a process that takes at least two hours. When it is completed, I have to sign multifarious forms, and I am given an attestation of my complaint, which I then take back to the bank - and only then will they block the card.

It is their loss, of course, if any unauthorised transactions take place in the meantime, because I will be fully (I hope) reimbursed.

The one bright spot on the horizon was the moment outside the gendarmerie when I spoke into the intercom system to be allowed access (security is very tight at all gendarmeries), and the duty gendarme came to let me in. Surprise, surprise, he turned out to be someone I knew - a HUGE fan of my books!

He led me excitedly into his office and showed me his collection of police officers’ headgear from around the world, and asked if there was any chance I could get him a Chinese one the next time I was in the Middle Kingdom. I assured him I would do my best.

As various gendarmes filed through the office, he kept looking up from his computer screen to say: “Do you know Monsieur May?” They would look at me blankly, then he would add: “You know... the writer.” And they all smiled and shook my hand.

It reminded me of the first time I met my gendarme. In town one market day to go to (ironically) the bank, I was crossing the busy main street when a gendarmes van screeched to a halt, and one of them leaned out the window, pointing a finger at me, and indicating I should approach.

Now, gendarmes in France have a pretty fierce reputation, so I approached the van with some trepidation, wondering what the hell I had done. He said: "Monsieur Peter May?” I was shocked. He knew my name! I admitted I was, and his face was suddenly wreathed in smiles. “I adore your books,” he said.

So it felt good to be in friendly hands as a filed my complaint about card fraud. When he finished, finally, I asked if he would be the one to pursue the investigation.

He grinned and said: “Yes. I will catch the perps - just like Li (the Chinese cop in my books).”

I hope he does.


Donis Casey said...

My dearest sympathy and I hope you discover how they got your numbers. But congrats on your - dare I say it? - fame. There are times when it's really helpful to be recognized and admired. I hope to have first hand knowledge of it myself one day.

peter_may said...

Hahahaha! I would rather be anonymous and un-defrauded, Donis!

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