If you tell enough stories, perhaps the moral will show up.


Desperate for a Wii

(This is my entrant for "most peurile reference to a Nintendo gaming console 2007".)

Now that the less mad son's eagerly desired birthday present has arrived from a reputable supplier (gamestation) I feel that it won't be tempting fate to describe what happens when you try and order from some other suppliers.

About ten days ago, Mrs U was desperately looking for a Wii. It launched months ago -- how could it possibly be in short supply now? The LMS was on a promise but there were none to be found with a fixed delivery date anywhere in the UK. Until she came across a site that magically was promising a five day delivery. Just time! So she shopped, waved her credit card, and waited.

No confirmation email: that's odd. Five days later, no Wii: that's a nightmare. Check the bank account: £2,500 debited by a restaurant in Surrey. Oooh.

Now I'm not naming the site because it's just possible that the cause of the trouble is actually this. But I don't think so.

The point to this sad story is that Mrs U is a competent shopper and competent security consumer. She declines to speak to the bank when they ring her up and ask her to confirm her identity. She knows what the padlock means. But as soon as she was a little bit needy, she was willing to deal with a site she'd never used before, without doing research that could have shown the slagging it got on Yahoo answers, she was willing to ignore the absence of a phone number, and she clicked straight through the warning from the self-signed certificate that was pointing to a "commerce" site hosted the Dear knows where. Education and common sense swept aside by need and "experience" of good shopping outcomes in the past.

It's worse for the restaurant: they've accepted a bad card without a PIN and that'll mean a monster charge back straight off their margin. Grief all round.

Education is supposed to be the key security tool, but it seems to me that the only education that works is to screw up.

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