Admittedly, this has absolutely nothing to do with international fiction, but since it is related to this week’s podcast and is incredibly hilarious, I feel like I have to share.
Here’s the setup: Back in 2008, I bought credit on Skype to call some people in India for an article I was writing. After doing the interviews, I let $30+ in credit just sit on my account for years. When we started setting things up to bring Garth Hallberg into our podcast, it became clear that the best way to do this would be to have me call him on his cell phone—which requires me to use some of my Skype credit.
So far so good, except that Skype had “deactivated” my credit for some reason. (Probably the fact that I never ever used it.) I clicked the link to “reactive” my money, but instead of allowing me to access this credit and make calls to regular phones, Skype informed me that my “account had been blocked.”
I filled out the customer survey asking “why this must be so” and got the following response:
Thank you for contacting Skype Customer Service.
We understand your concerns regarding your blocked account.
Your account has been restricted because one of your purchases has been flagged for verification by Moneybookers.
To resolve this issue, please contact Moneybookers at: http://www.moneybookers.com/app/help.pl?s=contact
Should you need more assistance, feel free to contact us again.
Skype Customer Service
Which makes no sense, since I’ve never ever ever heard of a place called Moneybookers, and most definitely did not use their services when purchasing my now locked down Skype credit. Here’s my attempt to explain that:
Ok. But really, Moneybookers? That sounds like a total scam. I’m not sure I will ever click on that link, ever.
OK, so maybe I could’ve tried to explain in a more cordial fashion . . . But thankfully, Skype customer service is resilient:
Thank you for your reply.
My name is Silja and your issue has been forwarded to me for further review.
I would like to apologise for the issues you are having with your Skype account.
As per previous email, please be so kind and contact your Moneybookers office to find out why they have asked us to put a restriction on your Skype account.
Unfortunately I am not able to assist you further with this request.
Which got me exactly nowhere, thus necessitating another response—one that’s a bit more explanatory (and angry):
This is totally 100% ludicrous and confusing. First off, you still haven’t explained who “Moneybookers” even is. This sounds like a complete scam. (I’m not sure if you’re a native English speaker, but “money” + “book” in colloquial English implies gambling and other unsavory activities.) And how am I supposed to know which “office” to contact?
More to the point, the ONLY transaction I’ve ever had related to Skype and money is when I purchased credit from SKYPE a couple years ago. I didn’t need as much as I purchased, so it was “deactivated” (or whatever term you use). When I followed the links to reactivate it, my account was suddenly suspended and this third party (the aforementioned, possibly criminal, “Moneybookers”) was referred to as the cause. Why does my purchase have anything at all to do with this online mafia? I am very confused. Did you sell my information and credit card to this gang? If so, I will be very upset. Very.
So, before I do a single thing with this mysterious “Moneybookers” I need you to explain why they would have anything at all to do with my SKYPE account.
Go to it.
I figured there was no way Silja would ever reply to this, especially since my technique relied on just insulting some mysterious third party company in ways that might be borderline libelous. But Silja (bless his soul) was up to the task. Sort of:
Thank you again for your email.
Please be so kind and accept my apologies for the delay in my response.
I am more than happy to explain to you what Moneybookers is and how you can contact them.
Moneybookers is a payment provider that can be used to purchase products for Skype and a lot of other web sites. You can use Moneybookers in combination with your credit card, debit card or your bank account to buy Skype Credit. If you already have a Moneybookers account you can buy Skype Credit instantly.
Please be so kind and click on the link below to read more about Moneybookers:
Here are Moneybookers contact details:
I am very sorry but as they have requested us to restrict your Skype account, I am not able to assist you further.
None of this was good enough for me. Not only was that “thank you again for your email” line totally insincere, but Silja’s explanation was in no way an explanation. Plus, “I am not able to assist you further” was lame. Not going to assist me? Really? CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.
So I did a little looking into Moneybookers and found out that they just changed their name to Skrill (Moneybookers). And that they look as legitimately sketchy as I had imagined.
Seeing that logic and explanation had failed me to this point, I decided to go with a much more batshit approach. ‘Cause why not?
Hello Silja and Skrill (Moneybookers) Customer Service Representative,
Thank you again for your email and for attempting to explain Moneybookers/Skrill to me. Unfortunately, I’m still very confused by all of this . . . Let me just post my questions in order here and see if the two of you can enlighten me:
• I understand that Skrill (Moneybookers) is PayPal with a more horrifying name, but I don’t have an account with them. I bought Skype credit directly from Skype with my credit card. What right does Skrill (Moneybookers) have to suddenly step in and freeze my money? That money was paid to Skype ages ago. It has been in your hands for years. To freeze it now is more like theft than anything else.
• Skrill (Moneybookers) Customer Service Representative (from now on S/MCSR for short): Who handles your marketing and can you fire them? Moneybookers is a shady-ass name, but Skrill just sounds like an unwanted growth, or those crustaceans that adhere themselves to boats. YOU NEED TO WORKSHOP THESE THINGS BEFORE MAKING THEM PUBLIC.
• I’m a bit concerned by this page that I found on the Skrill: https://www.moneybookers.com/ads/moneybookers-scam-information/us/phishing/#info. And I quote: “Typically, an email will arrive suggesting that it is from a well-known brand – it could be a high street bank, an online retailer, Facebook or even Skrill (Moneybookers).” OR A SKYPE? “These emails will generally suggest that something has happened that requires you to click a link and log-in to your account. Some of the claims that these emails could make include:
claims that your account has been suspended”
Is this what is happening? Am I being Phished? Silja, I thought you were my friend—is this some sort of long con? Why me?
• Going back to you S/MCSR: If this isn’t an elaborate scam (IT IS), what do you have against my Skype account? How do you even know who I am? Until the other day, I’d never even heard of your company, and now I feel I must have done something wrong to you in a previous life to attract such Skrill vengeance. (Did the marketing guy get this name from a comic book? Is he a Skrillex fan? PLEASE EXPLAIN.) I’m sure you’re a perfectly acceptable online mafia (SKRILLZ FOR LIFE!), but I can’t bring myself to recommend you to anyone, since your “marketing” tactics seem to consist of making people aware of your shady services by attacking their Skype accounts. That and naming your company after a bad cold. SKRILL! GESUNDHEIT!
• As part of my job, I record a weekly podcast using the Skype. If I can’t get you to unblock my account, this week’s episode will be much horrible. (Or as my friend says, “Jūsu sūkāt būs pārtraukums Internets ir savvalas paniska bēgšana.”1) Are you looking for a vig? Will a vig make this problem . . . go away?
Thank you very much for your assistance.
Chad W. Post
Skype Account: chadwpost
Obviously, this technique will never work, but at least it made me feel a bit better. (And entertained a few other people in the process.) But lo and behold, Silja came through for me and for all Three Percent podcast fans everywhere!
Thank you again for your reply.
Again, I am very sorry for the inconvenience this issue is causing you.
After checking your account further and also checking with a different department, we have decided to remove the restriction from your account.
Please note that usually we ask our customers to contact Moneybookers in such cases but it seems that in your case, you have no idea who Moneybookers are and why they have asked us to restrict your account.
I do understand that you do not think that Moneybookers is a legal company and their name is something that should be changed. Unfortunately I am not able to comment on this topic as they are our payment partners and if you wish to give them suggestions, you will need to send them an email.
Also, your account has been restricted for a long time, since 2009 when Moneybookers actually reported this incident to us.
Again, I am very sorry for this incident and that it took me a while to have your account open again.
For further issues/suggestions you have with Moneybookers, please be so kind and contact their customer support.
“I do understand that you do not think that Moneybookers is a legal company and their name is something that should be changed.” This whole long saga was worth it just to read those words. WIN!
1 This is something like “your suck will break Internet with wild stampede” translated via Google Translate into Latvian.
This slender, uncanny volume—the second, best-selling collection of stories by Russian author Ludmilla Petrushevskaya to appear in the U.S.—has already received considerable, well-deserved praise from many critics and high profile publications. Its seventeen short tales, averaging ten pages each, are. . .
The Urdu word basti refers to any space, intimate to worldly, and is often translated as “common place” or “a gathering place.” This book by Intizar Husain, who is widely regarded as one of the most important living Pakistani writers,. . .
The Whispering Muse, one of three books by Icelandic writer Sjón just published in North America, is nothing if not inventive. Stories within stories, shifting narration, leaps in time, and characters who transform from men to birds and back again—you’ve. . .
Luis Negrón’s debut collection Mundo Cruel is a journey through Puerto Rico’s gay world. Published in 2010, the book is already in its fifth Spanish edition. Here in the U.S., the collection has been published by Seven Stories Press and. . .
To have watched from one of your patios
the ancient stars
from the bank of shadow to have watched
the scattered lights
my ignorance has learned no names for
nor their places in constellations
to have heard the ring of. . .
When Icelandic author Andri Snær Magnason first published LoveStar, his darkly comic parable of corporate power and media influence run amok, the world was in a very different place. (This was back before both Facebook and Twitter, if you can. . .
When starting Hi, This Is Conchita and Other Stories, Santiago Roncagliolo’s second work to be translated into English, I was expecting Roncagliolo to explore the line between evil and religion that was front and center in Red April. Admittedly, I. . .
Christa Wolf’s newly-translated City of Angels is a novel of atonement, and in this way the work of art that it resembles most to me is not another book, but the 2003 Sophia Coppola film Lost in Translation. Like that. . .
French author—philosopher, poet, novelist—de Roblès writes something approaching the Great (Latin) American Novel, about Brazilian characters, one of whom is steeped in the life of the seventeenth century polymath (but almost always erroneous) Jesuit Athanasius Kircher. Eleazard von Wogau, a. . .
A rich, beautifully written, consistently surprising satire, Yan Lianke’s Lenin’s Kisses boasts an elaborate, engrossing plot with disarming twists and compelling characters both challenged and challenging. It leads the reader on a strange pilgrimage—often melancholy but certainly rewarding—through a China. . .