Jul 6, 2010

Untrustworthy Africans

Let’s be honest; living in Africa, or being African, gives you a certain unwelcome aroma in the eyes of global corporations. Frankly, we’re just not trustworthy.
This is part of an interesting post by White African about what he terms “Africa’s trust problem”. I think many of us can share stories about extra scrutiny at customs counters, flagged online activity by banks and other vendors, and other insulting acts.

I remember planning my last trip to Zambia and my experience using the British Airways online booking system – it doesn’t exist! As soon as I found the flight I wanted, and tried to make the ticket purchase the system rejected my credit card, and directed me to contact a booking agent.  And it was during my phone conversation with the booking agent, I was informed that because my destination was Zambia there was no way for BA to verify the validity of my credit card...since everyone knows that Zambia is riddled with online scammers...NOT!

After a few deep breaths, I put aside the mad, black woman and asked to complete the transaction. Alas, the polite agent could only reserve my seat and would not accept my payment information; I would have to do that through a third party travel agent. At the end of the day my credit card was only legitimate enough to use with a local travel agency with a $45 convenience fee tacked on to the ticket price and not online. I guess BA was hoping the agency would eat the cost if (when) my bank reneged!

And just to be contrary, before I left the country I informed my bank that any card activity in Zambia should be flagged as suspicious and to have it shut down because you can’t trust those Africans! The bank teller didn’t even blink...

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