This morning was perfect clothes-drying weather, so I did a load of laundry and with the heat and the gentle breeze, the clothes were dry within an hour.
Tomorrow night there is a full moon ceremony at El Charco del Ingenio, the botanical reserve. It’s a good thing the full moon was not tonight, because it might not have been possible to see the moon. Early this evening the wind came up and the temperature dropped – thunderstorms had been forecast – and there was so much dust in the air it was difficult to see anything in El Centro from the apartment in Santa Julia. The wind was blowing to the west and was strong enough to rattle windows and drive dust through crevices, of which my apartment has many. I closed the east-facing windows but not before I could taste the dust in my nostrils and on my tongue.
So I needed to change my flight reservation for returning from the U.S. Everything went swimmingly until it came time to enter my payment information, and even that went well until the point at which I wanted to confirm the transaction. The airline’s system returned a message to the effect that I had entered information in an incorrect format. But which information? As the airline system didn’t tell me, I had to guess. And because the airline system did not retain any of the information (card information + billing address information) that I had entered, I had to enter it all again. And again. And again. And again. All of this effort to pay a total of $7.00 USD.
My financial institution, a credit union, does not have the capability to store non-United States addresses in its system. Some months ago I was not able to enter my Mexican address directly and had to have the credit union enter it for me. It stores my Mexican street address properly and it is able to store “San Miguel de” but not “San Miguel de Allende.” I suspect that if it used my Mexican postal code its system would pluck a U.S. locale from its database, so it uses “Gu” as the postal code (short for Guanajuato”). Guanajuato should be the state, but the credit union’s system leaves that area blank.
When one uses a debit or credit card for payment, airline systems look to match the billing address that one provides to them with the address that the financial institution has on record. Now, it seems to me that if the airline wanted to compare information that I enter at the time of transaction to what is stored in the financial institution’s system, then one should let me enter information the way the financial institution stores it, not the way the airline would like me to enter it. The airline has its own data entry requirements.
Airlines, however, apply their own verification checks to the information one enters at transaction time. The airline system that I encountered was able to accept a non-United States address. So I blindly entered my Mexican mailing address, all of which went through successfully. The airline’s system even knew that my postal code put me in the state of Guanajuato and completed that field for me.
All seemed fine until I clicked the “Confirm” symbol. That’s when the airline system said I’d done something wrong, but wouldn’t tell me what. So I reentered all the information, this time exactly as my financial institution has it recorded. The airline system would not let me enter “Gu” as my postal code nor would it let me leave the “State” field blank. Again I received error messages and suspect that the airline system didn’t like the jerry-rigged solution that my credit union uses to maintain non-U.S. addresses. After a few more attempts at entering information this way and that, I relented and used a different card, one from another financial institution that has a long-out-of-date address, but one which the airline seemed to enjoy.
I am about to close out the bank account to which the successful card is linked as the account has exorbitant monthly fees, but wonder how I’ll book my future airline transportation needs. Perhaps I’ll travel by bus and train instead as I can buy those tickets in person, using cash.