This arvo I went down to the local electrical warehouse place and bought an evaporative cooler. So far I’ve tried it out only to the extent that I can on a day which is patently not hot. And my conclusion is… well, it blows out a heap of cold air. Which is a good thing. No matter. A more eminently suitable day will arrive in due course, I’m sure.

What puzzled me is that when bought it, I handed over my Visa card to pay the $199 for it, and the guy asked me if he could see my driver’s licence. I don’t believe I have ever been asked for a licence when paying by credit card before. Why would they do that? The authorisation is done online from the credit card company computers, so why would they want it?

I said: "Why?"

He mumbled something about it being policy.

"Since when?" I bought a bed costing about 7 times as much there last year, and it wasn’t policy then.

"For a few months now."

I handed him my licence, while pondering what a total crock it was. Not that I was concerned if he checked my signature on the two cards and my photo on the licence with my curious face peering over the desk at him. I suppose I could have stormed out and bought it somewhere else, but I didn’t have the time for such protest. I silently made a note to go elsewhere the next time I wanted to buy something electrical.

This kind of thing bugs me, because there is no mandate in Australia to carry photo ID, and I remember in the days before I got a drivers licence that the occasional idiot like this guy could make things very annoying indeed. On one occasion I was trying to pay for something by cheque, and the officious dolt at Billy Guyatts (I can slag them off, since they went bust years ago) wouldn’t accept it without showing a licence. I didn’t have one, and offered to show him my passport. He wouldn’t accept it. May I point out that I wasn’t trying to pay for an actual product I wanted to take away – I was trying to pay for an extended warranty on a video camera. I had already successfully negotiated the transaction for the camera itself. I just wanted to give them some more money so I could take away a piece of paperthat said at some stage in the future I could claim free repairs. Where the hell is the risk in that?

Why is this planet run by such fools? When I rule the world…

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.