the Post Office travel card: pitfalls

Retail Stock

A much promoted new card issued by the British Post Office. It is like the modern replacement for travellers’ cheques, which are disappearing and getting harder to use. It is supposed to be the new safe way to carry money on holiday, with the money always in your card account even if the card itself goes. You can put spending money on to the card, in up to 13 different currencies, and use it like a debit card, but because you can pay in the local currency which you have preloaded onto the card, you avoid the exchange charges that go with using an actual bank debit card. Also there is no creditworthiness involved in getting this card, only a photo-identity check, so folks could get it who can’t get a debit card.

That must be a good thing. But there are potential pitfalls with this card.

There is one that is a fault in the way it is sold. It does not come with any forewarning explanation of how the process works to top it up online; you only see that when you first actually do it. It requires you to create an online account for the travel card, then to register on that account any other card you want to use for topping it up. It does not take Paypal. So you need to know all the other card’s details. For that you need to carry all details that you don’t remember, unless you are carrying the other card itself – and carrying details is not what we are encouraged to do usually.

Your autistic mind might have taken and followed literally the advice that this travel card can be used instead of your debit card, and hence chosen not also to carry your debit card, thinking that feels safer. BUT, that carries the danger that you reach that decision overlooking something that you will need your debit card for, but your mind had already ticked off as dealt with, say something you had already fixed up before your autistic local group promoted the travel card idea enthusiastically to you. e.g. when organising some group travel. A particular danger here is with the bad system of paying only on arrival for hotels that you have already used your card to prebook online.

Hotels can actually have the wrong setting shown on a booking site, re whether a prepayment will be taken: a friend actually asked an hotel that does not prepay, after making a card backed booking on indicated a 1 day prepayment. That system, of making bookings backed by a card but with no payment taken and consequently still needing to carry to the hotel whichever card you intend to pay with, when an option of paying in advance online would have averted that risk – is such a bad culture, illogical and badly worked out, when any number of things could go wrong for the traveller before they reach the hotel: and now this can too. Then carrying the new travel card won’t have made you safer on that journey.

Yet it may work out exactly the same as that if you do carry your debit card or either carry or remember its number. Because – this happened to me, hence this post – the first time you try to top up the travel card by online transaction, your bank’s fraud system reads it as a suspicious “unusual activity” and blocks your debit card! Leaving you adrift abroad without either the use of your debit card or the money you wanted to top up from it onto the travel card.

Are the banks doing this deliberately, to make the travel card hard to use because it is a rival? Are they trying to make it fail? I was stuck with needing to make a bank security phone call from Ireland to Britain before this piece of my own funds was available to me, and kept hanging in a call queue for half an hour when the first person put me through to a second person. The bank security system being utterly selfish for itself and impractical for the cardholder. If you have a mobile phone this would he a prohibitively expensive or credit draining use of it. I happen not to have one, with said autistic difficulty with phone speech – I needed not to be unlucky with the hotel, which means it needed to be a proper hotel and not to be a b+b in someone’s house or one of these new no-frills Asian economy hotels like the Tune chain.

But what if I had done that top-up transaction at home just after buying the travel card and juat hefore travelling? Them if the same card security issue hit, that would be my debit card hit just hefore travelling and could I get through to card security in time, before I had obviated the need to carry it, the blocked transaction exactly being intended to achieve that! In the recent post on hooligans on TripAdvisor with an aggressively uncaring hard attitude on “personal responsibility” in airport problems, that type of attitude is equally as out of order and illegally violatory to the safety of vulnerable groups, over this card problem too. Unmet responsibilities here by the card providers, and pitfalls to watch for for all involved in planning travel for or with us.

It’s complicated enough that you need 3 different types of password for the card! That is not explained when you buy it, either. You get an “access code” nunber that you need to quote any time you phone them about the card, and when you create an online account to work the card especially for checking your balance in each currency and topping up. Then of course tbis online account itself requires a password. Then separately to either of these, the card itself has a PIN number!

Meanwhile, if you have 2 cards, most typically if you have 1 bank debit card and now a POTC too, travel inaurance presses acutely on you the dilemma: is it safer to carry only one, leaving the other at home not to get lost, or to carry both (or if more, all) your cards in case you need the funds in either of them, especially if the other gets lost? I venture to share that the experience quoted gives the answer, which can help all aspies be confident towards your travel insurers, of the right choice. You might overlook a spend, or find an extra spend present as needed. This establishes clearly that the right choice is
yes take them both.

Maurice Frank
1 Jun 2017

a call for an aggravated crimes law for us

In Britain a petition, for hate crime towards autistics and motivated against autism to be counted as aggravated crime against a minority, on the same terms as crimes of racism or against LGBT do now.

It is needed as there have been some hate crimes where contemptuous macho thugs have committed serious assaults.

Because autism includes issues with failing to make good eye contact, another great thing this measure would help to suppress is yob aggression over being looked at. “You looking at me?” is a notorious dangerous trigger in thick thugs: it comes from the animal instinct to find eye contact a threat. It’s not only muscular male thugs now too ! It is also now dangerously used by malicious women to tar men with the hint of harrassment, part of the PC prejudice to make men live in social fear, apologise for existing, and expediently take the blame and the penalising for social collisions that an aggressive woman started.

But mishandling eye contact is an important part of autism. So this measure (if applied logically in practice) could start to roll back that one-sidedness.

Much of the emotionally savage and gratuitously violent and gory “alternative comedy” style of the 80s-90s, that was exactly like it was being made by school bullies, yet whose makers fancied themselves virtuous cultural leaders against Thatcher! would become unmakeable and a buried piece of bad history, by this measure. That is an absolute passion in favour of a social reform like this. For what this measure seeks to prevent, through a caring awareness of innate vulnerabilities, is exactly the type of dangerous treacherous bleak coldly cutthroat society that alternative comedy gloried in and endorsed.

17 May 2017



local groups folding

Independently organised aspie local societies are declining: the opposite of what needs to be. In Scotland an aspie who has followed the fortunes of local groups, and noticed their disappearance now in Aberdeen and Dumfries, pinpointed a disturbing reason for this cycle:

” all round Britain AS support groups had started, and folded when their members were tired of one another. ”  !

WHAT THE HELL SORT OF FOLKS WITH SERIOUS CARING FOR THERE TO BE AN ASPIE SCENE GET TIRED OF ONE ANOTHER? What sorts of members of a population with a communication difficulty do it, when getting tired of each other is such a horrible thing to do and increases vulnerability? Where do they go when they peter out of bothering with a group and disappear from the scene: when they “go back into the woodwork” as it is called rhetorically? Folks with communication troubles, for whom existing in mainstream society is harder, to turn their back on their fellows?

The Aberdeen group was supposed to be run and sustained by the NAS after it shut down, after far too brief an existence, the One Stop Shop service it had been contracted to run there. That is an ethical shocker in self-serving abandonment of a served population, downsizing and retreat, by a big organisation. It is like the discontinuing of bus services that had replaced closed down rural railways. The same unreliability of tokenistic relict services. THAT’S WHY AS MANY INDEPENDENTLY ORGANISED LOCAL SOCIETIES AS POSSIBLE NEED TO KEEP GOING, because big organisations can’t be trusted: in what they say on our behalf, giving us our own say, how fairly they run things, and whether they damn bother to continue to run at all even the services that get contracted to them.use now sadly a dispute over corrupt breaching of fairness and of the trust ethic when giving personal support, has obliged its chair to leave office, with no neutral replacement available from in its own regularly attending membership: so it has had to become chaired by One Stop Shop workers from Autism Initiatives.

red-book-vector-illustration_47051638                                treedamage-peotone

THE EFFORT TO RUN LOCAL GROUPS CONSCIENTIOUSLY FAIRLY WILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE: with constitutions guaranteeing every member against arbitrary or gratuitous rejection, or corrupt or instant judgment in disputes, and to defend themselves on the red line of perpetual entitlement to personal fairness. And the standard protections for minority groups that the present era can be so proud of. If normal treacherous social behaviours happen, group dynamics typical of the neurotypical world, then any autistic may reasonably tire of experiencing it, and feel emotionally fearful or threatened. It is ethically unacceptable for anyone helping to run a local able autism society, to say that any unfair social behaviours have to be accepted as a reality of people. It is even more unacceptable to use the word “unfortunately” attached to this, a word routinely used as a device for betraying fairness and asserting that injustices shall happen.

In a crisis for local groups, the national networking provided by Aspie Village continues to be an inspired necessity to hold the British aspie scene together nationally, in the core numbers of us interested in that. To revive local groups, let alone grow them into a network they always dreamed, requires exactly the conscientiousness for fairness, that this site was created for just because it matters morally at personal level. the project of an Autistic Groups Fairness Watch is grandly vindicated, as a necessity to keep our whole scene going successfully.

Maurice Frank
12 May 2017

“Children’s Services Coalition”; on CAMHS

On Feb 7 this so-called coalition wrote to all the Scottish papers, flagging up that it was “pleased to support” god-awful PR deception “Children’s Mental Health Week.”

      Its letter was signed by a list of member organisations:

    • Spark of Genius
    • Who Cares Scotland
    • Kindred Scotland
    • Young Foundations
    • Action For Sick Children Scotland.

NONE of these replied to an objection sent to them.

That shows it’s fake PR. In the papers they were on about: awareness – the standard word, acts of kindness, waiting times, accessibility – as if it’s something you want to access, and to trust.

Not answered: sectioning, services that pick and force issues of their own choosing tbat not the issue the child came to them with, the consequent dangerousness to families of approaching child mental health services, and are they doing anything to put a stop to this?

They were asked to denounce Blackadder too and have ignored that. Why? Because on the coalition’s own site, their letter is headed with an extraordinary hypocritical quote from Stephen Fry, about kindness. “The greatness of kindness” One of the cast of TV that made a hate attack on the safety and mental distress of kids in school, nationally, wants without questioning on it, to be regarded as a spokesman for kindness.

Pull the other one. That’s the same Stephen Fry as just 10 months ago got into trouble for accusing sexual abuse survivors of self-pity, and in offensive sneers about “your uncle touched you in a nasty place” 

that are the polar opposite of kindness. Any child wellbeing campaigner who associates Stephen Fry with kindness is a harmful liar.

28 Feb 2017

Mar 22: After totally ignoring the above, and with the Fry link still on their page, they wrote to the papers again, backing up Barnardo’s’ call for a review into the rate and grounds of CAMHS turning cases away. The review would knowingly endanger children, a crime, if it works on the basis of assuming that CAMHS is good. It has an automatic duty to include looking at the evidence that CAMHS can be dangerous to kids and the ones whose referrals were not accepted may be lucky.

Europa United




A sad failure of a promotional group for a cause, to be more than a self-interested publicity machine and to actually support its own cause when a connected issue arises.

Europa United is a pro-EU site, by its own description “a media portal dedicated to the European project and institutions. All our articles and opinion pieces are our own publications.”

Its Facebook page is full of feelgood posts about Europe and the bonds betwen EU countries, dedicated to showing exactly what Britain is now set to lose, and dissuading others from following. Its main stock content is photos of open borders. Often it shows photos simply of particular cities and the day’s weather in them. It has welcomed and been interested in topical comments on politics, when it has made posts following developments with Brexit or with Scotland’s difficulty.

Yet it chose to wipe a post about the Gatwick Airport scandal.

Airport fairness, trustability to use airports without risk of costly disaster, is directly to do with barriers between countries. It concerns travel between EU members, and particularly between its island members and the continent. Unjust practice in the airport boarding process adds to barriers between countries, deters travel, so helps to pull Europe apart and works against what Europa United wants. Yet they have decided to hold that this is not an EU issue, and to call themselves not the right place for it. Even though they admit the scandal needs publicising!!

This is completely contradictory of their own cause. It shows the cynical pattern seen too often in politics, which contributes to distrust in politics which we know was a cause of the vote for Brexit. Publicity machines that just want to publicise a calculated package of feelgood stuff to and don’t want to deal with ordinary society’s real problems or take positions on them. Even when taking positions on them directly advances their own cause, it is a terrain outside their self-interested comfort zone.

Compare it with, indeed, posting about it on here when you might ssk what directly it has to do with autism. It has to do with the Gatwick airport scandal, the previous item posted here, and that had partly to do with attitudes to autism, and to groups of air psssengers who need tolerant handling and clarity.

DisdainIng like this the real practical grassroots problems faced in holding the EU together, indicates to grassroots society not to trust them. Not to suppose they have anything worth hearing. It is actively counterproductive to popularising the EU, for a publicity machine to exist that is not willing to get into consumer pressure to solve grassroots practical problems with European ties. Until they change their character it is there for their foes the Brexiters to seize on and make campaigning capital from. That is what they have chosen instead of SIMPLY to do consumer good in defence their own ordinary supporters’ practical access to the European ties it wanted to encourage them to value !!!!!!!!

Selfish absurd and angering.

The air passengers of Europe
6 Jan 2017


20170113_100437(white dunes of Corralejo, Fuerteventura)

TripAdvisor is the great democratic platform for travellers against bad travel businesses that would maltreat us, right? NO. This link, TripAdvisor Warning, for the businesses that get reviewed on TripAdvisor, the hotels, restaurants, tourist attractions etc, defence always matters, see what it says in their defence, about how malicious reviewing can be done without adequate means for its targets to fight back. Look at its story of a man libelled with a malicious paedo accusation for a year, ignored by TripAdvisor until he obtained campaigning help to confront them with. Then it got taken straight off the site.

Now consider autistic spectrumites, with challenges of following instructions literally to the letter and affected by big crowd situations, travelling by air. Using airports, going through the complex airport process that precedes boarding a flight and requires arriving there hours ahead of the departure time, unlike any other mode of transport. Autism Network Scotland‘s new book Ordinary Life Too [PDF link] has a chapter on confidence to travel, and mentions airport support services that now exist for us at Edinburgh and Glasgow. A recent innovation. The need for them has surely been apparent for near 20 years of growing spectrum awareness? – unless it has been triggered by a worsening of what happens at airports, an increased crowding and busying of the boarding process resulting in allowing jncreased risk of injustice to passengers.

That picture is strongly suggested by the experience quoted HERE BELOW, and for some time rudely deleted where it had been posted on TripAdvisor’s forum, as recently as Dec 20 at Gatwick airport. A family with small kids, there 2 hours in time exactly as their airline had advised, got caught in a slow moving queue for families when going through airport security. It resulted in them only emerging from the security process 5 minutes after the boarding gate for their flight had closed, and nobody stopped this happening. THEY WERE ACTUALLY LEFT TO MISS THEIR FLIGHT by failure of the airport process to handle them fairly, WHICH WAS NOT THEIR FAULT. And airport security is done by a different company than the airlines, apparently without responsibility to cooperate in getting passengers through successfully every time.

Now look at the later pages of that topic, from page 7. (Granted an attitude dismissing Asperger’s as a “medical problem” has been deleted.) Look at all the aggressive macho travellers who persist in blaming the victims of airport delays for being late, ignoring that travel delays that are not your fault exist, and the sheer bigotry of persistently calling it “personal responsibility” not to be in a situation that they know it is possible to be in not by your fault !!! THUGS like this, who blatantly care nothing for other travellers’ wellbeing and actively wish upon them risk of disaster, actively wish for brutally selfish dangerous treacherous transport systems without responsibility to every passenger and intolerant of their needs, including of autistic needs. This is the TripAdvisor forum community. Polar opposite in character, to the entire supposed point of TripAdvisor’s existence.

An insightful poster in a topic about TripAdvisor’s quality has explained what is likely happening in the airports topic. The loudmouths may well not be genuinely ordinary passengers at all, but plants working for unscrupulous airlines to keep a dangerous bullying status quo in existence: “I find this very typical, mostly on air travel related topics. Discussions are usually dominated by industry people who will never give the poster any sympathy and just remind him that the only obligation of the airline as per its contract is to take you from point A to point B, eventually.

This explains why the loudmouths are all so right wing. Their persistent unreasonable talk of “responsibility” not to be late and blatant ignoring of the reality that travel problems not your fault can make you late, is exactly like anti-welfare bigots who ignore that jobs are not available on demand and want to believe that not having them is a choice. Exactly like hate manipulated by the moneyed tabloud papers. The public need to know that the TripAdvisor forums’ voice is not their own voice, that the section on air travel has been swamped and taken over by agents for the sharky airlines’ business interest. They can get posts that stand up to them wiped, for it’s worth knowing too that TripAdvisor’s workings are mostly automated and it’s automated to wipe any post that receives a certain number of reports, without anyone looking at it consciously.

As of Jan 6, something has happened very quickly, that strongly evidences this theory of control by airline insiders – TA HAS DELETED THE ORIGINAL STORY OF THE INJUSTICE AT GATWICK! Insulted the person who wrote it, with the standard blurb that the community found it inappropriate – the community being a minimum number of airline insiders reporting the post, without any facility for other members to come and defend it. It was appropriate for any caring and careful traveller.

Thus TripAdvisor, claiming to be the global site to help travellers, helped the air travel industry to maltreat and rip off the public, by wiping the following story which greatly concerns any sensible public. This story’s sharing here is unauthorised, to undo the injustice on TA: but remember it had been shared publicly already on TA, and is about an unnamed family, so is reasonable to post here for the moment. Whether or not the verbatim story can be kept, its consumer details will be kept here.

Missed flights – Gatwick family security lane chaos

On 20 December 2016 my family of 4 (me, my partner our 4-year-old twin boys), and 3 other families travelling with small children had to be escorted back through Gatwick passport control and customs as a result of our all having missed our flights. 3 of us were with Easy Jet and 1 with Air Lingus.

Like others, we had arrived at the airport 2 hours before scheduled take-off as advised, and we entered the family section of security control over an hour before departure. We were held up in the family section for over an hour – there were only a couple of staff on duty there, and only one scanner, but maybe 30-40 families were in the queue in front of us. Once inside the “family” section of security control, we were unable to turn back, and found ourselves stuck alongside lots of other families.

We made it through with 25 minutes to spare before our flight left. But because of Easy Jet’s strict arrangements for closing the gate 30 minutes before departure the flight gate was not even listed on the boards. We had to wait for half an hour for airport officials to escort us back to the other side of security/passport control and then a further hour to get back to departures. There was not enough seats on any of the Easy Jet flights before Christmas to take us to our destination so we hauled our luggage to the Eurostar at St Pancras and paid for some very expensive one way tickets to France.

Do we and the other families affected stand any chance of compensation?

Not a question you wanted answered by rude acid tongued airline insiders.
6 Jan 2017

Jan 30: TRIPADVISOR OPENLY ADMITS LETTING THE AIRLINE AGENTS TAKE OVER ITS FORUMS, SO OPENLY ADMITS WANTING TO HARM AIR PASSENGERS AND CAUSE UNJUST MISSING OF FLIGHTS TO HAPPEN TO THEM, INCLUDING CHILDREN. According to “Jane” of TripAdvisor support, “allegations that some of our members are representatives of the airlines, and fail to admit their affiliation while participating in the discussions” are themselves to be conveniently defined as out of order, while not answering in any way its merits as being true.


Feb 24: What TripAdvisor is helping and preventing from being fought, includes Ryanair’s antics like this + protection of all forms of disabled or extra need traveller from Ryanair’s famously dire standards

exactly what AGFW is for, in reaction to Trump’s election

In this sudden frightened time when Trump’s win has us all jolted into declaring a strong stand against all types of hate agenda, to keep, society safe we all need to be consistent in holding the line against all forms of hate. It will be fatal to let the haters catch us being inconsistent. That means there can be no keeping silent, no pretending not to notice when haters are politically cool and you might fear being uncool if you call them out.

432783405_backstabbingfriendsThis should mean everyone standing behind all the items on this site. For hate and oppression by social exclusion are exactly what Autistic Groups Fairness Watch exists to call out and deter, from happening to autistic ppl.

* So look at this link describing some types of hate bullying in the US prompted by the Trump win, similar to what Europeans here got after the Brexit win, and now you are full of progressive anger, and tell us – WHAT SHRED OF DIFFERENCE IS THERE BETWEEN THIS AND BLACKADDER 2‘S ENCOURAGEMENT OF SCHOOL BULLYING FOR EASY TARGET MINORITY TRAITS? (episode 6) AND PRESENTING THE VICTIM AS TAUNTABLY TO BLAME AND PSYCHOLOGICAL DAMAGE AS A JOKE?

“Oh but Blackadder is cool and its makers were cool popular left wing celebrities, if I go against them I might get laughed at and won’t be a fashionable lefty belonging comfortably with my peers.” That won’t wash. Bullying kills. If you rationalise away the hate crime of a TV comedy on bullies’ side and inciting them, if you excuse or find funny that Blackadder helping terrorising boys out of the having the rational social liberty to choose shorts, you are the same as rationalising racist or anti-LGBT hate crime in our fearful societies in both Europe and America, so you are not standing up to hate and to Trump’s downer on minorities.

20170115_124430* Now that the world is monitoring and discussing human rights in America, call out its border system, which violates “innocent until proved guilty”. Exactly the oldest human right of all that it claims to stand for in its wars. This predates Trump and 911, it has been there all our lives, our media have shown control and bias by never talking about it. The Autism Network book An Ordinary Life Too, published by Strathclyde uni Dec 13, does talk about it. They ask foreign visitors for arrest records, hold the power to judge by them and have them affect visa-free eligibility, including for innocent people with no conviction.

We know presidents can’t always do what they want, but a president could contend that this system should be invalid as a breach of international law, so Congress should not be able to block its abolition. Obama in 8 years, who has done pro-immigration reforms, has never said a word about trying to change this. Its existence was hypocritical at the time of Bill Clinton’s impeachment in 1998! Now it exists after they had an election with BOTH candidates accused of crimes and needing the presumption of innocence, and Hillary destroyed by that improper politically timed FBI announcement about the emails. Every politician who chooses diplomatic silence about it is not standing up to hate.

An immediately doable action is to raise this US border issue, that predates Trump and existed in ordinary time, with all the left wing groups asking you to go o  demos about Trump’s rules. Another action has been to make a public submission about the US border regime to the British parliament’s International Trade Enquiry, when it did a consultation on post-Brexit trade deals with the US.