You would think that considering the different safari options and selecting a company would be the hard part, with payment being pretty straight forward. You would be wrong though.
Paying by credit card is of course out of the question as there would be a 5% surcharge, but Budget Safari’s thankfully gave us an internet payment option. This had worked wonderfully in Kenya for our safari there. Fill out the web form, get texted the netcode, enter the netcode, done. Unfortunately though, the cell network where we were (which is also how we were accessing the internet) could be somewhat intermittent. You could make it through filling out the form, but maybe wouldn’t receive the text message. Or the message would come through very late and your session on the ASB website would expire. Luckily, ASB had a backup option for just such an occasion; call the toll free NZ number (or the very expensive international number) wait for 45 minutes on the phone listening to Crowded House on repeat and when all your international credits are drained you get disconnected. Fantastic.
After trying a few more times to get the text message working, we figured out we could buy a cheap Skype subscription to New Zealand which would give us a hundred minutes to call home – or, you know, the bank. Probably should have thought of that in the first place. After an hour wait we get through to the Help Desk.
“No, no, no – not possible. Netcodes does not work for international accounts.”
“Ah, yes it does, we’ve done in previously in Kenya.”
“No, that’s impossible.”
“If it’s not possible why does your website give it as an option? It even says to call this number if I run into problems getting my payment released.”
“Well we can’t release the payment, Netcodes can’t be used for international accounts”
“There is literally no one working for ASB that can release my payment?”
“Nope, no one, it’s not possible to use Netcodes for that.”
“OK, thanks for everything, you’ve been amazingly helpful”
After much swearing, we phoned back and got a different Help Desk staffer, who was also surprised to find out that Netcodes could be used for this, but at least didn’t think we were lying when we said we had done it before. She promised to forward our reference number onto the international guys who (surprise, surprise) could release our payment. Unfortunately they would only be in the office at 10.00am (aka 1.00am in the morning Arusha time) so it ended up being a bit of a late night as we needed to confirm payment before we left in the morning.
Of course, at around 12.30am, we finally got a text and a web session to line up and released it ourselves. Arrrgh!