Forgotten a website password? Prepare for battle with the gatekeeper

TIS THE SEAON: To forget your password. Image: SHUTTERSTOCK
TIS THE SEAON: To forget your password. Image: SHUTTERSTOCK

Hands up if you've ever forgotten an online password? Everybody, right (unless you're one of those who use a password service .. or a Filofax).

Have you struck those annoying character scrolls? Where you have to type in the letters and numbers as they move across the screen to prove you're human, not some autobot trying to steal your details (or order Frozen a hundred times for Christmas).

That was me the other day. I was doing some last minute Christmas buying - a book for a niece, some kilner jars for me, a diary for a friend, a drink bottle for me (you get the idea, a buying version of dolling out Smarties as a kid).

I was happy with my haul and went to check out, to find I couldn't remember the password. No biggie. It's easy enough to change it up.


I started off with the first of what would become a lost-count of scrolling tries. I was confident I'd got the first one right. Nope. The second I fluffed so I'll take the blame for that one. The third was dead easy and I was sure I'd nailed it. Rejected.

What? I know these things are sent to try us, but, really, my eye hand coordination hasn't gone to pot yet.

I took a deep breathe and soldiered on.

Those jars were going to be mine.

I squared my shoulders and typed. Maybe if I put spaces between each of the characters/numerals I'd be successful. Failure. Tries four, five and six etc ended in an annoying message about typing only what was on the screen. I HAVE, I wanted to shout at the computer gatekeeper as my patience ebbed.

Another deep breathe. I noticed the option to hear a password to re-set the code. I'll give that a whirl, thought I. As the numerals tolled like bells into my ears, and my fingers tapped them out on the keyboard, I was positive I'd gotten them right (despite the annoying running water masking at least one voice). No.


I shut the screen down, opened it again, tried again. This time will work. This time I will be able to buy. This time ... the screen told me that I'd gotten through but that I had recently asked for a OTP (One Time Password for those not down with the lingo) and I'd have to wait another 40 seconds to get a new one.

Seriously! The technical gremlins were playing with me, right? Like those eponymous furry little critters who came out to do mischief if you fed them after midnight.

And where was this phantom code ... as I looked down to see it ping onto my phone screen.

I stared at the first OTP, now redundant, with a sort of wistful longing. So close.

It was a long 40 seconds, which the site kindly counted down on the screen. Then I could press a button to get another OTP to allow me to get into the site to buy my stuff.

Which, after all that, I was no longer sure I wanted.