Tag Archives: paywave

The Human Element

For anyone that reads LosingFace and doesn’t actually know me, I am not a shy person. Nor am I afraid of drawing attention intentionally or otherwise. I wear ridiculous socks, deliberately rolling up my trousers, I don’t own a ‘typical’ suit, I will occasionally refuse to whisper at inappropriate moments striking up a conversation with a stranger is an integral part of my day.

It isn’t a natural personality trait, far from it; It is part-and-parcel of being a 6foot 2inch, lanky, quasi-ginger… if it is difficult to blend into a crowd, why not try your hardest to stand out?

Quite a simple philosophy.

So with that in mind, please don’t take this lightly when I say, I have had the most embarrassing two weeks of my life.

What has made my life so mortifyingly awkward? Living without cash and relying on two cards that have both been disabled.

Two weeks ago I was in Tesco, buying my lunch as usual, and made my way to the robo-tills. After scanning my bread roll, my humus and a decadent sized chocolate bar I shoved my debit card in the PDQ machine and tapped my PIN number in.

Wrong PIN number.

Now, I thought this was odd, I have had the same PIN number since my first current account 10 years ago and, beyond that, I’ve used the same 4 numbers to buy almost everything for the last 18 months. I know my PIN number better than I do my own middle name.

I entered it again, in case I’d caught another button by mistake.

Wrong.

Last chance. I start to doubt myself. I really want my god-damned lunch. I decided to go for it again.

With the accuracy of an autistic neuron-surgeon I went for it one last time. Tapping each button with unparalleled accuracy and care. Speaking the numbers at the same time. This time I had to be right.

Wrong.

DAMN IT!

In a matter of moments I had wiped out my main tool for consumption knowing that I’d have to wait 7 working days or longer to receive my new PIN. Fuming, I resorted to taking out the credit card, usually reserved for particularly fancy purchases in which my grubby 3 year old debit card just won’t do.

I entered in the PIN and blam! – Wrong!

I decided to not chance it again, I moved robo-till and tried again, it worked. The PDQ machine was broken… it had cost me my debit card. I was so frustrated I barely wanted my chocolate treat any more, let alone my bread roll.

I trudged back to the office in a mood and scoffed my lunch whilst whinging to anyone that would listen. This was the first time in a long time I’d faced real difficulty living without cash.

“That isn’t that embarrassing!” I hear you cry. It wasn’t – it was simply setting the scene for the past fortnight – for which I will continue.

So, one card down – not the end of the world. I’m pretty good with my pennies; I can live in credit for a month and know I can immediately pay it off at the end. I decided this would be OK.

I was right for two days; I managed just fine. Better than OK actually, I’d got to use the Paywave functionality on the card almost every morning with my daily coffee on my way to work. It just doesn’t get old…!

After the two days, however, things took a turn for the worse.

I’d waltzed into Pret, like I do every morning, to buy a coffee and a croissant from the same beaming woman that serves me on every single occasion… she can unwittingly dig you out of the darkest of moods – an absolute wonder!

Anyway, without even ordering, my coffee and croissant was put in front of me, all I had to do was pay. I used my credit card and tapped in my new favourite 4 numbers.

Beep. Refused.

Fuck.

My poor coffee lady friend person looked devastated; like she was breaking the news of a loved ones death. I asked, humbly, if I could try again. She agreed.

Refused.

Double fuck.

It was too much; I was embarrassed for her more than I was myself. I conceded, made up some silly excuse and went to leave. She kindly offered me the coffee on the house and I couldn’t have been more grateful (that’s why I love Pret a Manger!)
When I got back to the office, perplexed and worried about living the rest of my month as a free loading hermit, I rang the customer service for my card. It took 3 minutes on hold and two separate attempts at inputting my card details in the phone keypad before I got to speak to anyone.

I wanted to know why my card had been refused.

This is what the nonchalant woman on the end of the phone said.

“You’ve hit your credit limit.”

What?! How?! I hadn’t used my credit card for ages! What the hell was wrong?! Was this fraud!?!  I asked how.

“You’ve spent too much. You’ve hit your limit.”

A valuable insight. Not what I was looking for by way of an answer. I ask what my limit was, sure that it was at least £1000.

“£260.” She said.

“What?! Why is that?” I asked, increasingly frustrated.

“Because there was a late payment in April. We reduced your credit limit.”

“But I set up a direct debit in February for that card. There shouldn’t have ever been a late payment.”

“Yes, you did. I can see that. But it takes three months to process a direct debit, so it didn’t go live until May.”

“So if you could see I’d put in place a direct debit to always pay the full amount, why didn’t you think it was a bit ridiculous to then reduce my limit?”

“Policy, sir.”

Livid, I paid off the remaining £256 on my account so I could continue using it immediately. I needed to.

Naturally, an electronic payment from one computer to another takes 48 hours, naturally I had to rely on my brother to bail me out. Naturally I was pissed off.

Well, if you’d please excuse my language, what the fuck are they playing at?! When, in the name of all things holy, does it take 3 sodding months to process a simple direct debit from my current account and my only credit card?

With all this technology, with all this singing and dancing contactless transactions, at the end of the day, it is some mindless button basher that holds the entire process up.
And what now? My credit rating is fucked. All because I am trying to live without cash. To anyone else that obviously doesn’t know me, another auto-bot that will decide, without prejudice, that I am unreliable, that I can only be trusted with a £260 credit limit.

I am seriously looking into getting on the property market, it will be a struggle already even before an organisation that has benefitted from me wafting their product in an almost-full-page picture in The Telegraph for piss all has systematically declared me untrustworthy with credit.

This is, singlehandedly, the most frustrated, the angriest, and the closest to giving up I have been so far in over 18 months.

I’ve lodged a complaint, I’ve written to them, I’m even trying the backdoor route through anyone I’ve spoken to by way of affiliation over the last year and a half; hopefully this will get flagged up by their Google Alerts.

Maybe, just maybe, it won’t take them 3 months to process this. Here’s hoping.

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News Flash! (…It is in there somewhere.)

I was hanging out with friends yesterday afternoon, soaking up a bit of the very rare winter sun and taking in the sights of a very busy Bricklane. It was all very pleasant, despite the stolen bikes at extortionate prices, the ever more blatant contraband tobacco ring and the growing number of DVD rippers… they all add to the street’s unquestionable charm in a strange way – especially when you can’t trade with them in the first place.

It had been a few hours into the jaunt before I was dragged into Beyond Retro, a giant emporium of colourful clothes that the world’s most eccentric almost certainly died in and now provide endless joy and cause for sequinned admiration throughout Shoreditch and Dalston.

Suddenly finding myself dawdling around the chromatic rack upon rack of second and third [and quite possibly 4th] hand youth club T-Shirts whilst my female co-jaunters suddenly became frenzied shoppers; trying on anything and everything they may or may not have liked the look at.

Almost an hour had past and I had run out of faded vinyl team-slogans to read, wacky trousers to look bemused at and broken tin clockwork toys to feel cumbersome amongst. It was time to leave and the ‘I’m bored, get me out of here’, face came out in vengeance.

As quickly as the upturned smile was presented, we were ready to leave and in the queue to pay for a single, solitary jumper (an hour for one freaking jumper between five of us?!?).

I was waiting patiently by the door with the rest of the empty handed Sunday shoppers when a muffled yell of horror came from our final, remaining compadre. She was unable to pay for said jumper as she had lost her wallet. She was pissed off and panicking. I was just pissed off.

After the realisation that it wasn’t in any of her pockets or her bag after numerous and unnecessary double, triple, quadruple checks, the group therapy began; a chorus of “Well, where did you last have it?” Followed by, “I don’t fucking know, it must have been stolen, it isn’t where I put it. Fuck.”

I don’t think we were helping. All I could think about was how shit it is to lose everything like that. I’ve never lost my entire wallet at once, I’ve lost the majority of it over time but I have never been incapacitated entirely in one foul swoop. If it hadn’t had been hours in the waiting, I would definitely have felt sorry for her.

Fortunately she had her passport still but that was literally it. Everything else was gone, her bank cards, her cash, her ID, her driving licence, personal pictures of friends and family from home, the works.

OK, I did feel sorry for her. Especially for the unenviable task of telling her parents back in France what had happened; no matter your age, parents cannot help not helping – they will be angry at the victim, they will suggest redundant suggestions on how to prevent what has already happened or they will tell you that another sibling would be less likely to have found themselves in such a predicament.

After a few more minutes of unproductive but justified flapping, we deduced that the last time she used the wallet was in Pret-a-Manger on Bishopsgate, despite being hours earlier and subsequently spending the time in between meandering around an absolutely jam-packed market renowned for opportunistic pick-pockets with a handbag that has a broken clasp, Pret seemed like a pretty logical place to look first to me.

Nope.

Wrong.

We should talk about it more and then probably go and get some food somewhere to talk about it further… an orthodox plan, but I was willing to see it through if it meant not causing a fuss amongst people I didn’t really know.

Unable to console, unable to help by actually looking, being almost strangers; even a pat on the back seemed inappropriate. I called a big fat bullshit on the situation and made my apologies to leave. After all, I really did want to go to the gym – I didn’t even need to make up an excuse.

I said my goodbyes, politely wished for the best out-loud and left the hustle and bustle of Sunday UpMarket for the yummy-mummy-chaos of Spitalfields across the road and beyond.

Suddenly, on my way to the gym, I realised I was right outside the fore-mentioned Pret on Bishopsgate and thought it was the least I could to ask inside if anyone had handed it in.

Like the proactive, Samaritan I sometimes claim to be, I waited in line for an opportunity to strike up a conversation about a women’s purse that wasn’t mine, that could like anything because I hadn’t ever seen it, and a name on the inside that I only half-knew with someone that only really wants to know whether I want a mocha or a cappuccino.

It was then that I noticed the inspiration and the original point of this post; Pret have installed Paywave! Whoop Whoop! Another fancy chain of coffee shops has become a little bit more accessible to me… there is now another chain of coffee shops I can no longer walk past and still think it isn’t easy as it used to be to buy a hot drink I don’t need.

Ecstatic about my discovery but concerned about the new low my excitement is triggered by, I reach the counter. Refraining from giving the new payment method a whirl, I ask about the non-descript lady’s wallet – I even make an oblong shape with my thumbs and index fingers to illustrate it’s potential form.

The service assistant looked puzzled at first, then his eyes lit up as if he knew the exact wallet I was talking about, my hopes were lifted from the gutter and…

“No, someone probably stole it. You should ring the police. People steal things like that.” He replied – still with the look of realisation on his face.

I was puzzled by his expressions but not surprised. I didn’t expect him to have found the wallet, let alone with its contents still in place. I said thank you, he asked me if I wanted coffee, I gave in and said yes just so I could play with the contactless system, the coffee came, the Paywave machines weren’t online yet, I had to pay on my scabby debit without showing off, and then I left with a luke-warm, overpriced coffee that I really didn’t want.

But at least I left with my wallet, my identity and my cards still in tact and in my pocket. If that had happened to me I would have lost my only way of paying for anything, my Oyster card, my ID and almost as importantly; my ‘go to the loo for free’ card when playing Ring-of-Fire drinking game!

Crap coffee aside, my Sunday was a lot better than my friend’s.

 

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