The Anonymous Widower

Where Have All The Cash Machines Gone?

After an excellent gluten-free breakfast in Le Pain Quotidien at Monument, I thought that my wallet needed a top-up of cash.

As I wanted to catch the DLR, I walked East to Tower Gareway station.

I didn’t see a single cash machine!

It’s not that I use much cash, but I do like to pay in chain restaurants, where tips are important to staff, and for newspapers in small shops and for taxis using cash!

I know that I can use contactless payments for most of these transactions, but I prefer cash sometimes!

I don’t trust some shops having had my card details stolen by a scam in what was a franchise of a well-known chain. As I walked through the door at home an hour later, my phone rung and it was the credit card company, asking if I’d spent a lot of money in the last couple of hours in Las Vegas. They said, that someone had and they’d refused all payments and stopped the card.

So I didn’t lose a penny and I only had all the inconvenience of waiting for a new card and changing details on a few regular payments.

The shop closed a week or so later!

But I am naturally cautious and prefer not to get caught again, by a clever piece of what looks like contactless technology. Even beggars and buskers are now using it!

Hence, my continued use of cash!

I don’t particularly worry about the disappearance of cash machines, as living close to the centre of London, there are plenty about. But as on Saturday, when I walked  for a kilometre in a tourist area of the City, they are getting fewer and further apart.

Many stations now have cash machines and this surely should be the norm!

But with bank branches disappearing fast, it is all part of moving towards a cashless society!

 

May 6, 2019 Posted by | Finance | , , | 1 Comment

Contactless Payments For Food In Marks And Spencer

I have been using contactless bank cards to buy my food in Marks and Spencer for about sixteen months now.

I started making a note of my spending this way, as I wanted to check that this method of payment was secure.

It is!

What has dropped out of my research is that the average price of an item over those sixteen months, has been a couple of pence over two pounds.

So now, I usually only  buy fifteen items, so that I’m just below the contactless payment limit.

  • If it’s a couple of pounds over, I just drop a couple of pound coins in from my pocket, before using the card.
  • As it happens fifteen items always fit in my reusable bag, which I stow in my manbag.
  • I haven’t bought a new bag for a year and rarely pay 5p. for a plastic one.

The self-imposed fifteen item limit has certainly speeded up my shopping.

I wonder if other chains have the same item cost!

November 25, 2018 Posted by | Food, World | , , | 1 Comment

I’m Now Following The Queen’s Example

By Legend, the Queen never carries any cash.

I’m now deliberately following a similar policy, but I only use a contactless bank card for most of my daily purchases, like my paper and food.

I’ve even still got a couple of John Lewis vouchers gathering dust in my wallet, as sincve the new M & S Food opened in Dalston, I rarely go need a Waitrose.

One thing I find with M & S Food, is that on a typical purchase the average price is two pounds per item. So to keep under the thirty pound contactless limit, I rarely buy more than fourteen items. These unusually fit easily into usable bag.

Buying my paper in M & S or a station also means I can use contactless for the purchase.

A couple of days ago, I was approached by an aggressive tin rattler for a charity I would never suppose because of some of their practices. So I waved my card and asked. “Do you do conactless?” I got a smiling “Sorry! No!”

I still use cash for three purposes.

  • Restaurants with waiter/waitress service, so the tips go to the staff. It also means at busy times, in cafes I use a lot, I always get a table.
  • Black cabs, when I occasionally use one.
  • Personal services from local tradesmen, where the value is small. Otherwise it’s a bank transfer.

But it’s amazing, how little cash you now need.

 

April 25, 2018 Posted by | Finance | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Don’t Get A Mask To Rob A Bank – Just Buy The App

This is the title of an article in The Sunday Times.

It talks about an App called Blackshades, that can be bought for three hundred pounds, that enables a thief to seize control of a victim’s computer and steal their passwords.

Hopefully, I’m protected but it’s a frightening concept. My passwords aren’t stored on the computer, but in my Mark 1, 1947-vintage core store, which is the safest place for them.

It also says that infiltrating a smart-phone or tablet can be easier than targetting desktops, saying that many criminals set up malicious hotspots in public places.

For that reason, I only use wi-fi in trusted locations and usually have it switched off on my smart phone. I never use wi-fi that wants my e-mail address as giving it usually ensures, I’ll get marketing e-mails, which I class as spam.

I also check my bank account and credit cards every day or so, so that if I’m robbed, I know it first.

From what I can ascertain, I think that contactless payments are pretty safe, especially in London, where there are billions of transactions because of public transport.

So I use contctless wherever I can locally!

November 13, 2016 Posted by | Computing, Finance | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Evil Devices In Our Midst

I recommend that my readers, if there are any out there, read this article on the BBC, which is entitled ‘Smart’ home devices used as weapons in website attack.

It would appear that last Friday, that a company called Dyn suffered a denial of service attack. The attack and its effects is described in on Wikipedia.

The reasons behind the attack are still not clear and it could be in support for Wikileaks or in my mind just to prove it can be done.

But I doubt it will have any repercussions for the average John and Jenny, unless they want to buy something on eBay say!

To me, as someone who believes that in his day, he was a world-class programmer, I think that we haven’t seen anything like the end of evil minds working their wicked spells on the Internet.

Suppose you use an App to access your bank account or pay for your taxi on your phone.

How long before you’re sitting in a coffee shop, library or railway station, happily surfing the Internet and a message comes up on your phone, asking you to download the latest Taxi App say? Except that it won’t be!

You innocently download it and within minutes your bank account has been emptied or your credit card has been maxed out.

For that reason, I and other programmers I’ve spoken to, will never load an App that needs any financial information to my phone.

Any web site with your financial information, should only be accessed from a totally private connection.

We cannot be too careful.

When I started to use my American Express card for contactless payments, I noticed some strange payments without any recognisable name on my statement.

So I challenged them with Amex and they refunded them.

But they kept coming, until I realised that they were for a branch of a well-known store that had setup its tills wrongly.

In all this, Amex had been puzzled too and one of their security experts had talked to me. He told me that the level of fraud on contactless cards was less than they had expected, something which seems to have been confirmed by the lack of hard stories of fraud on contactless cards.

A policeman told me, that the limit of thirty pounds is not enough for the average card criminal, who like to deal in thirty thousand pounds a hit.

He also felt that as many contactless transactions are on CCTV, that intelligent criminals think they could be a Get Into Jail Quickly card.

As other more reliable payment methods like face recognition become more common, I feel that in the future, there will be no need to store any financial details on your phone, that can be hacked.

But until that happens, there will be no obvious financial details on my phone.

Certain details like passport number are hidden in the phone, in case of loss abroard.

 

 

October 23, 2016 Posted by | Computing, Finance | , , | 1 Comment

A Contactless Card Explosion

According to Becky Barrow in the Sunday Times, it not yet ten years since contactless cards were introduced.

She says that during the first six months of this year, we spent £9.3billion using the cards.

In the same period of 2009, we spent just £315,953 and half of that was Patsy and Edina in Harvey Nicks.

That is some increase.

When contactless cards were introduced on London’s buses, after listening to quite a few idiot techophobe politicians, I set up a very tight Internet trawl about ticketing problems on London’s transport.

I have not found a single problem reported in a newspaper or web-site.

My problem with contactless cards, is that I can’t use them for small train or tram trips outside London. Every train company and local authority seems to be reinventing London’s wheel.

No wonder London gets all the tourists!

I also had a small problem where a branch of a well-known store set up their tills incorrectly and AMEX thought it was fraud and refunded my purchases.

 

August 28, 2016 Posted by | Finance | , , | 2 Comments

Inaccurate Marks And Spencer Contactless Payments

I use contactless payments regularly in Marks and Spencer and I’ve never had a payment problem, but some of the transactions end up with very strange locations on my credit card statement.

I’ve found.

  • Cambridge Station, Cambridge
  • Birmingham New Street, Birmingham
  • Reading Station, SSP Reading
  • Euston Scot, Euston Station
  • Piccadilly Station, Manc
  • Heathrow Airport SSP

I know these are all Marks and Spencer despite no indication, as they are for between seven and eight pounds, which is a typical price for a pack of gluten-free sandwiches, a drink and perhaps a biscuit or fruit.

I also know, that in the last month, I’ve bought sandwiches in Marylebone station and I can’t find the transaction.

So did my credit card company reject it, as someone had put some total garbage in the contactless card system in the otlet in the station?

With contactless payments, becoming very much the norm for many customers, they must get this right.

I certainly, haven’t lost out, but I think there’s at least two payments, that seem to have gone missing in cyberspace.

I think the lesson of this tale, is that if you are a small owner-managed store or a large chain, you must set up your contactless system correctly, as it at one level might be an irritance to customers and at a higher one, it might cost you money.

April 15, 2016 Posted by | Finance, Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

It’s Only Cash Or Contactless Credit Card For Me!

I had a chat with a solicitor, I met on a train yesterday about credit card fraud. I said that I try to use my contactless card if possible and get mildly annoyed if a company expects me to enter my pin for a purchase of about a tenner.

She agreed and said she had been involved in formulating the legal basis of the payments policy of a large retailer. She made some interesting points.

  • Fraud on contactless cards seems to be lower than predicted. We both added a caveat of Not Yet!
  • Some retailers have reported a strong move from cash to contactless cards.
  • Research has shown, that people keep contactless cards very safe, in a place like a deep pocket, to avoid accidental transactions.

I also said that a policeman had told me, that stolen contactless cards aren’t often used in a contactless manner. She said that thirty quid isn’t worth getting caught for, when there’s a bent shop where you can make thousands.

I said that, I once used my ordinary card in a branch of a well-known franchise to purchase an SD card. The lady, who served me, was a Muslim from her dress and when my card didn’t work in the machine, she told me that she’d used the wrong one. So she asked me to put my card in another. Which I did and the purchase was completed.

Within a few hours my card had been cloned and  some expensive purchases were made. My companion confirmed it was a trick beloved of small shops and garages.

So I had been conned by a simple sleight-of-hand! Did the money end up with Islamic State? Probably not, but you do wonder!

I now only use cash or contactless credit card for my smaller purchases.

I also now rarely use small shops, unless I’ve known them for some time. And I certainly wouldn’t use a credit card without it being contactless.

 

 

November 15, 2015 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

Two Ticketing Stories

This story on Rail News is entitled Metrolink offers Get me there app and this story on Rail News is entitled Contactless payment to Gatwick Airport.

The stories illustrate the difference in philosophy between Manchester and London.

I don’t use financial apps, as they are a security risk to my bank and credit card details, so in Manchester I’ll still have to buy a ticket, as they haven’t embraced the modern technology of contactless cards.

Also why can’t I buy a Plus Tram ticket when I book a Virgin for Manchester?

For Gatwick now, I won’t have to buy a ticket, as I’ll  use a contactless card between East Croydon and Gatwick.

November 11, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

The Minimum Payment On Contactless Payment

On Saturday, I went out without my real handkerchief, so just before I got my train, I popped into Boots at Liverpool Street station and bought a pack of tissues for the princely sum of forty-five pence.

As I always do in Boots, I used a self-service till, but this time I used my contactless American Express card for the purchase, by just tapping it on the reader.

In some ways that seemed a bit cheeky to me and it certainly raised a smile in myself.

So now, my on-line American Express statement has an entry for 0.45p against Boots.

It got me thinking and yesterday I was taken short in Nottingham station.

Using The Toilet In Nottingham Station

Using The Toilet In Nottingham Station

How long before public toilets like these in stations gocredit contactless?

September 3, 2015 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment