Thursday, 6 November 2014

What is the Point of Contactless Payments?

What is the point of contactless payments? I've tried them dozens of times now and I keep swearing that I won't try them again because every time I do try them, exactly the same thing happens. Today I found myself staring at a payment doodad which proudly advertised 'contactless payments'. I'd had a bit of time with my SAD lamp this morning so I was probably feeling unduly optimistic about the world. I was in (prepare yourself for a shock) a good mood, so I thought: 'come on then! Let's have a go of this little beauty!'

So when the checkout woman said 'That's £1.25', I waved my card over the contactless portion of the doodad.

The woman stared blankly ahead.

I waved my card again.

'Pop your card in when you're ready, love,' she said.

'I'm going contactless,' I answered, possibly with a sensual erotic sway about my hips, a certain come hither look in my eye.

'Oh,' she said. 'Wait a mo... I have to do something...'

She fiddled with the terminal a moment. 'Hmm...' she muttered as she fiddled. Seconds passed. Then more seconds.

I waited.

'Ah, here we go. Okay.'

I waved my card. Four lights turned green. All was great with the world.

Except, going contactless had taken me about half a minute longer than sticking in my card and doing it the 'old fashioned' way.

So, again, what exactly is the point of contactless payments? The simpler things apparently get, the harder life becomes.


It's like Vodafone. They'd suspended by family plan because I was a day late topping up my phone. I topped up Monday. They re-enabled the plan Tuesday and it still wasn't working yesterday when I contacted Tim. Tim, who was probably Indian and not called Tim, said he'd fixed it however after I'd finished speaking with Tim, my phone wouldn't make calls out. This morning I contacted Vodafone and managed to speak to a nice Scottish lady. She said all my friends and family need to pull out their sim cards and wait half an hour. This we did. I popped mine back in my phone and tried to ring a friend. It worked!

So out I went. Half an hour later, I needed to ring home.

'Sorry, you've not enough credit on your phone' said the annoying Vodafone woman who I'm sure used to voice those annoying Christmas ads for Woolworths. Only, now I do have credit on the phone because the nice Scottish lady had given me £1. But that's not the point, I paid £5 three days ago so I wouldn't have to need credit. So now I have to try to contact Tim, whose probably Indian and not called Tim, so he can put me through the nice Scottish woman.

Christ. Let me get back to my lamp... My mood needs topping up.



  1. If you are unlucky enough to remember how unreliable cashpoints and card readers were in the good old days, it's to be expected.
    I was astonished to find that the limit in Australia is almost £50 per transaction.

  2. Limit? You mean the maximum you can spend? Never head of that before, though we have plenty of shops that won't accept cards for under £5. I stupidly find myself buying bars of chocolate for 80p that I don't want in order to save myself spending 20p because I'm under the minimum.

    Like I say, the more simple things are supposed to be, the more life feels complicated!