Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Contactless technology @tesco today

Not a nice 20 minutes in Tesco today when their till froze after using a contactless terminal to pay £20 for petrol. My wife was made to feel like a criminal and my grandson sat in the car with me waiting was getting quite upset. The Monzo card app clearly showed the authorisation had gone through but they wanted her to "contact the bank". Well there is no point - the bank updates the app and shows the authorisation.

After 20 minutes I just gave them our name and address and phone number and said we are leaving, and walked out. Happy to pay if the auth times out or is reversed later, but giving my wife grief over their equipment failure is not on!

We shop in Tesco almost every day and on-line. Feeling somewhat cross now.

22 comments:

  1. Well done RevK, you lasted 19 mins longer than I would :-)

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  2. Years ago I had this in a pub. I pub I lived almost opposite. The till/PDQ crashed as the card payment went through, but for the briefest of seconds an AUTH CODE appeared on the screen. So I had good reason to believe it had authorised. This was years before realtime things like Monzo.

    I said I thought it had gone through, and they insisted I made the payment again. I said, no way, I've already paid, and I only live opposite anyway, so if in a couple of days it hasn't cleared, I'll come back. Cue an accusation of stealing (loudly, in front of a bar full of people). I said to call the police if she felt so confident. She did not. I left.

    I had already emailed Greene King by the time I checked my card statement, where I found TWO transactions. The original one which **had** gone through, like I thought, and a Cardholder Not Present one, which the girl had run through herself using the numbers on the merchant copy of the receipt; in total contravention to my wishes.

    Properly lost my shit over that one, I can tell you.

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    1. Only 1 theft occurred - she was lucky that you only lost your shit and didn't call the police.

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  3. Blimey - what vehicles can be filled up for only £20 ? Maybe the till isn't programmed to handle payments under £50 ?!

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    1. It is my wife, for some inexplicable reason she wastes time but not actually "filling up".

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    2. I'm wondering when the £99 limit on self service petrol pumps will be raised - my van certainly costs more than £99 to fill from empty.

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  4. Were they asking her to call the bank to check if the transaction had gone through? It seems a bit pointless because they will only have your word on what the bank says.

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    1. Surely Tesco should be calling their bank...

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  5. (Ironically I'd written a long comment and blogger lost it..)

    The gist was:
    - worth reporting to Monzo? I'd be a bit suspicious that the terminal immediately crashed after processing a Monzo card.
    - how would *her* "contacting the bank" help. She could ring any number and claim they told her anything? Surely if anyone should contact a bank it's them, or just get a supervisor to view the log of transactions going through store (that's possible, right?)
    - I don't get angry about these things *unless* whoever is serving you has a really bad attitude / is being unreasonable. For most low value transactions (and most transactions people make are low value) I'd be fine about putting it through again if there was a doubt and I didn't have my own evidence (e.g. an Apple Pay notification), but I might warn them that I would issue a chargeback for any duplicate transaction and that their bank would charge them an admin fee.

    I have wondered what proof you might be expected to provide if you were using a self-service ticket machine and it crashed after authorising the transaction but before printing the tickets, or failed to print the tickets properly. (Once used a cash machine that didn't give me the money - reported it to HSBC and they said it would be too time consuming to check and just credited my account).

    Overall I'm a lot happier with self-service payments and transactions where as much of the process as possible is in my control and recorded on my own device.

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  6. I'd get onto tesco customer support as it can't be policy to treat customers like that especially when presented with evidence (which is far more accurate than some random phone conversation) that the transaction has gone through.

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  7. I stopped in Tesco petrol station the other week, found I didn't have any cards with me but I did have my iPhone so I went into the kiosk and asked if they took contactless - "yes no problem". OK. Filled up £50 quid or so. Went in to pay, "sorry - can't - it's over £30" Indeed their till is programmed to "know better" than the card POS terminal and even though Apple Pay doesn't have the £30 limit, their till won't let you.

    Wrote this up to customer service as a suggestion that they fix it, and perhaps inform their staff to better manage iPhone user's expectations and was basically told I was wrong, their staff are fully trained and their tills are correct.

    Ho hum.

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    1. I suspect this may be down to their flailing attempts to get PayQuik to be a thing so anything that makes contactless easier results in heal dragging.

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  8. Sainsburys near me updated their tills to handle contactless payments recently. They are now 10 times slower at processing any kind of card payment (contactless or otherwise) than before the update. Sainsburys don't regard this as a bug, apparently it is within spec. This is despite the fact there is now enough time to have a three sentence conversation each way with the till staff about how much slower it is now.

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  9. You could always avoid going to a petrol station ever again by getting an EV :D

    I love my Leaf.

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    1. Totally impractical for the vast majority of us.

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    2. I avoid headaches by cutting off my head x

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    3. Spoken like people who have never lived with an EV.

      The "vast majority" of people would not find it too impractical. In the US, studies have shown 95% of people commute less than 40 miles to work, which means the round trip of 80 miles is easily within the range of an EV. In the UK, the average car usage was only 7900 miles per year in 2015 - if you assume cars aren't used on weekends that's still only ~32 miles a day.

      Given that you just plug it in when you get home every night, the vast majority of people COULD live with an EV they just don't want to.

      In our household, my other half has a diesel and we can just take that if doing a long journey but her next car will likely be an EV too, as the fuel savings are so massive we can just hire a car for a long journey and still save a fortune.

      Meanwhile, the ride quality is so much better in an EV, perfectly smooth, no gear changes, buckets of torque from a standing start, instant acceleration, no noise, no vibration.

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  10. It would be interesting to see if the outcome of this. If you scroll to the bottom of the screen on Monzo for that transaction you will almost certainly see "Pending Transaction" i.e. "held" and has not been captured by the card processor yet. Not sure how much understanding of the payment network you have, Monzo have an interesting blog post about it.

    When I was working in retail every single encounter like this where we took a 2nd payment (Thats not to say it never fails) we never had people complaining of multiple charges and the transactions/charges always reconciled perfectly (cash is a whole different story), and the one that did call had the transaction automatically drop off when the issuer was not presented with a capture.

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    1. Oh, I understand. The issue is that having now authorised, the transaction can be completed and settled by Tesco, and may be (depending on how their POS stuff works). It also causes the funds to be unavailable (to my wife) until the authorisation is reversed or times out. A second authorisation would make less funds available for some time.

      Historically people did not see the authorisations, but these days it is quite common, and on the Monzo card you only see the authorisation (and maybe reversal as timeout) and not separately when it is "settled" (unless you go look at the transaction in detail).

      If it is reversed or times out (and is reversed) we (my wife) is happy to pay.

      The issue is the action of using the contactless station clearly "worked" because it led to the transaction showing on the Monzo app, that is "receipt" enough for me, sorry.

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    2. I (stupidly) hadn't considered the reduction in available funds. I wonder what the implications of them introducing a "flag" to mark transactions as failed and therefore available for use again. Maybe with a waring along the lines of "if this transaction is presented for capture your account may enter into overdraft." Then if the transaction goes through mark it as completed, otherwise mark as failed.

      I know this would be a rare edge-case so, considering their priorities right now it would probably be right at the bottom of their list, but it might be worth suggesting. I think it could be a cool feature.

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    3. Authorizations are completely separate from Settlement. The Authorization only matters to the retailer, and only because it costs money to do one but means they have some little evidence you actually authorized this payment they're claiming. Unless you dispute payment, Authorization plays no role in the system.

      Some big, famous retailers don't even use Authorization, since it costs money they'd rather use their own fraud controls and eat any fraud they miss that results in failed Settlement.

      As computer scientists we might expect that you need to present the Authorization when doing Settlement, but that's not how it works. Settlement is entirely on the honour system, any authorized retailer can make up any transaction, and it will be settled and ONLY if the card owner calls their issuer and says "Hey, I didn't authorize Tesco to take £80, I want my money back!" does that come into question.

      It's done this way for global compatibility reasons. It is still totally possible in 2017 for a VISA retailer to say "OK, we don't quite have this whole telephone thing working yet on our desert island, but we will soon, meanwhile here are this week's Authorizations we performed using the nice mechanical impression taking device you gave us in 1984, and we request a total of $760 412 from the accounts of our hotel's visitors for their food, lodging and so on".

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  11. Sorry if this is a bit off topic, but it sounds like the experts are here.

    There's a mail-order catalogue company I do business with a few times a year. But lately every credit/debit card transaction goes wrong. I do the order, enter my card details and hit 'pay'. Their system says it's contacting the bank, then after a period it responds with a "timeout, not all data may have been updated" message.

    As far as the company's system is concerned, I haven't paid - I get no order number, and the goods don't arrive. However the money is taken off the credit/debit card - so the bank believes it's processed the payment.

    I have to phone up the company, and they're always helpful, and can see that I've paid them some money but they have no idea what for - because there's no order that's been created. So they redo the order and everything's OK. Except this is a real pain in the neck - I might just as well phone them to place the order.

    Any idea what's happening here ? How can the company and the bank not have the same view of the transaction ? If something times out, presumably one or other party should be missing the final ACK ?

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