Tag Archives: NFC

Easy Just Got Harder & A Heads Up

We’ve talked a couple of times about technology called NFC, or near field communication. It’s the technology that lets you hold your smartphone to a credit card reader to pay for something. It’s also what makes Esso key fobs work at most gas stations and worked as easyPay at Shell…until yesterday.

Shell has discontinued their easyPay at the same time as almost everyone else is rolling out this technology. Their media relations department didn’t get back to me, so you get my guess of why it’s a lot harder to stay loyal to Shell starting today.

When you wave your keyfob at the gas pump, the system is checking if they have your accurate credit card information. It’s not getting an authorization at that point, because they computer has no idea of how much you’re purchasing. So it’s a trust transaction for a few minutes until you have the full amount shown on the pump. At that point, the system is getting an actual authorization for a specific amount.

If, at that point, it’s declined, there’s a big problem. Best guess is that the big problem became a big problem for Shell. To the point where I’m guessing a ton of lost business is better than a ton of uncollected charges. It makes no sense that they wouldn’t fix it, instead of discontinuing it, but my business now goes to Esso.

Here is a heads up that you should do each and every month. Whether it’s in the event of a Canada Post strike or not, you need to do a little check list of all your bills.

You know I really want you to do a budget, then you’ll have it anyway, but do a little list of all the bills you have to pay in a month. With no mail, or if you ever don’t get your mail, you still have to pay the monthly payment. I forgot, I didn’t get an invoice, or any of those excuses don’t get you off the hook.

The payment is yours to make and all the legal documents say that they’re due – whether you get a statement, reminder, invoice or not. A little check list will just be an easy way to see that you’ve made a payment to everybody during a strike, or in any month.

Make sure you add the annual bills such as house or car insurance, property tax, etc. on the list, too. If you don’t pay something like a utility bill, the service charge is around 2.5% for being a day late. On the other hand real debt such as your credit cards or line of credit, absolutely destroy your credit rating if you’re late. And that stays on your credit file for seven years. That’s a lot of damage for missing a payment, or not being pro-active during a postal strike, or any month.

Five Updates of Previous Stories

According to Consumer Report, more than 25% of all gift cards we received LAST Christmas still have not been redeemed. That’s over a year ago, and this money is still sitting in a drawer? Yes, it’s real money. Make a point of pulling out all your gift cards and a goal of using them up – sooner – way sooner, rather than later. The last thing you want to do is have them go to waste, or finding out the merchant is no longer in business.

A year ago, a new technology was just taking off called NFC – near field communication. It’s the technology behind the pay at the pump card that’s on your keychain with a number of gas stations. Well, after just a couple of years, it’s now firmly in use with smart phones, because in 2009, its first year in use, over $69 billion was paid using a phones. That amount will jump drastically, as rumour has it that Apple will include that technology in their next i-Phone, and i-Pad, due out in April.

Here is a sad reality of something we’ve talked about in the past: According to a survey by Mint.com, a great on-line budgeting and financial planning site, 72% of couples under age 30 admit that discussing finances always leads to an argument. Even worse, in terms of building a strong and trusting relationship is that 43% keep some of “their” debts a secret from their partner.

We talked about it briefly a week ago, but now there’s proof that renting doesn’t have a negative stigma anymore – at least right now. According to the National Apartment Association, 76% of people believe that renting is preferable to owning a home right now.

Here is a strange story from American Express: According to a study from Amex, last year, wealthy people increased their trips to fast food restaurants by 24%, versus an 8% increase from lower income groups. OK, that makes sense. Even rich people are feeling the pinch. But there’s a second part to the report: These wealthy people increased their spending on cruises and DOUBLED their spending on business-class airline tickets. How do you reconcile that? Save on restaurants, but actually spend more money in the big ticket areas? Does that $10 saving make sense when dropping thousands more in business class airline tickets?