Tag Archives: Shell

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.

Here Are Five New Insights That Are Definitely Worth Knowing About:

Shell has just rolled out “Pay By Touch” biometric payments. We talked about it a few months ago and now it’s here. Yes, you just need to give them your fingerprint as payment, which is hooked to your credit card. Right now, don’t look for it here, it’s just in Chicago area Shell stations and stores.

E-bay recently started their very own gift cards, for sale through 10,000 grocery stores. But you can also get them on-line to e mail to anyone you choose for amounts under $500. But I have a question: With tens of billions of gift cards sold each year, stores get a commission for selling them. What? You thought they sell them to help you out? Nice try. So when we buy the directly from the retailer how come we don’t get a discount?

There is now something called a virtual or disposable credit card. It’s a one-time use card. You get a temporary number that’s linked to your real credit card number and it’s governed by your same cardholder agreement. But it makes nervous people happy as they can use it on-line, and with merchants they don’t really trust. Right now they’re issued by Bank of America and Citigroup. But I never understand why so many people spend all that energy worrying about this kind of stuff. Repeat after me: By law, you are NEVER on the hook for any fraudulent charges on your account. Relax…

An RBC Survey last fall reported that about half of all new mortgages made in Canada are 40-year terms. Great news for lenders – probably the worst news for those who actually do it. It’s financial suicide: On a $200,000 mortgage the payment might drop $160 a month, but you’re adding $173,000 of interest. I can think of at least five or six ways to make a 25-year mortgage work, instead of this, and it’s not a stretch to figure there are hundreds of things I’d rather do with $173,000 interest than gifting it to one of the mega banks!

Last month, Visa issued a $19 billion public offering. That was one of the biggest private offerings ever, and on March 18th, the first day of trading, the shares opened at $44. By the end of that day, they were at $56. Debt really does pay if you’re a shareholder, but NOT if you’re broke and paying the interest on the other end of the food chain!