Saturday, November 26, 2016

Saturday Morning Musings - forgeries, fees, cash and all that stuff

I was really annoyed. I wanted to buy something but the place in question charges 30 cents for EFTPOS. So I went to an ATM from a bank a few doors away to get $40 in cash, two twenty dollar notes. When I came back, we discovered that one was a forgery. So I had to incur the EFTPOS charge plus lost $20. Grrr.

We have talked here from time to time about the changing role of cash, with some feeling that they should use cash more often (me), some that physical cash should be abolished (kvd). Quite a few of the smaller businesses actually do not accept credit cards or EFTPOS or add a surcharge. The surcharge is almost universal on things like Sydney's Opal card fare card top-up, presumably because the margins are so low. Many businesses also have a minimum amount that you must spend to use EFTPOS.

In all the shops that demand cash, there is one that has developed a unique business model. Certainly I hadn't discovered it before. When I offered my card, they said we only take cash, but we have an ATM machine that you can use, they said..Wishing to avoid the $2.50 charge for use of a foreign ATM, I walked out and found a machine that would not charge.

Thinking, about it, it's an interesting business model. This is high volume fast food business selling mainly a particular type of chicken and chips with a variety of add-ons. In these cases, cash is actually faster, especially if you are in an area where card transaction declines is likely to be greater than average. By using cash, you save a little time and fees. By having an ATM machine, you collect a return from that machine instead of paying out to the banks.

Mind you, ATM machines themselves are in decline in Australia. Australians were an early and enthusiastic adopter of ATM technology because of the convenience of the technology. Now we have all taken to tap and go with enthusiasm for smaller transactions under $100, the present limit.  

Growing up, I was an avid reader of science fiction often featuring dystopian worlds. They often featured cameras everywhere used to monitor citizens (tick); the use of cards and electronic systems to record individual activity (tick); constant regulation of what citizens could and couldn't do (tick); and often the abolition or restriction of the use of physical cash (coming tick). Most focus on the way the state used these systems to control, others on what happens when complex systems break down.

I didn't realise at the the time that all this reading was giving me a deep distrust of government, not government in general so much but about the inevitable misuse of power and decline of systems. Of course, the novels themselves often featured brave characters fighting successfully against odds to redress wrongs and overthrow corrupt powers. I am perhaps less sanguine about the second now.

Meantime, there is a practical reason for my continued desire to move to cash despite the forgery. Like many Australians, I cannot really be trusted to control my spending when spend is just so damned easy!            


Anonymous said...

Coupla things:

#1thefirst: You walked out of a shop to find an ATM before (one assumes) rejoining the queue in said shop - all to avoid a 30c surcharge?

#2the second: You maintain a Twitter presence, a Facebook page, several blogs, also (no doubt) LinkedIn, and contribute to Wikipedia - all under YOUR OWN NAME - and worry about surveillance?

#3thethird: You gave up online perusal of the SMH because of its restrictive 10(?) articles per month, yet don't connect this with logging in first thing every morning to above said noted trackers of activity, nor (probably) making use of a private browser?

#4the fourth: see 1 :)


Jim Belshaw said...

Good morning kvd.:)

The 30 cents surcharge in this case is about 1.5%. But its part of a process of trying to discipline myself.

Now on the second, you can add the newspaper column, of course, the occasional radio interview plus all the glancing references in other things. Then there are the photos. With things like Trove, pre-internet stuff is becoming available, if still in a patchy way. So I can't hide! Coincidentally, was talking to youngest yesterday about how to manage all this stuff in a writing and professional context. She is rapidly acquiring an internet footprint that will rival mine!

All this stuff has simply accreted over time. In retrospect, I might have managed things differently, but I think the key thing is that I chose to adopt a public persona.

There are, I think, at least two different issues involved. One is the way information is collected (my choice v someone else's choice), the second the way information is used.

In the dystopian space, a key feature is that information is collected and used for the purposes of control, actions facilitated by technology It becomes harder for the citizen or subject to resist oppression.

On the SMH, I have anti-tracking software that cleans out things like tracking cookies, something that is sometimes a bad thing. However, if I use the same computer the IP address can be recorded at the other end. So if, say, I use a work computer, mobile plus home computer there are three different IP addresses.

In fairness to the SMH, they allow you to view 30, not 10, stories in a month. That's reasonably generous by today's standards.

Anonymous said...

Accept your points Jim, and failed to add that I gain great benefit from your 'presence' - but just to repeat, one cannot complain too much about all the info out there if one is contributing eagerly to the pile :)

On the SMH thing, which has always intrigued me, I just did a history count of smh specific article accesses for the current (almost complete) month. Total is 302 thus far, ranging over all sections. Dunno what it all means...


Jim Belshaw said...

Laughs. You are right of course. Can you add on the SMG accesses. Didn't properly understand.