The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) broke the news in May 2013 that certain Marks and Spencer (M&S) customers had been experiencing issues with the use of contactless payment cards at stores in the UK.
BBC reporter Bob Howard (Radio 4’s ‘Money Box’ programme) appears to have been approached by a number of M&S customers who claim that payments have been taken from their RFID enabled / contactless cards, whilst still in their wallets but nonetheless in proximity to ‘point-of-sale’ terminals.
A BBC spokesperson said,
“Cards are supposed to be within about 4cm of the front of the contactless terminal to work. But some customers say payments have been taken from cards while in purses and wallets at much greater distances.”
M&S remains (perhaps understandably) adamant that its payment processes are robust and entirely fit for purpose. However, one customer told the BBC…
” I put my card into the reader and the assistant was asking whether or not I wanted cash back. Before I could answer, the transaction came up as complete and the till issued a receipt so I hadn’t put in a pin at all at that stage. I queried it with an assistant and she looked rather puzzled and looked at the receipt and compared it to my card and realised that the numbers didn’t tally.”
There have also been reports of ‘double charging’ , where two contactless payment cards are charged simultaneously – however, the jury is currently out on whether this is a real problem or not. Elsewhere amongst Britain’s press (n.b. The Daily Mail, The Telegraph) are articles reporting similar themes, and one claim that we have heard about is where a customer would like to make a cash payment for goods at the payment terminal, only to find that their item has already been checked out. What may be happening in such instances, is that the person wishing to make a cash purchase has moved sufficiently close enough to the payment terminal for a contactless credit, debit or store card on their person to activate – and thus complete the sale.
Some will take the view that this is an invasion of privacy, although perhaps the overarching theme is merely that our choice as customers is being eroded, (i.e. our ability to determine exactly how, and when, we pay for goods). However, by keeping our contactless payment cards safe within RFID protective sleeves we can take control quite easily – dictating when, and how, we are charged for goods – making payments on our terms.
To purchase low-cost RFID shielding sleeves for your contactless cards click here.
More on this extraordinary development can be found at the following link: bbc.co.uk/news/business-22545804