A week with Apple Pay

After a week or so of using Apple Pay almost exclusively, I’m convinced it’s the future.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been carrying around some kind of payment or loyalty card on my phone. It started out with an unofficial app for my Tesco Clubcard and it’s only grown since.

I bet you’re the same, carrying around loyalty and payment cards for Starbucks, Subway, Costa, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Nectar, Cineworld and countless other one-time things like Airline tickets. It’s worked really well and, while I’ve said before that I’ve scrapped loyalty schemes, I’m guilty of carrying round more loyalty cards on my phone than I ever did in my wallet.

With success often there comes problems and the Passbook phenomenom is no exception. Without fail, almost every single time I’ve paid using my watch or phone since Apple Pay launched there has been some kind of untidiness about the transaction – and it’s Passbook’s fault.

Perhaps there’s an argument that retailers should have been preparing their staff better, perhaps card payment merchants should have contacted shops with contactless to let them know something new was coming that would work in their store, or perhaps it’s just something that needs time to bed in but I’ve been shocked by how confusing store staff have found the whole thing.

My first transaction, at 8am on the day Apple Pay launched in the UK, was confused – the Barista assumed I wanted to scan my Costa Card and turned on the scanner, not the card reader – but that’s not as bad as the Starbucks Store in Southampton this week who made the same assumption, only to find that cancelling it and clicking ‘card’ froze up the store’s tills.

A lady in McDonald’s just tried to make me insert my phone into the card slot. #ApplePay— Nic (@picnarkes) July 15, 2015

The staff member serving me at the coffee shop by work that I use on a regular basis had to call her manager when I paid with my watch, essentially accusing me of breaking their till or committing some kind of fraud because she didn’t think Apple Pay was allowed in her store. On the whole, I’ve just met massive problems with trying to communicate clearly how I’d like to pay.

“I’d like to pay with Apple Pay” is the obvious one, but that’ll only work in some places that have signed up or understand it’s just the same as contactless. Even in Nando’s (an official partner) asking that and presenting it to the chap serving was met with “what’s that?”, and that seems to be the theme.

I tried out asking “Can I pay by contactless?” and that worked in Hampshire, but trying it London was just met with someone looking confused. The same of “I’d like to pay by card” in shops I know support contactless, and of “Can I pay by Apple Pay? It’s just a contactless card.”

It seems the wrong way round, but I’ve actually found the language barrier with so many staff in retail in London means Apple Pay has a far better user experience than in our buzzing capital and I’m not sure how we fix that. Perhaps it’s just a case of waiting, and paying using Apple pay as much as possible.

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