For what seems like forever now, London has been living in terror of card clash and the consequences it might bring. It’s actually only been since September, but the dreary announcements and faux-fear posters have made it seem much, much longer.
But have we been misled? It was at a ticket gate in London Waterloo’s underground station that I began to wonder whether there was something else we should all be worrying about instead.
Everyone, even people who don’t live in London, knows that in today’s real terms card clash is a very big issue and people up, and indeed down, the land live in fear of the day it strikes them or someone they love.
It’s not contagious and it almost certainly never ends in death, but the risk of accidentally paying TfL about fourteen quid for a journey that should have cost as little as two and a half is so great that many people in London, reports say up to 55%, have been forced to remove their Oyster card from their wallet this year just through fear; others have taken to walking or cycling and some have just stayed at home.
TfL’s fear campaign has been so effective that some have suggested sending the marketing executives behind it to help with the fight against Ebola – another proximity-based technology – in West Africa.
But I’m concerned that we’re missing something bigger.
The other day I almost dropped my debit card on the floor without noticing while I was using the Underground. Luckily, I didn’t drop it and I did notice but it got me thinking about what might have happened if I had’ve, and I hadn’t. It goes without saying that this would have been mildly inconvenient.
Figures I obtained because I could think of nothing better to do at the time show that, since September when contactless launched on the Underground, the number of cards found on London Underground stations has increased by an almost perceivable number. Terrifying.
Look at this:
Graph borrowed from the Mirror’s piece about my FOI
This almost imperceivable increase in the number of cards being found might just be chance, but it could also be the slippery slope: our minds distracted by the constant whinging about card clash.
Now, if I were a better blogger then I would probably be building up to some kind of big finish around about now. But I’m not.
I am a blogger who made an FOI request and then completely forgot why I was interested in the figures and relied purely on the things that came out of my fingers when I was staring at the data.