back to article Customer satisfaction is our highest priority… OK, maybe second-highest… or third...

Everyone is looking at me as I break into a sweat. "Come on, come on," I mutter to my smartphone but already the harrumphing has begun. Why do English people harrumph when they're impatient? They could shout "Hurry up, fool!" or offer to help. But no, they always prefer to make a guttural hissing sound through their noses, …

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  1. Ian 56

    Public wifi?

    Might I respectfully suggest, that if security is in any way a concern, that you DO NOT USE PUBLIC WIFI!!1!

    Ahem. Sorry got a bit shouty there.

    Also, there's a fine line between mocking the type of beverages sold in coffee shops ("extra-hot fair trade soya decaf caramel mint chocka mocha focka carbonated Bulgarian snow forest chai espresso latte plus vegan sprinkles and a twist of lemming"), and mocking the type of person that frequents such establishments. I tend to the latter, though I realise there is more than a little element of reverse-snobbery involved. I'm sorry about that too.

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: Public wifi?

      Certainly no auto-connect, saved password (therefore presumably no password and/or publicly advertised password), hence no useful encryption, public wifi in a public place.

      Sure, things should be TLS nowadays for anything important and throw warnings if the intermediate certs are wrong, but even so. Even DNS hijacking is possible over the air on encrypted things and who deploys DNSSEC? And the easiest way to provide a fake cert for a site? Use a fake DNS record to pretend to be "authoritative" for that domain.

      Wifi off, no auto-connect (except to your own, secured, trusted networks, I'd say).

      To be honest, what kind of prat is trying to pay for a coffee with a phone app? And paying in cash is just as bad in this day and age. NFC payments or a card, people. Stop faffing around with proprietary tech that reinvents a wheel that's been around for over a decade now.

      I literally cannot remember the last time I paid for anything in cash. I have precisely £0 and 0p on my person now. Even the pound-coin in the car for the shopping trolley is a fake one.

      I have never used a proprietary app in a shop (I have PayPal and Android Pay on my phone for office-biscuit-fund-even-out matters, neither can authorise any payment whatsoever as NFC is off and they both need my password to work).

      I haven't even used tap-payments yet.

      I just use a card, like I have for the last 20 years.

      1. Fred Dibnah

        Re: Public wifi?

        Forget coffee, you should try charging an electric car. To use public chargers you need a bunch of apps with logins, a wallet of RFID cards, and cards & direct debits to subscribe, pre-load, top up, or pay on the day. It's a total mess.

      2. TheProf
        Angel

        Re: Public wifi?

        "And paying in cash is just as bad in this day and age. NFC payments or a card, people."

        Yes, I can't recall the number of shops I've been in where they've had a sign reading something like 'No cash. Cards only. Till drawer jammed.'

        It was such a romantic evening in that country pub a few years back. The electricity failed and the place was lit by candles. The beer was hand pumped, and the till made that lovely 'Pink Floyd' cash register noise.

        1. VinceH Silver badge

          Re: Public wifi?

          "Yes, I can't recall the number of shops I've been in where they've had a sign reading something like 'No cash. Cards only. Till drawer jammed.'"

          I ventured into a shop with a similarly worded sign recently. I shrugged my shoulders, said "No custom" and ventured straight back out again.

        2. Agamemnon
          Pint

          Re: Public wifi?

          Please accept this for both the story and the reference to the register in Money.

          I use cash. I like cash. It's boring old US cash but no one has ever told me I can't use it, that it isn't welcome, that their shit doesn't work and I can't use it. Work fine in The US, Jamaica, Mexico, South America and some of Canada.

          I was stopped for a search (pre 9/11) in Detroit once and the DEA guy (ATF guy was totally cool and funny) asked if I thought it was odd that I was carrying $1000USD on my person (meaning *he* thought it was odd) to which I replied: "Have you ever tried to get a cab from the airport to the hotel and then a hotel AND THEN a meal in Ogden Utah at 2200Hours when the power as out because of a (really cool) snow-storm, and nothing card related worked? Because I have and because of *that*, I'll just carry a bit of dosh to tide me over for a few *days* when I travel, in case of, you know, winter, storms, Murphy." (The punchline to this story is when I asked the ATF guy who the hell sneaks drugs *IN* to California, which was my destination.)

        3. //DLBL SYSRES

          Re: Public wifi?

          Cash is expensive to bank and bloody inconvenient for retailers.

          "How much for cash?" can and should result in a more expensive bill.

      3. PhilipN Silver badge

        Re: Card - no

        Cannot agree to the card alternative unless it is the pay-by-bonk variety.

        People in the queue are usually in a hurry to get their cuppa or at least, justifiably, want to stand in the queue as little time as possible. The customer who holds everybody else up using a card to pay a few quid is the prat against whom the harrumphs will be pointless.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Card - no

          People in the queue are usually in a hurry to get their cuppa or at least, justifiably, want to stand in the queue as little time as possible.

          In the USA, we still have paper checks, which people will write to pay for things. At the supermarket. In the "Express" lane. After the cashier has totaled. Using coupons. Without getting their picture ID ready. After having to get a price check from an employee for a $1 item located at the opposite corner of the store.

          [That's why I don't take my Claymore to the supermarket anymore]

          1. Kiwi Silver badge
            Coat

            Re: Card - no

            [That's why I don't take my Claymore to the supermarket anymore]

            Bloody hell.. I knew the gun etc laws were stupid over there but you can even buy those in a supermarket? Or did you mean "don't take" as in that's what you normally use for personal defence?

            (Actually the gun laws are probably fine, it's the damned culture that's the issue!)

            1. Robert Sneddon

              Re: Card - no

              Which kind of claymore, the long pointy stick kind or the gently-curved plastic slab with "this side towards enemy" stencilled on it?

        2. Sadie

          Re: Card - no

          Then you get someone who wants to use Bitcoin with no/min fees, and wait 2 hours for the transaction to confirm

        3. herman Silver badge

          Re: Card - no

          Err... Sorry, only pretty young lasses can pay by bonk - Dabsy gotta use a card or an app.

      4. Jason 24

        Re: Public wifi?

        "And paying in cash is just as bad in this day and age."

        Certain "goods" aren't payable via card, and I'd ideally like to keep a little bit of mystery between my bank and me, I'll keep my cash thanks.

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Public wifi?

        "I just use a card, like I have for the last 20 years"

        Were you that bastard who was in front of me in the corner store the other day trying to pay for a bottle of water and a packet of crisps with a bank card that necessitated the stores card machine using dial up to contact your bank , while i was waiting in the queue with a 15 pack of carlsberg getting heavier in one hand and the correct money (a tenner) in the other hand ready to slap on the counter as soon as you got out of the way?

        I'd advise upgrade card to contactless - quicker than slapping a tenner down, but probably only in big shops, like wetherspoons.

        1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: Public wifi?

          I'd advise upgrade card to contactless

          So people can steal your money/details more quickly and imperceptably? Fine, if that's your thing..

          1. PC Paul

            Re: Public wifi?

            The first figures I found in a lazy Googling were these:

            "Fraud on contactless cards and devices remains low with £2.8 million of losses during 2015, compared to spending of £7.75 billion over the same period. This is equivalent to 3.6p in every £100 spent using contactless technology while fraud on contactless cards and devices accounts for only 0.5 per cent of overall card fraud."

            That was from https://www.financialfraudaction.org.uk/fraudfacts16/

            I happily use contactless for most small purchases now, even though I am well into cybersecurity and know the risks. Having per-transaction and per-day limits makes a lot of sense and limits the damage that could ever be done.

        2. Kiwi Silver badge

          Re: Public wifi?

          I'd advise upgrade card to contactless - quicker than slapping a tenner down, but probably only in big shops, like wetherspoons.

          Oh I so love those cards! Someone left one beside a machine in a shop a couple of years back. I got lots of goodies off it over the next couple of days! Didn't even mind the extra driving to head to places outside my normal area, because - well, some other poor bastard was paying for the stuff! Didn't even have to take it out of my pocket!

          Ok, I actually intended to be honest and turn the card in and all but I was going to pay for something else out of my account, lifted my wallet to grab the normal card from it, the machine beeped and I'd paid for my stuff accidentally with their card. After that it was just a bit of fun, and a fair bit of money (you can buy a lot of stuff in $90 increments!).

          [Please note that the above is quite untrue, except the finding the card by the machine and turning it in on the spot - it is however quite possible I'm sure. Oh, and the paying for stuff by accident is something that happened but I had the newly issued card for the business in the wallet and when I went to get my own card, the system picked that up and paid for it. After that the business card stayed in the office unless I expected to be using it.

          1. Matthew 3

            Re: Public wifi?

            "...it is however quite possible I'm sure."

            Yes, it is more than possible. Martin Lewis' site reports one victim still finding fraudulent transactions eight months after cancelling a lost card.

            This is possible because banks do not automatically check all contactless payments immediately. Some are processed as 'offline transactions' and are only checked later. One bank told the Guardian that virtually all transactions for less than £15 were not immediately checked.

      6. tiggity Silver badge

        Re: Public wifi?

        Cash, never fails. Apps fail, cards fail, jingly coins or crispy notes always get the job done, & with more anonymity.

        1. David Lawton

          Re: Public wifi?

          you are wrong, ive had cash fail ! I had a £10 note to pay for 2 pints and the pub refused to accept it because of the way it glowed under that UV fake note checker thing. So i had to switch to card and then go the bank after to get my £10 swapped.

          I tend to use Apple Pay where possable as its faster than card or cash, then card, but keep a little bit of cash on me for when thats the most convenient or as a backup (we all in IT love backups dont we?)

          The one i dont like is these pay apps, they are slower than anything else we have.

      7. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Public wifi?

        I literally cannot remember the last time I paid for anything in cash.

        I literally can't remember when I was interested in faffing around with NFC (either in app form or in the form of a prox-enabled card).

        Oh - yes I can. It was about 3 years ago. For about 5 seconds I was interested until I thought about the security implications. At which point, I went back to using cash and/or chip 'n PIN.

        Stop faffing around with proprietary tech that reinvents a wheel that's been around for over a decade now.

        Oh - the irony. How long has cash been around again?

        I do admit to using NFC one - to pair my new Sony headphones to my phone. Haven't bothered since - it's just as easy to do manual Bluetooth pairing.

        And that's the only thing I use bluetooth[1] for. Nasty, insecure, power-sapping, incapable of proper music streaming pile of drek that it is..

        [1] Although I did use a bluetooth dongle on one of my linux boxes to allow my Nokia 770 to do data. But that was years ago, when I was young and foolish. I'm not so young now.

      8. MonkeyCee Silver badge

        Re: Public wifi?

        "I just use a card, like I have for the last 20 years."

        Like my better half then eh? :)

        I *have* to carry cash, as all the women in my life insist that everywhere takes cards, and are shocked (SHOCKED I tell you) when they discover various discount shops, takeaways, bars, food vans and market stalls don't in fact take whichever flavor of card they have.

        Also never had anyone take five grand in cash from me, but have had that happen with a card. You know, with all those security features that allow it to decide that it being used in the Netherlands at 7pm, then two hours later is being used in Jakata. Where the PIN is incorrectly entered nine times, then correctly done....

        Card fraud happens so often that it's often only when you are either on a super tight budget, aren't using your card much, or are doing some detailed budgeting do you notice the various weird and wonderful payments that are disappearing out of your account.

        Nicking my cash at least requires physical access at the time.

    2. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Re: Public wifi?

      Personally I prefer to drink coffee.

      Although, to be fair, I remember my first visit to a Star*ucks (one of very few). After staring in horror at their lengthy menu covering half the wall, I just asked for 'coffee please' and they didn't bat an eyelid, just gave me a straight forward black coffee. Didn't taste too bad either.

      1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

        Re: "coffee please"

        Sadly, my own experience doesn't reflect that...

        I went to a greasy spoon in a small northern market town for breakfast, and the menu included a pleasant variety of fried-meat-with-eggs options.

        I ordered my food and asked for a black coffee to go with that. The waiter looked thoughtful for a few moments and said "err...I could do you an Americano, if that's OK?"

        My thoughts turned to drawing up a map, charting the progress of caffeine-related poncification across the country...a bit like those grey-vs-red squirrel maps that you see in country parks.

        1. handleoclast Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: "coffee please"

          I always ask for coffee-flavoured coffee.

          It confuses them.

          1. Omgwtfbbqtime Silver badge

            Re: "I always ask for coffee-flavoured coffee."

            Not maple nut crunch?

            +1 for the Denis Leary reference.

          2. harmjschoonhoven
            Thumb Up

            Re: "coffee please"

            I always ask for a affogato. It never confuses members of the Guilde suisse des Restaurateurs-Cuisiniers.

        2. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: "coffee please"

          "Regular Americano, hold the milk and half the water, in a small cup."

          1. Lee D Silver badge

            Re: "coffee please"

            "I'll have a tea."

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Happy

              Re: "coffee please"

              In Hoxton: "Nice Apple Watch bro, is that the ceramic one? What beard oil are you rocking?"

              1. //DLBL SYSRES

                Re: "coffee please"

                In Hoxton: "Nice Apple Watch bro, is that the ceramic one? What beard oil are you rocking?"

                Someone on the pull there.

                WTF were you doing in Hoxton anyway?

            2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

              Re: "coffee please"

              "I'll have a tea."

              Indeed. And, preferrably, made with proper tea leaves, in a pre-warmed pot. Not made with Tetley's finest floor-sweepings in a cup that last saw a dishwasher the day it left the factory..

              1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                Re: "coffee please"

                "in a cup that last saw a dishwasher"

                Toddington services?

              2. Robert Sneddon

                Re: "coffee please"

                "Captain Vimes will have it boiled orange in a builder's boot with two sugars and yesterday's milk."

                Proper copper tea.

            3. TomPhan

              Re: tea please

              Unfortunately that often results in being given a paper cup of hot water and told to take a bag of whichever tisane you want.

              1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                Re: tea please

                "paper cup of hot water"

                Hot? Luxury!

            4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: "coffee please"

              "I'll have a tea."

              It'll probably be served tasting faintly of coffee.

              1. dajames Silver badge

                Re: "coffee please"

                "I'll have a tea."

                It'll probably be served tasting faintly of coffee.

                I didn't know Starbucks were masters of irony ... their coffee tastes nothing like coffee, so why would their tea?

                [Last time I found myself unavoidably breakfasting in a Starbucks I did indeed opt for tea, and got handed a rather hipsterish upmarket nylon teabag stuffed with large tea leaves, and a cup of almost hot enough water. A surprisingly successful outcome, considering.]

              2. michael cadoux

                Re: "coffee please"

                Echoes of HHG's Nutrimatic Drink Machine!

            5. Keef

              Re: "coffee please"

              Dave Gorman would agree with you.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "coffee please"

            "Double Quadruple Espresso with milk & Sugar"

        3. jmch Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: "coffee please"

          " a pleasant variety of fried-meat-with-eggs options" puts me in mind of...

          Well, there's egg and bacon; egg sausage and bacon; egg and spam; egg bacon and spam; egg bacon sausage and spam; spam bacon sausage and spam; spam egg spam spam bacon and spam; spam sausage spam spam bacon spam tomato and spam, spam spam spam egg and spam; spam spam spam spam spam spam baked beans spam spam spam, or Lobster Thermidor a Crevette with a mornay sauce served in a Provencale manner with shallots and aubergines garnished with truffle pate, brandy and with a fried egg on top and spam

        4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: "coffee please"

          "I ordered my food and asked for a black coffee to go with that. The waiter looked thoughtful for a few moments and said "err...I could do you an Americano, if that's OK?""

          Odds are that some salesman sold them a push-button machine based on his patter that people no longer drink "coffee", but a whole range different styles of "coffee" which are actually all the same shot of espresso adulterated in different ways. Since said machine doesn't have a button labelled "coffee" and the old filter coffee maker was thrown out, s/he no longer has any other option than to offer you the "list" and hope for the best.

          Additionally, since it was "a small northern market town", I'm going to guess it was in Yorkshire, where a mug of tea is the staple drink if the pubs are shut and coffee is for posh, poncy, hipster southern softies who might be passing through. Did the room go quiet as you walked in while everyone else stared at you?

        5. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "coffee please"

          My wife is Dunkin' Donutsian, so when we come back over to the UK to visit I am reminded, amongst other things, that it is very hard to get good filter coffee with cream in the part of the UK that I visit.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "coffee please"

            > filter coffee with cream

            There's your mistake. Nobody drinks filter coffee because it goes shit even standing for 5 minutes in a hot plate. And cream? Where do you think you are, fucking Devon?

        6. whileI'mhere

          Re: "coffee please"

          I remember the greasy spoons where it was instant (powdered, not freeze-dried) Nescafe - black or with cold milk in (and ordinary milk, too, no reduced fat choices, and with a fruit bowl of sugar on the counter, next to a teaspoon with a chain on its handle, and the other end of the chain nailed to the counter.

          Unlike a visit to Star*ucks today, there was no confusion at all. I prefer that. I wish I could walk into Star*ucks and simply say "mug of Nescaff please".

    3. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Public wifi?

      Might I respectfully suggest, that if security is in any way a concern, that you DO NOT USE PUBLIC WIFI!!1!

      Indeed. public WiFi + shit café app with sieve-like security + l33t h4xx0r who sets up their own AP with same name as shit public WiFi = arse handed to you on a plate.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Public wifi?

        "arse handed to you on a plate."

        Don't say things like that. It'll be on the menu in no time at all.

        1. Franco Silver badge

          Re: Public wifi?

          ""arse handed to you on a plate."

          Don't say things like that. It'll be on the menu in no time at all."

          It won't be on a plate, anywhere hipster enough to try such a thing would serve it on a breadboard or in a frying pan or something equally ridiculous.

          Kudos also for the Denis Leary reference. That was from 1997 and is well worth a watch although entirely NSFW

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-f_dxLiuXuw

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