One evening, and not for the first time, Simon arrives at FinalVinyl just in time to hear a shower of expletives coming from behind the counter. As no one is visible, he leans over and sees his friend Dave, the owner, scrabbling around on the floor retrieving notes, coins and diverse pieces of paper from all around.
“Dare I ask?” says Simon.
“I was just taking the drawer out of the till,” says Dave, “and it was heavier than I expected. Landed on my foot.” There’s another word before ‘foot’, but Simon can’t quite make it out.
Simon sees a large number of coins on the floor, seemingly corroborating Dave’s story. But his attention is immediately distracted by something else. What he had thought was merely a scrap of paper, he now realises is something more unusual.
“What does it look like? It’s a cheque,” responds Dave. His throbbing foot does nothing to improve his temper.
“How quaint,” Simon observes.
“What’s quaint about it?” asks Dave. He should by now be used to Simon, whose default setting is ‘Patronising’, but he gets riled every time.
“I didn’t think people used cheques any more.”
“I wish they didn’t,” says Dave. “It’s just more paper to keep hold of. Then I have to carry them to the bank, and even then some of them come back and that’s a whole new headache.”
“So stop doing it. Just accept cards and cash.”
Dave looks nervous. He doesn’t like doing things differently.
Simon perseveres. “Do you take cheques for online orders?”
“No,” says Dave.
“What about cash?”
“So what’s your problem?”
“It’s all hassle,” Dave mumbles. He’s used this argument before and he knows it cuts no ice with Simon when he’s in one of these lecturing moods.
“It’s all necessary investment,” Simon says sententiously, and launches into one of his regular monologues about how to run a business properly. Dave zones out for a few minutes without Simon apparently noticing, and regains focus just in time to hear “…and while you’re at it you might as well go contactless.” That wakes him up.
“I thought that was just for fashionable cafés. You know, the ones that sell complicated coffees.”
“It’s much more common than that now. And anyway, soon enough you’ll have no choice. The credit card companies are going to start insisting that all retailers accept contactless payment in the next few years. There are already more contactless cards in the UK now than there are adults to carry them.”
“I thought there was a high risk of fraud?”
“Well there’s some risk, sure, like from some ‘RFID’ readers which can lift some information from a contactless card. But people can protect against those by using special sleeves to put their cards in. It’s actually a great branding opportunity for you – contactless card sleeves with the FinalVinyl logo on them.”
“I suppose you heard about all this from Simplify the Law?”
“Yes and no. It’s a not really a legal thing. Not yet, anyway. But they have guidance on quite a lot more than strictly law-related stuff, especially for small businesses.”
“I suppose I should look into it,” says Dave.
“Definitely . You should get ahead of the curve – let all your customers see how modern you are.”
“But I sell heavy rock LPs from the 70s, post-punk 7” singles from the 80s and limited edition 1990s CDs. What’s modern about that?”
“Retro is the new modern. You could end up being the most fashionable retailer in the area.”
Simon looks down at the coins which are still scattered all over the floor.
“You won’t even notice the change.”