24 June 2018

Hafiz Adewuyi

When you're not allowed to spend your e-money

This morning, after my 5km+ run, I decided to stop by the Tastee Fried Chicken (TFC) outlet within a walking distance of my house to get some nice chops. After all that hard work, I felt well-deserving of some self-pampering. All sweaty and pumped up, I stepped into the restaurant and within five minutes of being there, I had made my order and it was time to pay (2000 Naira; I thought it noteworthy that my order added up to a round figure).

I brought out my Access Bank Verve card and handed it to the lady who had treated my order. She inserted it into the POS, normal savings/current drama ensued, and then she asked me to enter my PIN. Cut to the chase, the transaction failed. And then it failed again. And then again. From the error on the POS screen, I knew it was likely to be a problem from the bank's system.

The sales attendant and her supervisor were quick to ask me to go get cash from the closest ATM. The TFC branch is in an Oando filling station which also has an Ecobank ATM lobby within its premises. I tried to explain to them that the problem was with the bank, so it was unlikely that I'd be able to get cash from the ATM with that same card. Maybe I didn't try hard enough to explain (I tried though), but they didn't understand why I thought it was going to be futile to try to withdraw cash with a card which wasn't working on the POS.

Because I didn't have much to lose and didn't really have a lot in alternatives, I decided to try the card at the ATM anyways. An "Issuer or Switch Inoperative" error message confirmed my intuition on the problem's root cause. I use my card to pay for over 80% of things I buy and I can't remember the last time it failed me. As a result, I've grown so confident in e-transactions that you'd be lucky to find me with cash of more than 1000 Naira at a time.

I felt hopeless, considering that the fastest way for me to get cash now was from my bag which was all the way at home. But because I believe in finding hidden options through enquiry, I decided to get back into TFC and ask if I could transfer the payment to an account. "We don't do transfer here", the bored-looking lady attendant responded, shattering my fragile heart into 1000 pieces.

I decided this wasn't worth the fight any longer. Perhaps, the powers that be wanted me to fast this morning or just eat Golden-Morn. However, as I stepped out of the TFC, I remembered there was another thing called "Cardless withdrawal". Yay!

But just as I was starting to celebrate my newly-found solution, my last experience trying to use Quickteller cardless withdrawal on an EcoBank ATM started to restore into my conscious mind. The machine did not support Quickteller! I forged ahead, praying that things would be different for these here Ecobank machines. Alas, they weren't. What a shame!

I started on my way home and just as I stepped into my estate gate, I decided I was going to do the trouble of walking back to TFC; this time, cash-in-hand. I had fantasized so much about munching on that crunchy chicken that it was like torture to not actually get to do it. I brisk-walked the rest of the street between the gate and my house, then rushed in and out after picking an exact 2000 Naira out of the mint 5000 Naira I had collected from the Suntrust ATM (always dispenses mint) around my office on Saturday (yesterday).

Not caring to lock the door to my apartment, I rushed back out and jogged through the distance between my house and TFC. The jogging was to pacify my ego for my absolute lack of respect for myself; crawling back on my knees to TFC after all the trouble that their lack of flexibility/innovation had put me through on this random Sunday morning. After all, if I could cut the time I spent sucking up to TFC in two, that meant we could get over it more quickly and forget all about it while orally dissecting the crunchy chicken that started it all.

As I walked back to my apartment one more time (with food in hand of course), I pondered on how much money TFC might be throwing away on a daily basis due to their extremely limited payment options (cash or POS). Just yesterday, for the first time ever, I had used mVisa QR app to pay for my brunch at The Place restaurant, VI (there was a 500 Naira discount on my meal). It was so freaking seamless and I was so impressed that I see myself actively using it henceforth.

For the rest of the journey back home, some thoughts that I found coursing through my mind are:

  • Why hasn't mVisa even gotten to these razz TFC guys?
  • Couldn't that bored-looking lady attendant have been more inventive at her job just to please a customer? Perhaps, have me transfer the payment to her personal account (I was ready to give a small tip, in addition to bearing a 72.5 Naira transfer cost).
  • Then I remembered Seth Godin (in his book, Linchpin) talking about how organizations increasingly need people who can do more than just do their job
  • Then I started to think about how I myself could be that kind of employee to my own employer, Access Bank whose failing system put me in all of this mess in the first place

GIVE ME SOME ACCOLADES by commenting. It would mean a lot to me to read your thoughts and feelings from reading this.

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