Dave Birch’s ‘Decline and Fall Guy’: Chapter 1–It’s Termnial

Featuring a new chapter each day, Consult Hyperion's David Birch takes you on a wild adventure through espionage, contactless payments and a man on the brink.

Dave Birch's ‘Decline and Fall Guy': Chapter 1

New York, New York. My kind of town. Sometimes you’re up, sometimes you’re caught up in a sinister conspiracy…

Chapter 1: It’s Terminal

There was no reason to be suspicious at first. I had no idea they were on to me. I was about to get on the plane, when I decided I needed one more cup of Joe to get the day going. I walked up and ordered. I saw the contactless reader and I tapped my watch against it, just like any normal civilian. I went to pick up my mug and head for a quiet corner. But the dame on the desk had other ideas.

“Excuse me, sir” she said. I spun round, sizing up the situation and lifting onto the balls of my feet, ready for anything.

“I’m afraid it’s been declined”.

Declined? What the hell! What was the explanation? The watch was a valid MasterCard and the account was loaded with dough, so there was no rational explanation. There’s no way that the folk at Kalixa would have declined a perfectly valid transaction like this. Maybe the transaction never reached them. It must have been sabotage. Maybe… someone was on to me, and they wanted to make my life difficult. They wanted to make me use cash. But who?

I tried not to show any emotion as I walked back and nonchalantly tapped my Visa debit card against the reader.

“That’s fine, thank you” said the girl. Was she in on it? Her veneer of bored indifference might have been just that. But I don’t know. It didn’t seem to add up. Who could tap in to the acquiring network and sabotage a card authorisation like that? I needed time to think.

I left the cafe area and tried to disappear into a corner of the terminal. With the cup at my lips, I started to think. Okay, so when you’re the only guy in the country who has no cash at all, you’re going to stand out. I tried not to look like the guy with no cash, I tried to look like everyone else in the terminal. No, I did look like everyone else in the terminal. But someone out there knew. Someone must be on to me.

One of the guys at the European Central Bank? They could certainly pull the strings. I shouldn’t have called for their board to be arrested for conspiring to evade taxes and aiding and abetting money laundering. I should have kept quiet on that one. Me and my big mouth. But could they organise something like this? Keep it secret? And short notice? No. So maybe it goes higher up than the money men.

The Chancellor. It must be. I tried hard to cover my tracks, but maybe the guys over at Spook Central have made some connections. Sure, the rubes at The Daily Telegraph comments section might not know that “Apoplectic of Woking” is yours truly, but what about the white hats in the West Country? They could have been correlating the devastating and witty attacks on the Chancellor’s economic policies with IP addresses and phone tracking. They could know that it was me making the unanswerable case for a Land Value Tax and the abolition of corporate taxation. They could know.

I needed more evidence.

You can find out what happens next by visiting Total Payments tomorrow for Chapter 2: Mean Streets. You can see other articles from Dave Birch in our archive.

David Birch will be speaking at this year's Total Payments Europe – which is part of Europe's Customer Festival – so download the brochure to make sure you don't miss out this September.

This guest post was written by Consult Hyperion's David Birch, this is an adapted version of a post that has previously appeared at Chyp.com's blog.

[Image: Surrealplaces - Flickr]

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