A no-cash operation. | EFE

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Friends in the UK tell me how it is becoming impossible to pay for anything in cash anymore. It all began around the time of the pandemic, partly for hygiene reasons, and the habit has stayed in place. Of course, governments globally have embraced the no-cash culture as it means that everyone’s finances can be rigorously monitored and no one can get away with cash jobs or tax avoidance. A dream ticket for catching those operating below the line.

All the same, it’ll take some time for the habit to catch on completely in the rural areas of Majorca where the black economy is still alive and well. Few cleaners, gardeners or odd job men will accept anything but cash and in fairness, I understand why. Several cash workers have proven to me that if they dutifully go on the Spanish tax system their meagre monthly earnings will be completely eaten up, with no profit to show. One would have actually been in deficit. This is where the British system is so much better and fairer for self-employed people.

Freelance workers in the UK pay according to what they earn whereas the monthly social security costs from year two in Spain are astronomical regardless of what you earn. Most locals on low wages simply can’t keep up the pace so opt out of the system completely. If only the Spanish authorities changed the regime to help these people who would willingly pay tax if they could afford to do so. So many are struggling to survive and the Spanish government could make it so much easier for them to opt in with the right incentives. Those that do opt out by necessity are even penalised and given a fine if they want to opt back in! What kind of an incentive is that to do the right thing?

I pay by card and cash and have never had a problem here. However, the other day I was in a petrol station on the way to Soller and the woman behind the till took my cash in her hands and smiled. Gosh, I haven’t had cash here for so long, she said, marvelling at the crisp notes. That told me all I need to know. The card-only economy is creeping in even here. Soon, pockets full of centimos will be a thing of the past.

Are Brits worth it?

There have been countless breathless stories doing the rounds in most of the British newspapers about how post Brexit, tourists arriving from the UK in Spain now have to prove that they have funds of £85 per head per day and proof of accommodation. Furthermore, they apparently have to prove that they have £761 available in their bank account and can show a departure ticket. Really? This may be true but I am yet to meet one visitor who has had this happen to them at Palma airport. Some have been asked for proof of vaccine or negative test but nothing more. I do think these kind of rules are loosely in place for non-EU citizens but are probably rarely followed though.

Still, most countries in far-off climes that I’ve visited have required proof of accommodation and departure dates and flights and it has never bothered me. As they say, rules are rules and every country can apply their own. It was a given that following the UK’s departure from the EU there would be consequences and that is something that every Briton must now accept.

Before and after

A beauty blogger and journalist in the UK recently flagged up how nefarious advertisers were proving on Facebook and Insta. Many beauty products where human before and after shots are shown are proven to be fake with images stolen from rival beauty sites or simply falsified. In one case, a makeup brand erroneously claimed that it had been endorsed by a leading beauty blogger only for her to expose it on her channel. They had even cheekily gone as far as to take a screen grab of her from her website and flag it up as an ‘after’ shot for their product.

In the light of this, I did a little research myself just for the fun of it. To my disbelief I discovered that many of these ‘Arthur Daleys’ that always offer promo codes and huge discounts on first order, also claimed to have been featured in leading publications. A simple online search proved that none of this was true. These brands simply stick the masthead images of big-name publications on their sites in order to trick the consumer into thinking they are bona fide.

Of course, this is just an extension of the everyday scams on social media sites. Do you recall all those sob stories about missing children and dogs doing the rounds? Most asked for funding and religiously I’d check out every one, knowing that each would prove fake. Some hailed back years and had been doing the rounds over and over again.

I have also received scams though FB Messenger and realise that unsuspecting friends have been hoodwinked into believing – frankly – preposterous stories. I do wonder why no one thinks to check stories and harmful links before sending them on to all their online contacts. It’s mean that people get up to this trickery but equally we should all be more savvy about not falling for scams. There are countless sites on the internet that expose them. Next time you query a story or offer that is sent to you, please check it out on Google first. You’ll be surprised and usually horrified by what you find.