Saturday, June 09, 2007
Check Cards, Credit Cards, and the Things That Read Them.
Debit or Credit. We hear this in our lives a lot nowadays. Will probably be hearing it a lot more in the future too. But there has been a major oversight in this whole trend of paying with plastic as opposed to cash. Actually a few... but we'll get there.
One of the first problems that arises involves the card readers that the customers themselves are told to use. "You can swipe your card there" as they usually say... but every store has a different one. Once you swipe your card, it's almost a guaruntee that the machine will assume that you want to use debit, but there is NO easy way to declare that you want to use your card as a credit card. A lot of times, you need to push either CANCEL, or NO (both of which are normally on these machines). But some stores, when you push cancel, it cancels the whole thing, and you end up looking like an idiot and having to swipe your card once again, and ask the clerk how to make the machine do what you want.
Some places handle this better than others... Wegmans (of course) has proven to be one of the easiest places to use plastic (though it is still not without it's troubles). You swipe your card, and it brings up a menu. This menu has "credit, debit, something else, and gift card" buttons on the touch screen.... if you push credit, it requires the cashier to push a button to confirm that is what you want to do, then it brings up a signature screen on the touch screen, you sign and be on your way (side note: you must spend at least $25 to require a signature, otherwise, it just prints the receipt). If you push debit, the cashier pushes his button, and it brings up the numpad on the touchscreen for you to put in your PIN with a big ENTER button at the bottom. Sadly, this is the EASIEST way i've seen it done.
I said before that some are better than others... and i think i've found the worst too... Shoppers has a card reader that has the WORST order of operations i've ever seen. This pad isn't a touch-screen like some others, instead, it has a numpad, a big green enter/yes, and a big red cancel/no, and to the right of the screen, F1, F2, F3 and F4. You swipe your card, and it brings up 4 options next to the F's... credit, debit, gift, and cancel... or something to that effect... where you have to push the F's to choose.... When you choose credit, you sign in the little touchscreen on the pad, and instead of pushing the BIG GREEN ENTER button... you have to push F1... You effectively NEVER push the BIG GREEN ENTER button... but are confined to the F's. The cashiers at Shoppers have gotten so fed up with this system that they have put a little sign on the pad, that tells you to push F1..... which people effectively NEVER see, because it's right in front of their face.
I asked the Cashier yesterday how many times he says "push F1" in a day, and he just rolled his eyes and said "too many." I feel his pain working in the dairy and getting asked where the velveeta was 30 times a day.
Using credit cards brings forth another problem i've seen...
Some stores you go to, you still have to hand them your card and have them swipe it. Most of the time, when the register prints the receipt, it prints out the customer's copy first, then it prints the copy that needs to be signed. THIS IS BACKWARDS. The first thing that any register should print should be the piece that needs to be signed... Now it's not a life or death situation, but it's freaking annoying.
The third problem that i've seen involves the card readers where the employee punches in the amount of money to be charged by hand. This is just dumb design. Everyone makes mistakes, but who wants to be at the wrong end of a $67.55 burger when it's only worth $6.75. Granted, the company will most assuredly refund the money, but this is just bad business tactics. Put something that's a little more fool-proof and i'll be happy.
My suggestion to any merchant that accepts credit cards, is to find a reader that doesn't make the customer feel like an idiot. There are some "new" ways to pay with credit cards that look really interesting... They are kinda like Exxon's speedpass, but with credit cards. I have only seen a few places that are able to accept this, but hopefully it's gaining popularity...