9.20.2016

A smattering of problems with chip cards

Chip cards are a thing and they are a constant struggle and people have a hard time even when you walk them through it step by excruciating step. I honestly thought about doing a whole week on chip cards but there would have been a lot of minutiae involved and I didn’t want to bore anyone.

At Old Navy right now, if you’re using a credit card or running a debit card as credit, you use the chip, but if you’re using a debit card as debit, you swipe the card. I’m not sure of the reasoning behind this, but it’s how it is, and because it’s a little complicated, I’m very specific with people throughout the transaction.

Because there are different protocols for debit and credit now, we have to select which one it is on our end before the swiping / inserting step. So if I see that a person is using a card, I ask, “Is that debit or credit?”

If they say debit, I tap the debit button and say “Okay, you can go ahead and swipe it.”

They inevitably say, “Oh, but it has a chip!” And I say, “Yeah, you can just swipe it, we’re only using the chip for credit right now for some reason.” And that’s usually good enough.

But if they say credit, I say, “Okay, if it has a chip, insert it at the bottom where the blue light is.”

And at this point, several months in, that is usually good enough. People have started to understand. But it’s taken quite awhile to get to this point.

When people do it wrong, the most common reaction is to just swipe it anyway. Then they ask, “Did it not work?” I ask in return, “Did you use the chip?” “No, I swiped it.” “Oh, right, it wants you to use the chip.”

Like, we were having a conversation and I told you to use the chip. Did you think you were special and could choose not to? I’m sorry, not the case. Or were you just not listening? Also not cool.

There are also awkward exchanges sometimes when they ask me “Chip or swipe?” before I have asked them “Debit or credit?” 

I have had this conversation many times:

“Chip or swipe?”

“Is it debit or credit?”

“I asked you first.”

“... Sure, but my answer is dependent on yours.”

Also, probably eight or nine times a day, I have to lean all the way over the counter and teach someone how the chip card works. 

My favorite people are the ones who childishly hate using the chip and complain about it the entire transaction. Like, please grow up. It’s going to be fine. You’ll get used to it. Or you could start using cash all the time.

But finally, the worst offender ever and what finally tipped the scales for writing this post, was a guy I had last weekend. 

I said, “Debit or credit?”

And his answer was, “Whichever one makes me not have to use the chip.”

I said, “Okay, we’ll run it as debit then.”

He answered, seriously, “Oh, but it’s a credit card.”

… Okay, so not whichever then, right? If you're using a credit card, you have to run it as credit, and I’m sorry, but you’re going to have to use the chip.

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