Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Impatient Shoppers

Good thing there are not many of them out there these days (or so we have been told):

"New credit card chips are holding up the register" by Megan Woolhouse Globe Staff  June 07, 2016

When banks mandated the use of chip-enhanced credit and debit cards last October, businesses worried about the expense of switching over and the reaction of customers long used to swiping their cards at the checkout.

Eight months later, the major credit card companies are touting the early success of the change, designed to make transactions more secure. Preliminary numbers show that credit card fraud has been reduced by 18 percent, according to Visa, and 39 percent, according to MasterCard.

Sounds like a success, unless you happen to be trapped in line at the drugstore.

Many chip readers don’t yet work and those that do angrily beep, befuddling shoppers and exasperating cashiers. Rather than a quick side swipe of the card, customers need to insert their credit or debit card into a slot and wait for the jarringly loud foghorn tone that signals approval for some transactions.

“I’m used to things happening fast,” said Tom Prendergast, 34, who used his card to buy dish soap at Target recently. “This just takes longer.”

In an on-demand economy where speed is a given, the new chip-card transactions have all the charm of a musty dial-up modem. Purchases can take longer, with crowded checkout lines drawing customer complaints. It’s a hassle that brick-and-mortar retailers can ill afford as they compete with the growing speed and ease of online shopping. 

“It’s a pain point,” George E. Belch, chairman of the marketing department at San Diego State University, said of the process. “Shoppers are just really impatient. ... They’re like, ‘you’re wasting 15 seconds of my life.’ ”

How much of my life have I wasted reading the Bo$ton Globe?

Belch said the extra time is a tradeoff for improved security and the lowered risk of identity theft, the ultimate time-suck.

The new credit and debit cards utilize a chip that generates a unique code with every transaction, making it more difficult for criminals to produce fake cards.

MasterCard spokeswoman Beth Kitchener said leaving a card in the reader while waiting for approval makes the time at the register feel deceptively long.

“In your head it’s taking longer,” she said. “Actually if you map it end to end the difference is slightly longer — not that much — but it’s a perception.”

According to Jon Hurst, president of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts, an industry group with 3,200 members “It’s a mess. It’s frustrating for the consumer, it’s frustrating for the retailer.”

Javier Suarez, a junior at Margarita Muniz Academy who was buying flowers at CVS in Jamaica Plain recently, said the differences between the two systems are striking.

“It’s annoying,” he said about his chip card. “They need to make it work faster.”

“It’s supposed to be in and out, and that’s not happening,” added a police officer who was also shopping at CVS and did not want to give his name.

Then there are the idle moments when customer and cashier stand awkwardly at the register waiting for the transaction to be completed.

“It’s just this weird thing,” said Ani Collum, a partner at Retail Concepts, a consulting firm in Norwell. “Do we stand here and look at each other?”

You can look away or down. God forbid you strike up a conversation.


RelatedCVS makes top 10 in Fortune’s 500 list

Seems par for the cour$e, 'eh?

I'd say go to Walgreens, but....

Also see: Chipped Credit Card 

Sure you wanna charge it?

UPDATE: Costco customers unhappy with new credit card

It's a Citigroup card.

Also see: Appeals court nixes $7.25B credit card swipe fee settlement