Played His Card Right

, | Working | March 14, 2014

(My credit card features chip-and-PIN, but the chip has stopped working. I know this, and have ordered a replacement card, but in the meantime I have to make do. Fortunately, nearly every credit card terminal allows one to use the old-style magnetic stripe on the card if the chip doesn’t work. I’m ordering some fast food.)

Cashier: “Okay, your total is $9.25.”

(I hand the cashier my card, which he immediately inserts into the terminal’s chip reader.)

Me: “I think the chip’s broken, so you might need to—”

(The cashier pulls the card out, frowning, and inserts it again.)

Cashier: “This card isn’t working. Do you have another method of payment?”

Me: “I know. The chip is broken. Can you just swipe the card instead?”

Cashier: “This machine won’t let you swipe chip cards.”

Me: “Are you sure? There’s usually an override option on these machines. What does it say?”

(He inserts the card again.)

Cashier: “Nope. It says your chip is broken. Do you have any cash?”

Me: “Um, are you sure there isn’t any option to let me swipe the card? Every other place I’ve been to has been able to do that.”

(The cashier rolls his eyes and calls over his manager.)

Cashier: “This card isn’t working, and he says he wants to swipe it instead.”

Manager: “That won’t work. With these new cards, you have to use the chip. The machine won’t let you swipe.”

Me: “I think if you try with the chip and it fails, it will give you the option to swipe.”

(It looks like the manager isn’t listening to me. I notice him cancel the transaction and ring it up again, and then swipe my card.)

Me: “That might not work. You have to let the chip error happen first and it’ll give the option—”

Manager: “Nope, it says you have to use the chip. With these chip cards, you can’t swipe them. See?”

(He turns the terminal over to me so I can see the message.)

Terminal: “Chip card. Please insert.”

Me: “Um, may I try?”

(With a sigh, he hands me my credit card, saying again that it won’t work. I take it and insert it into the chip reader.)

Terminal: “Chip error. Remove card.”

(I remove the card.)

Terminal: “Use magstripe.”

(I swipe the card, ignoring the manager continuing to say I’m wasting time.)

Terminal: “Press ‘Enter’ to override chip requirement.”

(I press Enter.)

Terminal: “Input last four digits of card.”

(I input the digits.)

Terminal: “Transaction approved.”

(The manager stares, speechless as the receipt prints. He then walks away quickly, refusing to look at me.)

Cashier: “Whoa! I didn’t know you could do that! Guess you learn something new every day. Do you work with these machines in your job or something?”

Me: “Uh… no.”

Cashier: “Then how did you know how to make it work?”

Me: “I, um… read the instructions on the screen?”

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