Not long ago, American consumers were promised a more secure method of in-person credit transactions. Cards embedded with shiny new chips arrived in our mailboxes. Stores got fancy new point-of-sale (POS) units to read those chips. Unfortunately, not everyone was on board and what resulted was mass confusion: a POS credit card system with no clear directions or set procedure.
As a customer, it would seem that you’d know what to do. If you have a card with a chip, you insert it. If you don’t have a chip, you swipe it. Right?
Wrong—or at least half the time you get it wrong.
As much as this inconsistency and poor user experience drives me crazy, I have enjoyed seeing how stores have taken it upon themselves to provide customer direction.
Some attempts are on-brand, neatly printed and specially shaped cards, clearly provided by a corporate office that’s concerned with customer satisfaction. The rest are hand-written and label-maker stopgaps, which are less refined, and suggestive of a cashier who tires of instructing confused customers.
I find the rough fixes most interesting. I love a peek into the problem-solving thought process, the solutions devised by the average person, a non-designer. My all-time favorite was a piece of masking tape over the card reader slot that simply read, “NOPE.”
As interesting as this little experiment has been, hopefully it fades as stores, customers, and credit card companies get on the same page. In the meantime, the different ways of “solving” the problem have been pretty entertaining.
P.S. If you come across any that are worth sharing, send me a picture: email@example.com
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