Why do so many credit card chip readers still not work?

A lot of stores now have the equipment to run a chip credit card, but the chip readers still don’t work. The deadline to have them running was in 2015. Why is it taking so long to actually get the readers to work? I thought the stores would be on top of this, since retailers are now held liable for fraud involving magstripes.

I am seeing a lot of stores that have the chip reader taped off with little paper hand written signs
No Chip

I just tell the cashier, sorry no sale then, your system appears defective.

I have mine set up so it’s chip + pin + token
Should make it at least a little inconvenient for someone to steal

Because just putting in the reader is only one step, like putting a video phone on a pair of copper wires. It needs the whole support system back to the bank, and programming, and all that.

The “deadline” having passed in 2015 doesn’t make swipe-only terminals illegal. It just shifted liability for fraud from the card issuers to the retailer. (The deadline for pay-at-the-pump fuel dispensers isn’t until 2020). Before 2015, the cost of credit card fraud was eaten by the banks that issue the cards. After that, the banks will only eat the cost if the store has fully switched to the chip-reading technology. Stores that haven’t made the transition now have to eat the cost of fraud themselves.

Some stores have decided not to make the switch and continue using swipe-only readers, presumably because they have decided the cost to update the machines is more than what they’ll lose to fraud. Another concern is that chip transactions tend to take longer than swipes and the retailer doesn’t want to slow down the line.

Other stores have gone to the expense of installing new terminals that are physically capable of reading the chips but still only process swipes. Usually that’s because the whole system, chip reader plus all the software and communications components to support it, has to be certified by an industry group before it can actually be used. Currently there is a huge backlog in the certification process.

I got to be an early adopter of the system, having it in place and taking chips in May of 2015. By, “got to”, I mean I didn’t have a choice, my merchant services provider told me to give them $1500 for a new piece of equipment if I was to continue to use them for my cc processing.

This was quite a bit of fun, as I lost hundreds of dollars in tips and sales due to errors on the new system.

It was not until early 2016 that we had most of the bugs worked out.

Then they messed with stuff again, and I couldn’t take debit cards for almost a month.

Once I got that worked out, I could take debit cards again, but I have to walk customers through the transaction, as if they follow the instructions on the screen, then it will beep at them nastily and cancel the transaction.

I haven’t had any issues in a few months (as long as people follow my instructions, and not follow the instructions on the screen [I sometimes almost get in arguments with customers when they point out the the machine is telling them differently]), but using a chip is quite a bit slower, and requires much more effort on the part of the customer to check out.

Some people are angry that they have to put in the PIN. I try explaining that that is set by their bank, not by me, but it dos not matter, they either don’t remember it, or they don’t want me to know what it is (they punch it in, but in theory, I could watch and see the numbers they enter), or they are just exasperated about the amount of work involved in checking out.
I’ve been here over 4 years, and have not had a single case of fraud I would have had to eat, and I doubt I will get one in the future (I do dog grooming, people like their pets, ya know), but I have eaten around or maybe more than a thousand dollars in losses due to errors in the changeover, not to mention being out the $1500 for the new equipment.

So, why doesn’t everyone have the system yet? I could guess, but it is most likely because it isn’t worth the hassle. If I knew what I was going to go through, I would have refused and gone to someone else at the beginning.

It could also be that that their cc processor is not up to date. The store itself may be perfectly fine with using the equipment, but if the software isn’t on it, it’s not going to take the chip. The software, BTW, comes from the CC processor, not from the store.

Wow. I honestly cannot imagine the kind of mentality which would have a problem using a chip-and-pin setup as a customer, but is otherwise not disabled. A group home resident would be different, but the people k9bfriender is talking about are presumably considered competent.

The only way I can understand it is as a passive-aggressive power play, as in “I don’t want to put forth the effort to do this, so I’m going to make you do it, because I briefly have this tiny bit of control over your life.”

The alleged consumer difficulties with chip-and-PIN is supposedly the major reason that the US lags so astoundingly behind the rest of the world in adopting chip cards, like ten years behind. Many countries have been widely using chip cards for a decade or so, along with RFID somewhat more recently. Magstripes have been only a backup for years if they’re allowed any more at all.

It is something different, it is something new.

Many of my clients are older.

Most of my clients are trying to hold a dog in one hand.

And, it is complicated.

If you have a debit card, once I’ve put the info in on my side, it is now your turn to…

  1. Press F1 to accept. (The F1 key, not the spot on the screen above the F1 key where it say’s accept, it’s not a touch screen.)

  2. Press F1 to add a tip amount, F2 for tip percentage, or F4 to skip the tip. (Once again, the actual keys, not the spot above them, it’s not a touch screen.)
    2a. if leaving a tip, enter the amount, and press the green button.

  3. Put the card in the bottom, chip first. The card slides in about half way, this confuses many people, as some only want to slide it in until the chip is covered, and some seem insistent that they are going to get the whole card in there.

  4. Now, the screen will say 1.US Credit 2. US Debit. On this screen, you must press 01 and then enter. If you do anything else, if you don’t put the leading “0” (which is not displayed on the screen), or you try to put in “02” instead of “01” it will loudly beep 6 times, and we get to start over. You have about 6 seconds on this step before it times out and we have to start over.

  5. Press F1 one last time to accept the charges. (The key, not the screen.) (Oh, and yeah, there’s an “F” key on the keyboard, to the left of the “0”, pressing that and the “1” key is not what I meant either.)

  6. If you are with some banks, you are done, and I will have a slip for you to sign, if you are with other banks, then you now need to put in your PIN.

This is in contrast to the previous system, where they handed me their card, and I handed it back to them 10 seconds later with the slip to sign.

Many of my clients are good sports about this, and even comment on how they are finally getting used to the system, and they’ll even ask me not to walk them through it, to see if they have it down yet. Some are just confused, their big complaint is that everyone of the systems is different. Some, as I said, are paranoid that I’m going to read them putting in their PIN and then… profit, I guess. Some are just paranoid entirely. I had one person whose husband had removed the chip from the card because he said it could be used to track them.

I have quite a number of older of elderly clients as well, who have difficulty reading the screen, or even with punching buttons.

More than that. We’ve been using them since the early 90s, so make that 25 years or so.

Huh? Granted we don’t have the tip part over here, but after you’ve put the amount on your side, the process here is :

1)Enter your card

2)Dial your PIN

3)Hit the green key. The end. Less than 10 seconds, certainly?
What are all these steps for? Is it actually typical of how you use a smart card in the USA, or is something specific to your business? If it’s typical, are there other countries where it’s similarly complicated?

Oh, calm down.

I fix this kind of technology for my meager living, and I can tell you at least ONE explanation for the delays: changes like this require significant up front costs, and those are much higher for retailers who put off updating their entire computer support systems, during the incredible economic downturn that hit them almost a decade back. I still see lots of national customers using computers over fifteen years old, and some wont support what software is available to run the chip reading terminals.

Add on to that, that the support programmers for retailers are NOT unified, so each one has to write software to drive the stuff, and you have another clue.

Complain if you want, and guess at laziness or “cheapness,” but if you do that, you’ve never been in a real business decision role.

Can’t say anything about other countries, but I can speak of other systems I have used.

The grocery store is not as complex, but it still takes much longer than it used to with the swipe. My dentist has the same system that we do, but they handle the cards behind the counter, a huge no-no according to my bank. The dollar store down the street from me has an even more finicky system, and it will have to start over for any of several possible user errors, one of which will actually complete the sale without tendering payment, forcing the whole order to have to be voided and re-rung. I know that office depot’s system usually works pretty well, I can’t think of any issues I’ve had with it.

But, I use a credit card, not a debit card, so I’ve never had to enter a PIN. (I’d be a little concerned if I did, in fact, as I don’t think I actually have a PIN for my credit card.) With a credit card on my system, you just skip step 4, and there will never be a PIN to enter, instead I will have a slip for you to sign.

The only extra step that I can think of that would be specific to my business would be the tip part, and that’s not worth giving up for convenience.

Part of the complexity here sounds like bad design. Regarding the steps you’ve outlined:

  1. Yes, it’s standard to confirm the amount.

  2. This should only occur on restaurant payments, nowhere else. It’s really no different than writing the tip on a restaurant bill, with the added convenience that it can calculate a percentage-based tip for you if you want.

  3. Inserting the card is the same for every card reader I have ever encountered. Seems to me that after you’ve done it once (or five times, for the exceptionally dim) you know how to do it forever after.

  4. Totally unnecessary and outrageously bad design. In every POS system I have ever seen, the merchant establishes the transaction type (debit or credit) before the customer interaction even begins.

  5. Why is this necessary when you already confirmed the amount in step 1? Totally redundant, and I’ve never seen this.

  6. Wow! If you have to present a slip for them to sign, why the hell did they just have to endure steps (1) through (5)? :smiley:

Actually, even that much is dispensed with most of the time. Here is how I do the majority of my checkouts these days, whether it’s credit or debit. I wait for the card reader to display the amount. I touch the card to the reader, and the reader says “Beep!”. The cashier hands me my receipt and I walk out.

I just enter a 4 digit PIN on my phone and hold it over the reader. I havent used the actual card in over 6 months. Never going back to that mess.

Or dog groomers who accept tips. Strangely, this is one of the things that confounded my merchant services provider quite a bit. It took several tries to get them to set it up to accept tips. And, anytime they push through a software update, I need to call them up and have them rebuild the software again to accept tips.

Interesting that you mention restaurants, as they said that it was a restaurant package build that they were using so that I could take tips.

You’d think that, wouldn’t you. I’ve haven’t had anyone snap their card in half yet, but I am surprised by that, with as much force as some people use trying to jam it in there.

Oh, even more than you think. I do start the transaction, the very first step, by selecting credit, then entering the amount of the charge. I can only run cards as credit, I do not actually have the ability to run cards as debit. Most of the time, on step 4, if you type “02” it’ll beep at you then, but sometimes it goes through to the end, then declines the card with a “serv error”. That’s when I say “Did you press ‘01’ or ‘02’”, and they say “‘02’, it’s a debit card.” Which is why my walkthrough line for that step is “Now, on this screen, you’re gonna wanna push ‘0’…‘1’…and then the green button.”<beat>“Anything else will make it angry.” If they hesitate, I mention that they have about 3 seconds left before we have to start over. If they are old or particularly distracted, I usually just reach over and hit the buttons myself.

I’ve spent hours on the phone with merchant services trying to get them to remove the screen (as it was at first not allowing me to take debit cards at all), but they insist that it has to be there, and cannot be removed. If you have a good argument against that, I would love to hear it and use it against them next time I call them.

Well, now it’s total amount, with tip, I guess, so lets them confirm that everything is in order.

Well, if they put in their PIN, then they don’t need to sign. Unless they didn’t put in a tip, in which case, it prints a tip line receipt that needs a signature.

Don’t get me started on NFC. That was a huge bane at the outset. If someone had a tap based card, and tried to swipe it, it would come close enough to the sensor to register that it wanted it, but not close enough to actually read it, so it would trip an error, and clear the tip off. Even if they knew they had a tap card, if it wasn’t aligned perfectly, it would cause an error, and strip the tip off. And if the Tip is stripped off, the only way to fix it at that time is to stop them from completing the transaction, clear it and start over, which is an annoying way to get someone’s tip. I lost hundreds of dollars to those cards.

I can take applepay or google wallet too, but I have only had 2 clients use that so far, so I don’t know exactly how well it works.

Thanks for the interesting background info. On these particular points…

Sorry, no, I have no suggestions. If they can’t accept the argument that it’s obviously a useless nuisance then there’s nothing you can say to nitwits that have no concept of software design. I mean, you could ask them what the hell the system is supposed to do if you’ve already set it up as a credit card transaction and the customer selects “debit”. Obviously one of you is wasting their time, and if you don’t even take debit, then you’re both wasting your time. “Don’t ask the user totally unnecessary stupid questions whose answers make no difference whatsoever – or stupid questions to which you already know the freaking answer” is kind of implicit in Software Design 101!* :smiley: I’m just appalled at how badly designed this stuff is.

Seems odd to me. There are many occasions when I have to use the chip and PIN method instead of the tap either because the amount is over the tap-n-go limit or just a random security requirement and I have never heard the telltale double beep of a read error or rejected tap when doing this. All the readers I’ve ever seen have the card slot on the bottom end and the proximity sensor up at the top, and it doesn’t seem to sense the card unless it’s very close or touching and held there for a moment. But you’d have far more experience with that stuff than I ever have. Maybe the same morons who built the software also designed the card readers.

No tips in Aus. At the Dentist, they will take my card, insert it correctly, and select cheque, savings or credit, before handing the reader back to me so that I can enter the PIN and press OK.

At the shops, I have to rotate the card myself, then select* cheque/savings/credit, then not press OK (I’m offered the choice), then enter PIN, then press OK. These screens are touch sensitive.

*Or is it the other way around? enter then select? Can’t remember.

My mom’s employer was not able to run debit cards as credit cards for several months. Between people who didn’t know their PINs and people whose banks charged fees for transactions that didn’t go through the credit card system, she got to deal with several tantrums each day.

I don’t know who you’re using, but I’d look into another provider if I were you. They sound awful; especially the first sentence in this post - software updates repeatedly break your setup? That’s totally unacceptable.

No it’s because the software (at least the human interface part) is written very stupidly.