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Rantings and Ravings

Sun Advocate reporter

It's pretty rare for anyone to pay with cash any more. Every check out counter, gas pump and fast food joint has those readers for use to quickly swipe our card and be on our way.


For the most part those little devices are part card reader and part information gatherers. Each one needs to ask you a series of questions before you complete the transaction.

No one machine asks the same ones or even in the same order. There are the obvious questions like debit or credit. But there are more too.

Some readers ask for your zip code or your discount number, even your phone prefix. But all that is already part of my card information.

Then there are those machines that tell me I need to tell the cashier to hit the credit button. Whenever I do that they look at me kind of weird and sigh, like it's already too much work to check me out anyway. Most of them have already done that because they saw me run the card through the reader.

I have been known to hold up the entire line at the grocery store because I thought I was done and was staring off into space, waiting for my receipt. After a period of time I am jolted back to reality as the clerk reminds me to finish answering whatever else the machine is asking for. Usually it wants to know if I want extra money. I used to say "Sure as much as you can give me," until I realized they were just giving me my own money.

K-Mart makes you take a survey before you can use your card. I give them really bad answers because I am irritated at the delay. So much for getting good feedback from people being held hostage .

Some of the machines are put at such a weird angle it is hard to slide your card just right for it to be read. At the gas station I have the extra, key ring card that gets me a discount on my gas. The other day I spent five minutes trying to hold it at the perfect angle to get the little red OK light to go on. Then it reported I had no discount to use. There was five minutes of my life totally wasted.

Then you also have to make sure you stick the card in in the right direction. That too is tricky. You have to look at the little drawing next to the reader and actually pay attention to how you are sticking your card in. I really hate it when I get that message, "see attendant" because I put my card in upside down....three times in a row.... because I was talking to someone else next to me.

Jeez! Like the machine can't take a joke or what.

Room keys for hotels can be a nightmare too. I have had to use my card up to five times to get the little green light to come on so I can get in my room. Sometimes you have to pull it fast, some times you have to pull it slow; it seems it's all trial and error. Some days it seems like more error than anything.

I think I need to go back to using cash. But I can't remember my pin number so I can use my ATM card to get some. Oh yeah, I think it's my birthday combined with my pet's name, but spelled backwards.

Just kidding!

By the time I remember it, I will be locked out of my account until I can explain to the bank teller for the 23rd time this year that I need to reset my PIN to something I will remember.

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