Why I Hate Digital Signature Machines - Live Like a Mensch
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Why I Hate Digital Signature Machines

The other day, I was running behind (as usual), because baby.

(Which by the way, is the best of all possible excuses: "I can't do that, because baby." "I'm an hour late, because baby." "We forgot your 50th anniversary, because baby." People tend to be very forgiving of the "because baby" excuse--although it clearly doesn't last forever).

In any case, despite my because baby lateness to pick LO up from Montessori, I stopped at our local Walgreen's to pick up some of the things we seem to always need, because baby. (Diapers, baby wipes, baby wash, etc, etc, ad infinitum). I was also picking up some photos of the baby that I needed to send out with thank you cards, because baby (all right, I'll stop now), so I went to the photo counter to ring up my purchases.

I swiped my credit card and waited for the digital signature screen to come up.

And waited.

And waited.

Said baby was getting rather fussy, and I was well aware of the fact that we were already five minutes late to pick up LO, and despite the fact that Montessori is just down the road from our Walgreen's, it is not close enough that time will run backwards if you go fast enough.

I got the attention of my cashier, who seemed rather distracted, to find out if I needed to press cancel or accept or something to move things along.

"Oh yeah," she said, moving at molasses-speed to come around the counter. "This machine can't take credit cards because it doesn't have a pen for the digital signature." She looked woefully down at my full bag of purchases. "I can ring you up on another register."

Tightly restraining the punctual woman in my head who pays close attention to time and was already having a minor flip-out, I looked down at the rest of the registers in the store. Each of them had a line.

"Could I just use a debit card instead?" I asked. My cashier nodded with relief, while the frugal woman in my head attempted to strangle the punctual woman in my head.

You see, I get charged for using my bank card as a debit card. It's only a buck per transaction, but it's still incredibly irritating to have to spend money in order to spend my own money, particularly when it is free for me to use said bank card as a credit card transaction.

As I walked out the door, my punctual inner self was beating up on my frugal inner self for not leaving early enough to actually do my shopping before having to pick up LO. ("Because baby" simply does not work as an excuse for the punctual woman in my head).

Of course, this is just the most recent example of my annoyance at digital signature machines. But I have always had a hate-hate relationship with them.

First of all, it's ridiculous that these machines are not standard across all stores. In some stores, you have to hit CANCEL to process a transaction as credit. In some, you have to hit OK. In others, the cashier has to do it for you. Get yourselves together, people!

Secondly, I HAAAAAAATE that none of the touch screens are calibrated to make your signature look anything like your actual signature. (And that's when they're newly installed. If you sign your name on a digital touch screen that has already been through the wars and/or Black Friday, your signature comes out looking like the person who is trying to fake your signature had a stroke while doing so.)

Although, it's not as if any cashier actually checks your signature against your card. My father taught me to write "Check Picture ID" in the signature line of my card, which happens approximately never.

So all of this is why J recently came home with this receipt from Home Depot:

He wanted to see if anyone noticed that his signature is a smiley face.

No one did.

Clearly, the security of having customers sign their receipts is uber-tight. It's more like security theater--we're all agreeing to accept that signing for a credit card purchase is necessary, when it's no more than a dance of outdated financial conventions.

Perhaps instead of signature machines, we could come up with SOMETHING that makes more sense and will take less time than allowing us to write stroke-ridden smiley faces on poorly calibrated digitial signature machines (unless said machines don't have a pen attached).

But don't ask me to come up with the solution.

I can't, because baby.

"Thanks for pinning this on me."



bobi said:

Really? You still have to sign? That's so yesterday at all the stores in my area. Target started it and now I NEVER have to sign my name! Some stores have a threshold of $50 or less but some seem to have no threshold. Quite frankly, it's been worrying me that no one wants my signature anymore though I do like the convenience, I worry about the security of all these no signature required purchases. I suspect this trend will be working its way west soon.

October 23, 2013 7:07 PM

Aunt Lucy said:

In my area most have a threshhold above which you must sign. Having arthritis in my hands I find signing very difficult with the super-slim pen provided. However, nothing beats my dentist's office, where in addition to the usual challenges one can't see the resulting signature!

October 28, 2013 11:40 AM

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