US Bankcard Services Industry Blog

Monday, March 1, 2010

Credit Cards and IDs

I walked into a well-known discount shoe store last year to hear someone screaming so loudly at the cashier that my imagination instantly created a cartoonish scene where mothers were grabbing up their children with horrified looks on their faces and running out of the store so fast that leaves were dancing in the wind behind them. That, of course, wasn’t actually happening, but I did notice that only one of the dozen customers in the store was at the counter.

Since I had to walk by the cashier to get to the section I needed, I heard the continuing argument and learned that the customer was angry because the cashier would not take their credit card without an ID to go with it. The cashier was standing strong in the face of adversity while trying to explain that if she took the card without checking ID to verify signature and identity she could get fired, but it fell on deaf ears. Feeling brave that day, I approached the “situation” and, after introducing myself and explaining that I may be of assistance, I asked the upset customer for their indulgence and removed a credit card from my wallet.

Simply holding the card at my side, I asked them both if they could tell me if the card was mine. The cashier remained silent but the customer said “Of course it is – it came out of your wallet!”. I asked if they were sure, received a “yes” response then showed them both the card I had. The card belonged to my spouse – not me. The customer said – “Well, it doesn’t have YOUR name on it, but really, it’s yours to use.” Now wondering what point I was trying to make the customer added “What does this have to do with me?” I then asked “How do you know I’m not in the midst of a very unpleasant divorce and stole the card from my sleeping spouse? How do you know that the name I gave you to begin with is actually my name and not one I made up to match the card I just stole from the person down the street that got distracted for that one quick second?”

And, facing the customer, I asked – “What if you were my spouse? What if you were the one distracted? Wouldn’t you want someone like her, indicating the cashier, to be just as vigilant as she is being now to make sure that no one is using your card without your permission or knowledge? It may be inconvenient for you right at this moment, but think of the time you would spend trying to sort out the mess that comes from someone stealing and using your credit card. How many stores would that person hit before you even noticed your card was missing?”

The customer ended up showing their ID willingly; the cashier looked at the picture, compared the signature on the card to the one on the receipt and completed the purchase. When I left, I noticed the cashier had a very relieved look on her face and I can’t be sure, but I think I also saw the last leaf settle on the sidewalk.