Let’s Standardize Credit Card Readers Because I’m Tired Of Looking Like A Doofus When I Can’t Figure Them Out

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I’m typically not in favor of enacting more regulations on anything. It’s typically the case that when the government gets its grubby fingers involved in anything, it becomes worse. However, I feel like some issues that could use a dose of government intervention, and credit card readers are one of those things

I’m not sure I can even begin to count the number of different types I’ve encountered over the years. Some have the chip that you insert, some don’t. Others have the tap feature, while others don’t. Hell, this morning I had to use one where you inserted the chip but did it backward. That completely blew my mind.

I never know whether I’m supposed to be tapping, chip-inserting, or swiping. Then I’ve got to stand there fumbling around with the reader like a Neanderthal who was handed an iPad. Meanwhile, the cashier stares off into the distance and the other customers tap their feet impatiently.

The other night, I used a card reader and hit for the cycle — I tapped, swiped, and chipped — before the payment finally went through. That’s ridiculous. Part of me is convinced that the people who make these machines just like watching handsome, funny guys like me — who can usually hold it together in very stressful situations — squirm.

I’m sorry, there has to be a better way. In fact, there is a better way

Credit card reader
A person prepares to pay way too much for coffee at some hipster coffee joint. At least they’ve adopted the tap card reader. (Getty Images)

Let’s All Agree That The Tap Card Reader Is The Way To Go

The easiest way to do this would be if we just all agreed to embrace the tap. I love the idea of the tap, but even that is all over the place.

Every time I approach a card reader and go to tap my card or pay with my phone or watch (which is fun to do and makes me feel like George Jetson) I never know where to tap. That’s because the diabolical folks who design these readers, can’t even get on the same page about where the sensors go.

Sometimes there’s a pad that looks like a helicopter landing pad for your credit card. Then there are readers the sensor is hidden behind the screen. Other times that sensor is hidden somewhere in the chassis of the reader and you just have to kind of know that’s where you’re supposed to tap it like it’s the password for some douchey hipster bar where they pretend it’s a Prohibition-era speakeasy.

It’s just complete anarchy out there. Someone who has to be brave enough to stand up to the point-of-sale card reading machine lobby and tell them that enough is enough.

Not me; someone else can do it… I’m too busy doing… stuff…

I’ve lost hours of my life wrestling with these things while a border teenager counts the seconds before their shift ends. (Getty Images)

We’ve Done This Before, Let’s To It Again

At some point, we decided we needed to standardize wall outlets. You don’t walk around trying to plug things in only to realize that the plug for the Keurig has triangle-shaped prongs and won’t fit. Yeah, things are different abroad, but here in the US of A, plugs are plugs, brother.

Why can’t we do that with card readers? It would make our lives so much easier and also make me look less like an ass. I would appreciate that a great deal.

If Japan or Australia or the European Union want to do something different, that’s their prerogative. But we need to get on the same page stateside.

And don’t tell me it’ll be too expensive to shift our nationwide card reading system to those little touch pads. We’ve all been to sporting events where drink vendors carry tap readers around. Hell, some very enterprising homeless people have thought to get their hands on those and take spare change via card.

Let’s get this fixed. I’m tired of looking like a bumbling doofus at least 50% of the time I try to buy something. I swung by the grocery store to buy some cases of ginger ale, some Pepto-Bismol, and a pack of toilet paper big enough to supply my entire apartment building (those items being purchased together are merely a coincidence).

Do you know what I’m not there for? To have my dignity stolen by a type of card reader I’m not prepared for.

Although the industrial-size pack of TP may have done some damage in the dignity department…

Follow on Twitter: @Matt_Reigle

Written by Matt Reigle

Matt is a University of Central Florida graduate and a long-suffering Philadelphia Flyers fan living in Orlando, Florida. He can usually be heard playing guitar, shoe-horning obscure quotes from The Simpsons into conversations, or giving dissertations to captive audiences on why Iron Maiden is the greatest band of all time.

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