Gina Obert
By Gina Obert on February 09, 2016

Longer Lines for Shoppers in Wake of Credit Card Chips

Long lines during shopping aren't anything new, but shoppers may have to wait longer this year with the installation of chips in new credit cards.

EMV (Europay, MasterCard and Visa) is the new credit-card chip technology that has customers and employees at the big retailers screaming at the top of their lungs. Designed to protect against data hacks by taking customer information and encrypting it, this new credit-card chip technology is creating ridiculous lines at checkout, adding to shopper’s struggles to adapt to the new technology.

“You have people who don’t quite understand how to use the cards,” says Matt Schulz, a senior analyst with creditcards.com. “And employees behind the counter who aren’t 100 percent sure how they work…You add it all up and it’s just making things take a little bit longer.”

Commonly used in Europe for the past eight years, using the cards involves sliding a card into the designed slot and waiting for the reader to process it, instead of the quick swipe of the card. On top of this process, most stores still require customers to sign after purchase and process. Also, this new EMV technology doesn’t allow customers to insert, or “dip”, their cards while the cashier is still ringing up their items which commonly saved time with the old swipe method. Several local cashiers say that a normal transaction can take up anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute longer.

Asking around at larger retail stores, an employee at the Best Buy of Atlantic Center in Brooklyn said customers complain about it “all the time.”

“It’s slower…usually, you just swipe, show your ID and go,” says the cashier. “Now it’s stick in the card, wait for it to load, press the button, wait for it to load.”

The delays from the installation of the new EMV technology have been so frustrating that they have motivated two Trader Joe’s locations, Union Square and the Upper West Side, to add two additional register lanes to hopefully help speed up the process.

Even with the frustrating delays, the card readers are here to stay. On October first, a new self-imposed rule by the credit-card industry state that liabilities for fraudulent charges have now shifted to retailers, instead of the credit-card companies, if they don’t update their systems.

As of December 27, 2015, more than 120 million EMV-enabled cards have been issued. Big retailers like Target, Walgreens, Duane Reade, Best Buy, and American Apparel have new readers. Other retailers, like Whole Foods, have installed the machines but aren’t currently using the chip-reader technology just yet.

For customers seeking to avoid the long lines, the answer, for now, might be to shop local than the big retail stores.

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Published by Gina Obert February 9, 2016
Gina Obert
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