TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Supermarket: Let Your Fingers do the Paying

Re: Supermarket: Let Your Fingers do the Paying

Robert Bonomi (
Fri, 04 Feb 2005 17:11:13 -0000

In article <>,
Robert Bonomi <> wrote:

> In article <>,

>> [TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: I do not understand one thing: If
>> people have already been verified as to their ability and
>> willingness to pay for their groceries through their credit card
>> and their personal identification has been verified in much the same
>> way by the credit card people, then *why* would people want to go one
>> step further by enrolling in 'Pay by Touch'? Is this intended as one
>> way to 'save them time' by not having to sign a credit card slip? In
>> other words, touch your thumb or finger somewhere rather than taking
>> a couple seconds to sign a slip of paper? Now, if the grocery people
>> had set up their own credit system *in place of Visa/MC* by using a
>> thumb/finger print, I can see where that might be useful, but
>> otherwise, why bother? PAT]

> Gee, I dunno.

> Like maybe you _don't_ have to have your card, *or* card number, with
> you.

> Like, no hassles if the mag stripe doesn't read.

> Like, no opportunity for a dishonest cashier to memorize the number
> off your card.

> Like, maybe, *nobody*else* can buy anything with that card number at
> that store. i.e., if it's a 'pay by touch' card, "no touchee, no
> tickee", and if the fingerprint _doesn't_ match, "no sale".

> You're right, I can't see why anybody would *consider* bothering to do
> something like that.

> [TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Well, let's see ... maybe I was caught
> shoplifting at a grocery store in Iraq or Iran and the Taliban chopped
> off all my fingers as part of the punishment.

Strawman -- not a _bad_ strawman despite the stretch, but still a

Then, obviously, you would not _elect_ to use their *optional* system,
would you? And then there's no problem for you, is there?

Or didn't you notice that it is a _voluntary_participation_ system?

> And one of the terms for accepting MC/Visa cards required by
> many/most/all of the card issuers is that the store is *not*
> permitted to demand any other form of identification. The card is to
> stand on its own regards ID, *if the holder is using it for
> payment*. So your 'no touch, no sale' idea is not possible in many
> stores.

When the store has a prior *signed*, verified, validated, directive
from the card-holder on file that says "do not allow any charges
against this card number unless the fingerprint matches the one I have
provided on file" the store most certainly *can* demand the

Agreed, the store cannot do it on it's _own_ initiative. However, that
is simply not the situation with regard to a _voluntary_participation_
program such as the one under discussion.

> I can see where fingerprints might be
> used in lieu of an actual plastic but I do not think it can be a
> requirement *in addition to* plastic.

Making clear that you did not bother to *read* the original article.

A) this is not a 'required' system.

B) the fingerprint _is_ used *INSTEAD* of the plastic.

> And when a clerk is caught making an unauthorized sale using someone
> else's card the answer is simple also. Fire and presecute them. PAT]

"Simple"??? *snicker* No, make that <*GUFFAW*>

First off, that _assumes_ that the clerk got caught.

Second, 'unauthorized sales' can make for a _gawdaful_ mess of
problems for the actual card-holder. Just imagine that you're going
on vacation. And have made sure that your card has a _zero_ balance
outstanding. You get to your destination, and offer the card to pay
for your hotel room, and get told "card not accepted -- over credit
limit". Where are you, the wife, and kids, going to sleep tonight?

Getting an 'unauthorized sale' off your account can be *difficult*.
Consider a telephone order (one where the merchant asked for, and
_got_ the 'security code'), that was actually _delivered_ to YOUR
address, and signed for in your name.

I have relatives who have been the (almost) victim of *precisely*
that. They got wind of things shortly before the order was to be
delivered, and law enforcement was waiting when the delivery truck
came by. A guy _outside_ the house pretended to be the 'addressee',
and signed for the package. Whereupon the cops pounced.

[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Oh, I dunno about this last part, where
one supposedly has a hard time catching the clerk 'in the
act'. Walmart does okay on it. The stores here in southeast Kansas
employ 'shoppers' for just that purpose, old bag ladies who are (told
to be) so ignorant and distasteful they 'could not possibly know
anything about store procedures'. When management gets word of a
cashier or other employee who may be a miscreant, those old bag ladies
all get in line at that register over a period of a few days, and pass
through that line day after day until their beady little eyes catch
the cashier; something the clerk would not dare do with management or
'another employee' watching them. Then the bag lady gives a report to
the proper management team responsible, secretly of course.

I know how that works because for several months the Chicago Transit
Authority secretly employed me (and others of my nature) to be
'riders' when they wanted to catch subway cashiers who were ripping
them off royally. Obviously the cashier was *not* going to act out
when a supervisor or an 'intelligent' (read: well groomed,
sophisticated person with an important job) was riding the train. CTA
knew it was essential to use old bag ladies or 'bad, smelly, bums' as
riders to get the goods on the crooks. CTA would call and say "ride
through the (name of subway station) on the 3rd shift on weekends for
a few days". What that meant was wear old, ragged, filthy clothes,
act as ignorant as hell, as needed be argumentative with the cashier,
go rushing through the turnstyle in a big hurry, try not to act like
you are looking, but *listen* for the 'fare collected' bell to ring
behind you (or in newer style turnstyles) note if the cashier punches
the 'fare collected' button to light the turnstyle status or if she
'accidentally' punches the button to release the turnstyle on the
basis of 'transfer received' or 'monthly pass'. *Never say a word to
her about it.* Just note the time/date/badge number and as soon as you
can, call (private, unlisted number) to tell the
inspectors. Generally, I just did as they asked me; I can be a 'dumb,
ignorant old customer' if I am asked. Most business places which work
with a large number of customers, and handle a lot of cash, etc employ
people like that to help them out. The 'regular employees' are not
supposed to know about them nor suspect people are hired to
deliberatly watch them and snitch on them. PAT]

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