Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Cash, Check Or . . .

Doesn’t it seem like everybody takes credit cards anymore? Fast food fare, event tickets, your doctor bill. In Ann Arbor, you can even pay for your on-street parking with a credit card. No more nickels in the meter (like you can pay for parking in downtown Ann Arbor with a nickel—yeah, right).

Anyhoo, Wendy and I were in Twin Falls, Idaho on the last leg of our trip out west. We stopped at a large department store that sold groceries as well as gift-type items. Since we hadn’t had a chance to shop much yet, we filled our grocery cart with everything imaginable. Then we headed to a check-out.

After our total was rung up, close to $80 worth, I handed the cashier our credit card.

“I’m sorry. We don’t take credit cards. Only debit cards, checks and cash.”

WHAT??? Don’t take credit cards??!! Had we crossed over into the Twilight Zone or something? I’m thinking of that one episode where a tired couple accidentally drove onto another planet. Maybe that was the Outer Limits. Still, it didn’t seem like we were on planet Earth.

Wendy reminded me that we had a VISA debit travel card specifically purchased for this trip. Oh, yeah. I pulled that out of my wallet and ran it through the card-reader. It asked for my pin number. Then it asked if I wanted money back from this transaction. No. Let’s keep it simple.

“It won’t take it. It think it’s a credit card,” said the cashier. No, it’s a debit card, I responded. Says so right on the card. I showed her the card, pointing out where it said D-E-B-I-T. I almost gave her the card so she could show it to her computer or something.

“You can try it again,” she offered, unsmiling by the way. I did. Swipe, pin number, no I don’t want cash back.

“It still think it’s a credit card.”

Argghhhh. Did I hear a groan among the shoppers lined up behind me? For sure, they didn’t look happy. Wendy and I emptied our pockets and wallets, giving her all the currency we could gather up. No sense even asking whether they’d take an out-of-state check.

“That’s seventy dollars,” she said. Still short! I checked my wallet again and found a ten dollar bill. Boo-yeah. Paid the bill with two dollars and change to spare. Not enough cash obviously to take us to Michigan from Idaho, so we took our debit card to the ATM in that same store and withdrew $200 from our Visa debit travel card.

Yeah cashier, did you hear that? Your ATM says we’re cool. We got $200, over $100 more than we were asking from you. Your debit card swiper needs to communicate with the other electronic financial instruments in the building and educate itself.


Blogger Lynilu said...

This makes me chuckle. Living the the semi-rural area I do, this didn't seem too odd. There are many businesses that do not take credit OR debit cards! But they will take checks, including out of state ones! yep!

You're just to citified!

9:31 PM  
Blogger TechnoBabe said...

Frustrating. Another reason I like our little town, we can write a check or use any card. I guess it is harder when you are out of your home state. Gads, good thing that between the two of you enough cash could be found.

4:57 AM  
Blogger Big Dave T said...

LYNILU--You're making me think that we should have tried the check maybe. But that would have taken a long time to write out. I was already feeling bad taking as much time as we did with the stupid VISA debit card.

TECHNOBABE--If we were short on cash, I'm not sure what our plan D would have been. The cashier wasn't giving us a lot of options either.

9:09 AM  
Blogger Carine said...

ok, this is weird-I left a comment here earlier and it send it would take a second and it's gone!

Anyway-Dave, I usually don't carry very much cash at all-at the most $20! so if someone had put me through all of that, I would have not been near as patient as you.
I remember a few years ago, we went to some restaurant that said they'd take cash or a check only! Seriously? they'd trust a check more than CC??

7:44 PM  
Blogger Nankin said...

Go figure. I've had instances where they would take a credit card but not debit. Thank God you didn't want cash back. Some of the clerks today don't know how to deal with real money.

7:25 AM  
Blogger Big Dave T said...

CARINE--Coincidentally, one of my jobs is processing returned or NSF checks. You know, it doesn't seem like there's as many of these as there used to be. Must be because a lot of stores electronically connect right then and there to make sure the check is good.

NANKIN--That's my experience, they would rather have a credit card than a debit card. Go figure.

9:08 AM  

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