A few weeks back, I was eating dinner with my father at his favorite neighborhood diner. I picked up the bill and walked over to the cashier to settle up. I pulled out my new ‘EMV’ chip MasterCard and performed the new dip maneuver instead of ‘swiping’ at the updated payment terminal.
(More on this later…)
The lady at the register asked me if I wanted to add a tip to the bill. I immediately felt confused by the shift in payment sequence. For decades, I’ve added the tip after the payment slip comes out of the terminal’s printer.
She must have sensed my imbalance and politely volunteered that tips now have to be added before the transaction goes through when using these new chip cards.
So I professed my numerical opinion on the waiter’s service, and that was the end of that.
Still… this was all very different than the standard anonymity provided by secretly writing a tip onto the payment slip.
Fighting Credit Card Fraud
Sure, these microchip credit cards are said to be more secure than the old technology in magnetic stripe cards, although my new chip card still has a magnetic stripe on its back.
And there’s been a sudden rush by U.S. retailers to install new chip card terminals, because of the recent ‘counterfeit liability shift’ decisions by American Express, Discover, MasterCard and Visa. This shift makes retailers responsible for fraudulent credit cards transactions if they don’t use chip-enabled card readers to process EMV-equipped cards.
(Liability used to be handled by the card issuers.)
It’s clear we’re currently in transition in the U.S. where both card technologies are still in use.
(Chip technology has been the standard protocol in Europe and Asia for years…)
But honestly, I’m not sure what to expect the next time I walk into a restaurant…
Dip. Don’t Swipe
Of course, this is the obvious functional change you need to learn. You have to vertically dip your card into a slot and leave it there until the terminal beeps at you to retrieve your card…
(Swiping is so passé.)
A Counter Seat
If you’re sitting in a diner or at a bar counter, you need to add your tip to the tab as part of the initial chip card transaction.
I suppose that’s not such a big adjustment, because you’re dealing with someone else other than your waiter or waitress. You’re free to express your feelings however you like…
But if you’re dining at a restaurant where someone used to whisk your check away with your credit card, I think you’re going to need to learn a new dance… and quick!
You’d better feel comfortable publicly giving a smaller tip for mediocre service.
Because now you’ll have to do it while looking at that restaurant employee straight in the face.
(Via a hand-held payment terminal at your table or even worse… you’ll have to dictate the amount.)
This scene hasn’t actually happened to me yet.
(No portable card reader has silently appeared at my side while I’m finishing up my after-dinner tea with my dad.)
I wonder if that’s because the restaurants I frequent are choosing to use my chip card’s magnetic stripe to maintain the customer’s ‘classic’ experience as long as possible…?
I did a little online research about this evolution in digital commerce at restaurants…
- Will You or Won’t You?
Depending on the type of chip card you have, sometimes you’ll have to tip in advance… other times you won’t.
- Chip-and-Pin Cards
There are differences between ‘chip-and-signature’ and ‘chip-and-pin’ cards.
(The latter always requires the new dance at your table.)
- Tip Tolerance
Apparently, even when using a chip-and-signature card, you can technically still add in 15-20% after the original transaction goes through.
(So unless you’re an unusually gracious tipper, does that mean nothing really has to change in your payment process after all?)
Once everyone’s credit cards have been replaced with chip versions here in the States, I imagine we’ll finally see some consistency in the experience.
Until then, I wish you unending positivity while dining out.
Oh, one last tip…
Don’t forget to take your card when you’re done with your dip…
That would create quite a blip in your trip.