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Diatribe: Hand-Held Portable Cash Registers.

03/03/2013

JCPenneyI did some shopping at the mall today.  I hadn’t been there in quite some time but I was on a mission.  I went, specifically, to JC Penney and was surprised to learn that they no longer use cash registers.  I was greeted by a woman who appeared to work there who was wearing a sort of fanny pack/shoulder holster thing that carried a small wireless device that resembled a smart phone.

I found some really nice drapes on sale and decided to buy two panels.

The sales associate used her device to scan the bar code on each package and asked me how I would be paying.  I handed her my credit card and she swiped the magnetic stripe along the side of the little machine.  Then she turned it over to reveal a keypad where I was to enter my PIN number.

At no point during the transaction was I afforded the opportunity to see the mathematics involved.

I always watch the screen at the checkout counter like a detective on a stake out.  I may be old-fashioned but I don’t always have a lot of confidence that the price I expect to pay will be the same as what I’m actually charged.  There have been many times that my observations have proven beneficial.  Particularly at the grocery store, when items are often scanned twice by accident.

Before I agreed to enter my PIN number, I asked to see the calculations because I wanted to be certain that I was paying the sale price.  The clerk handed the device to me and showed me that the screen was, essentially, the same as what had been on their old cash registers.  But it was super tiny and I couldn’t read it.

They’re making a lot of changes at JC Penney but I don’t like this one.  She explained to me that the handheld registers would eventually be replacing the traditional machines.  Apparently, the fact that they’ll be able to take payments anywhere within the store is going to be a revolutionary customer service.  While I’m the first to lose patience when there’s a long line at the checkout, I think I’d prefer to wait for the larger monitor so that I could actually see what’s going on.  I imagine that customers paying with cash will have to go to a special place to pay.

Have you encountered a hand-held cash register?  What did you think?

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18 Comments
  1. What happens if you want to pay cash?

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  2. i saw something similar at the last bird fair i went to. it feels like an odd thing for a permanent retail outlet. i can imagine trying to figure out where a line should form, and how to keep up with which items have been scanned and which haven’t, and thieves who act like store personnel and have similar devices they’ll use to steal my credit card number… i’m a suspicious person, i guess, but i see all kinds of possibilities for abuse here. did you get a printed receipt?

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  3. I would imagine that your’s is a test store. I’d also think that it maybe regulated to certain departments. I can’t imagine this working for cloths.

    The only place I’ve seen this has been in the Apple Stores and they created the technology specifically for their stores and then sold it. It works incredibly well there. They can print out the receipt or email it to you or both. They also have hidden cash draws and printers in the same tables that they have their displays. Last year I bought my iphone and several things since then using the Apple Store App which allows me to buy anything in the store (that’s stocked on the floor)- without help! You just have to ask for a bag if you need one. I usually don’t need a bag because I bring my own everywhere in the mall – my Ikea blue bag was a godsend for holiday shopping – but I love having Apple Store bags!

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  4. I agree. I want to see what I am paying for. There are too many mistakes at the register and sales prices are sometimes coded incorrectly. Good post. BTG

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  5. I use my iPhone to take debit and credit cards in my massage therapy practice. I make it a point to show my clients exactly what it is that they are paying for, and how much. This, unfortunately, is the future of payments; Square even has an electronic ‘wallet’ that lets my client pay me from his phone without my ever having to do anything at all. It’s a bit strange, but convenient for both of us since the transactions have a paper trail like you wouldn’t believe.

    Ovation/Diatribe aside, get used to it. There’s no sense in railing against something you have no control over.

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    • I see your point and, in your situation, I’m sure it’s quite convenient for accepting simply payments. What I find frustrating is the fact that I didn’t get to see the calculations that created the transaction total. Part of the problem, for me, was the fact that the device was so hard for me to see.

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    • “Ovation/Diatribe aside, get used to it. There’s no sense in railing against something you have no control over.”

      lol i see plenty of sense in expressing opinions on any subject that comes up. i don’t have to have the ability to control a thing to have an opinion on it

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  6. The Old Heave Ho permalink

    I understand small vendors at like outdoor events.. ie farmers markets but when I was at Bath and Bodyworks and the cash register was right there… it was ridiculous! Why change it? I didn’t get it and I did the survey to tell them it too.

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  7. I can see this being a godsend during heavy shopping seasons like Christmas where a person with 1 or 2 items can be scanned without taking up space in the Register Line. For only 1 or 2 items you should be able to tell if you’re being charged the right amount.

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  8. That is crazy! I am right there with you – I like to see the math as the items are put into the register. I think I would hate that!

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  9. I was wondering how safe are these hand held devices to keep my info from being compromised?

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  10. I was wondering how safe are these devices to keep my info from being compromised?

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