Monday, February 21, 2005

Chimp and Pin

I was overjoyed today to discover that my local supermarket has now adopted Chip and Pin. This is the system whereby you type in a ATM style number to authenticate your card rather than signing your autograph. They have been doing this for years in the States so it is a bit of a surprise that it has taken so long for Blighty to catch up. And can you remember the last time you signed your signature and the assistant actually checked if it was the same as your card? I can't. This really suits me because my scrawled mark seems to be very different every time I write it, especially when they ask you to sign in a really small space (e.g. back of a credit card) or they give you a fat felt tip pen and expect your signature to be the same as using a Mont Blanc fine ink pen.

So imagine my chagrin when I got to the check out of the next shop and realised that the till monkey in the supermarket had forgotten to give me my card back and that in my high tech revery, as I skipped back to my car, I had not noticed. I slid back into the supermarket in shame to recover my card. Interestingly, I got talking to the store manager and he said that since introducing chip and pin last week they were accidentally retaining an average of 30 cards per day! He showed me the pile that had accrued today and I was astonished to find that two more cards had been left since I left mine a mere 20 minutes before. So I'm not criticising chip and pin or even till monkeys who don't give you your card back. I'm simply observing that any change to the way we do things so often leads to some teething troubles, especially for a chimp like me with the attention span of a forgetful goldfish.

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