Posts tagged “credit card”

Where Credit Is Due

Magnises is a new sort-of-credit-card that evokes an ultra-elite black card. It’s not actually a credit card, though. As they describe it

Each Magnises member carries our distinctive metal membership card, which extends and enhances their pre-existing credit or debit card, and provides perks, benefits, and access to numerous high-end brands. Upon admittance, Magnises will construct a card for each new member. Magnises will then extend the magnetic signature from the member’s personally owned credit or debit card onto their new Magnises card.

Yep, that’s right. You get a metal card that looks like a credit card but simply has the credit card data copied onto it – from the credit card you already own. While there are perks, no doubt, with this card, it is not actually the thing it denotes. It’s merely a gussied-up package for the quotidian plastic in your wallet (well, maybe not your wallet, if you are reading this it’s unlikely you are cool enough to qualify).

As a species, our ability to create meaning out of almost nothing – and then charge money for the performance of that meaning – is astonishing.

For more, see

Magnises Black Card Has Its Privileges (Well, Sort Of) [NYT]

Learned Behavio(u)r

One of the fun yet challenging aspects of spending two weeks in another country was stumbling over all the little things that I know how to do back home but didn’t work. I paid for a snack using pocket change, and eventually had to hold the pile of coins out to the counter dude so he could take the right amount. The coins say their value, in English, but in order to complete a transaction in the normal amount of time, you have to be familiar. It was an interesting feeling, to be such a foreigner.

At another point, I was riding the DLR (train) with my Oyster (smart card). A conductor comes along to swipe the card and there’s a small interaction where the passenger holds out the card and the conductor holds out the wand (yes, it was a wand, not the usual credit-card-swipey-slot thing). I wanted to put my card on top of his wand, but he wanted to put his wand on top of my card. I was just supposed to know the gesture. Sounds like a bit of a dominance issues, actually.

In using the self-check at Tesco (a grocery store), I realized the software was the same as what I’ve seen here at Home Depot, etc. but when it came time to pay, the voice prompt told me to insert my card into the chippenpin device. Turns out this was Chip-and-PIN, where credit cards and/or ATM cards have extra security via an embedded chip, and an associated PIN. These readers use a different swipe gesture, with the card going in the bottom of the keypad. Anyway, I stood there with my non-chipped credit card, putting it in and out of this bottom slot, to no avail. After I surrendered and paid cash, I realized there was the familiar vertical swipe slot along the bezel of the monitor, a different piece of hardware than the chippenpin.

And this one was subtle but confounding:
This is the TV remote from my Paris hotel room but the London hotel had a similar issue. In my experience, the red power button turns the TV on and turns the TV off. But in both these hotel rooms (and maybe this was a hotel issue more than a Euro issue) the way to turn it was to press the channel buttons. Enter a channel and the TV would go on and display that channel. The power button was actually on “off” button. You can imagine me sitting in front of the TV with a remote and trying to turn it on, in vain, until frustrated random button press gave me the result I wanted.

I often look around at local transit and marvel at how much the cues and other information in those systems are designed for people who already know how to use them; but I was able to plan for and learn about transit enough to be come a fairly comfortable user. It was these small interactions without cues, and under time pressure, where I found myself bemusedly incompetent.

Swiping Slot Blocked

The local Macy’s store has modified all their card reading boxes so that the card swiping slot is blocked. That t-shaped blob of plastic along the right side is where the slot used to be.

The software hasn’t changed, however, and while your purchases are being run up you are asked (as always) to swipe the card. I looked for quite a while, feeling stupid, trying to to figure out where the heck to put my card.

There was no place.

They also have not changed their staff training, so there was no mention of what to do or not do with the card.

Eventually, they take the card from you and swipe it themselves, and you return to the device to “sign” the purchase.


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