November 2007


Gimme Me More

One of the pleasures of visiting America is to go shopping whilst taking advantage of prices that are lower than prices in Europe.

One Euro is currently worth US$1.44, which meant that my $70 purchase at Kohl’s will only cost me 48€: for the price of a part of a single pair of pants in Germany, I got two in America! Unfortunately my time at Kohl’s was marred by an uninformed cashier, who, after I gave her my credit card asked for my ID. Since I know the rules, I refused.

“My signature’s on the back and, presuming it matches my signature on the receipt, you have no right to see my ID,” I said (or something to that effect).

Trying to be slick, she said my signature was faded, and showed it to me. Little did she know: that squiggle on the back of my card is my signature—and it wasn’t faded; a fact she admitted while calling two (2) different managers seeking permission to accept my credit card without seeing my ID.

“This gentleman refuses to show me his ID; the signature on the back looks like the signature the machine captured,” she said over the phone. She actually described my signature in detail on both the back of my card and on my receipt, noting that they matched. It was a bit surreal to hear this woman say in one second that the signatures matched but then in the next say that wasn’t sufficient proof for Kohls.

Eventually, after a great deal of talking, the cashier begrudgingly accepted my credit card (which had been already been authorized and I had already signed for), noting that she was only following store rules and that she didn’t want to be fired. Naturally I explained that the store rules she was violating were in direct violation of MasterCard policy, which states that as long as the signatures match, there is no need for ID:

9.11.2 Cardholder Identification
A merchant must not refuse to complete a MasterCard card transaction solely because a cardholder who has complied with the conditions for presentment of a card at the POI refuses to provide additional identification information, except as specifically permitted or required by the Standards. A merchant may require additional identification from the cardholder if the information is required to complete the transaction, such as for shipping purposes. A merchant in a country or region that supports use of the MasterCard Address Verification Service (AVS) may require the cardholder’s ZIP or postal code to complete a cardholder-activated terminal (CAT) transaction, or the cardholder’s address and ZIP or postal code to complete a mail order, phone order, or e-commerce transaction.

It surprises me that a massively large department store chain like Kohl’s would have policies that directly violate the rules set out by MasterCard—however, I will still shop there in the future and argue my point; especially since I can point to the specific section of the MasterCard Merchant Rules Manual that supports my claim. I’ve also complained to their offices and reported their merchant violation to MasterCard.

I find the number of places that are needlessly demanding identification a bit disturbing—and the fact that people go along with it, is a bit strange to me. Why should I need to show my ID when purchasing a pair of pants from Kohl’s? Does a low-level cashier understand how to read a US passport or a German Driver’s License? In the case of the former, I doubt it: she’s not trained to identify real IDs and would probably object to my well worn passport, while in the case of the later, a Driver’s License really only demonstrates one thing: the person pictured knows how to drive.

Next time some idiot asks for your ID and it doesn’t make sense, complain. The right to privacy is shrinking, only individuals can protect it.

Bureaucracy really needs to Leave Britney Alone and we need to Expect Great Things.

7 comments to Gimme Me More

  • Personally, this is an instance where I’d prefer they ask for a photo ID to make sure I’m the person that is authorized to use the card. As I’ve noted previously, the signature on the back proves nothing.

    I’m not sure why you balked, I’d be happy they asked.

    This doesn’t mean I’d want people to just ask for my ID randomly, but I think verifying I am who the credit card is issued to is a case I think is appropriate.

    Now, if they were asking for my social security number, I would have balked… as I have SEVERAL times this week.

  • I balk because I fulfilled the terms of the MasterCard agreement. They were specifically violating the very document they’ve agreed to.

  • Ed

    Dear Sir: If you had completed the information to receive our Kohl’s Card, and paid for your purchase with that we would not have had to resort to the harrassment and bother you experienced. WE are pushing our Cards because you the consumer do not realize we charge high interest and that the number of store cards you have actually lowers your credit rating. Have a nice day.

  • Being in the card industry myself, I’ve done the “refuse, wait for manager, walk away with satisfaction that justice as been done” but it gets a bit old after a while. I rather like how Target approaches things — put card in slot, squiggle the pen, take card out of slot, walk away.

  • J

    You should have whipped out the German driver’s license to really confuse her.

  • I think MasterCard is making it really easy to commit credit card fraud, and you’d think they’d be working to prevent it. It’s way too easy to mimic someone’s hastily scrawled signature, thereby creating a world of trouble of the card was actually stolen.

    Mastercard’s policy seems to cater to the bad guys rather than to it’s own customers and the best interest’s of the company.

    (This coming from someone who had his card stolen and numerous purchases totaling close to $4000 added to his card with a phony signature)

  • B.

    Wow, it’s been so long since I’ve used my credit card for anything other than reservations that I’d forgotten it could actually purchase stuff in stores.

    I’ve been in Germany too long… heh

    p.s. Kohl’s rules!