Friday, October 28, 2005

The Plastic Bag And Credit Card Mystery

I spent much of my time working as a cashier while at work on Thursday. This meant that I dealt with a lot of credit cards. I probably dealt with well over 100 purchases that were paid this way. With all those credit cards, I ran into quite a few that didn't scan correctly. Therefore, I had to use a surprisingly simple trick to make those cards work. It's one that is a little unusual and ever since learning about it from another cashier, I've always wondered why it works.

The trick involves the use of a standard white plastic bag (I've never tried it with any other color). If a credit card won't scan correctly after a couple of tries, place the credit card inside the plastic bag. After that, take the credit card (while it's still in the plastic bag) and scan it. The previously troublesome card should scan with no problem.

When I first saw someone do this, I was really surprised that it worked. How could a thin layer of plastic suddenly make an unreadable credit card readable? I never really asked anyone about that but frankly, I don't think any of the cashiers know why it works either. I'm just grateful it works since it's a pain in the ass to manually enter in the credit card information. The interesting thing about this trick is that it seems to be known by other cashiers elsewhere too. I had to use the plastic bag trick to help someone and that person told me that she worked at a local furniture store where they, too, knew about that trick and often did it. The funny thing is that I never ever saw anyone do this trick until I started working at the store I'm at.

With Christmas coming up (and likely a lot of hours for me as a cashier), I will probably have to use this trick a lot more. It's a little, interesting miracle of science and it makes the job of cashier a little bit easier to deal with.

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