CHIP, PIN, France and Spain


Wireless Reader

My wife had her Barclaycard rejected in March a number of times while in
France. Barclaycard could not see any transaction attempts on their
system and told me her card must be faulty. However it was quite new
and was CHIP & PIN enabled. The stores in question all swiped her card
- no attempt was made to use the chip. She paid with Amex in each case
to expedite matters.

Today in Spain I had my Barclaycard rejected twice in a store (same
account). The cashier was using a terminal the size of a shoe box with
a wire attached. As is the practice in Spain a passport is required and
inspected first. Then she then swiped my card on two occasions - she
rejected the card. An alternative Visa card met with the same fate. I
asked to see the terminal and she agree to hand it to me. Sure enough
swiping the card failed - with a message which translates to "card only
valid with chip & pin". I located an unmarked slot on the side of the
terminal, slid my card in, it was recognised and she was then advised by
me to follow the onscreen instructions to enter the amount etc. She did
this, paused, explained that she had not been given a PIN and showed me
the screen. I entered my PIN, pressed the only key that seemed sensible
(green - there were no other prompts) and an authorisation message came
up. I removed my card and a paper receipt came out of the reader.

I was then not allowed to leave the store until I had signed the
receipt. I was then given an unsigned copy of the receipt which makes
no mention the transaction was verified by PIN. A call to Barclaycard
confirms I was only charged once though.

With millions of us heading for France and Spain this summer I wonder
how many others will have their cards rejected like this? I wonder as
well whether cashiers will be entering their own PIN's into the
terminals in error, perhaps more than three times and blocking our cards
for us?

Barclaycard confirmed to me that the card is marked as CHIP & PIN and
they would not expect cashiers overseas to extend any descretion and
allow swiping of such cards, as they do in the UK at the moment. I hope
cashier's in France (they should know for goodness sake) and Spain learn
where their CHIP readers are located - even if they are unmarked.




When I was working in France a few years ago we had the apposite problem. We
went into a Pizza place and tried to pay with our visa card. Because there
was no chip on the card the young lady serving us had no idea what to do
with it, somebody else had to come over and show her how to swipe it.





France should not be too much of a problem just remind them that it is a
"carte à puce" they will be more than pleased. I'm looking forward to
it as many cashiers don't have the wrist action for effetively swiping

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