Friday, July 23, 2004

This Seems True to Me - Especially for Transactions Under $2

One of my pet peeves are people who make micro-transactions using plastic - like $2 at Starbucks or $4 for milk (in the cash-only line). These people always seem to do this when there is a long line behind them, and they pull out their credit card after they have been rung up - and they were already standing in line for 5 minutes. My main beef is that these people are totally oblivious of the time they are taking up of those around them - these small transactions take several minutes to swipe the plastic, get the receipt, sign, get their copy of the receipt, and put it in their wallet (these people rarely get out of the way while they stand there putting up their receipt). Forking over a $5 and getting $3 change takes a few seconds. As I sit there and wait, I always want to shout, "You don't have TWO DOLLARS on you?!?"

I understand everyone runs out of cash from time to time, so I would understand this happening every once in a while. But it seems to happen all the time: a whole line of people using plastic for $3 lattes. Turns out this hasn't been my imagination: Card Transactions Hold Majority in U.S.(no direct link to article)
For the first time, Americans used cards -- credit, debit and others -- to buy retail goods and services more often than they used cash or check in 2003.
The article does point out that some fast-food outlets, like McDonalds, have waived the signature requirement, speeding up the transaction, but it is still much slower than cash. The coming use of cellphones for an electronic purchase, however, does seem be the right model since in this case the transaction would be more immediate and take the same time as a cash purchase.

I'm one of those people who usually has a ready supply of cash on me for my day-to-day purchases, but I am definitely becoming a minority.

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