Debit or credit

BAT’s old credit card machine died. At that point, the saga began.

BAT’s old machine used what is called in the business “store and forward.” That is, BAT would run all of the charges and at the end of the day, we would plug the machine into a phone and line and process all of the credit transactions at one time. To use the machine to take credit cards, no phone lines were needed and no waiting for the card to be processed. No worry, really. Quick and easy.

There was some risk with that. If someone gave us a bogus credit card or were over their limit or if there was not enough money in their account for a debit transaction, BAT would never be paid for that purchase. Kind of like a bad check.

BAT’s system was simple. It did not matter if you used a credit or debit card. Sure, if BAT got a bad card it lost the sales, but we serve theater patrons. In the over ten years I have been at BAT (I can’t believe it has been that long.) BAT has received two bad checks and one bad credit card. That is a risk BAT is willing to take.

When BAT’s credit card machine broke, BAT contacted the bank. After multiple times explaining that BAT’s ticket booth did not have a phone line or an ethernet connection, and the machine could not be connected to anything but power, I was assured the new machine would work just like the old one.

The new machine arrived in the mail. I tried it out. It had to be connected to a phone line to work at all. It was useless. Luckily, it was a week before Rapture, Blister, Burn opened. TICKETS Immediately, BAT was back on the phone to the bank. (Each call consisted of 10 to 20 minute of wait time, of course.) After three calls where I was repeatedly told there was no solution and BAT would simply have to run a phone line out to the ticket booth. (The subtext was BAT was in the stone age, just get with the times. But for many reasons running a phone line was not a possible solution.)

Finally, after getting close to saying bad words, I was given a back number to the “technology group.” When I called, they could not have been nicer. They could see there would be no solution in time for the opening of Rapture, Blister, Burn, so they walked me through downloading a swipe-on-my-phone app and overnighted me a card swiper to use with the phone.

This made it cumbersome to get people a receipt and I did not get records of the charges made unless I went online to check their website. Okay, not impossible, but an extra step that the “old” technology did not require. (It seems the whole purpose of corporate American is to shift more work onto their customers and tell us that it is progress.)

We got through that weekend. So many BAT patrons were so nice. When they pulled out their credit cards and saw my face, they offered to pay in cash. BAT only had eight credit card transactions that weekend, and with a sellout and two near sellouts, that was nothing.

So Monday, Tuesday actually, Monday was a Holiday, back to the phone. With the back number to technology, very little wait time. After another long discussion about the limits of being a small there with just 94 seats who puts its earnings and donations into productions, we came to a solution. A credit card terminal that uses wifi. (Who would have guessed? Certainly, no one else I had talked to on this journey into the dark side of banking.) Again, I cannot stress enough how, once I found knowledgeable people, how much they worked toward a solution, rather than simply telling me, “No,” and putting the burden on me to find a solution.

The new terminal was rush delivered to BAT. It arrived on Thursday, with the next show on Friday. It showed up at about 8:30 pm. (My heart goes out to those who deliver packages. I am sure the person had a very long day.)

To be sure it would work, BAT tried it out. First, we had to program it. (45 minutes there, in part because this was new territory, and the programming was not intuitive.) After multiple attempts, the machine would still not work.

Back to the phone. A good 30 minutes into the call after tiring all sorts of things that I would never have thought of, I casually mentioned that the machine was set to Eastern Standard Time, where the machine came from. We reset the time and date and behold it worked! (Apparently, the terminal’s date and time must be within five minutes of the computer at the other end’s date and time.)

Then to move the credit card machine into the ticket booth. We had been trying it in BAT’s office where the router is located and the wifi signal is the strongest.

In the ticket booth, the credit card machine would not log in to the wifi. I had asked if I had to do the set up each time I moved the machine and was told no. In an effort to avoid another phone call, I tried what turned out to be a shortened set up, and lo and behold, the terminal worked!

What did BAT learn? The old technology is simpler and did all BAT needed. With this update, using the credit card machine went from plugging it in, entering the password, and setting it to accept cards (one button), to plug in the terminal and 16 steps with a password. Ahhhhh, progress!

The BAT new credit card machine will now accept cards with chips in them, but it still will not accept pay-by-phone, I am sure that will add another 10 to 15 steps to set up.

Yes, I admit it, I am getting old. Going from three steps to use BAT’s credit card machine to 16 steps is not, in my mind, progress. Yes, BAT does not have to swipe cards with a chip in them, an “upgrade” done to protect the banks, not the customers. But in exchange, BAT gets to spend much more time turning on its credit card machine.

Regardless of the time added to BAT’s ticket booth set up, BAT will make coming to see Rapture, Blister, Burn, and other shows, as easy as we can for you. Whether you bring cash, checks, cards or even buy online, BAT will do all it can to make your evening special.

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