Retailers in Park City grapple with credit card tech shift
Shoppers who are still swiping their credit or debit cards like they always have may not have noticed it, but Oct. 1 marked a major shift for retailers and credit card companies in America.
The beginning of the month was the deadline for retailers nationwide to begin using checkout terminals that accept cards that utilize small computer chips to conclude transactions rather than the magnetic strips that have always adorned the backs of credit and debit cards. While not legally required to provide terminals compliant with the more secure chip-based cards, retailers who haven’t made the switch will now be held liable if cards are used fraudulently in their establishments.
In Park City, reaction to the deadline was mixed. Some retailers have already put in the new credit card machines — which allow customers to insert cards into a slot, rather than swipe — while others say they are in no hurry to make the switch.
Monty Coates, who owns Southwestern Expressions and two other sister stores on Main Street called Pine, said becoming compliant with the new regulations is important. He has had new checkout terminals installed in two of his stores and the third will soon follow suit.
"It’s where the future is going, and we have to change with the times," he said. "It’s expensive to buy the new hardware and upgrade, but we need to be compliant. Although we don’t have to change as fast as the deadline, because we have a pretty low rate of credit card fraud, just because of the type of community we are and the clientele we have."
Ingrid Hallberg, a manager at Burns Cowboy Shop, had a different take. Burns Cowboy Shop has not installed new machines, and she wouldn’t be surprised if many other shops in Park City are also slow to make the switch. She attributed that to several factors, including a perception that the threat of credit card fraud is not as great here as in other cities and that merchants don’t want to change from the terminals they already have.
"There are smaller stores here, more family-owned," she said. "It’s a lot of mom-and-pop stores with a few exceptions. They only own maybe one store, and may already be familiar with the systems that they already have. They are not jumping on the opportunity to get the chip cards."
Another retailer thought having the new credit card machines was important, but not necessarily to keep his company safe from fraud liability. Rather, Tom Terry, a manager at Baranof Jewelers, which has updated its terminals, said ensuring the customers are protected is what’s most crucial. The chip-based cards are much more secure than those with magnetic strips.
"Security is constantly in jeopardy these days," Terry said. "We deal with people all over the world, and it’s really critical that everybody’s resources and information is protected. Pretty much whatever it takes to do that is a good policy. This is a business of trust. Last night, I had people from Shanghai in. Earlier this week, I had people from North Carolina. You never know. And we treat all people equally, and all people deserve every opportunity possible to make sure their information is kept intact."
He added that, in this day and age, security has become one of customers’ primary concerns.
"Some people, by the time I’ve run their credit card, their company has emailed them or is calling them to make sure that they’re actually using the card," he said. "It’s one of those necessary things that may not have even been conceived of a few years ago, but now it’s the way to be. It’s standard operating procedure."
And the good news for customers does not stop with the fact that their transactions will be more secure. Despite a slight difference in how chip cards are used to make a purchase, the process is about as simple as it is with swipe cards (which, by the way, the new machines also still accept).
"For us, it’s the same as it’s always been," Coates said. "I don’t think customers have noticed that much of a difference."
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