Posted by: Jessica | October 1, 2010

Victory Is Mine!

Victory Is Mine!

Stewie from Family Guy - Victory Is Mine!

Kyle and I went to EntertainMart for the first time on 2010-09-30, to check out their selection of BluRays. I had a little bit of a confrontation with their employees. I decided to call this post “Victory Is Mine” because as we were walking out, I quietly quoted Stewie from Family Guy, to celebrate my vindication.

Why MasterCard is Awesome, In My Humble Opinion

So, many people don’t know this, but if you use a Mastercard, the merchant cannot require any identification to use a valid card (A card must be signed to be considered valid). That means that any time a merchant (store) requests your ID to make a purchase with your MasterCard, you can say “No”. They signed a contract with MasterCard, you signed a contract with MasterCard. These are legal contracts. (If you don’t believe me, I included links and quotes at the bottom under “Prove It”)

So, what happens when a merchant requires ID to make a purchase? (And by requires, I mean you decline to show it, and they refuse to complete the transaction. I don’t mean ask. They can ask, they cannot require). You can actually report them to Mastercard, using this handy online form.

So What Happens In Real Life?

As we all know, merchants ask for ID all the time, with the excuse that it’s “for your protection”. When a cashier asks for ID, I say “You may not see my ID, but you certainly may compare the signature on the back of my card with the one on the receipt after I sign it”. At this point, either the merchant isn’t a dummy and they’ll continue the transaction, or they’ll hand you your card back and say they can’t take the card without ID. If that happens, I inform them that their contract with MasterCard says they cannot require ID, and if they are going to require ID I will be reporting them to MasterCard via the merchant violation form. If they still don’t want to accept the card, I take out my phone and fill in the form right then and there while I have all their info handy. I also contact their corporate office to let them know about the experience.

What Happened This Time?

In the EntertainMart store, apparently their registers are actually programmed to ask for ID if the purchase is over a certain amount. Now, notice I said “ask for” ID. I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt here, because usually when this happens the cashiers and managers and sometimes even higher-ups, translate “ask for” ID into “require” ID. Remember, they can ask – but they can’t require.

The cashier asked for my ID, I said my standard line “no, but you can compare, blah blah”. He handed me back the card (and oddly, the movies which I hadn’t paid for yet, but he had already put the discs into the boxes, so shouldn’t he have held onto those? I digress.) and told me that he couldn’t accept it. I told him, yes, you can, it’s a valid card, it’s signed. He then (kinda freaked out and) took the card back (as I was trying to show him it was in fact valid and signed) and said “Why won’t you show me your ID?” along with some other exclamations of shock. It was like this teenager had never had someone question his authority on something, it was quite amusing, only because of his level of disbelief that I was flat out refusing. I told him I wanted to speak to a manager, and he directed me to the Customer Service desk.

I went there, and told the manager what happened. He said something along the lines of “Ok, that’s our policy is that we require ID over a certain amount.” I explained to him how that was against their agreement with MasterCard, and if they refused to complete the purchase I would report them to MasterCard. He looked really confused, but agreed to ring it up. While he was doing so, another employee asked me why I didn’t want to.

So, Why Don’t I Just Show My ID?

There are a ton of reasons I don’t. I think the two most important are almost tied.

  • It’s in the contract that they can’t require it, so I don’t HAVE to. My standard line here is “I’m not driving, and you’re not a law enforcement officer.” (Okay, I use the word Cop, whatever)
  • It does no good to prevent any fraud.

I’ll explain those two reasons in more detail, but here are the others:

  • I don’t carry ID into stores. The only ID I have is a Driver’s License. If I’m not driving, there’s no reason I should have to show it to anyone. Did you know if a cop asks you to identify yourself and you are NOT operating a motor vehicle, you don’t have to show your Driver’s License? You just have to give verbal information.
  • It slows down the process. Yes, me refusing may end up taking more time when the merchant doesn’t know their own contract, but when merchants follow the rules, a credit card purchase is as fast and easy as it’s supposed to be. If you do take out your ID, it’s now taken you longer than if they hadn’t. If you don’t show ID, it takes even longer. The merchant requiring ID removes one of the appeals of the credit card – swipe, sign, and say “have a nice day!”
  • It can actually facilitate fraud and violence. This is my least important reason, because I find it most unlikely, but other people think it’s most important. Some people want to protect their kids from having their address broadcast to the public. Some are afraid of anti-gay or transgender violence. Some are afraid of photographic memories. I’m least concerned about this, but I can see how it’s a viable threat.
  • Just in case anyone gets their panties in a twist – I show my ID to buy alcohol. Just not at the same time as my credit card. I like booze more than I worry about someone memorizing my info, which is why that reason is at the bottom of the list.

We already went over the contract thing, but it’s important to know WHY that’s so important.

If A Business Will Violate A Legal Contract, What Else Will They Do?

If they can’t abide by the contract they signed with ANOTHER company, why would they abide by their own rules? What’s to stop them from breaking their own return agreements, warranty agreements, etc? Not to mention, they can’t seem to grasp the fact that their “policy” does not override a legally binding contract. I want them to follow their policies – but only if their policies are LEGAL.

Businesses are often misinformed about service dog access laws, laws about when they can make a shoplifting accusation and other aspects of doing business that they should KNOW about. Hold yourself accountable and hold others accountable for their actions!!

Why Doesn’t The Merchant Checking My ID Help Me?

First of all, if someone does use your credit card information and you report the fraud, you’re only liable for $50 at most. However, most of the time even that $50 is waived. If you’re safe about using your card and protecting that information, you’ll know if you lose your card to report it stolen, etc etc. The only entity who looses out is the merchant. They know that, that’s WHY they insist on this ID checking business. However it doesn’t help them either, and I’ll explain why later. But don’t buy into this “for your protection” nonsense. It’s for the protection of the business. I like businesses, and I certainly don’t want them to be defrauded. I don’t like being lied to though. Sadly, credit card processing fees are a part of the cost of business, and now-a-days credit card fraud is too. There are lots of protections against fraud already that are more effective than ID checking.

What Exactly Are They “Checking” On Your ID?

If you do show your ID, you’ve probably seen what happens. The cashier glances at it, and hands it right back. Did they look at the signature on the ID and compare it to the card’s signature? Did they compare the name on the card to the name on your ID? Did they even look at you and compare the photo?

Next time you offer up your ID, once they’ve returned your card and ID, ask them what your name is. If they can’t tell you immediately after handing back your card and ID, how could they have remembered it long enough to compare one to the other? Maybe ask them how many times they’ve had someone’s ID not match their card. If you’re showing ID, you’re not protecting yourself. Anyone can, quite easily, decline. (If I ever have a merchant refuse to the point where I cannot make the purchase, I will post it, believe me. That will be the one company you can shop at if you believe showing ID protects you.)

An Anecdote – Why It Doesn’t Help To Show Your ID

So, I first researched whether or not Merchants could require ID right after I got married. I called up my bank, and let them know I had gotten married, and asked what info they needed in order to change my name on all my accounts? Well, without actually needing any info, they changed the name on my credit card and sent it on over. Then, I got a little lazy and didn’t update my ID for 6 months.

For the next six months, I eagerly showed my ID, waiting for a clerk to cry FRAUD! I’d have been happy to be denied then, maybe it would have gotten me over to DPS to change my name! When I finally got around to it, not a single merchant had denied my purchase, despite the fact that my name didn’t match my card.

Now, before you suggest maybe the clerks realized I had gotten married, and just hadn’t gotten around to updating one of those cards, think of this: My first name is the most common female name for a woman born in the year I was.

Think of how many people lose their credit cards or have them stolen, and don’t cancel it before any transactions can be made. Must be a lot, right? Otherwise the merchants wouldn’t be all up in arms about requiring ID. Now, out of all of those, PLENTY of them have got to be around my age, give or take a few years. I can usually pass for a few years older, or younger if I’m trying to buy booze. Anyway, obviously about half of those must be women (except, women are 26% more likely to experience credit card fraud, so let’s assume 2/3 of them are women that lost their cards, and are close to my age.)

How hard would it be to find someone with the same first name? Not hard.

If you believe that is too much of a coincidence, let’s look at my ID and card now. The names finally match. My ID has a photo of me – wearing no makeup, with my hair pulled back so you can actually barely see it. Since then, I’ve started wearing makeup, and dyed my hair, and I style it. If I have a cap on (which I wear fairly often) and my hair tucked into it (that’s how I wear a baseball cap!) and you’ve just looked at my ID, shouldn’t you know what color my hair is? Since you can’t tell from looking at me, do you know that it matches what’s on my ID? (Hint: it doesn’t!) Did you check how tall my ID says I am? Ok, ok, so I lied by a half an inch on my ID – but shouldn’t you be checking that it’s not a fake ID with ridiculous information? If Credit Cards are so easy to fake, why do you trust my ID at a single glance?

What The Heck Is Your Point Miss Most Common First Name?

A clerk is not checking anything. They’re running through the motions. I’ve been a cashier, and I’ve been a cashier at a store that required ID, and I’ve been a customer and handed over my ID. When I was checking ID, I never had someone refuse, and I never had an name not match (I actually checked. I knew most people didn’t. I didn’t however compare signatures or photos, I was young).

But Everyone Does It

Sadly, most people are misinformed about this policy, even the banks that issue the cards! I called my bank and was asking them some generic questions about this, and the representative told me it is up to the store, and he hopes they do require it! I pointed out that I was looking at the actual document from MasterCard which states they cannot require ID, and he didn’t really have a response for that.

In Summary…

Look, I’m not saying you CAN’T show your ID. I’m not saying they can’t ask! I’m saying they can’t require it, and as long as MasterCard stipulates that a merchant can’t require ID, I won’t show it. I’m not paranoid, I know that not everyone I deal with is trying to steal my identity. I’m not worried about random strangers trying to assault me. But I don’t respect undeserved authority. Just because a cashier says so, doesn’t make it true.

I don’t show my ID to anyone unless I’m legally required. I don’t tell people why I have a SD beyond the extent the law requires. I will not consent to unlawful searches and seizures. These things may seem little and inconsequential to you, but when everyone starts giving in and granting authority over their lives to anyone who wants it, over little things, next they’ll be asking for bigger things.

This time, the merchant agreed to take the card without ID. I still reported them to MasterCard. I also contacted MasterCard about getting some more info on this topic. As I was leaving, I felt I had won that battle, so to Kyle I quietly quoted Stewie from Family Guy, to celebrate my vindication. There have been other times when I refused to give ID and the merchant didn’t argue about it. This was the first real time I fought it, after months of wanting to stand up to a clerk on this issue. (In the past if they’d refused I would just decide to end the purchase, but I was getting sick of not buying stuff I wanted. I’m a consumer, so what?)

Prove It

Okay, but this might get long. Here’s MasterCard’s “Rules” document (PDF). It’s on page 111 of that document, section 5.8.4.

5.8.4 Additional Cardholder Identification

A Merchant must not refuse to complete a Transaction solely because a Cardholder who has complied with the conditions for presentment of a Card at the POI refuses to provide additional identification information, except as specifically permitted or required by the Standards. A Merchant may require additional information from the Cardholder if the information is required to complete the Transaction, such as for shipping purposes. […]

I’m currently waiting for MasterCard to get back to me with details about the conditions for presentment.

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