Why do restaurants in the US take your credit card, instead of simply bringing the machine to the table for payment?

416 viewsOther

In Canada, I haven’t seen a credit card taken by the waiter for payment since maybe the late 90s. However, the dozens of times that I’ve gone to a sit-down restaurant in the States, I have not once had a waiter bring the machine to the table. Having the machine brought over is much faster and convenient, and allows the customer to be sure of what is charged, so why hasn’t this caught on?

In: Other

31 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

For what it’s worth the industry is shifting, albeit somewhat slower than elsewhere.

Just in the last year about half the places I frequent have started using wireless terminals. And a chunk of the rest allow you to pay via Applepay.

The main reason for the slowness is mainly inertia from costs and not wanting to change. There isn’t really a pressing consumer need for such a setup, even if it is better.

I suspect in 5-10 years it will be the majority.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Registers/readers last a pretty long time. So a place that only has one of them probably just hasn’t needed a new one in a long while.

Portable things can be misplaced. If you are going to get a portable system, you have to train employees so it is available when needed, and/or have extras. (obviously places do have portable systems without issues within the world. But this is a factor that would be considered by whoever decides to change systems, and if they perceive their employees as largely incompetent, it may be a significant factor).

Portable systems require having wifi to run them. If the business didn’t run wifi when they last upgraded their card readers, then they would not have upgraded to portable.

Placing a check on the table and waiting for them to look at it and place down a card, or to pick it up and walk to a register leaves the hospitality message of “take your time” while looming right there at the table with a reader in hand and the customer knowing you have other tables to attend to does put some urgency to the process. The general approach with most restaurants here is to make the customer feel like they can do as they please.

I think the first one I listed is the primary though. Just plain no need to upgrade since this option was reasonably reliable. There are quite a few chain restaurants for dine-in experiences that now have digital menu screens with built in card readers at every table. But there are still franchise locations of those same restaurants that just have the one register up front for you to stop on your way out, or the waiter may take your card from the table if you leave it sitting out for them and they have time.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Most of the US is far behind on Chip technology. Most cards are CHIP and Sign not Chip and PIN.

Many Debit cards are also Chip and sign also. No need for the PIN.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Because that’s how it’s always been done and it costs money to change.

It is becoming more common to see little table stands in the last couple years where you can self-serve and check out when you’re ready, usually only at big chains in my experience, like Chilis and places like that.

Anonymous 0 Comments

As a Brit this was legit one of the weirdest things about America that I wasn’t expecting. Literally everywhere here does chip and pin/contactless payment. Random people taking my card away and doing something with it and being able to see all the numbers left me in constant fear of being defrauded 😂

Anonymous 0 Comments

Because the US refuses to move to chip and pin and uses chip and signature that is much less secure.

Anonymous 0 Comments

We didn’t put in any PIN mandates or anything that make it difficult to operate the old way and people don’t care much so its not like it’s driving your business or anything. 

Why WOULD they change?

Anonymous 0 Comments

Newer restaurants mostly do. Older ones don’t want to spend thousands of dollars upgrading a system that basically works perfectly fine as is. Pretty much that simple.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Because the “machine” is a computer tower that is running a POS on Windows 97. Not every restaurant is running their POS on state of the art tech.

Anonymous 0 Comments

I eat out pretty regulary in Houston and I cannot remember the last time a waitperson did not have a handheld machine…