Fri | Jan 19, 2018

POS errors cost money and convenience

Published:Monday | May 8, 2017 | 12:00 AM


On occasion, I have tried to complete a point-of-sale (POS) debit transaction at a retail vendor, and the card machine gives an error message, such as 'no access'. The cashier will then run the card again a couple more times to see if the transaction will go through.

Although the POS system indicated that the transactions did not go through, when I checked my bank, all the transactions had indeed been finalised and a corresponding debit was made from my account, including fees. Please note this is the third occurrence of this problem over the past five years.

When I made contact with NCB, I was informed that the debits would be reversed, including all fees, within three to five business days.

Luckily, I have other accounts and can wait the three to five days, but what about those who cannot afford to be without access to their funds for such a long period?

During this time, customers cannot pay their bills, taxes (and ensuing penalties for late submission), child-care fees, buy food, pay electricity bills and satisfy other important obligations. This also affects the customer's creditworthiness, as credit card and mortgage payments, and hire-purchase obligations cannot be made on time.

It is difficult to go without food, electricity, etc, while your hard-earned money is not accessible to you.

The algorithms for the POS systems, I am sure, can be written in a manner that precludes the above situation from occurring. Furthermore, the period to remedy this situation is much too long. Many companies now require their staff to open bank accounts to facilitate the direct deposit of their salaries/wages. This action effectively deprives the customer of their full week's wages or monthly salary when this banking anomaly occurs.

When the above error occurs on the weekend, customers are deprived of the use of their funds for up to a full week!

Is there any humanity in this?