No user would do that

Still on Iceland

Being in a foreign country gives you a chance to visit shops that you haven´t been before. And doing so has heightened my attention to curious software behavior. Today we went out for some groceries at the Bonus supermarket. Untill we got to the check out nothing exciting happened. While waiting in line I noted some commotion by a customer as he argued with the cashier. Even if my Icelandic is not that well I could make out that the man had bought groceries for 30.213 ISK (approx. 200 USD) and had tried to pay with his credit card. Unfortunately for him the cash register signalled that his credit was insufficient to match the amount to pay. He however disagreed and demanded that the cashier tried again.

This system had been tested

Probably against her better knowledge she tried again so she could convince the client. As she tried again I noted a change in the layout of the cash registers touch screen. I couldn´t help myself and tried to see what  had changed. I noted that a red button had moved to the side of the screen (later I looked up its meaning and it said ‘Cancel Payment’) and a new grey button had appeared on the screen. The text on the button caught my eye as it was not in Icelandic but in English and said:

*TEST* Use another card *TEST*

To my surprise and probable to hers aswell she pushed where the red button had been and hit the new button. As far as I could tell the screen seemed to have returned to its former state. However the cashier caught the difference. The line displaying the  amount paid now had a value saying 15.107 ISK with the line below it saying the amount to pay was 15.106 ISK. The cash register had accepted half of the amount to pay from the previously overdrawn credit card, but still had an open amount. The cashier was puzzled. The customer less so and readily offered his girlfriends credit card to pay the rest. To no avail. Nothing happened, the cash registers screen locked and the cashier, her colleague and eventually her manager could not unlock the screen let alone solve the problem. The check out line closed, we paid at another line, and as we were leaving the shop I could just hear the manager calling a service desk…

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3 thoughts on “No user would do that

  1. A story that makes me smile. I am wondering what triggered this behaviour, since the credit card payment must have functioned without problems for quite some time.
    Above a certain amount? Weird credit card? Defective chip on the card? Timing issues? Heat? Electrical particle discharge from northern lights? Evil spirits?

    BTW: I have on several occasions paid with my credit card where the charge was refused the first time and a retry worked just fine.

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  2. This is just so fascinating. You did not notice the brand of the cash register? Since I have tested some POS solutions I have a couple of ideas already.

    About Ilaris credit card issues, they are usually related to the connection to the bank from the credit card device. But the issues you described on the actual register should not in any way be caused by that device, since they are usually highly decoupled.

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  3. I think that for every tester reading your fascinating post it itches really bad… questions would like to be asked.

    Wouldn’t it be cool if we had a “investigator-tester-ID”, and when we stumble onto occurrences like these in the real world, we could say:
    “Step aside please mam, I*m a professional tester and I will investigate the test-scene” 😉

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