Can I have some privacy pls

Typical debit card transaction machine, branded to McDonalds.

Image via Wikipedia

I got my ATM pin number a week after I got my ING Vysya Maestro Debit Card (salary account) which happens to be the norm. The pin came with a note which stated quite clearly that I keep the pin number to myself and not disclose it to anyone no matter who it is.. mother, girlfriend or he-must-not-be-named who decided to rob me for some weird reason known only to him.

And yes guard the PIN I did, until I came across a new bunch of people. Lets call them IDIOTS (why? Because they were.. duh!!). So what did they do to deserve my wrath.. Its a long tale so read on

Incident 1

Location: PVR Cinemas, Forum Mall

Me: Two tickets for XYZ movie pls

Idiot-1(from across the counter): Would you prefer aisle seats? Back row okay?

Me: Ya thats good. So how much would that be?

Idiot-1: Rs.$^% sir

Me: Okay.. You accept maestro?

Idiot-1:Ya sure.

(I hand over card and he swiped it..)

Idiot-1: What is your PIN sir?

(I give him a blank stare; no not the piercing one)

Me: Why do you want my PIN?

Idiot-1:To enter here sir (points at the swiping machine)

Me: Move the machine here I will enter. I can’t tell you the PIN. I don’t need to tell you either!

Idiot-1:If you don’t tell me I will have to cancel the transaction .. hmm you can pay by cash as well

Me: You are not getting the point. I can type the PIN but I can’t tell you. And I don’t have cash so if you move that machine here I will enter it myself

Idiot-1:The cable is short won’t stretch till there! You will have to tell me or I will have to cancel the transaction

Me: (reluctantly) Sigh Okay its ^*%&

Idiot-1:(Smiles.. that, I had it done my way kinda smile) Thank you sir

Incident 2

Location: Petrol pump

(I don’t have a vehicle, so I was pillion riding my roommates bike and he decided to fill petrol–ya meanwhile, lets call him mojo thats what he calls himself on his blog!)

Mojo: Petrol for 200

Pump guy(Idiot2): hmm

(fill fill fill)

(Mojo hands over debit card — maestro again)

Idiot2 swipes the card enters the money and stares at Mojo, confusion prevails for a few moments until Idiot2 decides he needs to break the news to us “dud-heads.”

Idiot2: saar pin number…

Mojo: eh.. ya give me the machine

He reluctantly hands over the machine I wanted to tell him that it’s nothing worth stealing! Mojo begins to enters the pin and the Idiot2’s eyes are fixed on the machine’s keypad trying to decipher the pin he is entering. mojo stops!

Mojo: What are you doing? Let me type no..

Idiot2: Nothing happens saar. You enter. (He continues to stare)

We didn’t have much option other than to enter the pin and leave the place

OBSERVATIONS

Banks certainly do a lot to teach their customers the value of their PIN numbers and how wrong it is to divulge them. Shouldn’t they be lecturing these shopkeepers/machine holders too to respect others privacy? The sign on the print out slip is not mandatory in Maestro card. So PIN is the sole security feature why should one have to divulge them? Isn’t there any alternative?

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37 thoughts on “Can I have some privacy pls

  1. They cannot ask for your PIN.. in fact you can complain against the theater guy in any consumer forum…

    However one more thing is that the PIN is useless without your card.. unless someone on the inside supplies them with the exact same type of card… unlikely that the genius at the ticket counter or the one at the petrol pump has that connection

  2. I use my debit card always and I never had to give out my PIN ..

    I recently went to watch ‘The Incredible Hulk’ and I bought the tickets by my debit card only..No one asked for my PIN .. Today only I went to fill the petrol in my car and paid via debit card..No one asked for my PIN..

    I dont understand, why those people need your PIN??..

  3. If they tell you to divulge the pin no, ask them whether they too have a maestro card? They would surely say YES! Ask them to tell the pin no of their card. Hope the face would be worth watching, dont forget to take a snap of it too…. πŸ™‚

  4. Hmm. The PIN’s useless without the card. But I’m sure if they have your pin they could use your card to make a couple of transactions more (provided your back is turned, of course – which could happen). And there’s no way you can prove you were cheated. Plus, if you are a regular visitor to the petrol bunk and they recognise you, you can’t afford to give them your card a next time if they already know the PIN. Maybe nothing would happen, but would you like to take a chance?

  5. balu,
    strange, I have used my maestro and each time they asked me to enter the pin.
    So now you know why I am sick of cards. Actually its not the cards, which create problems, its the merchants.

    @soham, only maestro cards have the pin feature. We have to enter the pin each time, the idea is that no one else can use ur stolen/lost card without knowing the pin, just like ur atm card.
    For visa,master atm cum debit cards we dont need the pin for shopping.
    I liked Manish’s idea. Lol.

  6. Intro :

    When I was working with call center in Blore, I was handling a process where we have to troubleshoot credit card machines, for a biggg company. So, I have a little ( not much ) knowledge about this stuff

    Fact 1 : In India, they program machines in such a way that, Debit cards do not need a pin to let the transaction thru … I’ve never entered PIN number for any Debit Card transactions for the past 3 years

    Fact 2 In US, where they program machines to ask for PIN when they process Debit cards, most of the machines add an extra unit, which is given to the customer to enter the PIN

    Fact 3 Our sales men here, are not giving not even 50% care and seriousness when they use credit or debit cards.

    I’ve seen people desperate to find out if they charged the customer twice, ( even for $1) .. they call up and verify if they have a doubt .. to see if there was a double charge of $1 etc..

    !!! !!! !!!

  7. How can someone ask for the PIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    When the card is swiped, the pin is not required to complete the transaction. It does not make sense.

  8. @Amit in MAESTRO debit cards pin is required to complete the transaction.

    @Balu Fortunately I haven’t had such intrusive experiences while using my SBI debit card. In Malls (atleast the ones i hyave been to) they have the courtesy to put the machine in front of the customer and look in other direction or suddenly pretend to be busy in some other work.

  9. Balu , i like ur blog πŸ™‚
    on Maesto cards – i hate them because of the security feature they come with – ie per transaction authentication – unlike the other visa cards in
    which u dont need to enter the pin for every transaction
    the good thing is if u loose this card no one can be u and swipe swipe swipe but the above examples mean ur pin is like an open book! and u better not forget it at a regular joint.
    infact i had a banking post that might be useful

    http://techntrek.wordpress.com/2007/10/03/basic-banking-precautions/

  10. Heh! Heh! Heh!
    I’m a lot more paranoid of someone stealing my money than you… i’d have canceled the transaction at the movie hall (and taken my lovely lady to a nice spot on the terrace to see the setting sun) and i’d have screamed at the petrol bunk idiot… they just don’t seem to understand… they can’t do anything with the PIN!! You need a card to go along too! hehehe… Pathos! πŸ˜€

  11. Hmmm… credit cards..! me too have no clue about them…. But ya, had used my sisters card to verify my PayPal account.
    There also they had asked me to enter the 4 or 3 (forgot πŸ˜› ) digit pin which was printed on the back of the card. Is it the same pin which you are talking about?… :-/

  12. @Vijay
    True but they can swipe the card twice if they know the pin. I might neer get to know till I check my balance!
    @Soham
    You might be having VISA card. No PIN required. But signing on the print out is mandatory
    @Manish
    tit for tat not a bad idea!!
    @Mojo Jojo
    Ah you spoke my mind!
    @Xylene
    Thats been the case mostly.. but both these incidents happened quite recently.. hence a post!
    @Dinu
    Its only VISA cards that don;t need PIN. Maestro cards don’t transfer money without PIN. Ya I have the extra thingy for entering PIN. Its there in the supermarket near my home. However its not very common.

  13. @Reema
    result of good training I guess πŸ˜€
    @Prax
    Hey thanks!
    To be honest I like the security feature.. Agreed its a headache, but it is a headache for the people who steal the card as well
    @Nikhil
    Its not like they don’t understand; they find it easier to act dumb thats all
    @Ish
    Eh you just did.. I guess :-/
    @Joel
    No thats different.. Dinu seems to have given the explanation on my behalf πŸ˜€

  14. reminds me of an incident,a friend took out his girl for a lovely lunch outing,gave his debit card(thankfully!) when the check arrived.

    next month,he realises he has been charged twice for the lunch !

    card woes r unnerving and never ending !

  15. Hey, I used to have this problem with ABN AMRO card that required putting PIN. I got that changed with an upgraded card. I refused to part with my PIN, its a hassle to change ti again.

    Ask for a card that allows you to shop with just swipe and no PIN. I agree having a PIN is secure but can be cumbersome with merchants as most machines do not have long cords and it disrupts billing line in long traffic. ut purpose of security is defeated if you have to reveal your PIN. But these days banks do offer debit cards with all waived liability in case card is lost/

  16. One of the reasons why I insisted my bank just give me a plain ATM card, and not a debit card. Though I lost the battle last year when they sent me a new ATM cum debit card. Though it really doesn’t make a difference as I use it only as an ATM card.

    No one can ask for your PIN…you have to key it in, and without them looking over your shoulder!

    Cheers,
    Quirky Indian
    http://quirkyindian.wordpress.com

  17. @Poonam
    Do banks offer Maestro cards which doesn’t require PIN? I dint know that =0
    @Reema
    Done!
    @Quirky Indian
    I thought banks stopped giving such cards… haven’t they?

  18. What a brilliant post. I really laughed at the movie incident: all the security of a PIN done away with too short a cord. Great stuff!

    P.S. Was there a cash-point or ATM nearby that you could have quickly grabbed some cash?

  19. @liamdempsey
    Thanks am flattered!
    Nope there were ATMs of other banks which charge Rs 20 for withdrawal.. also they had long queues 😦

    @scorpiogenius
    Common sense yes.. decency I really can’t say.. these were odd cases

    @Nikhil
    Ehm I just did! :-/

  20. I guess there are some blog wherein you have to enter the PIN but then as Binu says they need to provide a separate machine.

    Had I been there in the theater I wud have created a hue n cry πŸ˜€ why do we give in? I mean it makes them repeat it again πŸ™‚

    Unfortunately India is full of customers but there is no one to take care…

  21. @Mukund
    Thanks am adding you to my Blogroll.. your blog has been in my RSS reader for a while now!

    @S
    You would have? I wish someone like was around I was just too busy to have a prolonged debate with them 😦

  22. Oh! yes, am known for it πŸ™‚

    How can they take customer for granted….this week only we were in Fame Cinemas and these buggers took so much time in a speedy corner that I was like *glaring* *glaring* & * glaring* and muttering too hehehehe the poor souls fumbled more n more…had they taken even a minute more they wud haave had it….:D

    PS can i add u in my blog roll???

  23. Some of the outlets, like SPAR, STAR, Landmark have additional PIN entering gadget which you can use….

    there are many who still do not know the difference between credit and debit cards.. and worse they won’t tally the signature and some don’t even ask for signature 😦

    In case of PVR, you can always use the Koisk, but that doesn’t accept debit cards 😦

    Nice blog going…. my namesake as well !!

  24. @Balu
    Hello namesake πŸ˜€
    Thanks for dropping by
    I haven’t had the issue in “major” shopping places.. PVR was an exception.. now they accept only VISA cards atleast in Bangalore

  25. Actually, only Maestro Debit cards in India ask for the PIN at POS (Point of Sale) terminals which is a good idea, cuz even if your card is stolen the chances of misuse are less. Imagine a VISA debit card, which can be swiped by anyone at any of the merchant outlets and your bank account will take a direct hit in case of misuse, as the signature is seldom verified. A credit card misuse is something you can refuse to pay, but imagine the hassle when your bank account takes a hit directly and it could take ages before the bank could even reverse it. So better safe than sorry. Even the Police CyberCell advices people to opt for PIN protected Debit cards. Its high time even VISA offered this for its Debit cards in India.

  26. @Capri
    Yeah that’s true only Maestro needs PIN. It is a good system security vice. All I am saying is, the people who handle the machines need to be taught to respect privacy of users

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