Thursday, May 27

No need to sign on the line

[No need to sign on the line]

Earlier this week, I made a coffee and muffin run for myself and some officemates before a meeting. I went to Starbucks and ordered two grande-extra-shot lattes and a grande coffee of the day. The barista swiped the credit card and handed me a receipt. I asked whether I needed to sign, and was informed that they no longer require a signature for purchases under $25. I was perplexed. Then, I went to Corner Bakery to get blueberry muffins [because their muffins are much better than the ones at Starbucks]. I again used a credit card, which was swiped and handed back to me along with a receipt. I asked the clerk whether they no longer required signatures, and was informed that they do not for purchases under $50.

Initially, I perceived this rule change as an intentional lapse in security. I started asking around wondering when this had become normal. Apparently, it happens at various other food establishments including Quiznos and Subway. Upon further reflection, I decided that the signature doesn’t protect us from much anyway. If someone wants to forge your signature, it’s doubtful that anyone will notice.

Actually, the card I was using wasn’t even mine, it belongs to my boss, and it isn’t even a company issued corporate card, just a personal Master Card. Over the past few months, I’ve signed his name on as many receipts as I have my own. No one notices. No one questions. From a fraud-prevention perspective, the signature hasn’t mattered for a while, and this change isn’t likely to change anything but the amount of time we must stand in line.