Search this site:


January 9, 2006 12:03 AM

Broken: NCR card swiper

NcrcheckoutI notice this NCR card swiper every time I check out at Whole Foods. It asks me "OK?" and I reach for the "Yes" button, but then I notice it also tells me "Press Enter".

Why ask "OK?" if you're not going to let the customer answer the question?


what do yes and no do? and do you ever use the letters instead of #s?

Posted by: gmangw at January 9, 2006 12:23 AM

I see two groups of buttons that practicly do the same thing. Yes and No, and Enter and Cancel. They just need to word it in english.

Posted by: Phil at January 9, 2006 01:45 AM

>>> enter=yes

>>>what is the issue here?

>>> no=cancel

>>> am I missing somthing?

Yes, you are missing something: the fact that there are 'yes' and 'no' buttons, but they don't work. You have to hit 'Enter' on this particular screen when the screen is asking you a yes/no question.

Easily remedied simply by removing the 'yes/no' question:

"Credit: 13.37. Press Enter or Cancel'

Posted by: Michael McWatters at January 9, 2006 05:27 AM

This is the same brokenness as software that asks "Do you want to do this?" and gives the options OK and Cancel, neither of which answer the question.

Posted by: Ian Chard at January 9, 2006 05:59 AM

@Ian: Actually, the more broken question in a dialog box is "Do you want to cancekl this action? (OK) (Cancel)"

And the NCR swipe's question and response is just possibly badly thought out, or possibly generic software that runs on a variety of card swipe models, some of which haven't any "yes" and "no" buttons.

Posted by: Carlos Gomez at January 9, 2006 09:23 AM

I agree with Michael McWatters' solution to the problem.

In the paradigm of Yes/No, Enter/Cancel this screen breaks the expected behavior. Only Yes/No buttons should be used in response to a question. Enter/Cancel should only be used in response to an action, such as entering the amount of cash back for a debit transaction.

To give the writers/designers some credit, at least they tell you what to do, "press enter." Even if that is a misguided attempt at usability, it's better than nothing. They don't tell you what your alternative choice is though.

Posted by: Dawn N at January 9, 2006 10:34 AM

I never understood why machines like this have Yes/No, and Enter. There should be

* "Yes (Enter)", green, in standard lower-right corner, to finish entering in a number, or to answer a question in the affirmative

* "No", red, same size as "Yes", to answer a question in the negative, or to cancel an entire transaction and start again from the beginning.

There are so many ATMs and POS systems whose software and hardware just don't match. Related to this is ATMs with a column of unmarked buttons, and the button labels are displayed on screen, but they never consistently use the top two buttons. Sometimes it's buttons 1 and 2, sometimes the choice is between 2 and 3. Why?

One supermarket I visit has a little post it taped to each little console telling you that when it asks you to confirm the purchase at the end by pressing the yellow "Yes" button on the left side of the touchscreen (which does nothing), you really must press the green "Enter" button on the right-bottom side of the keypad buttons! Those notes have been on there for months.

For supposedly integrated systems this is terrible, and it gives me those few seconds of doubt that the machine is really doing what I want it to.

The software simply ought to use the same terminology as is printed on the buttons.

Posted by: Reed at January 9, 2006 10:34 AM

Another broken thing about this reader is that it's too customizable. Where I live there are two stores that I both shop at several times a week. They both have this card reader, but it's configured differently even though the task (pay with my ATM card) is the same. It's not just that you have to use different buttons to do the same thing, but the sequence is different too.

Posted by: Alex B at January 9, 2006 12:22 PM

I can't make my mind to decide if this is really broken or not.... The instruction to press ENTER is pretty straight forward and leaves no room for confusion. The fact that the instruction to press ENTER is preceded by the question OK? is what makes it slightly confusing. My opinion is that the "OK?" question should be changed to "IF OK,", so, the whole text would read:

CREDIT 13.37

If OK, press Enter

So, having said all this, my conclusion is that this can be better or improved, but it doesn't mean that it is absolutely broken.

Sam, Mexico City

Posted by: Sam at January 9, 2006 12:45 PM

Hmm, I seem to notice that one thing that is broken (albeit unintentionally humorously) is that the reader has displayed the price in L33T speak. 1337?

PWN3D = Yes

Posted by: Z at January 9, 2006 02:50 PM

it's quite interesting reading about what the young people are up to nowadays

Posted by: lk at January 9, 2006 03:17 PM

1 4M T3H L33T 5W1P3Z0RZ

Posted by: Fuzzy at January 9, 2006 05:12 PM

Wow, nice credit there. Did you do that on purpose?

Posted by: ` at January 9, 2006 10:29 PM

No one has mentioned the brokenness of not telling you what to press if it's NOT "OK".

Posted by: Jeff Chausse at January 10, 2006 10:36 AM

I've seen this also. This reminds me of a recent trip to Best Buy in which I used my credit card to make a purchase.

At the checkout counter there is a credit card terminal for me, the shopper, to swipe my card and sign. I swiped my card and immediately put it back in my wallet, as the terminal was displaying "Authorization in Progress". Once this was done the terminal requested that I hand my credit card to the cashier. So I had to take the card back out of the wallet and hand it to her so she could type in something (expiration date or security code on back of card?).

Why bother with allowing the customer to swipe his/her own credit card if the cashier is going to need to look at the card.

Posted by: Confused Shopper at January 10, 2006 11:38 AM

I realise this is getting off-topic, but in the UK it seems the norm to hand your card to the cashier who swipes it through the till, then you put in your PIN number. This is with the introduction of chip+PIN which has happened in the last couple of years (it was common in most of Europe ages ago). The number pad still has a swipe mechanism but you simply can NOT swipe the card yourself, even though its LCD is usually asking you to swipe your card.

Perhaps they did this during the "transition" so that the cashiers could instruct people how to go to the trouble of putting in their PIN-- though surely most people who use cards at all would be used to using cash machines (ATMs) and have the general idea. If I recall correctly, in the US you can usually swipe your card before the cashier has finished totting up-- is that right?

Posted by: Simon Trew at January 11, 2006 06:00 PM

Chip and pin was instroduced to combat the rising problem of dodgy restaurants double-swiping and then making a clone of the card.

Posted by: Dan at January 12, 2006 05:26 AM

I truly wish for some type of industry standard on these things. Every time you go to a different store they swipe cards this way then that way, strip to the right, to the left, etc. It is maddening--especially with kids in tow. Would be nice if they all had the OK on the same side, the NO on the same side, etc.

Nothing like topping off a shopping experiene with aggrevation.

Posted by: zakyam at January 12, 2006 09:59 PM

I don't mean any offence to Whole Foods, but my family has not liked them for a long time and we think that this is an absolutely hillarious getback.

Posted by: anonymous at January 14, 2006 08:49 AM

At the place i work, the card reader uses a row of unlabeled buttons that are labeled on screen, in addition to "yes" and "no" button in the standard positions on the botton. when asked to approve a transaction, the customers never know which "yes" to use, and end up spending like a minute trying to decide between the two possible "yes" buttons.

Posted by: lazy bum at January 14, 2006 10:47 PM

The most annoying thing to me on a lot of swipe machines is when you want to use your debit card as credit. It will still ask you for your pin number and you are supposed to hit cancel. It doesnt make any sense.

Posted by: Ben at January 18, 2006 10:27 AM


Why do so many of you try to justify the reason why something is the way it is?

The d*** thing is asking a yes or no, maybe an OK/cancel question, but it's telling you to press enter.

What if it's not OK? Any instruction there? No.

Just because some of us are familiar with yes/no, enter/cancel... that in no way makes a stupid message correct.

Posted by: god at January 18, 2006 10:17 PM

Somewhere I shopped recently had terminals which were slightly more sensibly designed. I figure the Yes/No buttons are for the retailer to do some setup on the terminals. However, the terminals I saw recently had three buttons labelled with a circle, a triangle and a square, which I assume were for the same purpose. At least discouraged your users from thinking that anything other than "Enter" is what you need to hit.

Posted by: foo at January 21, 2006 05:27 PM

I don't see why it needs a YES and NO button anyways, they probably should remove those 2 buttons.

Posted by: Anonymous at January 27, 2006 11:56 PM

its just saying that if this is ok then press enter

Posted by: caleb at February 28, 2006 06:16 PM


Yes, in the United States, you can just swipe your card during the transaction, and then when the cashier is finished, your receipt is printed, you grab your stuff and you are ready to go. You guys have it backwards in the UK, by making me wait longer ;)

Posted by: Josh at March 26, 2006 12:03 PM

Comments on this entry are closed

Previous Posts: