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Old Dec 20, 2013, 08:29 PM   #1
dontwalkhand
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What you probably don't know about Walmart, and the tech inside

I have started a position as Cashier at Walmart a few months ago. Say what you will, but this post is about the cool tech that I discovered Walmart uses, and I am here to report to you guys, as a tech community, as to what most people do NOT know about Walmart. There will be some non-tech things in here as well. Feel free to ask me any questions, or add to what you know. Keep in mind, this is all at my store, and your local Walmart may be ran differently. The coolest tech would have to be seeing how integrated everything really is.

- Every associate uses a system called My Guide in order to find out what we have to do for the day. The best part of this, no need to report to a boss, manager, etc. The computer handles all, and tells all. Each name badge no matter who you are, has a barcode on the back. We can scan this badge at any
-My Guide hub/computer
-Price checker
-Handheld Terminal
-Inventory Terminal that is also handheld
-Register
And from there, the system will tell you what to do, from cleaning up the aisles, walking the floor to assist customers, to "Go to Register 15 and operate it." Stockers have time limits on their guide items.

- The Cash Registers are made by IBM, they are the IBM SurePOS 700. All registers run a proprietary purpose made for Point of Sale OS, called IBM 4690. I believe the 4690 OS is a derivative of SUSE Linux. Most grocers, independent retailers, run on IBM 4690, including but not limited to, Walmart, Costco, Sam's Club, Safeway (Windows XP front end, but 4690 software runs on top of Windows XP, using something called IBM Terminal Services (not the same as MS Terminal Services)), and Michaels. Walmart is actually up to date on the Point of Sale software, as evident by the Toshiba logos during the boot up process (Toshiba bought out the IBM POS division not too long ago).

- Every Walmart, and Walmart owned store in the entire world, including ASDA in the UK, Walmart China, Canada, Mexico, Best Price in India etc all run on the same IBM 4690 system. Yes this means we can check inventory on whats selling at Best Price in India right now.

- On touchscreen registers, the software that runs is Java based.

- On registers where there is a screen facing you, the customer, it is a touchscreen, you can use it to scroll up and down on your receipt.

- Walmart actually takes EMV (Chip & PIN), and our terminals will actually prompt you to "Insert or Slide card Quickly"…sad that less than 1% of customers will actually know what this is, less, actually know we support it…unfortunately unless you're from Europe, most people including Cashiers do not even know what Chip & PIN is. If you're from Europe, or have a Chip & PIN enabled card, go ahead and try it, place it in the EMV slot on the bottom of the terminal, type in your PIN and it'll work and process just fine. To the cashier, it just shows up to them as a normal credit card, and they will hit the "Credit" key like they always have, and it goes through just fine. No signature required, as it was a Chip & PIN card. I actually had the luxury of processing one, as I checked out a customer who lives in the UK. They did not know that ASDA was owned by Walmart, despite having such a huge Walmart presence over there.

- Older stores do not have touchscreen registers, but newer, as well as recently remodeled stores have touchscreen registers, thankfully mine does, otherwise, I would need to remember Action Codes. More on Action Codes later.

-Our registers do a lot more than just check people out. From here, using specific "Action Codes" we can, do random things such as call someone over for a price check, tell someone we need to go to the bathroom, get a mess cleaned up, get help with an angry customer, get more change, etc.

Here is a list of Action Codes, whether or not the register is equipped with a touchscreen, you can use these, but with a touchscreen, thankfully all of the options are just displayed on the screen:

1 - Complete Transaciton Void
2 - Terminal Statistics Report
3 - Terminal Accounting Report
4 - Department Totals
6 - Price Inquiry
7 - Reset Transaction Number
9 - Training Mode
10 - Operator Performance
13 - Payroll Check Cashing
14 - Application Memory Usage
17 - Refresh Tax Tables
18 - Refresh Configuration
23 - Suspended Transaction Report
24 - CSM Override Approval
25 - Shopping Card Cash Back
55 - Reload Phone Cards
60 - Print Previous Journal Data
61 - Reprint Previous Receipt
69 - Cashier Online Training
70 - Utility Payments/Credit Card Payments
91 - TC # Lookup and Decryption
**********
** 8. Wal-Mart Cashier Codes: CSM Assistance Codes **
**********
202 - Cancel Previous Request
203 - Need Change
204 - Need Restroom Break
205 - Need Break / Lunch
206 - Need Receipt Tape
207 - Need Carry Out (Getting someone to help take your items to your car, yes we do still provide this service, little known fact).
208 - Need Cash Pickup
209 - Need Price Check
210 - Need Cleanup **Dry**
211 - Break $100 Bill
212 - Need Loan
213 - Need WIC Assistance
214 - Lines Are Long
215 - Need Cleanup **Wet**
216 - Customer Emergency
217 - Need Round of Change
218 - Need Check Approval
248 - Customer Assistance

-As a cashier we are rated based on our scans per hour. The highest one in our store generally gets cool stuff such as gift cards, movie tickets etc. From what I see, there is no punishment for getting a low scan per hour, you just don't get rewarded. You can check by pressing Action Code 10.

- Because our registers do so much, they got rid of our cashier phones, which I believe they should have never taken out, and kept the phones there. As from time to time, customers ask us to page someone. In this case, we press Action Code 243, and tell the CSM to page someone for us.

-If you don't take your required breaks or lunches, your register will lock you out. If you see our lane light off, and we are finishing up with a customer, the register already warned us that "Operator Lockout is Approaching", so if you come in the line anyway, and we can't serve you, this is most likely the reason.

-Cashiers have bosses, that are called CSMs, or Customer Service Managers, they are hourly employees who help to oversee all of the cashiers. You probably have seen or dealt with them at some time during a difficult transaction. These are the guys who comes to turn the key when anything goes wrong with the transaction. (not all the time do they have to turn the key, as they can do it remotely from their handheld…more on this later), and they can override just about anything. Sometimes they are running a register to also check people out, when an over ride is needed, they need to call ANOTHER CSM to do the override, as the system will not let your override your self, which is actually funny. If you are the only CSM working on that day, you better not run a register, because if you do, and you need an override, you are now stuck. You can't even log out, and in order to clock out, you need to be able to log out.

- The CSMs carry around Motorola MC55 handhelds to be able to receive those messages from the cashiers.

- The self checkouts are NCR SelfServ models, and run on Windows XP. They connect to the 4690 based system using IBM Terminal Services (as mentioned above on how 4690 can run on top of MS Windows). They definitely do run the 4690 system, the same as the cashiers are using in the background, and if someone ever comes to assist you for something such as an age restricted item, you'll see the background system in action. Pay attention next time when purchasing Alcohol at self checkout. Kind of cool to see.

-Walmart is truly a Multi-OS store, the Associate (Employee) management system, which manages the entire store, runs on SuSE Linux. The 4690 OS (mentioned above about the registers) I believe is now Linux based, running on IRES, or IBM Retail Environment for SUSE. The servers run on Windows Server 2008 and provides for thin client sessions (more on this on the next bullet point).

-Other than the registers, and the computers that are for sale, there are no "real computers" in the store, by that I mean, with a hard drive, a locally installed OS, etc. All "computers" in the store are WYSE thin clients, that connect to the aforementioned Windows Server 2008 server to provide us with a "Desktop environment." Everyone has access to these computers, but the system will not let you log in, unless you're clocked in for work. This means if you need to even do something like change or setup your direct deposit information, you have to clock in before you can do so. The same goes for the registers as well.

-Anyone can be "register trained", that includes the people greeters, and the maintenance associates. They will be called to help with the registers in the event there aren't enough cashiers.

-Despite all of the IBM installed equipment, NCR actually comes and does our maintenance (NCR is IBM's largest competitor in the point of sale market). NCR also maintains everything else tech related in the store, from the registers, to the thin clients, to the server, my guide hubs, to the time clock. I never knew that NCR did IT Consulting until I started my work at Walmart. NCR actually services more IBM equipment than IBM does, all due to the Walmart contract.

-The Price verifiers have touch screens. As customers the only thing you can do is scan an item, and it'll tell you how much it is. The touch screens don't do anything unless you're an associate. Scan your badge, and the touchscreen comes to life, and lets you do random things from a price checker, such as Check your work schedule, or checking what you have to do for the day. They are Motorola MK4000, running on Windows CE. As a customer, whatever price is displayed on here, is EXACTLY what you'll get at the register, for they come from the same server. No need to ask twice.

-Every store associate has a Walmart email address. Most associates don't even know this, but it is .s@walmart.com. Associates can check their email from the company intranet, using Outlook Web Access. Again, you can only check your email while you're in the store, and clocked in.

- The handheld terminals, are Motorola MC55s for the CSMs, and Motorola MC3100 for the stockers, and sales floor Associates. The associates refer to them as "Telxons", "Gemeni", or "PDA"….At our store, associates like to call them the "Gemeni", me having a tech background, just called it a Motorola, and the other associates caught on. These run on either Windows Mobile or Windows CE depending on the device. Newer ones are all Windows Mobile 6.

-The aforementioned handheld terminals, like our registers, also do a lot more than you know, including tell us if a spill is too hazardous to touch or not. If it is too hazardous, Haz-Mat is called to throw the contents of it away. You could also check your MyGuide from these terminals if you have one.

Other random myths debunked you may or may not know about Walmart (At least at my store).

- We all actually enjoy our jobs. Despite all of the myths, they actually treat us pretty well. Never has anyone been fired or reprimanded for talking about a union etc, like the media said. Honestly with the way things are ran, its pretty hard to get fired from a Walmart, unless you're truly doing something wrong, such as stealing, or beating a customer up. We know what our job is, and for many, this is their only job.

- Walmart does not help you get government assistance, like the media said. Unless they mean going to Google or something while you're on a store computer- but obviously this doesn't count, as there are no signs, or anything. It would be truly your own choice to apply for government assistance.

- We recently had a Christmas party, at the party, there were prizes given out in drawings, ranging from $100 gift cards to random place such as AMC Theaters, to Walmart gift cards.

- It doesn't matter who you are, EVERYONE, even the store manager will have to clean up a spill if they see one. It is actually fun to see our store manager actually doing manual labor.

- Even the store manager will check people out at a register if the front end gets too busy.

- We get Christmas off. We are closed on Christmas.

- Home Office controls everything, right down to our schedules, and even the temperature of the store (HVAC system). They can adjust the temperature for you when you call them and ask them to.

- On regular days, at stores that are NOT 24 hours, the store is only closed to customers. There is A LOT going on while the store is closed, mainly the stockers, overnighters, and inventory workers.

- Granted we are a nicer store than most other Walmarts, I've never seen anyone who looked like people on PeopleOfWalmart.com

- Ol' Roy dog food is named that because Sam Walton's dog was named Roy.

- We usually get a discount of some type at businesses that chose to open their doors inside of a Walmart, such as the in-store Subway (some have a McD's), the hair cut place, or some extra perks with your account at the in-store bank branch.

- Us Walmart associates say that Target is our sworn enemy. We do support our company and our store, so what we can buy from Walmart, we actually do. Recently with the news about Target's credit card data being hacked, a lot of associates actually said things such as "haha sucks to be Target" or "They suck anyway and deserve to have that happen, should have came to Walmart", or "At least we were prepared, Target should have done better"….Some associates I think definitely get a little TOOO INTO IT…..Honestly I think we are on top of it, since we support Chip & PIN but no other retailer in the US that I know of does
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Old Dec 20, 2013, 08:46 PM   #2
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I think the US passed a law mandating that all credit card terminals have to support chip and pin by a certain time. I want to say it's the end of 2014, but I may be wrong. I know most retailers in my area (PA) have supported in for a few years now and the local major bank (PNC) has been pushing people to get a chip and pin card through an opt in since at least 2010. Come to think of it, the only place I've been recently that didn't take it was this lovely eatery out in farm land.
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Old Dec 20, 2013, 09:04 PM   #3
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I was in CA last month and every single card reader that I came across only supported the magnetic strip. Even then I was only asked for a PIN at Target (you always need to enter the PIN in NZ, whether magnetic or chip). The Target transaction actually failed, so I suspect that it's an incompatible system.

I didn't go to Walmart though!
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Old Dec 20, 2013, 09:14 PM   #4
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I was in CA last month and every single card reader that I came across only supported the magnetic strip. Even then I was only asked for a PIN at Target (you always need to enter the PIN in NZ, whether magnetic or chip). The Target transaction actually failed, so I suspect that it's an incompatible system.

I didn't go to Walmart though!
Walmart has supported Chip cards for years, and we are all supposed to (finally) have CHIP & PIN cards by 2015---2017 for gas pumps to take Chip & PIN.

I processed a BarclayCard on my register about two weeks ago, using the Chip & PIN slot at our Walmart store, and it worked just fine. Target isn't up to the game yet, and they definitely have issues, as evidenced by the recent news of their credit card data being hacked.

If you came to the US recently and used your card at Target, I would definitely pay attention to those bank statements, because I will say this much, those hackers probably aren't from the US., and more than likely like any other card fraud scheme, they will attempt to use these stolen cards at stores, and websites around the entire world.
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Old Dec 20, 2013, 09:23 PM   #5
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Target isn't up to the game yet, and they definitely have issues, as evidenced by the recent news of their credit card data being hacked.
Wait, what? Surely the card reader shouldn't be storing numbers in the first place!
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Old Dec 20, 2013, 09:26 PM   #6
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Wait, what? Surely the card reader shouldn't be storing numbers in the first place!
http://techland.time.com/2013/12/19/...u-should-know/

Definitely check your bank statements! And stories like this is why banks in the US are now all of a sudden rushing out to get Chip & PIN out there. That is all banks but Bank of America, who is always behind the times, and has ATMs that are slower than turtles.
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Old Dec 20, 2013, 10:22 PM   #7
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http://techland.time.com/2013/12/19/...u-should-know/

Definitely check your bank statements! And stories like this is why banks in the US are now all of a sudden rushing out to get Chip & PIN out there. That is all banks but Bank of America, who is always behind the times, and has ATMs that are slower than turtles.
Interesting. I shopped there prior to the listed date range so I "should" be OK, but I'll keep an eye open. I tend to look at my account every few days anyway so I'm sure to notice if some money disappears! Thanks for the heads up.
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Old Dec 20, 2013, 10:33 PM   #8
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What threat exactly is chip and pin supposed to protect against?

The situation in this case appears to be that the POS devices were directly attacked, and full track data was obtained, along with CVV2 and PIN. That means that even if you add chip and pin, full track data is still compromised. The track data is then passed through the card associations, along with the rest of the transaction information. The track data is still what is used to create fake cards, and that isn't impacted by chip and pin.
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Old Dec 20, 2013, 10:44 PM   #9
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Interesting. I still haven't set foot in a Wal-Mart in over 5 years and don't plan on ever going in one for the rest of my life.


Quote:
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Wait, what? Surely the card reader shouldn't be storing numbers in the first place!
Likely the card reader wasn't storing numbers, but it was a man in the middle attack and something was intercepting card data as it went through the system for authorization.

I shopped at Target between the dates so my card was likely stolen, I'll just keep an eye on activity and report anything suspicious that comes up. I'll continue shopping at Target though since I don't have any other real alternatives besides Wal-Mart, and as I stated, I refuse to shop there.

----------

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What threat exactly is chip and pin supposed to protect against?

The situation in this case appears to be that the POS devices were directly attacked, and full track data was obtained, along with CVV2 and PIN. That means that even if you add chip and pin, full track data is still compromised. The track data is then passed through the card associations, along with the rest of the transaction information. The track data is still what is used to create fake cards, and that isn't impacted by chip and pin.
Magnetic stripes aren't encrypted so if the PIN pads are hacked, as with the case with Target, the magstripe data is available in clear text to be easily duplicated to a new card. Chipped cards use encryption, and the encryption key changes each time the card is used, so any raw data read from the chip is useless to hackers.

It's similar to the rolling code technology in a car's keyless entry remote or garage door opener where a new encryption key is generated each time it's used so the signal can't be captured and reused to unlock your car or garage.
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Old Dec 20, 2013, 10:46 PM   #10
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I don't really like Wal*Mart's business practices, but on the front end of things it's always just been like any other retail store. I don't see Wal*Mart being any different than Target, BJ's, Best Buy, or even Jamesway (rip).

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I shopped at Target between the dates so my card was likely stolen, I'll just keep an eye on activity and report anything suspicious that comes up. I'll continue shopping at Target though since I don't have any other real alternatives besides Wal-Mart, and as I stated, I refuse to shop there.
I got a notice from my bank and credit card company, both telling me that they were monitoring my account, but that no action was necessary on my end. I'm not happy, but considering I go to target 2x a week, usually, but didn't go once between the days they were hacked, I consider myself lucky.
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Old Dec 20, 2013, 10:49 PM   #11
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I got a notice from my bank and credit card company, both telling me that they were monitoring my account, but that no action was necessary on my end. I'm not happy, but considering I go to target 2x a week, usually, but didn't go once between the days they were hacked, I consider myself lucky.
Don't think I said that...
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Old Dec 20, 2013, 11:02 PM   #12
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The track data is still what is used to create fake cards, and that isn't impacted by chip and pin.
When I swipe my card in NZ, it tells me to insert it instead. Presumably a cloned card would pop up the same message if swiped using a chip-capable reader. Once all of the readers are chip-capable then lifting the magnetic data might be a waste of time.

On the other hand, it might be trivial to remove the "this card has a chip" flag! It's certainly possible to do magnetic transactions with a chip card; I've found that inserting and removing the card in one smooth motion will cause it to use the magnetic data instead, which has the side benefit of letting me put my card away while it's processing, therefore speeding up the whole purchase.

Last edited by Nermal; Dec 20, 2013 at 11:04 PM. Reason: full of typos!
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Old Dec 20, 2013, 11:04 PM   #13
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Not impressed, it's just micro management to the extreme. Do you need to punch in to take a dump?

I've worked for a company who integrated too much technology, but it was a field job. Long story short, we all got more work done before the tech micro management was implemented. But management could careless cause they make up for the loss work from the decrease need of office employees.
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Old Dec 20, 2013, 11:33 PM   #14
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Don't think I said that...
Yes, I'm not sure why I quoted you either. Oops
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Old Dec 20, 2013, 11:37 PM   #15
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When I swipe my card in NZ, it tells me to insert it instead. Presumably a cloned card would pop up the same message if swiped using a chip-capable reader. Once all of the readers are chip-capable then lifting the magnetic data might be a waste of time.

On the other hand, it might be trivial to remove the "this card has a chip" flag! It's certainly possible to do magnetic transactions with a chip card; I've found that inserting and removing the card in one smooth motion will cause it to use the magnetic data instead, which has the side benefit of letting me put my card away while it's processing, therefore speeding up the whole purchase.
It would be easy to remove the chip flag since it's all unencrypted and in standard form. But, I read somewhere (don't remember where and can't find it, so take this with a grain of salt) that if a bank gets an authorization request for a swiped card with a chip, from an EMV capable terminal, it realizes something's fishy and declines the transaction. So really, the only reason for the flag on the magstripe is to alert you to swipe at the start of the transaction rather than wait until it completes and does the authorization to speed things along. And to save the embarrassment of a declined card at the register.

I'm guessing that judging by the fact that you said you are able to swipe at EMV registers means that the whole thing I read about it is BS, or banks are still rolling it out, or it's a country specific thing. It certainly makes sense though.

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Not impressed, it's just micro management to the extreme. Do you need to punch in to take a dump?
And worse, micromanagement from computers because managers are presumably too lazy to do the job themselves.
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Old Dec 21, 2013, 09:06 PM   #16
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Hmm that's interesting: we have the chip+pin machines everywhere in Canada from mom-n-pop convenience stores to Walmart and other retailers. I'm quite surprised that the US is behind on that.
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Old Dec 21, 2013, 09:51 PM   #17
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I have started a position as Cashier at Walmart a few months ago. Say what you will, but this post is about the cool tech that I discovered Walmart uses, and I am here to report to you guys, as a tech community, as to what most people do NOT know about Walmart.

<SNIP>
You didn't mention the security tech. You have no idea ho high tech it is. As a cashier you wouldn't be privy to it.

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Old Dec 22, 2013, 06:38 AM   #18
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Not sure why, but this read definitely intrigued me. That said, why did you feel the need to report so much information? That's not a blow, by the way. I'm just curious.
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Old Dec 22, 2013, 10:31 AM   #19
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Very interesting post, OP. It's nice to get some "inside" perspective.
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Old Dec 22, 2013, 01:11 PM   #20
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Not sure why, but this read definitely intrigued me. That said, why did you feel the need to report so much information? That's not a blow, by the way. I'm just curious.
Because most people don't understand how high tech and complicated retail can be. To the average person walking into a regular Walmart, all they see is items on shelves.
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Old Dec 22, 2013, 04:10 PM   #21
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Enjoyed reading your post, OP. Nice to see some contrast to the spin doctors.
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Old Dec 22, 2013, 04:27 PM   #22
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Hmm that's interesting: we have the chip+pin machines everywhere in Canada from mom-n-pop convenience stores to Walmart and other retailers. I'm quite surprised that the US is behind on that.
It's required in 2 years. It is going to cost a small fortune to implement in the US, hence the delay.
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Old Dec 22, 2013, 04:28 PM   #23
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I stop reading right about "Cashier at Walmart"!
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Old Dec 22, 2013, 07:20 PM   #24
Gutwrench
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Are you now the Edward Snowden of WalMart?
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Old Dec 22, 2013, 10:59 PM   #25
Ccrew
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dontwalkhand View Post
To the average person walking into a regular Walmart, all they see is items on shelves.
And fat women in stretch pants

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Quote:
Originally Posted by senseless View Post
It's required in 2 years. It is going to cost a small fortune to implement in the US, hence the delay.
Also it's not a government requirement, it's a PCI (Payment Card Industry) one.

Current US fraud losses are in the ballpark of 5.2 cents per $100 transacted, so until you see that loss put back to the retailer (which Visa is now threatening) its pretty much considered the cost of doing business.
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