Signing Credit Card Slips

Let’s put this in the category of “pet peeves” around things that are obsolete.

One of my goals as a VC is to help create companies that cause obsolescence of existing products, companies, and industries. As a result I think about what’s becoming obsolete all the time. I don’t just think about this in the specific areas that we invest in, but in all aspects of my life. I find that this frame of reference – namely “will we be doing X in 20 years” is a fundamental part of my approach to what I do.

I’m at DIA this morning. I just spent $13.19 at the “Newsstand” on four Clif Bars, a bottle of water, and two packages of gum. I gave the guy at the register my credit card because I hate paying in cash, having to deal with change, and then submitting an expense report for a cash expense of $13.19. By putting it on my credit card, I don’t have to deal with any of this stuff.

A little piece of paper comes out of the register. Then another piece of paper comes out of the register. He gives me the second piece of paper and asks me to sign it. He hands me a grimy ballpoint pen that I don’t really want to tough and I scribble “pooh bear” on the slip. I hand it back to him. And leave.

Why the fuck does he ask me to sign a credit card slip for $13.19. This is so incredibly obsolete. While I don’t know his cash register system, it looked pretty modern (yes – it was a computer) so I doubt he does anything with the slips at the end of the day other than put a rubber band around them and send them to someone somewhere. And I’m quite sure no one will ever notice that I signed the credit card slip “pooh bear.”


  • I’ve had dozens, perhaps over a hundred, of transactions these past few years that don’t require a signature.  One in partic that I recall – parking at DIA.  if under a specific threshold (I think it’s $100), then no sig is required.

    So – there are at least some parts of the system where sigs have become obviated.

    • And, if you’ve been through DIA recently, you realize that the people who used to collect your credit cards in those silly little booths are mostly gone. #obsoletepeople.

      • I think they’re about half + half now (staffed v. non).  Also, there *may* still be a single lane way over on the right (assuming west terminal garage exit) that accepts cash.

        Oh, and we’ve obviously seen the complete removal of all human toll-takers on E470. Won’t be long before we see camera-billing take over for parking at DIA – recall that obnoxious spotlight they use to photograph your license plate as you’re parked at the payment window?

        They’ll just mail you a bill or hit your credit card w/ the charge.

  • Hello123

    The reason for the signed slip is because when there is a dispute, this becomes a supporting document that is submitted to the credit card companies. Yes, signing pooh bear doesn’t support anything because the cashier is suppose to check if your signature matches your card. 

    To get rid of this, credit card companies have to do something about their disputing process. Because at the end of the day, when there’s a dispute, it’s the store that takes the lost. 

  • This irritates me to no end.  I always pay via credit card.  It’s way more convenient, my transactions appear in my bank’s web UI, and I can charge things back when vendors screw me.

    What they’re supposed to do is compare the signature on the receipt to the one on the back of your card.  Thank God they don’t *really* do that.I recall Mark Suster talking about an investment he made in this space — receipts via email, or something.

  • NotoriousBRK

    Much of the credit card payment industry is obsolete.  Some merchants have switched to not requiring a signature for purchases under $25 or $50.  The merchant does has some recourse if they get a charge-back and can produce a signed receipt.  In theory this shouldn’t matter, because that is still not “evidence” that the actual card holder was present and signed for the purchase (it could be a dupe card and a halfway decent forger).

    I get similarly annoyed when traveling by requests to sign $4.00 credit card receipts.  Cashiers who want to “inspect” my card and scrutinize the signature like they are some 1-man anti-card-fraud army or whatever.

    I’m hoping that NFC and/or things like the Starbucks payment app become more prevalent soon.

  • Man those pens are gross, your mind wanders with the thought that you’re steps behind a picker and the guy that signed for cold meds to treat his highly contagious virus, ugg.

    • I usually buy some purel immediately after signing the credit card receipt, which necessitates another purchase, another credit card slip, and another signature.

      • dude, I am ahead of you on this.  I’ve carried purell (or some brand) in my backpack + truck for years, at least since SARS was crazy in the news.  I am always using it – at gas stations, atms, drive-thrus where I get change back… etc.

  • For as long as I can remember my grandfather has signed his credit card slips “Mickey Mouse”.  

    We use Square as our register/payment system for our Mobile Showroom, and require a signature (using your finger) for orders above $25.  That’s Square’s requirement, not ours.  If it were up to us, we’d never require a signature.  Oh, and we don’t offer paper receipts.  Period.

    • Well done! I have a little Square thingy and use it also whenever I want to get money from someone and we are physically together.

  • Last night I was at The Pie pizzeria in SLC, and in order to make a change to my order the cashier needed the manager to override the system. In the past this required a swipe card, however now all the manager needed was his thumb. They had a thumbprint scanner on the register. I was pretty impressed. Why can’t we do the same thing? When merchants swipe your card your thumbprint is uploaded, authorized using your thumb, and then a copy of your receipt is emailed or texted to you.

    • Mac

      Yes, it was called Pay By Touch. And it went out of business. They had little thumbpad biometric scanners attached to the CC terminals at some markets in the Midwest. Elsewhere I’m sure too.

  • Anonymous

    Most of the credit cards in Brazil are PIN-based, so slightly better than pen and slips. Obviously that is not the long-term solution which should require no card at all (NFC, m-payments, etc).

  • Anonymous

    Well you are almost in to something there…what should be obsolete is the whole vertical payment stream where the retailer then  pays  a distributor for the cliff bars etc…want a disruption? pay with your mobile device which channels  30% to the retailer, 10% to the distributor, 60% to the manufacturer, etc.

  • My favorite part of the routine is where they try to convert you to using a debit card rather than a credit card.  First they ask you, “credit or debit?”  You say, “credit,” they tell you to swipe, which then immediately asks you for a pin (which if entered would create a debit transaction), then you have to figure out how to get back to credit (usually by counter-intuitively pressing “cancel” in the middle of your transaction).  Then they verify the amount, which, once again if you wanted to augment by getting cash back would convert it to a debit transaction, then they ask you for a signature (which often doesn’t work on the self-service machines), sometimes they ask you to show the card to the clerk, and, enfin, you are done.  

    I do this routine many times a week.  It’s beyond obsolete; it’s a joke.

    • Anonymous

      That is merchant trying to save money on the transaction – debit card fees to them are a lot less.


      • I don’t know about you but I am not putting my PIN number into a grocery store computer system. These guys can’t even get my deli order right!

  • What’s funny is that they check my signature with the one on the card.

    And considering mine is up there among the simplest situations in the world, can’t help laugh..

  • el Guapo

    I pay with LevelUp wherever I can.

  • Charlie

    The flow should be something like:

    o I wave my phone over a NFC or RFID hotspot. Or scan a 2D barcode on
    their screen with my phone’s camera. Or display a 2D barcode with my
    phone and wave it in front of their camera. This does not actually
    authorize payment – it just starts the conversation between my phone and
    their system.

    o Their system asks my financial service provider to charge me $13.19

    o My phone, using its own secure connection to my financial service
    provider, prompts: “Newsstand at DIA wants to charge you $13.19. Do you
    accept the charge? Yes/No”.

    This step is also how paying monthly bills should work. Any time a
    transaction is attempted on my account, I get an immediate notification
    with the option to accept or reject. No waiting till the end of the
    month for a statement to look for suspicious activity.

    o I click “Yes”. The cashier’s system tells him the transaction was
    successful. Maybe it also sends an itemized receipt to my bank or to an
    email address I’ve set up.

    o The cashier, as a formality, asks if I’d like a paper receipt. I say No.

    • Charlie

      Hmm, strange formatting. Much more blank space than was showing when entering it in. Sorry about that…

    • Feld’s Guest

      and if I loose my phone anyone is welcome to wave my phone to a merchant.

      • Charlie

        That’s an issue for any “something you have” authentication factor. The way to combat this threat is to combine it with one or more other factors, such as:

        – A “something you know” factor. For example, require a PIN to authorize purchases (possibly over a threshold amount).

        – A “something you are” factor. For example, face recognition like the new Nexus phone is touting.

        And of course, once you realize your phone is gone, you’ll want to be tracking its whereabouts, reporting it missing/stolen, remotely wiping sensitive data, etc.

  • As others have mentioned, most progressive merchants/providers don’t require signatures under a certain amount. Perhaps over 50 or 100, it is better to take a picture? Square should be able to do this. Whether we like it or not, really good facial recognition is just around the corner.

    • James Mitchell

      How about a thumb reader? If someone is using your card illegally, presumably the transaction would not be approved plus the crook’s thumbprint might be used by the police to apprehend him.

      • Right. This does seem like a good deterrent. But, it also might require extra hardware? Square like thumb reader? I can also see people not yet being comfortable giving fingerprints. OTOH, taking pictures is a capability already embedded in our devices, and people are generally OK with you taking their picture. 

  • Agree. I like the Apple store. Sign the pad and they email you the receipt. Square device is the same way.  My CTO and I had our credit cards mixed up for an entire weekend. No one, including me, ever noticed till Monday morning. I doubt it they will notice Pooh Bear on the loose.

  • Anonymous

    Too funny.  I sign smiley faces on the digital signature pads.  My daughter is now drawing a sleigh in honor of the season.


  • In Canada credit cards have pins. You only sign if they don’t have a chip & pin reader. We were also way ahead on debit use. 😉

  • I completely agree that this is silly, but in defense of the merchant, let me offer this:

    Each month, some % of credit card transactions are charged back to each merchant.  That is, some % of customers dispute the charge on their card; either because they think the transaction was illegitimate of they’re simply trying to get out of paying that portion of their credit card bill.  

    When this happens, the credit card company sends a chargeback letter to the merchant asking them to provide evidence that the person that owns the card actually made the purchase.  The only evidence that the merchant has that confirms that you made this purchase, in this case, is your signature on the receipt.  So they’ll staple a copy of that receipt to the chargeback letter and mail it back  to the credit card company.  Often, this is enough evidence to get them out of eating the cost of the transaction.  

    Again, all of this is silly, but the merchant has to play this game to prevent them from losing money when swindlers try to get out of paying for legitimate credit card transactions.

    • Brian,  i liked your answer.  There’s a lot of group think here in the comments, but people need to realize that chargebacks have a significant impact on small merchants.  Merchants can lose their merchant account if their chargeback ratio is too high and they are unable to dispute chargebacks without receipts.   Its obviously an archaic system, but until something else is place in the US to help merchants dispute chargebacks, receipts are a necessary evil.  

    • Wwitb


      the signed receipt is for the exceptions. not the norm.

      Merchants eat unsubstantiated charges.  It’s to their benefit to verify signatures, and make sure customers aren’t drawing silly sleighs and “happy faces of fraud” in the signature line.

      To all those who goof off in the signature line … A TOAST to free crap.  Ready the dispute buttons.

  • On the back of my credit card is says “See ID” for that exact reason. It is such a Larry-David-like pet peeve of mine. I scribble nothing or make up signatures all the time. My kids always laugh at it. It’s so anachronistic. It’s a system-wide fail for sure. We should really have a chip & pin service until NFC becomes more widely adopted

    • I’ve used the ‘See ID’ for years.  Abt 1/2 look at all + of those [perhaps] < 1/4 actually ask to see my ID.  

  • Andy Humphrey

    I have the same thoughts in my headed every time too. Crazy. As an eCommerce business owner we don’t deal with signatures, so why does the brick & mortar business deal with this?

    What is going to replace this, Mobile wallet?

  • I only fill up at a particular service station because they have Visa PayWave (NFC). For transactions under $100 you just hold your credit card on this thing (standard plastic credit card) – it beeps and I walk away. Frictionless commerce. Invest in that. It’s the way things are going.

  • Ed Byrne

    This is a US specific problem. I was going to say it’s weird as outside of Japan the US is generally a technology trailblazer – but I think the reason chip+pin hasn’t come in is because there is a merchant cost associated with it. 

    Look at Europe. Western (wealthy) Europe, mandated at country-level that all merchants must move to chip+pin a few years ago – I haven’t signed a credit card receipt in a long time in Ireland. The merchants had no choice but to pay for new terminals (not new computers, just the POS terminal, and a few successful business emerged that lease and manage these devices for merchants).

    Look at Eastern (poor) Europe. It’s still sign the receipt. Why? Governments aren’t going to mandate a technology change that has no benefits to the merchant in an emerging economy. (Benefits are less fraud for credit card provider, and more security for the customer – but the merchant – the one who pays for the technology – gains nearly nothing).

    I think the US has so many small, less well-off traders, that mandating a technology move is just unrealistic. And it requires an all-or-nothing approach to work. 

    But I think we all know in a decade the whole POS business will be different and we won’t be handing credit cards to merchants and signing receipts with pens. It’s exciting to watch the innovation and disruption in this massive space!

  • Scott Wharton

    I’ve been putting a squiggly line for my signature for years or having my kids sign and not once has anyone seemed to care. Stupid, stupid process!

  • Mac

    Seems we have momentum for a sea change.  If you don’t mind, I think I’ll start signing
    mine….Brad Feld/a.k.a Pooh Bear

  • DaveJ

    While I agree that this sort of thing is obsolete, when thinking about monetary systems it’s important always to consider how slimeballs will game it. Because they are always out there looking for ways to do it.

  • Yeah I hate this dance also. As you observe the problem is not that there isn’t advanced technology at the point of sale now at most retail registers.

    The core problem is the way accounting, specifically auditing, is still done. Financial audits by CPA firms still mostly require a step where the auditor has to “sample” physical, paper-based receipts, invoices, etc.

    Sampling is the “sniff test” auditors use to get a flavor of the transactions that are happening for a given business and it’s employees.

    This is happening both for you with the internal and/or external auditor that prepares the Foundry yearly financial statements and also on the side of the business where you bought your Clif bars.

    So the disruption has to happen not at the POS or on your smartphone. The tech already exists at both those places to support moving away from this paper-based-receipt brain-damage. The disruption has to happen first in the GAAP-approved procedures for auditing businesses, some of that is slowly happening, and then in the technology used by auditors to do this transaction sampling.

    New Technology will actually allow auditors to do a better job of this in the desire to root out corruption and fraud/waste/abuse. But accounting like many legally regulated professions, is founded on paper-wrangling and so it will require those who oversee and update GAAP to have been born as digital natives.

    So it’ll be maybe another 20 years before we have 50+ year olds at the top of the Accounting profession who don’t really remember a time before the internet.

  • “Why the fuck does he ask me to sign a credit card slip for $13.19. This is so incredibly obsolete” ~ Go Brad:)

  • I so totally agree.  I was just telling a colleague of mine Thursday that my goal is to be “cashless” – no longer carry bills OR change.  I haven’t carried change in a while, but there’s still too many places that only take cash (or cash under $10) that I have to carry bills.

    I love watching the commercial on TV where the diner is humming along with people paying by Credit Card until some schmuck gives cash, and the whole assembly line comes crashing to a halt… if it were only that way!  In my neighborhood in NJ, practically every small business makes you sign a slip for any CC charge of any amount, and I’m the one slowing down the works, since they are more efficient giving change than walking to the back/side of the register to run a CC transaction…. 

  • James Mitchell

    It’s totally ridiculous that credit/debits are not embossed with a photo of the cardholder, one that cannot easily be tampered with.

    The best thing would be a system that something that ensured the cardholder was actually using the card. A built in thumb reader would be great if they were reliable enough.

    From an entrepreneurial/VC point of view, although the current system is clearly not working, it would be hard to change the system as a startup. Classic chicken and egg problem. So we most likely will have to depend on Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Paypal or some other major company to change the system.

  • I am right there with you.  Even worse for me is having them hand you a receipt.  I hope that the dream of a digital wallet will eliminate this issue.

  • Rees_armour

    That article is so interesting!

    Thank you for sharing this info with
    us!write my papers

  • so what exactly happens when i sign a slip? does the bank or issuer randomly match? or is it intended purely for the vendor to compare with the back of my card?

  • Im waiting for your next post — about how you explained to your partners why you expensed four cliff bars and two packs of gum .. hehehe.

    I remember having to explain to my boss 8 or 10 ( or maybe 20 ) $ in geek magazines for reading on the plane …i got the funny looks and teasing for the next few expense reports 🙂

  • Michael Pang

    I always wondered why debit cards have PIN numbers but credit cards require signatures? Why can’t you just use a PIN for a credit card?  

    If NFC does become widely adopted for smartphones, then we won’t even need to use credit cards and we can just do payments through our phone. I think it would be possible to verify the user through the registration of your card on your device (like an IP address). Although the problem is…what if your phone’s dead haha.

    I’m honestly always surprised by how easy it is to use a credit card and sign it; people hardly ever check to see if you are the actual person using it. Isn’t a debit card actually more secure because you have to enter a PIN instead of just scribbling some random signature? 

  • Kbr888888

    Come and visit us in the netherlands. Most retailers accep “PIN” cards which is esentially a debit card. Punch in my pin and process transaction. No signature and no paper receipt required. By the way, cheques dont exist in the netherlands. You can only pay money electronically. Disruption is as much cultural as it is business model.

  • Pingback: Helen Matthews()

  • Pingback: Transformer to change 220 to 110 volts()

  • Pingback: liquor()

  • Pingback: แทงบอลออนไลน์()

  • Pingback: Just Some Thoughts on My Site()

  • Pingback: nude womens()

  • Pingback: This is my Site()

  • Pingback: แทงบอลออนไลน์()

  • Pingback: kalendarz na rok 2013()

  • Pingback: paylaşım()

  • Pingback: distilling wine()

  • Pingback: Las Vegas Pizza()

  • Pingback: rüyada görmek()

  • Pingback: Pisanie prac licencjackich()

  • Pingback: payday loans online()

  • Pingback: read more()

  • Pingback: Luxury Vail real estate listings()

  • Pingback: distilling scotch()

  • Pingback: payday cash advance()

  • Pingback: home distilling equipment()

  • Pingback: used car inspection()

  • Pingback: Lia Counts()

  • Pingback: african mango extract()

  • Pingback: แทงบอลออนไลน์()

  • Pingback: free webcam sex chat()

  • Pingback: St. Edward’s University Students Reach Out to help the Homeless()

  • Pingback: แทงบอลออนไลน์()

  • Pingback: inexpensive bvlgari()

  • Pingback:

  • Pingback: iOs()

  • Pingback: Ellsworth Lasecki()

  • Pingback: Jama Machamer()

  • Pingback: Lorenza Nylin()

  • Pingback: Mac Coyier()

  • Pingback: quick car insurance quote()

  • Pingback: Mervin Jackola()

  • Pingback: Eun Nolet()

  • Pingback: Cecil Shau()

  • Pingback: Doreen Bohall()

  • Pingback: Harold Newberger()

  • Pingback: Barrie Penz()

  • Pingback: bursa escort()

  • Pingback: cheap auto insurance in ri()

  • Pingback: polskie strony www()

  • Pingback: buy cheap amoxicillin australia()

  • Pingback: Val Zody()

  • Pingback: Sacha Guynup()

  • Pingback: Danilo Stfleur()

  • Pingback: Melvin Krovious()

  • Pingback: Teddy Briant()

  • Pingback: affordable auto insurance texas()

  • Pingback: Rochell Pitek()

  • Pingback: Vaughn Langner()

  • Pingback: Yer Hairston()

  • Pingback: Aron Mccaie()

  • Pingback: Shyla Vanvliet()

  • Pingback: North Carolina()

  • Pingback: Jacinta Holmquest()

  • Pingback: Serita Umphress()

  • Pingback: GAMMA RAY()

  • Pingback: Kendrick Kutsch()

  • Pingback: Bill Swartwout()

  • Pingback: Modesto Cilenti()

  • Pingback: Trang Ancar()

  • Pingback: car insurance online()

  • Pingback: Sharri Holtgrewe()

  • Pingback: Bill Anyan()

  • Pingback: Blogunko()

  • Pingback: Johnathan Chaban()

  • Pingback: Ollie Erlebach()

  • Pingback: Rickie Schley()

  • Pingback: Jared Sidur()

  • Pingback: Michale Chritton()

  • Pingback: Kelly Cortijo()

  • Pingback: Elda Uhrich()

  • Pingback: Barbera Lacher()

  • Pingback: Toby Terinoni()

  • Pingback: Ike Roggensack()

  • Pingback: Ophelia Salvesen()

  • Pingback: Minda Siglar()

  • Pingback: Donny Twombly()

  • Pingback: Taryn Goulart()

  • Pingback: Lavada Pomella()

  • Pingback: Victor Hulin()

  • Pingback: Ola Chicca()

  • Pingback: Maria Weicht()

  • Pingback: Yi Costanzo()

  • Pingback: Willy Mashek()

  • Pingback: Maire Tortoriello()

  • Pingback: Horacio Neuburger()

  • Pingback: Jesse Millender()

  • Pingback: Alvaro Fann()

  • Pingback: Roseann Cassette()

  • Pingback: Maryrose Applebury()

  • Pingback:

  • Pingback: Filiberto Deniken()

  • Pingback: sacs longchamp()

  • Pingback: Alexander Sagal()

  • Pingback: Kerrie Lemme()

  • Pingback:

  • Pingback: Sheryll Tofolla()

  • Pingback: Diedra Belile()

  • Pingback: Fredric Valois()

  • Pingback:

  • Pingback: Amber Eames()

  • Pingback: Young Valaitis()

  • Pingback: Fredric Guetersloh()

  • Pingback: Dominick Lasage()

  • Pingback: Maryetta Sifre()

  • Pingback: Eve Petross()

  • Pingback: Gracia Hores()

  • Pingback: Willian Bournazian()

  • Pingback: Monique Stofko()

  • Pingback: Alanna Oyen()

  • Pingback: Ross Krider()

  • Pingback: Eneida Velthuis()

  • Pingback: Geraldo Kozicki()

  • Pingback: Tommie Mctee()

  • Pingback: Tamica Oregel()

  • Pingback: Stanton Brassfield()

  • Pingback: Abel Callas()

  • Pingback: Neville Dorich()

  • Pingback: Chet Hollister()

  • Pingback: Tayna Woollard()

  • Pingback: Clifton Shala()

  • Pingback: domowe filtry do wody()

  • Pingback: Alonzo Arrocho()

  • Pingback: Helena Policastro()

  • Pingback: Verlie Felsted()

  • Pingback: Aranżacje mieszkań w Gdańsku()

  • Pingback: Bo Grier()

  • Pingback: Monte Monegro()

  • Pingback: Allene Tietjens()

  • Pingback: Maisie Vik()

  • Pingback: Royal Tromp()

  • Pingback: Jody Avendano()

  • Pingback: Vinnie Boehlke()

  • Pingback: Elden Virella()

  • Pingback: Dorinda Iborra()

  • Pingback: Kent Fanguy()

  • Pingback: Christoper Spangenberg()

  • Pingback: Penelope Rickie()

  • Pingback: Hung Desroberts()

  • Pingback: Evita Moraites()

  • Pingback: Jackie Kuney()

  • Pingback: Caprice Lecates()

  • Pingback: Lovie Nippe()

  • Pingback: Armando Rooker()

  • Pingback: Galen Raupach()

  • Pingback: Angelo Leven()

  • Pingback: Buster Massee()

  • Pingback: Winston Loynd()

  • Pingback: Treva Lauerman()

  • Pingback: Warner Candon()

  • Pingback: Elvina Colle()

  • Pingback: Rosalia Chillemi()

  • Pingback: Nichol Pleasant()

  • Pingback: Rosio Guidaboni()

  • Pingback: Chuck Blindt()

  • Pingback: Lisandra Pavelec()

  • Pingback: Adolfo Menoni()

  • Pingback: Amira Kusnic()

  • Pingback: คอนโดเอแบค()

  • Pingback: Ashleigh Almada()

  • Pingback: Kourtney Thelen()

  • Pingback: แทงบอลออนไลน์()

  • Pingback: Valery Mandley()

  • Pingback: Stephen Tuccio()

  • Pingback: Galen Mcbroome()

  • Pingback: Cary Mellett()

  • Pingback: Crystle Antronica()

  • Pingback: Philomena Nicolaides()

  • Pingback: Eve Merana()