DNA Lounge: Wherein we have a new POS

Here's the worst part about switching to a new point-of-sale system: buying a whole stack of new iPads. And this is less than half of them.

Because of course the perfectly functional iPads we already have are now unsuitable. These things would have been considered supercomputers in the 90s, but I'm to believe that they are so old and obsolete that they are incapable of keeping up with someone clicking the button that says "cheese slice". A task like that obviously requires the absolute bleeding edge. Apple has stopped shipping OS updates for our existing iPads, and vendors don't support old versions of iOS, largely because Apple intentionally makes it nearly impossible for them to do so even if they wanted to.

The second worst part is that nobody offers data portability of any kind. If we want to look at trends (or do our taxes) we have to spend the next year looking at that data using two different, incompatible systems. So that's fun.

Anyway, we're switching from Revel to SmartTab for the restaurant and bar. Wish us luck.

It's a new point of sale that is focused on bars and nightclubs, so we have to do a lot less work to get good reports, and there are some cool features related to how bar tabs work that we're looking forward to trying out. By constrast, Revel was designed for low-volume retail, with restaurants and bars added later as a afterthought, and it still shows. Also SmartTab is cheaper than Revel, and they're based in San Francisco, which helps with support. If you want to try it out for your bar, email alexis@smarttab.com (DNA Lounge's former booker!)

Revel, meanwhile, lost our business for several reasons.

First, they refused to pause our licensing fees during the pandemic while the club was closed. They offered a short reduction but only on the condition that we first sign a new multi-year contract!

Second, their EMV readers are terrible. The banks have finally required everyone to switch from swipe-based card readers to EMV (chip-and-PIN or touchless). The way we had it set up before was that the card reader bolted onto the side of a rugged iPad case which the bartender could carry with them as they moved around behind the bar, and hand to the customer. But the only EMV readers that Revel is compatible with are gigantic, bulky things that basically require the iPad to be bolted down in a fixed location, which might be fine for retail checkout, but doesn't work for us at most of our bars.

Third, in order to use EMV readers at all, Revel is now insisting that you use their in-house payment processor. Of course as a special sign-up offer they say they'll match whatever rate you have with your old payment provider, which is a way of saying "we will reduce this one line item on your invoice and hide our profit in a different line item instead". Interposing themselves on the payment transaction is the same scam that the delivery services use. (Revel business model: "Uber for cash registers".) Rather than charging for the service that they actually provide (be that delivering a box or developing software) they instead want a cut of however much money you make while running your business.

Imagine if it went like this:

    "Hey, how much will you charge me to install a dance floor?"

    "That depends, how many people do you think will walk on it? How about instead of me charging you for my time and materials, you give me a taste of what all of the people who ever step on that floor pay you, in perpetuity?"

    "Sounds great!"

I hope we figure out something useful to do with all of those old iPads, but speaking of ancient hardware, as I often do, check this out. Here's a camcorder that we forgot about that I just pulled out of the ceiling today. It was a part of our old SD / NTSC webcast system that was in place when we first opened.

This camcorder has been quietly and without complaint sitting there displaying video since 2005. It has been powered on that whole time and, despite a layer of dust nearly half an inch thick, it is still working fine!

Now that right there is the opposite of how Apple does things.