Em like a boss

End of an era: I was issued a new ATM card and the new one no longer has raised letters, and that makes me surprisingly sad. They are denying me the possibility of having my card swiped by a clacky carbon-paper roller machine. BUT WHAT IF!! I can still hear the sound of it.

When I was trying to figure out how to print the DNA Lounge Patreon cards, I tried to find a machine that could do embossing like this at any kind of scale, and it was not practical.

Previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously.

Tags: , , , ,

26 Responses:

  1. Many Irenes says:

    alas. thanks for trying!

  2. Dan says:

    Actually saw a clacky carbon-paper contraption used recently when all the power went out at a store.

    • jwz says:

      Oh man, if the power went out and I told my staff to just take cash and make change by hand, I think their level of panic might lead to convulsions.

      • Dan says:

        I bet!  In this case it was a small local grocery store, and there were a handful of people who had already shopped and ready to check out (with their perishable items).  So they were pretty accommodating.

      • skink74 says:

        I had a similar experience at a  garden store where "the internet was broken". The queue had reached a point where even we Brits were starting to mutter that "this just isn't on" so the staff reached under the tills for boxes labelled "Crash Kit", and unsealed them to reveal absolutely mint roller things and perfect little books of the carbons. It was amazing.

        • Elusis says:

          I love whoever put that together and labeled the box.

          I don't miss good old knuckle-busters, but I appreciate their utility in a clinch.

  3. Benjamin says:

    Can someone send my bank the memo?
    The colour inevitably wears off the embossed numbers after a few months in my wallet.

  4. mattl says:

    A few years ago CD Baby would give anyone a carbon copy credit card machine for a few dollars and you could send them the receipts and get paid.  

  5. thomasjpr says:

    I’m 43 years old, but fairly positive that I’ve never had to hand my own card over for the carbon copy treatment, though it was probably still available as an emergency backup option for vendors until the last decade or so? Has this officially died yet? I definitely remember this carbon copying as a regular occurrence when out with my parents in the early-to-mid 90s. Between that and personal checks, it’s a miracle our financial system survived the 20th century.

    • tfb says:

      Just think how well the current system will do when someone nasty takes the internet away for a couple of weeks.  Which, of course, could never happen, because, erm, magic?  Or is it pixies? I forget.

      This reminds me of 2008, when I worked in a bank and had to talk to people who were all 'just let the banks fail, it will all be fine' until you pointed out that if they fail the ATMs don't work any more, and if they fail for long they can't be put back together again any time soon. (Do not read this to mean I think the banks were not absolutely to blame, that the people who ran them should not have gone to jail or that a better system could not be devised: they were, they should, it could be.  But just abruptly scrapping the financial system is not an option if you want to keep eating.)

    • Doctor Memory says:

      Yeah, if you're under 45 there's a good chance you never saw one used in the wild.  I'm old enough to have had an afterschool job at a record store (where they sold physical music, it was a total thing) in 1987 and the magstripe readers (which IIRC were connected via x.25 frame relay links to some local bank branch) were still flaky enough that we kept the carbon-paper rollers on the countertop as a backup, but they were well on their way out even at that point.

      • 3

        I went to a lot of festivals in the 1990s and most of the vendors still had them into the aughts. There wasn't a real choice until the grounds could be assumed to have stable Wi-Fi or data service.

    • CSL3 says:

      I'm 42 years old, and operating/filling out the old-fashioned, hand-crank credit card transaction was a specific part of my training for a retail job I from 2000-1. I dare say I was the best non-manager to do it when the power did go out.

    • 1

      45 here, and I definitely have gotten the carbon treatment. Though even by the time I was a teen and working my first non-paper route job (at a one-hour photo lab, RIP), I'm pretty sure we never used the carbon copy device.

    • Clem says:

      44.  I've used them a few times, as a customer.  Last time was probably about 10 years ago at a clothing store when the phone lines went out.  

      My own retail experience from 1994-2002 was mostly at places that only took cash/check.

  6. Frandroid says:

    Both of my credit cards were re-issued recently and one of them came with printed rather than embossed numbers.  I also felt a twinge.  In a past career I was working for a shopping site and I dreamt of getting plastioc business cards with rounded corners, with my phone number or my email embossed that way, and a fake magnetic strip at the back.  Unfortunately we were not able to deviate from company standard.

  7. Alan Ralph says:

    I still had embossed credit cards until a few years ago, even though here in the UK carbon paper hasn't been a thing for several decades and we're well on the way to having contactless payment just about everywhere. But of course I still need to sign my name on the strip on the back of the card, which is about the only original feature left at this point. (The magnetic swipe went away a while back.)

    • Paul says:

      Most recently (for the last few decades?) the signature on the card isn't to prove to the cashier that you're really you (because no one compares receipt to card signatures any more), these days it's to say you agree with the terms of the card.

  8. J. Peterson says:

    I remember when embossed cards were used at trade shows. Your credit-card sized badged was embossed at the registration desk with your name & address, with a machine the size of a microwave oven. Vendors would run your badge through the thunka carbon roller if you wanted them to mail you more info.

  9. Eric TF Bat says:

    I changed banks a couple of years ago and the new cards aren't embossed, but the old ones were.  Coincidental timing, or different policy? I don't know.  I do know that it's been three years or more since one of my clients tried to write me a cheque; if they tried now I'd tell them not to, and offer to drive them to an ATM if they can't manage internet banking.  We have a couple of methods in Oz that work even without credit cards, including the very clever PayID system that will transfer money to an account from any bank to any other without all that faffing about with 19th century bureaucracy that I hear is still a problem in the US. Any time I see a chequebook now, it reminds me of a sketch by a New Zealand comedian, John Clarke, whose North Island farmer character Fred Dagg only came into town about once a year, and was shown dealing with a parking meter by writing a cheque for 20 cents and trying to stuff it into the coin slot.

  10. 1

    The loss of raised numbers doesn't bug me as much as the new metal cards; my last one that expired wouldn't go through my shredder. I ended up drilling the chip among other things.

    • tfb says:

      We recently got rid of two of these, which I dealt with by drilling through the chip.  They're not common in the UK and one reason we closed the account was that we realised that if we ever had to actually use the physical card we'd feel like we'd be mistaken for the sort of people who drive very expensive sports cars around cities to prove some stupid point about I'm not sure what.

    • Jim says:

      How do you know where the chip is? Do you mean you drilled through the contacts?

    • Sean Graham says:

      Dont forget that they also interfere with NFC and other proxcards!  I went from being able to slap my wallet onto the prox reader on the bus to having to play a game of heisenwallet hoping that I chose the correct side.  These days I just take the transit card out of my wallet to expedite boarding.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. But if you provide a fake email address, I will likely assume that you are a troll, and not publish your comment.

Starting a new top-level thread.

  • Previously