Credit card difficulties in France

Nov 15th, 2005, 05:58 PM
  #21  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
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Maybe they just plead electronic ignorance so they would net 10€ for a 10€ meal, not 9.50€ (after service fee from VISA)
tomboy is offline  
Nov 15th, 2005, 08:31 PM
  #22  
 
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Puce (not pouce is French for “(computer) chip,” and so the management was saying that there was something wrong with the chip on the card. American cards don't usually have chips (easy to recognize by the gold-plated contacts in a small circle near one corner of the card), but all French cards have them. If your card had a chip, it probably didn't have the same programming as French chips, and so there may have been a software conflict. If your card didn't have a chip, I'm not sure what the restaurant was talking about. Chipless cards can usually still be charged by running them through the magnetic strip reader on the point-of-sale terminal (instead of inserting them into the slot provided for smart cards with a chip).

French banking has a lot of peculiarities and conflicts are not unusual. This is especially true for other cards that also contain chips.

If the problem arose with multiple cards, it was probably the restaurant's fault. If your card has no chip, and they tried to use the card in a slot intended for a chip (hard to imagine, but some restaurants might actually be that stupid), naturally it wouldn't work. A few restaurants off the tourist track might not realize that a card actually has to have a chip on it in order for it to work in a chip reader—they may have never seen a card without one, so they might not make the connection between the absence of those little gold contacts and the need to read the magnetic stripe.
AnthonyGA is offline  
Nov 16th, 2005, 02:54 AM
  #23  
 
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When this has happened to us we have asked them to take it to the main register and enter it there. It has worked with that. This was a couple of years ago however. No problems recently with newer cards.
Gretchen is offline  
Nov 16th, 2005, 03:26 AM
  #24  
 
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This past summer my husband and I had difficulty in France using our credit cards. We were there almost a month. The last week, while in Paris, none of our cards worked! We each had an Amex, MC and two different ATM bank cards. All banks/companies had been informed that we would be in France. It turns out that a purchase in Limoge, using a card we had not used during our vacation until then, was flagged. Apparently, when one card is flagged, the other credit card companies are alerted. We immediately informed the bank, that we made the purchase and that the card had NOT been stolen or lost, but we continued to have problems. After we returned to the US some cards were still denied. Each card had to be reactivated. This was a major pain in the neck.

Walkteach
walkteach48 is offline  
Nov 16th, 2005, 03:50 AM
  #25  
 
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This is a very helpful thread -- thanks everyone!
sfowler is offline  
Nov 16th, 2005, 04:24 AM
  #26  
 
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If the stripe won't scan in a machine, can't the clerk just enter the card number manually, by typing in the digits? It seems hard to believe that the card designers wouldn't have some kind of backup method of read -though this wouldn't help foreign cards with no zip codes in the NY self-service stations, of course. (In fact, we won't use self-service stations with no attendant, anywhere.)

By the way, we encountered this a couple of times, mainly in France at restaurants using hand-held registers. But the small hotel in Paddington, London eventually got our card to work, especially when we informed them that we were out of cash, with no plans to get more (we were leaving...)
Sue_xx_yy is online now  
Nov 16th, 2005, 04:51 AM
  #27  
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
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You've a good point, Sue.

I was thinking that when you buy online, the card isn't even scanned. And there's nothing to say that you can't buy from a French website.

But I seem to recall that I've had a situation when one of my ccs wouldn't work online. I think that I was trying to buy a ticket on Aegean Air. I had to switch to a different one. Maybe it was just a fluke incident.

But it's just equally possible that the merchants don't know the workaround, if there's one.
111op is offline  
Nov 16th, 2005, 02:32 PM
  #28  
 
Join Date: May 2005
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Cards with a chip cannot be entered manually; there is a cryptographic handshaking sequence between the chip and the terminal that cannot be duplicated by any other process.

Cards with a magnetic stripe contain information other than just the card number and expiration date, so these can't really be entered manually, either, in most cases.

Internet purchases and other such purchases without authentication are allowed by some card companies at the risk of the merchant; that is, if the cardmember contests the charge, the merchant loses, because he chose to accept a card without the usual verifications. Since the fraud rate is actually extremely low, many merchants decide to take the risk.

With chipped cards (smart cards), you're only responsible for the charge if you use your PIN to validate it. Smart cards are extremely secure, which is why pickpockets prefer foreign tourists (who still have magnetic-stripe cards) as opposed to French people (who have only smart cards). It's much easier to forge a signature than to guess a PIN—especially since smart cards lock after three incorrect PINs.
AnthonyGA is offline  
Nov 16th, 2005, 02:36 PM
  #29  
 
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A few times in small restaurants we have been told that the machine "ne marche pas." Several days later it was still not marching, and we suspected that the owners were just trying to avoid accepting credit cards because of the associated fees.
Underhill is online now  

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