You May Kiosk the Bride

I was in a hurry, trying to print out a bridal registry list from a kiosk in a well-known store. I punched in the bride’s name and the list popped up. I pressed the PRINT button on the screen. The first page appeared as expected, but then things became a little more interesting.

I pulled the first page out, but no second page appeared. I waited. I listened. Nothing.

I went to the service counter and described what happened. A blond woman came out with a key, unlocked the kiosk in the back, and pulled out the front panel, which opened like a dresser drawer. I noticed the lock was near the bottom of the kiosk, about 6 inches off the floor–on a kiosk that was 6 foot high. That’s not where I would have mounted the lock, not for convenience sake, and wouldn’t a more central lock be stronger against forced entry? But I digress….

When the wit audit securityoman open the kiosk, I noticed a tray inside that held about 6 sheets of printed paper. I pointed and said, “Looks like my printout got caught inside.” The woman scooped up the papers and handed them to me. She continued to peer inside the machine.

Rather than being my elusive bridal shopping list, the pages were a list of receipts of purchases that others had made from the kiosk. I saw people’s names, product purchased, and the last 4 digits of all the credit card numbers. At that point, I noticed the kiosk had a credit card reader, touch pad, and the red glow of a UPC laser scanner.  This wasn’t just a bridal registry kiosk.

“This isn’t my printout,” I said to the woman, handing her the receipts. She took them from me, but I noticed she had reached into the kiosk and picked up a set of instructions with a white swipe card clipped to it. After glancing at the instructions, she placed them and the card back into the machine.

Why would anyone store the swipe card that gives you admin access to the kiosk inside the machine, attached to instructions with how to use it? Perhaps a PIN would be required after swiping the card, but I’ll bet the PIN was printed on the instructions. Unfortunately, I could not read the small print.

The woman turned to me and said, “I’m not sure what the problem is. If you’ll give me the page that printed, I’ll get the bride’s registry number from it and enter it into the service counter computer and print it out myself.”

After I handed her the page, she locked up the machine. I followed her back to the service desk where I watched her discard the receipts into the trash. I checked the label on the trash bin, which said “Garbage” instead of the expected “Confidential Disposal” or something like that. Dumpster diving, anyone?

While she printed the registry list from the service counter computer, I wondered:

  1. Why does the kiosk print receipts and store them inside the kiosk, soon to be discarded?
  2. What other interesting papers would I find in the store trash?
  3. Why would anyone give this woman the key to the kiosk and send her out to solve a problem when she obviously didn’t know much about the kiosk (if she was more familiar with the kiosk, she would not have handed me the credit card receipts)?

To my dismay, the bridal registry printout that I received was printed in a mainframe application format that was geared more to store clerks rather than shoppers. I couldn’t make much sense out of the product name abbreviations, and the skid numbers didn’t help much either.

I left without buying a gift, but sure learned a lot about the store’s management and security posture.

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If you liked this post, you might like this post by one of my colleagues, Krupo: Another reason bridal registries are a disaster.

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Filed under Humor/Irony, Technology

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