Signature Pad Art

I have been signing my name with a smiley face on digital signature pads for at least 3 years.

It started as a test to see if anyone would notice.  When I first started signing with a smiley face, I would look up at the cashier for approval; waiting for them to harshly censure me or call security and throw me in retail jail.  But its been accepted every time.  The only time it wasn’t accepted was when I tried to sign with a smiley face when I refinanced my house.  Banks do not have a sense of humor and insist on you carefully crafting your full name (not a real signature either).

Cashiers are rarely aware of what customers are doing with the signature pads.  Most of the time they don’t even have a mechanism for checking a signature unless they crawl up on the desk and crawl to the end of the counter to see what you’re doing over there.  At some merchants my smiley face will show full screen on the monitor, flashing the words “COMPARE SIGNATURE WITH CARD”.  In this case, the cashier looks at the smiley face, makes a cashier grunting noise, fails to recognize the smile, and approves the transaction mumbling something about having a good day.  In my 3+ years of doing this, it was acknowledged once as one cashier said it was cute before approving the transaction.

My wife has started signing with a smile too.  She was actually stopped by one brazen cashier who didn’t want to approve the transaction or really hated smiles.  My wife told the cashier that she always uses the smiley face as a security measure because a card thief probably wouldn’t be aware of our unusual signature pattern.  The cashier relented when my wife showed her ID and reluctantly approved the transaction.

So we’ve had one near-rejection in hundreds of transactions.  Still, what’s the worst that can happen if you get “caught” not putting your proper signature on a signature pad?  Are they going to make you sign again?  Would a merchant really enforce a policy that sends you to the parking lot, leaving them the task of putting  $150 worth of melting groceries back on the shelves?

Digital signature pads are a completely worthless parts of a transaction. The only feasible use for them would be if your one and only true signature is on file in a master database and it’s digitally compared on a POS system.  It’s become such a routine that it doesn’t matter.  I feel bad for people when I see them carefully scribing their signatures on a pad.  Even if your card is used fraudulently, you can dispute it and will most likely win. Your signature never comes into play.

But there’s no reason to get mad about it or start a class action lawsuit.  If they’re going to make you do it, you might as well have fun with it.

Recently I’ve been crafting more elaborate signature pad art.  I usually don’t pre-plan my sketches so they are pretty terrible.  Here are some pictures I drew when I had my camera ready.

A dude riding a motorcycle

Two people about to make a baby

Signature pads time out in about 7 seconds, I found

The sun setting a house on fire and people running away and one guy is on fire

In all 3 of these cases no one looked at my “signature” or even asked why the hell I was taking a picture of it.

Your homework is to begin making your own Signature Pad Art and report back on the results.  Does a cashier challenge your signature or threaten to send you out on the street without your purchase? Sneak a snapshot of your art and send me the picture so I can post it.  Have your camera on and ready with the flash off to avoid making a scene.  I’m not responsible for the results of your transaction or your ability to handle the cashier police.  If you get sent to the Mall Jail, I will pay for your bail for the story value.

Also you cannot sign with a smiley face because I own it.  To do so would be forgery and you’ll go to jail for fraud.  Get your own fake signature.


4 thoughts on “Signature Pad Art

  1. Haha! I did this today at CVS. The cashier is like “I need to see your credit card” then after signing she says “you put a smiley face as your signature so I definitely need to see your ID”

    She stared for a good 10 seconds at the two documents, and then approved it. Honestly I don’t know why credit card companies tell you to sign the back of your card. As per merchant agreements, they’re not supposed to approve transactions if the card isn’t signed… but usually they just end up checking your ID, which I think is more secure.

    At any rate, I’ll try to get more elaborate with my signature art. It does make my routine purchases more fun…

    • That’s great, Mike! I’m glad to hear other people are doing it. Usually CVS and Walgreens don’t even let you sign unless you buy like $500 worth of stuff. Does CVS’ signatures pop up on their screen or did she crane her neck over to see what you wrote?

  2. As a person involved with credit card disputes at a company which employs the use of electronic signature pads, I can absolutely assure you that the signature comes into play – even digital ones.

    The rules as to whether you win or lose a dispute as a merchant is dependent on a variety of factors. And yes, we have lost disputes for our employees not making sure there is a valid signature on file. My favorite was on a contract where the person did a peace sign, heart and smiley face.

    Your depicted examples are NOT valid signatures. However, security camera footage is very helpful when proving if you are the correct person/cardholder signing that signature pad (with whatever scribble your whim desired that day). And yes we have used that to win disputes.

    Personally I would sigh and complain if I ever had to work a dispute with one of your ridiculous signatures. Just creates more work in the long-run and the fact that you put in your article, “you can dispute it and will most likely win” is the most disgusting phrase. It is this cavalier attitude that destroys belittles the security process and causes plenty of business and card companies loss. Not only monetarily but in time and resources.

    • Thanks for the hilarious follow up. Your sense of humor knows no bounds.

      And yes I realize my cavalier attitude is a mockery of the system. I wouldn’t want a more secure system to be in place, say a RFID chip in your forehead in which you must bow to the almighty credit card machine to complete your purchases.
      But I am pointing out a serious flaw in the even more cavalier attitude of 98% of cashiers who don’t check the credit cards either.

      I think the real issue here is the fact that you’re ready to sigh and complain at the sight of something amusing. Or the fact that you think all 30 people who read this need your help in realizing the potential implications of flippantly scribbling on the pad. Its busybodies like you that cause so much unnecessary regulation and litigation in this world because you think everyone needs your help.

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