Credit Card Magnetic Strip Doesn't Work Unless....

Card doesn't work when "swiped" through the machine unless one covers it with plastic....one cashier suggested putting plastic grocery sack around the card and then swipe it, and it worked. Any idea why this works? (We've requested a replacement card).
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wrote:

Nope, doesn't make sense to me since the bag keeps the reader head away from the stripe and would make it less likely to read as I see it. I hope someone can explain it.
Remove 333 to reply. Randy
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On 12/19/2013 7:46 AM, Norminn wrote:

It's a fairly common thing clerks learn pretty quickly.
I've not researched it but my supposition is that there's noise in the signal owing to the deteriorated portions and the plastic reduces these lower-level confusing inputs to the point the reader can then reproduce the real data. IOW, it (the plastic) improves S:N ratio more than it reduces S.
Over the years I've had several that get to where it's needed before they reach the point of automagic renewal. It's also clear some readers are better than others--either they also age or they're just higher quality, I know not which.
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On 12/19/2013 9:37 AM, dpb wrote:

That sounded very logical, so I decided to Google it....I had been thinking it might be a local practice, but apparently not...here is a link:
http://blogs.howstuffworks.com/2009/11/16/how-can-a-plastic-bag-enhance-the-magnetic-stripe-on-the-back-of-a-credit-card/
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I've had the same experience. I assume the reader screws up because it is sometimes too sensitive. The plastic bag reduces the signal strength a little.
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Dan Espen

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wrote:

I had a card that wouldn't work at two gas station of different labels, but worked every else for years. The gas station guy said if my card was from one of two or three banks, it was likely not to work or maybe it definitely wouldn't work. I probably paid cash.
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my cashier rubs the stripe on her leg. I don't know why it works, but it does make for an interesting show
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On 12/19/2013 8:46 AM, Norminn wrote:

Our id badges at work are also smart cards. We can "charge" meals on them in the cafeteria in which case the card gets swiped, and they also are used for access to various areas of the hospital with some sort of proximity sensor.
The swipey part of mine started deteriorating a while ago. It would work in some registers, but not others, and it wasn't always consistent as to which ones it preferred. I had no problem with the access readers.
The cashiers in the cafeterias would routinely try to use the plastic bag trick with varying results. I would have requested a new card except that our security office's policy was that they would charge me $10 to replace it, the same as if I'd lost my badge. However they don't charge for broken/damaged cards. Needless to say, eventually my card had an unfortunate encounter with a pair of scissors and "broke".
BTW, my sympathies for having the card break at this time of year. I had a credit card do that shortly before Christmas many years ago, and it was a major hassle. Even though, according to the cc company, the cashiers could type the number in, they all acted like that was an alien concept.
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wrote:

There's a good reason why cashiers act this way. When the first ship with aliens arrived, they had been provisioned with a charge and debit cards with a variety of trademarks, Visa, Mastercard, American Express, but the magnetic strips had been improperly forged, and they didn't work. So all around New Mexico, cashiers were typing in card numbers, and not only was that a nuisance, a few days later they learned the transactions had been researched by the companies and bounced, even though they didn't at the time. Hardest hit were clothing stores, as the aliens bought Earth-like clothing. Also pharmacies, where they bought dyes, to color their hair and skin, to make them seem Earth-like. And magaizines for hints on how to pass.
Anyhow, once burned, twice shy, and indeed it was an alien concept.

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I would normally push the card toward the stripe side, but I found it often works better if I try to do the opposite.
Greg
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