My card machine isn't working

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My card machine isn't working

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First up, if it's one of our card machines that isn't working, head over to our online support section, or give our team a call on 01606 566 600 and we'll get you back up and running as quickly as we can.

Help, my card machine is down!

Card payments make up nearly 80% of all retail transactions - steadily overtaking cash throughout the last decade, and the most popular way to accept them is with a card machine. But, as with all technologies, there runs the risk of a malfunction, and when this happens it can feel like a nightmare for businesses. 

We all know how frustrating it feels when technology lets us down but with a little planning, you can be sure if you ever find yourself in this situation you’re equipped to handle it like a boss. 

Want to be prepared for all eventualities? Then check out our nine-step guide to dealing with a card machine malfunction.

1. Have a plan in place

We’ve all heard the saying ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail’ and it’s super-relevant here. Write down a crystal-clear plan of action for what you’ll do should your card machine ever let you down and share it with all members of staff so everyone’s on the same page. 

If you’ve ever suffered an outage before use the experience to inform your plan, it’ll give you valuable insight and a headstart on any future problems. If you’ve never been in this situation before or don’t know where to start, keep reading to find out what should be included.

2. Work as a team

Teamwork makes the dream work, so everyone on your team should have an assigned task to make sure things run smoothly. If everyone knows what’s expected of them, you’ll save a lot of flapping if or when the time comes. 

Here are some tasks that’ll need covering:

  • Who will ring your card machine provider?
  • Who will liaise with and offer support to customers as they enter your store?
  • Who will log transactions if your till system’s down too?

3. Find the root cause

Once everyone knows what they’re doing and customers are dealt with, you can get to the matter in hand - getting the problem fixed. But, to do this, you need to know what’s triggered the meltdown. It could be the machine itself is kaput, or perhaps it’s your internet connection or a power cut.

Check the connection on other devices and take a look at your router. If that’s all okay you can narrow down your options to the machine itself, i.e. is it a wider problem with the service? To find out, try looking on your provider’s social media for updates or reaching out to neighbouring businesses to see if they’re in the same boat. 

4. Contact your provider

Now you’re sure it’s the card machine at fault, get in touch with your payments provider and find out what’s going on. They’ll be able to tell you if there’s a more general issue and offer a timeline of how long it might go on. 

It might be your card machine alone that’s erroring, and in this instance, you need to get it replaced ASAP. We provide Ingenico card terminals, which are best in class, so we wouldn't expect errors to occur very often, if at all. However, if they do, have a read through our online support section, or give our team a call on 01606 566 600 and they'll be happy to help get you back up and running fast. 

5. Let customers know 

As soon as you know the problem can’t be immediately fixed you need to get on with the job of making your customers aware. When it comes to your store you can inform consumers as they enter (assign a staff member this role), stick a sign in the window and on the sales counter. 

If you’ve got social media accounts, it’s a good idea to make use of those too. Customers like to know what’s going on and you could save frustration with a simple post letting your followers know what’s happening. 

6. Provide updates

The initial confession is important, but offering continual updates takes it one step further and shows consumers that you a) care, and b) value them - both of which can help boost loyalty despite this blip. 

Remember when KFC ran out of chicken? What was at its core an almighty cock-up was quickly forgiven by consumers thanks to their honest, self-deprecating and apologetic response:

"A chicken restaurant without any chicken. It's not ideal. Huge apologies to our customers, especially those who travelled out their way to find we were closed. It's been a hell of a week but we're making progress, and every day more and more fresh chicken is being delivered to our restaurants. Thank you for bearing with us".

The take-away (excuse the pun)? Acknowledge what’s happening, show sincerity, offer updates, and make it jovial where appropriate.

7. Consider your alternatives 

For anyone who enters your store and tries to make a purchase on plastic without realising your machine’s out-of-action, it’s a good idea to have alternative measures in place. 

If you can’t accept card payments but your internet’s still working, consider offering online payments or payment via e-wallets (such as PayPal) in the meantime. Not everyone will be willing to come back with cash, so it might be the difference between making and losing the sale.

Remember: if you do accept alternative interim methods be sure to keep a record of transactions (using a spreadsheet or good old fashioned pen and paper) so you can update your system when things are back up and running.

8. Show great customer service

Remaining calm and being well-informed will be crucial to keeping customers happy so your staff need to be on their A-game. 

We’ve already highlighted the importance of keeping them up-to-date and offering alternatives, but here are a couple of other factors to consider:

  1. Clue yourself up on where the nearest cash machine is so you can point customers in the right direction. 
  2. Be sure you know how to handle an angry customer. We understand you’ll be stressed enough dealing with the malfunction and being faced with hostility is the last thing you’ll need, but to avoid the situation escalating into lost custom you’ll need to remain cool, calm and collected.
  3. It’s not just face-to-face frustration you might be up against but angry responses to your social posts too. Make time to respond in an apologetic and reassuring manner. 

Top tip: Want to brush up on how to deal with angry customers? Head to our handy guide

9. Go with a reliable provider

Like we said, technology can fail us all from time to time - it’s the nature of the beast, but if this isn’t your first rodeo and you’re finding yourself high and dry thanks to faulty gadgets on a regular basis, it might be time to switch provider. 

High spec, top of the range card machines are built to last, and that’s what a reliable payments provider will offer you. And it’s not just the physical machines that need to be up to scratch, the customer service should be above and beyond too. 

Our advice? Do your homework and find the perfect provider that’ll care about your business’ success as much as you do. 

Sound too good to be true? Here at takepayments we go over and above to keep our customers happy, it’s what makes us tick. So, if you’re in the market for a top-of-the-range, reliable card machine you’re in the right place. 

Whether you’re in Skegness or Southport, we’re proud to offer expert consultants all over the country, so there’ll be someone local on hand to support you with everything from portable, and countertop to contactless or mobile machines. Speak to our team on 08082 393254 to see what we can do for you. 

Bryony Pearce

Bryony Pearce


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