So i hear that several retail outlets do this, even our local food courts as well. It is not right and it is very inconsiderate of them to do that to their consumers. It’s more of an issue personally and I’m sure for other people when it comes to the bigger outlets who can obviously avoid this. OK Fife Avenue is the focus because of my most recent interaction with them. What is happening is that OK Fife avenue is making sure that you accrue more bank charges than you should. They do this by constantly making sure consumers do not get their bank’s PoS machine (Swipe machine) when its checkout time, forcing you to pay via ZImSwitch and incur extra charges.
We are all aware of the cash crisis in Zimbabwe and we are all constantly looking for ways to transact better. One of the most popular ways of late has been swiping at POS machines with your bank card if it is POS ready (You can also read on three addition transacting methods here). Swiping for my groceries in supermarkets is something that I have found to be a more preferable method of doing my shopping. My timetable does not allow me the luxury of going to queue for my hard earned money so this works best.
So for the new month, i use a new method. I am now making sure that when i checkout I always swipe on a Steward Bank swipe machine. It’s a really good thing they seem to have so many of them around. So when I wanted to pay in OK Fife Avenue recently I was surprised when the till operator (Liznet Nare) told me they do not have any Steward Bank machines there. I decided to call the bank there and then to which she changed her story to The ones we have only work with MasterCard. I laughed. This lady was telling me a bank brought in POS machines that work with only 10% of the cards they have in the market. Worse off is I have used a Steward machine before in OK Fife avenue. I didn’t feel like arguing and was getting salty looks from people who felt I was delaying them so I paid via ZimSwitch and left. It was worrying so I confirmed with my bank several times the following day and I can say it’s definite, the Steward Bank machines at OK Fife Avenue DO TAKE ZIMSWITCH and MY BANK CARD. My bank even went on to call just to get more details and came back to me with feedback:
I am curious as to why OK would lie to me and then throw it on my Bank. If this is the way OK Fife Avenue does business then it is a very good thing there’s two Supermarkets in the complex. What they don’t understand is how this can affect the banks. Banks are in a precarious position with the looming bond notes introduction. I woud be very worried if I was Steward bank. At the end of the day if every supermarket I go into keeps handing me a different bank’s PoS machine, it may just look like its better to switch to that bank and Never get ZimSwitch Charges!
Backstory to why this was a pain point; I looked at my previous months bank statement and realised that a sizeable chunk of my costs was in bank charges for the shopping transactions I did. My bank (Steward Bank) has reasonable enough charges so I had to really check to see what happened. I then realised that the transaction charges shot up because of ZimSwitch charges which is a charge you get when you pay using a POS machine from a different bank. I didn’t mind last month when I was transacting but I automatically saw this as a way to cut down on my costs and ward off every entrepreneur’s period of the ramen diet.
So if you’re going to be buying from OK, don’t bother asking for your Bank’s Swipe machine. You’ll be told it only does MasterCard. I would really love to know if they benefit in any way from this. Please let me know.
And Yes I just became the guy crying about an extra charge of less than a dollar. I guess the same way some people will spend fifteen minutes on hold to a call centre to find out what happened to less than $1 of airtime.