Today's topic: Things that annoy me to the max. Today's subject: Signing credit card receipts.
OK, here we go: Some brief background and a little law school. In the epochs-long history of banking, credit cards are a recent creation. Really, they are little plastic promissory notes—the legal document you sign whenever you take out a loan. You sign a piece of paper (the note) promising to repay the lender (the promise). It's the way banking was done for thousands of years.
Enter credit cards. I'm sure when bankers first pitched the idea—an open-ended, revolving credit line for the everyman, their lawyers pitched a fit.
"Where's the promissory note?!" they must have screamed. And I'm sure the lawyers demanded, at some point in the transaction, the cardholder sign a piece of paper promising to repay the loan.
Look close next time the register prints out one of those curled-up receipts. Most still say something like "I promise to pay the above amount in accordance with the card issuer agreement."
Isn't that crazy? It's 1999 (or something like that) and we're still putting PEN to PAPER to sign our name promising to repay loans.
Problem is: This wastes time, paper, and our patience in a society where our time and attention is the new gold rush.
...And I just found this fabulous NPR story from 2008 that answers my question beautifully.
But I'm still annoyed.