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Cashiers don't understand Apple Pay and it's totally adorable

Susie Ochs | Oct. 24, 2014
"What just happened?!" is the typical reaction I've been getting when using Apple's game-changing new payments system.

apple pay whole foods

Apple Pay is so easy to use it's almost not worth writing about. It's laughably fast and stupidly simple. So simple it's confusing the heck out of clerks and cashiers nationwide!

Here's how it works: You walk up to the kind of payment terminal where you would normally swipe your credit or debit card. You notice a little icon that looks like a sideways Wi-Fi symbol--that means you can also use contactless payments, like those tap-and-go Mastercards that no one uses. That's your clue!

So instead of swiping a card, you hold your iPhone 6 or 6 Plus near the terminal, your default Apple Pay card pops up on the screen, you smugly put your thumb on the Touch ID button, and boom, transaction completed. It took me approximately 17 times longer to type this than it does to actually make a payment.

But in these early days of Apple Pay, the speed and simplicity are also the perfect recipe for hilarity. As in, the cashiers I've encountered definitely did not get a memo, and to a man and woman they had nooooo idea what was going on.

This makes sense, though. The payment terminals aren't new. The cashiers don't really get involved when you use them to swipe cards, except occasionally to remind you to push the green OK button or something. So no training was necessarily required for them--literally the only change is customers paying with a phone instead of a card. So I understand why they didn't know what was happening. But it was still funny.

The sorry guy at Walgreens
First, I went to Walgreens. I selected some socks. Four pairs for $7! You can never have too many socks, I always say. The socks were not on sale, but the cashier--a very nice man in a Walgreens vest, who kind of looked like one of my uncles--really wanted me to log in to my Walgreens rewards account anyway. So I typed in my phone number, and he called me Susanne, and I got that weird feeling you got when you were a kid and your mom called you by your full name after you did something bad.

Then I casually used Apple Pay to buy the socks. The smiling man must have thought I was checking my texts or something, because he was totally unprepared for the transaction to be complete. "What did you do?!" he exclaimed in the tone of a caveman who just saw someone light a Zippo instead of rubbing two sticks together.

I said, "Did it go through? I just paid with my iPhone. It's called Apple Pay. It just launched today." (Quotes approximate. I wasn't recording this or anything.) He was astonished, and started falling all over himself apologizing that he didn't know about it. "I'm sorry," he said, "I didn't know." And then he repeated that a few more times. He was sorry. He didn't know.


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