What is a PDQ Machine, and Why Do I Need One?

If you have recently set up a retail business, you may have been told that you need to use a PDQ Machine to take payments.

If so, you are probably asking yourself, 'What is a PDQ Machine"?

In short, a PDQ machine is a clever piece of technology that can be used to take payments by credit card or debit card.

Even though you may not know exactly what one is, you will almost certainly used one many times - in a restaurant, a petrol station or high street store. It is now by far and away the most common way to take payments in the retail industry.

Over the last few years, these machines, once only used in high end retail stores, have spread throughout the commercial world and can now even be found in street corner convenience stores.

Usually, the machine is handed to the consumer, who then inserts his or her card, follows the prompts given by the machine, and then hands the machine back to the proprieter.

Most PDQs are hand held, being about 2 or 3 time the thickness of a TV remote, but not much larger in height or width. Some may be fixed to the checkout, but in all cases the card should be inserted and the actual operation of the machine carried out by the consumer.

The process usually involves the consumer checking the amount to be paid, entering their 4 digit PIN code. Once the PDQ is passed back to the consumer, most models will print out a receipt which is then handed back to the consumer.

This is far improved on the methods used to take payments a few years ago. The biggest improvement is in security, as the card itself never leaves the sight of the customer, removing the risk of the card being scanned illegally and then cloned for criminal use.

The benefit of security works for the retailer as well, as the card is checked in real time, and the controlling bank can verify that the consumer is who they say they are, and actually has enough money in their account to pay for the goods or services in question.

There is usually a fee associated with the use of a PDQ machine, but this is usually small enough to be considered a bit of a bargain compared to the cost of fraudulent transactions that were once so common. Also, as consumers are far more likely to wish to pay by card instead of cash, the risk of lost sales should one not use a PDQ is quite high.

So, now you know what a PDQ is, and why one is essential, the only question left is where to get one.

Most retailers choose to rent one, although you can also buy one outright.

The disadvantage of buying one outright is that there is a considerable up front cost, limited support, and, once the machine is out of warranty, there is the cost of replacement or repair should it go wrong.

If you are interested in learning more about credit card processing and the risk of fraud, check out 'Which Credit Card Fraud' and Financial Fraud Action both of which give impartial advice.