Tuesday, August 28, 2007

A new gizmo for dessert

Legal Sea Foods is serving up some new technology to go with raw oysters, 2-pound lobsters and wood-grilled wild salmon.

Last weekend I took my family to meet my mother for dinner at the Legal Sea Foods in King of Prussia, Pa. (I’m a very good son!)

After a lovely meal and scintillating conversation, our waiter brought the check and I pulled out my American Express card. He then brought me the credit card machine.

He explained that Legal was using the device, which uses Wi-Fi technology to connect to the restaurant’s computer, so that the waiters wouldn’t have to take customers’ credit cards away from them during the payment process. So I swiped my card in the device, entered the tip and tore off the receipt after it printed out.

Legal thoughtfully gave me four options on the tip: press “1” for 10 percent, “2” for 15 percent, “3” for 18 percent or “4” for 20 percent; I also could have picked my own figure. The percentages, by the way, were figured correctly — on the total bill before tax.

The Legal Sea Foods restaurant at the Inner Harbor is not yet using the devices, but general manager John Roemer said Monday the restaurant will switch to that system when it moves to its new location in the Verizon Building, probably around February.

From Legal Sea Foods’ Web site:
Where else but in restaurants do you hand over your credit card to someone who walks away with it?

We are serving up something new to ensure the safety of our guests’ credit cards – the ability to self checkout tableside. Now available in several locations and soon to be rolled out in all of our restaurants, the “Pay @ Table” handheld devices brings the payment process front and center. At Legal, guests will no longer have to lose sight of their credit cards and will, instead, have the added convenience of controlling the payment transaction.

Our commitment to our guests is at the heart of this new initiative, but we’ll leave no (tech un-savvy) guest behind! Our associates will gladly process your payment tableside for you if you prefer.

While it is being presented as a security precaution, I couldn’t help but wonder if this raised other security issues. For example, if Legal’s Wi-Fi network wasn’t protected, could anyone with a laptop and a strong wireless connection sit in a car outside the restaurant and “eavesdrop” on the transaction?

Would you feel safer swiping your own credit card at a restaurant?

-ED WALDMAN, Managing Editor, Business


Jo-El said...

I think this is a brilliant idea, and will become the standard.

Anonymous said...

Cool blog as for me. I'd like to read more about this topic. The only thing it would also be great to see on this blog is some pics of some gadgets.
Nickolas Kripke
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