November 30th, 1999


by Stephanie Segal • in Personal


When I was a kid if I wanted to go shopping on the weekend I had to make sure that I hit the bank before it closed on Friday, or I was shut out. You wanted money; you stood in line at the bank. That was all there was to it. I imagine then that peoples credit card bills were far more damaging than they are today.

In this day and age (a whole new age and I wasn’t a kid THAT long ago), it’s rare that you ever have to step into a bank. Interac machines (ATMs in the United States, bank machines here in Montreal) are everywhere. You can pay with your bankcard (ATM card) in stores of all kinds, at movie theatres–basically at more places than you can’t. Fabulous. Nothing greater to a consumer society than a system set up to allow spending money without actually having any on you. And the fact that no cash gets passed is almost like you aren’t spending it at all. Till you get your statements. But hey, don’t open those statements that come in the mail and no damage is done.

I won’t go into a consumer society rant. I won’t go off about how the amount we buy and spend and throw away makes North America the greatest contributor to environmental damage there is. I won’t even mention how most of us would find it difficult to get through a day without spending money on something other than bus fare. We buy. We spend. We consume. And Interac makes that amazingly easy, and most of the time it is a hugely convenient (though not for the global environment, but enough said) facet of life today. And how we love convenience.

However there are two things about Interac that are majorly problematic.

The first is its use in restaurants. Bringing Interac into the dining room was a huge error, as any waiter, waitress or barperson might agree. People come in and treat their tummies to all sorts of delectables and manage to run up quite the bill. This is great for anyone serving these people, till they ask if they can pay via Interac. It is all downhill from there. Mr. or Ms. Shallow Pocket, with a bill for 85 dollars in their hand stand at the Interac machine and stare into the dark hole of their bank accounts. And though only minutes before they were loving the hell out of whatever they were eating and drinking, suddenly they are left with nothing but grease on their lips and an $80 dent. As soon as that look passes over their face, you know. You are about to be fucked over in the tip department. It is almost a given: customer paying by Interac? Be prepared for 10%. This is a very bad thing. People paying with cash or credit cards follow an entirely different science for tipping. There is pride in tipping, more often than not. But Interac — it’s new, it’s unnatural–it is out of place at Chez Wherever.

The second is the one that really gets me. There is an epidemic of corruption of the English language going on here in the late 1990’s. And the word that burns my ear the most as it rolls off the tongue of friend or foe, family or stranger, the word I can expect to hear mispronounced on a daily basis–more than any other word perhaps in history (ok other than library, spaghetti and February)–is Interac. People of the world, I beg of you, GET IT RIGHT. There is no ‘T’ at the end of that word. It is not interact. Those are not interact machines, you can’t pay by interact, we don’t accept interact here. It is INTERAC. It rhymes with slack, back, shack and track. It bears repeating: there is no ‘t’ at the end of Interac. I would trade in my bank card in a flash (and lose all that magical convenience and spend-worthiness you ask? Oh yeah.) if it meant my fellow citizens would forever pronounce this word properly.

Don’t let me fight this battle on my own. Someone, print me a T-shirt with the ‘no “T” at the end’ slogan. I’m good for it. I mean, you do take interac, right?


Ash said:

Wow, you sound like a really greedy waiter. I LOVE my interac card. You can suck it, use cash, and get ripped off all you want. Have fun counting your pennies from all that change.

April 25th, 2010 at 6:35 pm

Király said:

Amen to that! I use my Interac card for one thing only - to get cash from the ATM. I never use it to make purchases. A payment method should be quick, convenient, secure, widely accepted, and immune to computer network outages. Cash beats out ATM cards in all five of those. Cash is King!

And please DROP THE T from the end of Interac!

November 7th, 2010 at 10:51 pm

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