In the modern world, we rely on technology for most aspects of our personal and professional lives so when we run into technical issues it can be stressful. This is especially the case if you run a business that needs to take card payments from customers - but what happens if your card machines go down?

Before you start to panic, it’s important to first make sure you’ve checked the card machine is definitely not working by running through the various card machine troubleshooting tips. This blog is your guide to what can go wrong and what you can do about it to get your payments back on track as quickly as possible.

Common reasons card machine payments can go down

Before we get started with what to do if your card machine is not working, let’s explore what can go wrong in the first place. Here are some of the most common reasons:

Malfunctioning card machine

This can happen to any piece of technology, even the most sophisticated machine can develop a glitch in the software. This can result in error messages on the screen when you try to take payments, but not the usual errors that show up when a customer’s card has been declined.

These could be classed as ‘other error’, ‘issuer system unavailable’, ‘invalid transaction’, or several other codes. Sometimes the issue can be a temporary one and simply trying it again will make it work. Other times, there can be something more serious and long-lasting that needs to be fixed.

Payment processing system failures

Sometimes the problem is well beyond your control and is more widespread. If a major payment processor goes down, it can leave businesses all over the country temporarily unable to take card payments. This can be a nightmare for you and your customers, but at least you can say it’s also affecting everyone else too, from supermarket chains to fast food restaurants.

Battery/power issues

Sometimes the answer can be a very simple one. If your mobile card reader gets left away from a charging base and runs the battery down, you could find that it goes down while you’re taking a payment, which is an awkward situation for you and a frustrating one for your customer.

There could of course be more serious issues than simply going too long without charging it. If your machine has been on the charging base and still runs out of battery too soon, you could have a bigger problem that needs to be looked at.

ISP issues

You can have trouble taking payments if an internet service provider (ISP) goes down. This can affect your business, whether your card readers operate from the Wi-Fi or a mobile network, either way, you need the internet and if it isn’t available, you will be unable to process card payments.

As with payment processing system failures, this can often be a widespread issue that affects people all over the country or it could be a very localised one. It can also be one that sorts itself out in minutes or can take a whole day to come back online, leaving you in a difficult situation.

What to do if your card machine goes down

There are a number of reasons why you could end up losing your ability to take payments via a card machine. This is why it’s important to know what you can do in this situation, instead of panicking in front of customers and turning them away because you can’t take their payments.

Here are some tips:

Have a backup plan
Customers want to feel safe and secure when making payments, so if you come across an issue, it’s essential that you’ve got a backup plan in place that you can switch to seamlessly in the event of a problem.

All your staff need to know this plan so they can communicate it quickly and efficiently, whether it’s taking payments offline, advising customers where they can get cash nearby or having specific team members assigned to investigate the issue.

Diagnose the problem
This is another important step. As we’ve said, it could be outside of your control, in which case there’s nothing you can do to fix it, but as soon as you have an issue with taking payments, you need someone to be working out why and trying to fix it, if possible.

Be wary of suspicious activity
While trying to diagnose the problem, you should bear in mind the possibility that someone could use this situation to their advantage.

Look out for people posing as banks, card companies, payment processors or any other phishing attempts and remain cautious.

Share information with customers
Losing the ability to pay for something the way you had intended can be frustrating, so your customer service skills need to be at the top of their game if you find yourself in this situation. Be honest and clear with your customers and offer to help them complete their transactions as best you can in the circumstances.

Ask customers to use alternative payment types
In an ideal world, you would be able to take payments another way while your card machine is down. Depending on what the problem is, you might still be able to take online or phone payments, whilst cash will certainly work if the customers are able to pay this way. Being flexible about payment methods, in general, will help if the issue is only affecting certain card types.

Record any transactions
When card machines go down you might not be able to use your usual online systems to record transactions, but it is vital to ensure you are still doing this, even if it means using the old-school way of pen and paper. Note down the customer's name, what they have bought, how much it was and the time it was purchased. You’ll need this information when everything is back up and running.

Reduce the risk of card machine downtime with Dojo Go
Technology can be unpredictable and as we’ve shown here, card machine errors can be caused by plenty of external factors, however, if you want to minimise your chances of being caught in this situation, you need a reliable card reader.

Discover how the Dojo Go mobile card machine has the potential to reduce the risk of downtime, thanks to its long battery life and reliable mobile connectivity to help you avoid having to signpost your nearest cash machine.