Payment kiosks are actual physical terminals that you see at the back
or side of
a prepaid wireless dealer or corporate owned store. The first
topup kiosks looked a lot like ATMs or lottery
machines, however, the newer ones are much more interesting.
have much larger screens and interesting, eye-catching shapes.
are also usually touch screens and have rich graphics often playing
on the idle screen when not in use.
Some benefits of kiosks
- Self -service means you don't have to line up.
Some prepaid wireless stores find themselves with long waits
to get personalized service from a store representative.
- Often provide other bill payment services. For
example, you may be able to pay other utility or even car payments at
the same kiosks like your water,
electric, or cable bills.
So how does it work?
- Cheaper for stores because a clerk doesn't have to spend
the time to make the sale. What this means from a customer
perspective is that kiosks are often the first to get special topup
promotions to encourage people to self-serve.
features of payment kiosks in terms of card activations, PINs, and
topup are identical to
those of Web Terminals. The only
difference is that it is
a self-service process instead of the sales clerk processing the
behalf of the you, the customer.
to note that some people debate that self-service applications actually
take away the opportunity for a sales clerk to up sell you to buy other
things in the store like accessories or a more expensive plan.
It's also fair to point out, though, that when lines
long, customers are more likely to leave the store rather than wait in
line to replenish. With the kiosk in place, the customer can
serve without getting frustrated and leaving to replenish somewhere
else. However, that said, I've also heard that some high
traffic stores will often have long lines at the kiosk, which
completely destroys that benefit!
A note of caution:
Most payment kiosks don't accept or give change.
What this means is that if you want to make a payment to your
prepaid wireless account for $35.50, you'll need to insert cash
totaling $36. Don't worry, though, the extra $0.50 is simply
applied to your account. Depending on your wireless carrier,
this additional money would either be a credit towards your next
payment, or you would simply have $0.50 extra (in this example) on your
prepaid account balance. In other words, you're not losing
anything! Of course, if you pay with a credit or debit card,
you can pay the exact amount that you wish to apply to your prepaid
Also note that some carriers require a minimum payment (ex. $10), such
that the first bill you insert into the machine would have to be a $10
bill. You could not insert 10 $1 bills, nor two $5 bills,
even though they total the required $10. The reason for this
is that the machine cannot return the cash to you, and if you only
insert one or two dollars, the minimum payment requirement cannot be
guaranteed. I've see. carriers work around this by making
exceptions on kiosks and allowing $1 payments.
Lastly, note that inferred from this discussion is that most machines
don't give change either (bills or coins), so whatever you insert into
the machine gets applied to your account. So don't put in two
$50 bills wanting to add $65, and expecting to get $35 back!
Although there are some change giving machines, they tend to
be much more expensive to build and maintain, such that the industry in
general doesn't want to purchase them or deal with maintaining them.
At the end of the day, I don't see this as a major issue,
however, it can result in some minor frustrations for some customers.
Knowing to look out for these things in advance will most
certainly help you through your first payment kiosk experience.