The POS war

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - BY MARIA KATSOUNAKI

There’s an old Greek joke about a house­wife who bought two wash­ing ma­chines just to have some­where sturdy to place her wash­board and basin. The whole is­sue with the point of sale (POS) ter­mi­nals is sort of like that. Busi­ness­peo­ple in pro­fes­sions that are bound by law to ac­cept card pay­ments (85 sec­tors, ac­cord­ing to the rel­e­vant min­is­te­rial de­ci­sion) did as they were told and bought the ter­mi­nals – most at the last minute so they wouldn’t miss the July 27 deadline. It is es­ti­mated that 500,000 POS ter­mi­nals had been in­stalled up un­til the mid­dle of this year. A re­port by Kathimerini on Fri­day, how­ever, showed that the vast ma­jor­ity of pro­fes­sion­als make only lim­ited use of the ma­chines. Bank data quoted in the re­port sug­gested that just one in 20 lawyers and one in four doc­tors who in­stalled ter­mi­nals in the last three months had ac­tu­ally used it at least once for card transactions in that pe­riod. It seems that the vast ma­jor­ity of pro­fes­sion­als in fields where tax eva­sion is rife have in­stalled a POS ter­mi­nal sim­ply to con­form to the law rather than to ac­tu­ally use it – a bit like the two wash­ing ma­chines. The POS is­sue is an on­go­ing bat­tle. When the ter­mi­nals were first in­tro­duced as manda­tory, the move was lam­basted and an­a­lyzed in minute de­tail to de­ter­mine who was mak­ing a profit from the de­ci­sion. Then we saw pock­ets of re­sis­tance, mainly from those who want to dodge taxes, but ul­ti­mately they all caved un­der the threat of a hefty fine and bought a ter­mi­nal. But be­fore we even have a chance to heave a sigh of re­lief that one area of per­sis­tent il­le­gal­ity is fi­nally be­ing shut down, we get this data show­ing an ex­tremely low rate of use among pro­fes­sional groups that sim­ply re­fuses to is­sue re­ceipts. At the same time it’s not un­com­mon to see pro­fes­sion­als in th­ese fields – doc­tors, lawyers, plumbers, elec­tri­cians, cab driv­ers and oth­ers – de­mand­ing that they be al­lowed to pay by card at restau­rants, de­spite the fact that they refuse to use their own POS ter­mi­nals when they’re trans­act­ing busi­ness. The con­clu­sion is that we seem to be­lieve that all mea­sures must be im­ple­mented as long as they don’t have an un­pleas­ant ef­fect on us. The gov­ern­ment is also do­ing its part in fu­el­ing this men­tal­ity by over­tax­a­tion, hit­ting those who do abide by the law and en­cour­ag­ing those who don’t to con­tinue. The POS is­sue, how­ever, is struc­tural and stems from a Greek pro­cliv­ity for op­pos­ing the es­tab­lish­ment and so­cial hypocrisy. Ev­ery­one may pub­licly de­cry those who make a profit at the ex­pense of oth­ers, but how many will ac­tu­ally de­fend this be­lief on a per­sonal level?

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