Thursday, January 03, 2013

Should I buy a cash register with a journal tape?

Most cash registers traditionally came from the factory equipped with a receipt tape printer and a journal tape printer, also known as a two station printer register. In the past ten years with the introduction of thermal printing cash registers the industry to save money went to a receipt printer only also known as a single station printer register.

In the newer models the journal was replaced by an electronic journal commonly referred to as an EJ. Both the EJ or the hard printed journal tape serve the same purpose to a point, however the EJ has some limitations.

Before we go into a more in-depth look at the differences are let's look at what a journal is regardless of printed or electronic. early on in electronic cash register development they began to be made with two station printers and at times the journal is invaluable and can save you hours of time or maybe save thousands of dollars. The number one function of the journal is for you to audit transactions. For you the store owner to look at exactly what was registered in the register and how, by who, when etc etc. Sometimes this information is used to locate and fix over rings or ten keying mistakes or even to catch a thief! The journal prints everything in live time just as it happened. The cashier used the void function it records it, the cashier opens the cash drawer with the no sale the journal shows it. The only thing a journal won't record is if the cashier enters some numbers on the keyboard as if making a sale and than presses clear. That would not record even as important as that can be however that is a topic for another day.

A perfect example of how useful a journal tape can be is this scenario that happens all the time. A manager X's out the register for the end of shift and finds that the register is reporting that you had sales of $1000.00 more than a normal shift and of course the drawer is short by that same $1000.00 so to solve the mystery you turn to the cashier and the journal tape. The cashier reports she was attempting to ring up 10 items for $1.00 each and accidentally registers 10 items for $100.00 instead. In her hurry to correct the mistake and finish the sale she she pressed the cash key to start over again. Than you see the next transaction on the journal where it is registered correctly backing up the cashiers story. Sometimes the cashier won't know why there is a massive overing but going through a journal tape you can discover them.

Many merchants than store their journal tapes for a period of time. As far as I know there is not a state, city, or county law that would require you to save them however always check your local regulations for clarification.

So know we know a little about why the journal tape is important lets look at the differences between a printed journal tape compared to a electronic journal tape (EJ). The EJ prints to memory and when you require the information you must go into reports and print out the EJ all at once than you have a printed hard copy of the journal just as you would have if you had a two station printer. Some cash registers even have filters so you can narrow down the information you print. Sounds great right? Well in many cases it is however the EJ has limits and the first one is memory. Most registers will have a programmable amount of space allocated for EJ storage. The EJ storage amount is almost always sized by number of lines for example a typical size is 3000 lines however I have seen them set up with 30K lines or as low as 1000. Next you must tell the register what to do when the lines of storage has been exceeded or about to be exceeded. Most registers have options such as stop the register, warn the user to run a EJ report which clears the memory and lets the user continue, that is a seldom used method. Next the register simply warns the operator but allows continued use of the register. The most common set up is just to set the register to overwrite the oldest information and never warn the operator and that is what we see most common. Now the problem with that is you come up with a situation where you need to see the audit from five days ago, chances are it has been over written and it all depends on how many lines were set up and how busy your store was over that time.

In the last few years the top manufactures have started coming back around and began offering models of registers with a choice of a single station or two station. In my opinion if you like hands on  access whenever you want it than buy a two station model.

Some great samples of models that offer choices in single station or two station are the following
So really think about whether a two station printer would help you? Is it worth the cost? Is it worth the expense of NOT having a journal tape? What expense you may ask? Well one important topic we did not even touch on is what happens if your register goes up in smoke? Maybe at the end of a busy day in the Christmas shopping season you register dies and you are left with a drawer full of cash and checks and no idea how much should be there, how much tax you collected, how much in gift cards you sold, nothing is known. If you had a register with a two station printer you could recreate the days' business. If your register had an EJ instead you history is probably gone for good. Does that happen? Not often but do you want to be the one it happens to?

If you need help selecting a cash register than feel free to give us a call. We know registers and what features and functions mean to different types of stores and restaurants. Our number is 1-800-863-2274

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