ExxonMobil Discovers That A PCI Deadline Is A Deadline, Unless It Isn't

PCI deadlines are to be taken seriously, unless you're $285 billion ExxonMobil with it approximately 2,200 gas stations in the U.S. Then it's more like a suggestion.

Visa has given ExxonMobil branded retailers an extension from July 1, 2010, until Dec. 31, 2010, to update their EPOS systems, according to a report in NACS (National Association of Convenience Stores) Online. Exxon Branded Wholesale Manager Chris Mahoney is quoted saying Visa and the oil company’s acquiring bank "recognize the challenges you face to be PCI-compliant by July 1, 2010, and have agreed to extend your compliance date."

The story adds: "The new deadline means that POS devices that are designated 'end-of-life' by Exxon (Gilbarco G-Sites, Ruby without Sapphire and the Omni 3300) must be replaced or upgraded by December 31 with certified devices (Wayne Nucleus, Gilbarco Passport, Ruby Sapphire, Allied Pinnacle, AlliedRetalix or Vx570). All other POS devices that do not meet PCI requirements must be upgraded by August 1, 2012."

It goes on to say ExxonMobil has to continually show progress: "Failure to demonstrate appropriate progress may result in fines or penalties from Visa which may be passed on."

This change is a big part of the perception problem with PCI enforcement. Deadline exceptions need to be rare. But when they happen, they should be announced by the card brands—not via a leaked letter—along with the specific reasons for the extension.

Such an approach will make retailers more hesitant to seek an extension—who waits to air their dirty compliance delay laundry? But, more importantly, it will help other retailers take the deadlines seriously. Rumors of favored players getting inconsistent extensions are not going to be helpful to the cause.