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Friday, June 24, 2011

Peeve o' the Week

You know what bugs me? When a waiter brings you your check in an American Express folder, and then when you try to use an American Express card, they don't take it.

Comments (13)

Thats one for the books. Care to disclose where this happens?

No respect, Jack. That's all it is, no respect...

I've had similar experiences with a Discover Card.

I remember going to a sushi place in San Francisco that had standup cards on every table advertising a particular brand of beer, but they weren't licensed to serve alcohol.

I'm sensing a pattern here, Jack. Didn't you have a similar problem with a twenty dollar bill a couple of weeks ago?

I'm not sure I should share this story but here goes: Back in the late 70s I had an American Express card and the bill went to my Dad. It actually made sense since he'd be in Arabia sometimes when I'd be in the States so it was a good way to pay for things like airline tickets. Later when I got into the hitchhiking years it was very handy for certain emergencies. As my Dad pointed out many times, if you had this card you could not be arrested for vagrancy in California. Some little tidbit he knew about. It was obviously a security risk so I kept it in my hiking boot where it acquired a certain menacing funk.

I don't know how it is now but back then Mastercard and Discover cards were much more common in this country and AmEx worked better overseas. It would often only work here in the ritzy spots in some towns. I actually did the Blues Brothers bit and showed up at an ultra-fancy restaurant one time, put my backpack down by the maitre d's station and sat amongst the rich snobs as I dined on champagne, etc...It was the only place in town that took it.

So after I moved with the band to Portland, I still had it, and one day the drummer and I were starving. He was an African American guy who inspired concern in polite society, until he was eventually sent to prison.

I called dear old Dad, explained the situation and he said, by all means, go out and eat and party on him. I looked in the yellow pages and found a restaurant on Woodstock that took it. Great, this was nearby. We walked over and as you came in there was a pretty big sign that said "We take American Express" right by the door.

We arrived in mid-afternoon and proceeded to run a monster tab drinking to excess and ordering shrimp cocktails, steaks, and fancy deserts, etc... I could see management was under stress, but that was just part of the fun. When it came time to go, we ordered some takeout stuff and tacked that on the check at the end.
Then I whipped out the card and they informed me that
they no longer took it. This was a problem. I had them dead to rights as there was a prominent sign, but they had just dropped the service.

Small gatherings of restaurant supervisors began forming and discussions of what to do were soon underway. Eventually, phone calls were made to the credit card companies, and a special deal was struck where my Amex card was run on a Mastercard slip and it was still honored by AmEx even though they no longer were associated with this restaurant.

We were too buzzed to feel too much concern, but I made a mental note to double check next time and just go to Jake's or the Fish Grotto where I knew it worked.

Ahh, Portland memories.

Darn! That's a good one. How about people that stand in a waiting line to get coffee and when it's their turn, they can't decide or asking their 5 year old, "What should Mommy have"....I could go Postal.

I'm still learning how to live with a real world that's irrational, wrong, crazy, maddening. And it's up to thinking people to keep trying to make things rational.

Why was your drummer friend sent to prison, Bill? Sounds like a whole nother story in the making...

Jack, I've experienced similar discrimination with AMEX - it's why I carry a Visa card as well. I don't bother with MC or Discover.

Don't worry, I have other cards. And I don't mind if they don't take Amex, but don't hand me an Amex folder and then tell me that.

I always like the gas stations and convenience stores that tack on a fee for using a credit card even though their contract with visa and mastercard specifically prohibit such fees.

Hey, you kids -- stay off of my nerves!

But seriously, that would burn anybody's toast. Need some mini "Weird Isn't Working" stickers -- could've pasted one over the unlogo.

As a merchant I can understand why some businesses have dropped honoring the American Express card. The money from a Visa or Mastercard transaction goes into the merchant’s bank account in 24 hours. The money from an Amex transaction takes from five to seven days. Amex merchant fees are significantly higher too. Those factors can be a strain on a small business. If you want to do you local small business a favor, pay in cash or use Visa or Mastercard. They will appreciate it.

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