I was amused to read in yesterday's paper that President Obama experienced a potentially humiliating episode recently when eating in a New York restaurant. It was reported that when he came to pay the bill, his credit card company refused the transaction! Luckily, the First Lady had her handbag with her - and her card was accepted. This is a problem that can happen to any of us - it happened to me one time - but I was surprised by two things in this story. First, that the President of the USA was expected to pay for his meal when he was in New York on official business. I would have thought the US government would have picked up the tab. And secondly, I was just a little surprised that the restaurant expected to be paid, despite having the privilege of feeding the most powerful man on earth. Or maybe he is only the second most powerful these days; I just don't keep up with these things the way I ought.
As I said, I once had my card rejected. The Old Bat and I had been staying on the farm and we had taken my cousin and her husband to a local pub for a meal. When I went to the bar to settle, the girl received a message on the card terminal to telephone the card company. When she did, they asked to speak to me. After going through a rigmarole to prove that I was me, we got down to the matter in hand. Had I, the voice on the other end asked, spent a penny lately? I very nearly replied that my personal toilet arrangements were just that - personal - and it was no business of theirs. But before I could do so, the voice explained that a transaction for one penny had been attempted and had been flagged as the forerunner of a fraudulent transaction, somebody just trying to see if they could get something small through before attempting something considerably larger. I managed to convince the voice that this was a transaction that should be allowed but I was warned in no uncertain terms that I needed to telephone the credit card company's security department post haste.
Another time, I checked my credit card entries on line only to see three that had nothing to do with me, two charges from Madrid (one for airline tickets) and a refund of the flight charge for a slightly different amount. I assumed that the transactions had been levied in euros and the difference was due to exchange rate changes. Anyway, the card company immediately refunded the charges - but they never did reclaim the credit.
I now check my credit card and bank statements quite frequently.