Monday, July 10, 2006

Some (Dis)Enchanted Evening

Let me start off by saying: it's 2006, folks. Debit card payment has been facilitated in Canada for ten years now. If you're not on Interac yet, get on. If you take credit cards, you have no excuse not to take direct payments.

Every so often I end up in a bar or a restaurant that doesn't have Interac. It's not that common anymore, but it's still common enough to be a pain in the ass. I'm not in the habit of carrying cash around. Cash gets lost. Cash gets stolen. But if I lose my bank card, the odds that anyone's going to guess my pin number and clean me out before I can call my bank are slim to nil. I've lost $20 bills any number of times in my life, but I've never lost my bank card. It's how I pay for things.

This weekend, a buddy and I went to a great-looking bar in the east end. It's one he's wanted to go to for a while, and pointed out to me recently. I suggested going downtown to see The Road to Guantanamo and then patronizing the place afterwards. It's a five-storey building with roof access, and we were keen to hoist a brew or two in the sunset... a rare enough privilege in a country with this climate.

First of all, we couldn't get to the roof. It was full. But we were told there'd be a short wait. In the meantime, we sat on the patio and placed our order: a pitcher, and I decided to eat while I was there... they offered an inexpensive plate of curried chicken, so I opted for that. Before we'd finished half a pint, the seater came and told us something had opened up on the roof. But we'd have to pay our bill first. Okay, here's an aside. Folks, again, it's 2006. Moving people from a waiting area to a dining area is hardly the new style. If your table managing software is so DOS-era that it can't transfer a running tab from table A7 to table C23, then wiggle it on down to Radio Shack and spend $200 to get some that goddamn can.

But anyway, this is where the fun began. First of all, it took our waitress about 20 minutes and three requests by the seater to finally show up with the bill we shouldn't have had to pay yet in the first place, leaving us hostage and unable to move upstairs [note to the waitress: did the tip seem a little light? Yeah, now you know why]. Then when we did get it, since my friend wasn't planning on eating yet, but we were likely to order another pitcher, I said I'd take care of the bill. Brought it to the waitress. I said, "I'd like to use Interac to pay this."

"Oh, I don't have Interac."

"You don't?"

"No, but I do have an ATM just over there..."

"...Uh huh. And what does it charge for withdrawals?"

"Two dollars, I think."

"Uh huh. Two bucks, huh?"

Okay. This sticks in my craw. Big time. First of all, it's two bucks just to get your own fucking money. Secondly, my own bank looks at this and goes, "Ah ha, this is warrants a service charge! $1.50!" So in the end, I'm out $3.50 just to settle up. THAT'S FUCKING BULLSHIT. Folks, I'm doing YOU the favour when I walk into your bar (as opposed to his bar, her bar, that guy's bar). And you're going to charge me a fee for the privilege of paying my bill and giving your staff a tip?? Don't shit me; you and the ATM company split that $2, and then my bank bends me over the ATM and gets sloppy seconds on top of it. I don't know what it costs a bar per customer to have Interac on site, but I'm sure it's not three dollars and fifty cents! If it's more than a quarter, I'd be surprised. Fine, you want to add a quarter to my bill, I can live with that. Two bucks? Kiss my Royal Canadian ass. Besides, with Interac, you've got the money. Now. Instantly. You're earning interest on it before the door hits me in the fanny on the way out. You don't have to roll it, you don't have to count it, you don't have to pay Brinks to swing by and put it on a big truck. So what's the big problem with you luddites who won't install Interac?

Nice bar. Poor service. Insulting customer relations. Don't expect to see me back.

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