Living with credit, Protecting yourself, Shopping

You want my credit card BEFORE I eat?

Jay MacDonald

Here’s an awkward credit card moment. But first, allow me to set the scene:

Let’s say you and your friends are footsore from knocking around the historic Uptown district of Charlotte, N.C., and decide to stop for a bite at Nikko Japanese restaurant and sushi bar on South Boulevard. As you settle into your cushy circular booth, visions of wasabi eel and umbrella drinks swimming in your heads, your waiter approaches, scribbles your order, then asks for a credit card to hold while you enjoy your meal.

You want my credit card BEFORE I eat?

Do you give it to him?

Unfortunately, diners are being asked to make that call at Nikko and other Uptown restaurants lately after Charlotte restaurateurs reported to local affiliate WBTV an uptick in “dine and dash” incidents where patrons skipped out on their bill. The deadbeat diner streak has also prompted Mortimer’s Pub servers to hold credit cards of customers hostage, especially those seated on the open-air patio.

“I really have no problem with asking for or even giving (a card) on the other end of it,” Mortimer’s server Rise Anderson told the station.

Well, thanks for playing, Rise, but I for one have major problems with this uncouth breach of social etiquette and gracious dining. Feel free to jot these concepts down on your order pad:

1. I am your customer. Your livelihood and your tip ultimately depend on my experience dining in your restaurant. Why in the world would I tacitly consent to pay upfront for service I’ve yet to receive? Even the Dominos delivery guy gives me a peek at the pie first. You lost most of your tip just for asking.

2. You have no right to distrust me. I have every right to distrust you. I walked willingly into your establishment trusting you to provide me with the dining experience advertised. Your lack of trust that I will uphold my end of our social contract and pay you deeply offends me.

3. Spoiler alert: bad things happen far too easily to credit cards the minute they leave our possession. Card swiper, hello? Just the thought of my card sitting around your chaotic kitchen or unmonitored wait station for an hour gives me heartburn.

4. Your inability to monitor your stations and collect remuneration due is absolutely none of my concern. Your attempt to make it so offends me.   

5. It should go without saying that any financial gain you may recoup at my inconvenience will be more than offset by the resulting negative word of mouse over social media.

Not only is it rude to hold a credit card hostage throughout a meal, the practice also exposes the cardholder to a potential dose of identity theft indigestion that could kick back for months.

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  • Jim McQueen

    Bravo! Forget the gold star. Give this writer a platinum one for his consumers’ advocacy!

  • Richard W

    What if I pay cash for my dinner? Am I suppose to give the waiter $50 to be treated as an “escrow account” for my dinner?
    Restaurants who do this will certainly not get my business.

  • ftlshome1 .

    this just happened to me last night..i did fork it over but now i have not slept a wink thinking something bad is going to happen, i have been the victim of fraud before, so i did not learn my lesson and i hate the fact that this restaurant put me in this position…eek

  • fudgypup

    Yep. Happened to me last night out with my special woman. Went to a really “nice” (I thought) rooftop hotel bar and was not expecting that. I see that at places like the beachfront bars but not something this upscale. Bad form.

  • Deborah

    This happened to Me at a chic DC Restaurant Yesterday. I refused to give My Credit Card after the Hostess gave Me a VIP Table for Brunch. She wanted to bring the Manager over to further explain Why They required a card before My Order. I was embarassed and humiliated as Others listened to the open discussion! I was so uncomfortable, I got Up, gave My Table to a Couple waiting Seats, apologized for My Quick Stay, and Left there immediately. I won’t return, though the Atmosphere and Food seemed very good. I will continue to Resist and Refuse Forceful Tactics to Surrender, My Identity and Money, to Distrustful and Poorly Managed Restaurants that don’t care if I’m a Customer.