August 31, 2006

Now That's a Pricey Pizza!

Earlier this week, I stopped into a pizza place I'd never been in before. It was a nice pizza place. It was clean, it had video games and, most importantly, it served pizza, which is essential for any good pizza place. If a pizza place doesn't serve pizza, it's just a place.

I ordered a specialty spicy pizza—which, in America, spicy means they throw some jalapenos on the crust that are about as spicy as my day-old boxer shorts (which vary in their spiciness from day to day, admittedly)—and some cheesy bread, and I handed over my trusty debit card to pay for the circular Italian delicacy.

It was at this point that things became interesting. The credit card swiping machine was apparently having problems dialing into the great credit card processing deity in the sky, so the cashier continually swiped and swiped and swiped my card. And I started to sweat.

Here's the deal: I'm very. . . protective. . . of my money, primarily because I have so little of it. I watch over my money like a dragon lording over its horde, except that, instead of a horde, I basically have a couple dollars and some change. So, when I hand over my debit card to a third-party swiper, there's a considerable level of trust being exchanged. Additionally, thanks to countless media reports, I'm keenly aware of the dangers of multiple card swipes: with each swipe, the chances of problems arising increase considerably. Hence my sweating.

Eventually, my card swiped successfully, and I signed off on a $18.70 pizza bill. And it was a good pizza, although I'd hesitate to call it spicy. Generally speaking though, all was right with the world.

Well, the next day, I visited an ATM and conducted a withdrawal. When the receipt was spit out, I noted, with recoiling horror, that I was basically broke, even though I knew that simply couldn't be the case.

As with most instances when I'm confronted with information that simply cannot be true, I consulted the Internet, which always tells me what I want to hear. I called up my credit union account and, to my additional horror, the Internet told me the same thing the ATM receipt told me.

Now frantic, I called my credit union to find out where all my precious money went. The cheerful voice on the other end started reading off a list of my most recent transactions:

Subway: $8.20
Hy-Vee: $25.90
Pizza Place: $1,870

WHAT?! How much?! I mean, it was good pizza, sure, but not TWO GRAND good!

I immediately called the pizza place, and by immediately I mean I couldn't dial the phone fast enough. Smoke curled up from my fingernails from the sheer friction of my frantic dialing. According to the pizza place, they only tallied $300 in credit card sales the day before, so whatever happened didn't happen on their end. I was left with the dreadful thought that my $1,870 was possibly gone for good, lost in the credit card processing ether.

I called my credit union again and explained the situation as it now stood, while also asking the cheerful voice on the other end if a $1,870 pizza bill really made any sense at all given the history of my previous transactions. She graciously admitted that it did seem rather peculiar. Thank you, cheerful voice.

In the end, the processing error was rectified, and my $1,870 was transferred back into my account, and I collapsed onto the floor in relief.

But let this be a lesson to you: swipe once and only once, and if you see someone swiping your card more than once, tackle them and punch them in the groin.

Hey, it's what I'd do.

Posted by Ryan at August 31, 2006 11:23 AM | TrackBack

Pepe's Pizza, Oslo, Norway.

My buddies Dave, Rog and I each have a beer. We order a plate of nachos, then a medium (12 inch) pepperoni and extra cheese pizza.

Total = $450 Krone.

At the time, it was 5 Krone to the $, so our total was $90. $90 freakin' pizza.

BTW - We're near the end of our vacation in the Outer Banks & Ernesto is stopping by.

He said to say HI!

Posted by: Rob@L&R at September 1, 2006 06:34 AM

It doesn't sound like the problem is multiple swipeage, it sounds like the problem was a missing decimal. The lesson? Always carry extra decimal places in your pocket or handbag for just such an occasion.

Posted by: DG at September 1, 2006 05:13 PM

Yeah, that sounds like the preauth was entered for 1,870, thus reserving that much from your account, then they posted for the proper 18.70.

That would probably have fixed itself in a day or two (preauth reservations that aren't posted "wear out" quickly).

(This reminds me of the time I was charged $700-odd for a $100-odd car rental because the person doing the charge read the number wrong. They fixed it, but oddly crediting an account isn't instant, while debiting is. Plus, yay, overdraft fees.)

Posted by: Sigivald at September 6, 2006 02:29 PM
StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble It!