Scamming a free lunch with a business card.
Posted by peeterjoot on October 5, 2009
I got reminded of this event today, and thought it worthy of a blog post.
Last year I got a call from a waitress in a Chinese restaurant in the nearby plaza. Her English wasn’t great and my best attempt at interpreting what she was trying to say was that she had my credit card at the restaurant where I had left it when I was there.
This confused me since I appeared to have all my credit cards in my wallet, and hadn’t been to that plaza for a long time. I didn’t even know where exactly in the plaza this restaurant was. The possibility of credit card fraud was disturbing enough that I headed right down to the plaza to get this resolved.
After eventually finding the restaurant (it wasn’t in the food court like I assumed, but outside) it turns out that there was no copy of my credit card. Instead, somebody had paid for lunch for two using one of my business cards. The story was apparently something like (I’m interpolating and imagining the post lunch conversation with the waitress) :
“Oh, I’m terribly sorry. I’ve forgotten my wallet at the office. I work just around the corner at IBM. Would you mind if I returned a little later to pay? I eat at this plaza all the time. Look, here’s my business card. It has my name, and phone number … everything that you would need to contact me. Is this okay? I’m so sorry. This is so embarrassing. I’ve never done this before.”
Well, the waitress bought the story and the promise to return, and presents me with the bill when I walk in. She did look somewhat confused looking since I probably wasn’t how she remembered the customer (I came in my motorcycle leathers and boots … I may have also had a blue Mohawk at that time but think that be-as-cool-as-my-six-year-old haircut came later). This was a week later, where I presume she finally gave up on politely waiting for a return and payment. She explained to me what happened, and we exchanged apologies (me for her getting scammed by somebody in my name, and her to me for the alarm and the trip).
While I can’t be bothered to lock up my blank scrap paper in my cubicle at work (gasp. Violating IBM corporate security regulation ITCS300!), I do now lock up the business cards that I never use instead of leaving them on my desk.
When I returned to work it appeared that the box of business cards was depleted significantly, so I wonder how many free lunches somebody got in my name. I only got one call from a nearby restaurant, but the non-return of the customer could easily be recognized as an ‘oh-crap-I’ve-been-had’ event and written off. Is Peeter Joot of IBM now a hated name by nearby Markham waitresses and waiters?