So you’re standing in line at National Superstore waiting to purchase Necessary Household Item. The pretty young cashier calls you up, you exchange meaningless pleasantries about your purchase and then she scans your Necessary Household Item and places it in a bag.
Will that be all? It will be.
How will you be paying? You’ll be paying with plastic.
You hand her your credit card. Smiling, she swipes it. Then she stops smiling. She scratches her head and swipes the card again. Her brow furrows. It’s then that you realize that that beautiful smile is gone for good.
“I’m sorry sir,” she says, “but your credit card has been declined.”
The moments that follow rank among the most awkward in the entire consumer-clerk relationship. You’re left feeling confused, betrayed and, in a way, violated by your card issuer for allowing this to happen to you. The clerk is full of messenger’s guilt and, even worse, pity for your poor, irresponsible soul. It’s not a comfortable situation for anyone, and the longer you stare in stunned silence, the worse things are going to get.
Time for some sleight of mind. By modulating the shock of a declined card with an over-the-top outburst or bizarre comeback, you’ll walk out of the store just as much a winner as you were when you walked in. Or you just might look unhinged. Either way, here are a few awesome ways to derail the conversation after you find out your card has been declined.
The Enigmatic Inspector.
You’ll need a second credit card to pull this off. After the clerk informs you that card #1 was declined, smile wryly and say, “Good, then it appears your machines are working properly.” Hand her your second card and act like everything is going according to plan.
Tell her she’d be shocked at how many machines will process invalid cards and that you’re glad the machine passed, because you really like this store and you’d hate to have to bring in the inspection team. Walk away like nothing ever happened. But first get her phone number.
The Maxed-Out Penguins.
When your card is rejected, get angry. Stomp your feet. Grit your teeth. Swear, if you’re so inclined. Then shout this: “I told her we couldn’t afford the penguins!”
Look the clerk right in the eye and ask her to imagine just how much it’s going to cost you to feed and house four Magellanic penguins. Tell her not to worry about the declined card, because right now that’s the least of your problems. Mutter something about how the kipper shipments are going to put you into the poor house. Before you leave, ask her if she knows a good divorce lawyer.
The Victory Dance.
When you find that your card is maxed out, throw your hands up into the air and celebrate as loudly as you can. Give everyone around you high-fives.
“We did it! I can’t believe it, but we finally did it! We hit the limit!” Pay for your purchase with cash. Shake the clerk’s hand enthusiastically and tell her you’ll never forget her face. Continue celebrating as you leave the store.
The Bloody Vengeance.
After the clerk breaks the news, narrow your eyes, look your card and say, “So. It has come to this.” Pull out your pocket knife or grab the clerk’s scissors and cut up the card right there on the counter. Put a little vigor into it.
Once your card is mutilated, throw the pieces away and say: “There. Now it can never hurt anyone ever again.” Pay with cash and give the clerk a tip, because you’re sorry she had to see that.
Having a card declined is awkward for you, it’s uncomfortable for the poor cashier and it invites ridicule from any passers-by who also happen to be credit snobs. So decline the moment instead. Do something totally outrageous to make the gathering crowd just forget what they just witnessed. Sure, the employees might point at you and whisper things to each other every time you walk into the store from then on, but isn’t that better than being remembered as the customer with the declined card? It is indeed.