Bill payment blues

Bill payment blues

Representative image. (Credit: iStockPhoto)

I was on a flight to New Delhi. Seated next to me was a distinguished neurosurgeon who I knew. Soon after we were airborne, my neighbour searched his pockets and found that he had no money on him. I was soon to find out that he was not alone in leaving cash behind, inadvertently.

After a daylong official meeting, I had invited the committee members for dinner at an upscale restaurant. After reaching the venue, I opened my handbag and was in for a shock. No money! Rushing back home I picked up the cash from the table on which I’d left it behind. I raced back to the restaurant to find the guests had stayed put, busy conversing. The Chairman asked me, “What happened to you?” I told him that my mother’s medicines were with me and that I had to rush back to give them to her.

The next time around, I thought I was well equipped to meet my postprandial commitments. But there were a few gatecrashers! I took one of them into my confidence. When the bill was presented to me I handed it over to him purportedly to check for its accuracy. He nodded to me, a predetermined signal, to indicate that the bill was within my scope. The chairman also deciphered the signal and as we walked out he said casually, “Dr Nikam, you should get a credit card.”

A credit card, which a bank sent me voluntarily, posed its own challenges. I learnt that an old card would become obsolete once the bank had upgraded the card and had it delivered. I repeated the mistake of carrying the obsolete card. They refused to listen to my plea that I was in the US and the upgraded card had been left behind in India. I also learned that once a transaction was made, the amount committed would not be refunded but only adjusted against future transactions. My credit card came in handy when for bigger transactions. Once, however, I held out a note to the attendant at a petrol bunk who declared it was counterfeit.

We were making payments to a department store in the US when the bank took up the matter with us. We had to clarify that JC Penny was a department store in New York. 

We hit a roadblock when checking in to a hotel in the US. The card could not be used due to a shortage of credit limit. We offered to pay in cash. Since it was against their policy the receptionist went to seek advice from her superior. To our great relief, he granted permission. He was a fellow-countryman! Finally, the goodwill of people comes to one’s rescue.