Monday, August 08, 2005

Shopping with a Black Friend

A real T-shirt-and-jeans kind of guy, Peter H. Shankman certainly doesn't look like a high roller, but American Express Co. knows better. After he was snubbed by salesmen at a Giorgio Armani boutique on Fifth Avenue in New York recently, the 31-year-old publicist -- who was made available to BusinessWeek by Amex -- saw "an unbelievable attitude reversal" at the cash register when he whipped out his black Amex Centurion Card.


The only thing you need while travelling in Europe, is this lightweight black friend.

After making our selection, we were ushered to the cashier. A distinguished looking man was manning the till. You know the sort that does not smile. He rang up the purchase. I giggled at the amount. And he gave me the look, almost saying, “Will you have the money to pay for this?”

I passed my card to him. A smile! Oh how quickly he defrosted!

“The black card madam! You will have no problem paying for this.” I smiled. Did I say I will have problems paying for this? I thought.

“Ah yes but my husband might kill me first,” I smiled conspiratorially to him.
“But I got him a tie, he should be OK.” I winked at him.

The sales girl who was serving us had a conversation with him in Italian. Ah she only bought him a tie and got herself all these shoes and handbags. I merely smiled.

Its funny how the black card suddenly gain you respect and friendship from the sales people. Suddenly they wanted to know you, where you are from. Where you are staying. How long. Before that was just frosty silence, sometimes a forced smile.

The story was similar in Gucci in Rome. We had to wait for a long time before we could get anyone to serve us. Of course the snazzy looking couple got served first. And the Japanese tourist. Only when they realised that we were not going away, and is seriously waiting for service that finally someone came to serve us. Showed us the pouch and the wallet.

Until the black card made its appearance.

“Ah which hotel are you staying Madam?”

Gulp! I didn’t have the heart to tell her that we were staying in a youth hostel where 6 of us were sharing a room! And she only started making conversation with me after scrutinizing my card really hard! Almost making sure that it was real.

“Ah we’re staying at this hotel near Termini station,” I said casually. Darned! I should have said the name of some posh hotel, but never mind. I was carrying a small daypack on my back, a well worn jeans and an oversized 8 year old jacket. It was a wonder that they let us in the shop at all. And it was a surprise to them that we bought anything at all. And a black card. She almost had an orgasm, I thought.

There were smiles all round when we left the shop.

The smell of money. Or at least the smell of potential money somehow changes how people perceive of you and how they treat you.

Did I tell you how the eyes of a snooty host at the hairdresser on the high street almost popped out when he saw the card?

He almost expected us to hand over the creased bills with hands shaking when he presented the bill. And suddenly he was showering us with all sort of coupons we could use for our next visit!

Just because we were shabbily dressed with jeans and T shirt.

Do not judge a book by its cover, especially when there is a black bookmark within.


NurElsa said...

Happens to me all the time. Even at Parkson ni ha! Just because I always wear the most comfy track bottom and sweat shirt, ingat kita takde fulus nak bayar!

A Babe Of Very Little Brain said...

don't understand people's fascination with the plastic money. to me, if a person doles out cash to pay for stuff, then he/she deserves the attention.

I should feel so. i use cash. heh heh (takut guna card).

Kak Teh said...

ooh, what a lovely friend you have SF. the kind that open doors, defrost some fixed facial expressions - and they can even offer you coffee , while serving you!! not that i had that experience, but had enough experience acconying friends who go crazy in Knightsbridge with that plastic friend. that's how i plastic friend is very useful on frosty winter scrape ice off window screens.:)

Lollies said...

ha ha ha Kak Teh.

anyway funny, dulu it used to be who has most cash, then who use a card, then who use gold card, then platinum, then gold amercan express, now black.

I even remembered they gave special counter for those who use cards. Now they make special counter for thos who use cash.

auntylela said...

Japanese dont use cards at all...dont know why.
Never use mine at all, just pay the yearly subsciption fee.

Kenapa banyak ulat html kat entry ini?

Sunflora said...


Tu la, kita pakai comfy clothes depa ingat kita ni cikai *sigh*

The Babe, hehehe ironically Amex is a charge card, all balances must be paid at the end of the month, unlike a credit card. For me pakai this card such that I know how much I spend on what at the end of the month. Kalau cash, end of the month tu duit habis tak tau pi mana.

KakTeh, hahaha funnily enuff I did use the card to scrap of a magazine cover that got stuck on the table (due to damp). Wah can get coffee ni!! Havent got that yet LOL.

Lollies, ahhh come to middle east and the card is virtually useless. Tak kisah lah colour apa. Cash is still King. Mesin ada but most of the time tak jalan. A friend got dirty looks coz she asked if cards were accepted. Pakcik kedai tu kasi dia the card of the shop hahahha. What card? Credit card? Apa tuh? Sini depa bawak cash kepul kepul dalam pocket.

Ahh banyak ulat html ade leh nampak ke? Kaklela pakai mozilla ke Internet explorer?

Hehehhe because Japanese tak banyak pakai card la kami takde chance nak pi dok cari keje kat sana. Hopefully they will pick up the use of credit cards soon so we can dok sana for a while ;)

Lollies said...

they use cash? man they are rich.

anyway your card based kat sana or where?

kat netscape pun nampak ulat html.

kat firefox tak ada

auntylela said...

klela pakai Internet explorer.

SF tulis "because Japanese tak banyak pakai card la kami takde chance nak pi dok cari keje kat sana."
Apa connection card dengan kerja kat sini...still blur!

Sunflora said...

OK I hope I fixed the code.

Lollies, well actually after living here I do find they are not that much different from Msians. The rich are super rich, but the middle class and the lower class do exist as well.

KakLela, hubby works in IT banking sector particularly atm/credit card. If they implement the chip and pin in Japan Insyallah hopefully we have a chance.

Does your atm card/credit card have a gold colour chip on them yet?

teek said...

most of the sales ppl just snotty. one of these days, i'll be like "vivian of pretty woman"...baru dia tau!

*i don't wannabe vivian exactly la, god forbid...i just like the part which she came back with stuff to the shop that chased her away.

atiza said... wonder tok tok kita pergi mekah dedulu bawak balik pouch maha besar tuh kan..
duit depa berkepuk2...pass le kat kami skit!

Sunflora said...


Don't worry :) we all want to be Vivian at that part ;)

I wonder if thats the prerequisite for those sales people to work at that sort of places, the ability to be snooty hehehe.

ehehehe tu la kan but nowadays ade ATM machines and ade tabung haji counters ;) But kat tanah haram pun ade gaks pencuri tu kekadang, so still have to be careful.


Forgot to jawabs, the card we use here are based here. But like I say la sini kekadang no point carry cards, even if the shop accept cards kekadang lepas tenyek 5 kali baru leh go through. Kekadang tenyeh 10 kali pun takleh. Cash is King.