My Humble House in Beijing. Photo by Sue Frause.
It seemed like a simple enough task: Call the hotel in New York City where a birthday celebration would soon be underway and order a bottle of Champagne to be sent to the room. Bubbly over flowers seemed the right way to go, and how hard could it be?
I've ordered wine in the past at hotels and restaurants, for friends celebrating various milestones. It was always a simple two-step process: order the bottle with an appropriate message and give my credit card information. Granted, none of them involved hotels in the Big Apple, so I wasn't prepared to have to fill out a third party credit card application form.
"I have to fill out what?" I asked as a guest services person requested my email address so he could send me a copy of the form, which I would in turn have to fill out and return. It was to be accompanied by a photo of my picture ID, along with photos of the front and back of my credit card. Sounded like a half a day of work to me.
"You have to be kidding!" I said. "I've never heard of such a thing, that's ridiculous." After he explained that it was for fraud protection reasons, I in turn explained that I didn't care to go through all that rigamarole to order a $75 bottle of French Champagne. Instead, I enlisted a friend of my son's who was also a guest at the hotel to take care of it in person.
I'm not surprised. A number of years ago, some restaurants in Manhattan began requesting credit card numbers when making dining reservations. I tend not to patronize those establishments.
Supposedly it's to protect all of us, but somehow I find it all very inhospitable.