the most expensive restaurant i have ever eaten at

i’ve eaten at a few really nice restaurants in my life, restaurants that put a healthy fear of the check within my mind. i don’t eat at this resturants often but i’m not a complete stranger to them. yet today i encountered the most expensive meal i’ve ever had and it was at a restaurant i thought was supposed to be cheap.

my family and i ordered lunch from arby’s today. we had just picked up montanta and wanted to grab something to take home with us. i ordered for the family and then went through the drive through. when we made it to the pickup/pay window i gave the cashier my debit/credit card to pay for the meal. she left to go “swipe” the card. after seven minutes she came back and said “sir, i’m having a problem with your card.” typically, these are words that would strike fear in me – fear of overdrafts, fear of nsf fees, fear of bad looks sent towards me from my bankers. but not this time. i had just balanced our checkbook and i knew we had more than enough money in our account. so i figured it was a problem with the magnetic stripe on my card. we gave the cashier pam’s card and asked her to try it. after another 7 minutes she came back and said “i’m sorry but it’s still not taking the card.”

this was frustrating. i reached into my ” just in case” money, paid the bill, and figured i would look at the union planters website when i got home to see what was going on with my card. of course, when i finally received my order it was messed up but by then i was too tired of waiting to stay there any longer.

when i got home i discovered something other than just that my typically good arby’s food really stunk this time. what i discovered was that the cashier had “swiped” our cards for authorization 38 times. these “swipes” did not actually charge our card but they did but an “authorization hold” on the cost of the meal for each time the card was “swiped”. the way this works is that when you use a credit card or debit card it first checks to see if you have the money in your account. if you do then it puts a “hold” on the money telling your account to keep this money in reserve for when the credit card actually charges your account. the money isn’t actually moved from the buyer to the seller until the transaction is finalized.

well apparently our cashier had no idea how to operate the credit card machine and out of her ignorance placed 38 authorization holds on our account without ever actually finalizing the sell. apparently arby’s doesn’t require extreme intelligence from their cashier and it took our cashier a little while before she realized that she didn’t know what she was doing. since she was a bit of a slow learner it wasn’t until the 38th time of “swiping” my card that she finally decided she should give up. in college i trained rats for a psychology class and my rat didn’t take 38 times to learn anything. i guess arby’s can’t afford to hire rats and has therefore obtained employee with less intelligence.

since the meal was $19.22 and it took 38 “swipes’ before our cashier learned that she wasn’t going to be able to work the machine we have a grand total of $730.36 that is now reserved for in our account.

now this would not be good on our regular credit card account but it is definitely not good in our checking account. the bank told me that the $730.36 will stay “held” waiting for arby’s to finalize the transactions for four days unless arby’s withdraws their “authorization holds.” during those four days the $730.36 can not be used for any other payments. personally, my checking account doesn’t normally have a spare $730.36 lying around in it. after all, if i normally had an extra $730.36 just sitting around then i probably wouldn’t be at arby’s in the first place.

so i’ve decided to start the process of having these “holds” removed rather than waiting four days for them to naturally disappear.

i called my bank and they told me they would need a letter from arby’s on company stationary saying that the “holds” are released. i went to arby’s and they said “no problem” but unfortunately they don’t have company stationary at any of the franchises. this makes sense because fast food franchises rarely, if ever, need to send out “official correspondence.” an arby’s franchise is too busy making sandwiches to correspond with people. so the manager “faked” company stationary as best we could and faxed it over to union planters. after looking at the letter she made i’m fairly sure i know why the manager went into the fast food industry rather than graphic design.

i won’t find out if this has worked until tomorrow.

for now all i can say is that arby’s has gotten allot more expensive than it used to be.

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