Monday, June 29, 2009

Plastic - the new Crime Stopper!

I decided to recreate a New York style "night out in the city" with some friends this weekend. There were 8 of us and we decided to go dancing at a night club in a 5 star hotel. Some members of the group were dreading the long line and the attitude we might get at the gate. I was more concerned about the fact that I was short on cash (some money mysteriously disappeared from my wallet at home - more on that later). I was pleasantly surprised that when we got to the front of the line, the bouncer declared that it was Rs. 1500 per couple and they accepted credit cards. After taking my payment they gave me a "club card" which had Rs.1500 credit to be used at the bar. When it ran out, we could refill it at a cashier. This meant, they didn't deal with cash anywhere in the club at all. I actually think this was brilliant because theft behind the bar is commonplace - the bar tenders can easily pocket cash they receive from patrons and there is no way to tell how much they charged for drinks vs. how much they sold. The club card addresses all that. What is interesting in India is that petty theft is so commonplace that if you started punishing/firing every housekeeper, every bartender for putting away a few thousand rupees, you would have no one left to work! Worse yet, I read in the paper today that a housekeeper robbed her employees, an elderly couple, of their cash and jewellery at knifepoint in their own home. So to protect yourself and your belongings its best to avoid having any valuables or cash lying around or visible - stick with plastic!


  1. Virginia,
    I am thoroughly enjoying reading your blog and the interesting differences you are experiencing with currency, purchases, etc. When I travel, I tend to stick with plastic always... reading about the petty theft issue above, is there a credit card fraud or identity threat issue in India?

    Jodi Schwartz -
    The night out sounds great! What a great concept. We recently went to a resort in Canada, and they gave out wristbands at check-in that you use throughout the resort for purchases, getting into your room, etc. You can even give them to children with limited balances so they can play in the arcade, get snacks. Great technology. I think you tend to buy a little more, as you're not handling cash and realizing what you spend, but so convenient and feels more secure which is worth it.

    Looking forward to your next post!

  2. There is absolutely credit card fraud/theft in India but both physical vs. virtual. Just this weekend there was a case of an unemployed man who would pose as a courier delivery boy and go to people's homes on the premise that he was from their credit card company and tell them there was a mistake on their card and he just needed it for a few hours so he could get the issue fixed. He never returned. Likewise there is a concern about entering credit card information on websites because often the transaction never completes because of network issues and you are constantly concerned that now your credit card details are floating out there in cyberspace and you aren't confident what you bought or if you bought it! Its amazing how much comfort one gets from signing an actual credit card receipt!