Paris Sandwich Calls me a Terrorist

It all starts this Saturday noon, with my craving for some grilled pork Banh-Mi from one of my favorite (not any more) vietnamese sandwich shops Paris Sandwich.

I go into Paris Sandwich at 113 Mott St. (Betn. Hester and Canal) and order a sandwich and other stuff for a takeaway. My total comes to 14$. I give my card to the cashier and she tells me there is a minimum of $15 dollars for using a card. Thats a first for me from this store, which I have been to in the past.

Having a minimum is against the merchant policy laid out by Mastercard and Visa and I tell the cashier the same. She does not understand what I say, so I ask to speak to the manager. She goes to call the manager and comes back and says something to the extent that manager says sorry. I ask to speak to the manager at which time a lady comes out and asks me what the problem is. I tell her that it is unfair of her establishment to have a minimum policy on credit card transactions. While I am telling her this, the real manager, a guy in his early 30’s walks up and tells me to either follow the policy or leave.

Well, I tell him that I am leaving and that it still does not make his policy correct. I also inform him that I will file a complaint with MC and VISA via their online link. And I walk out of the store.

 

Standing on the sidewalk, I am noting the address of the shop and other details, and he walks out of the store and starts screaming at me. He comes inches away from me and threatens to hit me. I cannot believe what is going on and dont know whether to laugh or call 911. I clearly tell him to back off and his female companion pulls him away. He goes on ranting about how he hates people like me and tells me not to take pictures of his shop. I remind him that I am on a public street and can take pictures of the outside of his shop. This infuriates him even more.

At this point I am done with this asshole and turn away to go back to my bike. He shouts out to me…."fuck off you faggot". I stopped and went back and asked him if he was talking to me. He says "Yes you faggot". I simply ask him if he had seen himself in a mirror lately. This really infuriates him as a couple of other tourists on the road have been observing this and start laughing. As I turn away again, he shouts out at me "You terrorist, go back to your country".

Yes, these were his exact words. At that point I decided enough was enough, and called 911. The cops showed up after a short while and listened to both sides of our stories. They did give him a stern warning.

Funnily this incident did not thoroughly piss me off as such incidents usually do. And for once I was being way more calm than I am in such situations.

However its shocking that a Chinese guy calls me, an Indian guy, a terrorist in this one of the most immigrant friendly cities of the world.

For sure, I will never go to Paris Sandwich, and I hope that my complaint to Mastercard and the Better Business Bureau get him some grief.

18 Comments

  1. Hiren October 15, 2008

    Interesting but such kinds of situations are encountered routinely in India where they refuse credit unless you buy a minimum amount- especially during Sales. Didn’t know that it was illegal.

  2. IdeaSmith October 16, 2008

    I ditto Hiren on that. A lot of shops have a policy of not accepting credit cards unless the bill value is over Rs.500 or so.

    In the meantime, this is a shocking incident and I’m glad you’ve written about it. Please do update on whether MasterCard and the Better Business Bureau take action. In the meantime, I’m DesiPunditting this since it should be brought to more people’s notice.

  3. asuph October 16, 2008

    Hmmm. Man, you seem to get the worst out of these hotel owners/managers :). I remember some old blog where they threw you out for insisting on a larger table or something.

    A few years back it was routine for shops in India to charge extra if you were using credit cards. Then the market forces changed that, and it’s almost a history now. But minimum amount is pretty much a rule here. I think I’m going to spam the Visa site 😉 with complaints, at this rate.

    No wonder Jerry got all those ideas for Seinfeld. NYC seems to be full of interesting characters.

    Fun apart, it’s kind of sad and even scary.

    asuph

  4. Iya October 16, 2008

    the minimum amount thing is pretty common place in India. Almost all shops and stores and even restaurants have this policy.. I had no idea that it was illegal.. let us know if any action is taken by Mastercard.. and such abusive behavior and the cops let him go with a warning…that’s not done…

  5. Nishit October 16, 2008

    Like most of the above comments, I am unaware of the illegality of minimum limit imposing. Can you please pass me the link you mentioned where one can report such vendors to Visa/Mastercard?

  6. Aaren October 16, 2008

    This is ridiculous. Would’ve never thought that one would see stuff like this in NYC.

    Out of curiosity, does the Mastercard policy override the store-owner’s preferences in terms of who he wants to serve? Doesn’t the use of the card imply the shopowner’s willingness to sell to you? – which may not be the case if you transact below a certain amount; he may believe that its not worth his time. Just wondering….

    Not that this justifies any kind of bad behaviour. I think you did the right thing by calling 911 – no one should get shoved around arbitrarily.

  7. Blue Bike October 16, 2008

    Initially when I read the post, I thought you were talking about Hanoi where this incident happened to you !! But the occurrence of something like this in NYC raised the shock to a completely different level.

    Anyways, about the minimum pricing thing, there are even many desi stores within the USA that insist on a minimum $10 purchase if you pay with cards …

  8. RZD October 16, 2008

    well, the pic almost looks like the store is in Asia, not NY!, is that racial? It can happen only in the Big Apple!

  9. Aditya Kuber October 17, 2008

    It’s interesting how everyone’s focussing on the ‘minimum payment’ part and nothe ‘terrorist’! Commercialism! But tell me why is a Vietnamese shop in NY called Paris?

  10. arZan October 17, 2008

    Hi All

    Thanks for your comments.

    In the US, Mastercard and Visa both have in their merchant agreements, that there can be no minimum charges for using the card and they cannot charge extra for using the card. And they have an easy way to report this infringement of the End User License Agreement. This may be different in India.

    Well the Paris Sandwich is so called because of the French influence on Vietnam right through the 20th century. The sandwich itself is a really fresh baguette (french) and the filling inside has vietnamese influence.

    Aditya (#10) that you for raising the valid point. I guess it would not be a big deal in India, but calling someone a terrorist here has the same connotations as “maa pe/behen pe” gaali…..times 10.

  11. Mehernaaz October 17, 2008

    Its disgusting, racism. And considering you have faced similar ‘mistaken identity’ situations on many an occasion.
    Had you been in Mumbai, we could’ve possibly gone to the MNS. Some stone throwing would’ve ensued after robust threats of deportment. Nai?
    In all seriousness, hope youre ok. Please dont lose your cool at such times (and we know this was not the last). Not all people who call you names are harmless.
    Am going to check up on this credit card minimum purchase thingie. Here a lot of places dont even accept debit cards at all let alone this minimum amount nonsense, because i think they have to pay a small premium. outright refusal inspite of articles in papers that shop owners cant refuse debit cards.

  12. bapu October 18, 2008

    so you see..how a molehill turns into a mountain

  13. Bombay Addict October 19, 2008

    Agree with Aditya.

    I’m not sure if I should be saying this is funny, but in some ways it is (especially the part when you say “a Chinese guy calls me, an Indian guy, a terrorist in this one of the most immigrant friendly cities of the world.”) I’m just glad this didn’t descend to violence. Pity this stuff happens.

    And if I can comment on what Mehernaaz said. In Bombay, the MNS have a problem with the people from UP and Bihar, who (as per MNS) take away job opportunities from the marathi manoos, and hence don’t deserve to stay in Bombay and enjoy it’s, well, largesse. So, if a marathi manoos called the milkman a bhaiyya and the milkman retorted back, depending on where and when this happened, the milkman could have been killed/had his face blackened/deported to UP/Bihar. (Sorry, I know this is off-topic, but I couldn’t resist it).

  14. The Settlers October 20, 2008

    I am amazed that you remained so calm, man. Kudos to you.

    I think we will be facing this more what with the econoly going down and we being looked upon as job snatchers.

    Cheers.

  15. Nancy October 21, 2008

    Haha. I can’t believe this. My mom works in Chinatown, anc comes home and asks me to google Paris Sandwich, because word wen around in Chinatown that the people running the place were rude..
    You should go to A Chau Deli instead. They’re more polite 🙂

  16. Lateef October 22, 2008

    Thanks for posting this story.

    You all can get more info on the No Minimum rules for Visa, MC, and Amex (which allows minimums) on Consumerist: http://consumerist.com/consumer/your-rights/how-to-report-merchants-for-requiring-a-minimum-purchase-or-making-you-show-id-333160.php

  17. Lateef October 22, 2008

    Thanks for posting this story. I guess no more ‘food snobbing’ at Paris sandwich lol. For the rules and methods to contact Visa, MC, and AMEX for violations go to the Consumerist article: http://consumerist.com/consumer/your-rights/how-to-report-merchants-for-requiring-a-minimum-purchase-or-making-you-show-id-333160.php

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