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"Did I purchase $5000 in theatrical supplies, while I was in Mexico? No. Yes, I would say this is a fraudulent use of my card."
- Paul Talley

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Business travel, Mexican style
by Paul K. Talley, 39, Montreal, Canada
Aug 11, 2000

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Lonely Planet Mexico Travel Guidebook

We settled into our drinks. Mineral water for me, diet Fresca for Gloria. We passed the time in idle conversation comparing the relative virtues of a dry climate versus the near arctic conditions in Montreal. Gloria had never seen snow and asked many questions on what it was like to be knee-deep in the stuff. I'm afraid I didn't leave her with a favorable impression. The gate agent that had brought me in returned, dabbing his forehead with a lacey kerchief, and handed my ticket folder to Gloria. It was bulging with a wild assortment of colored paper that looked something like an experiment in miniature piñatas gone wrong. There was a quick exchange of words and then he left.

Gloria then proceeded to explain the contents. I was guaranteed a seat on the next flight out - in 20 minutes. My luggage would arrive with me. My reservations back to Montreal had been rearranged so I could go back on the first flight in the morning. The airline would cover all my expenses in Monterrey - hotel, food, taxis, etc. I was shown what paper I was to give to whom and when I should give it. I was given the name of the manager in Monterrey. I was given telephone numbers, in case I had trouble. And finally, I was given a card with a phone number and the message "call me" written on it. "This is the private number of your friend in Monterrey. You call him when you arrive at your hotel. He is very concerned that we make sure you are there tonight."

I made it to the hotel in Monterrey and called Rodrigo. I thanked him for his help. The next day I was on my way to Montreal. I arrived home late in the evening, but was glad to be back. This should have been the end of the story, right? But there was the little matter of the credit card.

Monday morning I checked the messages on my business phone. One was from my credit card company. "Over my limit?," I wondered. When I called they informed me that they had stopped all transactions on my card due to suspicious activity. Define suspicious activity. Did I purchase $5000 in theatrical supplies, while I was in Mexico? No. Yes, I would say this is a fraudulent use of my card. So, this means that someone was having a great night out on the town while I was stuck in my hotel room with HBO?

The casual traveler would see an incident like this as being a nightmare. As someone who travels a lot for work, this sort of thing happens about once a month. Any sane person would wonder why anyone would subject themselves to such adventures so frequently. I'm afraid I'm not equiped to give an answer.

Lonely Planet Mexico Travel Guidebook

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