Confessions of a hotel insider

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  1. #1
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    Confessions of a hotel insider

    Found this interesting read hope you guys like..



    Confessions of a Hotel Insider

    Jacob Tomsky
    I've worked in hotels for more than a decade. I've checked you in, checked you out, oriented you to the property, served you a beverage, separated your white panties from the white bed sheets, parked your car, tasted your room service (before and, sadly, after), cleaned your toilet, denied you a late checkout, given you a wake-up call, eaten M&M's out of your minibar, laughed at your jokes, and taken your money. From New Orleans to New York, I've played by hotel rules and, in the process, learned every aspect of the industry. Due to the fact that I just don't care anymore, I will now offer easy and never-publicized tips and tricks.
    Want a late checkout? An upgrade? Guess what! There are simple ways (and most of them are legal!) to get what you need from a hotel without any hassle whatsoever. But first, let me warn you about a few things that drive hotel staffers crazy.
    Things a guest should never say

    "My credit card declined? That's impossible. Run it again."
    Man, don't make me run it again. If your CC declines once, it will, without question, decline again. Your card is not a crumpled old dollar, and the banking system is not a stubborn vending machine. That's not how the banking system works. You need to call your bank. And, no, you can't use my phone.
    "They told me I should ask for an upgrade."
    Who the f—- is they? Oh, they. Well, they told me to remind you to tip the doorman.
    "Don't you remember me?"
    Let me think about this…average of 500 guest interactions a day…it's been two years since you stayed with us. So that's a clean quarter of a million separate interactions since your last stay. Wait…Wait! No. No, I don't remember you.
    Things a guest should never do

    Do not continue your phone conversation during the entire check-in.
    Can you imagine how it feels, as a human, to be part of someone else's effort to multitask? While you say to the phone, "Uh-huh. Yeah. Yeah, well, I told her they wouldn't go for it. I know these people," I get the lift of an eyebrow, side glances, brief and uninterested head nods thrown in my direction indicating your main focus remains on your call, perhaps a moment where you hold the phone slightly away from your ear to benevolently allow me 5 percent of your attention. That call will end in five minutes. But because you treated me like an automatic check-in machine, this room I'm giving you will plague your whole stay.
    Do not snap the credit card down on my desk.
    You know this one, where you press the card down with your thumb and use your index finger to bend the front corner of the card up and then release it so it snaps authoritatively and loudly on my desk? You just made me hate you!
    Do not hold out your hand for the change you're waiting on.
    You know, when I am still counting it out but your hand is there, in front of me, floating in the air, waiting while I count, empty, implying impatience, and uselessly reasserting the fact that the money I am counting belongs to you. Relax, buddy. It's coming. You look like a 5-year-old with your hand out like that.
    Do not threaten a front desk agent—ever.
    I have taken rooms from people who were even pre-registered into a gorgeous room just because their attitude was off. They never even knew they were originally set to see Central Park in one of the corner rooms with the big bathroom. I took it from them just because they yelled at their wives or manhandled their wives' elbows in a way I didn't appreciate. At the front desk, I am a god of instant karma, and one of my other weapons is the "key bomb": When I check you in, I program a single "initial key," then start over and cut a second "initial key." Either one of them will work when you get to the room. Slide one in; you get the green light, and as long as you keep using the very first key you slipped in, all will be well. But chances are you'll pop in the second key at some point, and then the first key you used will be considered, as far as the dumb-ass lock is concerned, invalid. At some point after that, you will be locked outside your room, jamming your first key into the slot, fighting that damn red light.
    I also happen to know the electronic curtains are not functioning in room 3217, and it gets loads of morning sun in there. Good luck sleeping in. If I put you in room 1212 in New York City, your phone will not stop ringing with wrong numbers. Why? Well, a surprising number of guests never seem to learn that you have to dial 9 to make an outside call. So all day and, believe me, all night, idiots dispersed throughout the building will pick up their phones and try to straight dial a local number, starting with 1-212. Whatever they press after that matters not because they have already dialed room 1212, and 1212's guest will constantly pick up the 3:00 a.m. call and hear the loud mashing of other numbers or some drunk guest saying, "Hello? Hello? Who is this?"
    Things every guest must know

    You never have to pay for using the minibar.
    Minibar charges are, without question, the most disputed charges on any bill. Why? Because it's done by people. The traditional minibar, before they invented the sensored variety, is checked (maybe) once a day by a slow-moving gentleman or lady pushing a cartful of snacks. Keystroke errors, delays in restocking, double stocking, and hundreds of other missteps make minibar charges the most voided item. Even before guests can manage to get through half of the "I never had these items" sentence, I have already removed the charges.
    You don't have to pay for the in-room movies either!
    Here's how, in three easy steps: 1. Watch and enjoy any movie. 2. Call down and say you accidentally clicked on it. Or it cut off in the middle. Or it froze near the end. Or it never even started. Would you like them to restart the movie for you? No thanks. You need to go to bed/leave now. Just remove the charge, please. 3. Order another movie.
    And you can easily avoid a same-day cancellation penalty.
    This little move will not work with online prepaid reservations—only what we call "natural" reservations, booked through any channel as long as it's not prepaid. Call the property directly and ask for the front desk.
    "Good evening, thank you for calling the front desk, my name is Doesn't Matter, how can I assist you?"
    "Excuse me, are you the manager?"
    If the person says yes, hang up and call back. What we want here is certainly not the manager.
    "No, I am not. Would you like to speak to the manager?"
    "No, actually, I just have a quick request. I think you can help me. Well, I was supposed to fly in late tonight, but my 12-year-old daughter is sick - "
    Let me stop you right there, dear guest. Sure, you need a reason, but what you don't need is a 45-minute story. Try again.
    "No, actually, I just have a quick request. I think you can help me. I've had a personal emergency and won't be able to check in tonight. However, I have already rescheduled my meeting for next week. Do you think you could just shift tonight's reservation to next Friday without a penalty?"
    "Sure. Next Friday, the 24th, all set. Same confirmation number. See you then."
    "Thank you."
    Done. Now you have a reservation all set for next Friday! Why is that good? Well, tomorrow, whenever you get around to it, call the hotel back (this time no need to inquire about a manager), and just tell the front desk you want to cancel your reservation for next Friday, as you are well within your rights to do. No problem.
    If you are going to complain, if you must complain, then, please, eat a mint.
    Self-explanatory. You catch more bees with honey than with garbage. Well, bees love garbage. Damn. Whatever…just eat a mint.
    I don't want to hear your tragic airline-delay story.
    I don't. At all.
    You should never feel comfortable enough to actually call us by the names on our name tags.
    Gluing a name tag to anyone's chest makes him or her subordinate. Using it without permission implies that you are aware of this fact and, s—-, don't mind rudely pointing it out. To pick the name off a tag and use it, whatever your intention, makes employees acutely feel they have lost their personal worth, that they themselves are included in the price. Their mothers use that name on a birthday to ask, "Personal Name, did you get everything you wanted, baby?" What right do you have to use it? Just because you walked into the lobby? My advice is to ask for permission. "Jake…may I call you Jake?" Yes, you may. And thank you.
    Finding your agent

    What are we looking for in our agent? Someone who is efficient and not at all nervous, almost bored. If the agent is overly zealous or nervous, he or she might have just begun working at the property. Not only does the agent have to be comfortable playing the game; the agent must know the property and the system well enough to play it properly.
    Tip up front: Let the agent know you are serious immediately. Here's how I do it: I walk up, smile without showing teeth, give the agent my CC, drop a 20 on the desk, and say, "This is for you. Whatever you can do for me, I'd appreciate it." Boom. If I am after something specific, I will include that as well: "This is for you. Whatever you can do for me, I'd appreciate a room upgrade, late checkout, wine, whatever."
    Finally, if you happen to have a successful experience, then make a point to memorize the agent's name.
    Standard front desk lies

    1. All the rooms are basically the same size.
    2. Of course I remember you! Welcome back!
    3. There is nothing I can do.
    4. I appreciate your feedback.
    5. I'm sorry the bellman made you uncomfortable. I will certainly alert management.
    6. I didn't mean to sound insulting.
    7. I will mail this immediately.
    8. My pleasure.
    9. I would like to offer my deepest apologies.
    10. We hope to see you again!
    From the book Heads in Beds, by Jacob Tomsky. ©2012 by Jacob Tomsky. Published by arrangement with Doubleday, an imprint of the Knopf/Doubleday Publishing Group, a division of Random House Inc.

  2. #2
    KCRuf/Nek's Avatar
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    I saw something similar to this on 60 Minutes or so. Good stuff. I can tell you after working in hotels in Vegas for 10 years there are definite dos and don'ts when it comes to this sort of thing.

  3. #3
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    Please do...

  4. #4
    The credit card thing is not exactly true. A lot of times credit card companies will flag a card if you did not call and tell them where you were going. It gets declined, you call and tell them it is actually you, and it goes through just fine after that.
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  5. #5
    His Royal Highness the Honorable King of LandThieves Esq. III
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    Originally Posted by Sponge View Post
    The credit card thing is not exactly true. A lot of times credit card companies will flag a card if you did not call and tell them where you were going. It gets declined, you call and tell them it is actually you, and it goes through just fine after that.
    My wife had made an online purchase about 5 minutes before we got to a hotel. I went to check in and it was declined and while I was trying to figure out why, the credit card company called me thinking it was fraudulent with where our purchase was made and where we were checking in. I knew it wasn't the front desk persons fault and was totally cool with him and he comped a hotel meal in one of their restaurants for us. We were at Terranea which isn't even out of the state let alone the country.

  6. #6
    The hospitality industry is not for grumpy ****s who lack patience.

  7. #7
    Originally Posted by Sponge View Post
    The credit card thing is not exactly true. A lot of times credit card companies will flag a card if you did not call and tell them where you were going. It gets declined, you call and tell them it is actually you, and it goes through just fine after that.
    I'd go even farther than that.. its not true at all. The mechanisms used for CC validation are varied, complicated, often involve multiple 3rd-party vendors, and produce more false positives than most would think. If your CC is declined and you have reason to believe its a mistake-- by all means have it run again before calling. That extra 20 seconds shouldn't be a big deal to a clerk... but the entire article smacks of butt hurt over having a service job in the first place.

  8. #8
    Originally Posted by SoCaliSooner View Post
    My wife had made an online purchase about 5 minutes before we got to a hotel. I went to check in and it was declined and while I was trying to figure out why, the credit card company called me thinking it was fraudulent with where our purchase was made and where we were checking in. I knew it wasn't the front desk persons fault and was totally cool with him and he comped a hotel meal in one of their restaurants for us. We were at Terranea which isn't even out of the state let alone the country.
    It was probably because you bought ghey **** for men online prior to getting to the hotel. Tom of Finland style.

  9. #9
    Originally Posted by Sponge View Post
    It was probably because you bought ghey **** for men online prior to getting to the hotel. Tom of Finland style.
    That's ****ed up man, saying SoCali is dumb enough to spend actual money on **** is uncalled for and should be considered a personal attack

    Post reported.

  10. #10
    Originally Posted by SoCaliSooner View Post
    My wife had made an online purchase about 5 minutes before we got to a hotel. I went to check in and it was declined and while I was trying to figure out why, the credit card company called me thinking it was fraudulent with where our purchase was made and where we were checking in. I knew it wasn't the front desk persons fault and was totally cool with him and he comped a hotel meal in one of their restaurants for us. We were at Terranea which isn't even out of the state let alone the country.
    This has happened to me several times, while its a pain in the ass, I appreciate the cc company doing it.

  11. #11
    Sooner Bob's Avatar
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    Wonder if there is something similar written from the perspective of a frequent traveler . . . . I bet they have similar "stories".

  12. #12
    Commodore Okie's Avatar
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    Go to school and get a real job.

    Thread.

  13. #13
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    Originally Posted by xunil View Post
    I'd go even farther than that.. its not true at all. The mechanisms used for CC validation are varied, complicated, often involve multiple 3rd-party vendors, and produce more false positives than most would think. If your CC is declined and you have reason to believe its a mistake-- by all means have it run again before calling. That extra 20 seconds shouldn't be a big deal to a clerk... but the entire article smacks of butt hurt over having a service job in the first place.
    This. When I was a bartender I would run a card at least twice, and then type the full number in manually before dealing with the awkwardness involved in telling a customer their card was declined.

  14. #14
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    Originally Posted by Sir Bevedere View Post
    The hospitality industry is not for grumpy ****s who lack patience.
    Yet it seems to be full of them.

  15. #15
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    Originally Posted by Troker View Post
    This. When I was a bartender I would run a card at least twice, and then type the full number in manually before dealing with the awkwardness involved in telling a customer their card was declined.
    This. I worked in a business and used this method quite often.

    I had the CC(Debit actually) getting declined thing happen once too, called the bank and CC company, hasnt happened since. Wont happen again either. Just have to be clear with them.

  16. #16
    FYI, Your Amex Centurion card should come with a personal concierge you can call directly to resolve any issues.

  17. #17
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    Confessions of a hotel insider

    Originally Posted by oudavid1 View Post
    This. I worked in a business and used this method quite often.

    I had the CC(Debit actually) getting declined thing happen once too, called the bank and CC company, hasnt happened since. Wont happen again either. Just have to be clear with them.
    Really? What did you say?
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  18. #18
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    Re: Confessions of a hotel insider

    I never tell a declined card holder that it was declined, I tell them the card is too scratched up to read. That way they know the card doesnt work and it saves them the embarrassment.

  19. #19

    Re: Confessions of a hotel insider

    Originally Posted by azwe View Post
    I never tell a declined card holder that it was declined, I tell them the card is too scratched up to read. That way they know the card doesnt work and it saves them the embarrassment.
    Which page from the Walgreens Policy Handbook is this out of?
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  20. #20
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    Re: Confessions of a hotel insider

    Originally Posted by ArbySooner View Post
    Which page from the Walgreens Policy Handbook is this out of?
    I only do it if I'm working by myself and I don't work at Walgreens.

  21. #21
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    Originally Posted by azwe View Post
    I never tell a declined card holder that it was declined, I tell them the card is too scratched up to read. That way they know the card doesnt work and it saves them the embarrassment.
    Yeah, I always went with the old "Sorry, I couldn't get this to go through." as quietly as possible.

  22. #22
    Mississippi Sooner's Avatar
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    Re: Confessions of a hotel insider

    The obvious answer is "don't be poor."

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  23. #23
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    Originally Posted by soonerprices View Post
    Really? What did you say?
    I told them to take anything charged to it and I will accept responsibility if it is stolen. It's a small risk I can afford. I dont like being declined.

  24. #24
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    Re: Confessions of a hotel insider

    Originally Posted by azwe View Post
    I only do it if I'm working by myself and I don't work at Walgreens.
    Do that many credit cards really get declined at McDonalds????

  25. #25
    Interesting about wanting to talk to a subordinate instead of the manager when it comes to avoiding the same-day cancellation penalty. I would've thought to do the opposite. My experience is that the low level people are the ones who do everything by the book whereas the supervisors and managers are willing to be a bit more lenient.

  26. #26
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    Re: Confessions of a hotel insider

    I've stayed in more hotels than I can remember, and my experience has always been that if you want something beyond the norm, talk to the general manager. The regular employees generally have to do it all by the book.

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  27. #27
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    Originally Posted by Mississippi Sooner View Post
    I've stayed in more hotels than I can remember, and my experience has always been that if you want something beyond the norm, talk to the general manager. The regular employees generally have to do it all by the book.

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    Heck no, talk to someone who works for tips..

    I worked in hotels for years (and then finished school), if my money depended on something getting done, it did. Front desk GM, all salary or hourly.

    Bellman, room service, valet, doorman, shuttle drivers...have access to everything, and are not afraid to use it to make money. I could write an awesome book about my experiences in this industry.

    Also, when you valet park, tip on the way in and out, it will possibly be a different person, and if you are going to stiff do it on the way out, not when you are giving me your keys...moron.

  28. #28
    Originally Posted by soonersmc View Post
    Heck no, talk to someone who works for tips..

    I worked in hotels for years (and then finished school), if my money depended on something getting done, it did. Front desk GM, all salary or hourly.

    Bellman, room service, valet, doorman, shuttle drivers...have access to everything, and are not afraid to use it to make money. I could write an awesome book about my experiences in this industry.

    Also, when you valet park, tip on the way in and out, it will possibly be a different person, and if you are going to stiff do it on the way out, not when you are giving me your keys...moron.
    I suppose this would seem obvious to many people, but I know someone who worked in valet for a while who said that the valets used to steal cash out of people's cars. All the time.

  29. #29
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    Originally Posted by freeeewilly66 View Post
    I suppose this would seem obvious to many people, but I know someone who worked in valet for a while who said that the valets used to steal cash out of people's cars. All the time.
    If i was tipped up front, your car was taken care of.

    I never stole from a car, however we used to use them to run errands, pick up food, etc. Also, depending on the event arrangement, your car might end up just parked on a downtown street instead of in the garage, and if you get a ticket, it doesnt make it back to you....

  30. #30
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    Don't run a black light over your hotel bed spread....some things are best left unknown.

  31. #31
    Originally Posted by smot poker View Post
    Don't run a black light over your hotel bed spread....some things are best left unknown.

    for those of you that travel with a black light.

  32. #32
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    Originally Posted by Wailer View Post
    for those of you that travel with a black light.
    I didn't invest in those black light posters to just leave them at home.

  33. #33
    Originally Posted by smot poker View Post
    I didn't invest in those black light posters to just leave them at home.
    I for one, can't sleep without the pink and purple glow of a few black light posters

  34. #34
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    Originally Posted by MikeLucky View Post
    Do that many credit cards really get declined at McDonalds????
    Wouldn't know.

  35. #35
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    Originally Posted by azwe View Post
    I never tell a declined card holder that it was declined, I tell them the card is too scratched up to read. That way they know the card doesnt work and it saves them the embarrassment.
    They didn't just ask you to key in the #?

  36. #36
    Regarding cards, what I don't get is how putting the CC in a plastic bag and then running it through the machine works? Seen this happen at Walmart and Kmart many times.

  37. #37

    Re: Confessions of a hotel insider

    For the merchant, it's better to only key in the number unless that's the only card they have. The fees go up on keyed transactions due to higher risk.

  38. #38
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    Originally Posted by OKthere View Post
    Regarding cards, what I don't get is how putting the CC in a plastic bag and then running it through the machine works? Seen this happen at Walmart and Kmart many times.
    Smooths out imperfections in the card that can disrupt sensitive card readers.

  39. #39
    Originally Posted by DIB View Post
    Smooths out imperfections in the card that can disrupt sensitive card readers.
    Sounds good to me. Although if its sensitive, shouldn't it read it? and by adding a layer of other material (the plastic), should it then not work? Anyhow I'm not too worried it. As long as my card goes through.

  40. #40
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    Originally Posted by OKthere View Post
    Sounds good to me. Although if its sensitive, shouldn't it read it? and by adding a layer of other material (the plastic), should it then not work? Anyhow I'm not too worried it. As long as my card goes through.
    Sensitivity refers to how it reacts to imperfections (i.e. scratches or cracks in the magnetic strip). The plastic bag hides those imperfections and allows the reader to read the magnetic strip without interruption.
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  41. #41
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    It's semi-common knowledge that Las Vegas is built on tips. Your stay will be exponentially better if you tip the right people. The company that puts on our business workshops likes to put on their conferences in Las Vegas. We use federal per diem rates, which gets us a single bed room. Without fail, I've gotten suite upgrades by passing a $20 or $50 (depending on the length of stay). Also used them in personal Vegas travels. I got bumped up from a tower room at the bellagio to a fountain view suite with a $20 bill.

    Also, always tip the doormen and luggage handlers. Concierges also know the ins and outs of the city.

  42. #42
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    Confessions of a hotel insider

    The one time I tipped the lady at Bally's $20 I got a room with a view of the fountains at the Bellagio. She said she was going to move our room to one with a better view. I really wanted an upgrade but the view was very nice. I handed her my ID and my CC with a $20 I between and said that's for you and anything you can do for us I appreciate. She tried giving the $20 back after we got checked in but I refused. I felt she thought we wanted an upgrade and felt bad she couldn't give it to us.

    The next time I was at Ballys I didn't do the tip and got no view at all.

  43. #43
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    Originally Posted by MikeLucky View Post
    Do that many credit cards really get declined at McDonalds????
    Technology is amazing. Squeegee guy can put a card reader on his phone now.

  44. #44
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    Originally Posted by soonersmc View Post
    Heck no, talk to someone who works for tips..

    I worked in hotels for years (and then finished school), if my money depended on something getting done, it did. Front desk GM, all salary or hourly.

    Bellman, room service, valet, doorman, shuttle drivers...have access to everything, and are not afraid to use it to make money. I could write an awesome book about my experiences in this industry.

    Also, when you valet park, tip on the way in and out, it will possibly be a different person, and if you are going to stiff do it on the way out, not when you are giving me your keys...moron.
    This. When I was a bellman, bartender, valet, etc., in Vegas you'd be amazed at the shit people would ask for. Even more amazing is there was usually someone that could find it.

  45. #45
    This guy seems like a jackass...probably in the wrong field if customers piss you off that bad.

    I work in customer service and hate the cell phone thing, but to be mad they are calling you by name is retarded. Your company wants you to wear that name tag for a reason. Honestly I take it as a compliment when I'm nice enough to make them remember my name.

  46. #46
    Originally Posted by DIB View Post
    Sensitivity refers to how it reacts to imperfections (i.e. scratches or cracks in the magnetic strip). The plastic bag hides those imperfections and allows the reader to read the magnetic strip without interruption.
    Do this all the time at work, and it for sure helps. I have no problem running it twice, and as a customer service you should just offer to run it again to be nice because it's sometime embarrassing for people when their card doesn't go through. I've had cards get read by the machine wrong and they work the second time.

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