Most New York waitresses are adept at dealing with awkward situations when it comes to customer who are unable to pay their bill.
But pity the poor server who had to tell Barack Obama that his credit card had been declined.
The President and his wife Michelle were dining at the upscale Estela restaurant in Manhattan’s NoLIta district last month when the embarrassing incident took place.
They were in New York for the gathering of the United Nations General Assembly, and had dined on burrata with salsa verde, endive and tomato salad and croquettes when the waitress was forced to tell the President that his card had been rejected. Luckily, Mrs Obama was able to find another card and paid the bill.
Relating the incident while signing a new consumer protection order in Washington DC, the President said: “I should mention by the way I went to a restaurant when I was up in New York during the UN General Assembly and my credit card was rejected.
“It turns out I guess I don’t use it enough so they thought there was some fraud going on. Luckily Michelle had hers.
"I was trying to explain to waitress that I’ve really been paying my bills. Even I’m affected by this.”
President Obama told Rob Cordray, head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the incident proved that less cumbersome procedures should be introduced to protect credit card customers.
He praised the chip-and-pin payment system, which is widely used across Europe but not common in the US.
A number of major US retail firms, including Home Depot and Target, have suffered from data protection breaches in recent years, leading to millions of American shoppers’ card details being compromised.