Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Great work Visa, now I hate you (modern-products.tumblr.com)
551 points by roee on Aug 6, 2012 | hide | past | favorite | 261 comments

I've been having enormous trouble understanding the thinking behind the "We are proud to only accept Visa" marketing campaign. I simply can't understand how it could be viewed positively by any consumer - it's such an obviously anti-customer thing to do.

I've been trying really hard to understand why Visa would make such an obviously unfriendly and counter-productive decision. The only theory I can come up with is that their real customers are the banks, and this is their way of saying to them "We're so completely ruthless that you're better off doing deals with us than anyone else". Seems a bit far-fetched though.

> I simply can't understand how it could be viewed positively by any consumer

Visa's market research suggests a significant increase in Visa usage and Visa brand value among consumers aware of their Olympic sponsorship (which has been ongoing since 1986, and already committed through the next 4 Olympics games):

> According to the U.S. Sponsorship Tracker, a Visa commissioned study following the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games conducted by Performance Research, an independent research company, Visa cardholders who were aware of Visa’s Olympic Games sponsorship claimed a 16 percent and nine percent increase in Visa card usage in Canada and the US respectively. The same report found Visa’s brand equity was 32 percent and 38 percent higher among consumers who were aware of Visa’s sponsorship in Canada and the US respectively.


> I've been trying really hard to understand why Visa would make such an obviously unfriendly and counter-productive decision

The first Olympics game where Visa was exclusively accepted was Calgary 1988. This isn't a decision they just made.

>According to the U.S. Sponsorship Tracker, a Visa commissioned study following the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games conducted by Performance Research

When a company is paying for research about its own decisions, the research always comes back that the decision was wonderful, or that research firm doesn't get hired again.

>or that research firm doesn't get hired again.

This is the key part. Research funded by biased parties can produce valid research and results. There is the case of the physicist that was skeptical of global warming that was funded by the Koch brothers to study global warming. As a scientist, at a well known college for physics, he was skeptical but not blinded by money/politics. His research changed is mind completely.

But, like you said, he won't be hired again by two brothers that are wealthily through oil.

Out of curiousity, do you have a link to the study or a writeup? I'd love to read it.

Koch-funded climate change skeptic reverses course:


Thank you. I was have a really hard time finding a link I felt was credible. I only know if it from seeing an interview on TV.

Wouldn't they just be able to look at their own records to see any trends (or lack thereof)? Presumably Visa is investing multi-millions of dollars of into this, surely they expect to see a return on that investment. If the fail to see that return, surely they would stop. They haven't stopped. I'm thinking that the research firm was probably right.

Visa is not a person. The person who sponsored that campaign probably prioritizes his career over the RoI of the company.

I doubt it was one person who decided, negotiated and implemented the sponsoring of this campaign. So what is your point? Does it really seem reasonable to you that no one would notice how entirely unprofitable (hypothetically) the investment is? Over the course of a dozen+ years!?

It could quite easily be one high-ranking manager who decided and pushed through such a campaign, and now uses company money to pay for research that "proves" its success and enables him to brush off those who doubt it but lack similar clout.

This kind of thing is par of the course for company politics. But probably unlikely to persist this long.

Just depends on whether or not the results are meant to public consumption. I find it hard that no one at Visa would want an honest study from time to time, but I can also easily believe that sometimes studies are commissioned with the end-goal being to justify an already set-in-store decision.

He wasn't asking 'why sponsor the olympics', he was asking 'why take the exclusive angle'. Saying 'they've been doing it for years' does not answer that.

Saying "they've been doing it for years" implies that it probably works. That is the answer (well okay, it's his answer)

That's basically a "Monkey Cage" answer.


Funny but not very enlightening. This isn't a case of generations of companies still following the same pointless habits (wearing suits and ties, etc). If those monkeys were responsible for monitoring a return on a 700 million dollar investment, I think that one of monkeys would try to investigate the situation further. Also, I think science suggests humans are smarter than monkeys [citation needed].

A lot of us in Vancouver really resented the "only accepts Visa" thing. It was particularly aggravating in Canada where most people pay with a bank debit card, not Visa or Mastercard.

That said, it's not surprising that the overall effect of the sponsorship was positive since refusing MasterCard and debit was only one small aspect of Visa's campaign. Reading about this again in London made me all riled up again, but Morgan Freeman's soothing voice will likely undo the damage soon enough.

My bank debit card... IS Visa. I don't think I would have been able to get one that wasn't.

In Canada, debit cards are run by a not-for-profit venture founded by the major banks called Interac. Everybody's standard ATM bank card is usable as a debit card. This is the most common method of payment in the country.

It's the same in Europe.

Not in the UK... most of our debit cards are Visa or MasterCard

Same in Sweden as well.

I think you are misleaded by the branding on your debit card. Most transactions are not going through Visa, but a third-party solution that the banks them selves run. I might be wrong, but I think Nets delivers the solution in most of northern Europe. They call it NetAxept.

This is a direct pay solution used with online terminals, the Visa/MasterCard-part of your debit card is just for offline transactions or credit.

There are quite a few different payment processors here (Nets, PayEx, BABS, Dibs...), not really sure about how the backend works between banks. My card works in anything with a Visa logo, but there's no credit connected to it.

I don't get it. NetAxept appears to be some kind of payment processor for web shops; certainly not something a bank would use for its internal processing.

It would be the height of stupidity for Mastercard and Visa to allow banks to issue cards with their labels and then have these cards be part of some secret "strictly Northern Europe" Mastercard/Visa network. Talk about confusing the customers.

But this is all moot: I have both Mastercard and Visa debit cards issued in Sweden. They work perfectly well outside of Europe...

In Finland the banks recently dismantled the old debit card system and forced everyone onto the insecure (EMV based) and expensive Visa/MasterCard branded debit cards. You still sometimes see the old cards but banks have stopped issuing new ones.

And Australia (EFTPOS)

That is completely besides the point.

I'm sure people appreciate VISA's Olympic sponsorship, there is little question about this. Exclusive sponsorship if different from limiting the choices of vendors and customers.

People do not like being limited in their choices, I do not think that benefited them.

> Visa's market research suggests a significant increase in Visa usage and Visa brand value among consumers aware of their Olympic sponsorship.

Couldn't this be that heavy-Visa users notice the company's sponsorship and usage more generally? This doesn't really prove that Olympics sponsorship increases usage.

> The same report found Visa’s brand equity was higher among consumers who were aware of Visa’s sponsorship.

Again, couldn't it just be that the kinds of people who notice that Visa sponsors things are the kinds of people who already like Visa? This doesn't establish that sponsoring the Olympics helps Visa.

"Again, couldn't it just be that the kinds of people who notice that Visa sponsors things are the kinds of people who already like Visa?"

Could be, but it's highly unlikely that a company who does surveys as its core business doesn't know this and tries to control for it, or at least explain it in they methodology section of the report they deliver.

I'm not sure I even understand what is being reported. I have little doubt that the opposite could be demonstrated with equally valid numbers. And did they also survey for spectator displeasure?

If spectator displeasure was a problem on the scale Visa could care about, then brand equity among those surveyed would have gone down instead of up. Why would they care to survey that directly? What matters is whether the sponsorship is a net gain for the Visa brand or not. The research says it is, big time.

Right, but being a Olympics sponsor is mainly something people find out about on TV, not by actually going to the games.

Where is the evidence that actually preventing people from using mastercard helps?

Consumers learn something crucial from this marketing campaign: that American Express and certain other credit cards are NOT accepted by some merchants, so it's a good idea to get and always carry a Visa card -- by implication, the only card accepted everywhere.

The problem is that everyone know that other cards are accepted everywhere apart from the olympics, or at least Mastercard is.

This is more like BMW deciding to sponsor the construction of a road and only allowing their cars to pass.

I've seen Lexus sponsor parking lots or garages at sporting events, and lexus owners get to park for free. everyone else pays full price

Yeah, but this is like: only allowing people with Lexuses to enter, everyone else... just can't get in.

You can still pay by cash, no?

Are those like coupons you can redeem for things? Many people have not used cash for years.

Most people have never owned a Lexus.

And that's exactly the type of positive marketing that works! Give something, and people will like you.

In a rural town in the UK I tried to get some money of my Mastercard on a Visa-branded machine. Didn't work. A friend tried with a Visa card and that worked like a charm. It sounds more like a common practice in the UK.

Denmark had something similar with Visa as well. Apparently it works since I am now very likely to get a Visa-card next to my Mastercard for those just-in-case situations.

That story makes no sense. We don't have "visa branded" cash machines. They're all run by third party merchants and they universally support something called LINK which allows all the major card vendors to hook in.

I'm sure your card failed to work but I doubt it had anything to do with a big Visa logo on the machine.

I can't think of a time in the last decade when I've seen a card reader or cash machine that didn't accept Visa and Mastercard (I'm in the UK).

Were you traveling to the UK? If so, then your card's fraud department probably just declined the card. They're super picky these days, you really need to call the card company now before you travel internationally.

If you ever had AmEx (I do) you already know that, a lot of places in US and more in Europe do not accept AmEx. When I go to some place I don't know I usually take AmEx, Visa and Mastercard - one of each. It can be very useful in all kinds of weird situations - like when I had some ticketing machine in Europe that was sure every Visa has a chip and a PIN code (American ones of course do not) - but it gladly accepted AmEx without any codes. So variety helps :)

So, I'd say it indeed may be a good idea to have a Visa card - along with their competitor's cards.

I find that "the only card accepted everywhere" very amusing :) I spent 5 days in Berlin recently and I found lots of places that either were "cash only" or they only accepted "Maestro" cards.

I had two Visa cards that I couldn't use, so frustrating.

EDIT: typo

Yup, credit cards are not really a thing in germany

the thinking behind the "We are proud to only accept Visa" marketing campaign

It's like "for your convenience."

"For your convenience, all toilets have been closed."

"The only theory I can come up with is that their real customers are the banks"

Unlike Visa in the US, Visa Europe is still owned by its 3000+ member banks. It's only responsibility is to make its shareholders happy.

In socialist Europe, banks own YOU! :-). But seriously, the banks screw with their customers so much over here that this is just another bump on the road. To me, "proud to only accept Visa" sounds like "F@#k you MasterCard and your users, too"...

>In socialist Europe, banks own YOU!

Americans have a lot more personal debt than Europeans. 'In Free Market America, banks own YOU!' would be more appropriate.

'In Free Market America, banks own YOU!' would be more appropriate.

But wrong. Or at least 'they own the unwary and dumb'.

I bank with a credit union, got rid of my credit cards in favor of debit, and working real hard to pay down my debt. Already I've bought two vehicles for cash.

Now, granted, they were not _great_ vehicles, but they run and they're paid for. Looking forward to paying _cash_ for a really _nice_ (but used) car in a decade.

Why get rid of your credit cards? As long as you pay the balances in full every month, a modest selection of credit cards can easily lower your expenses by 3%, if not more. You can also accumulate a fair bit of free spending by trading out old cards for new ones with signing bonuses. Think of it like a free, untaxed $3-4,000 bump in salary.

Why get rid of your credit cards? As long as you pay the balances in full every month, a modest selection of credit cards can easily lower your expenses by 3%, if not more.

Why did I?

Because it was too easy to use credit, not pay the balance in full. The debt built up. Things got out of hand.

And because I really did not like dealing with the credit card folk, even when I was in their good graces. Too much complexity.

untaxed? really? I thought you were supposed to report and pay taxes on all income.

Discounts are not income.

hm. Interesting argument against the 'cash back' cards.

The context I've heard of people getting in trouble with this is when they used the card for business purchases and then used the discounts for personal purchases.

Here's some nice charts on this theme. http://rwer.wordpress.com/2012/01/01/debt-britannia-with-16-...

You aren't doing as badly as you think.

[edit] I assumed you were based in america, but apparently you are in sydney, sorry for confusion and random assumptioness. However, this means that according to the first chart on the page I linked, you guys are doing worse than the americans on household debt. Not that I can point fingers from the uk, cos we are either screwed or up to something fiendishly smart. But if it is the latter, I have no idea what it is.

Reading that my first thought was "Wow, British banks are screwed."

It would be interesting to see how that compares to Greece, Spain, Italy, and other more troubled EU countries. The EU situation suddenly seems a lot scarier to me financially.

I should add that Steve Keen's writings on debt are absolutely must-reads for anyone interested in macroeconomic outlooks especially because he discards Neoclassical models in favor of debt-based models.

I've been following Real-World Economics Review - http://rwer.wordpress.com/ - since they were the movement for a Post-Autistic Economics - http://www.paecon.net/PAEmovementindex1.htm - Steve Keen seems to crop up there quite a bit.

Looks like a great couple of sites. Bookmarked.

Two of my favorite quotes by Keen from his presentations are:

"The one thing Neoclassical economists don't understand is Neoclassical economics."


"The Marxist economists hate me even more than the Neoclassicals, which is quite an achievement."

You'd probably appreciate "Life Among The Econ" by Axel Leijonhufvud - http://economistsview.typepad.com/economistsview/2007/05/axe...

Is probably research. First test what happens when you have exclusive payment areas for a limited time and see if anyone kicks off really badly and if the fallout from doing so costs more money than what you make. If not, roll out to more events to try and establish a new standard practice, while keeping a very close eye on social indicators and the bottom line.

Since Visa's been doing this since 1986, that's an awfully long test. They do quantify the results, though:

> According to the U.S. Sponsorship Tracker, a Visa commissioned study following the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games conducted by Performance Research, an independent research company, Visa cardholders who were aware of Visa’s Olympic Games sponsorship claimed a 16 percent and nine percent increase in Visa card usage in Canada and the US respectively. The same report found Visa’s brand equity was 32 percent and 38 percent higher among consumers who were aware of Visa’s sponsorship in Canada and the US respectively.


It's been enforcing these kind of competitor exclusion zones on card payments at major sporting events since 1986?

Ah.. Just looked it up. - http://www.apnewsarchive.com/1996/Visa-Will-be-Only-Credit-C...

OK. Fair enough. They haven't just miraculously turned into complete bastards on this, they were just complete bastards all along and the press happens to be making a fuss about it at the moment, just cos it is news with the word 'olympics' in it.

Just because consumers accepted something in the past does not mean they will accept it in the future.

For example, in the past when I found a flashy new b2b service I would grumble when I couldn't find a price list and continue my research. Now, when I visit a company's page and there are no listed prices, I immediately close the tab and forget about it.

Saying "We only accept Visa" is like saying "We only serve white people." Exclusive, yes. A reminder of ethnic and class privilege, yes. Desirable by any progressively minded individuals? Absolutely not.

A note about online payments when it comes to credit cards, I pretty much stopped using my Mastercards with the exception of Amazon because of that damn Securecode implementation. I think payment processors and providers who erect any restrictions or barriers will find them self quickly suffocated out by services who are going the other direction. (I'm one of the guys who believes within the next 5 years you'll just be able to walk out of most stores with a product and seamlessly be billed for it, uber style.)

Before you go off about ethnic and class privilege, you did read the article and note that cash is accepted, right?

Why let facts get in the way of a good old 'help help I'm being repressed! did you see him repressing me?' rant?

During the Vancouver Olympics not only were we not permitted to use other credit cards, we couldn't even use our bank-issued debit cards for payment (in Canada we don't have Visa Debit cards - our debit cards are issued directly from banks have been accepted everywhere for nearly two decades.)

Cash or Visa Only.

So there I was at an official Olympic souvenir shop picking up some gifts when I was told no - I'd have to walk down to the other end of the airport terminal and take out cash... come back and pay with that.

Needless to say they lost the sale. How many other sales did they lose I wonder?

> Needless to say they lost the sale. How many other sales did they lose I wonder?

Surely not enough to cover the massive amount of money Visa paid to be an exclusive sponsor. In London this year that is reportedly over $100M and during the first week Visa racked up $700 million worth of charges at the games.

Interesting. What you're implying is that the marketing benefits of Visa become a sponsor are secondary to the direct revenue it generates at the event.

This could be the most profitable marketing spend with the quickest ROI ever.

"$700 million worth of charges" Visa only gets 2-5% of the charge. Lets assume on the high end at 5% we are talking about only 35 million in income. Even doubling that for the second week we get 70 million (before costs). How is that the quickest ROI ever? Sounds like a bad marketing move backed up by a loss of profits. Maybe the real winners were the olympic committee or the other credit card companies that bid up the price against Visa.

> Visa only gets 2-5% of the charge.

Visa doesn't get that - the issuing bank does. Visa probably gets %0.1 of the charge.

Don't forget a lot of people are going to use Visa anyway.

Visa's in it for the interest payments. For every consumer that doesn't pay their bill in full each month ... they've got months and/or years of interest piled on top of paying back whatever they spent.

Wouldn't the issuing bank get the interest?

No, I'm saying that any lost sales the IOC sees from people who don't have cash or Visa will be more than made up by the huge amount of cash Visa paid to be a sponsor. The $700m figure just shows that the exclusive relationship is doing just fine.

More likely, in my mind: The IOC gets the marketing money from Visa, while the independent vendors at the Olympics take the hit from not being able to accept MasterCard.

Ding. Ding. Ding. We have a winner!

Moreover, the terms the independent vendors get are likely extremely onerous, such that they are likely the ones shafted with inventory for items that don't sell.

The IOC gets the money coming and going. Which is good to support, you know, amateur athletics.

Did you know that all the sponsors combined payed for only 8% of the cost of the Olympics? 92% of the cost of being screwed was payed by the screwees!

And how was that money distributed to the shops who lost sales?

  > in Canada we don't have Visa Debit cards
Visa seems to be pushing these into the Canadian market. In Toronto, they have ads for Visa debit cards running the length of buses / subway cars. Looks like it's only being offered through major banks though. (Though I guess that doesn't apply retroactively to the Vancouver Olympics... ;-)

Wow, I would have been screwed. I had to look in my wallet because I truly didn't know if I had a Visa. I just have a card my bank provided and it happens to be Master Card. And I rarely carry around much cash.

It's good to have one of both, I've decided, unless you are big on cash.

Yes! Especially traveling outside the US.

In the US it's common for merchants to always take both, it's not so elsewhere. I did take a taxi once in the US that only took one and not the other - and not the one I had.

That ended up as a half hour drive around town looking for an outdoor ATM.

Another interesting "feature" of credit cards is that they tend to charge a percentage for foreign transactions, and so do the banks that back the cards.


The only major one that doesn't is Capital One... and they mostly issue mastercards.

Visa started pushing debit cards here in Canada now.


(I don't work for Visa, but they sent my girlfriend one in the mail.)

I've got a Visa debit card through CIBC, but it confuses every merchant I hand it to, so I'm not sure it's even worth it.

I work retail, and we're forced to charge slightly different rates to credit card users (store policy, I don't agree with it!). However most new debit cards in New Zealand these days are Visa ones, which confuse the hell out of me. Some banks don't put "debit" on the card and our machine will show "ASB Visa" for others.

I hope you guys are doing that by giving cash discount, instead of charging extra on credit (yeah, I know). That is against both visa's and mastercard's terms of service, and they will go after you for that.

A surcharge for using credit cards is fairly common here; as far as I'm aware it's not against their ToS within Australia.

Here's a relevant article which discusses attempts to limit the surcharges: http://au.ibtimes.com/articles/351577/20120613/rba-seeks-lim...

Hm. In North America, the surcharge is against VISA terms of service (linky Canadian government resource below - the terms of services are largely the same within North America). In addition, surcharges are illegal in 10 US states.


This reads like the sort of post that so often goes on bad logic riding on emotion, but it's a completely valid point.

I'm a Visa user, plus I don't plan on going anywhere near the Olympics despite living fairly close to London, but when I heard about this marketing plan I literally thought it had to be one of those hilarious fake news stories. But it wasn't.

Stuff like the McDonalds sponsorship he mentioned (banning people from selling chips) is bad, but at least as a consumer if you want chips... you can still buy them.

But this Visa deal, what on earth are people without Visa supposed to do? I just don't see how anyone sane could think this was a good plan, either from an Olympic organiser's point of view, or Visa's.

Oh, and the OP talks as if there's a difference between how international and UK people are affected by this, but that really isn't the case. Based on my own anecdotal evidence I certainly know many more people who have at least one Visa card than people who have at least one non-Visa card (myself for example, my personal debit card, personal credit card, and company credit card, despite being from three different providers, are all Visa), but there are still plenty of people using, for example, cards from MasterCard.

> But this Visa deal, what on earth are people without Visa supposed to do? I just don't see how anyone sane could think this was a good plan, either from an Olympic organiser's point of view, or Visa's.

It's been working for the past 26 years that Visa has sponsored every Olympics game. This isn't a new thing. This is what pays for the Olympics even occurring. Their sponsors are exclusive sponsors. Visa's already committed to the next 4 games as well (through 2020).

As far as Visa's point of view:

> According to the U.S. Sponsorship Tracker, a Visa commissioned study following the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games conducted by Performance Research, an independent research company, Visa cardholders who were aware of Visa’s Olympic Games sponsorship claimed a 16 percent and nine percent increase in Visa card usage in Canada and the US respectively. The same report found Visa’s brand equity was 32 percent and 38 percent higher among consumers who were aware of Visa’s sponsorship in Canada and the US respectively.


> This is what pays for the Olympics even occurring

Even conservative estimates of the final cost of the Olympics are around 10bn. Visa paid only 100m so I think the games would have been fine without them.

40% of the Olympic costs are funded by The Olympic Partner (TOP) program, of which Visa is a charter member. I was making a general statement about exclusive sponsorships making the Olympics possible, not Visa alone.

40% of Olympic revenues come from TOP. Revenues generally don't cover costs by a long way.

>But this Visa deal, what on earth are people without Visa supposed to do? I just don't see how anyone sane could think this was a good plan, either from an Olympic organiser's point of view, or Visa's.

I think both OP and you (or me, for that matter) don't have access to important data - specifically, what's the percentage of people that have BOTH Visa and MasterCard (and what percentage of those that do not, are likely to buy ticket for games).

If it's low - then it probably was a stupid move, although I don't really feel qualified to say that.

If, on the other hand, it's very high (like 90% (which I think it is)), then it's very smart move.

I suppose it depends on the demographic, if the olympics is mainly attended by relatively affluent people with multiple credit cards. I know plenty of people who don't even have a credit card beyond a bank issued Maestro debit card.

Even if the percentage overlap approaches 90%, I don't think it's a smart move. It's very anti-customer and will cause a decent percentage of people a great deal of angst and a much larger percentage of people will be quite disappointed. And don't forget that high-spending corporate travelers use Amex almost exclusively.

The problem with a payment provider striking an exclusive deal like this is that it creates very real problems for people unlike, say, and exclusive beer deal. And it creates a great deal of negative feelings towards both Visa and the Olympics. I'm sure Visa is able to show that it is a good deal for them. But I suspect it is just as easy to show the opposite. Not smart at all.

I agree, though I would think the ratio is the opposite. The thing is, having multiple cards might be a sign of wealth, but it's also a consequence of local culture. In some countries, everyone has a gazillion of cards. In some countries, having two cards is sort of an exception. In some countries, half the shops usually don't take VISA (Belgium is like that iirc, but I might be mistaken).

So, by taking a decision like that, you're alienating quite a few people, based on non-relevant criteria (not wealth related ones).

Well, anyone who was British and bought their tickets through the official UK process for buying Olympic tickets had to use Visa to pay for them anyway. I think lot of people bought their tickets through travel agents, though.

It seems like you and the author are assuming that everyone has some sort of right or reasonable expectation to be able to buy products with any payment method they choose. But that's rarely the case. There are tons of places that simply don't accept MasterCard or American Express, for example. Almost no place will accept barter. The only way this was a bad decision by Visa and the Olympics is if the sponsorship payment wasn't enough to cover the lost sales, which is unlikely to be the case.

Expectation? No. Desire? Yes! If someone goes out of their way to make me unable to use the form of payment I want, and that is accepted in many other places, I will dislike them, despite not having the "right" to use it.

I live just beside Victoria Park, about 0.5 miles away from the Olympic park. You would scarcely even know the Olympics are on by what I see in east London. If anything, it's much quieter than usual. Staying away on account of it isn't necessary. At worst, there's a little bit of delay on the A12 as it goes past one of the park entrances and narrows down to a single lane for 200m or so, but that's about it.

bad logic riding on emotion

Humans make purchasing decisions in a fundamentally emotional way. Most of the best marketing out there trades on emotion.

People get pissed off and hold grudges in a completely irrational way. Think of all of the people who refuse to buy [BRAND X] because the first product they had from them eventually failed. Visa just went out of their way to have a lot of people hold grudges against them.

But this Visa deal, what on earth are people without Visa supposed to do?

I do not have a Visa card. I have one Mastercard and one Discover card, plus my PayPal credit/debit card which is also Mastercard. The only Visa I've had in years have been those prepaid rebate cards.

But I don't think it's VISA that we should be blaming but the Olympic Committee that agreed to this and the McDonald's deals. They didn't have to accept those conditions.

Why do you have a Discover card? Serious question, I've never been sure of the utility or purpose.

Why do you drive a Honda instead of a Toyota or GMC or Ford or Kia? A credit card is a credit card. I did get 5$ cash back on a lot of travel I did for work like hotels, restaurants, etc., so that was one reason.

Yeah but both Hondas and Kias can drive on almost any road. That's not the case with Discover acceptance, though I understand it's a lot higher in the U.S.

High cash back is a fair enough reason, thanks.

> I discovered that McDonalds’ terms of sponsoring included that no one else in the areas of the games is allowed to sell french fries, unless they come with fried fish (because the classic dish of Fish & Chips could not be banned in the UK). But besides the Fish & Chips exception, no one is allowed to sell french fries around the games.

My friend dealt with sponsorships in the venues for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics.

One of her tasks was getting the venue menus signed off on by the sponsors.

One of the food vendors wanted to serve potato wedges at the venue.

But because McDonald's was one of the 2010 title sponsors, and they had the same "no french fries" clause, my friend spent ~6 months of her life negotiating with the McD's folks over the difference between potato wedges and french fries.

In the end, the vendor got to serve potato wedges, but McD's got a ton of concessions in exchange (better signage location, etc etc).

Why do McDonald not want to serve french fries? People love fries. And it's a big profit center for McDonald anyway.

I think they meant that no one except for McDonald's was allowed to serve french fries (or anything similar to a french fry).

That also gets me - anyone who's ever had fish and chips will know that the chips may be fried potatoes but totally unlike McDonald's french fries.

It's more than just Visa -- this is the marketing arrangement for (AFAIK) ALL Olympic sponsors.

The marketing agreement with the IOS is:

- You get your brand prominently featured across venues, media feeds, and collateral.

- All competitors are iced out.

I'm OK with the first.

I'm not OK with the latter.

Particularly in light of the Orwellian trademark and copyright enforcement (including significant changes to corresponding statutes) the IOC is granted.

That and the fact that Olympic athletes are no longer amateurs, but professionals. It's a charade. An impressive one at times, but a charade all the same.

Actually it's worse. All video footage belongs to the IOC. In other words, athletes don't own their image at the Olympics. This is true with the NCAA too, by the way. And the NFL.

So if a company signs an athlete to wear their tennis shoes (for example) any image from any olympics, the IOC gets a fee. Not the athlete (of course the athlete is begin paid anyway).

Yep, there is also the stipulation that no Shops in London are allowed to sell hot Chips unless sold with Fish aka Fish and Chips, because McDonalds has exclusive sponsor rights on Chips. I should say that English Chips really are nothing like McDonalds french fries.

Same thing, different brand

> I'm not sure if this was the point Yep, there is also the stipulation that no Shops in London are allowed to sell hot Chips unless sold with Fish aka Fish and Chips (...)

Just to clarify, the restriction only applies in and around the Olympic venues, not the whole of London!

How are they enforcing that? Please don't tell me it's actually illegal to sell french fries in London right now.

This fits in nicely with the IOC WLAN police: https://twitter.com/SadaoTurner/status/230737352958566401/ph...

The device he is holding scans a MUCH larger band than just Wifi... from what I was reading a couple days ago the device goes from 27 Mhz all the way to 5 Ghz.

How do they enforce that? It's not illegal (yet) to emit WiFi signals, or is it?

I don't know the answer to your specific question about WiFi, but I do know that (and I can't remember the exact legal details so this is a layman's explanation, terminology may be wrong) they've created plenty of temporary Olympic-related laws already, so it's not impossible they've done the same for WiFi.

Why? What's wrong with free WiFi? (This is a genuine question)

BT charges for Wi-Fi service at Olympic sites and paid for exclusivity.

Maybe it is a unique marker of those who are technically minded to be especially aggrieved by an arbitrary restriction such as this? Going through the London2012 ticket website today I noticed the requirement to pay by Visa and even though I was intending on using my Visa I clicked on the "What if I don't have Visa?" link to see what alternatives were on offer:

If you do not have a Visa card, your bank will be able to help you select and apply for the Visa product that best suits your needs. For more information on how to obtain a Visa product, please visit the Visa website.

Do they seriously think I'm going to organise a new card just to buy Olympic products? A better piece of advice might be:

If you do not have a Visa card, find a friend who does and get them to buy the tickets for you. Then settle with cash and buy them a beer for their trouble.

I would rather say:

If you do not have a Visa card take your money elsewhere, we don't serve your kind here.

Visa should be reviled for what they did in the Olympics.

"Am at the GB v UAE match, and there's a serious problem with Visa. All the cash machines are turned off as they accept non-Visa cards, and the Visa-only card payment system has crashed. There's a lot of frustrated people here with no money and no food for two football matches. No one wants to do anything here. Very annoying, lots hungry and thirsty people here."

From http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/london-2012-olympics-blog/20...

Also, pre-Olympics they had the games zones remove all non-Visa machines.


"Visa confirmed that it was replacing the existing cash machines at various Olympic sites with machines running on its own system as part of its exclusivity arrangement as a sponsor. The move means people with Mastercard credit or debit cards will not be able to use the ATMs to withdraw money."

Gold in the Corporate foot shooting event goes to.....VISA!

What really gets me is the use of the term "proud" - as if the people displaying such signage really feel anything remotely like pride about it.

In reality they likely feel indifferently(they're going to make a lot of money anyways, just being at the Olympics). But they certainly do not think to themselves "This is a good thing I'm doing. I'm happy to present this to my customers."

If one needs a reason to hate Visa, their suspension of payments to Wikileaks may be a bit more robust and stand on somewhat higher moral ground, in my opinion.

I'm not sure what the basis is for the assumption that this is a marketing move. It seems like the more obvious motivation would be to force everyone to pay with Visa to get the credit card fees from what will undoubtedly be several million dollars' worth of purchases, as a means of partially offsetting the cost of the investment in the sponsorship.

I don't think Visa Inc., which has been sponsoring the Olympics since 1986 in whatever country it's held, gets any transaction fees from Visa card acceptance in Europe. Visa Europe is an independent company with an irrevocable license to the Visa brand and an interoperability agreement. That suggests to me that the sponsorship is purely a marketing move.

That may well be; these articles hint (without supporting evidence) that fees are part of the motivation, but I'm not sure how much credence to lend them: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2153008/Visa-branded... and http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/2910799/Visa-in-Ol...

The flip side of this marketing proposition (give something, not take something) is exactly what American Express does. At last year's US Open, American Express gave cardholders a special little radio from a booth in the concession area. Many people had these radios, which was good marketing for American Express, especially considering the presumably affluent audience attending an expensive event. But they didn't actually inconvenience anyone in the process.

I'm not surprised at all. This is a company-wide philosophy that they should be the only CC processor.

I once did some contract work at Visa. At the time, I only had Mastercard and American Express. Went to their work cafe, tried to get some food, but was told (almost rudely) that they only took Visa. No cash either. I could buy a pre-paid card that can't be reloaded at one of the nearby kiosks (for 3 dollar fee per card). Needless to say, I went somewhere else for lunch.

What I disapprove of most with this is that it totally flies in the face of existing competition laws, that exist to protect the consumer.

In any other situation this would not be allowed to happen, and that it actually has happened (amongst all the other things, like the excessive promotion and monopolisation of unhealthy food and drink) makes me resent both the Olympics and the government that gave them so much of a free pass.

The sheer amount of corporatism and hypocrisy depresses me.

But the olympic organizers need a way to pay for their $70,000 lunches, which totally justifies this.


More realistically, Visa was probably hoping that many consumers would, like the author, already have the option of and be forced into using their Visa card.

I agree that this seems, in addition to being extremely frustrating to almost all consumers, a silly marketing move, but I'm sure that Visa has run the numbers and has a sound business reason for doing this. Since, judging by mthoms's post, this seems to be a tradition at Olympics, my reasoning may be off, but I imagine that forcing all vendors to only accept Visa must cost a lot more than a sponsorship without that condition—and I really think that they wouldn't blindly jump into that without a sound reason.

There's the obvious trade-off of how much extra money Visa makes from users who have multiple cards and are forced into using Visa where they wouldn't have otherwise vs. money lost from Visa-owners who who are pissed off. But there are probably much more subtle, long-term effects. Maybe 75% of consumers present have a Visa, and 50% of those Visa-owners feel entitled and empowered by having the ability to use their card while others are frustrated; and then there's the trade-off of the 'entitled' Visa-owning 37.5% of consumers spending more with their Visa cards over the following months/years vs. the money lost due to the 25% of consumers who didn't have a Visa at the olympics and possibly hold a grudge and never own a Visa card because of the experience. Not to mention the fact that a similar sponsorship would likely be arranged if Visa decided not to do it; for all we know, MasterCard had a clear business incentive to do this but refrained because of moral reasons, but are we (consumers as a whole) discussing how valiant MasterCard is and how much they respect us as consumers or have we all forgotten a little bit about MasterCard because everyone's talking about Visa?

Again, I don't agree with this idea; I think it's bad and annoying. But I think it's silly and a bit ignorant for all of us (many of whom have no marketing experience, and most of whom don't on this scale) to assume we know more than the marketers making these decisions because we're annoyed.

>but I'm sure that Visa has run the numbers and has a sound business reason for doing this.

As someone who worked for an advertising Agency with a big bank as a client, I think this is probably not the case. A marketing ploy usually starts with a reasonable idea and then slowly morphs into something horrible as it makes it's way through various departments; market research, legal, management etc.

This campaign probably started as something entirely different, was rejected by legal and then manipulated at the last minute by someone client side who realised they could force consumers to use their cards.

Some companies have tight, well researched, single minded marketing(eg. Nike). I don't think many banks do, and from what I've seen of Visa's marketing I doubt they do either.

As someone who gets paid to 'run the numbers,' I can tell you that many large businesses make their decisions based on internal bureaucratic politics rather than sound business reasons. The executive sponsoring of the analysis project can easily bully the analysts into agreeing or simply restrict information from them such that the available evidence matches the sponsor's opinion.

And sometimes there is simply no data. We can't estimate the value of a year of college to the average American. There are a vast number of variables involved in the flavor of Olympic sponsorship. There are a tiny number of observations. Sure, you could count other large events, but few if any are truly on the scale of the Olympics. And there will be differences according to the host city and the technology situation. The harder the problem is, the more your assumptions (or 'a priori knowledge' if you're confident) affect the answers. It's like Congress trying to estimate the effect of legislation on tax returns over the next 30 years.

I'm past my edit time limit, but I should add context to the assertion that we can't estimate the value of a year of college. There are some good methods for doing so, but none that stand out as the correct way. It's a classic hard problem in econometrics.

A better marketing approach to this would have been to silently only accept VISA and never call attention to the fact that there is an arrangement behind the scenes.

Still pretty awful for your potential customers.

"Sir, your card is being rejected. Do you have a VISA card that I can try? It seems for the past few days, those are the only ones that seem to work for anyone around here."

This would be a bit of scumbaggery but pure marketing genius I say.

... until the press finds out!

Is there any technical barrier that prevents the swiping machine from accepting another card? If so, you could literally show them that "Look, it isn't working"

I'm sure that Visa has run the numbers and has a sound business reason for doing this

There's also something to be said for this being a memorable experience for most consumers at the Olympics. I'm sure Visa damned well knows that a number of people will always remember using their Visa card at the Olympics.

The other question is if this behavior is not in the end leading people to shift back to cash payments again. I never understood the popularity of offline credit card payments. In fact I never used my credit card for anything outside of online payments, except for one situation where I had to come up with a relatively large and time sensitive on-spot payment. This minor factor of not having to spend each week two minutes at an ATM seems almost ridiculous in contrast to the severe privacy issues ( http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120619/04094319383/data-m... ).

You buy laptops, TV, etc in cash?

As for that article, I don't need to worry about some "insurance company" caring about my diet since I'm not American. I'm quite sure european privacy laws also forbid sharing of my purchase history outside of the bank.

So far almost all high priced item I bought were shipped from online stores. Plus most even offer in-store ATMs.

Your credit card always has exact change. If you lose your credit card, you don't lose any money. Errands suck.

Why not remove an errand and a hassle from your life?

I actually like the payment process, i.e. handing something over and getting change back. I noticed, the easier the payment process is made (i.e. Amazon/Fiverrs one-click buys) the more I tend to buy things that would fall under the impulse buy category. If I see something in a store and don't have enough money on me, but have to go to the ATM first, I often do instead a more extensive product/price comparison online at home and quite a few times decided against buying anything at all ("do I REALLY need/use this?").

This is a golden quote from the post.

"If you want people to like you, give them something. If you want people to hate you, take something away from them. "

Visa gets to to do this because the IOC and the sponsoring city allow it.

Hate on Visa (because they don't have to do this), but hate on the IOC as well, and on any city government that OKs this sort of shit.

The author's assessment is fair; I felt offended on a road trip in Ontario when I found out that the Tim Hortons only accepted Mastercard. An international event like this should not accept only a single type of credit card.

I do not understand the reasoning behind this by the Olympic committee, because in all likelihood the big corporate sponsors are using the event to entertain clients, and they will likely pay with company Amex cards. Imagine being a businessperson whose company shelled out a sponsorship cost greater than the GDP of some of the competing countries, only to be embarrassed while buying drinks or food for a client because you have to pay for the items on a personal card. Even more embarrassing would be if their personal card was a Mastercard. Angering these types of visitors is not what behooves the olympic committee.

Honest question here. What implications are there under European Anti-Trust law regarding such a rule? Is such a bald-faced restraint on trade illegal? Could many vendors get into trouble here? Could the IOC be sanctioned?

I ask because in the US I would expect Sherman Act lawsuits to be flying over stunts like this.

Lol. The IOC be sanctioned? Sponsor exclusivity has been a feature of the Olympics for 20+ years including the Atlanta games. Only Visa was accepted at the Atlanta Olympics. No one was sued.

Don't hate Visa, hate/dislike the venue host that agreed to such terms (thus subjecting you to said terms). Since the article talked about McDonalds - do you hate Coca Cola for striking up an exclusivity deal with McDonalds? If you must place blame, direct it toward the correct entity.

> "Don't hate Visa, hate/dislike the venue host that agreed to such terms"

"Both" is a perfectly valid option. My ire is not zero-sum.. far from it.

This a thousand times.

It's the olympic commity that agreed on such terms, they are to blame. It does not exempt Visa and McDonalds from being assholes, but if you allow assholes inside your house, now its your problem.

You didn't already hate Visa? I hate Visa, Mastercard, AMEX, the banks, insurance companies, the stock markets, real estate companies, mortgage brokers, you know, pretty much everything to do with finance. How could your opinion of a finance institution get any lower?

The oddest thing for me was seeing a "Visa Customer Services" desk at an Olympic venue yesterday with two exceedingly bored looking staff. I'm not at all sure what they were meant to be doing given that all the customer service is provided by card issuers, not the network...

On the one hand, the author makes a good point.

On the other hand, he actually uses the phrase "simple folks" as if this were a Populist meeting in the 1890s.

I'm really surprised by how much that one slip has undermined his credibility with me.

I am surprised that it had that effect on you too. You even realize that it did, and don't rationally reevaluate? How does that work?

Well, I mean the rational portion of my brain realizes it and tries to compensate for it, but I don't knock myself out making sure the rational portion is fully engaged when scanning blog posts.

Any thoughts on making that hate actionable? I agree with everything that has been said about feeding it back to the company and the LCOG but I don't think they care. Clearly the vendors hate it too, maybe NFC will help here? Something where the vendor can claim plausible deniablilty that you didn't pay with the sponsored card? Maybe give out $100 Mastercard gift cards in the middle of the village and drive people nuts? I don't know, something to escalate this kind of thing?

The Olympics as a sporting event is great (ok, if you discount women's badminton, fencing, boxing and a few others), but the Olympics as a business.. it's just sleazy.

I'm surprised Visa even needs to market, whenever I have been issued a card by my bank sometimes it's been a VISA and sometimes a Mastercard/Maestro. I assume I could get one particular type of card if I specifically requested it but I really don't understand what the difference would be to the end user.

I guess perhaps if the only differentiating factor is "you can use this one if you goto the olympics" then maybe that is enough to sway a bunch of people?

The simple truth is that Visa largely is marketing.

It's also a huge transaction processing system, but the larger part of the organization is in fact responsible for managing the brand.

Think about that next time you're looking at your interest rate and/or merchant fees associated with your credit/debit card.

You have to understand what Visa is competing against; it's not against the other card providers, it's against cash.

Considering how much money they have spent to be a sponsor I don't think they count their return to happen during the Olympic period, this looks more to be a habit forming thing (when you go out their aim is you'll go for your Visa by default).

I go for the card with the highest amount of cashback for me...

Yep but that's up to the banks and their bundles more than Visa/MC; the cards company's mission is more one of convenience.

I still wonder what exactly they are proud of. Of not accepting MasterCard and AmEx? Is it some achievement one should be proud of? I should then be twice as proud as they are - not only I don't accept non-Visa cards, I also don't accept Visa cards either!

Really, with Visa budgets one expects they could hire somebody to express the same sentiment in a comprehensible manner that doesn't make everybody seeing it go "WTF?!"

You hate them and yet will probably change nothing in your usage habits regarding their cards or make an effort to support systems that are not visa?

It seems to me that, regardless of what blogpost author is going (or not going) to do, we can draw a lesson or two here for our own products/services: take away freedom of choice from your customer, and he may quickly become a pissed off and lost customer to you. You have to be very careful in estimations of potential profits and losses of your marketing efforts. Customers may not care (nor should they, actually) about your business or marketing strategies. (Though I'm absolutely sure that Visa is benefiting a lot right now and will not suffer any long-term losses because of this campaign.)

I disagree completely. Visa sponsored the event - why would they want competitors there? When the average person sees that his or her Mastercard is not accepted, I don't think the first response is "damn you, Visa!" Just like, when I see an AMEX card isn't accepted, I don't say "Damn you Visa and Mastercard for offering lower rates!"

The image that Visa is trying to promote is that they're the most commonly accepted card. Because consumer perks vary only slightly (if at all) in home countries, for most consumers, the question becomes permeation. If they see lots of places accepting Visa and not Mastercard then they're more likely to get a Mastercard.

To give you a closer-to-home example: In Canada, we have Tim Hortons - which is a cheaper version of Starbucks (and it's very popular). They take Mastercard, but not Visa. There have been several situations where I've been unable to purchase food because I use Visa and I hate cash. At no point have I said "damn you, Mastercard! I hate you!" In fact, if I actually drank coffee, I'd probably have gotten a MC already.

"damn you, Visa!" is exactly what my first response would be, either that or damning the Olympic committee.

This is particularly jarring , because in the UK we are just used to the fact that everywhere that accepts VISA will also accept Mastercard. I can't think of a single situation I have been in where that hasn't been the case.

AMEX is a little different , since most banks that offer AMEX will also give you a Mastercard/VISA on the basis that it's less ubiquitous but offers better perks.

When MasterCard sponsors an event, you get additional 10% off when you use a Mastercard.

WOW! It is totally not offensive, positive and good for MC public image. They must be some marketing wizards or something!

Either that, or Visa people are morons.

* Edit: misprint

Were there ATMs at the Olympics that would dispense cash from a non-Visa card?

You can always walk out of Tim Hortons and get cash out of an ATM, or go to another coffee shop. When your options are either "have no money" or "waste ticket by exiting venue to get cash I can not use at that venue because I can't come back in", it's a bit different.

"Were there ATMs at the Olympics that would dispense cash from a non-Visa card?"

Actually, no there weren't! Visa insisted that any ATMs that accepted other cards were removed from the venues. This lead to a marvellous screw-up when all of the Visa card machines at one venue went down and there were only 8 freshly installed Visa ATMs to handle the crowds (which replaced 27 that had been removed): http://news.sky.com/story/966545/olympics-anger-as-visa-card...

Actually, Tim Hortons just recently started accepting Visa (at least out here in BC).

I think it's dependent on the individual Tim Hortons. I don't go in them very often, but the ones near me are Mastercard only.

My local No Frills supermarket is debit or Mastercard only - no Visa credit.

Makes me think that Mastercard Canada must give good rates for low-value high-volume transactions.

What the? I'm surprised they could actually pull this off - they must've spent a lot of money on it. In Europe, MasterCard is much more popular than Visa (the latter is used mostly for credit cards, and most Europeans use debit cards) - I'm thinking there are a whole lot of other people cursing the company right now, too. Good going, Visa...

Only Visa has been accepted at the Olympics since 1988. They're a charter member of The Olympic Partner (TOP) program.

My sympathy goes to the writer, but honestly, if you turn up at any major sporting event, anywhere in the world, without CASH, then you are asking for trouble. Cash is still king especially with small vendors, cafes, people selling hot dogs, etc. I'd never go anywhere like that without a plentiful supply.

Yes, and pickpockets love this fact.

I'm curious... does anyone know where all this money from sponsors goes? The IOC is supposed to be not for profit. I understand hosting the Olympics is very expensive and that the LOCOG wants to recoop some costs, but this is ridiculous. It's going against the IOC's Olympic Charter at the very least...

I think this is a valid complaint, but it's nothing new.

Same thing happened to me when I tried to buy Tickets for the NFL. They also only accepted Visa at that time (not sure if it changed since then). I wasn't able to buy Tickets online because of that reason so I looked up the next brick & mortar store which sold these tickets and found that Macy's sells them (at a special counter).

So I drove to Macy's thinking that at least they should accept any credit card - but nope, they rejected my Mastercard so I first had to get cash at an ATM.

I think Visa's point is that you feel limited by not having a Visa card and so are more willing to get a Visa. In my opinion that's kind of similar to how advertisement works in general. You don't see a commercial and immediately go to buy it, but they try to build the sense in you that you actually need the product.

what would have been perfect to do is give 5% cash back on every purchase with a visa made in london during the olympics. The marketing would have been far more 'word of mouth', the benefits more direct, much happier customers, and it may have prompted people to actually consider getting a visa card if they didn't have one. Or a random "one person per day using their visa card at the olympics wins $1 million".

All of these wouldn't have prevented competing currency, but likely meant almost everyone used a visa anyway, assuming they had one. But hey, what do I know? I'm just someone who has a visa card and would have been pissed off and offended at this campaign had I been at the olympics, just like the OP was. I guess we're not the target market, although I can't really determine who is the target market.

Although I agree it's annoying and negative marketing, it's also being completely overblown here. This stuff is just a minor marketing gimmick.

Paying with credit card is in itself rare in most of the world outside the US, where debit cards and cash are way more common. My guess is, 95% of all locals and non-US visitors automatically pay with cash and don't even notice the Visa-only signs.

Not having the local currency on you and waving your credit card in situations where it's considered inconvenient and inappropriate is a very typically American tourist thing to do.

And I really can't think of anything within the Olympic venue that would be considered appropriate to pay for with credit card.

I don't know about the UK, but certainly here in Sweden I (and most people I know) basically never pay for anything with cash. Hell I basically don't even carry cash any more.

I really can't think of anything within the Olympic venue that would be considered appropriate to pay for with credit card.

What are your criteria for 'appropriate' when it comes to paying with credit card? On my way to work today I dropped by a news agent and bought an apple and something to drink, paid with my credit card, and no one thought that was the slightest bit strange.

> Paying with credit card is in itself rare in most of the world outside the US

I live in the UK: You're incorrect. I would say credit card payments make up the majority of transactions (exceptions: buses, market stalls, and Greggs).

Our Greggs has a card terminal, McDs do too now but most people appear to pay cash.

Greggs only added that recently and I also believe there is a minimum spend (£5?).

Paying with cards (debit or credit) is VERY common in many European countries. Using a non-chip & pin card might be difficult in smaller cities, but I doubt you'll see anyone else claiming that it's inappropriate to use a credit card in an Olympic venue.

Paying by credit card is incredibly common in the UK - very similar usage profile to the US.

> debit cards and cash are way more common

The restriction was on both credit and debit cards (people refer to both as "credit cards" in many European countries).

>95% of all locals and non-US visitors automatically pay with cash

Hardly. Most tollbooth lanes in Europe only take plastic, self-service checkout lanes at supermarkets only take plastic. It is completely normal to pay for anything worth more than a few euros with a card.

> debit cards and cash are way more common

Exactly. And most debit cards are Visa.

Hear hear. Currently I just take whatever credit card my bank provides (which currently is VISA, which is another story altogether), but I'll make sure that whenever there is a reasonable choice I'll choose another provider in the future.

There used to be a time where marketing was about awareness. The extra money that both McDonald and VISA will make from these exclusive deals is likely peanuts to their global revenue, but both squandered their chance of just being visible and now mixed it with "we just spent a lot of money to keep the competition away". Stupid it you ask me.

Fiscal descrimination is still descrimination. Maybe Visa broke a law, if not then the law needs to catchup.

I don't have a Visa card since a year ago when the ticketing system was announced as Visa only, I didn't attent the games or any aspect of it and it put me of the whole Olympic event that when the torch, cycle races which were going past my house I was like meh and avoided them as Visa had put me off. I don't like credit cards as it is, but bias and descrimination is something I dislike even more and in that I did what I could.

It used to be the case there were lots of places that wouldn't accept mastercard. It's rarer these days, but I still run into them. It would never occur to me to ever travel anywhere outside my local neighborhood without both Mastercard and a Visa. And I realize that 50%+ of the time my Amex (which, of course, is what I need to use for corporate travel) - won't be accepted at smaller places. Expense Report Hell...

I have Master, Visa, AE, and Discovery, just to cover all basis. And the decision to use which one is purely based on the rebate economic. The 2% rebate Master got used the most, while the 3% gas rebate on AE or Discovery got used when filling gas. Only when all else failed I would use the 1% rebate Visa. So the "marketing" campaign by Visa in Olympics have 0 effect on me to use Visa in the future.

So I'm European and everything, and not so much used to credit cards everywhere ... but is it really so hard to pay cash for a day?

Not really, but you have to estimate how much cash you'll need. You also run the risk of that cash being stolen.

And there's also the convenience thing of not having to withdraw in advance

It won't go bad after this day.. (but theft is a valid point)

If you don't live in the UK, having a fistful of sterling when you get home is not really the ideal situation. It's not far from it going bad, in a sense.

Ah, yes, if you go home the next day.. good point.

For values of "going bad" approaching "losing 2-4% of its value." The horror.

Well yes, but you have to go to a bank and exchange it, and they do their best to charge more - the last time I asked about selling €50, the bank wanted a $5 fee...

Anyway, it seems reasonable to me that people might want to avoid that when they have a perfectly good Mastercard which has always worked in the past.

So what's the percentage where it's acceptable to be truly annoyed at Visa?


I was responding to the "going bad" claim.

It really depends on the currency. The odds of Euros, say, going "bad" on a scale of months to years are fairly nonzero. Similar for currencies with high inflation rates.

You're not supposed to hang on to it for years. Surely you have to pay for transportation to the airport at least?

That depends. The last international flight I took, I walked to the airport in the origination country. ;)

Where was that? Here you're lucky if the airport is closer than 50km.

Toronto City Airport, in my case.

But yes, it's not a common situation.

When you don't have cash on your person? Yes, it is.

This is stupid marketing by the Visa team. But what has not been mentioned is why would the Olympic committee allow this! And money is not the answer as I would think Visa / Mastercard or other would still sponsor this if the committee had said all cards must be accepted. Personally I am more disappointed in the olympic committee than Visa.

"Olympic committee allow this"

Money of course. What did you think?

I totally read that headline as "Great, work visa, now I hate you." Was expecting an immigration rant.

Yup, same here. Then I remembered the stories about Olympics and Visa and realized why "Visa" is capitalized.

VISA did equally stupid things for the Sydney Olympics, e.g. convincing the taxi companies to only accept VISA for the duration. It's extremely annoying (I was a Mastercard user at the time) and surely anti-competitive.

Not having been to the olympics before, an important detail is how far this 'zone' covers. I am going to assume its a significant number of blocks, maybe even a mile, around the olympic venues that include everyday businesses that people use, olympics or not.

The not-selling-fries bit sounds hugely anti-competitive and way beyond the scope of what should be possible by this event. Payment cards go a step further. People rely on their particular card and the norm is to accept at least two kinds of cards. Creating a temporary monopoly on payment cards is again way beyond the reach of what is reasonable for a marketing agreement.

It's only within the sites themselves, nowhere else.

Mastercard did the same thing to the 2006 WorldCup in Germany. Took this picture back then. http://flic.kr/p/furNp

It's hard to avoid Visa now in the UK. I don't think any banks issue new Maestro debit cards any more - they're all VISA.

This is a problem with a solution: eschew credit for debit cards.

Mine is 'visa-compatible' (and others), draws from my checking account.


Yes, Visa offer debit clearing as well as credit-card clearing. As do Mastercard (Maestro). How switching to a debit card would help, I'm not sure, unless it was a Visa debit ... and in which case, how's that different?

I was not clear enough. My debit is visa and mastercard compatible. And no credit-card fees, I bank with a credit union.

Were I foolish enough to pay money to spectate, I wouldn't even notice the VISA/Master Card thing.

You are a customer of your bank, not Visa. Visa's customers are merchants and financial institutions.

You realize they do this because they know there's absolutely nothing you can do about it right?

Can anyone explain to me why the government issues currency for free, but doesn't provide for an electronic equivalent? Instead of having economic transactions being controlled by a giant corporation, shouldn't this be considered an essential function that should be handled by the state?

Denmark has the government-regulated Dankort, which until 2005 charged no fees, and since then has a fixed yearly fee for merchants (rather than a per-transaction or percentage). This can be a pain for visitors as many small shops and restaurants will only accept Dankort.

This title can also be read as a really absurd immigration article.

i thought he hated "work visa" for a second, silly me

Pay cash, moron. That's how we roll in Europe.

s/Europe/??/ (Germany?)

I know at least a couple of European countries where debit/credit cards are prevalent.

Like the United Kingdom, which is hosting the Olympic games...

Compared to some European countries, the UK is far behind. Many of the smaller retailers and pubs/bars still don't accept card or require minimum spends (£5 or £10) to be able to use cards.

In Finland it seems that absolutely everywhere accepts card and cash is very rare. I'd guess at least 95% of the in-person transactions that I see are made with card. Even for the smallest amounts.

This is very true. The merchant fees in the UK and therefore the minimum spend between merchants can vary enormously.

For instance, I can buy milk at £0.49 on an American Express card in Tesco, but in my local pub, anything under £10 (on any card other than AmEx - AmEx is still not accepted in that many places in the UK) requires me to pay a £1 transaction fee.

There is no reason behind this, other than Tesco are so huge, they can negotiate a much better rate than a small business, who clearly can't even consider the huge American Express merchant fees.

The sooner somebody disrupts this 'business', the better for everyone.

There is a reason behind this. Tesco deems it worthwhile to take a (smaller) hit to keep your business, whereas your local pub believes you aren't going to switch pubs, and just wants to encourage you to use cash so that they keep as much of the price of your drinks as possible (i say this because £1 in 10 is a 'penalty' more than covering costs.. which should be closer to 30p).

IE, your choice of supermarket is more elastic than your choice of pub.

Bitcoin seems to be the closest thing we have to disrupting this, but the chicken and egg problem isn't going anywhere.

Processing card transactions takes longer and reduces the serve rate of drinks. This is IMO probably a larger factor than the processing cost - cash has a processing cost too (staff time, security, fraud, bank charges) and it seems pretty close to the card processing cost.

When I was in France I would sometimes pay in a bakery with my debit card for a couple of euros.

Actually, I believe handling cash costs them money too and card processing fees might be less than what cash costs them.

I've heard several small shop owners say they prefer debit cards to cash since they claim it reduces the risk of robbery. The more people pay by card, the less cash there is in the till and thus the less reason to try to rob a place.

At least we have Chip and PIN!

I relied heavily on a bank card when I lived in France a decade ago. Has Europe regressed?

It's just that this is one of those situations where the "Europe" generalization doesn't work. In Sweden, where I'm from, everyone uses debit cards for everything. Right now I'm in Greece, and cash is king (in some supermarkets you even have to go to a separate desk to pay with a card - major hassle). Both are "Europe".

Yeah, I was really trying to sarcastically point that out more than seriously ask if things have become worse. Still, interesting stuff there, especially the bit about having to go to a separate desk in some places in Greece.

It's interesting to compare with the situation in China, where credit cards are very rarely used, but I've never had a problem paying with one in any kind of decently-sized store or restaurant. You almost get the impression that they knew you were coming and set aside a card machine just for you.

Did anyone else read this title thinking it was from a disillusioned immigrant?

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact