In a sign that Mexico has learned well from its northern neighbor about how credit is great for encouraging people to spend money they don’t have, I recently observed the below sign at a steak/pasta restaurant here in DF that is popular with the work crowd.
Shoppers in the US have faced plenty of reprimands over the years from financial gurus regarding the wisdom of purchasing, say, a 63-inch plasma TV on your credit card when you’re working for minimum wage at PetSmart and you’re underwater on your mortgage. However, I suppose there’s always the argument that a big-screen TV is a gift that keeps on giving, with years of potential mind-numbing reality show programming to share in its future?
I feel confident in saying that an 800-gram rib eye steak, while damn tasty, may not offer similar long-term rewards that you will fondly recall when paying off your $560 peso AmEx bill in 6 months. Or more realistically, when paying off your $1000 peso bill several months later. (If you’re eating lunch at places you can’t afford today, odds are low that 6 months later, your financial woes will have been magically sorted out.)
I had infinite questions about this lunch-on-credit strategy. MeLéE, despite its excessive use of capital letters, seems to be a popular spot for business lunches or the occasional affluent elderly get-together, ala “heaven’s waiting room”. If you’re at lunch with your coworkers, would it not be awkward to negotiate a payment plan with the waiter for your linguini alfredo? Or do you just get 3 months automatically if you use your AmEx? Or is there a box to check on the credit card slip stating “There’s no way I’m paying my balance off this month; please give me 6 months leeway”? If they regularly have an older crowd in there, where does a $162 peso claim for a “Hamburguesa Gourmet Super Gigante” get prioritized during an estate settlement?
While the food and service at MeLéE was excellent, I for one can’t afford to go there on a regular basis, and have not yet decided whether to apply for an American Express card just for this purpose. I will be keeping an eye out to see if this trend catches on elsewhere here in Mexico City, though. Three months of no interest on a super-sized McNuggets meal with fries and a Coke could offer me *almost* enough time to digest whatever that spongy material is masquerading as chicken.