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back to article Oracle sued over $33,000 bill for SaaS: STRIPPERS as a SERVICE

A San Francisco strip club is suing Oracle after the tech goliath refused to pay a $33,540 bill allegedly racked up on the company credit card. Larkin Street's New Century Theater has filed a lawsuit claiming a man - named in the legal paperwork as Jose Manuel Gomez Sanchez - slid into the sexy flesh-pit last year and partied …

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Anonymous Coward

Like most corporate credit cards I would imagine this one is tied to the user's personal bank account, and he is responsible for paying the bill. He'd be able to claim legitimate expenses from his employer, but I doubt if the employer is liable for all card charges.Most companies use corporate AmEx because there is a 30-day delay between getting the bill and it being debited from the bank account, so there's time to do yur expenses claim and get reimbursed, with the card statement as proof and exchange-rate document.

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I can only wish that I had a card like that....

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"Like most corporate credit cards I would imagine this one is tied to the user's personal bank account, and he is responsible for paying the bill" - it depends in jurisdiction, in US, Oz and England it's purely company stuff (with pretty much unlimited credit limit), in Mexico and Scotland it's tied to personal account and so on.

I just wonder what exactly would I pay 17K for with my Oracle CC if I had one (and to be honest using corporate CC with their simplified transaction dispute rules is a most obvious choice do at such places)...

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Anonymous Coward

@ Dabbb

I actually have an Oracle UK (England) Corporate Amex card, and it is tied to my personal bank account in as far as it's my responsibility to pay the balance - if my expenses aren't approved/paid, then I personally have to pay whatever is left.

Quite why someone would think putting many thousands of dollars on a work card was a good idea, I'm not sure, which is why I think there must be more to this - ie. alleged fraud perhaps?

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WTF?

A corporate card linked to a personal bank account? what country are we dealing with, that sounds barbaric and idiotic.. Whatever country does that is surly a third world?

Here in the UK corporate cards are linked to the business accounts, and each user has their own limit usually (well that is in my experience) but really avoid amex if you can, its terrible when traveling and not accepted that many places compared to VISA or Mastercard.

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Usually 'Joint and Several'

I had a corporate green Amex for a while, the contract for repaying the bill was 'joint and several', so they could pursue both me personally and the company. If the company agreed my expenses, it would pay, if they didn't, I would have to.

Sounds like Oracle felt £32k spaffed on overpriced champagne and almost getting laid wasn't really an expense they wanted to cover, so it is up to the individual to pay it. Guessing he doesn't want to either, so the fleshpot is going after whoever they think they can get the money from easiest and with the most embarrassing publicity. Silly thing is with the publicity, Oracle simply cannot now come to any arrangements with the staff member or club.

The protosexual service provider, though, has probably got their £32k of advertising out of it though, especially when you consider their costs are more likely in the few hundred quid range.

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FAIL

"A corporate card linked to a personal bank account? what country are we dealing with, that sounds barbaric and idiotic.. Whatever country does that is surly a third world?"

Try not to make blanket statements. I'm in the UK and I have an Amex Corporate Card linked to my own bank account as that is what my employer insisted on. Suffice to say I avoid using it where practically possible.

"Here in the UK corporate cards are linked to the business accounts"

No. Some corporate cards are linked to business accounts, but they can be linked to personal accounts. See statement above.

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Re: more to this - ie. alleged fraud perhaps?

My thoughts as well. If it was simply a matter of an employee put dodgy expenses on the card, the company pays the bill, fires the employee, docks the employees severance pay, and if necessary files suite against the employee.

So I'm thinking the card was reported stolen, and the charges disputed. The club filed suite because they think the employee holding the card is trying to defraud them. I don't have a clue as to whether the card was actually stolen or is an employee trying to duck the fees.

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"Try not to make blanket statements. I'm in the UK and I have an Amex Corporate Card linked to my own bank account as that is what my employer insisted on. Suffice to say I avoid using it where practically possible."

My employer (who I suspect might be the same as yours) has been trying to make me sign up for a corporate Amex for years, linked to my own bank account. I refuse to take one on the grounds that if I am to put expenses on a card that I am responsible for paying the bill on, then I will do so on a card of my own choosing. If they really want me to use a corporate card, then they will have to provide it, on their own account.

So far this has resulted mostly in having to repeatedly copy and paste "I do not have a corporate card" into the inevitable exceptions alerts raised by the expenses system. This is no more annoying than using the expenses app in the first place, as it is a crappy piece of client-side Java so I have to fire up a VM to run it in.

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When I worked for them, individual employees issued US Government credit cards were personally responsible to repay the full amount when due. This was a definite incentive to file timely travel and per diem claims. Failure to pay on time was made known to the employer, however and could result in disciplinary action, as could use for any purpose not related to official travel. I do not think there would have been any chance of the government covering employee charges for anything.

There also were credit cards issued to certain managers for use in small acquisitions, with credit limits dependent on the manager's rank. The government would have been on the hook for these, but allowable expenditures required extensive documentation ahead of time. I can imagine unauthorized use of such an account winding up in court, probably after the responsible manager's demotion or dismissal.

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Re: Usually 'Joint and Several'

The club accepted the card in good faith, they trusted the American Express and Oracle names on the card.

There is no question that the card was genuine and the holder was entitled to it.

Why is the store liable for Oracle's internal expenses policy?

If I buy a big screen TV and my wife says no - I can't just refuse to pay Best Buy because the expense wasn't authorised.

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Re: The club accepted the card in good faith

Yep, I agree, club shouldn't be. However it is ultimately the vendor/service provider that suffers from the chargebacks, this is in their contracts and is a risk of accepting cards over cash. I can take cards for items and services I sell, I pay a fee to payment processors, but if there's a chargeback, it's up to me to sort out. Card companies do not insure the transaction.

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FAIL

@Yet Another Anonymous coward - 25/09/2013

"...If I buy a big screen TV and my wife says no..."

To effect such a transaction without SWMBO's approval, you'd have to be either a newly wed or suicidal...

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Happy

Re: more to this - ie. alleged fraud perhaps?

I'd like to know if he was under instructions from his boss. There are instances where " entertaining guests " is done in very debatable ways. It will be an interresting story to follow ..

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Anonymous Coward

Re: more to this - ie. alleged fraud perhaps?

Some of the stories I have heard about the treatment of buyers with large projects to fund are indeed quite interesting, including holding "conferences" in Thailand that involved taking over entire bordellos. Best not to mention the companies involved, but there was a monthly project review which led to a near walkout by the engineers because nobody wanted to be the ones any more who had to accompany the project manager to his choice of Soho venues all night.

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I've not encountered the company card tied to a personal account technique but I fully believe they would do that. I've had a company charge card linked to a company account and worked at a company that required you to use your own personal card then when the bill arrives you locate a mythical 'expense claims envelope' (no claims would be paid if it wasn't in the correct envelope), fill out the online form, print it off and add it to the envelope with the bill and pray that in 2 to 3 pay cheques you may be refunded. Sufficed to say one experience of that was enough to make me refuse to use my own funds in the future. never underestimate a companies propensity to greatly inconvenience your life in return for saving itself a few pounds \ dollars in interest or credit exposure.

I got asked to be a witness at a trial (nothing fancy or Jake esque, just spoke with someone who was involved with an incident a few hours later and they wanted me to talk about their state of mind) on the other side of the country and they wanted me to pay for my own tickets and hotel on the vague promise of a refund. At the time I was a student and explained I couldn't do that, the threatened the police at which point I suggested it was nice of them to offer transport now what about accommodation. They did eventually relent and cover the costs up front. The 'lazy by default' approach seems to be far too common place, it's like the forget who exactly is helping who.

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Pint

I can accept when I am wrong, I guess I've just never encountered that situation before.

And it is not like I would accept a corporate card that was linked to my personal account in any way either, but everyone is different I guess..

My apologies for being wrong!

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This does not surprise me

It is a regular occurance at Oracle World. I guess it comes with the audience.

Not surprising really - it is the only industry junket I can think of where you get stripper discounts. Even Mobile World Congress does not have that privilege.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This does not surprise me

" it is the only industry junket I can think of where you get stripper discounts."

I guess you never went to CES then. AVN shared the building for many years and offered discounts to CES goers....

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Re: This does not surprise me

AVN shared the building for many years and offered discounts to CES goers....

...the very definition of synergy :-)

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Re: This does not surprise me

I'm assuming it wasn't this ANV - http://www.avn.co.uk/ you are referring to.

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@jonathanb Re: This does not surprise me

Adult Video News Awards.

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"and just a 15-minute walk from El Reg's bureau in the city"

20 minutes, if there's a queue at the ATM just down the road.

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I'm sure the regular short bursts of exercise are good for the staff.

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Why would you queue at the ATM when the establishment clearly accepts plastic (as well as probably displaying plastic).

Yeah, yeah, the wife tracks the bank statements. But really, she's not going to quiz you about a $500 lunchtime cash withdrawal?

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Anonymous Coward

Expenses

Yeah, yeah, the wife tracks the bank statements. But really, she's not going to quiz you about a $500 lunchtime cash withdrawal?

A number of years ago I was running training class for a major US manufacturer at their office in Philadelphia. Like most companies, they wouldn't approve of their employees frequenting the sort of dancing establishment where attractive young ladies managed to suffer wardrobe malfunctions every few minutes. But this being Philadelphia a city which prides itself on having invented the lap dance, the local tourist information brochure (given to every student in the training centre) carried advertisements for some of the local establishments, some offering discount to genuine visitor (bring brochure and hotel key for free admittance). Well the good thing about one of these establishments was that since they severed food their receipt said it was a restaurant. This then leaves your boss in a difficult position. To know that these restaurant bills were from a strip club, he'd have to admit to knowing the strip club :-)

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Coat

I'm sure the regular short bursts of exercise are good for the staff.

My staff would certainly enjoy them. It doesn't get enough exercise.

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Some of us do not have wives and are free to make withdrawals and deposits where we wish.

I would far prefer to use cash and have a finite limit rather than give my CC card details to these people.

Having said that, the last time I went into a place like that it was in London. The girl I was with was looking at strippers, I had my back to them talking to a like minded couple. When asked why I was not watching by my girly. I simply said bring on their mothers as i prefer my meat mature.

I did however pay for girly to have a private dance. She enjoyed ithe experience even if I didn't. One of the benefits of having a bisexual and very open minded girlfriend ;)

Beer was cheap enough and it was a pound per person for each girl dancing, not thousands of dollars.

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Paris Hilton

Re: Expenses

I don't see what's wrong with knowing a strip club?

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Anonymous Coward

Watching

The girl I was with was looking at strippers

OK, I didn't spend all my life in the US in strip clubs, honest.

But the customer I was visiting in Phoenix took me to visit a couple, in one there was a couple of guys who'd brought one of them's wife/GF/better half. When she arrived she didn't look at all happy to be there. But every time I glanced over she seemed to be warming to it. Within about half an hour she looked ready to jump the dancer performing on her worse half. Watching her getting excited was far more entertaining than watching the dancers. Neither of the blokes bought the lady a dance though, they must have been insane.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Expenses

I had the opposite problem some years ago. Training trip to Clearwater, Florida, took in a so-so meal in an open air restaurant on the top floor of a shopping center out near the beach. When I got back home and filled out my expense report, I found out that the restaurant's name was "Cha-Cha Coconuts", which sounded an awful lot like a strip club name to me.

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Pirate

Expenses and strip clubs

Yeah, yeah, the wife tracks the bank statements. But really, she's not going to quiz you about a $500 lunchtime cash withdrawal?

Many years ago I went to a certain strip club and paid with my CC. The statement had it show that it was some generically-named "Regional Restaurant Operator". And during my last visit to Sin City, a cab driver noted that strip clubs in Vegas do the same thing, and that it's pretty common for those with corporate credit cards to charge such escapades as "food expenses". I doubt any of those guys has pulled a $17k bill though, that would raise red flags immediately. What would you eat for $17k? Diamonds?

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Anonymous Coward

Fifteen minutes there and back - 30 minutes a day, Monday to Friday - 2 hours and 30 minutes a week.

Just what the Doctor ordered...

http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/everyone/guidelines/adults.html

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Re: Expenses and strip clubs

>What would you eat for $17k?

P*ssy.

Generally bills like this occur when a criminal gang takes advantage of a lonely mook they have drugged, or in a more 'legit' establishment for 'special services' in a private room. It's obvious most of the posters here who frequent such gentleman's parlours are the 'seat-fillers' who distract from the more lucrative if-you-have-to-ask-we-don't-do-it part of the operation.

A friend of mine is a CTO at a CC processor which serves the adult web market and a big connoisseur of the ladies dancing naked industry, particularly the aforementioned bit, though oddly he did not know for the same prices he could hire some high end escorts who provide a much more convincing and enthusiastic experience and often have superior dancing/tease skills. I guess that is the price to pay to play big shot in front of your friends/clients. Note my comments are about backroom operations, not the tame stuff out front which is good fun for all.

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Re: Expenses and strip clubs

Eating exotic sushi, Kobe Beef and drinking top shelf sake can run up a pretty hefty bill. I've been in a party or two where quite the expense was run up. Not to 17K, but impressive and no strippers were anywhere to be seen.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Expenses and strip clubs

Yes, I don't understand why someone would pay this much when they could hire an escort and be guaranteed to get the sex they are after.

Even in SF, that sum would get a serious amount of sex with some gorgeous people.

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The atm because tucking a card in the panties isn't the same, although it raises the need for a bra with a swipe sensor on it or even a nfc (bringing a whole new meaning to pay by bonk). I wonder where they could stash the receipt printer?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Expenses and strip clubs

"I don't understand why someone would pay this much when they could hire an escort"

An escort?! For that sort of money, you could splash out on a Mondeo and still have enough left for a cute Fiesta to join you in a threesome...

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Coat

Re: Expenses and strip clubs

...What would you eat for $17k? Diamonds?...

A couple of sausages fried by Heston Blumenthal...?

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I don't understand. If a credit card was used for the purchase, isn't it between the credit card company and the card holder? If the user refuses to pay the bill, why would the strip joint be out the money?

If that's the case, who in their right mind would accept credit card payments? With the exception of fraud on the part of the merchant, how can the credit card company claw back the money from the legitimate establishment?

This should be the credit card company taking appropriate action against the parties who were issued the credit card and are refusing to pay the bill. As stated in another comment, perhaps the employee is liable... either way, the strip joint should not be responsible for this. Anything else, and credit cards should be relegated to untrusted, risky and basically worthless methods of payment. (Like cheques.)

The transaction was authorized by the credit card company. That should be the end of the story for the merchant, who really has no way of knowing whether the user is "supposed" to be spending that money or not. (One might suspect that it's inappropriate use of a corporate credit card, but that's not for them to decide)

So the moral of the story is, don't take American Express.

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American Express isn't a credit card, it's a charge card and that's (one of the reasons) why lots of businesses don't accept it.

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Natalie Gritpants: "American Express isn't a credit card, it's a charge card and that's (one of the reasons) why lots of businesses don't accept it."

But, like Grogan, I still don't understand. If a business *does* accept it, and they charge it, surely they have *already* been paid, rather than issued some kind of IOU? Whether the card holder then repays the financial institution responsible is between them and it, rather than the original merchant?

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Paris Hilton

Credit card vs. charge card

As far as I know, that doesn't make a difference for the businesses, eitherway they get paid by the card issuer. What makes the difference are the fees and those fees tend to be rather high for Amex cards. Btw, my Amex is a credit, not a charge card.

But I still don't understand why the strip club is suing Oracle.

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Re: Credit card vs. charge card

"But I still don't understand why the strip club is suing Oracle"

Really?

Strip club sues man over unpaid bill

Strip club sues massive multi-billion dollar high-profile tech company over unpaid bill

Which headline gets the most clicks and gets shitloads of free advertising for said strip club?

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Re: Credit card vs. charge card

Yes. Amex USED to be only charge cards - now they do a plethora of different cards, including various credit card offerings.

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Anonymous Coward

My guess is that the card was used (perhaps not even by Gomez) to guarantee a tab, and at the end of the evening he declined to sign the bill in view of the total. If he then reported this to AmEx as fraud they could decline to reimburse the club (perhaps they have history?) and so they've picked on the other big name on the card.

Odds are that some customer or staffer at the club decided to put a lot of expensive fizz on a foreigner's tab, assuming that by the time he noticed it would be way too late to do anything. Or the card was stolen and used by someone who had no intention of ever paying.

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Re: Credit card vs. charge card

Another reason for suing Oracle is the well-tested legal principle of "in conspectu omnis petendam" (sue everyone in sight).

Which would you prefer to sue, a poverty-stricken git or a wealthy corporation? Can't squeeze blood from a turnip, you know.

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@Grogan: You clearly have no idea how charge cards of any sort work.

Any time you accept a charge card, you accept the risk that you won't get your money. The card could be stolen, or the user can dispute the charges. That's the protective side for the user of the charge card. The user can then refute the dispute claim by providing documents which prove the authorized user used the card to pay the bill.

If the club has filed charges, Oracle and the card user are most likely both claiming the card was stolen and they are therefore not liable for the charges. American Express is preferred by some card holders because they come down hard on merchants who don't abide by the terms of the card. I knew someone (may he rest in peace) who once complained to Amex because the hotel at which he was staying wouldn't accept his card even though they clearly had the logo on their door. While he was at the hotel, their agreement with Amex was terminated and someone from Amex showed up with a razor blade to remove the sticker from the door.

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Re: American Express isn't a credit card

Strictly speaking yes. But Amex does offer cards that are credit cards (Amex Blue). Not sure I'd depend on that distinction for this case.

But frankly when I looked at taking them for a group where I volunteered, the sole reason to prefer Mastercard and Visa was the ease of setting up both accounts and the manner in which fees were charged. MC/Visa only charged if the transaction went through. Amex (and Discover at the time IIRC) both charged per transaction regardless of whether the transaction was approved.

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Anonymous Coward

And then, reading the article, he came and did the exact same thing 2 nights later.

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