Question: I tried to buy $300 worth of tickets to the Neil Diamond concert at the Blaisdell ticket office using my MasterCard and was asked for a picture ID. I told the clerk I used my MasterCard 20 times a month and wasn’t asked for a picture ID. She said, picture ID or cash or no tickets. Google says, "it is a well established fact … that merchants cannot require an ID in order to use MasterCard," and its rules for vendors says, "A merchant must not refuse to complete a MC transaction solely because a cardholder … refuses to provide additional identification." I understand that Visa has the same policy. Was this person doing this on her own or following a misguided policy?
Answer: The employee was following a department policy, which has since been changed.
"We want to apologize for the inconvenience your reader recently experienced," said Keoki Miyamoto, director of the city Department of Enterprise Services, which oversees the Neal S. Blaisdell Center.
He explained that the Blaisdell Box Office had been asking for photo IDs for credit card purchases as a security measure.
"However, the Box Office will now only ask for a photo ID if a credit card has not been signed," he said.
The Department of Budget and Fiscal Services’ internal control office, which handles the contract for charge cards with the city, "recommends that we first swipe the card to make sure it is working before we do the charge and that we continue to check if the card is signed," Miyamoto said.
If a credit card is not signed, "then we have the right to ask for a photo ID to verify ownership before we allow the charge slip to be signed," he said.
MasterCard and Visa both say vendors can ask for ID, but as you pointed out they can’t — as a general practice — refuse to accept the card if the cardholder declines to provide ID.
However, a merchant/vendor may require additional identification if needed to complete a transaction, such as for shipping purposes.
While many people see no problem in showing IDs as a way to prevent identity theft, others see it as a way to compromise their privacy and give away personal information.
Question: I was outside a school gate and took a photo of a school building I liked. A part-time school worker told me I needed permission. I told her that I was outside the school grounds and was not taking a photo of anyone. She still claimed I could not take any photos. Could she call the police on me?
Answer: The employee was wrong.
Because you were off campus, you "did not need permission to take a photo of the school building," said Sandra Goya, spokeswoman for the state Department of Education.
Previously (see is.gd/kokualine04212010), University of Hawaii law professor Danielle Conway told us that unless you can prove harm or an invasion of privacy, it is not illegal for someone to take a photo of a private house or property from a public sidewalk or street. For instance, Google Earth posts photos of millions of homes worldwide.
To the Honolulu Fire Department, emergency medical technicians and Kuakini Medical Center’s emergency personnel who treated me for smoke inhalation Feb. 9. The very quick response of HFD in containing a stove-top fire in one of our penthouse units was instrumental in avoiding a potentially bad situation. I was worried and stressful for a pet cat in the smoke-filled room while trying to gain access for firefighters. Happily, HFD, through the owner, got back to me that the cat was OK. I’m very sorry that in the condition I was in that I was unable to remember the names of the emergency responders who put out the fire. Thank you for your care and professionalism. — Carlos F. Dias Jr., resident manager, Fountains at Makiki