Amex won't do nicely at the Waterside Inn

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The Independent Online
ALL the American Express people wanted to hear from the restaurateur Michel Roux was 'That'll do nicely' when they offered to include him in a pounds 10m advertising campaign, writes Steve Boggan.

Two years ago, the proprietor of the Waterside Inn at Bray, Berkshire - one of only two UK restaurants boasting three Michelin stars - refused to accept the charge card, blaming high commission.

This, the advertising people thought, was the time to make amends. They would put him - and his restaurant - on television for free, an offer Richard Shepherd, of Langan's Brasserie, had accepted. But Mr Roux sent them away with a nasty taste in their mouths. 'I told them they must be joking - I wanted nothing to do with their bloody card,' he said yesterday after cooking, among much else, roast roebuck with asparagus tips and caramelised onions for his pounds 28 menu gastronomique, hours before the first commercial was screened.

Changes have been made at Amex since the Roux-inspired rebellion by some British restaurants objecting to the commission rates - about 4 per cent compared with about 1.5 per cent for Access and Visa. Amex charges are now about 2.5 per cent, still too much for Mr Roux.

Amex regretted his stance. Its director of advertising, Russ Shaw, said: 'This campaign is all about what it means to have and accept the famous green card.' Unfortunately, it means you cannot have the menu gastronomique at the Waterside Inn.