Credit Card Suspicions
For some reason, the UK is really suspicious of credit cards that aren't from here. Most of them have some sort of chip in them, while ours have nothing. In some stores, they simply won't take foreign credit cards at all, while others have to make a copy or take an imprint because they're afraid the credit card company won't pay. I've never experienced this in any other country. There were some differences in Japan and fewer places that took credit cards, but if a company/restaurant gave you the option of paying by credit card, it didn't matter where it came from. In the UK Ikea, you can pay the bill by any credit card, but in the delivery area they require a UK one.
Like Japan, the UK has places you can pay your bill by cash in a convenient store or grocery store. They aren't quite so nice about telling you where those stores are though. In Japan your bill will have a logo on the back for each store, here you just have to walk around trying to find a "pay point."
In other news, lots of services require a contract- phone, internet, cable. I don't remember any of those in the US requiring anything. I guess if you want a traditional landline you just have one choice, so there's no reason to require a contract there. Most people still only have 1-2 choices for internet and if you have cable you're going to go with cable and if you have something like Fios you'll get Verizon internet. What's the most annoying is that there are lots of limits- you can't get cable internet without cable TV or the broadband phone, you can't get a traditional phone line without a yearlong contract, which you need to get ADSL. So now we're stuck paying for 3 extra months of phone, but we'll try to cancel at the end and see what happens.