(1) You're making a high-dollar purchase at Tiffany, and your credit card declines.
(2) You're making a low-dollar purchase at the Salvation Army Thrift Store, and your credit card declines.
My wife (aka Battleaxe) stands fervently behind option (2).
"If you can't clear the checkout at Salvation Army, of all places," she says, "that really sucks. When you can't make a purchase at the Thrift Store, you've hit bottom."
I, on the other hand, tend to focus on the "righteous indignation" side of this. If you're an Escalade-driving, Prada-purse toting glamour-wife who's shopping Tiffany & Company, you likely have a Public Image to uphold. And when that sweet word DECLINED gleams back at the sales associate, then said Public Image just took a sizeable whacking. For you, it sucks. For me, it's an opportunity to throw discretion to the wind and laugh like hell. (Makes me smile just thinking about it, actually.)
Two different scenarios. Same outcome. Totally different reactions, probably, if you witnessed them firsthand.