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I'm watching "Eyes Wide Shut" by Stanley Kubrick and in it, the main character in the movie borrowed a costume from a rental house to attend a party which required to be masked to attend it. There is a scene where he returns to this rental place to return it. This is the dialogue I've got difficulty understanding:

Well, Dr. Harford...

here is your receipt.

I'm tearing up your deposits...

and thanks for the business..

So Dr.Harford returned the costume to the owner of the rental house and he gave him a receipt and tore up some pieces of paper which are called deposits but I can't find any definitions for a word deposit that isn't a sum of money.

deposit:

  1. Something, such as money, that is entrusted for safekeeping, as in a bank (source thefreedictionary.com)

  2. A partial or initial payment of a cost or debt: left a $100 deposit toward the purchase of a stereo system. (source thefreedictionary.com)

So what were these little pieces of paper that the ower tore up on the return of the costume. It clearly wasn't money.

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    Dr. Harford may have been required to leave some money with the company, which they would claim if he damaged the costume or failed to return it. Maybe it was in the form of a cheque, which they could tear up to show they weren't going to cash it. Jun 12, 2022 at 13:50
  • Didn't you see the credit card slips, Static Bounce? Jun 12, 2022 at 14:18
  • The "deposit" (required by the hirer as insurance that the customer won't simply keep the things hired) might well be in the form of a cheque (or a "pending" credit card payment that hopefully never gets put through the banking system). The hirer can safely tear up the cheque or (potential) card sale as soon as he's got his goods back. Jun 12, 2022 at 18:27

2 Answers 2

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When you rent or hire something, the hire company can require you to pay a 'deposit' to cover the cost of replacing the rented items if you lose, damage, or fail to return them.

In this case some deposits were asked for. Harford did not pay these in cash, but using a credit card.

At that time credit card payment involved the sales person completing a paper 'credit card slip' using a machine into which the card was inserted. The machine pressed the plastic card against the slip and the card number, owner's name, etc, which are on raised characters, were pressed into the slip as a record.

The customer signed the slip, and the shop or business would send the slip to the credit card company to get the money. The slip had several parts with carbon paper and the customer get a copy to keep. I think this system may still exist in the USA.

When Harford returned the clothes, the rental company man tore up the store's credit card slips representing the deposits, so that they could not be used to obtain the amounts of the deposits.

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  • Yeah. The point is, this isn’t an actual deposit in the strictest sense, because the slips hadn’t been turned into money, as far as I understand, but whatever.
    – cruthers
    Jun 12, 2022 at 14:36
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    Well, if he'd lost the clothes, or got bullet holes in them, the rental company would process the slips representing the deposits, and I daresay the staff could well refer to these informally as 'the deposits'. I don't suppose a rental company clerk, unless they were of a pedantic disposition, would say 'I'm tearing up the credit card slips that we would otherwise cash, that represent your deposits'. Jun 12, 2022 at 14:46
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    He might say “I’m tearing up your deposit slips.”
    – cruthers
    Jun 12, 2022 at 14:56
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    Maybe. In the UK, a 'deposit slip' is something you complete and hand over to a bank clerk along with cash or a cheque that you want to pay into your account. Jun 12, 2022 at 14:58
  • Same here in the US. I don’t think the costume company cashier would be bothered by that either. My English language learning point is just that the paper is not a deposit in the strictest sense.
    – cruthers
    Jun 12, 2022 at 15:42
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Michael has answered your question as to what the papers were that the owner tore up, but I feel like there's still some confusion around the user of the word “deposit.”

deposit noun

  • 2 : something placed for safekeeping: such as
    • b : money given as a pledge or down payment
      • put down a deposit on a new house

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/deposit

In this case, “deposit” is being used in sense 2b, but note that the definition only says “something … such as money.” (Emphasis mine.) A deposit can be anything the payee (person being paid) is willing to accept as payment — cash, check/cheque, money order, credit card slip, stock, bond, bitcoin, etc. In that sense, “deposit” can refer to either the amount of money being exchanged (“I paid a deposit of $20.”) or the thing given as payment (“I have your deposit here,” referring to a check/cheque in my hand.)

So earlier, the main character must have stopped in and left multiple deposits (using a credit card, as Michael explained) for different rental items. Later, the shop owner uses the word “deposits” to refer to the same credit card slips that the main character used to pay his deposit.

That said…

Often a deposit is part of a larger payment. One deposits some of the payment up-front, and then pays the rest later. For example, if a suit rental cost $100, one may pay a $20 deposit upon scheduling the rental, and then pay the remaining $80 at a later date, such as upon returning the rental. It's odd that the store owner tore up the main character's deposit, rather than just charging him for the balance due — but I haven't seen the movie, so I don't know the scene went exactly.

Unless “deposit” is being used here to mean a “security deposit.”

security deposit noun

: an amount of money that a renter pays when beginning to rent property (such as an apartment) and that can be used to pay for any damage that the renter causes to the property

(This is also present in sense 2b of “deposit,” since it's “money given as a pledge.”)

In this case, the main character would have paid for the rental and left additional payment to cover any potential damage to the costume. Upon returning the items in good condition, his security deposit would be returned — or, in the case of a credit card slip, destroyed, since it's not worth anything to the main character himself.

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