Tuesday, December 02, 2008

A sign of the times?

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch recently did an article on tipjacking -- waiters and waitresses illegally increasing their tips. I did some additional research.

I usually leave cash for the tip. Bad. When the waiter enters the credit card info, he just adds an extra tip for himself to the credit card bill.

It's not much better if you add the tip to the credit card slip that you sign. The tip amount still has to be manually typed into the credit card system, making it easy to a a dollar or two to the tip. Not many people match their receipts to their monthly credit card statement.

The third variation is for the waiter to add an automatic 20% tip but not tell the customer, who then adds an additional tip. This is easy for the waiter to do since most food-service computer systems have a special key or function to add an automatic 20% or more tip. (Many restaurants add the automatic 20% or more for parties of six or more.)

If you catch the switch on your bill, the restaurant will usually refund the full cost of your dinner, and maybe a free coupon. Waiters are seldom prosecuted, the restaurant do not want the bad publicity. How much can a waiter make using tipjacking?.

The Post gives examples of greedy waiters adding tens of dollars to checks but the dollar or two approach is probably more common. An extra $100 a night times five nights a week times four weeks and the waiter is taking home an extra $2,000 a month -- $24,000 a year.

Because of the ecomony, tip amounts tend to be lower, so some waiters justify the tipjacking as "we're just getting what we deserve."

Remember, there is no tipping at McDonald's!


sleepyrn said...

Don't people look at the receipt and check the math? I always re-add everything. I often use my debit card for the meal but leave cash for the tip. They can't go back later and add more to the bill can they? CAN THEY? But since it's a debit card I do check the amounts and I've never had one vary - yet.

Jim said...

Sleep -- Yep, they can change the tip amount after you have signed the slip, and then claim that it was an entry error, like hitting the 5 instead of the 4 and changing a $4 tip to a $5 tip.

There is also a more complicated scam if you pay cash -- the waiter enters the sale but then after you leave asks the manager to void the ticket -- two variations on this one: (1) the manager is in on it and they split the cash or (2) the manager agrees to 'comp' the meal for some reason and the waiter pockets the cash,

Anonymous said...

wow, as a server i am scocked that people think that because of a few disonest poeple we all are. As a server we never ask for tips, we work for them! True may restaurant do add 18%-20% onto the bill for parties of 8 or more where I work, may guest will leave extra becuase they recieved great service not because I asked for it. Keep in mind when checking your credit card by the credit card is approved for the amount plus 20% even if you have grat added onto the bill(like going to the gas station)only after the restaurant sends in the statements is the corrcet amount posted.