Restaurants and Credit Cards

Get credit card fraud help: For victims of credit card fraud and identity theft, and those that can help.
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CarefulBuilder14
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Restaurants and Credit Cards

Postby CarefulBuilder14 » Mon Aug 04, 2014 11:35 am

I don't go to restaurants terribly often, but this summer several people I know (including myself) have started getting suspicious credit card charges within 48 hours of eating at restaurants where a staff member takes the card and then vanishes for several minutes. A waiter or waitress stealing card information, at least among the people I know, has simply become routine.

I have no problem handing a card to someone across a counter where I get it back seconds later and can see that no one is writing the information down. But why do we, as restaurant patrons, allow strangers to be alone with our cards? Do we have to expose ourselves to theft in order to be genteel?

I'm sure those places could set up a little 'pay station' on the way out. You don't need a cash register blaring out how much people are spending (and tipping). You can still have discreet little pieces of paper. There might be a little extra delay, but it saves several hours of frustration in the days that follow.

It's gotten to the point that I may actually ask a waiter if I can 'escort' my card back to the swipe area. Has anyone done this (without offending the staff or fellow diners)? Perhaps I can exaggerate my history in fighting with fraud/identity theft to appear wounded and vulnerable to get extra sympathy.

I know I can just pay in cash, but I like rewards and the ability to track my spending.

Edit: Restaurant owners and managers should also consider that if enough people get annoyed and start paying in cash, then that can cause a delay in processing customer bills. The cash will all need to be counted and people will need change (although it saves them 3% or so in payment fees). It also exposes them to employee theft. But if they are trying to create a refined atmosphere, patrons pulling out wads of cash (and not a prime or luxury card) might deteriorate that setting.
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Postby nismoZtuner » Mon Aug 04, 2014 1:02 pm

well the only place that used to take my card for a while was "chili`s" but now they have that self pay machine where they try and sell games to people to play while inside the restaurant- so that over with. when i go out for sushi i can just take the little tray with me and pay at the counter which i usually do. so yeah my card doesnt leave my sight much
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Postby djrez4 » Mon Aug 04, 2014 2:18 pm

I like how Europe does it (though restaurants in Frankfurt did not, for some reason) - the EMV machine comes to the table.
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Postby nismoZtuner » Mon Aug 04, 2014 2:23 pm

djrez4 wrote:I like how Europe does it (though restaurants in Frankfurt did not, for some reason) - the EMV machine comes to the table.


this is what chilis now have on tables...

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Postby CarefulBuilder14 » Mon Aug 04, 2014 2:32 pm

I'd love machines like those to be more common. I haven't eaten at a chili's in years (I thought the food was fine but I'm not often near one) but it is a big improvement over giving a stranger your card.
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Postby otter » Mon Aug 04, 2014 9:20 pm

CarefulBuilder14 wrote:
Edit: Restaurant owners and managers should also consider that if enough people get annoyed and start paying in cash, then that can cause a delay in processing customer bills. The cash will all need to be counted and people will need change (although it saves them 3% or so in payment fees). It also exposes them to employee theft. But if they are trying to create a refined atmosphere, patrons pulling out wads of cash (and not a prime or luxury card) might deteriorate that setting.


Take it from someone who has been in the restaurant business for a long time... most restaurant owners/managers would rather not deal with credit cards. In addition to the potential fraud issues... in addition to employee theft, there are issues of "customers" with stolen cards which inevitably get charged back. And then there are those people who get a refund of a portion of their order and call nonstop until it shows up on their account, because their bank is delaying the refund (and it is the bank who delays... not the merchant). I now manage a truckstop, so I have to deal both with credit card hassles in a restaurant and on the truckstop side. Believe me... I love using credit cards, I don't love it when my customers do. If everyone paid with cash- it'd take 10 minutes to count the extra money... much less time than the hassles credit cards create on a daily basis.

Credit cards are a necessary evil- they're much less of a hassle than checks, but if you think your friendly neighborhood restaurant prefers it to cash, you're very mistaken.
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Postby rockyrock » Mon Aug 04, 2014 10:45 pm

otter wrote:Credit cards are a necessary evil- they're much less of a hassle than checks, but if you think your friendly neighborhood restaurant prefers it to cash, you're very mistaken.


I'll take it a step further; I run a small (dry cleaning) business and much prefer cash or check over credit. With the amount of revenue we generate the 3%-5% we pay in swipe fees adds up to quite a bit. From a merchant perspective, I can think of very few situations where cash isn't king.
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Postby CarefulBuilder14 » Tue Aug 05, 2014 12:09 am

otter and rockyrock,

I definitely can see how having a lot of customers, many with a small transaction amount, can mean you have to spend a lot of time dealing with disputed charges that could be easily avoided with cash.

I wonder how the risk of a "customer" making a purchase with a stolen card compares to the risk of that same person using counterfeit paper money. Testing pens can be tricked and I don't know how many people have a good enough eye to spot a near-perfect fake. Security cameras can identify, even if only in retrospect, the party that used a stolen card fraudulently. I'm guessing it's harder to know, in a busy cash register, exactly where the counterfeit $20 came from. It's probably easier for a crook to grab a victim's wallet and physical card or buy someone's information online than to purchase high-quality counterfeit currency.

Maybe more places will charge surcharges on credit transactions? I can see the rationale, although it is definitely irritating for a consumer when you expect the originally quoted price.

For small transactions where I'd have to lose sight of my card or share the info over the phone, I can definitely see myself switching to cash. For large outings...treating a bunch of people...it is a little hard, I admit, to pass on the rewards. On the other hand, a cash discount of even 3% would definitely make me a cash customer.
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Postby supercoolman » Tue Aug 05, 2014 12:13 am

I usually just walk up and pay at the counter because some restaurants take your card right when you put it on the tab, but doesn't return until half hour later.

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Postby CarefulBuilder14 » Tue Aug 05, 2014 12:17 am

supercoolman wrote:I usually just walk up and pay at the counter because some restaurants take your card right when you put it on the tab, but doesn't return until half hour later.


I do that when I can. I'm talking about places that have their cash register and card reader tucked away somewhere out of sight - where a waiter or waitress that feels underpaid can take out pen and paper and write down the info - or simply take out a phone and photograph both sides of the card.
Love: IHG, Platinum, Sallie Mae, AA Plat, CSP
Like: Discover, ED, BCE, Hyatt, Arrival, Freedom
Might drop: BrooksBros, Prestige (Costco PC?)
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Letting new accounts cool off since May
Really not sure what I'll add next or when



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