HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >

Discussion

ROUNDING UP A BILL

I was recently in Aspen and had a delightful meal at D19 - I highly recommend their artichoke. However...when I got the bill there was a new line item after the tax - it was titled "Rounding" - basically they rounded up my bill to the next nickle.

I have never seen this before...is it even legal?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
    1. I think it's illegal, and if this is a new trend, then I think we should all protest it by saying (politely) that we do not agree to the rounding, and we'd appreciate having all our money returned to us. Of course, if they want to do what Darren suggested in the above-linked post, and just work out prices so that tax is included, we'd be paying the rounded figure anyway, but at least we'd then be agreeing to eat there at a certain price that we know about up front - as opposed to being hit with a surprise up-charge at the end of the meal.

      Another idea - I do not think it would be out of line - or illegal - to just cross that line out, and leave the "before rounding" amount. Of course, for that to work you'd have to have exact change.

      1. No it's illegal. Though I've never had it happen to me . . yet!

        TT

        1. If its only rounding to the next nickle, it seems so they don't have to do pennies as change....and I *have* seen where the bill stays the proper amount but they don't bother giving me back the exact change, they give me more, thereby rounding down a nickel.

          They could be messing with you even more, if the bill goes up then technically the sales tax collected goes up and they are supposed to send in sales tax collected to the proper agencies...how are they handling that part of it..? I would ask, or report to local departments.

          1. Are we really going to start a taxpayers' revolution over (on average) two cents? If you ate out every single day for a year and managed to get docked the average every day, you'd have lost enough in that year to buy... a combo meal at Carl's Jr.

            It happens in Canada; it happens in Mexico; it happens in Europe. In fact, in Russia, it's not uncommon to be told, "I don't have any change, you'll have to buy something else." In the Euro-Zone, it's very rare to see the 2c and 1c coins because they simply round to the nearest 'real' coin, 5c, thus not having to have so many slots.

            Even the PX at any overseas U.S. base rounds -- because it costs more to handle pennies than the pennies are worth.

            The solution might be to require both-ways rounding, meaning that if your bill was 59.58 or 59.59, you'd have to pay 59.60, but if it were 59.57 or 59.56, you'd pay 59.55 -- thus ensuring that you'd come out even on the average.

            In any case, I always round up to the next dollar when adding tips anyway... it seems petty to me to be wrangling out tips to the penny. ("Well, it was 12.95 before tax, so I owe 1.94 in tip, so the total with tax comes to $15.96...")

            1 Reply
            1. re: Das Ubergeek

              Regarding being told "I don't have any change, you'll have to buy something else": I recall about 30 years ago receiving "change" in Italy in the form of penny candy for change amounts less than something like 50 or 100 lira. So if my change should have been 1537 lira, I got 1500 in cash and a piece or two of hard candy.

            2. "Even the PX at any overseas U.S. base rounds -- because it costs more to handle pennies than the pennies are worth."

              Not taking issue with you personally, but how in the world does somone conclude that it COSTS more than the pennies are worth? I've never run into an establishment that rounded up or down, but have heard of it. I never thought about the reason until now.

              I run a retail store and figure it takes maybe 60 second a day to count the pennies at the beginning and end of the day. How long it takes to drop pennies into their tray bin or take them our for change is speculative, because you'd often be putting in or taking out another coin instead. I understand this is an averaging of the odds, but if I gave away 4 cents per transaction each day that would have to be more than whatever savings could be extrapolated. Wouldn't it?

              2 Replies
              1. re: Midlife

                For overseas bases, the cost to ship pennies (rather than just a slightly higher number of nickels), combined with having to count them out, count them in and make the change.

                Also, the rounding at US bases is two-way, so statistically speaking, for every transaction where you have to give away two cents, there's a transaction where you make two cents.

                This is the way our farmers' market works -- all vendors round, so if your bag of peaches should cost $3.85, they'll usually ask for $3.75 in order to only have to carry one kind of coin (the quarter).

                I just can't imagine getting all het up about having to pay four cents extra on a three-digit restaurant bill.

                1. re: Das Ubergeek

                  I grew up overseas on air force bases... It was twenty years ago, but I do remember not seeing too many pennies and learning that the only place that used them was the post office.

                  Also, the abandoning of the penny is pretty much an evolutionary thing. At the turn of the century 1/2 pennies were something that existed, now we wouldn't think of them.

                  That's just my two cents.

              2. Well, I think so long as the establishment rounds DOWN and not up, who's gonna complain? If $6.97 becomes $6.95 and not $7.00, what's the harm to the customer?

                TT

                1 Reply
                1. re: TexasToast

                  Right. That's what I do when someone pays cash at the restaurant where I work; I round the bill down to the nearest quarter just because I don't want to have a pocket full of change.

                2. No biggie in my book but would appreciate the head's up.

                  Sales tax rounds to the nearest penny. Sales tax returns round to the nearest dollar (at least in CT). People tip about 15% or about 20% or round the bill to the nearest dollar. People drop pennies, nickels and dimes all the time and do not pick them up. The world goes round.

                  If the restaurant rounds to the nearest nickle I probably would not notice, would not really care and would still enjoy the meal. I wish all places would do this so i do not have a drawful of pennies.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: jfood

                    The issue is not with rounding as such but with the rounding always being in the up direction. That automatically renders the establishment sleazy, regardless of its caliber. If it wants rounding, it should either round down uniformly or round to the nearest, and inform ahead on the menu. And there's no need to round for credit or debit card transactions....

                    1. re: Karl S

                      Absolutely it should be two-way, but I still don't see the problem on the scale of four cents. Were it up to the nearest dollar, I wouldn't care... beyond that, probably.

                      A restaurant doesn't know if you're paying with plastic until they've already totted up the bill and handed it over.

                      1. re: Das Ubergeek

                        The issue is principle, which should be sufficient. Restaurants are in the business of hospitality. The principle of hospitality would require restaurant never to game things inconsistent with social custom always to be in their favor, regardless of scale. A restaurant that fails to heed this is a restaurant that does not want to be hospitable, and is unworthy of patronage.

                        1. re: Karl S

                          I would not support a one direction rounding but am in favor of closest. Law of large numbers keeps me even.

                          This should only apply to cash payers. The charge people it shouldn't matter. The restaurant should put it clearly on the menu for full disclosure.

                  2. I used to run a noodle shop that opperated mostly in cash. I tried to institute a no-pennies rule because I think they should be taken out of circulation. Unless you can buy something with $.04, what's the point of having them. Heck, we could likely do the same with nickles, but perhaps we should just start with pennies. At any rate, we used to round up or down depending on the total. Thus, from the customer's standpoint as a whole, it was a wash. Some paid more, some less. As I'd hoped, essentially nobody cared. Even the few who asked were completely cool with it once we explained.

                    Then there was one. They came in somewhat often and always ordered the same combination of food, it always came to $7.24, they always paid with cash, and they always got back $.75. One time they finally brought up their dissastisfaction with the policy and didn't agree with my logic. They mentioned that they ate there once a week, so it was "adding up". I calmly handed them a quarter and said, "Well, OK then. I guess we'll be all set for the next six monthe. Remind me then I'll give you another." They sheepishly took the money. They continued to come in but I don't recall having to give out the other quarter.

                    1. Can you even legally refuse to accept pennies as payment? They are legal tender are they not? (I don't know the answer to this question, hence why I'm asking.)

                      TT

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: TexasToast

                        FWIW, we didn't refuse pennies, we just didn't pass them out as change. As I recall seeing a very small accumulation of them over time, somebody must have paid with them along the way.

                      2. Stopped by (alone) to an upscale Italian restaurant last evening (Fort Lauderdale). Service was not good and the food was nothing memorable. Check was $42.40 and I paid with a $50 and received $7 back. They rounded up 60 cents. The owner stopped by to see how everything was and I told him about their "rounding up" and felt it was arrogant and presumptuous on their part. I also requested a copy of my bill and he obliged along with my 60 cents. I asked if they "rounded up" on charge cards. No. Then why, when you have to pay a % on credit card usage, would you take my money when I'm paying cash and you don't have to pay that percentage. I'm getting screwed by paying cash. As for a tip to the waiter, I left him the 60 cents that he intended to keep in the first place. Why is it they don't "round down"? Cuts in to their profit? My, my. I save all my loose change in a large jar and at the end of the year I usually have around $1,200 that I use towards my vacation. So, they're cutting in to my vacation. Does anyone know who actually gets that money? Owner or wait help? Please advise as this is the 3rd time in two weeks that a restaurant had done this to me. Do I take that out of their tip? What irks me is that I normally tip 20%.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: KimRenee

                          Well, the IRS would certainly want to audit them to be sure they were reporting their income correctly. The discrepancies between invoice and monies received would be interesting. If the enterprise is part of a public company, there could be additional issues, too.