Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >
Nov 17, 2007 09:38 PM

Restaurant appears to have added tip to take-out order after it was paid for

My sister went to a chinese restaurant to pick up a take-out order on Friday night, to bring to our mother's for dinner. She used our mother's bank ATM card with a Mastercard logo and left the receipt in my mother's check book for me to take care of posting today when I got to Mom's and did some bookeeping. The receipt said $46.42. In checked Mom's bank account online so I could balance her checkbook, I see that there is a pending transaction for $55.70, exactly 20% more than the actual food bill. My sister says she did not tip on the order, as it was take-out (okay, I know, some people do it, but she does not). She theorized that perhaps the restaurant somehow undercharged for the order and realized it after she was gone and just "corrected" the charge. I am not convinced that that is what happened, after looking at the prices on a menu from a place near where I live, 15 minutes away from the place where my sister got the food, but I cannot be sure, as not all of the items my sister bought at restaurant "A" were on the menu from restaurant "B" and I believe that the place near me is a bit more expensive.

It's not the 11 cents in the post cited below, and it's not Mom's last nickel either.

Am I being cheap to contact the bank over this?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Absolutely not. However, before I would call the restaurant first and see what their policies are and ask them to correct your bill. If not definitely call the bank.

    1. Many debit and CC transactions will be placed by the Merchant processing center with an x% additional amount as an authorization. the x% is to cover up to x% tip that may be added after the purchase transaction. When the actual charge amount is processed, the "overcharge" disappears and the "correct" amount will post. The rest does not do this, it is between banks.
      If the additional charge is still there after the next banking business day, then there may be a problem.

      I would not contact the bank until enough time has passed for the actual charge to process.
      In this case, purchase on Friday evening (bank closed), banks are closed Saturday and Sunday, the charge processes Monday, so if the "wrong" charge is still there Tuesday, contact the bank.

      8 Replies
      1. re: hannaone

        I figured I would take Sunday off from Mom's banking and see what happened when the transaction posts on the next business day, probably after close of business Monday or could be Tuesday morning, just to make sure what actually posts. In light of what you say, that makes sense. But a helluva thing for banks to do without warning customers. Only a small amount here and there is more than sufficient money in the account, but could get complicated (and cause a lot of rubber checks) with a more expensive meal and a more cash-starved checking account.

        1. re: Shayna Madel

          I can not count the number of times the processing center has declined charges on holidays and weekends because the customer made a large purchase earlier in the day and that x% was tagged onto the authorization. And they usually think that I did something wrong. LoL

          1. re: Shayna Madel

            My understanding from calling my bank the first time these overcharges appeared is that it is the merchant and not the bank that adds the overcharge. I agree w/hanna that this is probably something that will be corrected once the transaction posts.

            1. re: Lucia

              The way the processing works, in general for small restaurants, is their bank will either directly or through contract with a third party processor, set up the card terminal in a "restaurant" mode. Since it is customary in the US to tip at restaurants, restaurant mode will request an authorization for the sale amount plus xx%. The merchant (Restaurant owner) usually doesn't even know this.
              When the card is run through the machine an authorization request is sent to the card issuing bank. This is an authorization only, not the actual charge.
              At the end of either the server's shift or the restaurant's business hours, the card machine is closed out. The server, or person, closing out the machine will go through all the tickets and add in any tips that are on the tip line. When the closing batch is sent, the actual charge is processed. If this happens during standard non banking hours the card issuing bank will not process the actual transaction until the next banking day.
              Most small restaurant owners are unaware of this because whoever handles their processing does not tell them about it.
              The only reason I know about it now is because I started getting calls from irate customers demanding that I correct or even completely void their charges when I had no clue what they were talking about. I had one of them bring in a print out of their online transaction record to compare with the receipt I had, then I called the processing company to find out WTH was going on.
              So again - the restaurant does not add xx% to the charge slip. It is the processing company/bank that does it through the mode programmed into the card machine.

              EDIT: So please, anyone reading this post who encounters this problem, please do not call the restaurant and accuse them of anything. Please do not call your bank to reverse or dispute charges until a couple at least two banking days have passed.
              If the wrong charge amount still shows after that time, by all means call your bank.

              1. re: hannaone

                hannaone, you are right about the process...I have been confused in the past after dining out and checking my account at the bank later. I have found, as you said, that the account is justified automatically a day or two later...If not, contact the bank and the restaurant for sure!

                1. re: gutreactions

                  To third what hannaone and gutreactions are saying, the software that processes the credit cards--in this case a check card that will process like a credit card--AUTHORIZES for a certain percentage over the bill to cover a tip if a customer is to leave one. Though the restaurant probably could set this amount, most don't--they just go with what the software has as standard.

                  Most likely this is what has happened. Wait until the authorization turns into a charge and see if it reflects the accurate amount. if it is inaccurate, by all means rectify the situation.

                2. re: hannaone

                  all restaurant owners and managers are aware of this extra processing "pillow" because we get many calls every week from patrons thinking they are being ripped off by the restaurant.

                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                    Sorry hotoynoodle, I usually agree with what you post, but not all restaurant owners know about this. Small operators like myself were unaware of it until a problem arose. Many Ethnic rest owners don't know, and won't until the problem with annoyed customers surfaces with them.
                    New Owners won't know until they start getting the calls because the processing company reps don't tell them.
                    This isn't like a POS solution that most mid to upper range restaurants use and staff are trained in the use of.

                    Until on-line banking started taking off this was an invisible process, the rare times it surfaced before was written off by most as a glitch in the system.

          2. This has happened to me many times. I do all my banking online and the initial authorization as shown online comes through as 20% or so over the bill. It is always reconciled to the correct amount and it seems to me that it is just the way the authorization goes through. The first time it happened I called the restaurant, now I just wait to make sure the correct amount eventually shows up, usually a week or so later.

            1. The original comment has been removed
              1. I am not surprised. My husband picked up take-out from the Olive Garden (I know - but I was out of town) for himself and my daughter. The bill was $32.63. When the credit card bill came, mysteriously there was a charge for $62.63. This after my husband had tipped in cash. Someone helped themselves to a nice tip, don't you think? The credit card company said they would suspend the charge while they looked into it. In the meantime, my husband took both the charge receipt and the statement to the restaurant. The manager was extremely nice and was a bit appaled himself (he should have been). He credited the "tip" back and said he would comp us a meal in the future. He also assured us someone was going to get a major ass-chewing (not his exact words)... Watch those receipts and be sure to total at the bottom is the moral of this story.