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Did you every hear of this?

I went to a new restaurant for the first time and when we got the computerized check, we noticed that the bill was rounded up to the nearest nickel. I never saw this before and we spoke to the owner who had no clue that this was done on the restaurant checks. It was only a few pennies, but can you imagine the extra money the place is making? Also is this legal? The owner apologized and offered us a round of drinks the next time and said the problem will be orrected. We went back and got our drinks, but lo and behold, the rounding problem was never corrected and we pointed it out to the owner again. she acted surprise, which now i really believe is an act. I was just wondering if anyone ever had this happen to them.

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  1. Why don't you report it to your state's Dept of Revenue? Or call your local news station's consumer reporter.

    1. Pennies should be done away with. The gov't wastes millions of $ on them.

      7 Replies
      1. re: Rmis32

        this is one of those falsehoods, repeated so often people think it is true.

        yes it costs more than a penny to make a penny. but they are not single use items.

        1. re: thew

          But they fall out of circulation so quickly (who doesn't have a penny jar at home?) that the goverment must constantly mint pennies. I have never read a definitive article one way or the other but I know I read that the biggest lobby for pennies are charities that do penny drives.

          1. re: KTinNYC

            they do, and yet look at your pennies at home - i bet you have more than one that is more than 20 years old

            1. re: thew

              People are allways headed to the change machine. I regularly find pennies baring the likeness off the King as opposed to the current Queen.

              Besides if you remove pennies are nickels next?

              1. re: Withnail42

                Just this past weekend there was a report on NPR about the penny and some who want it abolished.

                "About a year ago, Gary Shows, the owner of Alko Office Supply, felt pennies were no longer worth the hassle for customers and cashiers.

                "One evening, I had this idea," Shows says, "That if we went penny free and rounded everything down to the customer's favor to the nearest nickel — if everybody was four cents, I decided that we would lose about $500 a year."

                Shows says that the lost $500 is likely overcome by customers who remember the store and come back. For Shows, it was an issue of convenience. But there are other figures starting to stack up against the penny. For instance, since 2006, producing a penny has cost more than one cent due to the rising price of zinc, the main ingredient in the coin. Inflation is also an issue."


                1. re: KTinNYC

                  i repeat - costing more than a penny to produce would only be a problem if a penny was a single use item. It's a red herring, oft repeated, but does not stand up to examination. If it costs 1.2¢ to make a penny, and it is used twice, it is already getting more value from it than the metals are worth. multiply by the fact every penny is use thousands of times, and that 2 tenths of a cent has vanished into irrelevance.

                2. re: Withnail42

                  ..."first, they came for the pennies...."

        2. You didn't say whether this was an all-day or dinner only restaurant, but the places I worked for dinner would consider 400 dinners a big night. Since the average table is about 3 people, that would be less than 150 bills. Assume they mark up every bill by 4 cents. That's $6/night.

          Yes, imagine all the extra money the place is making. Six whole dollars. The mind boggles.

          9 Replies
          1. re: FrankD

            $6/night or something like $2000/year

            Doesn't matter the amount. It's flat out illegal.

            1. re: taos

              Yes, I was thinking the same thing. Would love for someone to just hand me $6 dollars a day for the rest of my life.

              1. re: 16crab

                spend a couple of million to open a place and you can implement the policy yourself.

                1. re: fourunder

                  there is NO justification from stealing from a customer, whether 1-cent or 1-million. Integrity is proven by actions you do when no one is looking. Bankruptcy is what occurs when your reputation goes out the window.

                  1. re: jfood


                    Does taking a few packets of Splenda or Sweet & Low for your next mornings coffee amount to stealing? Do you hold the same standards and opinion of those who knowingly do this or overlook when items are left off of their guest checks.... does bankruptcy of the soul then enter into the equation for the customer?

                    1. re: fourunder

                      absolutely...taking those items from the table for use later is as wrong as taking pennies from the customer. jfood has stated this numerous times.

                      Please add to your examples people who receive the wrong check (for another table) which is lower and pay that lower tab instead.

                      1. re: jfood

                        we are on the same page my friend....... I would further add the excessively extra condiments and paper napkins from take out or coffee houses too.

                        1. re: fourunder

                          at least on this topic. :-)

                          others, there have been a difference of opinion, c'est la vie.


            2. re: FrankD

              If it's a pittance, as you assert, then they should simply always round down. Problem solved, and in a way that is much more honorable and customer-friendly than how they are currently operating.

            3. Yes, I would report that. It is illegal.

              1. But do they round down if it's in your favor? If so, then you've nothing to complain about. Please!!.. We're talking about pennies. If they only round UP rather than DOWN, then you might have a leg to stand on. Chill out my Dear. adam

                3 Replies
                1. re: adamshoe

                  I don't agree with you either Adamshoe you would be mighty annoyed if Sbux added a few pennies to your check, or if your local supermarket did the same or even your doctor, insurance company or CPA. While the penny/cent is still legal tender then they have no right to round up to the nearest 5. What if every store started doing this? It would be more than just 'talking about pennies'.

                  1. re: smartie

                    I wish every store WOULD start doing this, so we could get rid of pennies in general.

                    1. re: invinotheresverde

                      They've gotten rid of pennies at all commisaries and PXs in Iraq and Afghanistan and even in Germany, and so far as I know, no one complained. Universally accepted as a good way to lighten your pockets and no one begrudged a few cents change either up or down.

                2. Would it bother anyone if someone just walks into your house and takes your money? or takes money from your bank account? Do you complain when there is a overcharge on your credit card? So what, it's only pennies, but it's pennies of YOUR money that shouldn't be taken in the first place. If you don't mind the restaurant robbing you then why don't you just open your front door and just let people come in and help themselves?

                  Report them to the BBB and call your local news channel with your story; I'll bet they'll "remember" how to fix the problem then.

                  1. There is only one place in my area, a sandwich shop, that I know of that does this. I asked about it the first time I noticed it. I was told that they round both up and down to the nearest nickle, that it makes change-handling much easier and more accurate, and that they reduced the price of everything across the board by a nickle.

                    Yes, it's pennies, but it sounds like a win/win situation to me.

                    1. I'll let others find the statute whether it is illegal or not.....but my thoughts are this. You were overcharged six cents ......yet you got a round of drinks for free. Seems to me your principles should be directed at something more important...... yes you were lied to, but you were made more than whole in the money department. If you hold firm on the aspect of lying....what if you ased if the fish was fresh today and the owner replied yes.....if it was actually purchased yesterday, would you hold that against him too?

                      As for the camp that says this is an illegal act and the establishment is stealing from you.....consider any place where there are those penny jars you benefit from when you are a couple of pennies short in the past......consider it a wash.

                      1. I haven't seen it in the US. When I lived in Australia I learned that things are rounded to the nearest 5 cents when you pay with cash. (You pay the exact amount if you use a debit/credit card.) It never seemed like a problem to me, and it's great never having to deal with pennies. By the time I moved back to the US I was wishing we would adopt a similar system here.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: emmo42

                          I'll go one further, I think they should do away with all coins below quarters. One of my pet peeves is when a cashier decides to get rid of his or her small coins and does not give quarters in change. My pennies dimes and nickels go into tip jars.

                        2. How was the "rounded up to the nearest nickel" amount shown on the first computerized check - OR - how did you first notice it was rounded up to the nearest nickel? I'm curious how the restaurant presents (or hides) the extra pennies charged on the bill. Thank you.

                          (I apologize in advance about the way I'm asking the question, as for some reason it comes off (to me at least) as being somewhat rude. I have been rewriting it to phrase it to both make sense and be less rude, but failing every attempt.)

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: blackoak

                            blackoak: The check actually said rounded. The waiter took the check to another station and that bill did not say rounded, but it was the same amount. How many people actually add up electronic checks, other than just to make sure what they ordered is on the bill?

                            fourrunder: Yes, they were nice enough to give us a round of drinks after we mentioned the rounding. However, how many people actually noticed what we did? It is pennies- but it can add up across the board if it was done every where. It was the principal of the thing. Why not round down in the customer's favor?

                          2. I would be willing to bet that they also round down.

                            Why do people always assume restaurants are trying to cheat people out of their money? It sounds to me that they are simply trying to make life a little bit easier for everybody. The checks even state that the bill is rounded. Totally above ground, if you ask me. Is it legal? I don't know; probably not. Is it a good idea? Heck, yeah - as long as it goes both ways, and I'm sure it does.

                            As for the issue of correcting the problem - they aren't going to do it in the middle of service, tying up the computer while they try to figure out how to fix it. They'll either do it at the end of the night or the next day.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: hilltowner

                              They rounded up, so it was in their favor. When we were there the 1st time, the owner acted surprised and said they the problem would be corrected the next day.. when we went the 2nd time, a few days later- the problem was not fixed. Again, the owner acted surprised that their computer system was not fixed and they thought it was. Who are they kidding?

                              1. re: Eileen

                                I dont have a hard time believing that...she probably told someone to do it and the didn't...

                            2. I've never seen it, but I''d never get hot and bothered about a (max) 4 cents since I'm going to tip anyway.

                              If the bill said it was rounded and you wanted to pay to the penny I'm sure you could have, although that would bring up other issues.

                              1. I have worked for, and visited restaurants that round the tax up/down so as to avoid using nickels. It works in the customers' favor sometimes, the restaurant's, the other. Nobody's making money off of it; it just means making change and filling the register's easier. All of these establishments *accepted* pennies, however, for payment. The rounding, however, was done manually, on hand-written dinner checks.

                                HOWEVER, THE OP IS CORRECT TO BE CONCERNED: When a computer system is programmed to display a column of figures and then *alter* the total, something's wrong. I've *never* in all my years in the restaurant business heard of a POS system that doesn't work to the penny.

                                Computers that have been re-programmed to do things like display an alternate total scream out that their owners are up to more than just pennies in financial malfeasance.

                                Reading this post was a good reminder to me that I should "do the math" even if a restaurant check is prepared by a computer. I've got a good head for figures and can usually spot an error right away, but for some reason don't check computer-generated checks as often as I should.

                                1. Very annoying. But I wouldn't make a federal case of it (literally).

                                  Where I live, QuikTrip stores habitually grace you a couple-three pennies on your purchases. Give the clerk $1.40 on a $1.37 tab, and she'll usually give you a nickel back.

                                  For those of us who went to accounting school, this habit makes itself up mathematically on the people who don't take their two or three pennies in change (a remarkably large percentage).

                                  1. Now I'm curious. If you do away with pennies how do you deal with sales tax? For example, Arizona has a state sales tax of 6.3% and counties can add up to 6% to that; Alabama has a state tax of 4% and Montgomery adds 3.5% to that for a total of 7.5%. Wouldn't those point whatever %'s be splitting a nickel? Does that mean sales tax would itself be rounded up or down to conform to a penny free economy? Would it change the way sales tax is calculated nationwide? And when a bill is rounded up or down is it before the meal is taxed or after it's taxed. If it's after wouldn't those extra pennies actually belong to the state or locality or would they have to split those as well?

                                    Seems like something as small as a penny has many more ramifications than just rounding up or down or being eliminated all together.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: morwen

                                      Since rounding to the penny already occurs in the calculatin of sales tax this should be fairly easy to solve. Think of your 1040, do you place anything to the rightof the decimal point? Jfood does not think that TurboTax even uses the change.

                                      1. re: morwen

                                        A sales tax of 7.5% already is arbitrarily rounded the the nearest penny. Say you bought something that was $9.50, the price will ring up as $10.21, even though there is an extra quarter of a penny being rounded down (you can find equally as many examples of it rounding up to the nearest penny too). If you don't have a problem with this, I don't get why you would have a problem with a different arbitrary rounding point.

                                        For simplicity, I'd rather just round to the nearest tenth of a dollar and remove a whole decimal place from prices. Think about the amount of inflation in the last 100 years. The decrease in currency granularity wouldn't be a big issue.

                                        1. re: kwjd

                                          I don't have a problem with any of it. I'm math dyslexic but curious anyway. I don't do the taxes because I don't trust my skills. It just seemed to me that eliminating the penny would have some interesting effects beyond the nuisance factor. So you're saying that that $10.21 would always be rounded down to $10.20? Not rounded up to $10.25 which is sort of what the OP was objecting to? I can see that most people wouldn't mind the loss of a penny but those same people might object to the regular loss of 4 cents.

                                          Not trying to be combative, just trying hard to understand. I have only basic math skills and without a good calculator I'd be screwed.

                                          1. re: morwen

                                            If pennies were eliminated, I would assume that traditional rounding rules would be used. To use your numbers, $10.21 and $10.22 would be rounded down to $10.20 and $10.23 and $10.24 would be rounded up to $10.25

                                      2. I would round the tip down to the nearest dollar.