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Feb 9, 2014 01:41 PM

Beware Bairrada Churrasqueira - St Clair

Those of you who have eaten at this location in the past while should double check your credit card receipts. I just noticed I was charged $10 more than what my receipt shows. I'm sure we've all run across opportunistic staff who try to change a 6 or 7 into an 8 but now with terminal machines where the amount is entered and printed onto the receipt it makes things harder. What is really interesting about this situation is that the receipt shows as a Pre-Auth which means it can be changed later. So the person in question PLANNED this ahead of time. There is no legitimate reason to ring a charge through as a Pre-Auth at a restaurant!

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  1. It is common to see a bill rung in as pre-auth actually. I always just thought they did that because then the tip is added for the final amount. That was my guess as I've seen it done quite often...but I really don't know why.

    7 Replies
    1. re: justsayn

      I don't recall it being common for me. The CC rep agreed it was unusual for a restaurant. A pre-auth is fine if you're renting a car and they put a hold on the amount as they don't know what the final amount will be. Once you finish eating a meal, the price is set tip or otherwise! It shouldn't be changing after the fact!

      1. re: sbug206

        From Wikipedia..."Another example [of preauth] can be seen with a restaurant transaction. If an individual spends $40 at a meal, the server does not know how large a tip they will leave, if they choose to leave one on the card. The restaurant's credit card terminal is typically set to authorize a larger amount, such as 20% above the cost of the meal, but the transaction will settle for the actual total including the actual tip written on the receipt. Some restaurants will authorize just the amount of the bill but the transaction will settle higher with the tip included. Acquirers sometimes forbid the practice of preauthorizing an amount including a tip, but will guarantee settlement of the amount authorized plus 15 or 20%."

        1. re: justsayn

          This only makes sense in the pre-portable terminal days where they have to swipe the card and then bring you the receipt for you to sign and add the tip. With a terminal it's all done in real time so there's no need to pre-auth. The authorization is done right then and there as you punch in the tip amount.

          1. re: sbug206

            Yep but many still punch it in that way I guess.

            Is it possible that they get preauth all night long and then batch the receipts for one charge to avoid multiple transaction fees?

            1. re: justsayn

              No however if you hit no tip (to leave a cash tip) then it will be pre auth and prompt your server when closing the batch. Cards without a chip, or if the chip is not working will also go through as a pre auth. Owners hate servers doing that however as they can lose their insurance on bad transactions if it happens too often.

              1. re: LexiFirefly

                OK thanks Lex! Never really phased me how they ring it in, I've never had a charge changed on me, at least that I've caught.

      2. re: justsayn

        Yeah, I do see it done as well.

        I have no idea why tip is sometimes processed separately to a main pre-authorized transaction.

        It happens, but I've seldom been ripped off with this method (maybe just once).

      3. With cards there are (typically) two transactions, the authorization and the charge itself. Some places use a terminal that can amalgamate the two (e.g. restaurants).

        To make it easy, consider the two parts (which do not have to be identical). The authorization checks to see if the cardholder has the means to pay the bill. What actually happens to your account here is that no ‘charge’ is made (so if a statement is run that purchase will not be shown) but the ‘open-to-buy’ amount (which is your unused credit = (limit –purchases)) is reduced by that amount. When the actual charge is received, your balance is increased and a check is made against outstanding authorizations to remove the reduction in open-to-buy.

        The only ‘legal’ contract with the cardholder is the actual charge made – where you’ve signed the receipt or entered your PIN. The authorization process is a separate contract with the merchant and protects them (so that they are guaranteed a payment up to the amount of the authorization, regardless of whether the cardholder actually pays the bill).

        To take your specific situation first – what you entered on the terminal is what you are responsible for. Any other amount is potentially fraudulent. Regardless of the amount, report it to your financial institution. They will send you a form to fill in and sign. Once that is initiated, fraud investigators will possibly be on the case. For small amounts, don’t expect a quick response – when something similar happened to me it took 8 months before the ‘wrongful charges’ were actually reversed, and I never found out what had actually occurred.

        In general, most restaurants (but not all) will ‘cover’ the tips and not recapture them if the customer does not pay the bank and the credit card company only credits the amount of the authorization. However, some servers may not have enlightened employers, and play it safe by increasing the authorized amount to cover the anticipated gratuity. Clearly that was more prevalent when cards were manually processed rather than using ‘instant’ terminals. But that process may originally have been in place and not updated with technology. Also, while the tableside terminal may ‘appear’ instantaneous, some systems accumulate the transactions (not authorizations) locally and then submit them in ‘batch’ mode at end of day (this allows easy reconciliation for the merchant as total transmitted charges will be identical to the amount credited to the merchant’s bank account).

        But, to emphasize, any changes AFTER the signing/PIN entry are NOT the cardholder’s responsibility.

        There are more details that I’ve skipped (e.g. what if the authorization and charge are ‘significantly’ different?; what if the authorization hits technical problems?) – but if a restaurant /employee is ‘padding’ the bill then reporting it will also protect your fellow Chowhounds.

            1. re: kwfoodiewannabe

              It's something they used in olden days.


              1. re: magic

                I tried barter, and it works..Like, washing the dishes, scrubbing the floor...