Do you have a credit card? I’ll bet you do. Do you use that credit card at restaurants? You probably do. Do you check your receipts against your credit card statement? Well… Do you even take your receipt when you leave?
Why go through all that hassle? When I explain that I log every receipt into MS Money, then download my transactions from my CC company and match them all up, you might be thinking it’s a colossal waste of time. Maybe you’d relent a little if I explained that I can track spending habits and trends. I can see that I’ve been spending more on gas. Are gas prices going up or am I driving more or is my car in need of a major tune up? I’m spending more on food. Is it because I’m eating more expensive meals, or is it something a little more sinister?
It could be something more sinister, and you could be subject to it too. You may never even know it’s happening. And the culprits are banking on it. It’s illegal. It’s fraud. It’s theft. Do you want to be on the receiving end of that? And yet, at the same time, when it happens to you, you might just react with a shrug. Meh.
This is something that has happened to me about a half-dozen times, and I used to shrug it off, but not anymore. What I am talking about is credit card charge modifications, post-sale. When you go to a restaurant, you are presented with a bill. You give your credit card and then are presented with a charge slip to fill in a tip, total, and sign. Then, the tip is added to the original sale amount and the transaction is finalized. Does this finalization happen in your sight? No, it does not. Can you be assured that the tip entered is what you wrote on the paper charge slip? No, you can not. Can you verify that the tip entered matches what you wrote? Only if you keep your receipt.
Shitty employees are getting wise to the fact that many people don’t keep their receipt and even fewer verify the charge later. So, these assholes simply add a dollar to the tip. It’s such a small amount that few people would notice it and those that would notice might not be inclined to make a fuss about it. These dollars add up for them.
The first couple of times it happened to me, I was annoyed, but didn’t think complaining was worth the hassle. Then it happened at a place I trusted and the feeling of betrayal compelled me to act. And now, I’m not ever letting it happen again. You want to steal a dollar from me, I hope you get fucking fired for theft. Because I know I’m not your only mark. Beware the victim mentality. You might think (and I had moments, too) that your tip was modified because it was an unfair tip amount. You should have tipped more, and you should feel bad for that. You should consider the extra amount an education in proper tipping etiquette. No. Fuck that. It is your choice entirely on how much to tip. No one else has a right to make that choice for you or to demand that you give a different amount.
I just caught another instance today. A local pizza place that I go to weekly put a dollar on my tip for a dine-in order. Tipping for dine-in and carry-out orders (and the proliferation of tip begging in general) is for another post, but suffice to say, I don’t tip for counter service. So, having my transaction differ at all at this establishment is highly suspicious. And tonight, I will handle it. Again, it is a major breach of trust for a place I’ve been visiting for over 10 years to do that to me. It’s infuriating.
You should not let it happen to you. It’s a major change in habit if you haven’t done it before, but you need to do it. At a minimum, you can take a picture of your receipt and check it later. But ideally, you should begin tracking your transactions. MS Money Sunset Edition can be used without registration and is freely available from Microsoft. Don’t feel like you have to pay for Quicken every year for the same basic functionality. Get started now and stop the bleeding.