I tip well but not *that* well
December 17, 2013 9:18 AM   Subscribe

I was overcharged by $10 at a cafe. I know this from checking my bank statement, I no longer have the receipt. How should I handle this?

I should have been charged $9.05 but my bank statement says that I was charged $19.05. It was definitely $9.05 when I signed the receipt. I paid with a debit card. Do I go to the cafe? Call my bank?

Please don't suggest "it's only ten dollars, let it go." It's still my ten dollars, and if I can get it back I'd like to.
posted by troika to Work & Money (24 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Call your bank. Typically the onus will be on the charging organization to produce a copy of the receipt, though it's always helpful if you have a copy. Shouldn't be a big deal.
posted by jourman2 at 9:21 AM on December 17, 2013 [5 favorites]

Dispute the charge. They will have to show that it was a real charge.
posted by magnetsphere at 9:23 AM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Call your bank and dispute the charge. No receipt required.
posted by jbenben at 9:25 AM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Because it is a debit card, I think you will have a quicker resolution if you visit the cafe. Ask to speak to a manager, tell them the date, that there was a mistake charging your card, and ask them to fix it. Be prepared to either wait there or have them call you once they have found the receipt. Give them 2 days to do this, after which if the issue has not been resolved to your satisfaction, call your bank.

If it was an honest mistake the manager should want to rectify the mistake, especially since your bank is likely to treat it as a fraudulent charge.
posted by Night_owl at 9:26 AM on December 17, 2013 [18 favorites]

Disputing the charge is overkill for what may have been an honest mistake.

Print out your statement, take it to the cafe's manager and let them know. They may be able to fix it on the spot. I've done this at least once in retail, and every time it took me about five minutes to find the transaction and another five to fix it.
posted by griphus at 9:27 AM on December 17, 2013 [3 favorites]

Definitely start with the cafe. Any decent small business owner would immediately put something like this right without you having to produce a bunch of evidence. If they won't do anything about it, then approach your bank.
posted by something something at 9:32 AM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yes, start with the cafe. I had a similar thing happen at a restaurant, and they very quickly repaid me the overage.
posted by ldthomps at 9:37 AM on December 17, 2013

Check your debit card agreement or call your bank to find out how long you have to dispute the charge—the period may be much shorter than it would for a credit card.

Not saying you should begin by disputing the charge, but be careful not to let the dispute period expire while you're waiting to hear back from the cafe.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:50 AM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

i got satisfaction from a contractor earlier this year by telling him that if he didn't finish the job right, my yelp review would be "a thing of awful beauty."
posted by bruce at 9:51 AM on December 17, 2013

If this is a place you like at all, contact the manager; s/he will probably be interested to find out if a cashier is helping themselves to large tips this way.
posted by randomkeystrike at 10:12 AM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yes to contacting the cafe. And in case you aren't already in the habit, when you sign a receipt that has blank lines for "tip" and "total," if you are leaving a tip of 0, either write "0" or simply draw a big vertical slash through the tip and total lines.
posted by telegraph at 10:37 AM on December 17, 2013

Disputing the charge with your card company is a huge pain. Try contacting the cafe.

If you do dispute the charge with your bank, you will likely have to sign an affidavit stating that you tried to resolve the dispute with the merchant, and perhaps attach documentation of such, so you might as well actually do so.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:39 AM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'd drop in at the cafe, and ask to speak to the manager. I'm not sure that the bank can do anything for you at this point, because the cafe probably has the money by now. But the cafe should be able to reimburse you. They might have to do it in cash, so I'd try to be there in person as opposed to handling it over the phone.

Bring your statement to show you were charged $19.05, but they should have a copy of the (signed) receipt on file. If you paid with a debit card, then your cashier or server probably had to turn in the signed receipt with her cashout.

I wouldn't assume it's someone stealing, or at least I wouldn't let on that that's my assumption. Even if that's the reality, saying so or even appearing to assume so is going to get everyone defensive, which will make things more antagonistic and difficult than they need to be.

Did the $9.05 include the tip, or were you going to tip on top of that (just not $10)? It'll probably go a long way if you say you *do* still want to include a tip (either whatever was already included in the $9.05, or a normal $2 or whatever if the tip wasn't included in the $9.05), because then the cashier/server will probably not be on the defensive either, and will be a lot more cooperative.

Also, once you get your money back, the issue of whether the employee stole or not is between the manager/company and the employee anyway, not between the employee and you, so don't get mired in that. Believe me, the manager/company follow up (likely including taking the money back from the employee regardless of whether they think she's stealing or not). The manager may show you the merchant's copy of the receipt to ask you about your signature or if anything looks forged, but she may just want to handle it all in-house out of embarrassment or as company policy, so don't worry if she doesn't.
posted by rue72 at 10:45 AM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

I've disputed a debit card charge with my bank, and it was not a big deal whatsoever. They were courteous and professional about it. So, if approaching the cafe doesn't work, don't hesitate to take it to your bank.
posted by nacho fries at 10:58 AM on December 17, 2013

A dispute with your bank will cause trouble for your cafe. If you like the cafe and can get in to talk to them, try that before filing a charge back.
posted by TheAdamist at 11:17 AM on December 17, 2013

I'd either let it go or dispute the charge. Going to the cafe strikes me as a PITA; it's going out of your way to save them the chargeback, when they overcharged you. And it's doubtful that the shift manager at the cafe—who will be the one dealing with you—will be able to tell you what happened or dig up a receipt from weeks ago in any event. The chargeback, in contrast, will probably only mess up the day of the owner or person who does the actual books (and whoever they decide to rain shit down on because of it, I suppose, but that's not your problem).

Unless you're a regular or are going there anyway, I'd just click the "dispute" button and move on with life.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:49 AM on December 17, 2013

The cost for a bank to process a debit card or credit card chargeback to a merchant generally runs about $20-25, so if you dispute the charge, your bank will almost certainly eat it themselves. You'll get your $10 back, but not from the cafe.
posted by ogooglebar at 11:54 AM on December 17, 2013

if you dispute the charge, your bank will almost certainly eat it themselves. You'll get your $10 back, but not from the cafe.

Yeah, but enough of those disputes and the cafe will lose the ability to pay by debit/credit.
posted by jeather at 12:03 PM on December 17, 2013

I had this happen at Buffalo Wild Wings (the waitress put in the "total+tip" amount as the tip amount and I was way overcharged). I didn't have my receipt either, but I called the restaurant the next day before they opened, spoke to a manager who looked through their files and was able to verify me by what we ordered. He said he'd issue a refund and it was in my account a few days later, and he also said he'd speak to the waitress who messed it up.
posted by agress at 12:34 PM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yea, speaking as someone who has worked in food service, I'd go in and speak to the manager and calmly explain the situation and ask for it to be rectified.

I've worked in various restaurants across the country and was always super careful with credit card receipts, including always going with a lower tip value if that 9 could possibly be a 4 or if the addition was wrong and a lower number was given for the sum/tip value than what the alternate value indicated. Because karma and cover your ass and all that jazz.

Anyway, turns out I fat fingered one or got two receipts mixed up or something at the end of the day because I was working a shift a few days later and this guy shows up, literally screaming at the manager on duty at the time that the person who waited on him [me] be fired for fraud because of a ~$3 mistake in his bill. The manager covered for me and made it right with the customer with a gift card of some amount and a promise of a call from corporate but, barring that manager being understanding that shit happens and that I was a trustworthy employee, I could have been well and truly fucked out of that job because of a simple mistake.

Not fun, pretty uncalled for, and not what I'd recommend you do. Talk to the manager on duty and they'll make this right. If not, then escalate.
posted by RolandOfEld at 1:08 PM on December 17, 2013 [5 favorites]

I would visit the cafe and politely explain what happened. While you don't have the receipt, they should have a record of the transaction that a manager can look up.

I would go in calmly and be super nice to everyone you speak to until you actually come up with open hostility/resistance.

It is very likely that what will happen is that the manager will check their transactions, discover the mistake, and comp you $10 in beverages/food/whatever. Or maybe even just hand you $10 out of the till.

I would do this super soon, so that

A) you don't seem like a money grubbing weirdo*,


B) the event might still be fresh in the minds of the staff -- there might be a day this week that the register was off by $10, or a barista who remembers serving you.

That said, there is one slight possibility that this might not work out well. For example you may have been overcharged because the barista keyed in your order wrong. Your receipt will show that you ordered $19 worth of coffee drinks rather than $9, and it might be difficult to explain to the manager that this isn't the case. This is another reason why it's best to go ASAP and be super sweet to everyone there. If it's your word against theirs, and you're an asshole, the manager will stick up for their staff.

*It always felt sketchy and off to me when I worked in a customer facing job and someone came in to get money out of us based on a transaction that occurred weeks or months ago. Even if they were in the right.
posted by Sara C. at 1:35 PM on December 17, 2013

I eat at the same restaurant every Friday night, getting the same thing and tipping the same amount on my debit card. The balance should always be the same, but about one week out of six, they forget to charge me for the tip I've added. I fix this by adding cash to the tip jar the next week. One week, I was charged $10 extra, just like the OP. I called my bank, explained that I didn't want anyone to get in trouble, and they just reversed the charge, and it took maybe four minutes and the money was back in my account the next day. I mentioned it to the waitress (at this small family-owned place where English is nobody's first language) and she said it happens all the time and not to worry about it, that the owner mistypes everything. Don't stress. Call your bank; if they give you a hard time, you can re-examine your goals, but I think it'll be fine.
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 1:36 PM on December 17, 2013

Talk to the manager at the cafe. Overcharged by $10 sounds like someone slipping a "1" in front of your tip and total amounts, changing a $9 charge into $19. (This is also why I draw a big fat dollar sign in front of my tip and total amounts, so there's no room for someone to do this.) If someone did this to you, they may have done it to other customers too, and management needs to know.
posted by xedrik at 11:46 PM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

The cost for a bank to process a debit card or credit card chargeback to a merchant generally runs about $20-25, so if you dispute the charge, your bank will almost certainly eat it themselves. You'll get your $10 back, but not from the cafe.

The bank never eats anything. In the event of a chargeback the merchant pays the disputed amount AND the $25+ charge. And it's like a speeding ticket. A few - no big deal. Enough - you lose your merchant account. So another argument in favor in going to the cafe, if you like them at all.
posted by randomkeystrike at 4:47 PM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

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