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Neat tip on tipping – Easily detect unauthorized tip adjustments

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Here’s a great tip on tipping, just in time for the weekend. Over in the FatWallet finance forum, a discussion has developed around bars and restaurants fraudulently altering credit card receipts, usually to increase the tip amount. There is some debate as to how widespread the problem is, with some folks saying that it is happening all the time, and others saying they have never seen it or only encountered the problem rarely. Of course anytime you bring up tipping you get a long debate on the merits of tipping, what amounts are appropriate, and whether those encountering this are seeing it because they are crappy tippers. However there have been a few nuggets of wisdom shared, with probably the best one being offered up by the user “Technologist”:

I had this happen to me ONE time many, many, MANY years ago…. and devised an easy way of finding these on my credit card statement. It costs me a little money, but saves me lots of time reconciling.

Say the bill is $22.57. Add 15% tip ($3.38). Total is $25.95. Add (or subtract) cents until last number equals the sum of the individual numbers to the left of decimal (the 2 and the 5). In this case, I add 2 cents to make the grand total $25.97. When reconciling, I immediately see the 2+5=7, and know that nothing funny happened. Any small dollar tip addition stands out, the only way around “my system” is if the establishment adds an outrageous tip (multiples of 9 dollars).

It isn’t foolproof, but it works for me. Oh, the reason I said subtract above is so I don’t take the cents above 99, and cause the dollars to increment by 1… it would throw off the system.

Pretty cool application of the classic control concept of the checksum. I would actually alter this slightly to make the cents equal to the sum of the digits of the dollars. For instance, if I figured by total after tax and tip should be about $123, I would adjust my tip so that the total was $123.06. Here is the illustration of the concept:

123.06: 1 + 2 + 3 = 06

Notice how the sum of everything on the left of the decimal is equal to the number on the right of the decimal. This makes it a little easier to manage, especially when you have larger bills where the sum of the digits will be greater than 10. This will allow you to detect an obviously altered amount on your credit card statement without having to refer back to the original receipts.

For the record, I have only encountered this issue once, and that was on a Domino’s Pizza delivery. I found the discrepancy of $1 about six months after the fact, so needless to say I didn’t bother to follow up on it.

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October 12, 2007 - Posted by | Tips

4 Comments »

  1. […] billyoceanseleven wrote a fantastic post today on “Neat tip on tipping – Easily detect unauthorized tip adjustments”Here’s ONLY a quick extractOver in the FatWallet finance forum, a discussion has developed around bars and restaurants fraudulently altering credit card receipts, usually to increase the tip amount. There is some debate as to how widespread the problem is, … […]

    Pingback by www.topcreditcardsadvice.info » Neat tip on tipping - Easily detect unauthorized tip adjustments | October 12, 2007

  2. You said: “123.04: 1 + 2 + 3 = 04”

    Doesn’t 1 + 2 + 3 = 6?

    Comment by wes m | October 13, 2007

  3. Yes, you are completely correct, Wes. So it should actually be 123.06. I never claimed to be a math major! =)

    BTW, thanks for the Coke points! It is greatly appreciated!

    BillyOceansEleven

    Comment by billyoceanseleven | October 13, 2007

  4. […] Neat tip on tipping – Easily detect unauthorized tip adjustments […]

    Pingback by Welcome PFBlogs.org Readers! « Close Encounters of the Cheap Kind | October 28, 2007


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