Restaurant Tabletop Credit Card Readers – Good or Bad?
Select restaurants across the country are testing table-based credit card readers that allow customers to pay for food at the table. News over the past year about waitresses stealing customer credit card information has led to the transformation of a new industry involving products that protect consumer credit card information.
Restaurants participating in the beta launch of the credit card reader were initially reluctant to participate because they feared diners would feel rushed. Fast food restaurants like McDonald’s allow customers to pay at the counter with their credit card. Paying tableside is different from paying across the table because diners are actually seated and served by an employee who works primarily on tips. Waitertalk.com, an online forum for waiters and waitresses to vent about topics such as “badly tipped customers” and “rude management,” has created a discussion forum against these so-called “table-side credit card readers.” Waiters and waitresses believe credit card readers will be a deterrent to leaving appropriate tips, especially at fast-casual restaurants like Ground Round, which tend to attract middle-class customers who have no experience with tipping and restaurant dining off the chain. Some waiters believe that credit card readers will be the main focus of the meal and the machines will not allow them to overcharge the customer because the customer will be thinking about the bill more than the actual meal.
In Europe it is normal to pay at the table; however, the culture of Europe allows paying at the table to be acceptable. Will paying at the table be the new norm for paying at restaurants, or will Americans not accept it because it’s more insurance than convenience? What do you think? Shouldn’t you trust your waiter? The restaurant skimming scams that made headlines were part of an isolated incident. However, credit card skimming happens every day in restaurants and other small, direct-to-consumer businesses. These incidents usually go unreported as the victim will not realize they have been scammed for months after the incident. The restaurant credit card skimming incidents occurred at the same restaurant over a period of one year and claimed many victims who traced their credit card charges to a restaurant employee.
The only difference between these tabletop machines and the restaurant employee processing the transaction is that the restaurant employee will never leave their fingerprints on your plastic. Simply swipe your credit card through the machine and a printer in the waiter’s area prints your receipt. All you have to do is sign and leave a tip. How convenient is that? You don’t have to wait an extra 4 minutes to have the waiter swipe your card and come back with your card and receipt. Is it convenience or privacy of your most sacred information? Should you trust the person serving your food? Most waiters and waitresses put up with customers to earn below minimum wage.
Manufacturers are betting that restaurants will buy these new Verifone credit card readers. Readers can go for a few hundred dollars each. Restaurants win because the checkout process turns tables faster, which helps the restaurant make more money per table, and the waiter earns more because his “rents” are turned over quickly.
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