Cross Out The Tips Box On Receipts And Write In The Total

We do this little thing to protect against someone charging us more when we swipe with a card for a good or service that doesn’t require tip.

Sometimes the receipt comes with a “tip” write-in area and we’re paying for say, beer at the store. Now, by reflex, we always put a slash through the tip box and write in the total before signing.

If you don’t, it’s possible someone could write in a tip later for themselves and charge you for it. Having worked in a restaurant at one point, we know it can happen.

Probably means we’re not living our life to its fullest potential, but everything has a price we guess. — BEN POPKEN

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  1. fizzer fits says:

    If you encounter one of those [for me at least] frequent scenarios where you have thrown a physical buck or three down on the table/jar for a tip and are staring at that damn space on the CC receipt I put ‘on table’ where Mr. Popken put the slash. That way you prevent an extra charge and you make it clear that you’ve tipped the waitress and avoid any phlegm or other ungodly substances in your future visits to said establishment.

  2. MercuryPDX says:

    @fizzer fits: I do the same but write “cash”.

  3. Bay State Darren says:

    But you still do tip in a service situation, right? Don’t be too cheap.

  4. ShakyTheMoil says:

    I’ve seen drivers write tips in when customers are rude at a pizza place where I worked. This is a good way to avoid it. Whenever customers paid on a card and gave me cash I asked them to write in the total, but some people are just greedy.

  5. Bay State Darren says:

    But you leave a cash tip, right? (Sorry if this is my second post here. Consumerist doesn’t like me today.)

  6. Bay State Darren says:

    @Bay State Darren: Dammit!

  7. @fizzer fitz: Oh, that’s a great idea. I think I’ll do that from now on.

  8. Jim C. says:

    You should also put the $ in front of every amount to prevent someone from adding digits there. Pretty rare, but better safe than sorry.

  9. North of 49 says:

    Don’t forget to watch your debits at the counter. There are many machines that have “Add Tip?” as a question in the process of paying for the bill. We prefer to put cash on the table instead of adding it to the total deduction for our bill. We got scowled at by the waitress at the last place for not putting a tip throught, so I think that justified our just barely over 10% tip we did leave.

  10. Chese says:

    If you do tip with credit you can make the tip + bill equal a even dollar amount so its easier to spot an over charge.

  11. ironchef says:

    i put down “cash” too.

  12. synergy says:

    You’re not alone Ben. I do something similar. I write in a zero with a slash through it between two lines spanning the tip line. Someone would have to scribble out the whole thing to write in a tip I didn’t give.

  13. synergy says:

    @fizzer fits: Oh good idea. I’ll have to think of that the few times I do tip in cash.

  14. valthun says:

    I generally just place the full amount on the total area. I also make sure it’s very clear the amount I am paying. I haven’t had any issues with being overcharged when i do that.

  15. tonkyhonk says:

    I don’t tip because society says I have to. All right, if someone deserves a tip, if they really put forth an effort, I’ll give them something a little something extra. But this tipping automatically, it’s for the birds. As far as I’m concerned, they’re just doing their job.

  16. Crazytree says:

    I like when restaurants do this.

    Dispute the charge… what are they going to do, submit the fraudulent receipt to Mastercard?

    Free meal.

  17. bnissan97 says:

    Been doing this for years. I however write “none” in the tip field so the line can’t be altered to look like a figure.

  18. @tonkyhonk:

    And you’re exactly why I wish things had stayed as they were long ago, when a tip was given before service in a restaurant in order to insure proper service. Servers make well below even minimum wage, so when you don’t tip you cost them money, since regardless they have to pay taxes on the assumed tip (usually about 11%). Congratulations on being a jackass.

  19. Crazytree says:

    @petrieslastword:

    tonkyhonk is = quoting Reservoir Dogs’ “Mr. Pink doesn’t tip” monologue.

  20. Optimistic Prime says:

    Here I thought I was the only one who tried to give a cash tip, or portion in cash. Mostly because it’s easier for the waitress to hide it from Uncle Sam. That, and the girls at Platinum Horse don’t take Visa or MC:P

  21. krunk4ever says:

    the tips line is useless and never used by the person inputing the amount into their credit card machine. the total line is the only line you need to worry about. if your bill was $20 and you wrote $5 on the tip line and $23 on the total line, I believe legally they’re only allowed to charge you $23.

    So it doesn’t matter what you write in the tip line at all.

    If crossing it makes you feel safer, by all means do it.

  22. GitEmSteveDave says:

    @petrieslastword: I have had my fair share of servers in my life. Those who deserved big tips, got big tips. Those who didn’t, didn’t. I have had people criticize me over this, and my response is, “Yes I know that they make less than minimum wage. BUT, if you know you’re working for you tips, then put forth a little effort customer service wise.” I have had servers who have gotten 35% tips because they were courteous and personable. Some have gotten whatever change was left when I payed the check. And I don’t take it personally if you had a bad day. If you tell me you did, I’ll cut you a lot of slack, because hey, we’ve all been there.

  23. swvaboy says:

    Having worked in a Full Service Hotel for over 15 years, I make the following suggestions:
    Write the dollar amount of the tip $10.00 = Ten Dollars (I know a pain, but it beats the worst)

    No tip because you left cash= None-Table (Again a pain)

    Percentage = 18% – Eighteen Percent

    Now, most servers are honest and will not take advantage of you, but it does happen.

    The tricky part is if you are in a bar having a REAL GOOD time.
    Tip in advance, you will get better service, you can always give more.

    Pay Cash and forget the credit card. Mot disputes over tips were from people, who were intoxicated and forgot leaving the $100.00 tip, (it happens)

    If you must pay by credit card, let you designated driver pay or use your card, less chance of tip fraud.

    BE CAREFUL in a bar with your credit card, that is were most of the problems occurred.

    If you must use your debit card, do not be surprised that there is an extra $50 to $100 hold on your card, it all depends on how you act and how much you drink, and if you are buying “for everyone”

    Last note, the $100.00 tip does not a date get, just bragging rights for the server.

  24. bokononist says:

    I always write CASH–and leave CASH–especially if it’s a server I expect I’ll see in the future. It’s far better for the server, who can determine how accurate he or she wants to be with the tip accounting.

  25. deweydecimated says:

    yeah, i write in ‘cash’ if i’m leaving cash on the table. hadn’t thought of it as a fraud deterrent, just didn’t want to give the impression i was stiffing someone out of a tip!

  26. OnceWasCool says:

    I know for a fact that the Papa Johns Pizza in Chatsworth, Georgia does it. I caught them at it and called to complain. We paid with debit card and gave the tip in cash. (the amount of tip depends on how late the driver is)

    Later, we checked the bank statement and found the charge was several dollars more. I called the PJ’s manager and they said that my debit card was only charge the correct amount. The next day, the bank showed the correct amount. hmmm

  27. tonkyhonk says:

    @petrieslastword: Over your head…

  28. Dormous says:

    On a similar note to what Jim C. does above, when filling out one of these credit card receipts, I put slashes to the left and right of BOTH of my entries (the tip and the total) so that nobody can add anything to either end of the total, similar to the line you draw on a check to show that you haven’t written any more dollar amounts on the “amount” line.

    Now somebody is thinking “but you use a period to show the decimal place, why do you need the slash on the end.” The answer is simple, do you know how easy it is to turn a period into a comma?

    My 2 cents.

  29. CreativeLinks says:

    I am curious, and would like some advice on something. What does everyone tip for a Buffet? My friend and I got in an argument about it. I thought 15%, but he said the usual tip for a buffet is 10%.

    I know it is based on service, but when all the servers are doing are filling up your drinks–what do you tip?

  30. thebaconissleeping says:

    @oncewascool

    US Bank does this with gas stations and restaurants. They overcharge just to get an authorization, make sure there is money in the account. Then the correct amount will go through.

  31. kingoman says:

    I thought everybody already did this!?

    Also, watch out for receipts that reproduce your ENTIRE credit card number, some still do this. Be sure to COMPLETELY scratch out at least part of the number! You don’t need that out in the world when the establishment tosses their receipts a few weeks later.

    And just because you cross out or put an amount, doesn’t guarantee they won’t change it. I’ve had it happen more than once. I guess they assume I wouldn’t notice, but I check receipts against the statement. Also thought everybody did that, but have come to find lately that I’m in the minority. Eeek.

  32. Namrepus says:

    I tip heavy. Believe me it pays off in the end. 20% seems like alot for a tip, but I’ve never gotten bad service from a place because of it.

    But yeah, I never tip using those unless I can’t help it. If I have the money in my pocket I’ll tip like that instead of adding it to the card. But if I need to I will put it on the card.

  33. infinitysnake says:

    @tonkyhonk: Yes, they’re doing your job- and you are obligated to pay part of their wage. You may not understaqnd this, but most waitpersons are legally paid under minimum wage and are expecvted to collect the rest in tips. Further, they are expected to pay taxes on those tips whether you can be bothered at aqll. 15% is obligatory, unless the service fails completely- more for exemplary service. if you don’t tip, you’re an asshole, period.

  34. Buran says:

    @Bay State Darren: If I think they’ve gone above and beyond standard service, yes, that’s what a tip is for.

  35. Buran says:

    @infinitysnake: Gee, wow, I’m an asshole if I don’t pay MORE than the amount on the menu? IF you want a tip, EARN IT. If you want to be paid more, raise the damn price, and don’t get pissed at your customers.

    Tips are earned, not given.

    If you have an “I expect something for nothing” attitude, you’re an asshole, period.

  36. @Buran: Are you the guy that comes onto every tipping discussion page to start up a fight that’s not there?

    My two cents: Use cash when you can;
    If you feel even a little off about the place, write out the final amount in words like it’s a check.

  37. Lee2706 says:

    @oncewascool: I asked my bank about the same thing – when using a debit card they will sometimes automatically add a percentage in anticipation of a tip. Not sure if it is restaurant dependent or bank dependent, I forget. In either case, the amount I was charged returned to the original amount (I did leave a cash tip).

    What I don’t get are the “casual” fast-food places that add the tip line. Yes, I know the employees have to prep the food, but they don’t bring it to my table, and they surely don’t refill my drink. They call my number and I have to walk up and get it. If you are in L.A., places like El Pollo Loco, Baja Fresh (is it nationwide?) and Daphne’s Greek Cafe do this.

  38. queen_elvis says:

    Let me just add that, as a former waitress, I really enjoyed getting cash tips on a credit card because they allowed me to lie to the IRS about my income. Also, on the rare days when I had no cash tables, at least a few cash tips gave me some take-home pay.

    Don’t bother with the anti-tipping trolls, people. They are already being punished by getting terrible service wherever they are known. And by being spiritually small people.

  39. infinitysnake says:

    @Buran: Yes, you are. The menu does not reflect the price of servbice, only the price of the food. If you don’t like to tip, eat at McDonald’s like the other children. If someone brings your food from the kitchen to your table, you must pay for the service.

  40. Shouldn’t this be common sense?

    [www.tian.cc]

  41. unsunder says:

    Last night a family came in and got great, quick service. I had the cook make them something that wasn’t on the menu and got their son some extra crayons. Their bill was $50 and they left me $2 in cash and only signed the credit slip. I was awfully tempted to write in $5.
    I guess some people don’t get the concept of if you eat at a restaurant that a tip is basically part of the bill. If you don’t then order take out.
    It’s okay cause there are @GitEmSteveDave ‘s out there that make up for the cheap people.

    I don’t know about the rest of you but I always look forward to giving a great tip and then end of a good meal.

  42. strathmeyer says:

    Just cross them both out; it’s faster.

  43. strathmeyer says:

    @Buran: “If you have an “I expect something for nothing” attitude, you’re an asshole, period.”

    Good luck getting that person you’re not paying to bring the food from the kitchen to your table.

  44. ironchef says:

    @Buran:

    Leaving a tip is more about human decency and generosity, not an exercise in price gouging. If you are that bitter about the pricing structure, you tell the management and the server upfront BEFORE you eat that you intend screw them on tip.

    Yet you chicken out by enjoying their service and walking out afterwards and leaving nothing. yeah…how classy of you.

    here’s a tip…try leaving one.

  45. maevro says:

    I too always leave a cash tip, even when I pay the total by credit card. Our family owns restaurants here in NYC and people forget to fill in anything on the CC fields plenty and they are asking for trouble.

    I always leave the tip as double tax and always write in the tip box …’CASH TIP’. I fill in the total on the total line & on the top of the receipt too.

    FYI: I grew up in an affluent town on Long Island and used to deliver for a restaurant. When people screwed me on the tip, my boss would add an extra $10 on to their credit card and they would never know. Karma is a hell of a drug, so be nice and tip.

  46. juri squared says:

    I can’t understand why someone would stiff a tip (unless the service was atrocious). Tipping well is one of the small joys in life. I feel good, the server feels good, and I’m only out a couple extra bucks that I can spare.

    That said, I always write ‘table’ if I leave cash on the table – half so that I don’t piss off the server and half so that someone unscrupulous doesn’t screw me. (I try to be generous, not naive). I also do what Jim C. does and put $ in front of my amounts.

  47. Trojan69 says:

    I was a night auditor at a hotel that had a thriving bar. When the IRS announced they would mandate that servers had to claim at least 8% of their charge receipts as income, there was a huge uproar.

    As I balanced out everything, I noticed an amazing phenomena – without a single night’s variance, the actual tip percentage for the credit receipts was 13%. Although some servers received slightly better then 13%, nobody received less than 11%. Ever.

    To all the servers who still bitch and moan about having to declare minimum income based on receipts, I give you the folks who bitch and moan because they are expected to tip you above and beyond the cost of their meals/drinks.

    You are both cut from the same cheap-ass cloth.

  48. RebekahSue says:

    @unsunder

    Last night a family came in and got great, quick service. I had the cook make them something that wasn’t on the menu and got their son some extra crayons. Their bill was $50 and they left me $2 in cash and only signed the credit slip.

    Was the family European? My European friends don’t tip and don’t understand the concept. I worked for a European man who would tip rounded up to the next ten – so $92 became $100 until I commented.

    When I write in my total, I just slash, but will use the “CASH” or “TABLE” next time, and I draw on both sides of the dollar amount:

    ===$25.00===

    Try to do that at gas stations, too – I worked in a self-serve gas station when I was 16, and the other cashiers used to add money all the time.

  49. hometack says:

    I am a server in a large corporate steakhouse. Different systems work different ways, some systems have you type in the total written at the bottom as a way of declaring credit card tips, my system has me write in the actual tip being given. If ever there is a discrepancy between the tip and the total, I always go with whatever gives me the most money.

    Another thing, I think some of you think your service people are out to screw you. I’d have to be pretty bold to write tips in on a slip, there’s a lot at risk when you do that. But, sometimes mistakes happen, and you claim the wrong tip on the wrong card.

    Cash in general is always better for me, as it gives me discretion in how much tip I wish to declare.

  50. Gloria says:

    I find it highly, highly embarrassing when my friends say, “Oh, we’re students, it’s ok for us to be cheap and tip less than 15%.” If you can’t afford to tip, you can’t afford to eat out. I pay 15% — the standard minimum, according to my father, who is a server at a hotel restaurant — every time for standard service, and more if the service is noticeably more attentive.

  51. Buran says:

    @infinitysnake: No, I don’t have to pay for anything. The restaurant pays the servers. I tip IF IT WAS EARNED. You don’t get something for nothing.

  52. Buran says:

    @strathmeyer: If they don’t, or if the food is substandard, I complain. It’s not my job to reward substandard service. Want a tip? Stop being an entitlement whore and earn it. If you earn it you’ll get one. If you do the bare minimum or worse you don’t.

  53. Buran says:

    @ironchef: here’s a tip: You earn it. What are you worried about? If you did a job above and beyond standard and are friendly you will get one. If you didn’t, you won’t. Or do you expect to be rewarded for crappy service? Sounds like you think even the shittiest service in the world deserves a tip.

    Uh. No. If you aren’t getting paid enough take it up with management, and don’t take it out on me. Not my problem. I am not your employer.

  54. Buran says:

    @maevro: Your boss is committing fraud, and if he gets caught doing that, there’s some nasty penalties there. It’s not “karma”, it’s illegal. You weren’t entitled to that money.

  55. jmorgans says:

    Slightly off topic, but are people tipping based on the pre-tax or post-tax total? I generally leave 15-20% of the pre-tax total but have been told by a few people that it should be based on post-tax. Doesn’t seem right to me- I’m tipping based on the cost of food, not the cost of tax. Is service worth more in a high tax state?

  56. cmprsdchse says:

    Just for the record companies generally don’t throw out credit card receipts. In the event of a customer dispute the only way to not lose is for the company to submit a copy of that receipt. Everywhere I’ve ever worked for has saved the receipts for at least 1 year, and then had them professionally shredded upon disposal.

    Just my $0.02

  57. Outtacontext says:

    @bnissan97: I write the word “zero” on the tip line when I either pay in cash or when it’s a service that doesn’t require a tip.

  58. Outtacontext says:

    @jmorgans: Pre-tax is the standard.

  59. infinitysnake says:

    @Buran: You’re wrong, and you should not be eating in restuarants. That person you are not tipping is usually being paid about $2 an hour, and if you can’t be bothered, you need to stay home.

  60. othium says:

    My sister used to wait tables and she used to tell me all sorts of stories about tipping (and those who don’t) and why it’s a good idea if you plan on eating out on a regular basis. Servers talk. They share experiences. You can bet a name is remembered if they didn’t tip (or were extremely difficult in some other way) and passed on to others.

    Case in point: I seem to recall a “Shitty Tipper Database” on Bitterwaitress.com. -Site currently being re-worked, but it says it will be back up and running soon.. I know I would not want to have MY name on that list.

  61. muxakz says:

    People who do not tip are pathetic. Everyone is aware of how the restaurant industry works. I personally think it is wrong. But the $$$ rules. If the restaurant paid the server a decent wage it would have have to charge more for the food.

  62. Youthier says:

    @Buran: I think you’re wrong on the substandard food. Your server did not prepare your meal. If the server performed well but the food sucked, you should ask for a manager for proper compensation. It’s not right to stiff someone for something they had no part in.

  63. Pipes says:

    As a waitress, this subject is near and dear to my heart.

    I get paid $2.83/hour. 15% is a middle-of-the-road tip. Fact is, if you tip 10% or less, than you need to find a manager and talk to them about what you didn’t like. Unless the server knows they’ve done something wrong (in your eyes) then you’re just an asshole who better never come in to the restaurant again. Servers have better memories than you think – I remember extremely good and extremely bad tippers from 3 months ago. If I had known why they tipped me poorly (aside from just being bad tippers) I could have changed my behavior.

    Anyway, if the service was that bad, shouldn’t others be spared that experience? Talk to someone who should know.

    Fun fact: on restaurants that devote most of their resources to sit-down service, you do need to tip on take-out. Not quite as much (between 7% and 10%) but a tip is needed.

    [I know that might open a whole new can of worms, but here’s why: 1) we get taxed on this food, so we’re essentially paying you to take your order; 2) I do more work for a carry out order than I do for a sit-down service, because fast food places like McDonald’s are designed for take-out, and restaurants are not, so there’s quite a lot of work involved; and 3) again, McDonald’s employees get paid $6.50, I get paid $2.83. And when the minimum wage goes up next month, to $7.15? Ours will still be at $2.83. Food for thought.]

  64. econobiker says:

    And also know that some debit card systems “hold” an amount over your food bill in case of a tip. This is only able to be seen now with the ability of consumers to review their accounts online. You might charge a $23.85 meal but then your account will show a $29.00 charge pending. Then the charge disappears for two days and is finally debited to your account as the $23.85.

    This apparently happens with merchants who don’t disable this “feature” on their card terminal.

  65. jeffj-nj says:

    Ok, I’m going to say this in the nicest way I know how.

    DUH.

    That is all. You may carry on.

  66. @Lee2706: I don’t understand the tip lines at places where there aren’t any waitpersons either. Isn’t only waitpersons who get paid under minimum wage (at least in at restaurants)?

    Really, the fair thing would be to just pay them the minimum wage instead of making customers directly responsible for their wages. Does it matter if costs go up if we’re all supposed to be paying anyway?

  67. cde says:

    Not all states allow restaurants to gyp their workers by paying them half-pay. And not even full half-pay at that (like Pipes said). Besides, the whole custom of tipping for normal service and forcing the customer to DIRECTLY pay is so bizarre, only capitalists could have come up with it. Look at European countries. Fully paid waiter/ess who get confused when you leave them a tip.

    As such, I only tip when I feel Gratuitous….

  68. cde says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: Because, some people tip even when they arn’t forced to. In those cases, a tip is just that, not subsidized welfare for restaurant owners.

  69. kaikhor says:

    Where I live, tax is high enough that I almost always just double the tax, making tipping easier, unless I thought they deserved more or less.

    What I have issues with is tipping pizza delivery guys. I don’t mind if the company isn’t charging me a delivery fee, but most major chains now charge around $2 for delivery. In those cases, if I tip, it’s much less than I would have had they not charged me the delivery fee

  70. BiscuitDoughJones says:

    As a former (I’m out of the food biz now, yay!!) waitress, my thoughts are:

    Yes, nobody should HAVE to tip. Restaraunt owners should actually PAY their own employees. Expecting customers to do so at their own whims is sucky.

    However, it is true that if the owners did pay the employees more, the prices on the menus would go up- so, either way, the customer pays.

    Both restaraunt patrons and employees seem to dislike the mandatory tipping policy. But that’s the way it is and has been for a long time. The system is here to stay. No amount of stiffing your long-suffering server b/c of your lofty “principles” is going to change that.

    So just tip & feel like a nice guy. Get that Nice Guy spring in your step. It looks good on you!

  71. galupo says:

    I always tip usually 10-20% percent depending on the service.

    If your rude or forget about my food and expect me to tip you must be out of your mind.

    I had a situation two weeks ago where I went to a really nice restaurant in my neighborhood with a friend of mine ordered had a group of people come in 15 minutes after we ordered and got served before us.

    We waited for 45 minutes only to have the waiter and owner tell me 15 more minutes.

    When I did get my food it was thrown on the table not the way I ordered it and cold.
    To boot they forgot my friend’s side dish.

    Needless to say there was no tip for the waiter on a $100 plus bill.
    He was rude obnoxious and I didn’t even get the food how I ordered it or hot.

    The worst part he looked at me like I was crazy when he got no tip.

    I ate at this place a few days prior with my mother and left a 25% percent tip for great service from another waiter there.

  72. jamesBrauer66 says:

    Servers have to get minimum wage. If the tips don’t add up to that, they get grossed up to the minimum.

    and yeah, I leave tips

  73. BiscuitDoughJones says:

    @jamesBrauer66:
    Do you think that restaraunt owners actually obey this law? Some places I’ve worked 40 hours in a week, made dismal tips, and had a NEGATIVE paycheck at the end of the week, b/c of taxes on income I never received from my tables.
    Restaraunts will also garnish servers’ wages to pay for new dishes and glasses that customers have broken, even if the server whose pay is being docked was not the one who waited on the smash-happy party. It’s happened to me.

    It’s wrong as hell, but there’s nothing anyone can do about it. Just don’t run around assuming that laws apply to these people.

  74. kip says:

    I think Ben is talking about how to handle receipts in situations where one might not normally tip. It seems that more and more establishments are using cash registers/software that automatically includes a tip line.

    If I stop in a bodega for a six pack and pay with my credit card, I will be handed a receipt that includes a tip line, even though most people wouldn’t tip a cashier at a grocery store.

    Until recently, Baja Fresh would present the same kind of receipt, even though they have no tip jar for cash tips. I asked the staff there if they get the tip or if corporate gets the tip, and I was told that they don’t get any tips whatsoever. This leads me to believe that if you left a tip at Baja, it was basically a donation to the corporation.

    I find the discussion on tipping so far to be quite interesting. What is your take on tipping on a credit card for counter service? Do you cross out the line and feel like scum? Do you add a buck? Or, do you go crazy and tip a full 15% of your bill?

    For example, let’s say you go into a pizza shop and order a slice of cheese and a coke. The guy rings you up, and he hands you your number and an empty cup that you have to fill at the soda fountain yourself. The bill is $3.75, and you pay with your credit card, what do you write in the tip line? Sure, if you were paying cash, you’d probably throw the quarter that you with your change in the tip jar, but what do you do when paying with a credit card?

  75. evi says:

    I always like to wow my servers with a big tip. I can’t really afford it but I just love to see their faces when they see the tip… Last week I left a 50% tip and snuck out before my server came back…I try to leave it in cash but many times I just do it on the card… It is such a great feeling….