fuzzy math If Chipotle Is Going To Round Numbers On Your Bill, It Should Only Round Down — From Now On

Have you looked at your Chipotle receipt recently? Some customers noticed a bit of funky math going on after paying for their burritos, tacos and various items from the chain, where totals seemed to mysteriously shift so as to not get pennies involved in the equation. Rounding off a bill is fine — unless of course, the bill gets rounded up.

The New Jersey Star-Ledger‘s Bamboozled blog followed up on some of its readers complaints that the restaurant had been rounding bills up in order to not deal with pennies.

According to a customer’s receipts:

On the first, dated July 13, the nine items added up to \$32.93. There was \$2.31 in tax. The total should have been \$35.24, but next to the “total” line on the receipt, it said \$35.25.

The next receipt, with the same sale date, showed a subtotal of \$8.64. The tax was \$0.60, so the grand total should have been \$9.24. But no. With Chipotle-style math, the total was \$9.25.

The third receipt, dated July 17, had a subtotal of \$17.75 and tax of \$1.24. The total? \$19.00, but elementary school students would have come up with \$18.99.

The paper asked for more receipts from around the country and got them. Some were rounded up, some were down, with apparently no consistent method on behalf of Chipotle. Then Chipotle started whistling a different tune, one that included a bit more information on receipts. A customer submitted an example where the location had a new line after the subtotal and tax: “Round -0.02.,” making the total an even \$19.00.

Chipotle clarified its rounding policy, saying that it will not be rounding any totals up in the future (at least in New Jersey), only down as of Aug. 1 — and not every customer will experience rounding, either.

“It’s something we do in some high volume markets, including New Jersey,” said a spokesman.”The way it works is that prices auto-round to the nearest quarter and that’s indicated on the receipt. The idea is simply to limit the possible combinations of change on cash transactions to keep the lines moving quickly in high volume areas.”

“It was never our intention to have a policy that was confusing or misleading,” he added.

The rounding policy put forth by Chipotle in this case might just be New Jersey specific, so keep an eye out for any rounding shenanigans in your state and let us know if your bill is inflated in Chipotle’s favor.

UPDATE: Consumerist reader H.C. sent in his receipt from a meal he purchased this very day from a Chipotle in New Jersey with evidence of rounding down, writing:

“I was at a Chipotle today, and my wife noticed, on the receipt, an entry for “rounding.” They took off 2 cents, and charged us \$16.”

Bamboozled: Chipotle receipts finally start making sense [New Jersey Star-Ledger]

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