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The Caterer

Restaurateurs slam chip-and-PIN system

15 December 2004 by
Restaurateurs slam chip-and-PIN system

The introduction of chip-and-PIN machines into restaurants is causing havoc, according to one London restaurateur, who claims his staff are losing £300 a week in tips because of the system.

Tips at Hardy's in Marylebone went down by 8% on the previous year the first week the chip-and-PIN machines were introduced. This equated to nearly £50 per person.

When the tips are down: gratuities have fallen at some restaurants

Owner Nick de Bastarrechea blamed the shortfall on several factors. He had found that customers were embarrassed by being asked whether they wanted to leave a tip by their waiter and resented the bill and tip being made so public.

He also criticised the machines themselves, pointing out that for a customer to tip £5, they had to key 5-0-0 into the pad and there had been several instances where only 5p had been mistakenly left as a tip.

The other issue was that it slowed down service, especially at lunchtime, when most customers wanted fast service before returning to work.

De Bastarrechea said: "It's nonsense to say that this makes the system quicker or the customer happier. It's unsatisfactory, as it embarrasses everybody and isn't doing business any good. If customers want to split the bill, we want to commit suicide."

Neighbouring restaurateur Michael Moore is refusing to have chip-and-PIN machines installed in his eponymous operation. He fears it will affect service and he will lose customers.

"We're in the public eye already and this will really affect our service," he said. "The people who've brought this in haven't thought it through and have no experience of the industry. We'll lose clientele because of bad service because they didn't design it properly."

Connie Penn, chairman of the Hospitality Users Discussion Forum on chip and PIN, advised adding a line to the bill asking for a gratuity through the EPOS system so that the final transaction value entered on the machine would include the tip.

She also recommended that staff leave the terminal on the table for a short while to give customers privacy to decide whether to leave a tip.

"The system is now more flexible than it used to be as banks finally understand the issues. Tips should return to normal once people get used to it," she added.

Source: Caterer & Hotelkeeper magazine, 16 December 2004

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