Have you ever been scammed?
Have you ever been the victim of a scam? Probably most of us have heard of the Nigerian scam where someone calls and claims you’ve won a million dollars or so and all you have to do to get your prize is to send them $5,000 for postage, or something like that.
But some scams can be for a small amount. Maybe so small you don’t notice. Several weeks ago I had lunch with a friend at a Wabash Valley restaurant. Before I left my house I checked to see how much money I had. I had two fives and two 20-dollar bills. After we ate, my friend paid her bill at the register first. She gave the cashier a $20 bill and got the correct change.
My bill, I thought, was more than four dollars. Thinking the tax would put it over five dollars, I gave the cashier a 20-dollar bill. There were people behind me that she was talking to and she didn’t look at me as she handed me my change of $1.30.
I said, “I gave you a 20-dollar bill.”
“You gave me a five,” she answered with a disgusted tone as she looked back to her friends.
I told her, no, I’d given her a 20 and asked how she came up with the $1.30 change.
She was rather rude as she told me my bill was $3.70 with the senior discount and since I’d given her a five my change was $1.30.
“I left my house with two 20s and 2 fives,” I said.” I now have two fives but just one 20 because I gave you the other 20.”
I pointed to the open cash drawer and said, “there’s the 20 laying right there.”
She said that belonged to the woman ahead of me. She hadn’t put it in the drawer yet.
I repeated that I’d given her a 20.
Pointing to a camera on the wall she angrily said, “We have a video camera here. I can pull that up and show you exactly what you gave me.”
“Good,” I said. “Pull it up right now.”
She replied that she didn’t have time. She was too busy. I took my $1.30, told her I’d be back and left. I returned about an hour later and asked if she’d looked at the video. She, again, said she hadn’t had time.
The next day I went back, again. I didn’t see that cashier so asked one of the waitresses if the owner was there. She said no. I asked to see the manager. She said the regular manager was not working today but she’d get someone who was the acting manager.
The young man who had been our waiter the day before came over. I explained the situation and asked if yesterday’s cashier/manager had looked at the video tape. He didn’t know but he’d call her.
He came back and said no, she hadn’t looked at the tape because she’d been too busy and when they closed last night she was too tired.
I requested that the young man call her back and ask if she balanced last night. Might they have been $15.00 over? He left then came back shortly. The manager said she hadn’t balanced because the computer was down. He said if it wasn’t too inconvenient I could come back later and maybe the computer would be working. I said that would be very inconvenient.
He called her again then he came back with a twenty dollar bill. He said he was sorry for all this and that the manager said to give my money back. I told him I didn’t want $20. I wasn’t asking for a free meal I just wanted what was mine which was $15. He said OK and gave me $15.
The young man was very polite throughout the ordeal. I told him that it wasn’t his fault and he’d been very kind. Then I thanked him and left.
I’m not saying it was intentional or a scam. It might have been just an unusual set of circumstances or maybe incompetence. But I did a little research and found that it’s called short changing and it’s not uncommon. It goes both ways. Some restaurants short change customers and sometimes customers try to short change restaurants.
All I can say for sure is that the next time I go to a restaurant or any store, I’ll pay more attention when I pay my bill.
Linda Messmer can be reached at 812-448-8725.