Restaurant Table Credit Card Readers – Good or Bad?

Select restaurants around the nation are testing table-based credit card readers that allow customers to pay for there meal at the table. The news scare in the past year regarding waitresses and waiters stealing customer’s credit card information led to the transformation of a new industry involving products that protect consumer’s credit card information.

The restaurants that are participating in the credit card reader beta launch were reluctant at first to participate because they feared diners would feel rushed. Fast food restaurants such as McDonald’s allow customers to pay at the counter with their credit card. Table side payment is different from counter-side payment because diners are actually sitting down and being served by an employee that works mainly on tips., an online forum for waiters and waitresses to vent on topics such as ‘bad tipping customers’ and ‘unruly management’ have formed a discussion forum against these so called ‘table-side credit card readers’. Waiters and waitresses believe the credit card readers will be a deterrent to leaving appropriate tips, especially in casual fast food restaurants such as the Ground Round, that typically attract middle-class customers that are not experienced in tipping and eating at non-chain restaurants. Some waiters believe the credit card readers will be the main focus of the dining experience and the machines will not allow them to upsel to the customer because the customer will be thinking about the bill more than the actual dining experience.

In Europe, it is normal to pay at the table; however, the culture of Europe allows table-side payment to be acceptable. Will table-side payment be the new norm for paying at restaurants or will American’s not accept this because it is more of insurance than a convenience? What do you think? Shouldn’t you trust your waiter? The skimming scams at restaurants that made headline news were part of an isolated incident. However, credit card skimming happens everyday at restaurants and other direct consumer oriented small businesses. These incidents are usually not reported because the victim will not realize he has been scammed until months after the incident. The occurrences of restaurant credit card skimming happened at the same restaurant over a period of a year and claimed many victims who traced their credit card deductions to a restaurant employee.

The only difference between these tableside machines and the restaurant employee processing the transaction is – the restaurant employee will never leave his or her fingerprints on your plastic. You simply slide 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 this? You don’t have to wait an extra 4 minutes to have the waiter swipe your card and return with your card and the receipt. Is this convenience or privacy of your most sacred information? Should you trust the person who is serving your food? Most waiters and waitresses put up with a lot from customers to earn below minimum wage.

The manufacturers are betting restaurants will purchase these new Verifone credit card readers. The readers can go for several hundred dollars each. Restaurants benefit because the payment process turns tables quicker, which helps the restaurant earn more money per table and the waiter earns more as his ‘rentals’ are turning quickly.