Chip, PIN, and Tip?

Quotation Marks Logo - RGBSince August last year the majority of customer present credit card payments have required a PIN and customers can no longer sign for purchases. This was an especially big change for Restaurants and Cafés as it disrupted the traditional credit card tipping process.

Tipping went from being a silent activity where the customer completed the tip and total after the credit card had been swiped, to something that needed potentially awkward interaction between the waiter and the customer.

There was a certain amount of angst in the industry at the time that tip income would dramatically decrease as a result. Who has managed the transition well, and who hasn’t?

There seem to be three methods. By far the best is the method I first encountered at Garfish. The bill comes on a little tray or billfold with a pen and there’s a space for the tip printed under the total. The waiter then comes over to the table with the mobile EFTPOS machine, enters the total and the tip, and gives the machine to the customer to enter their PIN. Easy, dignified, and understood by the customers as it’s not too different to the traditional workflow.

The next best option is for the waiter to bring the mobile EFTPOS machine to the table, enter the total, and present the machine to the customer on the tip screen. The problem with this is that they have to say something to make sure the customer sees the tip screen, otherwise the customer can easily enter their PIN on that screen by mistake. I’m not sure that there have ever been any unintended 4 figure tips as a result, but it’s still rather awkward to have to work out what you’re giving as a tip with the waiter hovering over you. Even if I press the button to move on without entering a tip as I intend to leave a cash tip I feel guilty if the waiter is watching me do it.

However if you’re either making customers walk to the cabled terminal at the front desk, or ignoring the tip screen altogether, you’re doing it wrong. As a customer I don’t want to leave a tip with the random cashier I’ve never spoken to. Of course I know the tips get shared (and I prefer to give cash if I have it), but I still prefer to give the tip to the waiter who served me, not the front desk person. Get some mobile EFPTPOS terminals, introduce a proper workflow and train your staff! If your bank is expensive, shop around, there are non-bank options these days such as Tyro Payments.

I don’t have any objective data, but I strongly suspect that the staff who do it the Garfish way have been much less adversely affected by the transition from signatures to PINs than those working in places where the workflow isn’t quite right.


Chip, PIN, and Tip?