CHICAGO (CBS) — A Chicago restaurant is being called out by a customer for rounding up people’s bills without telling them.
So how are they getting away with it?
CBS 2’s Mai Martinez went to the Cozy Corner to find out.
The customer who brought this to CBS 2’s attention showed two receipts from two different occasions where the printed total showed he was overcharged by one cent each time. The only way he knew that there was a problem was off was because he did the math himself.
“It wasn’t about the penny, but it was the principle,” said Raymond Souchet. He’s retired and keeping a close eye on what he spends. So in January, he was surprised when he noticed one of his favorite restaurants rounded his bill up by a penny to $86.95.
So he asked both the waitress and cashier at the Cozy Corner why?
“It’s the owners policy. That was it,” said Souchet. When asked if the policy is stated anywhere, he said nowhere.
“I asked them about that and they said it’s just the owners policy because nobody’s ever really brought it up to their attention,” he said.
Souchet reported the incident to 311, but this week he noticed the restaurant was still rounding bills, this time $25.50 instead of the actual $25.49 he owed.
“It adds up with all of the customers. It could add up to thousands of dollars eventually at the end,” Couchet said. He called 311 again and then shared his frustration along with pictures of his bills on Facebook.
Martinez decided to see for herself. After eating lunch, both Martinez and her photographer received bills rounded up to $12.15, but what was actually only owed $12.13.
After reaching out to the owner, his wife agreed to talk to CBS 2 and defended the policy by saying they round up and down.
“We don’t have the pennies because we just want to keep the process flowing quickly,” said the owner’s wife Irene Iatrives, who admitted that it’s easy to see how someone could feel deceived.
“I can see how they might because they don’t know we’re rounding down,” Iatrives said, and she showed CBS 2 examples of net receipts showing a loss on the rounding to prove it.
“We’re not making money on this. There are many days where we lose money on the rounding but it just saves so much time,” Iatrives said.
“I want to apologize that feel like we’ve stolen money from them. We just didn’t see it as stealing. It was more like take a penny, give a penny,” she added.
According to the owners wife, the rounding policy has now been stopped at all four of the locations that he owns. But that might not be the end of this.
The city of Chicago is also investigating this incident as possible consumer fraud and encouraging any customers to come forward and report their incidents.
Mai’s story started with a tip from a viewer. If you know anything we should check out, send an email to CBSChicagotips@cbs.com .