Restaurant Theft: Ignore it or Report it?

I just got back from a bad drive-thru experience where I believe that the cashier was stealing from the company. OK, its a few burgers & fries (small potatoes?), but isn’t theft just that… theft? Isn’t there a moral obligation to report it if you see it or strongly suspect it?

My kids were very good today in school & asked me very nicely if I’d take them to McDonalds after school. As one of them had gotten a 100 on a test and the other had been praised by his teacher, I took them to one near their school which had a drive-thru to take their order. Now fast food restaurants these days are very organized in that there are almost always electronic boards up at the drive through to show you that your order has been entered, what it costs per item, the tax, and the total. I ordered both of the boys Happy Meals but noticed that 2 Quarterpounder combos and 4 iced teas were still up and listed on the board. I asked if the cashier was having trouble entering my order.

“Nah, just drive around.”
“But my order isn’t entered. How do I know how much it costs?”
Cashier reads back “two happy meals”, and says drive around.
"No, I need to know how much you’re charging me so I can get the money out. "
“Just drive the Hell around…!” :dubious:

So, I drove around. When I get to the window, the cashier repeats back “two happy meals” and says without even looking at her register “That’s… ummm… $9.45.” :dubious:

So, I asked to see a receipt. "Why? You haven’t paid yet. You give me the money and you’ll get a reciept. ":smack::smack::smack:

“I just want to see the order that you rang up. It was wrong on the board back there, so I’d like to see some kind of register receipt showing the order and backing up the money that you’re charging me for it.”

"You’ll get a receipt once you pay for the food. ":smack:
(Inner Voice: It’d be just a Tad Late by then though, wouldn’t it? Must…bite…tongue.)

“Look, I don’t want to have to call the manager and tell them that it looks suspiciously like you’re selling food and not ringing it up. Humor me. Just show me a receipt with my order on it and I’ll apologize, pay for my food, and be on my way. The receipt doesn’t even have to leave your hand. Oh, and here’s a $20 bill, ready to pay for that food, right here in my hand.”

This even gave her an out. If she had said ‘one moment’ and rang it up right then & there, I wouldn’t be posting about it. Instead, she put her hand on her hip and said while wagging her head from side to side,
“Look, Papi, you want to call them? The number’s on the bag. I am the manager. And if you want your food, you’ll hand me money. Now.”

I then asked for her name, but she refused to give it. So, I left without buying any food.

Q: Given that, would you call the corporate 800 number and report it?

(Please keep in mind that selling inventory w/o ringing it up is a textbook example of inventory control weakness/employee theft in the retail industry and that I know this because it was one of the questions on a midterm for an accounting course which I took several years back.)

Report it. You are entirely correct in your assessment of what was happening, and you’re almost certainly not the only person who has experienced this at her hands. She’s a thief.

Not to mention that a happy meal shouldn’t cost you more than about 3 bucks. maybe 3.50 with tax. Corperate isn’t the only scammee,

This is where I turn off the car, smile, and say “Please ring up my order and show me the total. If that’s inconvenient, perhaps you’d be good enough to call the police, so I can report an attempted theft.”

Seriously? You’ll look pretty silly when the cops laugh at you over the phone.

I’d probably curse her for a bit, then get over it and drive away. But then, I don’t have kids. If you honestly think anything will happen, feel free to report it. Don’t expect much, though - it’s not as if you have proof.

Sounds like poor service, but there’s no way I’m ringing up a receipt for you until you pay for your food. The receipt will reflect what you paid. Did you think she wasn’t going to give you a receipt? That would be when I made a stink. But you gotta pay first, or no receipt for you.

<Hikaru Sulu> Are you kidding? </Hikaru Sulu>

Absolutely report it. She’s a thief, and that’s exactly why there’s a number to her boss’s boss posted in the store (or on the window or what have you).

I think y’all are not understanding the concept of a “receipt”. I’d never give a customer a receipt til I received the money. If you did not get a receipt, or it had the wrong amount, that’s when I’d call the police or report it.

What he said. A receipt is something you get when the sale is over, and there’s no reason why a retail POS system would need to be set up to print an invoice. Stores concerned about employees selling merchandise and pocketing the money generally offer to give the customer money or free merchandise if the employee fails to provide a receipt at the end of the sale.

Seriously, you should have paid for the food and then reported her with proof in hand.

I’d say this person either was stealing, or something funky was going on with their register.

In any case, it wasn’t reasonable to insist on a receipt being provided to you before you paid. The way most fast food POS systems works, you can’t print a receipt until the sale is finalized, meaning the “system” believes a sale has happened, goods have left the employee’s hands in exchange for cash or some cash equivalent.

The only way you’d be able to get a receipt at most fast food places would involve the person actually running your order through the POS system. It is pointless to insist on a receipt pre-sale in some crusade to stop employee theft, because if they give you a receipt (be it pre or post-sale) it means they’ve ran the order through the POS system and thus they can’t “steal” the sale without creating a shortage in the register (meaning it would be no more effective than just simply lifting money out of the till.)

Yeah, a small business owner friend of mine in New Orleans says most retail/food places in town give away free stuff (like your meal ticket or et cetera) if you aren’t given a receipt to combat employee theft.

It basically makes the customer a free form of loss prevention, because people sit there waiting to not be given a receipt so they can get free stuff. The only down side is a forgetful employee can lose their job pretty quickly when they aren’t actually stealing from the business.

I literally don’t remember the last time i went through a drive-through restaurant, but shouldn’t there be a screen or something that shows the driver what the total for the order will be? Not a receipt, as such, but at least a confirmation that something has been entered into the system?

I agree that you shouldn’t get a receipt until you pay, but there should be some official mechanism for showing the cost to the customer, rather than just the verbal total given by the cashier.

Exactly. That’s what tipped off Count Blucher in the first place:

Well, there is: The little light up board at the drive through. But if that’s not working, I’m really failing to understand what the OP wanted the woman at the drivethrough to do: Cash registers print receipts at the conclusion of a transaction. If the woman had told the register to conclude the transaction, showed Count Blucher the receipt, and he then had a problem with the costs (and so didn’t give her the twenty dollar bill in his hand), she’d be on the hook for the missing nine bucks.

Nine bucks for two happy meals? I don’t really know the running cost for McD’s anymore, but I agree that you got ripped off.

Nine bucks for fast food doesn’t seem at all unreasonable these days.

A common scam would be asking for a receipt that shows you paid when you didn’t. Even the dumbest retail worker wouldn’t fall for that. They couldn’t fall for that because until you pay them, they don’t know the amount to ring in so the register can calculate the change. If you wave a $20 at them and say “I’m going to pay you this” and they give you a receipt you can then demand your change from the $20 you didn’t give them. That would be silly.

You should have said “No. I don’t want two quarterpounder meals and four more iced teas. I want two Happy meals, both Sprites. Perhaps the board is having problems. Why don’t you fix it? I’ll wait.”

After she pulls the rest of the BS you’re telling us about, and you repeat “No. I don’t want two quarterpounder meals and four more iced teas. I want two Happy meals with <sodas of choice>. Perhaps the computer is freaking out. Why don’t you fix it? I’ll wait.” THEN you call the 1-800 number to report the cashiers possible attempted theft after taking the kids somewhere else, to another McDonalds, or even pulling around and going inside if there is no other reasonable (to you), acceptable (to the kids) alternative to THAT particular McDonalds. Make sure she see you writing down the phone number from the decal on the drive through window. Insist on paying the correct price if she suddenly wants to give you two “free” Happy Meals.

After complaining to “corporate”, call that store (look in the phone book) during a different shift, and tell whomever is pretending to be the manager at the time your story, and make damn sure you tell everyone you know all about how that Mcdonald’s is screwed up.

It is very possible that the drive-thru board “freaked out” on her, and she was not capable of dealing with it appropriately. Perfectly honest people do stupid things when they’re panicked. Whatever the reason, the “error” should be addressed, and the best way to have that happen is to spend a lot of time on the phone being clear, calm and stubborn as all hell.

(yes, I spend a lot time in fastfood drive-throughs.)

In my opinion, this sounds more like the employee freaking out because they did something to lock up the computer than actual fraud. I probably wouldn’t waste my time complaining about it.
If I had to guess, you had an employee who was there covering for the person who was supposed to be on duty. She probably was trying to use the other employees code and forgot it.

That’s common in fast food restaurants. The person who was supposed to be on duty was off smoking or making out a bf/gf.

I would just call and factually report what happened: the board didn’t work, the cashier wouldn’t give you the price and then was rude to you (“Just drive the hell around”? WTF?), and you think you might have been overcharged. But I would skip the part about how you think the cashier was stealing from the company, it’s not really clear cut and so I would just leave them to make their own deductions with the information at hand.

Receipt may indeed be the wrong word. But any customer is entitled to an itemized bill listing each item in the order and its cost. A defiant refusal to provide this is way out of line.