Credit card 'idiot tax' angers bar patron

A St. John's woman is angry that a George Street pub charged her a 25 per cent gratuity because she accidentally left her credit card at the bar.  

"I can understand being charged a 15 per cent tip," Katie Jackson said. 

"And the fact that they actually named it the 'idiot tax.' It's not very good customer service." 

Jackson explained that she was at Christian's, a popular downtown pub, with a group of friends earlier this month, and used her credit card to buy a round of drinks. After she left, she realized she left her credit card at the bar. 

When Jackson went back to Christian's the next day to get her card, she discovered that the bar had added a 25 per cent tip to her credit card. At first, Jackson thought it was a mistake. 

"But then I checked with my friend who also accidentally left his card as well," she recounted. "And he said, 'Yeah, I got charged 25 per cent, too.'"

A week later, Jackson's friend, Allison Penney, was at Christian's. Penney bought a round of drinks with her credit card and asked the bartender to close her tab right away.

"I told him the only reason I had wanted him to close it off right away was because of what I had heard happen the weekend before," said Penney. "And he said, 'Yeah, we call that the 'idiot tax.' "

Brian Day, the owner of Christian's, said in an email to CBC said that his business closes off all credit cards at closing time and includes an industry standard 15 per cent tip.

He added that he has had customers cancel or suspend credit cards after a night on the town, claiming they have lost their cards. That leaves Day unable to be compensated for charges on the cancelled cards.

"I do not consider this to be an 'idiot tax' to my customers. I would consider it a service provided for serving them drinks on a priority basis all night." 

Seamus O'Keefe, the executive director of the George Street Association, said there are no established guidelines among bar owners when it comes to forgotten credit cards. 

"Generally what would happen in these types of situations is they [the bartenders] would not close off their individual credit card tabs until they [the customers] picked up their card either the next day or some time in the future."

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