Last Friday my wife and I took several items to a consignment shop. The load primarily consisted of duplicate items within her Fiestaware collection. Arriving nearly 30 minutes before her appointment, we decided to get some coffee at the cupcake and coffee bar located down the street. I ordered a small black coffee and my wife requested a flavored latte drink. All of the cupcakes looked delicious, so we decided to purchase several mini cupcakes to take home in order to try a variety. The total bill came to $17.63. I teased my wife, saying her Fiestaware had better sell enough to cover our coffee/cupcake purchase. I noticed the small business was using a Square point of sale solution to process their electronic payment transactions and had the ApplePay compatible reader. So I pulled out my phone and pressed my thumb against the TouchID reader of my iPhone to pay the bill. I could say that I prefer this method over using the physical credit card because of the additional security measures that using ApplePay offers, but the truth is it appeals to my “geek” nature. The clerk spun around the iPad and asked me to digitally sign for the transaction. The screen showed the signature line at the bottom of the screen, but also displayed an option to add a tip. I decided to add $1.00 into the virtual tip jar and signed my name. The clerk asked if I wanted a receipt. Of course I wanted my receipt since I would need to later process the purchase in my MoneyDance program and adjust my budget envelopes. I took the receipt, placed it in my wallet, and we left for our meeting with the consignment shop.
The next day I had some time in the afternoon to accomplish some tasks. First I needed to review the next lesson I would be teaching to my Financial Peace University class on Sunday afternoon. This is week 4 and the lesson is about dumping debt. In the lesson video, Dave Ramsey explains how easily we can get into trouble with credit cards because we are insulated from the pain or discomfort of handing over cash. When we use cash, we feel the cost of a purchase because we literally hand over the money we’ve worked so hard to acquire. When we use electronic payment options, the purchase is just a number to us rather than actual money, and often we don’t even know the amount of the purchase until the statement arrives in the mail.
After I had prepared my notes for the FPU class, I decided to process the few receipts in my wallet. First was a gas receipt for $38.85. So I processed the transaction in MoneyDance and move $38.85 out of the Gas envelope to cover the purchase. Next was a receipt for $3.49 from Family Video for renting “Goodbye Christopher Robin” – which was a very good movie – and a move of $3.49 from our Entertainment envelope to cover the expense. Next was a receipt for the coffee and cupcakes. The receipt was $117.63. Nope, not a typo. It was $117.63. How on Earth could that be? Black coffee: $2.00, Latte w/syrup: $4.95, Cupcakes: $9.25, Tax: $1.43, Tip: $100.00.
My heart quickly rose into my throat. Was this karma for teasing my wife? Would I need to sell some things now to cover the tip? I called the business and explained the situation. They were equally surprised when they looked up the receipt and verified the tip amount I stated was indeed correct. They were very understanding and quickly processed a refund to correct the amount. Needless to say, we will be revisiting Sweet Katie Bee’s again soon and will gladly offer a generous tip for their service, albeit quite a bit less than $100.
This experience then became part of my revised FPU class material. It was timely how it occurred just prior to this week’s lesson. The clerk apologized about the error, but I assured her the mistake was most likely mine. I likely typed 1-0-0 onto the iPad keyboard thinking the decimal point was automatic. That had been the case on other apps I have used. I should have been more observant. But more to the point, if I had been using cash for these kinds of purchases as Dave Ramsey suggests, I definitely would have been more aware of what I was placing in the tip jar.
As I told my class, had the $100 tip been unresolvable it wouldn’t have been the end of the world. We create emergency funds to protect us from unforeseen events. It also would have REALLY made someone’s day. But I’m grateful it was able to be corrected and now we can plan how to show that gratitude in an intentional way that doesn’t also cost anyone guilt or grief because of a simple mistake.