Change Your Business Model

Save your coins!

During the pandemic, one of the concerns that may not have initially come to mind was coins.  Due to the potential fear of contamination and the risk of the virus, many people are opting to use only their credit cards and refuse to touch coins and paper money.  While consumers frantically purchase toilet paper for their households, owners of some establishments are pocketing change.  Chipotle is one such restaurant that is refraining from returning the proper change amount when their customers pay with cash.  The customers that have become victim to this misappropriation have banded together to file a class action lawsuit against Chipotle.

Filed in Allegheny County in Pennsylvania, the class action lawsuit alleges that employees of Chipotle are instructed to round up the dollar amount of their customers’ orders and then keep the change. A couple of incidents have been provided as examples so far, such as one customer who used a $20 bill to pay for an order that cost $8.72.  Instead of receiving the appropriate $11.28 in change, the customer was handed back $11 only.  Another customer reported an incident where a $20 bill was exchanged for a $15.51 meal. Only $4 was returned to the customer. While a couple of cents may not seem worthy of impact, the restaurant’s business practices have cost customers hundreds of thousands of dollars overall.

Rather than participating in perceivably shady business activities, there are other ways to deal with the coin shortage.  A Chick-fil-A chain in Alabama, for example, has run the promotion of offering a $10 bill and a free sandwich to customers who bring in $10 worth of change.  The shortage welcomes a time for businesses to get creative with marketing strategies that may generate additional coins.  Deception is not a viable option.  If Chipotle is found in violation of the Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law, the company may face a $100 fine for each violation reported.