Tipping a restaurant server can be complicated, especially when you’re not in the States. Is 10 percent enough? Is 10 percent too much? Do they even do tips here?
But regardless of what continent you’re on or country you’re in, you definitely don’t want to leave a tip the way Olesja Schemjakowa did.
The 37-year-old Russian and her son had coffee and chocolate cake at the New Point cafe near Zurich, Switzerland and after their snack session, she paid the bill with her credit card. So far, so good. But when she was prompted to enter a tip, she accidentally entered her four-digit PIN on the keypad. That meant that her snack went from a reasonable-for-Switzerland 23.70 Swiss francs (roughly the same price in US dollars) to a heart attack-inducing $7,709.
Schemjakowa’s PIN—7686—added a 32,000-percent gratuity to her meal, which she didn’t realize until she received her credit card bill the next month. According to Swiss news outlet Blick, she called the company and explained her situation, but they told her sorry, an accidental charge isn’t the same as a fraudulent one. She tried the local police station, but they said it wasn’t “criminally relevant.”
And, although Cengiz Gökduman, New Point’s owner, originally told her that he’d refund her seven grand-plus, he then stopped speaking to her, closed his restaurant and filed for bankruptcy. (When Swiss news outlet 20 Minuten tracked Gökduman down, he promised that Schemjakowa would get a refund. Forgive our skepticism here, bro).
“I’ve been told there may still be a one percent chance that I'll see my money back," she told Blick. She lives in France and is currently out of work, so yeah, she’d really like to not have a four-figure credit card balance to pay off. And yes, she has changed her PIN.
"With this tip I could live in France for several months,” she said. "I just can’t understand that the restaurant owner just keeps the money and I can’t do anything about it. That's just unfair!"
It’s totally unfair. Even the guy who accidentally left a one million dollar tip at Rajpoot Indian Restaurant in Scotland got his money back—before he even left the restaurant.
So, it sounds like we’ll be tipping in cash from now until forever.