East Yorkshire MP, Sir Greg Knight is warning restaurant and pub customers not to part with their credit cards when setting up a ‘tab’.
The MP said that on asking to open up a tab at a pub restaurant an East Yorkshire constituent was told he must leave his credit card behind the bar in a wooden box, which was then placed underneath the bar by a member of staff and he was told he would only have the card returned to him when he settled the account.
The box itself was not locked, could be accessed by other members of staff, and was out of sight of the customer.
Sir Greg said: “This is a high risk procedure and one which most card companies would disapprove of. I am concerned that this practice is happening in East Yorkshire and I would strongly advise anyone who wishes to open a bar tab not to part with their card. Allowing it to be used for a swipe and later for settling the bill when the customer is present throughout, is acceptable, but allowing an unknown person to take your card away from you and then keep it in an unlocked container behind the bar, is risky and clearly open to abuse and fraud.’
Sir Greg added: ‘If anything goes wrong, it is likely the card companies will blame the cardholder -and not the bar -for failing to take reasonable care.’
Sir Greg said: “If any restaurant or bar asks you to leave your card with them in an environment which is not secure, then there is only one of two answers. Either pay cash or go somewhere else!”
Sir Greg pointed out that everyone who takes out a credit card is issued a card subject to terms and conditions which are seldom read by the cardholder. These contain important contractual conditions about card usage and looking after the card - such as not sharing the card, and not writing down the pin number. “If there is fraud, the first thing that the credit card companies will do will be to point to their terms and conditions but in some cases this is the first time that the card holder will read what they have actually signed.”
The MP says that some bars use lockable boxes behind the bar in which cards are individually put, but the box is then locked and the customer is given a key, which is clearly a safer approach.