Pay at the Table: Restaurant Tech



They are starting to crop up all over. Little screens sitting on the table at your favorite restaurant. Some have video games, news or trivia to entertain you as you wait for your food. Others are simple “order and/or pay”.

We visited one of these restaurants the other day, and we decided to try the “pay” part. (I like this option because I am always just a little bit uncomfortable when the credit card gets taken away out of our sight.)

It was really very handy. When we were ready to leave, we simply tapped “pay bill” and the detailed charges appeared on the screen. There was a “Tip Bar” on the screen, set at 20%, and you have the opportunity to slide that bar to include the tip of your choice. The tip is then calculated into your bill. At that point, a quick credit card swipe, and a finger-signature … and the bill was paid. We were then given the option of a receipt. To get a printed receipt, you just push a button and a receipt prints out right from the bottom of that little screen. Yes! I liked it.

However, one big caveat: I hope this technology does not eliminate jobs …..but I have a feeling it just might. If people can order and pay at their tables, obviously fewer service people are needed. And that, in my opinion, is a downside.

Screen shot 2013-03-06 at 7.27.02 PM

24 thoughts on “Pay at the Table: Restaurant Tech

  1. This souinds very convenient to me, and I’m guessing if a tip option is offered, there must be someone earning it, so servers should still be employed. There will always be people who don’t want to do it this way or want to pay in cash, etc. And people who want to ask for personal changes in the menu options, or substitutions, etc. I suspect it would take awhile for this to make a serious impact on wait staff. In the meantime, I’m wanting to use this service, myself (I also don’t like letting my card leave my possession), but so far, have not seen it offered anywhere. Maybe we just don’t frequent nice enough restaurants!

    Thanks for keeping us informed on the latest and greatest gadgest, Sharechair. Always interesting posts from you!

  2. Paying at the table is a great concept but I agree that I would hate to see it eliminate the need for the waitrons. In some places, it might but there will still be plenty of places where people would like to get personal service.

  3. I’ve never seen that, but it would sure come in handy when you are ready to leave and wouldn’t have to sit there waiting to pay the bill. As for eliminating jobs, in places where the minimum wage rises constantly restaurants have to do something to remain in business without pricing their customers right out the door.

    • I’ve been stuck like that… you want to leave but your server just won’t appear to give you the bill. You’re so right, this would allow for the opportunity to leave whenever it suits you.

  4. Kathy, I love it, and I don’t….
    At our local supermarket they’ve installed 6 ‘self-serve’ registers (with one employee looking on to help). There used to be quite a number of service people manning the usual registers, however their numbers are decreasing as more and more use the self-serve. Personally I love a face to face interaction (even at the supermarket) so have used the self-serve only once. When they were first introduced I mentioned to one of the register girls they would probably mean less work for her and her co-workers. She said that management had guaranteed that would not happen. Sadly, some few months later I see far fewer register girls and more and more people actually lining up for the self-serve; which will probably mean they’ll install more self-serve registers.
    So, I love technology, and it also concerns me…!

    • The same thing is happening here, Carolyn. Actually, my local Walmart just made the self service area larger than ever …. I wonder about how many registers they plan to transition. Exactly your worry coming true as they expand the self-serve. I agree … it is concerning.

      • I read on to your reply to firstandfabulous, Kathy. That has already happened here; most freeway tolls no longer have the cash option available (here in Oz) hence, no need for toll workers. The EZ pass was originally optional, however now it’s a necessity. One can still pay by card on the phone however, unless it’s done within 48 hours of the event a late fee accompanies the transaction..!
        I love the ease that technology allows (for the most part) however, I don’t enjoy seeing jobs lost.. it is a dilemma…

  5. Daniela says:

    Those have not yet arrived to my little corner of the globe but no doubt they will in time … and you are right, they will cut at least some jobs out … for that reason alone I can’t like them … but that is just me – good, old Luddite -:)!

    • I really wonder about the future …. so many jobs are being lost for so many reasons, and technology is among them. I believe toll workers will be completely gone before too long as EZ pass has turned into a necessity instead of an optional convenience. (I think that’s another blog post 🙂 )

  6. Carol Miller says:

    Very cool. To leave without looking for my server is huge. I also like not giving my credit card to someone that walks behind a wall!!!

  7. I understand the convenience and speed, which will be a big plus. How this impacts employees is always a concern. (I remember when Sam Walton was alive — yes, I’m that old!! 😀 He was the one who originally came up with the concept of hiring workers for less than 40 hours a week so he wouldn’t have to pay them any benefits. A lot of people have forgotten that.)

    My question is, how safe is this in giving your credit info to yet another computer and that restaurant’s website. Yes, I understand the concern of watching your credit card leave your sight in the hands of a stranger, especially since we’ve all heard horror stories of the machines some service people have hidden where they swipe your card in order to get the number, etc. I also know many people still won’t order online because of the fear factor of who actually sees their credit info and what can happen.

    Did you notice safety factors set into place when you paid? Something like the padlock icon? I’m very interested to know.

    I’ve never heard of this before, so it’s obviously not come to my part of the country either. I wonder if it’s happening in other countries or if it’s already happened, like in Europe or the UK. Thanks again for letting us know about these new things and how they work — or don’t!! 😀

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