Chipotle Cheating You Out Of Your Cash?

By: Amanda Crum - August 29, 2012

Nationwide restaurant chain Chipotle stunned some customers recently when they realized their receipts showed an odd thing: the total of their order was rounded up to the nearest cent.

Chipotle says it’s not part of some scam to cheat people out of their hard-earned money, but rather a way to be more efficient and cut down on long lines. They also round down, for the record. However, most customers feel like they’ve been had, as the restaurant didn’t necessarily make this practice common knowledge.

“The idea is simply to limit the possible combinations of change on cash transactions to keep the lines moving quickly in high volume areas,” spokesman Chris Arnold said. “It was never our intention to have a policy that was confusing or misleading.”

Now, some locations are choosing to only round down, not up, but the question remains as to whether or not it’s the best practice, and if it actually saves that much time. Some people are also wondering if the penny isn’t more of a nuisance than a help and think we should just do away with the coin altogether, like Canada did earlier this year. If that’s the case, we’ll be seeing a lot more restaurants taking a page from Chipotle’s book when it comes to charging for meals.

Amanda Crum

About the Author

Amanda CrumAmanda Crum is a writer and artist from Kentucky. She's a fan of Edward Gorey, Hunter S. Thompson, and horror movies. You can follow her on Google:+Amanda Crum

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  • German Black Ant

    It may be worth it where all fast food joints serve food that is unhealthy Chipotle has been committed to natural farm raised pesticide free foods. I gladly pay aa little extra for that

    • Moosey Moose

      The term is “Free Range” and you should do a little research as to what is considered “Free Range”.

    • Jan

      They’re committed to doing that “whenever available.” When it isn’t available (often, by their own documentation!) what do they do? Remove it from the menu? Serve you meats that weren’t ‘ethically raised’ and not tell you? If you think you’re paying extra for ‘ethical’ meat and find out it’s the same is that ok? Is it just marketing or do you feel lied to?

  • Zagros Sadjadi

    I am confused. Are we arguing that they should always round down to the nearest cent? How does this “limit the possible combinations of change on cash transactions”? I think that you mean that they rounded up or down to the nearest nickel rather than the nearest cent.

    • keebler elf


  • cruz5806

    Why wasn’t the chain shut down, pending an investigation?

    • Don

      LOL Cruz. Good one.

  • Aussie Bloke

    They do this in Australia already. I never feel “cheated” over a couple pennies, just like i never feel like I’ve won some sort of lottery when they round down

  • LD

    Seriously – what they are not commenting on is that most people pay by debit card anyway so WHY is the rounding needed? Standing in a Chipotle line or any line for that matter most people pay with their bank debit card and are not handing the cashiers cash!

  • ScottCU

    It’s a couple of pennies. I don’t care. Nobody should. The fewer pennies I have to deal with the better.

    • h

      It’s the principle of the idea. Those pennies add up and they did not inform the customers of their practice. That makes it very dishonest. Next time, it will be larger amounts or in some other way. I was planning on making application to work for them but I believe I have changed my mind after hearing this.

      • Don

        I’m sure you will be missed.

  • Sue

    Many people don’t pay by cash. And you don’t really know who is or is not. So basically they are saying they round up/down because of the nuisance of the penny but is a penny a nuisance when it’s going to a credit/debit card?

    Why don’t we try this, Chipotle (may favorite btw). Charge the price of the item. If you can’t move your line fast enough by charging accurately for the product you sell then you need to solve that problem by modifying your process (or hiring additional Americans to work for you).

    Let’s stop this crap practice right now.

    • keebler elf

      First off, you need to say my favorite, not may favorite. And you are a racist punk for saying “hire more Americans then”. take your hater ass off this page and go into hiding. You will be better off there.

      • Don

        Elf. Totally agree with you on Sue’s comment. But why is using the term “Americans” racist?

      • tim

        You’re an idiot. Who should they hire then? Illegal immigrants. Lol.

      • David

        First off, I will nitpick, as you did: you need to say “my favorite,” not my favorite. You should have used quotation marks, but didn’t. That is surely just as big an error as a misspelling of “my.” By “Americans,” I believe she means “American citizens.” American citizens are not from just one race; therefore, it cannot be a racist statement to encourage a business to hire American citizens. Who needs to go into hiding?

    • Don

      People are “STUNNED”??? Get real or get a life.

      So lets see, if you bill ends with .01 or .02 then it rounds down if it is .03 or .04 then it rounds up. So the odd are it is going to be close to a break even. Worst cast is you lose 2 extra pennies. If you lost a quarter on the ground that would be the same as 13 visits if 12 of your checks ended in .03 and 1 ended in .04. Now they will probably rise the prices by a nickel and round down from .04.

      The reason was not having to deal with pennies to save time.

      • mrniceguy

        I love all ya’ll and I say ya’ll cause I’m cajun who give a shit personally who they hire or if someone makes a spelling mistake while posting a comment then who really gives a shit if you are really that critical then you all have prolems and yeah i says prolems forget i’m from da souf where we are all a lil crazy if they round up then too bad what bout all the times when they actually round down nobody reports but dat shaaah

  • steve

    go to europe, the netherlands for example. There are only nickels. when things cost for example $0.21 or $0.22, it is rounded down to $0.20. And when things cost $0.23, 0.24, it is rounded up to $0.25. At the end of the year, you break about even. That’s what odds will tell you.

  • Tim S.

    Just think about it–if you go there EVERY SINGLE DAY and for some reason your bill is rounded up EVERY SINGLE DAY (which would be virtually impossible mathematically), you might spend an extra $3.65 for the year!! Question: If you’re that worried about an extra penny, why are you wasting money eating out so often?

  • Ashley

    LOL At the people who are up in arms. “They should be shut down pending investigation!” Right. Because THAT is financially efficient. -_- At the end of the day, this is THEIR company, they’re not lying when you pay the total, you just don’t realize it’s happening. and really, one or two pennies makes that much of a difference? C’mon folks. When they round down, are you going to insist on paying 2 pennies more? No. You’re not. Like another commenter says, at the end of the day, it all evens out. This story has been sensationalized, and I swear if this turns into another Chick-Fil-A level story, I might just become a hermit.

    • keebler elf

      what a whiner! get a life.

  • Stephen

    I went to Chipotles once. A friend took me. This was the absolute worst burrito I ever had. This is NOT a burrito. When I sat down with that so-called burrito in front of me, i poked it with my finger. It reminded me of a big fat tick!! Never went back. I know, I know, some people love them. But to me it’s just a pile of tasteless ingredients stuffed into a rubbery torilla. Just a jumbled mess of junk inside a tick.

    • Dude

      You are full of crap.

  • YourGirl

    I literally JUST LEFT Chipotle and the line took FOREVER with only 4 people in front of me and they had 5 people working! If they are taking our pennies to make the lines go faster than they should keep to their word and ACTUALLY MAKE THE LINE GO FASTER! This is why Moes is 100 times better than Chipotle

  • joe blow

    if that is all it takes to make the lines go quicker then i am all for it.a penny here a penny there who cares

    • Jerry

      what lines?

  • Jeanne Lethbridge

    This would not be a problem if cashiers knew how to make change!

  • inco

    showed an odd thing?

    you have to looked/chek V.ns, showed always an odd?? thing. Different /higher prices as in Weekly Specials, even on dayli basis diferent/highe price on bill( sometimes 100%) as on shelves, that happened always…apropos …no meat in breakfast sandwiches..etc.regularly

  • Oliver Kloseoff

    Note to Editor: Not to get all semantic or grammatical, but shouldn’t the story read “rounded up (or down) to the nearest nickel”? Everything is to the nearest cent…we don’t have half pennies here.

  • Virginia Martin

    it’s a nice place to have a good lunch. Good food, great service, and no tipping. What’s to complain about ?

    • scott

      exactly! it is a penny who gives a shi+

  • Stephen R

    Nearest cent? Everyone rounds to the nearest cent, Einstein.

    Has the whole world gone retarded?

    • Rick Moose

      Bought gas lately, Einstein? It’s still priced to the 9/10ths. As far as Chipolte, I have never noticed that the burritos cost $4.897. Next time I will demand a half a cent back.

  • Stephen R

    Also, they don’t cut off the extremely burnt parts of the chicken. We call that the “Chipotle surprise”, when you bite down on those disgusting things. Almost makes you want to vomit right then and there.

    In other words, get the pork.