If you’re inclined to leave a restaurant without paying the bill, there’s an app for that, reports Joshua Brustein in Bloomberg Buisnessweek (10/3/13). The app is called Cover, and it is designed to let users avoid waiting around for a check once they finish their meal. All you need to do is let the restaurant know you’re using the app, and you’ll be linked into their system. You decide ahead of time your default tip amount (it must be at least 18 percent), and you can change the percentage during your meal if you’d like. The total is emailed to you soon after you leave the premises.
Cover’s business model is premised on "lowering restaurants’ credit card transaction fees (because it serves as an extra identity check on the people who’ve signed up) and by keeping a percentage of those savings." Unfortunately, its report back down to the user is presented in a lump sum, so it’s impossible to verify that the bill is accurate. Cover isn’t the only app of its type: Chili’s Grill & Bar is beginning "to use tablets instead of waitstaff" so "you don’t need to find a human when you’re ready to pay the check." The tablet also tempts "your children with video games that cost extra."
Pay With Square lets you sync with cash registers "at some coffee shops … but you still have to wait in line. PayPal recently launched an updated app so you can order and pay in advance; then your Jamba Juice is ready when you walk in the door. The one company that has been on this from the get-go is Uber, the car service app that takes care of payment ahead of time." One possible extra benefit to merchants is that people might eat or drink more if they’re not thinking about seeing the check the minute they finish. A NYC Taxi Commission study also finds that people tend to "tip more on credit-card transactions."