Hospitality Scams #1.
By Max Hitchins
Tuesday, 3rd April 2007
Unfortunately in this wonderful hospitality industry we must be forever vigilant against scams, shams, cheats, crooks and thieves who pervade our industry and sneak off with our's or the customers money.

These scammers and their scams surface in many places and in many forms. As my Dad used to also say "Showing is better than telling" my plan is to show you, in short story format, the old and new scams that are invading our industry.

Many of the scams mentioned have been used on me during my career in the Hospitality Industry. As well, I've collected stories and scams from friends and colleagues around the world. We are all of the opinion that the more 'airing' these scams get the better the chance of combating the scammers.

I think you'll find the stories entertaining and some are certainly some are uproariously funny. However, the serious side is tomorrow they could be happening at your place of hospitality!

Can I cash a cheque?

John Conry, a retired NSW publican, shared this clever scam story with me. He had not long taken over a small hotel in Singleton NSW after a long an illustrious football career with Manly Rugby Club. A customer approached him, this particular day, telling how he had followed John's career with great admiration. "Great for the ego" John said. The customer told he would be regularly travelling to Singleton and would like to reserve a room for three days a month. He also told how he would be bringing about twenty people each afternoon to the Bar. John was delighted with the potential business. He bragged to his wife about the benefits his football career was now bringing in their hotel business.

John's source of new business asked, as he walked out, "Oh, John would you mind cashing a cheque for 20 pounds for me." John did so willingly. One hour later a Detective arrived at John's door to warn him about a con man in the area. He described perfectly John's new-found friend and potential customer. John turned a whiter shade of pale as he told what had happened just one hour before. "I knew we were close" said the excited Detective.

On request John gladly gave his new-found Detective friend the cheque to help him convict the felon when he caught him. You've guessed it. The "Detective" was in on the scam. He was the accomplice. John had handed him 'the evidence' and watched him disappear out the door never to see any of them (and his 20 pounds) again. John said he seriously considered making a comeback to football!

Where's your Dad?

"We had a guy here in Dublin" Tom Fennelly wrote "who was quite clever. "This fellow met two teenagers outside a pub and asked for directions. He invited them into the pub to buy them a Coke to say thanks. He sat the two teenagers down and asked for two Cokes for them and a pint of Guinness for himself.

While the Guinness was taking time to settle he asked the barman for a 'takeaway' to be added to the order. He ordered a bottle of Whisky, a bottle of Brandy and a bottle of Baileys. He told the barman he would put the takeaway order in the car and be back in a few minutes.

After a while the barman, with the pint of Guiness now waiting on the bar in front of him and the kids at the table with their Cokes, got concerned. He asked the teenagers where their Dad had gone. When they told the barman that the man he called 'their Dad' was a stranger it was only then he realised the customer had vanished with the takeaway order and that he'd been taken by a clever scammer."

Confusing the Cashier #1

Jim Hainey from speakers.co.nz/ told of this scam that was working in New Zealand.

It works with two customers in 'cahoots.' Customer #1 goes into a restaurant and orders something simple like a cup of coffee and a donut. Cost: about $3.00. Customer #2 goes in to the same restaurant, sits at a nearby table and orders a much more extensive and expensive meal which say, $25.00. The food is served and the checks are placed in front of the respective diners.

Customer #2 finishes and unnoticed by management exchanges checks with customer #1, goes to the register, pays the $3.00 and leaves. A few minutes later, customer #1 picks up the remaining check, goes to the register and reels in horror as he is charged $25.00. The server is called over and remembers that, yes, this person in fact just had coffee and a donut and should only charged $3.00. The server (or the house) eats the extra $22.00 while the two scam artists move on down the street or to the next town and reverse the process.

Confusing the Cashier #2

My colleague from the National Speakers Association of America, Loren Ekroth, LorenEk@aol.com shared this scam with me.

"I recall hearing of scams as a lad in Wisconsin. During the Great Depression," wrote Loren, "when folks were down-and-out, the scam that was prevalent then was when a customer would sit in the back of the restaurant and order and eat a full meal. Then he'd go to the cashier and buy a pack of chewing gum. The waiter would see the customer being 'rung up' and assume he was paying for his meal.

Max Hitchins is known around the world as The Hospitality Doctor. He is the author of seven book and the above is an extract from his book about Hospitality Scams. The book will retail for #US45.00 + postage. It comes with a guarantee to save you at least $1000 otherwise you can return the book back and have your money refunded!  Check out all of Max's books at www.HospitalityDoctor.com or contact him by E-mail at: max@hitchins.com.au
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