A class-action lawsuit in Pennsylvania is accusing Chipotle of not giving the right amount of change to customers.
The filing refers to it as a “misappropriation of consumer funds and unfair trade practices by refusing and failing, without legal justification, to provide proper change or credit to consumers using cash to make purchases at Pennsylvania Chipotle stores.”
The lawsuit claims that Chipotle instituted a company policy directing employees not to return the full change. the document alleges that instead, employees are rounding down the change and pocketing the difference.
The complaint claims the policy has “resulted in the loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions of dollars.”
Chipotle has nearly 100 stores in Pennsylvania. The class-action complaint includes all customers who purchased items at a Pennsylvania Chipotle with cash on or after January 1 and were given the wrong amount of change.
“While the exact number of Class Members is not yet known, subject to discovery, it is believed and therefore averred that the Class numbers in the thousands, perhaps in the hundreds of thousands,” the filing said.
For example, on August 18, one consumer’s total purchase was $15.51. The plaintiff used $20 bill to pay, but only received $4 instead of $4.49. In another instance, a consumer’s total was $8.72. The customer also used a $20 bill, but received $11 in return as opposed to $11.28.
“This ‘company policy’ not only discriminates against consumers who do not have, or do not wish to use, credit cards, but also results in a tax-free windfall to Chipotle,” the lawsuit said.
Frank G. Salpietro, the attorney who filed the complaint, told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that this is a “top-down policy.” He also believes Chipotle will use the national coin shortage as an excuse.
“That doesn’t give Chipotle license to line its own pockets during a pandemic,” Salpietro said to the media outlet. “It’s just wrong.”
The Tribune-Review reported that the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office has received five similar complaints.
Laurie Schalow, Chipotle’s chief corporate affairs and food safety officer, said the brand’s policy is to give customers the exact change they are owed when making a cash purchase.
“If a restaurant is low on change as a result of the nationwide coin shortage, our policy is to only accept exact change or other non-cash forms of payment,” Schalow said in a statement. “Restaurants that are impacted have signage posted on the door as well as inside, and employees have been instructed to alert guests prior to ordering. We encourage customers to contact us immediately with any concerns so we can investigate and respond quickly to make things right.”