Wednesday, May 30, 2001

That's $34K, plus tip?

By Randy McNutt
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        UNION TOWNSHIP — In case you've ever wondered, for $34,000, you can buy 27,200 cheese coneys at Skyline Chili.

        Michael Downs, 37, of Cherry Grove in Clermont County, should know. On May 18 he and his wife, Krista, 30, ate at the Skyline on Ohio Pike.

        They paid their bill — all $15.78 worth — with a debit card issued by Fifth Third Bank and went on their way.

        On May 23 the couple received a letter from the bank saying they owed about $34,000. Apparently, there was a malfunction with the credit-card scanner at Skyline.

        “Actually, the total amount we owe is $34,880.87,” Mr. Downs said Tuesday. “The issue hasn't been resolved. My wife was shocked. I was out of town on business and she said she got the bill and she started crying.

        “It was an ugly thing to hang over us during Memorial Day. The restaurant was supposed to resolve all this last week. You would think they would know what happened.

        “That much money doesn't usually go through without some kind of approval,” he said.

        Tom Allen, vice president for marketing at Skyline, had some answers Tuesday. He said the couple's bank card didn't go through on the first swipe, so a Skyline employee forced through the transaction. In doing so, the scanner picked up some numbers on the card and inserted them as the dollar amount.

        He said the holiday weekend caused the delay. Skyline will reimburse the Downses for their overdraft fee, and will toss in some gift certificates, he said.


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