Wagamama Authorisation

Two recent visits to Wagamama (outstanding noodle bars - give them a try if you haven’t already) have uncovered a strange habit: when asking for the bill, it’s brought immediately to your table, with a slip asking for the tip and a signature. Once this is filled in, your credit card is taken away briefly - presumably to be swiped. But no further signature is required, and even more surprisingly no PIN number is requested. That’s the end of the transaction.

Is this legal? Is it within the terms of the merchant agreement? Is it sensible? Is it secure?

I don’t know, but it’s sure weird. I haven’t seen any other merchant do this.


I expect if you put a hold on the payment then they would have nothing to do but roll over and give the money back. The purpose of a signed receipt was to prove you walked in and used the card - they don't have that. The same thing with a pin - only you can know it. They have no way to prove that the card was not a copy, nor that it was a double swipe. Credit card companies are supposed to make the merchant prove that the transaction is not fraudulent, not the card holder. Their noodle soup is really good, but it is also cheap enough that you don't need to steel someone else's credit card to be able to afford it!
I think you're probably right, although interestingly the receipt doesn't use that phrase. It's dubious how truthful it is - after all, I was present, and they did have the opportunity to verify the transaction, they just didn't take it. What worries me is what would happen if I challenged an item from them on my bill. The implication is that they should just roll over and let the card company grab the money back from them. I don't think it would be that simple. Of course, you're right, we don't know their rate of fraud. Although the noodle soup is good, it's almost worth nicking a credit card for... ;)
It will be billed as a "cardholder not present" transaction. It is legal, but they take the risk of fraud in their own hands as there is no signature or pin to verify it is your card. I guess they see the increased speed of processing as more important than the risk of fraud (I mean, who steal a credit card to buy a noodle soup?)