A Restaurant in Antigua Overcharged My Credit Card

Over winter break, my husband and I took our kids on a ten-night Christmas cruise on the MSC Divina. Our cruise included four days on the ship, but we also stopped in Antigua, St. Maarten, Guadeloupe, St. Kitts, and Tortola.

Our cruise went off without a hitch and we loved our time at every port. The MSC Divina is a fabulous ship and my kids had a blast participating in games and activities and spending time in the kids club.

Unfortunately, I quickly discovered that someone in Antigua was trying to rip me off. Consider this a cautionary tale and a lesson on why you should watch your credit card receipts closely.

We Were Ripped Off in Antigua

While there were plenty of excursions we could have booked on the ship, we opted for a DIY beach day for our cruise stop in Antigua. After some research, I decided we would go to Darkwood Beach since they have chairs for rent, a restaurant on site, and an overwater obstacle course the kids could play on for $15.

We got there early and selected an umbrella. A man came out from Darkwood Beach Bar and Restaurant and told us that we could order food and drink and put it all on a single tab — if we gave him our credit card for the day.

I told him I wasn’t giving him my credit card for the day under any circumstances, but I promised I was good for the bill and wouldn’t leave without paying. He seemed okay with that and let me start a tab.

We had a great day other than the fact that our lunch took an hour and a half to come out, and we wound up spending $122 total including beach and umbrella rentals, lunch for four people, and two buckets of beer.

Once we were ready to go, I flagged down our waiter so we could pay. He told me he had to change our $122USD bill to Eastern Caribbean to charge my credit card, and that was fine with me.

The charge on my Chase Sapphire Reserve card was made as $329.73 Eastern Caribbean, and I added a 60 EC tip and totaled the amount to $389.73 on the sales slip before I signed.

I didn’t think about it again until one of our travel companions told me that he was overcharged for his bill on his Chase Sapphire Reserve at the same beach that day. When I checked my Chase account online, I quickly found that I had been charged $189 USD total. That meant that they had somehow changed my tip to $67 USD. That seemed strange to me since I tipped 60 Eastern Caribbean and totaled the amount up to $389.73 EC.

What was going on?

Since I was on the ship when I figured this out, I started by messaging Darkwood Beach Bar and Restaurant on Facebook. The response I got told the whole story. The man who replied to me said that they changed my tip to 60 USD instead of 60 Eastern Caribbean regardless of what I signed on the sales slip and the fact that I totaled it up to $389.73 EC. (With the exchange rate, the 60 EC I tipped should have worked out to around $22 USD – or a little over 15% of our bill.)

I asked the restaurant to fix my tip since I DID not tip $60+ USD on a $122 bill. I’m a generous tipper but they were lucky to get a tip on this meal at all since our lunch took 1.5 hours to come out!

They blew me off, refused to change the amount of the tip in their system, and also said they “rebuke me in Jesus name.”

The Bottom Line

The next time I had safe internet service, I filed a dispute with Chase. They refunded me the part of the tip that Darkwood Beach was trying to scam from me (around $38 USD) and said that the restaurant will have to prove I tipped $60 USD somehow to be able to keep that money.

The moral of the story here is that you should always keep your receipts. But more than that, you should check on amounts to make sure nobody does a currency switcharoo or upgrade their tip without your consent.

Darkwood Beach Restaurant in Antigua has a beautiful spot on the sand and I’m glad I went, but dishonest people work there. It’s a good place to go for the day, but I would only go again if I paid in cash.

Have you ever had someone try to rip you off in this way? What happened?

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