If you haven’t heard of Clipp yet, maybe you will soon. The app wants to be the new bar tab, and it’s got some nice ideas up its sleeve that put it in a good position to do so. The company’s main pitch is that it provides a way for bars, hotels and other venues to handle customer tabs in the post chip-and-pin switch world.
In years gone by, a credit card left behind the bar was generally enough security for a venue to recoup their drinks prices in case a customer left without paying their tab. With recent changes to Australian credit cards though, that’s no longer enough – credit cards with chips require PINs for purchases to be charged to them. It’s great for credit card users who can now be assured that someone making off with their card can’t rack up a huge bill, but that same feature presents a problem for venues.
Clipp seeks to change that by handling payments itself via credit card or PayPal. You can go to the bar, order your drinks, show your phone and your purchases are added to your Clipp tab. When it’s time to leave you can just close the tab and walk out.
The service is integrated into venues’ POS systems with varying degrees of success. During my testing at a couple of venues on York St, I was surprised how well the staff handled it – no questions and no fuss – although at one venue the table staff told me I’d be better off ordering from the bar if I was going to use it.
Setting up a tab is pretty straightforward: you open the app, select your venue open a tab and you’ll be asked to set your limit. This actually becomes a preauthorisation on your credit card, which is how Clipp’s covering itself the way venues used to. Once your limit is set, you’ll be looking at the tab screen – a big blue circle with an identifier for the bar staff, with controls to view the details of your tab, share it with others or increase your limit.
As you progress through your stay at the establishment, the details of the items on your tab are added in near-realtime. By the time you get back to your table, Clipp will have been updated to let you know what you’ve ordered.
The tab sharing is pretty cool – you can generate a share code that your friends can use to join your tab on their phones. It’s the same as going to the bar and ordering your drinks “on the Murray tab” (for example). It doesn’t do split payments (the tab owner is the one who pays), but it does offer some opportunities for better tab management for large groups – think office parties, etc. The tab’s owner can always see who’s got access to the tab, and can kick people out if necessary.
When you’re ready to go, click the Close Tab button, and you’re asked whether you want to leave a tip – the default for this was 10%, which was perhaps a bit cheeky. I’d prefer the app ask rather than assume, and by the time you close your tab you might perhaps not be fully aware of the tip setting. Once you’re done Clipp processes your payment, shows you the result and handily offers a button to call a Silver Top Taxi. I didn’t try this option out, but I’m assuming it just links to the dialer with the number preloaded.
Clipp keeps you updated about what’s happening with your tab via impressively detailed notifications:
If there’s a part of the app’s operations that gives me pause, it’s the surcharges. The venues I tried Clipp at had a 1% surcharge for using the app, or 2% if you paid using Amex. This means you pay more for your drinks – in the realm of 5-20 cents per drink, depending on what you buy. If Clipp was operating a convenience service for me, where (for example) I could order my drinks and have them brought to me without leaving my seat, then I’d be happy to pay that extra. Clipp has pitched itself as a solution for venues to run bar tabs, and I’m the one putting out the extra money for that solution. Given the margins venues make on drinks (why does my postmix soft drink cost $3.50 anyway, and why is my bottle of cider $12?), it leaves a slightly opportunistic taste in your mouth.
Qualms about fees aside, Clipp’s operating a good service. It doesn’t have a huge number of venues on board with it yet (there seems to be a focus on the east coast capital cities, but nothing in Canberra yet – there’s a list of participating venues on their site), but the number is always going up. My guess is that as Clipp gets integrated into more POS systems we’ll see it pop up in more venues around town. Until then, you should keep an eye out for the Clipp branding on the registers in your venue of choice.
Have you tried out Clipp? Will you? Tell us in the comments!