The Insane Waiter

Running wild on customers, chefs, owners and managers since 1997. I bring to you, The Insane Waiter. What do bring to your table? A crisp bottle of San Pellegrino ? Perhaps a lovely seared Sashimi Tuna? Start off with a wonderful bottle from Tuscany perhaps? Why I'll be more than happy to bring you your White Zinfandel and Chicken Caesar. No you can't order the mac and cheese off the kids menu and sorry no, we don't serve cheese sticks....

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Your Opinion

There has been some controversy over credit card slips recently at the restaurant.

At times the customer, oops, sorry...

"The Guest"either adds wrong or adds an extra amount on top of a table that has added a service charge.

I have always added what I thought the customer meant to leave, here's an example.

Bill Amount - $100.00

Tip - $20.00

Total - $130.00

I would enter in $120.00

Conversely, if the total would say $110.00 I would still enter in the $20 tip and not take the loss since that was the intention.

This is simplified, usually it is some odd number and it is simply a mistake on the part of the customer.

I never would want to put in the lower amount as it would hurt me, however I also would not enter a much higher tip that I felt the customer did not mean to leave.

As well I have no problem with added gratuity as long as it is noted on the bill as well as the menu.

What is your opinion on this dear reader?

44 Comments:

At 7:25 PM , Anonymous Rebecca said...

I agree that I think it should be the total amount of the bill + the amount of the tip = the amount you charge. I say this because no one is going to make a mistake with the amount of tip they put it, the mistake is more likely to be in the math of adding the tip to the bill total.

 
At 9:55 PM , Blogger Jstar said...

At the local chain i work at, we always go with whatever is in the guests best interest, always at the servers expense.

If the bill is 100, tip 20, total is 130, the server gets 20

If the bill is 100, tip is 20, total is 110, the sever gets 10.

Bad part is, there are a lot of people in the area who just aren't good at arithmetic

 
At 11:04 PM , Blogger G.H. said...

I have always followed your rule of thumb. I generally know what the person meant, regardless of if they know how to add correctly or not.

good question though.

 
At 2:19 AM , Blogger Pere Callahan said...

Bill plus the tip is the total, it is what was intended by the guest.

As far as the added gratuity well as long as it is clear that it has been added I have no problem with it. Maybe they just thought you should get more than the norm.

 
At 9:43 AM , Anonymous dave said...

Most restaurants have a firm policy. Either you never change the tip or you never change the total (doing either can have ramifications). However, I see by one of the above comments that some restaurants are going in a third direction.

In my current restaurant, you don't change the tip, although if you show the slip to a manager, they might say "change the tip" if it's clear that the guest intended a certain tip but just grossly mis-added. In my case, if the miss-adding is less than a buck, I won't even bother. I just leave it like it is.

When I managed a restaurant, I always said, "Don't change the total" (unless it was a big mistake and clearly a total in need of changing, at which point I'd authorize it). My reasoning is, most callbacks about credit cards have to do with a different total, not a different tip, even if the total was lower than the guest expected. Some guests actually reconcile their credit card statements as they would a checkbook. And if you change the total, it screws them up and makes it likely that they'll call wondering what the deal is. And most guests aren't going to run the math on the tips, even if they're reconciling slip by slip. They're just going to be looking at the total and seeing if it compares.

I think I'll do a post on this myself on my blog "So You Want To Ba A Waiter" at:

http://teleburst.wordpress.com/

I think I'll throw in the discussion about debit cards vs. credit cards and the trouble they can cause if you accidentally put in the wrong amount and have to reauthorize or void the transaction for some reason.

Thanks for the topic!

dave

 
At 12:09 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would like to preface this by saying I completely agree with your thoughts and how you are fair to the customer in this situation.

I think you need to go back to the tabe and get it corrected. The credit card companies will only pay what is on the line marked "total". If that line says 110 you can put it through at what was clearly intended to be 120 but the credit card company is under no obligation to pay anything more than what is written on the "total" line when they get the receipt. If they only pay the 110 and you sent it through as 120 like it was intended you basically stole 10 dollars from your employer. They might deserve that but reading your blog it seems as though you are not the kind of person that would steal from an employer.

 
At 1:08 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I always do it in my favor, unless it's some crazy mistake on the part of the guest (like, leaving $300 on $100).

 
At 2:27 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Eff that. Do what gets you more. You go through enough shit as a server. I've seen people miscalculate on purpose. I've seen people not tip because of whatever stupid belief they hold [I don't 'believe' in tipping.] I've experienced someone tip $10 on a $100 tab because it only took about an hour for their whole 'dining experience', and the tipper's excuse was that $10 an hour isn't bad for a server. Please. If the 'guest' can get away with diminishing our pay with any tiny mistake that's probably not our fault anyway, we can get away with boosting our paycheck a bit with a mistake they make. Jaded? Yeah, I've been a server for quite some time.

 
At 3:34 PM , Anonymous dave said...

So you will deliberately "miscalculate" a tip on purpose yourself?

In my view, this puts on the same level as the guest that you are bitching about.

Personally, I'm a lot better than that myself. and a lot more professional, apparently.

If you've been a server for "quite some time", perhaps you'll eventually become a professional yourself. We need more professionals in our ranks.

 
At 6:46 PM , OpenID sweetrobroy said...

My credit card clips say in big black letters above the Tip line "Added Gratuity" and the amount.

If the guest signs in a figure into the tip line, then I enter it anyway.

Some times when it's an obvious mistake of addition on the check with a crazy good tip, I err on the side of caution and go for a lower amount. I'm the only one of my waitstaff that hasn't had a guest complain about a credit card error.

 
At 12:58 AM , Blogger Cara said...

I work ToGo at a chain restaurant & am in charge of cashing out servers & checking their credit cards at the end of the night. My general rule of thumb is that if it's clearly written on the tip line that is what the server gets. If it's been scribbled, or is unclear/unable to be read in any way, I have a manager adjust the tip to be in the guest's favor. Is it really worth losing a job over a dollar or two? Bad references haunt you for ages.

 
At 7:33 AM , Blogger Just that guy. said...

I say don't change the tip, people Miss add sometimes.

 
At 11:40 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does the CC slip have a signature on it?? Usually the answer is 'yes', and if so, that is a valid contract.

 
At 1:17 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where i work, it is required that we enter the total amount that the guest writes in the "Total" Space...
10 tab + 3.00 tip = 14.00..we must enter 14.00, but on the other hand, we have to go the other way too
100.00 tab + 40.00 tip = 130.00, we must enter 130.00, because that is the amount that will be disputed overall when they say "Hey we didn't spend this much" and have to pull out the reciepts from the files to prove it to their CC company

 
At 8:18 PM , Blogger BizTone said...

Our policy is the same... the error goes to the customer's benneifit. Whatever the mistake is goes in favor to the customer.

Example: amount- $65.00
Tip- $5.00
Total - $73.00

(I close it out to $70.00 and take the hit).

Sometimes though, my pen may or may not correct the slip before the manager ever sees it...

 
At 8:36 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a diner, not an insider, so I can't comment on legalities. But I agree with your approach 100%. I don't think I've made many math errors, but I know that the tip amount I put down is what I intended (and, yeah, I'm typically a 20%-er), so I'd rather you interpret the total rather the tip.

 
At 3:17 PM , Blogger John said...

At my old restaurant we would put a 18% grat on parties of 6 or more. Usually when people us a "DEBIT" card in a restaurant, the bank holds a pending amount, usually adding a 20% gratuity to the pending amount to cover what the purchase might cost. (even the banks know that the tip minimum should be 20%...but that's another story) I had a table of regulars, party of 7, and added the grat because I know how cheap these people were. 2 days later, the man who paid the bill, comes storming through the restaurant, tracks me down in the back, gets in my face, and says,"I'M A FORMER IRS FRAUD CLAIMS AGENT, YOU OVER CHARGED ME AND TOOK A 20% TIP!!!" He had an "online" bank statement, and a copy of his credit card slip. I was a little taken back, first that someone would freak this bad over $6, secondly that the man had the balls to hunt me down out back of the restaurant. I was MOD this day and had a million things to do. I told the guy I would have to go upstairs and sort through the paperwork and figure out the problem. All of our records showed that his card went through for the 18%. I printed out copies to give him and told him that his issue was with the bank, and not the restaurnat. He proceeded to call me a thief and liar in front of about 25 customers. About 3 weeks later I saw him in the dining room eating with his wife, and he couldn't even look at me. I went over to the table and asked how everything was, and he said that I was right and everything worked out with the bank. But he still believes somebody in the office was skimming off the top...Turns out that this "former IRS agent" couldn't figure out simple math and couldn't grasp the concept of a "pending debit charge" and even when the proof was shown and proved to him, he still could not come to terms with being wrong. BTW...these are the kind of people who work for the IRS???

 
At 6:24 PM , OpenID toastonthefly said...

At the restaurant I'm at we're only supposed to put in what they marked as the total, even if they didn't do the math properly. It hurts.
I agree with the idea that you should be able to fix errors. It makes a difference.

On a side note: I read this post yesterday and had a dream about incorrect addition on a bill then changing it - which gave me anxiety because we're not allowed.

 
At 6:38 PM , Blogger Catherine said...

At my restaurant we always go with the final total, always.

I've not looked into it, but the impression I've gotten from my various managers is putting in anything other than the clear, final total is fraud.

 
At 11:59 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I go out to eat, sometimes I'll decide the total I want to leave and then work backwards to figure the exact tip, especially if it involves small change. So, if the bill's $24.73 I might just leave $30. But I might mess up figuring the tip from that. So I'd say go with the total. That's what we did when I've worked in restaurants. But it's tricky either way.

 
At 9:27 PM , Anonymous Marta said...

I agree with you, I figure out what it seems that they meant to leave... Sure wish they would just proofread the slip! Lol. Great site, just found it. Keep up the good work (at the job and on the blog)! God bless.

 
At 11:39 AM , Anonymous Jean said...

Regarding the credit card companies will only pay what is written on the line -- they never sees the slips. Credit cards are handled by a verifone or zon machine which are electronically settled at night and the money transferred into the restaurants checking account within two days -- the slips are the restaurant's backup.

So if my server takes a 23.58 cent check and inputs it as 32.58, it'll will post as 32.58 + the tip. Happened to me at my favorite restaurant -- we were yakking with our server and she flipped the numbers. The two and the three are right next to each other.

SO, in my opinion -- you clearly know what we want to tip you. It's right there in black and white. Make it right addition-wise and everyone should be happy.

 
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At 10:01 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

At my restaurant, we are required to stamp, "the gratuity is included," twice on the check in red letters and verbally relate this to the guest upon presenting the check. However, sometimes they leave exactly 15 to 20 percent of the total after the tip was added. What to do? I don't know. How many guests really intend to leave 30 to 40 percent? I think, perhaps, they pay so little attention to what I say, other than the night's specials, that I might as well be saying, "blablablablabla."

 
At 4:16 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

call me dishonest, but i firmly believe that it depends on the guest. if you're too drunk/stupid to figure the math, then i've probably well-earned the higher tip.


"kiss my grits"? more like "kiss my crispy black ass".

 
At 3:22 PM , Blogger G.H. said...

by the way, would you like to exchange links?
GH

http://confessions-of-a-waitress.blogspot.com/

 
At 8:35 PM , Blogger Banquet Manager said...

You're invited to become a guest blogger and have one of your stories featured on my site in August.
For more info see my post:
Wanted: Guest Bloggers

 
At 11:49 AM , Blogger Blondie said...

The place I'm at now has a firm policy that the total always stands- no matter what. (Except this week, when the customer wrote in a $10 tip, then SUBTRACTED it on the total line, costing the server... in that case, the mgr let the tip stand.)

 
At 2:25 PM , OpenID masto said...

I have a fear of making social gaffes which manifests itself in restaurants as paranoia that I'll miscalculate the tip and unintentionally stiff the waitperson. I usually add it three or four times to make sure, and on a credit card receipt I've taken to copying both the tip and the total from the restaurant's copy onto my receipt so that I can check it again when I get home. I figure it must be fairly common for people to make mistakes, considering how bad many people are at math, they may have had a few drinks with dinner, they're not paying attention, etc. But that doesn't stop me from worrying that the waiter will just assume I'm intentionally being an asshole.

 
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At 2:58 PM , Blogger JDStarr said...

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At 7:15 PM , Anonymous Mido Watches said...

As a waitress, I always gave the customer the upper hand, regardless of if they could count. I would want someone to do that for me if I had a blonde moment and added an extra zero for a 100 dollar tip instead of a 10!

 
At 11:48 PM , Blogger schmuckraker said...

My personal opinion is that the customer should be aware that he or she is not leaving the FULL amount on credit.. It may change their minds

 
At 11:48 AM , Blogger Sailor said...

I've been working at a restaurant for some time now and have run into these issues before. Of course, like many people said, a lot of restaurants have their own legal policies for such.

http://sailorbobs.webs.com
Sailor Bob's

 
At 11:45 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

My comment is that your blog sucks ass. I hope that you're a better server than you are a writer. To say that you're posts are mediocre would be an insult to mediocrity.

 
At 9:22 PM , Anonymous Vijay Eswaran said...

Love your post. Do not be disheartened to listen to insensitive comments.

 
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At 8:04 AM , Blogger Stefan said...

This is one of that hardest parts as sound as that sounds. To begin with people have the most horrible hand writing i have every seen. Literally it can feel like you're reading another language while you sit there squiting trying to decifer what the tip actually says. It's also hard when people do the math wrong because you never want to steal people's money but at the same time if they ment to leave you something but added wrong why would you take the mis-added total over what they physically wrote in the tip box. Something i will say, if the gratuity is included on a check, it says so in the menu, and then you decide to write on the additionaly gratuity line as well you should know your tipping more on what you're already tipping. And if you cant tell that from the receipt thats on you.

 
At 8:05 AM , Blogger Stefan said...

This is one of that hardest parts as sound as that sounds. To begin with people have the most horrible hand writing i have every seen. Literally it can feel like you're reading another language while you sit there squiting trying to decifer what the tip actually says. It's also hard when people do the math wrong because you never want to steal people's money but at the same time if they ment to leave you something but added wrong why would you take the mis-added total over what they physically wrote in the tip box. Something i will say, if the gratuity is included on a check, it says so in the menu, and then you decide to write on the additionaly gratuity line as well you should know your tipping more on what you're already tipping. And if you cant tell that from the receipt thats on you.

 
At 8:05 AM , Blogger Stefan said...

This is one of that hardest parts as sound as that sounds. To begin with people have the most horrible hand writing i have every seen. Literally it can feel like you're reading another language while you sit there squiting trying to decifer what the tip actually says. It's also hard when people do the math wrong because you never want to steal people's money but at the same time if they ment to leave you something but added wrong why would you take the mis-added total over what they physically wrote in the tip box. Something i will say, if the gratuity is included on a check, it says so in the menu, and then you decide to write on the additionaly gratuity line as well you should know your tipping more on what you're already tipping. And if you cant tell that from the receipt thats on you.

 
At 8:05 AM , Blogger Stefan said...

This is one of that hardest parts as sound as that sounds. To begin with people have the most horrible hand writing i have every seen. Literally it can feel like you're reading another language while you sit there squiting trying to decifer what the tip actually says. It's also hard when people do the math wrong because you never want to steal people's money but at the same time if they ment to leave you something but added wrong why would you take the mis-added total over what they physically wrote in the tip box. Something i will say, if the gratuity is included on a check, it says so in the menu, and then you decide to write on the additionaly gratuity line as well you should know your tipping more on what you're already tipping. And if you cant tell that from the receipt thats on you.

 
At 12:16 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I say always, always, always go in the guest's favor. It is our job as servers to take care of the guest before, during, and AFTER they have left. If you're the type of person who wouldn't go in the guests favor, you're not fit to work in the SERVICE industry, standing up for yourself is one thing but cmon.

 
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At 12:18 AM , Anonymous jglover said...

Well it depends really. I think technically you are suppose to take whatever is written in the 'total' line. I always do.. sometimes it pays off for me sometimes it doesn't.. usually it's only a few dollars or cents difference. If it's clearly a mistake I won't take the higher amount.
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