Why do they look inside?
I am curious to hear from servers who may know the answer. I notice the following scenario. Server brings check in a folder. I pay with credit card. Server rings up charge and brings me slip to sign and place gratuity. I do and place card in my wallet and the charge slip back in the folder.
The server arrives a few minute later and opens the folder in front of me. I am curious as to why?
1 - is the server making sure I signed?
2 - is the server making sure I took my card?
3 - the server is taking a peak at the tip?
4 - Combo?
Can they think of being more discreet?
It's to make sure that you left the signed copy and that you took your card back. Unsigned slips and forgotten cards are more common than you would think. I always walk away from the table before I look, though. Seems weird to do it right there in front of you.
I agree with Kbee. In my table waiting days, I would take the check presenter from the table and look inside, but only after I was out of the customer's line of sight. For me, it was the combo.
You forgot a reason:
4. Is the server making sure I didn't take the wrong copy of the charge slip?
Merchants are required to keep a signed copy of all charge slips on hand, in case of disputes, and in most cases, the Merchant's copy shows the entire CC number, not just the last 4 digits. If a customer walks out without signing or with the Merchant's copy, it makes it difficult for the merchant to reconcile his/her accounts, and next to impossible to dispute any chargebacks.
So the correct answer is, "5. All of the above."
They should be doing that out of your sight-line. Is this happening in fine dining? I hope not.
As you can see by most post linked below, it's a not too uncommon occurance for people to walk out with both copies even when the waiter makes a point of reminding them to leave one. Technically, the house or the waiter is basically screwed out of the tip money if they do so, thus it's quite fair for them to make sure it was taken care of ASAP. Ideally, this would be done out of sight but that might mean having to chase them down out of the restaurant which is time that waiter could be taking care of his other customers.
This brings up an interesting thought. What is it about dining out that is so different than every other retail experience? After all, there's nothing romantic about bill paying time. What is so insulting about the server simply confirming the transaction was accurately completed? In essentially every other situation money is transacted in a much less convenient manner than in even a somewhat casual restaurant. If you go into Saks 5th and drop a couple hundred on clothes, you still have to go up the cashier and wait while they ring you up, stand there while they run your credit card, and sign it in front of them. Nobody says boo about that. I mean, who ever thinks, "Jeez, my clerk was so accomodating and helpful the whole time, but I just felt insulted the way he made me go through the whole paying thing. Whatever happened to customer service?"
Restaurants, however, are painted into a corner where they've got to insulate the consumer from the "indignity" of completing the transaction even if it comes at the expense of sometimes not being fairly compensated for their services.
FWIW, I don't allow my waiters to look in the folder at the table because that's how I was trained, but I suppose I would prefer if the prevailing attitude shifted a bit and people wouldn't feel insulted about such things.
Funny, with all the things I am so picky about (admittedly LOL), this is one that I do not even think about... I do not watch the server when they pick up the bill folder (or whatever it may be) AFTER we have paid and signed to see if they looked inside. As you wrote, it is part of the process and though I am from the school of "do not remove any plates from the table until everyone is done eating" and the like, this seems to me a non-issue. I would prefer not be chased onto the street IF we forgot to leave the proper receipt or any receipt and would definitely prefer for the server NOT to be stiffed, unless of course they deserved it...LOL