tipping on an incorrect bill
I always check my bills. With computerization there are fewer math errors than there used to be--but charging the wrong price, item or number of items does still happen. I cannot help but notice that the error is almost always in favor of the restaurant--though I point out the error either way.
I end up feeling that this is often deliberate --and yet I have continued to tip at my normal rate on these bills. I realize adjusting down runs the risk of punishing the waitstaff for a truly inadvertent error (or one out of their hands entirely) but not adjusting down rewards the guilty (who probably reap higher tips from all those people like my father-in-law who never check a bill).
I think it's paranoia to think they are doing this on purpose. Really, why? Just to get an extra buck or 2 out of you? Not worth it. Here are some reasons why it happens. 1. Your server accidentally enters something on the wrong ticket, say the table next to you orders a glass of wine and it get rung on your table. I myself have done this, although I usually catch it before the guest sees it. (btw, the price isn't entered. In most systems it is in there automatically.) 2. Maybe you order a Manhattan, but don't like the way it was made for some reason. In order to get you another one, I must ring it in the computer again (nothing is ever received unless it is entered in the computer). Now, of course you shouldn't be charged for that, so I need to split that off so it doesn't appear on your bill. But if it's crazy busy, I might forget. Very bad, admittedly, but not intentional. Not saying it happens often, my point is only that mistakes happen, no one is perfect, and I can't believe you're ever able to enjoy a meal out if you're suspecting that they're "out to get you".
I agree with TT, if you receive an incorrect bill, ask for a new one. No biggie. Keep that in mind the next time at the restaurant and if it happens again, alert the manager.
I somethime wonder as well in the age of computers. My understanding is the waiter places the order in the computer and an "order" ticket arrives in the kitchen. If the kitchen makes the "mistake" dish, wouldn't the waiter notice when he picked it up and change the charge?
I wonder what reasons there might be for the mistakes of unknown food on the bill versus just an input error on the price? Any Chowhounds will real knowledge I would love to be educated.
My point, maybe I wasn't clear, is that I feel that most of the time the overcharges are deliberate.
My question was, is it fair to reduce the overall tip to the waiter, who may or may not be responsibe for the overcharges and errors? I assume that some errors are deliberate (otherwise errors would be in our favor half the time, and that is not the case) a substantial portion of the time and that some are genuine errors, it wouldn't be fair to punish for a mistake, but neither do I wish to reward (at 18%) a waiter who is assuming I won't see the increase. It then becomes not a question of which portion of the bill on which to tip, but rather, do I tip at all? Or how little do I tip? And most importantly, how do I balance that with the issue of the honest server who erred? Maybe it should just always be brought directly to the manager?