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Mar 2, 2007 10:42 PM

Server Makes a Mistake - In Your Favor

Please help settle a debate/argument.

You and several other folks go out for dinner at a local, family-run place. You order cocktails, a bottle of wine, apps., mains, and a couple of desserts. Food is mediocre (in fact, you don't bother having any of the left-overs boxed to take home - and you ALWAYS take home left-overs). Service is pretty bad (in terms of botched orders, kitchen not producing all of the mains at the same time, server disappearing for long periods of time, water glasses never refilled) but it's not the worse you've had. Still, by the end of the meal you know that you'll not be returning.

And then you get the bill. What's this? It's suspiciously ... lower than expected. You start to scrutinize it and discover that your server has either decided to (unannounced) comp. you the cocktails AND bottle of wine or (more likely, especially given that the wine was listed at about the same price as the four mains combined) forgotten to include them on the tab.

Some at the table argue in favor of letting the server know about their oversight and asking for an adjusted bill. Others argue in favor of paying, leaving a decent 25% - 30% tip as a "thank you for the oops," and hightailing it out the door.

What do you do?

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  1. I would definitely tell the server....unless the server says that he/she comped you, it's unlikely (especially based on the description you gave) that he/she did. In which case, you are basically stealing from the restaurant. Technically not your fault, but the blame might get placed on the server or whoever made the mistake. If it was less than a 10 dollar difference, maybe it wouldn't be as big a deal. But any more than that is definitely not okay.

    Comparable situation: You go to clothing store and see a great outfit and see that the pricetag, which is stuck to the shelf, says 200 dollars. When you go to buy it, the checkout person (who seems inexperienced) only charges you 100. Would you just pay 100 and run out of the store, even though you *know* it should be 200? Hopefully not.

    Dave MP

    1. Likewise, if you go someplace and they give you too much change when you pay. Do you keep it or fess up. Hands down I give it back. It's kind of a karma thing to me. The amount of money gained by the error is not going to change my life so why keep it and potentially cause that server or store clerk problems when they come up short at the end of the shift.

      1. If they charged you for an extra bottle of wine, would you tell them, or just pay it?
        The honest thing to do is to tell the server and pay the correct bill.

        1. Tell, tell, tell. Karma, Karma, Karma!

          1. This will probably get me in trouble but I would tell about the missing items on the bill (becuase if they are not being comped you are taking money out of the resturants pocket that they didn't know about) but I would tip her on the amount she orginally presented. Since the service was generally bad anyway and she made the error on the bill, I think that is what I would do. I am sure that many would think that meanspirited and I had a similar experience many years ago with a handwritten bill. I left a cash tip on the table based on the total and when I got to the register I found they asked for more than the presented total becuse our server did not add the bill correctly. I did not go back and add to her tip either.