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Check your check [Moved from Site Talk]

We had a lovely dinner at Picholine in NYC last night, where we dine frequently. By the time we finished, it was late, and after a long meal and drinks and wine it would have been easy to sign the check without looking at it closely. Fortunately, my husband scrutinized the check and discovered that we had been charged for two prix fixe dinners PLUS two additional entrees and an appetizer. This error added nearly $100 to the total. The waiter corrected the amount as soon as it was brought to his attention but our experience reminded us to ALWAYS check the check.

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  1. Jfood agrees 100%. Every bill that gets presented I count the courses. 4 people means 4 apps, 4 entrees and maybe a couple of desserts plus liquid. By not drinking Jfood is always the designated decider. Good news it has been a while since I needed to point out an error.

    1. Yep, mistakes happen and its worth giving the check a read through to make sure that nothing extra is on there and nothing you got is left off.

      1. That goes in Spades if you're dining in Hong Kong. They have an amazingly high error rate, always in the resto's favor. It happened repeatedly when I dined with my Chinese-speaking, Chinese-reading wife, I can't even imagine what they might come up with if nobody at your table could read the check.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Gary Soup

          I'm Chinese, went to HK with my husband and father, all Chinese, and this happened to us too. Granted they could tell we weren't from HK (clothing, my accent, the fact that we spoke English otherwise), but still! It was something petty too, like the chicken and rice was $52HK but they charged us $54HK - couple of dishes were wrong like that. I hated to have to point out $2HK to them since that's only, what, 30 cents. Why do they bother?!

          1. re: boltnut55

            Thirty cents here and there can definitely add up.

            1. re: Miss Needle

              Especially for a Hong Konger; I think it's part of the psychology -- "the lao wai will shrug it off even if they notice it, and we are unlikely to see them again in any event." But in the Hong Kong economy, it's more like 2 or 3 dollars.

              I'm not saying Hong Kongers are corrupt; I'm saying PEOPLE are corrupt, whether in Hong Kong or Hadleyburg, especially when there is scant perceived risk to a little petit larceny.

          2. re: Gary Soup

            Another thing that often happens is the bill is very hard to read. The orders are usually just short hand scribbles. When the time comes to scrutinize the check, you can't even decipher it!

          3. I admit I check less than I should--usually too full or too much wine. It helps to order a tasting menu with paired wines to keep it simple (yet pricey). This past weekend we went for dinner (casual but higher end) and each ordered a glass of wine, both casually noting the glass price--$10 each. We noted that the bottle price was $40 but neither wanted that much or were sure if we loved the wine(it was ok, not great). On the bill we were charged $15 a glass and felt it worth noting. Turns out the menu was wrong and the manager adjusted the check then.. Would be nice to know if they then changed the menu or not.

            1. Sadly, we must check our checks. I used to posit cynically that 90% of "honest" mistakes inure to the benefit of the perpetrators, but I have had to revise that figure to 99%. In Mexico, one must verify that gas pumps are set to zero, and that oil cans contain oil. Nearly all restaurant "cuentas" have errors. (But I love the country!) I yearn for the world to be as honest as Japan, where it is culturally an insult to count one's change.

              1. I know that you've all heard from that I'm not a big fan of filipino and Colombian food--countries where I've lived for more than 30 years while working all over the place. On the other hand, you never, ever have to check the check or count your change in these two countries. Never!

                1. I was once charged about $450 for a $68 meal at a well-known NYC Mexican restaurant. The only reason I caught this was because I check my credit card statement religiously each month. The receipt had the right amount, so I do not understand how I was overcharged nearly $400 on my cc statement. Does anyone know how this can happen--or have a hunch? I would like to hope it wasn't something sneaky. Btw, the restaurant did not reply to the cc's request for additional information, plus I had a copy of the original receipt, so I "won."

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: gloriousfood

                    An error by a factor of ten is possibly an honest mistake (misplaced decimal point, or extra zero). I've made this completely innocent mistake myself at the end of a long night when entering my credit cars tips. Fortunately for me, and especially the customer, our computer requires an extra conformation for all tips greater than 20%. Lucky for you, you are so diligent. I cringe at the thought of fellow diners of yours who may not be :(

                    1. re: gloriousfood

                      The restaurant chargecard systems I'm familiar with all allow the establishment to go back into the transaction to add on the tip amount. That's the way it's done. There may be other ways to make mistakes, but this would seem to be the most obvious place to affect the total charge amount after you've seen the sub-total without tip. It may or may not have been intentional. With many charge machines someone has to 'look up' the transaction in a very small reaad-out window and it can cause mistakes if you'r enot very careful. I once added the tip from a large check to an incorrect smaller check by accident. Caught it after the guests left and reversed out the charges, then recharged correctly. My merchant services company can sometimes catch something like that so that the customer never sees the incorrect transaction, but they may not...... so I keep copies of any such events in a file in case the customer calls about it.

                      1. re: Midlife

                        Thanks for your explanations. They shed some light on the issue.

                      2. re: gloriousfood

                        I was once overcharged about $20 - $30 (on a total tab of about $35). I disputed the charge, sending along a copy of my charge slip which I always keep. The bank ruled in my favor as the restaurant never replied to the bank's request, just as with you.