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Aug 5, 2007 04:26 AM

error on bill (your favor)--do you say something?

There have been at least ten occasions where we've been slightly undercharged on a restaurant tab, usually on items like soft drinks or an extra glass of wine. My husband, being a scrupulously honest soul, will tell the server, who will then amend the bill. Not once has anyone ever said "oh, thanks for telling us, it's on the house." Not exactly an incentive to keep being honest other than husband's conscience.
What's your experience?
Servers, any thoughts or input?

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  1. Conscience is a pretty important thing so jfood would not downplay it.

    Soft drinks and wine. Jfood 95% of the time never sees a second charge for soft drinks. For some reason he actually gets a little annoyed if there is a charge, but jfoods no not eat in chains so the mom and pops hardly ever charge for subsequent rounds.

    Wines another story. If the waiter did not say something it is probably an oversight and telling the waiter is theproper thing to do if the meal was good.

    OTOH, jfood may take some heat for this but if the meal was less than satisfactory, on the jfood scale <6 and the waiter was less than pleasant, jfood may just say the heck with it.

    4 Replies
    1. re: jfood

      Whenever undercharged, I also bring it to their attention. More often than not, they'll tell me it's on the house...esp if it's a glass of wine or dessert.

      And like Jfood, if the experience was unsat, then mum's the word.

      1. re: OCAnn

        Interesting. So, if the service is excellent and by some fluke you're overcharged, do you say something?

        1. re: marcia

          jfood has a range of "oh screw it" when the check is incorrect. Nowadays, jfood just counts to see that the server has the right number of apps, entrees desserts and beverages on the bill. If the steak charge is $32 and the menu stated $31 or $34, no biggie, probably an IT error. Win some loose some. jfood not playing hall monitor.

          If the service is excellent and there is a small mistake on the bill in the resto favor, jfood overlooks it, and it has happened. Ifthere's an extra entree then jfood does mention it, but does not ding the server at all. Mistakes happen.

          And as stated above, if the service, et. al. is so bad, and the bill is under, likewise puts that in the "screw it" category. not there to try to boil the ocean, so to speak.

          1. re: jfood

            I recently got a "low bill" at an establishment (which shall remain nameless). I knew that I'd been mischarged for something, but couldn't instantly figure out what it was--If I srutinized the check too much, they'd have sussed something was up. But being a regular, I thought maybe the server was being kind or trying to hook TT up, so I sheepishly paid the stated amount and didn't mention it.


    2. Agree with jfood - many restaurants don't charge for a refill of soda. A freebie glass of wine, however, would be rarer, and conscience would usually prompt me to either tell the waiter so they could correct the bill, or leave a slightly larger tip to compensate.

      1. Interesting question. I almost always say something and I was out one time at a dinner with my immediate family where my dessert had been left off of what was going to be a group bill I guess you could say. I called over the server and brought it to her attention so she added it which horrified my brother. He asked me why I would be so stupid (bottles of wine had been consumed) as to bring something like that to their attention if they had forgotten to add it to the bill. Umm, I guess because it feels like the right thing to do??? Suppose this dessert cost $7.00 which it might have at this restaurant. If they had short changed me by $7.00, I would have demanded that back so, why shouldn't it work both ways?

        1 Reply
        1. re: Hooda_Guest

          I agree with you Hooda. If I get over charged I am going to squawk about it, so why would I not bring and under charge tot their attention. At the end of the night, when they reconcile the bills, they will see that the server messed up and take it out of their pay, so . . .

        2. There's also the incentive of simply being honest. Presuming you ordered all of the items, received them, consumed them to the level you chose, then you should pay for them.

          I think, generally, many of us are far too eager to get freebies or have things comped for a whole host of reasons in restaurants where we'd never consider the notion in a different service/retail setting. If you were leaving the Gap and realized that you hadn't been charged for a pair of socks, I don't think there'd be any expectation that the sales clerk tell you not to worry about it.

          1. Another vote for the simple importance of conscience. At a celebratory dinner out earlier this year, BarmyFotheringayPhipps and I were undercharged by $30 - a $33 bottle of wine showed up on the bill at $3. Total bill (with the correct price) was about $130. I just wasn't willing to take that steep a discount on a special dinner - it would have spoiled my memory of it completely. (The waiter was DEEPLY grateful when I pointed out the error, too.)

            2 Replies
            1. re: Allstonian

              Yet another vote for telling here. I would feel like I was stealing if I didn't, it costs the restaurant money every time people take advantage of errors like that which in turns drives prices up for the rest of us. The incentive is being able to walk out of the restaurant knowing you did the right thing.

              1. re: bubbles4me

                I've been in this situation a few times, and as recent as 2 weeks ago. We did not get charged for our cosmo's and pointed the error out to the waiter. He was so appreciative and immediately brought over a desert for us as a thank you. What goes around, comes around I say.