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

r
rudysmom Aug 5, 2007 04:26 AM

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?

  1. jfood Aug 5, 2007 05:33 AM

    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
      OCAnn Aug 5, 2007 09:55 PM

      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
        m
        marcia Aug 6, 2007 10:21 PM

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

        1. re: marcia
          jfood Aug 7, 2007 06:14 AM

          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
            TexasToast Aug 7, 2007 07:32 AM

            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.

            TT

    2. LindaWhit Aug 5, 2007 06:43 AM

      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. h
        Hooda_Guest Aug 5, 2007 06:52 AM

        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
          danhole Oct 15, 2007 08:09 AM

          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. ccbweb Aug 5, 2007 06:58 AM

          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. Allstonian Aug 5, 2007 07:03 AM

            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
              b
              bubbles4me Aug 5, 2007 07:24 AM

              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
                m
                millygirl Aug 5, 2007 07:42 AM

                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.

            2. bigmackdaddy Aug 5, 2007 07:40 AM

              I'll will always bring it to the waiter's attention because I know some bosses will take the mistake out of their pay. Besides, I figure if I ordered it I can pay for it and trying to get away with something like that no matter how much the value of the undercharge is, is just tacky and obnoxious.

              1. chef chicklet Aug 5, 2007 07:48 AM

                Yes of course! If I see it I'll always say something. Character is the one thing that should never be compromised, and I want to sleep at night. And there is that person that will say "Thank you for letting me know" just wait.

                Which then makes me wonder if it's right to adjust the tip down on the new balance of the bill....now that isn't right at all.

                Karma is scarey stuff!

                1. h
                  Hue Aug 5, 2007 07:51 AM

                  Never has really happened to me, but I would certainly say something...
                  I certainly alert a cashier if they give me change for a twenty if I only gave a ten...

                  1. x
                    xena Aug 5, 2007 09:07 AM

                    Being able to rip off a restaurant is just not worth dirtying yourself up over, imo.

                    Do the right thing, without expecting a restaurant to give you a reward for it. Their job is to feed you, yours is to pay the stated price. A mistake on a bill is accidental. Deciding to take advantage of it isn't. :)

                    And as long as I'm doing my angel act, I can't resist saying that applying the good old Golden Rule easily provides answers to questions like these for us. Corny, maybe. True, none the less.

                    jmo.

                    1. PeterL Aug 5, 2007 09:55 AM

                      Of course I do. Two occasions come to mind. One time a waiter gave us way more change than even the original bill. I immediately pointed out the mistake to him. Another time we left without paying, and was on the freeway before we realized it. We went back to pay and the waiter hadn't even realized it.

                      There is no need to think about it in those situations. The thinking was done while I was growing up and confirmed by the time I was in high school. Once your standard is set. It makes decision making very easy.

                      1. ArikaDawn Aug 5, 2007 02:45 PM

                        I would say something, but I am a firm beleiver in karma. Not worth the risk imho.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: ArikaDawn
                          m
                          MobyRichard Aug 5, 2007 03:33 PM

                          Of course you should. Did you know the price of the items you ordered and consumed? Were you willing to pay for them when they were served to you? How is it then in any way acceptable to fail to pay for them? A diner enters into a social contract to pay for goods and services rendered by the restaurant. Ordering and consuming the food and drink served requires that the diner fulfill his/her part of the contract by fully paying for what was served.

                        2. n
                          nathanac Aug 5, 2007 05:32 PM

                          I really don't pay much attention to small things such as sodas or sides, so if they forgot one or added an extra I prob. wouldn't notice. But I would definitly bring up a large ticket item if it was missing from the bill.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: nathanac
                            r
                            rudysmom Aug 5, 2007 06:01 PM

                            Interesting responses. Wasn't suggesting we wouldn't point out the error in the bill. More, it's an observation on human nature.

                            Wouldn't a "comp" go a long way towards good will, though?

                            The majority of people are honest (we hope). But for those that aren't, they "profit" from their dishonesty, while us honorable folk......

                            Yes, I understand the idea of Karma

                            1. re: rudysmom
                              m
                              MiriamWoodstock Aug 5, 2007 06:12 PM

                              I hear you on being annoyed that those who are more willing to cheat save more money... but think how often you'd have to behave in a less than stand-up manner before it started to add up... I think a sense of integrity probably does much more for a person's happiness than the money would. (Martin Seligman's Positive Psychology is a very interesting scientific look at how exercising good character makes a person happy... has given me scientific reason to take the high road!)

                          2. Candy Aug 5, 2007 08:50 PM

                            Of course I point it out. I don't know if I could sleep otherwise

                            1. Snackish Aug 5, 2007 08:54 PM

                              I love all these honest Hounds. So refreshing!

                              14 Replies
                              1. re: Snackish
                                c
                                Clarkafella Aug 5, 2007 09:15 PM

                                I kind of wonder if the really honest hounds are the ones who admit that they have been guilty at times of not pointing out the mistake!

                                A few months ago, we treated another couple to dinner at a new restaurant. When the tab came it was around $130, which seemed a little low, but I wasn't familiar with the prices. On the way home, I looked at the itemized tab- they had forgotten to charge us for two entrees- around $50. Did we drive back and make good on the bill? Nope- but I justified it by knowing that had it worked the other way and they had overcharged us by $50, I wouldn't have bothered going back either- and I really wouldn't have, we were already 20 miles away...

                                1. re: Clarkafella
                                  Candy Aug 5, 2007 09:26 PM

                                  If I were 20 miles away I woud call the restaurant the next day and try to resolve it by phone.

                                  1. re: Candy
                                    c
                                    Clarkafella Aug 6, 2007 08:45 AM

                                    Well, I didn't. And I still feel guilty about it, so who knows?

                                    1. re: Clarkafella
                                      bryan Aug 6, 2007 10:53 PM

                                      I hate to tell you this but there's a strong possibility that your server was either charged for those entrees or fired for the mistake. That's how it works in the business.

                                      Your choice was not a good one. And it was dishonest.

                                  2. re: Clarkafella
                                    OCAnn Aug 6, 2007 09:05 AM

                                    Last month, Mr OCAnn & I took my parents out to sushi dinner (www.chowhound.com/topics/419304 ). It cost four of us, eating well, $85; unbelievable. I asked them to check the bill; they did & replied that there was no error. I left w/a clear conscience.

                                    1. re: OCAnn
                                      c
                                      Clarkafella Aug 6, 2007 09:50 AM

                                      And your conscience should be clear- mine is a little muddier. Throughout the meal our waitperson (who I think was also an owner) kept apologizing for everything- the food (which was actually pretty good), the service (which was a little slow but not really bad for a Friday night), the noise level (which actually was kind of bad- the bar adjoined the dining area, and there were some really loud drunk people there- but nothing we would have ever complained about), etc...

                                      Part of justifying my action to myself was based on all of this.

                                      1. re: Clarkafella
                                        e
                                        excuse me miss Aug 6, 2007 10:13 AM

                                        i've had waiters who keep apologizing- that can be even more agrivating than what they're apologising for. i usually feel sorry for them- like they're just trying too hard.

                                        anyways, i hope the poor thing didn't end up having to pay for your meals. i made a mistake once- i rang in wine on the wrong table. and of course the table that was missing the wine on the bill didn't say anything, but the ones who were accidentally charged sure did. so the manager refused to void it and it came out of my tips.

                                        i love how people justify why they should "get" but never think what the consequence to the other person might be. nothing is ever free. if you don't pay for it- someone else has to.

                                    2. re: Clarkafella
                                      chef chicklet Aug 6, 2007 10:23 AM

                                      justafy shmustafy.
                                      Guilty hounds? I am laughing, it sounds as though you know what needs to be done...
                                      If it were me I would call and take care of the oversight to the very nice business owner who in all good faith apologized to you for the other people, and waited on you and your guests.

                                      1. re: chef chicklet
                                        c
                                        Clarkafella Aug 6, 2007 10:50 AM

                                        Yeah, actually I think that I am going to do just that. This thing has been bugging me since it happened...

                                        I still wonder though when it comes to things like this, if more people talk a good game than actually play a good game.

                                        1. re: Clarkafella
                                          chef chicklet Aug 6, 2007 11:03 AM

                                          I can only speak for myself. But to speculate, I do think most people are honest or we would really be in trouble. We are accountable to each other, whether we know it or accept it...

                                          1. re: chef chicklet
                                            e
                                            excuse me miss Aug 6, 2007 11:33 AM

                                            from your waitress's perspective...

                                            when i'm busy i sometimes forget to add on coffees to bills, and i've also made mistakes where something "bigger" is forgotten, and there have been times when i've taken things off the bill on purpose but not explained that it was intentional- and i'd have to say MOST of the time the customers don't say anything.

                                            so are they oblivious or dishonest? now if there's something EXTRA on the bill, the hands start waving frantically in the air- oddly enough.

                                            1. re: excuse me miss
                                              c
                                              Clarkafella Aug 6, 2007 11:55 AM

                                              Yes, that would be in keeping with what I was thinking. On the other hand, I've probably pointed out undercharges on tabs maybe 15 times in 35+ years, but I have never, ever had someone at a restaurant say "oops, we charged you too much" after they had my credit card in their hands. Maybe it is just not something that anyone looks at, but still...

                                          2. re: Clarkafella
                                            MMRuth Aug 10, 2007 07:46 AM

                                            "I still wonder though when it comes to things like this, if more people talk a good game than actually play a good game."

                                            I have on more than one occasion called a restaurant the next day if I realize that I tipped less than I meant to etc. and asked them to charge me for the additional amount. Obviously I'm trusting that it will go to the waiter, but it is better than nothing. I pretty much always point out the mistake in a bill if it is in our favor, though I do recall one recent meal w/ terrible and slow service and did not do so, in part b/c we were really ready to get out of there at that point.

                                        2. re: Clarkafella
                                          nummanumma Aug 8, 2007 12:21 PM

                                          that's flat out stealing, isn't it?

                                      2. j
                                        JFla Aug 6, 2007 07:49 AM

                                        I always inform them about the mistake and am always surprised because they never seem grateful and rarely even say thank you.

                                        Last time it happened i started out "there seems to be a mistake on the bill" and the server gave us a big eye roll thinking we were going to quibble about some charge. Once he realized that he had undercharged us by $60 he said "oh, let me get that fixed for you" as if he was doing us a huge favor. Then it took him 20 minutes to correct the bill.

                                        Sometimes I wonder if it wouldn't be better to just ignore to protect the server from getting in trouble (which I've seen happen) but my conscience will not allow it.

                                        9 Replies
                                        1. re: JFla
                                          PeterL Aug 6, 2007 08:08 AM

                                          The reward of honesty and doing the right thing comes internally. It has nothing to do with whether someone says thanks or comp you for something.

                                          1. re: PeterL
                                            j
                                            JFla Aug 6, 2007 08:32 AM

                                            Agreed, but you must admit it would be nice if they said a sincere thanks rather than subject us to rude treatment.

                                            I'm not sure if you were addressing me anyway -- I didn't mention anything about wanting something comped. What would be the point of bringing up the error if I didn't want to pay for it anyway?

                                          2. re: JFla
                                            nummanumma Aug 8, 2007 12:23 PM

                                            i informed a waitress at the park hyatt rooftop bar of two drinks (and those are some expensive martinis) that were missing from our bill. she loved us for it- and remembers me still! that girl woulda had to pay for those drinks!

                                            1. re: nummanumma
                                              Servorg Aug 8, 2007 06:08 PM

                                              If this was in Calif. she cannot be made to "pay" for any mistake she makes on the bill. She could be fired for it, but she could not held for the financial loss by the restaurant.

                                              1. re: Servorg
                                                chef chicklet Aug 8, 2007 07:19 PM

                                                wow, guess I helped out at the wrong restaurants, I was told I was responsible and they posted a notice for the servers....

                                                1. re: chef chicklet
                                                  nummanumma Aug 9, 2007 07:57 AM

                                                  esp. if you've rung it in somewhere else and momentarily 'lost' it- it is the server's responsibility to collect payment.

                                                2. re: Servorg
                                                  n
                                                  nc213 Aug 10, 2007 04:04 PM

                                                  It may not be legal, but many restaurants do it. Most servers don't have unions and many cannot afford lawyers.

                                                  1. re: nc213
                                                    Servorg Aug 10, 2007 04:31 PM

                                                    You don't need a lawyer to lodge a complaint with the State Labor board.

                                              2. re: JFla
                                                b
                                                boltnut55 Aug 13, 2007 03:58 AM

                                                Yes, I do let them know, and almost always when they do charge me, it's one of those, "no good deed goes unpunished" events. It then takes them a long time to correct the bill... why can't they make it easy for me?! DH and I will always tell them, BUT it frustrates me when I get delayed (getting the bill, getting the credit card back is the worst part of eating out... always takes the longest). One time it was for 99 cents! Of course when you're sitting around, you don't know it's going to take forever! And yes, I always have to get them to calm down to say that I think they have UNDERCHARGED me, and then I get all stressed out because I feel like I'm being accused of something wrong and embarassing... sort of like the eye roll you received.

                                                Once in a while, especially if it's a soda, the server will say, "that's okay."

                                              3. Karl S Aug 6, 2007 08:44 AM

                                                No incentive is needed. It is simply the right thing to do.

                                                I've been thanked. Actually, this happened to me on Saturday evening, when a bill was presented that omitted a $5 beer that I had had while I was waiting for our table (this place does not have a separate bar - the host had asked me if I wanted anything while I was waiting). I am not sure this place is organized enough to have made the server pay for it, but she was grateful even though the correction tied up our table a bit longer.

                                                1. s
                                                  swsidejim Aug 6, 2007 08:57 AM

                                                  It depends, I have never been not charged, or undercharged for a food item, but if I was I would say something.

                                                  Another circumstance where I wont say anything is for alcohol. I do like to go out for drinks( a little too often sometimes ; ) ) , and sometimes my bar tab is a little less than I would expect(knowing how many drinks I have had vs. what the bill is). I figure I have been bought a round of drinks by the bartender. I do not say abything, and let my tip do the talking for me. The bartender will get tipped on the drinks I had, not the lesser ammount of the bill.

                                                  16 Replies
                                                  1. re: swsidejim
                                                    a
                                                    AGENT FOODIE Aug 6, 2007 03:14 PM

                                                    this has happened to me many times, though usually for like a drink or something real small. sometimes i feel like they are just giving it to us for free, so instead of letting them know if its really small i just tip more to make up for it.

                                                    1. re: swsidejim
                                                      alkapal Aug 6, 2007 08:07 PM

                                                      is the bartender really buying the round? or is he pouring on the "house" so he can reap a bigger tip for his pseudo-generosity. what do chowers think of this practice?

                                                      1. re: alkapal
                                                        m
                                                        mojoeater Aug 6, 2007 08:21 PM

                                                        Most independent restaurants give the bartenders a certain amount of leeway, especially with regulars. The management is very aware of the value of repeat business. Good management is also aware when staff abuses this right (it usually comes up in inventory) and deals with it accordingly.

                                                        1. re: alkapal
                                                          s
                                                          swsidejim Aug 7, 2007 05:25 AM

                                                          I imagine it is a little of each, I think sometimes the bartender is "pouring on the house", sometimes "buying" a round on the house with their permission. Either way I really dont think twice about it.

                                                          Out where I live there are almost more bars than people so it is a very competititve environment for the bar/restaurants I go to. I tend to go back to the places that will occasionally buy me a drink or shot.

                                                          I have noticed a big diference in this practice from some of the bars I used to go to in the Bridgeport(White Sox Park/independent establishments) area of Chicago where the bars would almost buyu you every other round. When I lived in the Naperville(western suburbs/chain restaurant hell) area, I do not believe I was ever bought a round of drinks. Now I live about 70 miles west of Chicago, and the practice of buying a round for a customer is hit and miss.

                                                          1. re: alkapal
                                                            n
                                                            nc213 Aug 7, 2007 05:30 AM

                                                            as mojoeater and swsidejim say, it's usually a little of both. some bars have stricter account practices than others. some ask bartenders to keep a comp sheet, where they write down what they give away, and some have a nightly limit. other places expect a certain amount to be offered as extra to customers. the manager will come by and the bartender will say that he bought people drinks or a round and why.

                                                            other times bartenders take advantage and give away more than they're allowed (explicitly or tacitly) to do, but as mojoeater says, usually inventory bears them out

                                                            1. re: alkapal
                                                              j
                                                              Janet from Richmond Aug 7, 2007 05:40 AM

                                                              At our regular watering hole we are generally charged 1 out of 3 or 1 out of 2 drinks on average. It is done with the management's blessing and we tip generously.

                                                              1. re: Janet from Richmond
                                                                t
                                                                tom porc Aug 8, 2007 01:26 AM

                                                                I believe the mark-up on liquor is way more than wine, beer and food so a comp'd drink isnt that big of a financial hit for the bar. But if it generates repeat/regular customers than its a win win situation.

                                                                1. re: tom porc
                                                                  j
                                                                  Janet from Richmond Aug 8, 2007 05:17 AM

                                                                  We generally drink wine at the bar. Hubby will venture into the liquor or beer food groups on occasion, but I drink wine the vast majority of the time. When we are charged $15 for about $50 worth of drinks I think it's a pretty big deal.

                                                                2. re: Janet from Richmond
                                                                  jfood Aug 8, 2007 06:17 AM

                                                                  jfood thinks janet hits the nail on the head with the words "with the management's blessing." what always troubled jfood was the bartender or server who was comping a drink or a dessert in hopes of increasing their tip WITHOUT management's approval. This strikes jfood as almost stealing from the house. Is it fair toincrease your pay by "stealing" a drink or dessert from the resto in hopes of earning a larger tip. Just does not feel right in the belly.

                                                                  If the bartender has a certain number of drinks he can comp then he then tries to maximize the benefit to him and the resto. Linear program would be maximize tips and goodwill.

                                                                  1. re: jfood
                                                                    j
                                                                    Janet from Richmond Aug 8, 2007 06:46 AM

                                                                    I agree with you completely.

                                                                    1. re: jfood
                                                                      s
                                                                      swsidejim Aug 8, 2007 06:57 AM

                                                                      There is no way to really know for certain which method is being used by the server/bartender. I just take it as an offering of good will, enjoy the drink, and tip accordingly.

                                                                      1. re: swsidejim
                                                                        j
                                                                        Janet from Richmond Aug 8, 2007 07:04 AM

                                                                        In our case, the manager is often there when we are being served and getting our check and often sends us something to the table (wine, appetizer, etc.).

                                                                        1. re: Janet from Richmond
                                                                          s
                                                                          swsidejim Aug 8, 2007 07:07 AM

                                                                          It sounds like in your case you know for sure. I rarely interact with the mangers, or owners, most of my dialogue is with a bartender, or cocktail server. Typically however, nothing is verbalized, I just see the end result on the check when it comes time to pay the tab.

                                                                          1. re: swsidejim
                                                                            jfood Aug 8, 2007 08:09 AM

                                                                            and do you tip as you have outlined in other posts or is there a bump in your tip schedule

                                                                            1. re: jfood
                                                                              s
                                                                              swsidejim Aug 8, 2007 08:23 AM

                                                                              My tipping stays the same(I tip on the consumed drinks even though they may not appear on the bill), although I have been known to get more generous as the night goes on. Typically it works out to about 20%, last night however I was closer to 40% when I settled my tab.

                                                                              1. re: swsidejim
                                                                                TexasToast Oct 8, 2007 11:25 AM

                                                                                TT once tipped 90%, but that was just showing off.

                                                                                But I too tip on what's consumed.

                                                                                TT

                                                              2. psb Aug 6, 2007 05:43 PM

                                                                I'm also of the school:

                                                                default: mention the error

                                                                proviso: if they did something to piss me off, some kind of
                                                                "equity analysis" might apply [i'm am more likely to react
                                                                negatively to something that was deliberately obnoxious
                                                                rather than an accident/mistake.]

                                                                but let me offer up a tricky case ... actually happened:
                                                                i was at a wine bar in SF meeting some friends "for a
                                                                glass of wine". this ended up as a +4hr drinking
                                                                session ... flights were done, bottles were ordered,
                                                                other friend arrived, cycle repeated with wines from a
                                                                new continent. however, i severly cut back drinking
                                                                and probably consumed 1/3 of the others. when the bill
                                                                came, it was clear it was waaay to low, but not totally
                                                                clear what it should have been. at this point, i was
                                                                prepared to put in my share ... say it would have been $30-$40.
                                                                but my associates' exposure should have been in the +$80
                                                                range, but i think they ended up putting in $40ish too.
                                                                at this point, if they decided to take the windfall and run,
                                                                it would have been kinda awkward for me to insist they
                                                                each pay $50 more.

                                                                actually what really turned out to be the embarassing
                                                                part of the evening was one of the proprietors asked
                                                                "dont i know you?" to me, which i considered absurd and
                                                                dismissed out of hand [i'd never been to this wine bar before]
                                                                but would later learn one of the owners was in fact somebody
                                                                whose home i had been in and whose australian wines i'd
                                                                quaffed in some quantity [ok, admittedly the circumstances
                                                                were pretty odd, and the context really different, but when i
                                                                look back, my brusque dismissal is what i'm embarassed
                                                                about, since *my* conscience is mostly clear about the bill].

                                                                ok tnx.

                                                                1. d
                                                                  dragonfare Aug 7, 2007 07:40 AM

                                                                  Honesty is its own reward. And seriously, it doesn't need praise as an incentive. There are times I'd be tempted, as when service is lousy, but that's not the issue. The restaurant offered at a price they stated on the menu, and I accepted that price when I ordered. That's the deal. That's what I pay. I've been known to leave one dime for a tip when service stank---but that's a statement. I've also been known to refuse a comp on a particularly bad dinner experience because I'd rather talk to the manager not from the position of someone whose motives for complaint could have been to get a free meal---there are some out there who do that---but from the viewpoint of an actual customer who wants to be heard.

                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                  1. re: dragonfare
                                                                    psb Aug 7, 2007 06:40 PM

                                                                    I'm a bit of a Kantian, so I'm entirely sympathetic to the gist of your
                                                                    position, but "life is complicated" and I think single statements like
                                                                    "honesty is its own reward" arent "powerful" enough to deal with
                                                                    some unusual cases. For example, this logic "The restaurant offered
                                                                    at a price they stated on the menu, and I accepted that price when I
                                                                    ordered." largely applies in reverse when I say "The restaurant offered
                                                                    to seat me at 8pm and I accepted and showed up there on time,
                                                                    but I was not seated." Of course an RSVP doesnt actually mean you will
                                                                    be seated before 8:01, but if it's 8:30, and you are still in a holding pattern,
                                                                    I think we're in that "complicated realm" beyond "promises should be kept".
                                                                    If they offere me a glass of wine, that is nice. If they even acknowledge
                                                                    the screwup, even that goes a ways. But say the situation is not dealt with
                                                                    especially well and I have an appointment and as a result I have to shovel
                                                                    down the food, which signficantly detracts from getting my money's worth...
                                                                    If it then turns out i wasnt charged for my glass of wine, I might
                                                                    not say anything. Yes, I realize there is some chance the owner will illegally
                                                                    take it out of the server's pay, but if service is good, maybe i'll tip well enough
                                                                    to make it up.

                                                                    There are lots of pathological cases like this and I completely agree many
                                                                    people slide down a slippery slope and use this as a justification for unconscionable
                                                                    things ... I remember being in a moral dilemma when by car was broken into and
                                                                    the insurance people would not pay for my stolen garage opener which is IMHO
                                                                    ridiculous, but they would pay up to a certain amount in stolen CDs or clothing.
                                                                    Is it reasonable to have to bring the garage door opener into your house everyday
                                                                    but leave a leather jacket in the car?

                                                                    Would you get into a fight with you spouse if one want to pay and one not to pay?

                                                                    1. re: psb
                                                                      r
                                                                      rudysmom Aug 8, 2007 04:48 AM

                                                                      we never fight...we just discuss:)
                                                                      and we always pay.

                                                                      1. re: psb
                                                                        b
                                                                        boltnut55 Aug 13, 2007 04:02 AM

                                                                        We are close friends with a couple in which the woman is always trying to save money and to get away with something... we love her dearly despite that. Anyway, I hate getting into ethical issues with her because we're always on different sides, and one time our bill was short. She knew we were going to say something and insisted on paying the bill herself instead of splitting it so that we wouldn't tell the server. It was probably a desser or a drink, but I didn't get that one at all. We didn't fight her on it because it really wasn't worth fighting over.

                                                                        1. re: boltnut55
                                                                          psb Aug 13, 2007 04:34 AM

                                                                          >the woman is always trying to save money and to get away with something.
                                                                          >
                                                                          i would not describe that as "trying to save money".

                                                                          i guess it is nice she has other redeeming features to compensate for
                                                                          being ethically challenged, like say telling good knock-knock jokes.

                                                                          1. re: psb
                                                                            b
                                                                            boltnut55 Oct 16, 2007 12:30 AM

                                                                            I'm finally catching up here... yes, she's is a dear friend and always quick to help especially when something happens. I think it's partially saving money, partially trying to get away with something. :-)

                                                                    2. vvvindaloo Aug 8, 2007 08:36 AM

                                                                      In my experience, there have been many servers who have been very grateful for my honesty in this situation, and a couple of them have shown their appreciation by offering a dessert or drink on the house, or even by comping something already on the bill.... In any case, I have never regretted being honest. On the other hand, I must admit that there have been a coulpe of times where I was so offended by rude service or management that I did not mention an oversight in my favor. I paid for what I was charged and tipped according to the bill as received. Conversely, there have been times where I paid a few extra dollars for a bottle of wine (perhaps the menu prices were out-of-date), or for a soda that never arrived, without mentioning it.... I believe in following my conscience and tipping generously, and as a loyal customer to many restaurants, I figure it evens out in the end.

                                                                      1. JasmineG Aug 8, 2007 12:56 PM

                                                                        It depends where I am and what the missing charge is. If it's a place where I'm a regular, and it's a drink or two or a dessert missing, I assume that it was comped (there are a few places where this happens not infrequently, and I always tip as if I was paying for those things). If it's something bigger, though, or at an unfamiliar place, I'd say something. Honestly, though, I think that I don't pay close enough attention to my bill at the end of the night, because I think that I would only notice if the bill was either much larger or much smaller than I'm expecting it to be.

                                                                        1. Chew on That Aug 13, 2007 04:16 PM

                                                                          It bothers me that people need reinforcement to "keep doing what's right." Sure it seems ungrateful if a waiter puts the forgotten item back on the bill, but weren't you going to pay for it in the first place? I say tell them, always. Chances are some of the time you'll still get free food, but it's best to do what's right. What goes around comes around.

                                                                          Hillary
                                                                          http://chewonthatblog.com

                                                                          1. m
                                                                            Marsha Aug 14, 2007 01:18 PM

                                                                            How nice to have a simple question, easily answered. You call attention to the server's mistake (or to the error on the bill if for some reason it was not the server's mistake) and pay the correct amount. Always, every time, regardless of service or anything else. Expect no reward or incentive. Just be honest. Good for your husband for having a conscience.

                                                                            1. FoodWine Aug 14, 2007 05:11 PM

                                                                              Both my husband and I always, always, point it out to the waiter/waitress
                                                                              if he/she undercharges.
                                                                              We would not feel quite bad about ourselves if we did not.
                                                                              And we do not expect any rewards for doing so. Really! We do not need to
                                                                              be rewarded for being honest. Waiters work hard and we have respect for them.

                                                                              Even at restaurants where we are regulars, where the waiter -for example at the end of a lunch or brunch- usually does not charge us for coffee or dessert, we still, every time, point out to him / her that he/she has undercharged us.

                                                                              And if we did not notice it, we would call the restaurant as soon as we did notice. Quite frankly, I do not even understand why this is an issue: to me this is simply a matter of basic, decent behavior.

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: FoodWine
                                                                                FoodWine Aug 15, 2007 12:13 PM

                                                                                Gosh, a "typo", again.
                                                                                I of course meant to say: "We WOULD feel quite bad about ourselves if we did not."

                                                                                Not:We would not feel quite bad about ourselves if we did not. (I started the sentence with one thought and ended it with another, oh well...)

                                                                                I need better computer glasses.

                                                                              2. h
                                                                                hungry_pangolin Oct 12, 2007 05:53 PM

                                                                                Simple.... always do the right thing. You pay for what you were served. The fact that you were honest does not entitle you to a free drink. As in Greek philosophy, one becomes virtuous by practising virtue. You shan't become a good person otherwise. I think, ultimately, that it goes back to the code of hospitality amongst our earliest ancestors... gratitude for what is given us. If you want to punish them... that's what the tip is for.

                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                1. re: hungry_pangolin
                                                                                  ostracario Oct 22, 2007 11:04 PM

                                                                                  I don't agree with the "punish them...that's what the tip is for" bit, but I do agree that we should pay for what we were served! People make mistakes - we ALL make mistakes. But very few of us have 40 - 50 eyes watching us while we are at work, making sure that we don't mess up...and just waiting for us to do so, thus justifying their avoidance of (innocently) forgotten charges!

                                                                                  1. re: ostracario
                                                                                    h
                                                                                    hungry_pangolin Oct 22, 2007 11:46 PM

                                                                                    My point being, that if one wishes to make a point, the discetionary power of the tip is at one's disposal, if one is so moved.

                                                                                2. NovoCuisine Oct 15, 2007 08:27 AM

                                                                                  I would bring up if I was overcharged (and this happens much more often!), so I have to bring up if I am undercharged. Most servers are very grateful when I do.

                                                                                  1. j
                                                                                    jeanmarieok Oct 23, 2007 10:08 AM

                                                                                    We always mention it. We've had a couple of occasions where the server will argue, or 'cop an attitude' about it, like we're inconveniencing them.

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