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Sep 29, 2007 10:17 AM

Bill came- items were more expensive then they were on the menu

This morning i went to this little cafe with my boyfriend. I go there in the morning for a cap to go, which is $1.75. We got the menus and ordered 2 coffees ($1 each). If it matters this was in Brooklyn in a place a block or two from our house. We also got a muffin and egg sandwich. The food came out on the cold side and there was no cheese on the sandwich like we had specified. Whatever, we ordered two more coffees. I am completely aware that many places charge for an extra cup and was not surprised when four coffees showed up on the bill. I was surprised that the coffees were each $1.75. I mentioned to the waiter that the menu clearly states that they are $1 and he sent the owner over. The owner explained that they changed the prices and have not updated the menu. I explained to him that i ordered off the menu according to prices on it and expect to be charged that price. He changed them to $1.50 each. We paid it, left a generous tip (it was not the waiters fault, or was it) and left. I like the place but do not think I will go back. Now don't get me wrong the coffee was worth $1.75 and i would not have complained if the bill had not said $1, It is the principle.

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  1. Simple! The owner is wrong. You are not a psychic or clairvoyent!

    10 Replies
    1. re: Midlife

      I would have paid $1. The menu is their representation, you ordered based on that representation. That adds up to a binding contract.
      Legalities aside, from a customer service aspect the owner was just stupid. Why risk offending and losing a customer over a couple of dollars? I surely wouldn't return.

      Separate issue: why did you give a generous tip and reward bad service, mispricing aside? The food was cold and you didn't get cheese as requested. The waiter is your advocate in the kitchen and failed at that. I would have left 10%. This kind of overtipping is what leads to more lousy service and entitlement attitude that I find increasingly common.

        1. re: Leonardo

          You are right. Since the waiter had to go get the owner blah blah blah I felt he spent extra time, but now i am just making excuses. I get take out coffee in the morning and did not want them to think i was complaining about the price and being cheap. I thought if i left a bad tip the owner would assume i did it to punish the waiter for the increased price, not the lack of cheese. The total bill was so small that it is sometimes easy to add in an extra dollar or two without thinking about it. I do agree with you and won't do this again :)

          1. re: Leonardo

            You have NO IDEA if they got bad service. Was it the waiter's fault that there was no cheese? You have no idea. Was it the waiter's fault that the food was cold? You have no idea. Did the waiter cooperate in the customer's attempts to correct her (or his, don't want to make assumptions) situation? Again, you have no idea. It's not always the waiter's fault. Sometimes it is, yes, but not always.
            That said, I absolutely agree that the OP should have stood her/his ground and paid only the dollar per cup, no more, but you know what? The owner probably would have taken the difference out of the waiter's tip anyway.

            1. re: ctscorp

              Sorry, I don't buy that. Part of a server's job is making sure I'm aware of any changes to the menu, be it a dish that isn't available that day or what the soup of the day is or the fact that the prices have increased by nearly 100%.

              In this case, I'd have tipped the 10% minimum without a second thought, not even considering all the other issues the OP experienced. That's some seriously bad service.

              1. re: tartiflette

                I just have a problem with the assumptions. It is entirely possible that the server didn't know abtout the price increases, or, worse, that the server was told by the manager/owner to not tell people about the price increases. Since the owner/manager has already proven himself to be a jerk, why does any onus now rest on the server? I think a lot depends on the server's demeanor during the whole debacle, something into which we haven't the slightest insight. But as a server who has "eaten" the errors of my kitchen, receiving no/less tip for a problem no one ever told me about, I have to defend against the idea that the server should suffer for the manager/owner or chef's shortcomings. Tip the server, complain to the manager.

                1. re: ctscorp

                  "or, worse, that the server was told by the manager/owner to not tell people about the price increases. "

                  I'm sorry but if you're lying to the customers, even if its to appease your boss, you become responsible for their displeasure at the result. The choices when faced with such an instruction are to refuse, find a new job, or accept the consequences (i.e., that some people may be pissed and not tip you). Saying that the waiter wouldn't be responsible for lying if someone else told him to is ridiculous.

              2. re: ctscorp

                Uh, dude, the server's job is to (1) take the customer's order to the kitchen and (2) bring the food that was ordered from the kitchen to the table. If the server isn't responsible for checking to see if there's cheese on the sandwich, who is? The dishwasher? This server screwed up on (2). If that isn't bad service, what is?

                1. re: alanbarnes

                  agreed. even if the order is entered the way the customer requested it and it's the kitchen that screws up in the preparation, it's the server's responsibility to check it to make sure it's correct before delivering it to the table.

                  and i hate to say it, edbk, but the owner totally screwed you. the menu misrepresented the actual prices, and you should have only paid what was listed. if it was me, i wouldn't spend another dime there, ever. i'd rather give my business to an establishment run by an ethical proprietor.

                  1. re: alanbarnes

                    It is the server's responsibility to check the order, yes, but short of opening up the sandwich, I don't see how he'd see the cheese. Do you want him to touch your food to that extent? Opening the sandwich, lifting up the egg? No. So the customer says there's no cheese, the server gets the sandwich fixed. A separate issue from the fact that the owner's a jerk.
                    And please don't call me dude.

            2. you absolutely are right. not only is that appalling, but is unethical if not completely illegal. you could probably report them- but the poor things are obviously hurting financially if this is how they're operating their business.

              i worked in a resto that had a few typos on the wine list- for example a $100 bottle was missing a zero so it said $10. but we knew about the typo and the onus was on the server (me) to tell the customer that beforehand.

              1. I doubt he would accept the reverse-
                perhaps you should pay $2.50 for your egg sandwich instead of whatever because it didn't have cheese and it was cold. Event though the menu said $4 or whatever.
                Isnt' it funny how he is willing to quibble over .75 and risk losing your future business?

                2 Replies
                1. re: stellamystar

                  I agree and still I don't understand how taking 25c a cup off was some sort of peace offering. I would've told him to take 75c off or don't bother. What's the point??

                  Also, if you change your prices, how hard is it to change them on the menu. You can over write with a pen, put in an updated insert or simply an insert that warns you ahead of time that the prices reflected in the menu have been changed.


                  1. re: Davwud

                    >Also, if you change your prices, how hard is it to change them on the menu.
                    somewhat amusingly, "menu costs" is actually a term of art in economics:

                    allegedly coined by the notorious stanley fischer:

                2. wow they put the prices up before changing the menus? How silly of the owner - if you need to put your prices up then get the new menus done first. He should have honoured the menu prices you were given.

                  1. The original comment has been removed
                    1. I don't understand. Why did you pay the owner's $1.50 when the menu said $1.00?

                      The situation is the same in a store that hasn't changed its prices (always up of course) and tries to charge a higher price at a register. They have to give you the item for the price posted, if there is one.