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Park Avenue Autumn: feeling a little guilty about a free bottle of wine!

j
Jim P Oct 26, 2007 11:36 AM

I Went last night for dinner, the service was the worst I've ever had at a restaurant of this price and "caliber". The wait staff was nice enough, just not trained, and running around almost as if they were blind.

The food was very good when we did get it, twice delivered to the table next to us. We had to ask several times for bread and silverware. The captain did recognize inefficiencies and gave us a free dessert, also quite good.

When the bill came they forgot the bottle of wine, $65 and I didn't say a word. I've been in that circumstance many times and have always said something. Last nights I didn’t even know who our waiter was.

Did I do the wrong thing? I tipped well, especially considering the problems. But I do feel guilty.

  1. b
    briedemeaux Oct 27, 2007 06:01 AM

    I'm sure I'm overlooking something obvious here, but would appreciate if someone could explain. Several recent threads mention how servers are held responsible by their restaurant for charges which don't appear on the bill (and then not brought to the server's attention by the customer).....how does the restaurant know which server messed up, and how, if the charge never appears on the bill?? i.e. a missing lemon meringue pie dessert; a $65 bottle of wine; a second glass of the house zin - whatever. If it's not on the bill, that means it didn't get entered into the register, right? So how would the restaurant know at all? Or not? Thanks.

    1. t
      Tay Oct 26, 2007 04:12 PM

      Jim P
      Congratulations on deciding to do the right thing: Not for the restaurant, or the Wait Staff, but for acting on your own sense of honor. With respect to some of the other Posters, I don't consider what occurrred as "stealing" the bottle of wine. There was an error and you didn't bring it to any one's attention. That is not the same as consciously taking the bottle. The fact that you did not bring it to anyone's immediate attention was a knee jerk reaction to having received les than acceptable service. You've reflected on the situation and want to correct it. When you make the call to the restaurant, you should feel free to voice your dismay at the frenetic sub par service you received. If the Mgr has any class, he will thank you for bringing it to his attention and will tell you the wine is on the house. Hopefully it was the Mgr who made the error b/c depending on the Mgr, if it's a new Server's error it's possible it will cost him/her their job

      1. b
        bibi rose Oct 26, 2007 04:01 PM

        What goes around, comes around. Not paying is bad karma.

        1. DesperateChefsWives Oct 26, 2007 03:36 PM

          STOP! Stop listening to these restaurant sympathizers! They made a mistake and it is NOT your job to correct it. After all, the bottle was only $65 and they probably paid less than $30-if that. The service sucked, too bad for them. FrankJBN-back off. I am beside myself that people here think you should go back and pay. IF you decided to tell them their error then, at the table-fine pay the money. But it's too late now. Enjoy the error in your favor and know that soon enough you'll be overcharged for something else.

          2 Replies
          1. re: DesperateChefsWives
            cookie monster Oct 26, 2007 03:51 PM

            I fail to see how the fact that restaurant B may overcharge the OP some time in the future means that it's ok to take advantage of the undercharge made by restaurant A. I don't think that he needs to feel like a terrible person for not pointing out the error at the time, but the fact that he posted about it and has already decided to go back and pay for the wine means that it was bothering him to some degree, and I'm all for following one's conscience. good on you, Jim P. I also wonder if people would respond differently if the food, service, etc. had all been absolutely stellar, and then this error was made.

            1. re: DesperateChefsWives
              ccbweb Oct 26, 2007 05:12 PM

              Yes, we should all make off with everything we can at all opportunities and everyone knows that if the markup is high enough on an item then we have no responsibility to pay for it when we ask for it.

              "Restaurant sympathizers" seriously. It's got nothing to do with it being a restaurant. The customer asked for X and Y price, got X, consumed X and then didn't pay Y having recognized immediately that they had mistakenly not been charged for it. Using this logic allows for anyone to overcharge you for anything at any time and if you don't notice it, they should just enjoy the extra amount.

            2. ktmoomau Oct 26, 2007 01:04 PM

              Yeah I am not feeling near as bad for the restaurant or the server as other people here... I wouldn't go back and pay. I would say live and learn, but I will also admit I am not the most stalwart, moralist around.

              4 Replies
              1. re: ktmoomau
                ktmoomau Oct 26, 2007 01:06 PM

                There is another thread error on bill (your favor) that talks about the same thing. I really agree with jfood on what he said in that thread...

                1. re: ktmoomau
                  ccbweb Oct 26, 2007 01:51 PM

                  What's to feel bad about, though? There was poor service but the food and presumably since the OP didn't mention it, wine were all good and they were given desserts on the house. The appropriate place to give less money is in the tip, which is where one can choose how much to leave based on the service received. The OP still has a contract to honor with the restaurant to pay for the items ordered and not explicitly removed from the bill by the restaurant. If you were overcharged by $65 by a restaurant, would you say "live and learn" and not contact them? I don't think it takes much in the way of stalwart moral fiber to realize the right choice here.

                  1. re: ccbweb
                    ktmoomau Oct 26, 2007 03:29 PM

                    I would bet money that for every forgotten charge there is on a bill, there is an overcharge somewhere that has been paid. It happens about as often and people don't catch it and often they are so small or people forget even if they do notice.

                    And servers need to learn how to manage tables and sometimes you mess up and you learn, either the server will be charged and learn or the restaurant will take the cost and remind their servers what they need to do.

                    I don't think that restaurants exactly have a valid contract under the UCC or anything, especially when the service is that shoddy. If you read above he is going to pay it, but I am just saying I wouldn't feel guilty at all. Error after error says to me some lessons need to be learned here is one.

                    1. re: ktmoomau
                      ccbweb Oct 26, 2007 05:09 PM

                      I'm pretty amazed to see this idea forwarded as a rationale for not paying the tab one agreed to pay. "It comes out even overall?" That allows a complete rejection of any personal responsibility to put right anything that is wrong.

                      So, shoddy service, you can decide not to pay for things you've ordered and consumed....I'm going to say no. And yes, I read above and noted, also above, that he had made the right decision after the fact.

                2. Spiritchaser Oct 26, 2007 11:52 AM

                  Yes, IMO, you did something wrong.

                  I disagree with the OP that you "stole" because it was thier error BUT, it was still wrong to not bring it to thier attention when you identified the mistake. Think of it this way: If upon checking your receipt at home you were to find a restaurant had OVERCHARGED you would not hesitate to try and recoup the amount so it is only fair that it work the other way as well.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Spiritchaser
                    f
                    FrankJBN Oct 26, 2007 12:14 PM

                    If not theft, what then? He was just lucky because the restaurant made an error?

                    The poster stated that he consciously left knowing he owed for a bottle of wine.

                    Why is that not stealing?

                    1. re: FrankJBN
                      Up With Olives Oct 26, 2007 12:42 PM

                      Aren't their wine markups huge? Just a thought....

                      1. re: Up With Olives
                        ccbweb Oct 26, 2007 01:47 PM

                        And if they are, this would justify what?

                        The prices are on the menu, the OP chose to order it with all of the information about the price. He clearly did wrong when he noticed the charge wasn't levied and has made the right decision to contact the restaurant and correct the situation he created.

                  2. p
                    pellegrino31 Oct 26, 2007 11:48 AM

                    I would definitely go back and pay. Correct your oversight. If you didn't know exactly who your server was you could have just asked any of the servers whose section your table was in and they would have been able to figure it out.

                    There is always a chance in these cases for the server's tips/pay to get docked for forgetting to include everything that should have been put on the bill.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: pellegrino31
                      rockandroller1 Oct 26, 2007 11:50 AM

                      I don't have quite the vitriol that FrankJBN expressed, but I do think you should go back and pay simply because the server was likely docked for the wine. They don't just let bottles go unaccounted for and go "oh well," someone has to pay for them, and it's usually a server.

                      1. re: rockandroller1
                        t
                        Tay Oct 26, 2007 04:19 PM

                        rockandroller1.
                        I think you put it very well and I think the OP is an honorable guy who has gotten past his initial action and is going to offer to correct the error.
                        Personally, I'm hoping the Mgr eats the cost and 'comps' the wine . That would be a nice ending to this story.

                    2. f
                      FrankJBN Oct 26, 2007 11:42 AM

                      Why do you have to ask? Yes, you did the wrong thing. You stole from the restaurant.

                      You stole from them after they gave you free items to try to compensate for what you perceived as poor service. You should feel guilty.

                      You not only should feel guilty, you have in your power to correct what you did.

                      Go and pay for the bottle. If you don't you should continue to feel guilty, because you are guilty of theft

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: FrankJBN
                        j
                        Jim P Oct 26, 2007 01:19 PM

                        You are right I will pay for the bottle.

                        But also remember my check, before tip, was $175. I probably understated how bad the service was, it wasn't perception it was bad and it wasn't just my table all aroud us error after error! I felt I was ripped off also, paying that kind of money and getting service that most fast food places wouldn't tolerate.

                        Your 100% right I should have paid the $65 and then not tipped that amount. Then would have I been right? My reasoning, for my actions I guess was I blamed the management of the restaurant for the service. The wait staff obviously wasn’t trained. They were working hard but really doing nothing. I felt I was getting even with the restaurant and still not hurting the waiters that were working hard.

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