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Dec 24, 2007 07:46 AM

He tipped me $2.03.

Last night I was apalled by the actions of a wealthy customer. I would really like some advice as to handle a similar situation in the future.

I have been serving at a small, family owned restaurant for a few weeks. We have a steady stream of customers come in. I do my job with a smile and everyone so far has said that I do the job well. Last night a table of 5 came in. Everything was business as usual, refilling drinks, food came out promptly, smiles, they made a point to tell me they enjoyed the food, etc. At the end of their meal I gave them the check. The older gentleman in the party paid. The bill was $2.03 shy of $50. As I handed him the billfold he told me to keep the change. I thought to myself, "ok he must be leaving more on the table". Nope, he didn't. My manager and busboy (whom I share tips with) were justifiably upset. The service I provided was great and they enjoyed the food. Everyone in the party was pleased.

I ask you, was this man just cheap or did I miss something? Short of chasing him out to the parking lot and demanding money equal to the service provided, what should I have done?

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  1. There really is nothing you can do. He either made a mistake, maybe he was foreign and isn't used to our tipping practices, or he is very cheap. Maybe he thought gratuity was added. In any of these cases it would be rude to say something to the customer, so you should just hope it was a mistake.

    2 Replies
    1. re: sarahelan

      Where is the restaurant? This reminds me of the old joke "What is the difference between a canoe and a Canadian?" "A Canadian doesn't tip."

      Before anyone takes offence, I'd like to say I am a Canadian myself, living in Toronto. And I try to give adequate to generous (if merited) tips.

      1. re: ekammin

        The customer is American. He is from the neighborhood where the restaurant is located (Pennsylvania). I know he checked the bill so I am hardpressed to say it was an honest mistake.

    2. This is quite common in many situations with older customers. Just accept the tip and keep doing a good job. You will also encounter the opposite with some truly generous tips. It tends to even out as long as you continue to provide good service.

      1. as jfood always gives the server the benefit of the doubt in numerous responses, he will do likewise here. He may have thought he placed $60 in the register. Or he may have felt that something was amiss but, like many on these boards, did not want a confrontation, who knows.

        But a table of 5 for <$50? Is this a pizzeria or a small ethnic in which tips are not expected? And why would you assume he was "a wealthy customer"? does not sound like we have all the info.

        But in any event you can do nothing other than move on and forget about it and focus your attention on the next table.

        2 Replies
        1. re: jfood

          I agree. How do you know he's wealthy? Have you seen the balance sheet that shows his net worth?
          Sometimes "older" people tend to tip less, especially those who lived through the depression and the war. But to you, "older" could mean anyone over 35.
          Just get over it. It happens. As others have said, if you are good at what you do and work in a good place, it will all even out overall.
          How to handle it in the future? Tackle him in the parking lot and demand to be fully compensated I guess. Just kidding.
          Your manager should have controlled himself and not been so upset. He did not model proper professional behavior and set a good example of taking these things in stride.
          15% would have been $7.40. So over a $5 difference the whole staff went ballistic over this? Life's too short.

          1. re: Leonardo

            >>I ask you, was this man just cheap or did I miss something? Short of chasing him out to the parking lot and demanding money equal to the service provided, what should I have done?<<

            I love tipping threads.

            Yes, he was cheap. Very cheap.

            No, you did not miss anything. He was just cheap.

            No, you couldn't chase him out to the parking lot. I imagine, in a server's life, there are miserably cheap people like this guy and generous people who recognize that a server performs one of the hardest jobs on the planet and should be rewarded accordingly.

            Now, IF he comes BACK to your restaurant, what will you do? Give him rotten service or be your usual professional self? I bet the latter.

            If I were paying, I would have tipped $10.00.

        2. If a few drinks were involved and he was elderly, do you think there's a possibility that he may have meant to leave three twenties and left two plus a ten by mistake? I must confess, I've done this after one martini too many. Fortunatly, after a cleared head and billfold check, I've been able to correct the oversight on my next visit.

          2 Replies
          1. re: SonyBob

            I tip according to my wait staff. I'm sure some of the servers I have had thought they were doing a great job. But I am very picky. It's not all about what the waiter or what waitress thinks, It's what I think. I am paying for a service. And if I don't get the service I expect, It is not rewarded. I think I do a great job at where I work, but I am sure not everyone agrees. Just because a waiter thinks they are doing a great job , it is not always so. The one think that really irks me is after I am done with my meal is "WAITING" for my check.Hey, I am ready to go, Don't walk by me 4 times and tell me you don't see my empty plate there. I am a great tipper if the service is what I expect.If it is not what I expect, Don't expect it from me

            1. I would've brought him his change and said (loudly enough for his guests to hear), "here's your $2.03 change on your $50 bill, sir". If it was a genuine mistake, he'll fix it. If he meant to leave that little but became embarrassed his guests found out, he'll fix it. If he's a cheap pr*ck and doesn't care, there was nothing you could do anyhow.

              9 Replies
              1. re: invinotheresverde

                I disagree, invino. If I was cheap, and a server did that to me, I would leave nothing.

                There's no getting through to cheap people. I've dined with them, I'm no longer friends with them, and I dislike them still.

                1. re: dolores

                  Thank you everyone for your replies. Two quick asides, I know he's wealthy from my day job (background info. that I didn't feel was necessary to go into details). The restaurant is a small BYO and two people in the party were children.

                  My point was not to complain about the tip, I'm practical, these things happen and I take it in stride. I just wanted to know what a good response was, since I know chowhounds love tipping posts.

                  UPDATE: My mgr. called me. The guy came in today. He apologized profusely, he didn't have his glasses on and misread the bill. He left me more money. My faith in humanity is restored. And I am a good server. ;)

                  1. re: dream_of_giusti

                    Nice dream.

                    Always give the custo, the server, the MOD or anyone else the benefit of the doubt. calling people cheap, calling servers lousy and calling MODs inconsiderate is too easy.

                    Jfood is glad it worked out and you have your step back and your confidence restored.

                    Good holiday.

                    1. re: dream_of_giusti

                      I'm with jfood. While I was reading this thread it struck me how often people jump to conclude the worst. I'm just beyond babyboomer age and maybe have a generally non-confrontational personality, but my mother, who was really a very tough woman, always used to say that "you get more with honey than with vinegar' (not that she always practiced that credo herself).

                      I've found that most people ARE generally well-intentioned. Aggressive confrontation of someone with an attitude only has value if you are willing to walk away from the situation with nothing (or worse). It may make you feel better but it usually doesn't get you what you really want. Giving people the benefit of the doubt is a good initial strategy.

                      1. re: dream_of_giusti

                        The gentleman showed class by returning and apologizing.

                      2. re: dolores

                        I'd take no tip and the personal satisfaction over $2.03 any day.

                        I'm glad he came back with more money for you, dream.

                        1. re: invinotheresverde

                          I am with you there all the way invino. I had a customer at my bar once order several frozen muslides and frozen margaritas for a table, and when the bill was paid she left the CHANGE and I mean like COINS only! I said HEY YOU LEFT YOUR NICKELS! To a bartender frozen drinks are the bane of your existence, trust me if you order them in a slammed friday night, we hate you.

                      3. re: invinotheresverde

                        To in vino re your suggestion that waiter loudly return the "change": That will most certainly work, humiliating him. Classy. If I witnessed such boorish behavior I'd tell the owner.
                        Remember that others are watching. Based on what they witness, they will return or not. And one of them could be a great tipper.

                        1. re: Leonardo

                          Why would you care if the server returned the change to the guest? Yes, it was done with dual motives, but it's between the server and the customer.