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Do you say it's your birthday when it isn't?

When I went on my honeymoon, I mentioned to the hotel reservations clerk that it was our honeymoon where we received complimentary cake and/or champagne on arrival. When I make reservations and it is indeed a special occasion and tell them (I only tell when asked), I also find a complimentary cake. With my ex-bf, we used to go to Lespinasse every year on our anniversary. After like our fourth or fifth time there, they figured it out and sent us a complimentary cake after dinner with Happy Anniversary on it. I was telling somebody of all of our freebies to which she replied, "Oh, I always say it's a celebration when it isn't. You get more free stuff that way." I was a little bit surprised about that. Do any of you guys do or know somebody who does that?

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  1. To lie about it is an unconscionable, sleazy theft of services. Poor character.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Veggo

      Agreed. My Grandmother lied at Knotts Berry Farm when my sister and I were kids and told the waitress it was our birthdays so we would get free ice cream. We were horrified and refused to eat it. Even at ages 8 and 6 we knew it was wrong.

      1. re: lanersg

        Wow, your grandmother actually said it was both of your birthdays -- and they believed it? Chances of that happening are very slim.

        1. re: lanersg

          And sadly, in your eyes that bogey stayed on your grandmother's scorecard forever. To save a dollar, or so.

          1. re: Veggo

            Actually at that age we totally looked alike so it was believable. My Grandmother to this day snags sweet and low, grabs as much hot sauce at Taco Bell as she can lay her hands on, and generally always wants extra stuff or free stuff if she can get it. My sis and I are the opposite and are always "apologizing with our eyes" when with her in a restaurant.

            1. re: lanersg

              She clearly had an interval of life with profound economic insecurity, and never quite got past the reflexes she developed then. I hope she coasts to the finish line with less anxiety.

        2. re: Veggo

          Absolutely. Assuming they're past the age where most people are honest about it, someone who does that probably lies about their age too.

        3. no. when asked, "is this a special occasion?" the answer is always a non-committal something like, "we're celebrating tuesday." bottom line is we're not fond of a fuss when eating out. sometimes, chef comes out to chat. i like that. extra food? don't need it. being comped wine/other drinks is always a good thing.

          1. Okay, I'm starting to realize that even if you do that, you're probably not going to admit it on this thread for the fear of getting flamed. But I'd be curious to hear any stories of your friends (whether it is your "friends" or you friends) who do get freebies.

            10 Replies
            1. re: Miss Needle

              A few years ago I donated a fire engine and an ambulance to Playa del Carmen in Mexico, and for too long I was told in many bars and restaurants "your money's no good here" and they tried to give me free stuff. I ALWAYS left money. Taking freebies would have totally undermined the spirit and intent of the donations. I did accept a plane ticket back to Denver from the governor of Q. Roo after driving the ambulance down, because I didn't have a way home.

              1. re: Veggo

                gotta love the veggo.
                i'm 99 percent certain you're not kidding.

                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                        110 might have been enough. Thanks, Sam.

                      2. re: Veggo

                        That was the funniest thing I've ever read on this site.

                        1. re: porky pine

                          The life-saving EMS teams in Quintana Roo should be applauded, with special thanks to Brian Borjesson.

                  1. re: Miss Needle

                    "Okay, I'm starting to realize that even if you do that, you're probably not going to admit it on this thread for the fear of getting flamed."

                    So true! It will take a brave soul to admit to this as a regular practice, not including college antics and pranks.

                    I suspect that it is a relatively rare practice. On the whole, people seem to be pretty honest. Rather encouraging!

                    1. re: moh

                      After reading Veggo's posts, people are not only honest, but generous as well! Very encouraging! Thanks for sharing Veggo, literally.

                  2. Here's what I think about freebies and people who expect them from restaurants--would they ever, in a million years, walk into a grocery store, a shoe store, whatever, buy something, announce it's their birthday and expect the store to hand over a candy bar or extra shoelaces?

                    The sense of entitlement some people have when it comes to restaurants astounds me.

                    1. One time I took a nice gringa to one of the Mexican bars on the west side of Fresno. Some guy wanted to dance with her, but she didn't want to and she didn't speak Spanish. I told the guy we were on our honeymoon--a lie. He heartily congratulated us and went away.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                        The problem was the guy had about 20 buddies who also wanted a dance; and we wanted to be out of there a bit sooner.

                      2. When I was in HS, we had weekly staff meetings (for my part time job) and afterwards we would go out to eat, generally to some chain restaurant since it was easy to accomodate a large group. We would always pick someoneat the table and say it was their birthday. We didn't realyl care abotu he free dessert but we liked when the staff sang. This was one free dessert though for a table of around 15-20 people so $5 on a couple hundred dollar check.

                        Also, more recently I was at Pizzeria Unos with friends. We were having a sorta going away party for one guy. The waitress on her own brought seperate checks for each of us and I asked which one was for the guy leaving since we were going ot treat him. She asked if it was his birthday and I said "no" and she asked again and I said "no" and she was said "are you sure cause if its birthday wed bring him a free dessert and sing?" So I told her "Fine it was his birthday." Truns out this particualr branch was only open a few days and the waitress jsut realyl wanted everyone to sing their birthday song.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: jes

                          When my kids were younger they would hate to have the birthday song sang to them-embarrassed or shy probably a combination of both-so I would steer clear of alerting the restaurant. We usually had the cake portion of the party at home. But, one time, a thoughtful server overheard the conversation and concluded it was indeed the youngest 6th birthday and brought out a dessert with a sparkler and a loud songfest. Well, my daughter proceeded to tear up, throw mean looks my way and then almost climb under the table. Today we can laugh about it -but back then no free dessert was worth it. Oh and yes I did apologize to the servers who were trying their best to add to the enjoyment of the evening.

                        2. I have never said a day was something it wasn't BUT, one night I was waiting for friends at a restaurant bar and they showed up with party hats, champagne, presents and kept wishing me a happy birthday. Just a silly prank to embarrass me. It was not my birthday, they knew it was not my birthday. I kept telling the bartender and waiter it was not my birthday, but everyone else seemed set to make it a party. Just a fun practical joke that everyone seemed happy to join in on.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: rednyellow

                            Ugh, my friends used to do that to me all the time! I totally feel your pain.

                          2. There have been a couple times when the waitress at one of Wichita's many Asian-themed restaurants misunderstood something my daughters might have said and brought a scoop of ice-cream with a candle in it, and we were too embarrassed to refuse it. But we were "regulars", and it was just a scoop of ice cream.
                            But I do sign up for all the "birthday clubs", but I do use actual birthdays. Hey, if they WANT to give me a free meal, I'm not going to refuse it.

                            1. Don't most places that do the "free meal/freebie on your birthday" thing, usually ask to see your birth certificate or something? Otherwise there'd be scam artists out there everywhere eating for free every day. To boot, alot of places that do this, won't let you do that if it's on a weekend.

                              I just got a free meal voucher in the mail though from a casino restaurant nearby that is good for ten days around the day, plus some free playing money.....i realize they're trying to get people into the place, but still , i thought that was pretty good.

                              That being said...most times i've ever booked a hotel or what not and said it was a special occasion, there was nothin' special about it....aka no freebies involved.

                              You have to be careful of getting the staff over to do the drums and loud "happy birthdays" with some people who hate being the centre of attention or what not. Also, we did this with my Dad years back, and while he appreciated it, he got all emotional and cried a little and was embarassed...he's a big softie :)

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: im_nomad

                                used to work at an independent bar with birthday freebies. we'd look at the license, if it was within a week (3 days prior, birthday, 3 days after)-- it was legit.

                                i have never worked at a chain, but chain places will do the birthday song-and-dance, and the servers don't care if it's really your birthday or not-- they know they'll probably get a few bucks extra if they let you slide with the freebies.

                                i got free champagne when i got married & stayed overnight in a hotel. they got my name wrong, but that's okay.

                                1. re: soupkitten

                                  I worked at an Italian chain in college, and there was a group of 3 people (no children) who came in every 2 weeks or so and claimed that it was one of their birthdays. All they got out of the deal was a free crappy dessert and there was definitely never any extra tip. We all went along with it just to see when a manager- and they loved to hover- would notice because we would get in trouble for bringing someone a soda without ringing it in first. I worked for the chain for almost 2 years and a manager never noticed their scam. The worst part was, the group had the same server, including me, several times over and never batted an eye about blatantly lying.

                              2. I would never out-and-out lie like that, and I hope my friends are classier as well.

                                That said, here's my policy on the "senior discount" that arises from time to time: If the person handing 'em out asks if I'm eligible and I'm not, I say "no" and take some inner pride in that I don't look that old.

                                If on the other hand they automatically give me the senior discount without asking, I'll take it, whether or not I'm that old (and the age does vary: at Denny's, for instance, it's 55; at other places, 65; and often somewhere between).

                                I still tip no less than 20% of the full tab -- tax and drinks included -- though.

                                Sorry. Wrong thread.

                                1. This is a very sore-spot with me. I have a sister-in-law who pulls this routine ALL the time, and at chain places she's done this to, they never have checked her ID for proof. I literally want to crawl under the table when she gets the freebie/song, as to me it's embarrassing AND lying. I've told my Mother that: A.) If she pulls it once more, and i'm there- i'll find a way to let the server know she's full of it, and B.) I've told Mom that I refuse to even go out to eat with her. Aside from this big issue about weasling comps from a resto, she's got some other unsavory things about her, that i'd rather not be around.

                                  I think very, very poorly of people who pull this stunt. No class, whatsoever.

                                  1. I wouldn't lie (it's not a "fib" it's a lie) - at least not for something so trivial - and besides I'd far rather not have anyone fuss over me at all for any reason, so I wouldn't claim it even if it WERE a special occasion.

                                    1. In the small town where I want to high school, driving to the nearest town with big chain restaurants was basically what we had to look forward to on Friday nights; my friends' favorite was Chevy's, for a couple of reasons: (1) free chips and salsa, as well as fresh warm tortillas, and (2) free SOMBREROS if it was your birthday! So of course, it was always someone's birthday, whether it really was or not...there were a lot of us though, so more often than not it was at least close enough. Nowadays I don't think I even go anywhere that gives you anything free for your birthday...

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: Olallieberry

                                        The only time I've done this dishonestly was in college.

                                        I'd make an excuse relating to the bathroom, run to the waitress and tell her it was one of my friend's birthdays and could they maybe sing for him.

                                        There is nothing better than seeing your friend's face go bright red while the whole resto sings him happy birthday.

                                        1. re: lost squirrel

                                          I admit to doing this in college too but it was because me and my friends were broke and this was one of the few occasional "treats" we could have. It was a lie, but it was a celebration when I had a friend who actually had a car and we both had enough money to even go to a Denny's instead of living on ramen noodles every day, and I felt I "deserved" it. I know it was wrong but I don't think it's one of life's major tragedies.

                                      2. Although I would never lie to get a freebie, nor would I want to eat with a friend who would, I do have a funny story about this same thing.

                                        Back in high school a club I was in was competing in another town. We went to Applebees for dinner and as we were waiting the coach's watch displayed the numbers for my birth month and day. For some reason I would always say "It's my birthday!!" when I saw this time on a watch. Evidently some other girls in the group (who didn't know me well) told the waiter it was my birthday after we had sat down. At the end of the meal, out comes cake and I'm encouraged to stand up on my chair and dance as they sing to me. I was flabbergasted and confused, but somehow managed to play along. Who wouldn't take the opportunity to dance?!
                                        We all got a good laugh when we left and the real situation was figured out.

                                        1. I would NEVER do this myself, as often the attention drawn to the birthday girl/guy is painful for me. In fact, if I'm in the same section of a restaurant when this happens, I have been known to go to the bathroom. I was definitely the little girl who cried when this happened to me as a kid (I was allergic to all the desserts, and the candle was in my sister's sundae. Not cool.)
                                          However, if one of my friends told someone it was my birthday now, and I had to suffer through the song and dance, you're damn right I'd eat the cake! It's like payment for the humiliation!

                                          1. My husband is a real prankster and when we are approached and asked if it is a special occasion he always says it's our Anniversary. I always follow that with "Well, I'm sure we did something on this date, but I don't know what! Please ignore him" and laugh. He also threatens to tell them it's my birthday, and I have put my foot down and told him that if he does I will walk out, take the car and he can figure out how to get home.

                                            Now, on the other hand, when our youngest graduated from high school we took her, her sister and some of her friends to a restaurant to celebrate. She graduated early, so it was around Feb. She was at that "I'm so cool and smarter than you" stage, so her older sister slipped off and told the waiters that it was her birthday dinner. Imagine the shock on her face, and all of ours, when they came marching out, banging pots, and singing Happy Birthday., with a cake and candles. She protested that it wasn't her birthday and her sister very loudly said "Oh, don't be so shy!" Then we caught on and went along with it. It was a scream. We didn't feel like we stiffed the place, since we were very regular patrons, and tipped very well. I guess the oldest got the "prankster" gene from her dad.

                                            1. My large family often goes to the local Mexican restaurant for birthdays, where they make a big production of presenting ice cream, singing, and beknighting the birthday person with a sombrero on their head and whipped cream all over their face.

                                              When my aunt went on her birthday with just her husband, the servers wouldn't do it, but instead told her she had to come back with her kids and the rest of the family another time and they would do it then!

                                              At the same restaurant, one time my mom was very late for dinner, so the servers surprised her with the birthday offering. It was hilarious!

                                              1. no, & in my humble opinion anyone who does something like that is pretty lame.

                                                I wont even tell a restaurant its my birthday if it truly is. I dont need the fan fair, nor am I desperate for the attention.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: swsidejim

                                                  How funny there are so many responses to a 'yes' or 'no' question! Wait, I'm responding....

                                                  I used to speak up when Jahn's in Eastchester NY used to give a free sundae on a person's birthday and when Harrald at Harrald's in Stormville NY used to give a complimentary chocolate mousse with a candle in it (no singing) after inquiring, most sincerely, if it was a special occasion on taking the reservation. Lovely man.

                                                  Since both places are long gone, and most restaurants barely do the minimum in service these days, no I don't mention it at all.

                                                  And making UP an occasion when there isn't one? Give me a break.

                                                  1. re: dolores

                                                    Mr. Chef and I have an agreement that there will be NONE of this on either birthday. Neither wants the humiliation. I do feel sorry for the poor little 6-year-old girl above who was embarrassed but her unexpected surprise. We would NEVER declare a fake birthday just to get freebies.

                                                    That said, if an unexpected surprise comes your way, it would be mature (asuming you are an adult) to just go with the flow and enjoy it, A few years ago my (notorious control freak) sister was about to celebrate a milestone birthday. Her husband wanted (and planned) to throw her a surprise birthday party but she got wind of it and said no no no. He went ahead and organized it anyway (brave soul that he is) and when she WAS surprised, she was grumpy and pissy through most of it ("I TOLD you not to do this.."). Sadly the only thing we remember about her special birthday was how ungrateful she was about celebrating it.

                                                2. Where I work, we just put a candle in the dessert. No freebies. Only once has someone asked me what they'd get because it's their birthday. When I told him nothing for free, he informed me that he had cake at home.

                                                  1. Heck half the time we don't even mention that it is our birthday or anniversary. My fav seafood restaurant has free lobster on your b'day so this year we are going there on my b'day but we would never lie. That just isn't right. I am thinking since they are giving away lobster you have to show ID to prove it.

                                                    1. I haven't done this myself but I've been with friends who thought this was a good idea. I mean it totally works because no one asks for proof, but I personally am a TERRIBLE liar and would just have "it's not really my birthday" written all over my face.

                                                      3 Replies
                                                      1. re: Chew on That

                                                        Yeah, I know some people who have no hesitation doing it. I believe in karma -- what goes around comes around.

                                                        1. re: Miss Needle

                                                          Unfortunately my Dad used to tell people he was a senior citizen when he wasn't to get the discount. Now that he is he won't say anything. He also used to lie and say my brother and i were younger than we were to get the child's pricing at the movies. Ha! So embarrassing! He wasn't financially insecure, just cheap :)

                                                        2. re: Chew on That

                                                          I don't for the same reasons. Not only am I a terrible liar, but I'd be so stressed out about being found out that I wouldn't enjoy a minute of my dinner if I claimed a false birthday. Maybe it stems from growing up with a mother who had no qualms about being "aggressive" in getting what she wanted--including claiming my sister and me were younger than we were to get children's discounts and acting like we were invitees to a house party only a few years ago to get a rooftop view of the Macy's 4th of July fireworks. My sister takes after my mother, and I've gone the other way.

                                                        3. I really don't like when people do that! I went on a cruise with my mom, aunt, and cousin when I was 12. My aunt decided to say that it was my cousin's birthday so that the waiter, busboy, etc. would come out and sing and bring cake. I was totally opposed to the idea, but they did it anyway. It bothered me for the rest of the trip, I couldn't stop thinking about it for some reason. And I obviously still remember it to this day, more than 11 years later. The fact that they were lying about something so stupid and unnecessary really bothered me.

                                                          1. Friends and I drove all night to have breakfast in New Paltz and spent the weekend hiking. At dinner, one of my friends tried the "it's my birthday" line to snag a free dessert...the rest of us were too full...but I chimed in with let me pay for dessert and the next time you're out with us or family buy someone else dessert. We've been "paying it forward" for years...it's a running joke now.

                                                            Of course, admitting your age...is probably a result of better behavior today (bg)!

                                                            1. I haven't and I wouldn't. But here's something fun I did once that comes close. A friend and I have birthdays one day apart. We went to a chain restaurant that gave free dinners on your birthday. We went at midnight, between our two birthdays, presented our driver's licenses, and both got free meals! (And by the way, I believe in tipping on the full price that it would have been had it not been comped.)

                                                              1. Heaven's no! The mind reels.

                                                                But, I had an experience a few years ago with a long time friend at Radius in Boston. I was taking her out for her birthday, and we were talking that it had been 25 years that we had known each other. Now, we are both life-long singles. But apparently someone on the staff assumed it was our 25th anniversary, so at dessert they surprised us by opening a bottle of a lovely French rose champagne, presenting us will two filled flutes and made a tasteful fuss.

                                                                They didn't charge us for the champagne, but we tipped up majorly. We felt awkward wondering if we were taking advantage of their mistake, but this was done in a room of people and we felt it would make them look worse if we called them on it. As things stood, the champagne bottle was opened when it came to our table. So we assumed this would probably best be characterized as a "loss leader that will create good will with all the patrons observing it" or something like it. (We didn't think we should be charged for the champagne as we didn't ask for it, but they had already opened and poured it for us.)

                                                                * * *

                                                                My friend and I still remember our 25th anniversary fondly.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: Karl S

                                                                  What a wonderful story. Thank you.

                                                                2. traveling with my gf in thailand a few years ago for 2 months, in 2 places we told them it was our honeymoon, just to see if we could get a better room - not a monetary break - just a better room we would pay for. mostly as a goof,, we didn’t really expect anything of it, especially at the cheaper place in chiang mai. we were just being silly. so much so that when we went to the spurge hotel for our lst few nights in bangkok we had forgotten all about it, so were quite surprised when we arrived, and they gave us flowers and took pictures of us in the lobby, as well as sent up a fruit basket to our room. honestly it took us a second to realize why they were setting up the photo shoot.

                                                                  we giggled a lot.. we know it wasn't right, but the benefits to us/ cost to them was minimal.. and it was a $200 a night hotel (compared to the $ 20 or so we spent everywhere else)so it was all good./... not like we made a habit of it anyway

                                                                  1. What about if it really WAS your honeymoon, but a delayed one? My husband & I were married in October of 2006, but due to family emergencies & health issues, were unable to get away for our month-long planned trip to New Zealand until March of 2008...I still advised our hotels that we were honeymooning, but felt a bit odd when I had to "confess" that we were married over a year ago. (But the trip was the one we had been planning, and that we put on an online honeymoon registry, so it really WAS our honeymoon!) (By the way, we weren't comped anything, but maybe we were given a nicer room because of it? Hard to say, since we didn't see any of the other rooms in our hotels...)