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Jul 16, 2008 10:39 PM

Rounding up absurdity

I recently went to Vinyl & ordered a wrap to go. The check I was given was for $12.87, I gave the waiter $15.00 & was given back $2.00. As I waited for the wrap I thought this could be an oversight or it could be the waiter deciding to round up. When my order came I asked & the waiter looked me straight in the eye & said "yes, I rounded up". After a few silent moments of me just staring at him, he comes back with "do you want the thirteen cents?" A challenge? Am I supposed to now be embarrassed to want my own money (no matter how small of an amount) back? I said "no, I don't want the thirteen cents but what I do want is, in the future, for you to ASK the customer if it's okay with them if you round up" He nodded a lot & agreed, but I'm really blown away be this. I'm a native nyer & this is a new one even for me. Does it work the other way around - if I order something for $22.44 can I just pay $22.00, I think not. Of course, it's not about the stupid thirteen cents it's about the customer being informed about pricing - how much & what am I paying for?? I mean, is this what the restaurant industry has come to - is EVERYONE running a scam?? I was actually going to leave a tip! I've worked in the restaurant industry (catering & events) & I know it's a tough road but come on. As I thought more about it, it brings up larger issues - is this something that the restaurant mangement has the waiters doing to line their own pockets or is it the waiter himself? Is that extra money going to the waiter, the restaurant owners, is it divided so that the dishwashers & busboys get a cut? Good grief - I don't want to deal with this nonsense. It just leaves me with less & less of a desire to dine out anymore. Anyone else have a similar experience?

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  1. Haven't had the experience, but the behavior is outrageous. That waiter should be fired, because he technically stole from you.

    If the waiter wants to start a movement to ban the penny and/or the dime, that's his prerogative. Until the Government gets rid of the coinage, he is obligated to give you your change.

    I would have told him, "Why, of course I want my change! And if you hadn't stiffed me on it, I probably would have tipped you the $2 + the .13 we are arguing over." The waiter was in the wrong, not you. Hopefully he's a "bad penny," and this won't become a common phenomenon. ;-P

    2 Replies
    1. re: DanaB

      Thanks for your viewpoint, I suppose I'm not crazy after all. That bit about the tip, would've been the perfect statement.

      1. re: DanaB

        i agree 100% this is lame but calling it theft is kinda ridiculous.
        it's like saying if somebody pushed past you to get in line ahead
        at the DEEM SUM counter, they are guilty of battery ... both are just
        cases where you have to "push back".

        it's annoying when something like this is in your face, but at least
        it's straightforward to deal with unlike a stealthy bait and swtich or
        surprise upsell etc.

      2. is the action of the waiter correct? NO, NADA, NEIN, NYET, NOPE, NEVER, NFW.

        there is always someone running a scam, trying to cut corners, looking for the easy way out. unfortunately this waiter was a bad apple, and not the norm, thankfully.

        It would be interesting if you brought this thievery to the attention of the manager and see if s/he also had this sense of entitlement.

        17 Replies
        1. re: jfood

          I don't think this was a scam I think it was sheer laziness. Even if the waiter had a 100 transactions a day and rounded up $0.13 from every customer he would net a grand total of $13. If the waiter really wanted to steal there are much easier ways to do that than $0.13 at a time.

          IMO, the waiter was just too "lazy" to count out the $0.13 and just assumed nobody would mind. He was wrong and was corrected as well he should have been.

          1. re: KTinNYC

            If it's too exhausting to make change, the waiter should suggest to management that all prices be in even dollar amounts. Purposefully giving someone less change than he's entitled to is stealing.

            1. re: small h

              It may be "stealing" but it is not an outright scam. There is no subterfuge and even a junkie isn't going to try and rip someone off $0.13 at a time.

              1. re: KTinNYC

                It's both. the waiter whether lazy or otherwise is banking on the customer being more lazy or unaware than he is, the very nature of a scam. And he is taking what is rightfully someone else's property, a Class C misdemeanor in CT and larceny in NY. Once people are de-sensitized to common thievery, then this is an accepted occurrence.

                1. re: jfood

                  When I think of a scam I think of a conscious plan to defraud. Maybe I'm wrong but just don't think the waiter has consciously decided to defraud customers $0.13 at a time. He is, technically, stealing but do you really think this waiter is trying to get over on the customer? If he is, to what end? Over the course of a day he would net less than $20. Hardly worth his time. I think he is wrong but I really don't think this amounts to a scam.

                  1. re: KTinNYC

                    Are you kidding? My very rough, amateur math tells me that $20 a day is $4800 a year. That is a huge amount of money. That's more than I made all year total my first year out of college, and I was waiting tables then. To have been able to double my income by stealing from my customers and making them feel guilty about my doing so, gosh, if only I had known.

                    1. re: rockandroller1

                      You were a waiter, did you serve 100 parties a day? At best this guy makes $13 dollars if he "steals" this pocket change and serves 100 parties it's probably closer to 30 so that means this criminal mastermind makes an extra $4 a day...You can think this guy is out to rip off every customer I just think he is lazy and doesn't care about $0.13 either way and wrongly assumed the OP wouldn't either.

                      1. re: KTinNYC

                        as they say KT, everyone has a different tolerance for pain. c'est la vie. Raffiqi's would never do this. :-))

                        1. re: jfood

                          Raffiqi's only deals in round numbers ; )

                          1. re: KTinNYC

                            lamb on pita lite on the white sauce $4.25, jfood looking forward to monday in the city. :-))

                        2. re: KTinNYC

                          I'm guessing that even if the guy serves 100 parties, probably only 30 would pay in cash anyway.

                          I also seriously doubt any state/district attorney would file on a person who takes $.13, not to mention what victim would want to show up for that? I think the guy is just lazy.

                      2. re: KTinNYC

                        if a waiter for a lunch shift makes, net of tip outs, $100, he just gave himself a 20% raise. and no tip outs on this. neat scam.

                        1. re: jfood

                          I highly doubt this is a concious scam. I'm with the other posters who think the waiter is just lazy. Doesn't make it right, that's for sure...but still, i don't think he's going home at night celebrating with thoughts of the 0.13 he managed to rip off the customers!

                          1. re: iluvtennis

                            I haven't read the rest of the posts, but I'm surprised that everyone so far assumes that the waiter is acting of his own accord. Isn't it possible that this is a management directive of some sort? I wouldn't be so quick to jump on the waiter unless I knew for sure it was his independent decision to short-change the customer.

                            1. re: lisavf

                              if it is the intended policy of the management, and it is communicated as such to the waitstaff, then the waiter is complicit in the dishonesty.

                              generally, i, too, attribute the op situation to waiter laziness. still doesn't excuse it, of course.

                2. re: KTinNYC

                  If he's too lazy to make change, there's a simple solution that doesn't involve theft: round down.

                  1. re: Cachetes

                    100% agree with cachetes. I don't think it's "lazy" at all. It's crazy, like a fox. He is deceiving the customers little by little and profiting from it. Why does the scale matter? If it's big numbers and a big company, we call it embezzlement. If it's a waiter and it's smaller in scale, it's ok?

              2. I think that I would have informed the waiter that he did not give me back the correct change and that I expected the 13 cents (isn't there a cents sign on the keyboard - hmmm).
                It should not be up to the waiter to decide what change to return to the customer, who knows what his criteria is. I would also have informed the management to see if this was allowed at the restaurant. If the management seemed to be ok with this kind of underhanded thievery, I would not be going back to Vinyl.

                1. I had a similar situation in Sbux last year which I posted about. I bought something which for argument's sake came to $1.95 and gave the barista $2.00. She put the 5c into the tip jar. I was flabberghasted. I cannot remember now whether I challenged her or not. Knowing me I did.

                  1. i'll betcha 100% that the waiter wasn't giving the 13 cents to the house.

                    for the principle, not in a resto, but a store, i once stood there and said, "you owe me a penny." the response was, "oh, i'm sorry, i didn't realize..." fair enough. maybe i was in a piss-ant mood, but maybe not. hey, it's my money. i recall once when i was a kid cleaning out my closet, and my mom caught me throwing several pennies in the trash. "you're throwing away MONEY? i don't CARE if it's just a penny; they add up!" she grew up in the depression and hard times. my parents worked hard to provide for me and my family. then i realized how stupid i had been.