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Karma Question - What would YOU do?

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A client and I celebrated his birthday dinner at one of Los Angeles' priciest sushi spots. I had already exceeded the amount of money I could spend on him with my expense account by sending him a gift, and this dinner was going to be on me. ME.

We both ordered the omakase (tasting menus), and I cringed at the waaaaay expensive sake he chose. Food was fine (not outstanding), and the service was just horrid. Not to mention, our two top was literally right next to another two top. Bottom line is, I wasn't happy at all with anything (especially since I was paying. Did I mention that already?).

And here's where it gets interesting: The bill comes out and I notice it was only $40, when it should have been somewhere in the neighborhood of $350. I attempted to flag down the waitress, but was ignored.

Five minutes or so later, after I ran out of mindless conversation with my client, I stood up and showed the check to our server, who could have sworn on her life my bill was correct. After my insisting she double check, she added it up again and, embarassed, presented me with my hefty and accurate bill. And, that was it. No "thank you". She did say something like she could have been fired if I didn't bring it to her attention.

It would have been nice to keep the money, have a nice meal on the house, never show face in this place again, and hit the race tracks. But, I didn't. And, to add insult to injury, on the bottom of the receipt was a suggested tip of 25%, which I felt obligated to give.

What would YOU have done?

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  1. What you did except for the tipping 25%.

    I'm of the sort that thinks what goes around comes around. I'm sorry the meal wasn't very good but that's not why you considered not paying the full bill.

    Perhaps a less expensive restaurant next time?

    3 Replies
    1. re: three of us

      One person's bad Karma may be another person's good Karma. I would have taken it to be a blessing from the Money Gods if that happened to me, especially if I was miserable during most of the dining experience. If after the first attempt to rectify the situation was slighted or ignored, I would have paid the bill that was presented to me. I would then take the difference and donate it to the client's favorite charity. That way your conscious would be clean.

      1. re: MrsT

        I don't understand what the clients favorite charity has to do with anthing. There was a mistake made, the OP did the right thing by correcting it and paying the correct bill. Would your conscious be clean if the server lost her job because of you?

        1. re: chipman

          The OP was right in trying to correct the mistake. I never said otherwise, but if after some failed attempts in trying to make the correction I may have given up. I just don't like taking something for nothing. I would rather donate what I would have spent on something worthwhile.

          Also if that server lost their job, it wouldn't have been because of me. It would have been because of their horrible service and poor addition skills.

    2. The only thing I may have done differently is to ignore the suggested 25% tip and go with something closer to 20. Service was awful, etc.

      As for the rest of it, I would have done just as you did. It stings to pay so dearly for something so unsatisfactory, but less than the bad feeling you'd have forever from cheating the restaurant.

      Sorry it happened this way! You certainly did your best to treat your client well.

      2 Replies
      1. re: fern

        I would never tip 20% for awful service!!!

        1. re: scuzzo

          Of course, you're right. That part of my answer was dumb!

      2. This client should bring you everything you ever need. And if not, then another client should pop up that costs you much less and brings you much more. And in the meantime, the waitress gets bunions, gets fired, and gets a new job cleaning the grease traps at McDonalds. The sushi restaurant owner gets sued for serving rotten fish, goes out of business, and opens a shoe store. But the chefs end up in other (not necessarily better) positions - having served you fine (but not outstanding) food.

        That's Karma for you. What else could you have done? If you had paid the $50 ($40+tip), you'd probably have gone home and hugged the toilet bowl for 3 days. And THEN, you would have sued the sushiya and never, ever, have had to buy a client anything out of your pocket, ever again! ;-)

        1. Agree with the others. Paying the bill is one thing, but tacking on a "suggested" tip wouldn't have been on my agenda for that night.

          1. OMG! 25%??!!??!! WTF? Unheard of, esp. since you helped her out! I am beside my self. On the up side, your Karmic payback is so that you will never have to do anyone else a 'solid' for the rest of your existence on the planet. Congratulations Frank! This situation demonstrates why my Karma remains **not good**.

            1. Correct bill paid. No tip.

              No tip for poor service. No tip for asking for a tip but most certainly for poor manners. If it was me, I'd have hoisted your chair on my back, lest your have to sully your feet on our floor as you left.

              The bottom line is, you tip for service. You're not obligated. She can be pissy all she wants but you saved her over $300.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Davwud

                No tips for poor service.

                That's right and correct and just.

              2. Frank, I think you did the right thing, and I applaud you. I have questioned prices I know aren't correct, both too low and too high.

                I do believe "what goes around comes around", but more importantly I'm glad when I lay my head down on the pillow at night I know in my heart that I did the right thing.

                I think a recommendation for a 25% tip is just nuts.

                At least you'll never have to return there again.

                1. In terms of karma, you did the right thing ... if that was what you really wanted to do. As a native Californian (also ostensibly you, your client, and the server as well) I would have sighed after she swore that the bill was correct, paid up, and left. As a Buddhist, I know that I'll be reincarnated as that server. Good on you.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                    Hey! I'm a native Californian!!! i would have paid the bill at $40 and left a generous tip - basically what the client said. I'm intrigued why the OP bought the client a gift and then paid the expensive dinner personally.... Hmmmm.

                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                      "As a Buddhist, I know that I'll be reincarnated as that server"

                      You never fail to bring a smile to my face!

                      As for me? If I questioned the server about the bill and got the rude brush-off the OP described, I'd have paid the wrong bill cheerfully, crossed out the suggested 25% tip part of the bill in bold black magic marker and gone on my way. And I would have slept well that night. Not thinking that I'd cheated the restaurant, but knowing that I'd tried to point out the mistake and been told off for my trouble. No tip for awful service. I believe a tip needs to be earned - it's never automatic. And it sure isn't automatically 25%!

                      1. re: Catskillgirl

                        but you would have received a bargained-for value from the resto that you didn't pay for. the waitress was at fault for the bad service, not the resto (tho' it is at fault for hiring a dullard). i missed this element where you talked to the management about the "horrid" service, and explain what had happened. (yes, i realize you are not the op).

                        not paying for what you and your friend consumed, i suggest respectfully catskillgirl, *is* "cheating" the resto.

                        1. re: alkapal

                          "I stood up and showed the check to our server, who could have sworn on her life my bill was correct"

                          This is the point of the OP where I would have stopped trying to make the waitperson realize that they screwed up. I would never intentionally cheat a restaurant, but if their representative, in the person of a waitperson, tells me that the bill *is* correct as it stands, then I'm going to stop arguing and go. Let the restaurant find the error and teach their staff how to add, multiply and, more important, not to brush off a guest who questions their bill.

                    2. I'm wondering if the suggested tip is just automatically printed on the bottom of the receipt. I've seen that at many restaurants and while 25% is higher than I've ever seen, I am not in LA to know whether that would be out of the ordinary. I would certainly not have tipped that amount, but I wouldn't have been angry about it since I would have assumed that was not in the server's ability to remove.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: queencru

                        Doesn't matter whether the server could've removed it or not - it's the server's reaction to being alerted to the error that I have a problem with. I don't care if it had said 10% tip on the check - the OP likely saved her a huge chunk of money out of her pocket and possibly her job, so a more appreciative response was merited.

                      2. i think two parts of this are irrelevant [maybe they have psychological effect, but
                        i dont think it applies to the moral calculus any more than if you made or lost
                        money in the stock market that day, whether the resto is a chain etc]:
                        --the whole client side of this
                        --the business about karma ... "karma dropping" or arguments [sic] like "what goes
                        around comes around" are just ways of avoiding actually dissecting the situation.
                        they are equivalent to "the flying spaghetti monster would want you to tell" or "the
                        flying spaghetti monster will send you good vibrations if you do tell".

                        so the relevant issue is:
                        you got the wrong bill, you received substandard service -> you should you fulfill
                        the letter of your obligation [pay the full bill] or do some kind of "equity analysis"
                        [pay somehwhere between $40 and the full amount.

                        i think the norm of "people should notify the party who has made a billing error"
                        is a reasonable one. but if the person doesnt believe you, is too impatient to
                        listen etc, i dont think you have to keep arguing until they understand ... at that
                        point i'd probably just leave what i considered just. if they want to chase you out into
                        the parking lot to discuss it more, i'll cross that bridge when i come to it. i cant give
                        you a sense of what i would leave because i dont know how substandard the service
                        was ... and i dont know how precisely you were able to estimate the "true bill" of the
                        omakase. if the service was just kinda annoying and wasnt insulting,and i had a
                        high precision estimate for the bill, after mentioning it once, i'd leave what i thought
                        was appropriate to cover the bill and would have left a smaller than 25% tip ... what
                        to tip is also a different decision from the moral quadry about the wrong bill. that's just
                        the usual decision about what to tip for substandard service ... i dunno if there is some
                        different norm for the tipping basis at an establishment like this, but that's an empirical
                        question, not a moral one.

                        since the error was in your favor, raising and issue should not have been especially
                        embarassing in front of your client, but nevertheless i could see your not wanting to
                        get into a protracted discussion under the circumstances ... in which case you could
                        have mentioned it once and then left your contact info in writing on the table if they
                        wished to followup.

                        1. I would have done exactly what you did, take the high road.

                          koko
                          www.kokoscorner.typepad.com

                          1. You learned many lessons in this adventure, but let's keep to the question at hand on the bill and return to the other issues/advice.

                            You received a bill that you felt was grossly in your favor and had a difficult time bringing this to the server's attention. When you did, the server, yet again, told you it was correct. At that point you have fulfilled your obligation and Jfood would have shrugged, paid and left. Life is too short to deal with such nonsense.

                            In the future, if you are taking someone to a place that has an "open ended" price like an omakase, speak with the restaurant first and tell them how much your budget is per person. There is nothing worse than sitting there with the register going ka-ching every couple of minutes. No way you can enjoy the meal.

                            Jfood views that recommended tip line with a pound of salt. And 25% is such an abusive amount, it would irk him to no end. If the service was as described, leave the tip you feel is appropriate, sounds like <10%. And given the level of attention to the bill, it seems to have been justified.

                            This entire episode sounds like you are young and just getting your feet under you and jfood applauds you for doing both a gift and a meal (although it seems a bit excessive). But you learned a couple of good lessons, plan ahead next time, be prepared for certain customers just not "getting it" and sticking it to the sales person (sorta disproves the notion of no such thing as a free lunch), do NOT feel obligated to leave an outrageous tip (at least the slip did not say 45% plus 4 tickets to the Dodgers-Mets game), and give it the old college try but it the recipient of the favor is not cooperating, just move on.

                            15 Replies
                            1. re: jfood

                              Totally agree with jfood. As much as you want to do the right thing, stay strong on the karmic scale, not have your conscious eat at you through eternity, etc., you did give more than a respectable effort in trying to straighten things out - stopping shorter of where you took it might not have been saintly, but still good karma. Moreover, it sounds like this person you dealt with might have needed a reality check. Being on the frontline in the service industry, this person's demeanor is contrary to the qualities that one should have when dealing with the eating public, particularly in a place like this.

                              She would have ultimately had to answer to her gynormous billing error. She also would have - and deserved - little or no tip. In other words, she probably would have either received a severe reprimand or even have been terminated. It was her ill behavior toward you coupled with her inability to properly dispense the all-important bill that would hopefully make her reassess whether or not she needs to change or move on. I am sure you were not the first person that received this general set of experiences from this person. However, had you let things played out as the waitress was so determined to do so, her proper destiny would have fallen into place as the series of events leading up to your incident seem to point to. Karma works both ways, and that is why striving for good karma will hopefully avoid leading to a horrible destiny, a lesson this waitress has still yet to learn...

                              1. re: bulavinaka

                                I disagree with jfood on this one. Yes, you tried to bring the error to the server's attention, but you KNEW the bill was wrong, so you really couldn't in good conscience pay $40 and leave. If you buy a BMW and they give you a receipt for a Mini, you know something's up.

                                On the other hand, TT recently paid cash for a meal and received more change that was due (by a few bucks) and so left the extra as a tip (so the tip didn't all come out of my money). That's okay, but if I paid with a 20 and recevied changed for a 100, then I'd know something was up!

                                TT

                                1. re: TexasToast

                                  But isn't wrong wrong whether it's a few dollars you left as a tip to the waitress instead of in the register of the owner or a $300 miscalc on the bill?

                                  1. re: Scrapironchef

                                    Update:

                                    TT recently got a bill which was wrong (because I ordered in two parts and a different person took the order than who brought the bill and only half was brought to me). Part of the order was not very good anyway and I was wihsing I never ordered it. So when the bill came, I felt it was just my lucky day. TT paid in cash and quickly left, never to return. Bad TT!!!!

                                    (I know you'll all say it was wrong and stuff, but if I'd said "look, this stuff is really terrible" they wouldn't have caresd. It's not that type of place.)

                                    TT

                                    1. re: TexasToast

                                      So who do you think ended up paying for the food you didn't like?

                                      1. re: Scrapironchef

                                        Who Cares?

                                        1. re: The Ranger

                                          People with a conscience?

                                          1. re: KTinNYC

                                            Maybe...

                                          2. re: The Ranger

                                            Probably the server if they had to eat the check. If he was dissatisfied enough to not want to pay, he should have told the manager and had it taken off the bill. As it is some server got blamed with letting someone skip on a check and probably had to cover it.

                                            Just seems a bit ethically challenged to me.

                                            1. re: Scrapironchef

                                              I don't have a doubt the server(s) that ran the table were charged for the skipped check.

                                              I (personally) have no problem talking to managers about sub-par food or service but I'm also aware I'm in the minority. Ask your friends what they would do: Most would avoid any form of confrontation (such as talking to a manager about poor service or lousy food) as if they were getting a root canal performed without a local. The passive-aggressiveness of avoidance and non-action are the feedback mechanisms the majority of customers use. <shrug> In this case, TT is no different than the rest; the minor difference is that he posted about it.

                                              1. re: The Ranger

                                                My friends, even though they avoid confrontation, wouldn't skip out on the check. You eat the loss as a bad gamble and never go back. It's one thing to stiff a server on the tip for bad service, that's their fault. Bad food is the kitchen's fault and the server shouldn't have to make up for it out of their pocket.

                                                Then again, some people don't care who they screw. TT is different from me, and a lot of people I know.

                                                1. re: Scrapironchef

                                                  You go in for some lipo and this is the carnage I return to? Hmm, well, the point I was making was that the dish not appearing on the check was the universe's way of telling me "hey, it's what you wanted, don't fight it".

                                                  TT

                                    2. re: TexasToast

                                      If I make a reasonable effort in attempting to rectify the mix-up in bills, and the other party vehemently insists that the amount of $40 is correct, I wash my hands of the error, and the other party takes it from there. Again, sometimes fate has to play itself out and the chips fall where they may.

                                      I have been in similar situations at restaurants, stores, and even hotels. When pointing out miscalculations that would otherwise favor me, the usual response is one of confusion, bewilderment, acknowledgement, and appreciation. In this case, it took at least three attempts to address the other party - the waitress - of the egregious error, and to finally have her acknowledge it and without even any sign of appreciation. Pigheadedness and roughhewn hubris should be rewarded with the just desserts that they order upon themselves...

                                    3. re: bulavinaka

                                      Oh jfood I'm so disappointed with your response. I thought of you as I was reading it and wasn't surprised that you had posted a response but was totally expecting a different response. I expected you to point out to the OP that there was a reason the company he/sheworks for puts a cap on the $ amount of client gifts. Having been in client service for most of my career, I can tell you there are very good reasons why companies put these caps on. The OP has no one to blame for his/her predicament and the post was self-indulgent. Next time, play by the rules and you won't need to wrry about karma.

                                      1. re: southernitalian

                                        S

                                        Nice catch and Jfood did not even consider this thought when he wrote his response as evidenced in the first paragraph on focussing on the bill issue. And he sorta alluded to it in the last paragraph. So here are his thoughts on your points.

                                        Jfood firmly believes that companies should and do put limits on what they (and all employees) will spend on clients. But in reading OP and jfood's response he does not see where the company was on the hook for this dinner. In fact the first paragraph states he was going to pay on his own.

                                        Jfood has developed many friends in his industry over the years and he eats with them, has them over for dinner, plays golf with them and the like. And none of that ever sees his corporate card. And every time, everyone knows it is a personal expense and not a corporate.

                                        If you are saying that Jfood cannot socialize on his own time and money with people who he happens to do business with, then he disagrees. Once he takes his hair down (what little he has left) and puts on jeans or shorts, what he does is his own business as long as it does not violate any comapny rule company.

                                        That being said there is a second, much more squishy (and self-regulated) rule called the "NY Times Test" on these items as well. If anyone gives a client a RT ticket to Paris for the weekend in hopes of obtaining a sales or a contract then he is probably violating internal guidelines, not to mention more stringent guidelines if he is in a regulated industry. So you have to use your brain and your belly for something more than thinking and eating. But if jfood eats out every weekend with friends and on one occassion the company was also a client, he does not feel this should be an issue. Treat everyone equal and the Karma should follow.

                                        And as jfood pointed out in his last paragraph, he learned a good lesson in all of this and maybe the Karma-overseering was prodding him to think long and hard about this. If this ever went to a deposition, the OP would probably be hard pressed to answer the question, "so you go out for $450 omakase on a regular basis with people other than potential clients?" in a manner that would pass both internal guidelines and the NY Times test.

                                  2. One Thai place we go to adds 18% tip and shows the total with figured-in tip in BOLD, and a tip line BELOW that with one more line for you to write your 'new total'. It's quite easy (and highly likely) for people to end up tipping 15% or more + on top of the 18%.
                                    The food and service are great, but I hate that they do this. It's in an area of FL that has a big concentration of seniors who are notorious (per local lore) for tipping in quarters and dimes, if they do tip.

                                    That said, I wonder how weird I am that I never feel obligated to tip anyone the 'suggested' amount. I won't say I wouldn't have tipped, but with all honesty I can say that I WOULD have insisted someone re-check the bill. I've got to close my eyes and sleep well, and that price difference would haunt me. I figure if I went in knowing it was the 'priciest sushi spot' then I need to pay up.
                                    Good on ya Frank!

                                    1. You were right to point out the error to your waitress. Wish more people would do things like that. However, I strongly feel that you should not have tipped 25% if you were so dissatisfied with the service. You should have left what you thought was appropriate and had a word with the manager explaining your less than usual tip.

                                      1. i'm not sure why you felt obligated to follow the suggested tip. i do not follow. it was not a required tip. it was a suggested one. forget the billing mistake. it was an overpriced underwhelming meal, the service was not attentive, and you were not comfortable. that does not warrant 25%

                                        and as a pedantic side note - if people are going to throw around terms like karma (without getting into if i believe in such or not) let's use it correctly. there is no good karma. all karma ties you to the wheel of rebirth. the goal is to have no karma. "good karma" may be relatively better than "bad karma" , but the only good karma is no karma

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: thew

                                          Personally, I prefer the much more widely accepted Earl definition of karma.

                                          I think that many folks may not be considering the tip issue with omakase. Tips for a sushi place that does omakase are for the itamae, not just for the waitron, even when sitting at a table. The food was fine, which deserves some consideration. If 25% is the top end of your personal scale for omakase types of services, then perhaps this food didn't deserve the full amount. But if a well-trained chef spent a good amount of time putting together a special dish for me, I would want to make sure he was justly rewarded.

                                        2. You did right by paying what you owed. The server was a twit...tip should have been what ever you felt was fair.

                                          One thing golden in this is that your client walked away with the knowledge that you will do right and that you are not going to take unfair advantage of a situation. If I were your client I would feel good about dealing with you. Had you paid the forty and not tried to correct the situation, I would be very wary of your business ethics and not want to continue a business relationship with you.

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: meatn3

                                            >One thing golden in this is that your client walked away with the knowledge
                                            >that you will do right ...
                                            >
                                            i agree completely ... and tht's not airy fairy karma ... it's observed behavior
                                            and the stuff of reputations.

                                            1. re: psb

                                              Reading this thread is fascinating. I'm learning much about how people make moral decisions.

                                              I like your response, psb. But I would like to add that doing the right thing is the right thing, even if it's not observed.

                                            2. re: meatn3

                                              I agree - I don't even know what the OP does for a living, but I'd be happy to do business with someone who is willing to go so far out of their way to do the right thing.

                                              There is really something to be said for not behaving in a predatory or self-serving manner.

                                              1. re: meatn3

                                                While I agree, this is the client who got a gift and milked him for an expensive dinner, ethics may not have been his strong point.

                                              2. Well, in my book, you built up good karma by pointing out the error. When she argued, I would have left my good karma in the bank and paid up. And she would have collected her bad karma when she did her books at closing. I feel no obligation to wrestle people to the floor to correct their mistakes. Well... Within reason. If it's a doctor who cut off the wrong leg, I'll wrestle! I'll wrestle! '-)

                                                1. no karma needed. you were honest. but a 25% tip? NO WAY.

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: alkapal

                                                    Frank, that's a good point. 20% is my norm for very good service, 25-30% for outstanding, exceptional.

                                                    What do you usually give for VERY good service?

                                                    1. re: dolores

                                                      hi dolores!

                                                      frank said the service was terrible.

                                                      i start at 15% for "crummy" and the tip-o-meter goes down from there. i find a "suggested" tip: 1. quite annoying (but understandable with different tipping norms) and 2. just a suggestion.

                                                      considering the situation about the bill error -- and the waitress' dullness--, plus the heavy proportion of the bill being a very expensive sake, my tip would not have been anywhere near 25%.

                                                      and to sharuf's point below, i too am curious whether the client understood this as an "expense account" dinner --- not on frank's dime.

                                                      which brings up another murky ethical area: how one orders on an expense account versus how one would spend one's own money (at the same resto, just for my hypothetical).

                                                      frank may also be friends with this client.....

                                                      1. re: alkapal

                                                        Well, alkapal, I've been there and done that, and in Frank's place would have tipped zero, since I would have KNOWN that I would never have returned.

                                                  2. I would have done everything you did except the 25% tip.

                                                    Horrible service during the meal, and then you having to flag the server down, and pratically beg her to double check the bill would have resulted in maybe a 10% tip at best.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: swsidejim

                                                      Why even 10%, swsidejim? Since the service was horrid, and the place had the gall to 'suggest' a 25% tip, and the server didn't even say thank you for getting an $87. tip vs a $10. tip, why 10%?

                                                      This wouldn't be a place to which I would ever return, so why bother with even 10%?

                                                      1. re: dolores

                                                        It is hard to tell how bad the service actually was from the original post. The error on the bill, and the way the server handled it was unacceptable, how hard is it to say thank you?

                                                        I would be tempted to leave no tip, but I would like to know more info on why the service was considered horrid before doing so.

                                                    2. I think there are three separate issues here.

                                                      The first issue is that if you know your bill is incorrect, whether high or low, you have the right (or responsibility) to insist on a correct one. It sounds like you handled that very well, Frank.

                                                      The second issue is, at that point to tip and how much. While my normal tip amount is in the 20-25% range (and I've been known to go higher, but hey, I'm in the business), if you actually have to argue to get your bill corrrected, well, you've already saved that server much more than even a 50% tip on a $40 bill. Since she probably would have had to make up the difference out of her tips, you did her a tremendous favor just by having to insist that you pay what you owed.

                                                      When tipping, I think is correct to discount indifferent food and the fact that you are over budget.

                                                      The third issue is the "suggested" tip percentage. Tacky? Yeah, pretty much. But if the note was automatically printed by the restaurant's point of sale equipment, there's not much the server could have done about it, so s/he should be let off the hook. But if the place is one that is frequented by sales rep types, they should understand that it's an "If you don't ask, you don't get" situation. Either way, it's only a suggestion, and not one I would have felt obligated to take under the circumstances.

                                                      5 Replies
                                                      1. re: chefbeth

                                                        I'd have scratched it out if it were printed on the bill.

                                                        DT

                                                        1. re: Davwud

                                                          One thing I should mention is that our server seriously struggled with her English, which is why I gave her every opportunity to hear me out. Believe me, rushing through an explanation hoping she wouldn't catch my drift crossed my mind a few times.

                                                          It's funny because to this day I'm over the pain of the actual cost of the meal (you win some you lose some). I'm still annoyed with myself that I tipped 25%!!! Ugh.

                                                          I'm glad I did the right thing. I probably would have blown the money I would have saved on some fancy bottle of Cham-pipple.

                                                          I also knew what I was in for when I made the reservation, and was ready to fork out the money. I think the Omakase started at $125 a person!

                                                          I'll have to admit I was rather intimidated at this restaurant and I didn't want my client to judge me in case he did have a problem with my paying the 1st tab.

                                                          Funny thing is, when we left the restaurant, he said HE would have paid the first tab, leave a really nice tip, and call it a day.

                                                          1. re: Frank_Santa_Monica

                                                            Off Topic: I waitressed in France to make some travel spending money. My French was passable but native speakers were hard to understand when excited and speaking rapidly. I can imagine how flustered I would have felt if a Frenchman was trying to explain an error in the bill. Not saying you were not understandable, just musing on how my French customers were.

                                                            I would have been very grateful for someone taking the time to explain the error. I'm sorry the waitress wasn't more expressive of her thanks.

                                                            1. re: Frank_Santa_Monica

                                                              > Funny thing is, when we left the restaurant, he said HE would
                                                              > have paid the first tab, leave a really nice tip, and call it a day

                                                              Omakase - $40 error corrected to $350.00 in front of client
                                                              Finding out client's level of ethics -- Priceless.

                                                              You'll want to keep an especially close eye on that particular client.

                                                              1. re: The Ranger

                                                                Yow, I didn't catch that the first read! You are right.

                                                        2. I think you did the 'right' thing by paying the correct amount. But why, WHY did you pay the suggested 25%??

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: Withnail42

                                                            That question has been asked before. My question is why the hell didn't the waitress tip HIM 25%!

                                                            1. re: Caroline1

                                                              I think it was a more of a rhetorical question on my part but agree the server should have been the one tipping.

                                                              1. re: Withnail42

                                                                That's one reason why I said I wouldn't have left any tip. Frank had already saved her over $300.

                                                                DT

                                                          2. Knowing everything you lay out here I would have paid $40 and left. But that's Monday morning quarterbacking

                                                            30 Replies
                                                            1. re: gafferx

                                                              I agree on the zero tip. But on not fulfilling the contract that you entered into when you sat down in that restaurant and paying your part of the bargain?

                                                              That's theft.

                                                              1. re: dolores

                                                                It is theft to charge $300 for a $100 restaurant experience. The restaurant didn't hold up their end of the bargain

                                                                But what really got me was that the server didn't say thank you when the error was pointed out *twice*

                                                                Presented with the situation in real time I would have done about the same as Frank_Santa_Monica did.

                                                                But knowing the complete story --- I would have forked out $40 and left pst haste

                                                                1. re: gafferx

                                                                  Where did the OP indicate that the bill was incorrect, that it should have been $100. instead of $350.?

                                                                  1. re: dolores

                                                                    My revised estimate of the meal's worth is $175. What's yours?

                                                                    1. re: gafferx

                                                                      Based on what?

                                                                      Does the restaurant agree with you?

                                                                  2. re: gafferx

                                                                    So a customer at a restauarnt can evaluate his/her experience after the meal and pay accordingly? I haven't encounter a menu where there are no prices and only a statement that says "pay what you feel like after your meal."

                                                                    OK maybe at Buddhist temple restauarnts, but no other.

                                                                    1. re: PeterL

                                                                      Does the eatery have a responsibility to fulfill it's end of a $350 contract? Or is it only the customer?.

                                                                      Tangentially -- Been reading a waiter blog http://www.iserveidiots.com/ and it is amazing how many nasty crazy customers get comped. They lie and pull scams to get meals comped. (Me, can't remember ever getting comped at a restaurant)

                                                                      1. re: gafferx

                                                                        Have you been successful at negotiating prices for meals you didn't like?

                                                                        I haven't.

                                                                        I'd love to read which restaurants are so broadminded.

                                                                        1. re: dolores

                                                                          Please read my previous post. Nasty people are getting comped all the time with phony claims such as-- I found hair in my food. That is called negotiation. Dig a bit and maybe you'll find which restaurants are comp-prone. That think the customer is always right

                                                                          http://willworkfortips.wordpress.com/...

                                                                          http://willworkfortips.wordpress.com/...

                                                                          1. re: gafferx

                                                                            I'm still confused. I understand nasty customers are comped.

                                                                            But if the bill for the food was $350., are you saying it was worth $175. and the dining patron should have said: I am only paying you $175.?

                                                                            Is that really possible? Outside of being a nasty customer, that is.

                                                                            If it is, do let me know and I will try that tactic next time I am in one of my local overpriced restaurants and don't want to pay their bill.

                                                                            1. re: gafferx

                                                                              "phony claims such as-- I found hair in my food. That is called negotiation"

                                                                              Negotiations? Sorry jfood calls that slovenly and stealing

                                                                          2. re: gafferx

                                                                            Sure it's a contract between two parties. If I ordered a specific dish and it didn't come, then I have no obligation to pay for that dish. If the menu specifies an 8oz steak and I only get 6 oz, then the restaurant has not fulfilled it's obligations.

                                                                            But what's the obligation of an omakaze meal, which is by definition the chef's choice? Just because you don't like it don't mean the restaurant has not fulfilled it's obligation.

                                                                            1. re: PeterL

                                                                              Interesting contract law question and jfood is not a lawyer. But in this case a price and consideration are not agreed to up front. One party delivers goods, other party consumes goods and a $40 bill is given to the consuming party. Sounds to jfood that the price that the delivering party has agreed to accept is $40.

                                                                              Any lawyers out there wanting to go back to being a 1L?

                                                                              1. re: jfood

                                                                                Interestingly, jfood, a similar thing has happened to TT only once . . . in London of all places. The food was inedible, TT did not eat it, sent it back, and refused to pay (was the only thing ordered). Figured it was best to not trust them with making anything else. So the owner calls the police and the police tell him it's a civil matter and the owner can sue TT for the money. TT flew home and never heard a thing. But I think that might be perculiar to British law.

                                                                                TT

                                                                                1. re: TexasToast

                                                                                  Well, I too am not a lawyer but... I've known my way around a few bars... '-) Anyway, one may well have to hire an attorney, BUT... if going into a restaurant and ordering a dish from the menu for a set price *is*a contract, then both sides have an obligation to the bargain.

                                                                                  People who study such things have found that the more descriptive a menu is about each dish, the more sales the description (and superlatives) generate. So if the menu makes a dried up two week old stick pretzel sound like a freshly baked aromatic atrisan baguette and you don't like frazzled pretzels, that's a breach of contract on the part of the restaurant, not to mention false advertising. The customer is justified in refusing to pay.

                                                                                  1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                    Careful about superlative though. "Sweet Strawberries" don't really have to be sweet, but they DO have to be strawberries.

                                                                                    TT

                                                                          3. re: PeterL

                                                                            well, you aren't eating in Pinellas County, Florida, then!

                                                                            http://www.sptimes.com/2006/10/05/Tam...

                                                                            1. re: BeaN

                                                                              Great article. I think the result is more pissed off jurors wanting to go home than proof of any argument, but interesting nonetheless.

                                                                              1. re: nosh

                                                                                having sat on a jury, that was my take also - they thought it was too stupid to spend time on

                                                                              2. re: BeaN

                                                                                That's an interesting story, thanks for posting it. I can sort of see the eater's perspective - standing for a principle - for which he probably paid 100 times the original bill. But I can't see why the restaurant pursued him in court - it's a lose/lose. Not only did they pay their lawyer fees, but they just advertised themselves as a cheap restaurant that provides very small portions of seafood - who would want to eat there?

                                                                                In truth, the guy just got lucky (as far as winning the case goes) because the jury interpreted his willingness to make a partial payment as a good faith effort to remedy the situation.

                                                                                I don't even think that getting 6 oz for an advertised 8 oz steak is actionable - cooked weight is always less than raw due to water loss (nobody thinks that a quarter pounder actually weighs a quarter pound). Omakase or not, you should compensate the provider of poor food by not returning, and writing a scathing review, here!

                                                                                1. re: applehome

                                                                                  OK, excuse my trial lawyer wonk here, but I would be remiss if I didn't mention the following:

                                                                                  Legal Definition of the Crime: It appears from the newspaper article that the diner/defendant was charged with "defrauding an innkeeper" rather than simple petty theft. And from the comment quoted from at least one juror, the innkeeper statute may require an intent upon entering the premises, which the defendant clearly didn't have. (He got mad and attempted to get even later.)

                                                                                  The jurors were pissed. At first they were part of an interesting story and a controversial issue, about being overcharged by a restaurant which is something where everyone can relate. But when it gets to be late afternoon and things are getting tedious with lots of boring bench conferences and now it is evening -- the jurors' prime motivation is going to be to find some way to go home. (I fail to see why they didn't just adjourn to the next day.)

                                                                                  This apparently is a criminal case rather than a civil lawsuit. So the standard of proof is beyond a reasonable doubt (not that jurors ever understand that) rather than preponderance of the evidence. And a conviction probably requires a unanimous verdict.

                                                                                  It is interesting that the fact that the defendant offered to pay something, a partial payment, was admitted. Settlement discussions are always excluded. So the fact that the defendant was being at least somewhat reasonable got before the jury, making him a much more sympathetic victim rather than a raving lunatic ex-officer. Most judges will lean over backwards to be "tough on crime" and therefor justify rulings helping the prosecution.

                                                                                  Biggest factor -- Defendant is ex military officer. Virtually impossible to convict a cop or officer of anything.

                                                                                  1. re: applehome

                                                                                    The next time I decide I want the pants and belt but not the jacket from a pre-packaged outfit, I'll offer to pay what I think the pieces that I want are worth. If the retailer refuses to break up the set, I'll walk out with the pieces I want without paying for anything. I'll tell you how that goes if have internet access from jail.

                                                                                    I see this guy's photo posted in area restaurants. I hope that he's getting the service he deserves.

                                                                                    1. re: BeaN

                                                                                      I wonder how his girlfriend enjoyed this welcome back performance?

                                                                                      His premise that there had been more seafood in the past seems rather flawed. Unless the menu specifies a count or a weight it doesn't seem like you can use that argument. Kinda like refusing to pay your full fare on the airline because your seat isn't as large as it was on the same flight 5 years ago...

                                                                                      This was one of those situations where he should have inquired nicely, realized they didn't see eye to eye and move on - after paying!

                                                                                      1. re: BeaN

                                                                                        If I were this guy's girlfriend, that would have been our last date.

                                                                                        If I had been on the jury, we would still be deliberating. There is no way I would have let him go unpunished. His arrogance is offensive to me. I grew up with a dad who was a career military man (Air Force) and he was NEVER like that.

                                                                                        He should have just sent the dish back, and asked for something else. What a putz.

                                                                                        1. re: Cheflambo

                                                                                          It's the classic, "A fool and his money are soon parted."

                                                                                          He paid >$500 for a $40 dish.

                                                                                          1. re: Cheflambo

                                                                                            Me too on both counts. As the girlfriend I would have paid the bill and taken a cab home - issue over, relationship over. I've misread a menu plenty of times and ended up with something that wasn't what I expected; it's my error and I'm going to live with it. It's just one meal in a lifetime.

                                                                                            And if I was on the jury, we would still be deliberating, because I would not let him walk.

                                                                                    2. re: PeterL

                                                                                      "So a customer at a restauarnt can evaluate his/her experience after the meal and pay accordingly? I haven't encounter a menu where there are no prices and only a statement that says "pay what you feel like after your meal.""
                                                                                      ~~~~~~~
                                                                                      actually, there is a restaurant in Colorado called SAME Cafe where you pay what you can afford [or what you think the meal was worth], or pay for your food in trade [e.g. do dishes, sweep floors, etc.].

                                                                                      but back to the OP...my conscience definitely wouldn't have allowed me to walk out of the restaurant without paying the full bill - i've pointed out calculation errors to waitstaff on numerous occasions, and more often than not, the correction costs me more. and i generally tip *at least* 20% - you really have to screw up for me to leave less. but in this particular situation, if i had saved her ass like that and not even heard so much as a thank you, she would have gotten a big fat goose egg of a tip from me.

                                                                                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                        hi ghg! how long has SAME been in business, if you know?

                                                                                        1. re: alkapal

                                                                                          based on the articles i've read, i think they opened in Oct 2006.

                                                                                          here's the web site...

                                                                                          http://www.soallmayeat.org/index.html

                                                                                        2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                          There's a place a few towns over like this- Cheesecake Cafe I think it's called. He doesn't charge for the food. He does accept money if you'd like to pay something, but he has no menu with prices. You pay what you think it's worth. No, I have not been. Someone I spoke with said it's an experience, the man is very religious and will pray over your food and with you if you'd like.

                                                                                2. You did the right thing and will be rewarded with 25 virgins in heaven. Oops that a different thread.

                                                                                  No you did the right thing and will be rewarded in your next life. Personally I would not pay 25% tip, based on what you said about the service.

                                                                                  1. One does what she thinks is right to do, not for praise or attention or gratitude in return, but because of her convictions; the choices she makes are hers and hers only, and she should continue on her way with another lesson learned.

                                                                                    (I would have smacked that waitress upside the head and left no tip for being a brat about it.)

                                                                                    1. Hi:

                                                                                      We've split the omakase discussion to the General Topics board:

                                                                                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/546523

                                                                                      1. Oddly enough, this happened to us on Saturday.
                                                                                        Not for nearly as much money but still in all, I did the right thing.

                                                                                        DT

                                                                                        1. This actually happened to me - also in a Sushi restaurant! My bill was $102 - but when they ran my card through it came to me as $1.02. i was sorely tempted to sign and walk - but two things made me have the bill corrected. First - knowingling ordering food, and the knowlingly NOT paying for it is theft. It's not like a $20 bill blowing down the sidewalk. Second, I figured the server may get into trouble - or worse - fired. All for a simple mistake and because I was dishonest. That settled it for me. I payed the full amount, and tried to forget as fast as I could that I could have maybe saved $100! :-)

                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                          1. re: SamuelAt

                                                                                            funny, samuel, that you had to really analyze the situation before you decided you should not act on your dishonest impulse. and you won't let me try a stinkin' grape! ha!

                                                                                          2. First of all you were honest, nice to hear you did the right thing. If the addition error had not occured what would you have tipped? A 'suggestion' is not manditory, so, based on your horrid service 15% may have been appropriate. That's your call.

                                                                                            1. If the service was awful and you already did her a huge favor by very honestly pointing out a $300 mistake on her part I would have given 15% max. And I am a former waitress.

                                                                                              1. As I am inclined to say what everyone else says and is afraid to say, here is what I would have done. Like you, I would have made sure the bill was corrected--even with the higher amount. With no "thank you" from the staff member, and the 25% gratuity, I would have said the following:

                                                                                                "You know, I pointed out YOUR error, which was a rather large amount of money, and you EXPECT me to PAY a 25% gratuity for HORRIFIC SERVICE? You will get no tip from me AND I will not leave until I get a "Thank you" from your manager and waiter" Then I would saunter out.

                                                                                                1. Frank, Fraaaaaank! The person to blame in your OP isn't the waitress, it's you, Bubba.

                                                                                                  "I cringed at the waaaaay expensive sake he chose...."

                                                                                                  WTH would you go to a top-end sushi house in LA for a client's celebratory dinner and expect to eat and drink there on the cheap? The client knows you're on an expense account but he doesn't know you've already blown it on the gift, so he's going to order big because he knows he (and presumably you) won't be paying for it.

                                                                                                  "and the service was just horrid. [....] Bottom line is, I wasn't happy at all with anything "

                                                                                                  ...and you spoke to the manager about this when? Dude, you pussed out! Probably because you didn't want to make a scene in front of your client, understandable. But why not step away from the table, find the manager or owner, and tell him you're here with a client and your server's not up to the job? Right now, your client is thinking, "We went to that high-end sushi place for my birthday and my account exec didn't know or didn't care we got bad service and mediocre food." Better hope he's not flipping through his Rolodex....

                                                                                                  "And, that was it. No "thank you". "

                                                                                                  Yep, she showed no class here, I agree with you on that. I would've at least comped you a drink or three.

                                                                                                  "And, to add insult to injury, on the bottom of the receipt was a suggested tip of 25%, which I felt obligated to give."

                                                                                                  Why did you feel to the need to overtip for a wretched dining experience? You can't blame anyone but yourself for this. "I felt obligated to pay for crap service"? C'mon, Frank, this is nuts and you know that's what you'd call it if I described this situation to you.

                                                                                                  As for paying the $350 tab instead of the $40 tab? After the waitress insisted the first tab was correct, pay that amount but request a copy of your bill. Return to the restaurant the next day and talk to the manager/owner and explain what happened and pay the correct tab to him or her. The manager/owner will probably discount your bill, but should talk to the server about her attitude.

                                                                                                  Okay, I'm done jumping up and down on you. ;) You went "above and beyond" to insist the waitress re-re-check her bill, and I agree, her reaction was disappointing.

                                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: KenWritez

                                                                                                    "As for paying the $350 tab instead of the $40 tab? After the waitress insisted the first tab was correct, pay that amount but request a copy of your bill. Return to the restaurant the next day and talk to the manager/owner and explain what happened and pay the correct tab to him or her. The manager/owner will probably discount your bill, but should talk to the server about her attitude."

                                                                                                    KenWritez, I tend to agree with most of your post, but my concern with this part about going to the manager the next day is that you are pretty much guaranteeing this server will be fired. It may very well be that this server deserves to be fired, but there is no way I would not pay up the same night, and insist that the server take care of the mistake. Going behind the server's back is unfair, in my opinion.

                                                                                                    Now I agree fully with not tipping 25%! That is craziness! I would not have tipped 25% when I had to argue with the server to pay the full bill, and cover the server's mistake!

                                                                                                    1. re: moh

                                                                                                      Hey moh, I understand your point and if this were a casual eatery, I'd agree much more with you. But this is a high end sushi place and customers here have sky-high expectations of ambiance, food taste, food quality and quality of service.

                                                                                                      This waitress is delivering crap service and bad attitude and she's damaging the reputation of the restaurant. She has potential to cost the restuarant thousands of dollars in lost business. The manager needs to know about her ASAP.

                                                                                                      She should either be canned if this is a repeated occurence or be given a chance to have an attitude adjustment if this is a first time.

                                                                                                      I grant the waitress could have been having a bad day, but in restaurants, and all public service jobs, customers rightly expect waitrons to leave their bad days at the door.

                                                                                                      1. re: KenWritez

                                                                                                        Your point about this waitress is certainly valid. I agree that given this is a high-end place, expectations are different.

                                                                                                        I do know that I would not have the guts to go to the manager the next day. I'd just chalk it up as a bad experience and leave it at that. I would not be willing to risk being the cause of a firing, especially on the off chance this was a bad day, but the management is unwilling to give her a second chance. I would just square up with her, and make it clear that I am not happy I had to argue with her to correct her mistake. Crap service, yes. But it is not a big enough deal for me to be the cause of her firing. She pays in the lack of tip I leave. But I do agree with your point completely, and your suggestion of how to handle it is probably much better, as you are right about her potential to cost the resto customers. I'm just too chicken to go through with it!

                                                                                                        1. re: moh

                                                                                                          " I'm just too chicken to go through with it!"

                                                                                                          LOL, I understand.

                                                                                                          My POV is this waitress can destroy staff morale and if taken to an extreme, could damage the restaurant's earnings and its ability to employ more people--presumably those without attitude problems.