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Can I do anything about this?

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  • Chao Dec 11, 2008 04:30 PM
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Tonight we held our Holiday party at a local restaurant. It was a lovely evening until shortly after we (a close-knit group of about 50 people) presented our boss, as well as his boss (who was visiting from the UK), with sizable gift certificates to a local and an international business respectively. Roughly twenty minutes after receiving the gift cards, these cards “disappeared” from the table during the clearing of the dinner dishes.
I alerted the manager on duty, who began a sweep of the soiled linen bags as well as the trash. No sign of the gift cards was found. The manager assured me that this was a “closed room” situation; none of the trash, dishes, or linen from our party would have been mixed with that of the rest of the restaurant. Both managers on duty were unable to explain to us how they would handle this situation; they were only able to offer apologies for what might have happened.
Unfortunately, all signs point to the fact that the gift cards (value totaling $275.00) were stolen from the table.
I don't really know what recourse I have, short of writing a sternly worded letter (which will achieve nothing but may allow me to vent a bit).
Any advice?

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  1. Personally, I find it incredible that you can believe it is the responsibility of the restaurant to be responsible in any way for the loss of these gift cards....especially since there is absence of any proof of wrongdoing by the restaurant or the employees. Your assumption these cards were removed during the clearing of the dishes is weak. How about your boss, and his boss as well, taking responsibility for the loss and misplacement of the gift cards themselves. I can only surmise these gift cards came in an envelope that could have easily been placed in their pocket or bag. and not left on a table. It was their foolishness for not securing the gifts and not acting responsibly.

    Also, how could the staff possibly know the value of the cards? Was the amount of each gift announced openly? Your only option is to call the issuing businesses and report them missing and lost and ask for replacements....and also to be on the lookout for the lost cards. Most gift cards I have purchased or have been given have a memory history to see how much the original amount was issued for, verified by an accompanying receipt with a security code. If the cards were not used for full value, there was a balance kept on record for future visits.

    5 Replies
    1. re: fourunder

      Thanks for your comment; it really gets to the root of my frustration. Clearly (to me at least), the fault lies with an individual who most likely works at this restaurant (unless one of my co-workers was at the party took the cards, which is highly unlikely). My query is what, if anything, I can do about this situation. Do I alert the restaurant owner in writing that the situation occurred? Do I let my co-workers who weren't at the party know that they should guard their valuables when they go to this place (it is close to my workplace)? Or do I just write this off as an example of how crappy people can be?

      1. re: Chao

        "Clearly (to me at least), the fault lies with an individual who most likely works at this restaurant (unless one of my co-workers was at the party took the cards, which is highly unlikely)"

        It is unclear (to me at least) how it is more likely that the fault lies with an individual who works at this restaurant than with one of your co-workers.

        Perhaps you should let the co-workers who werent at the party know that they should guard their valuables at the office?

        People are careless and misplace things all the time. Gift cards should be treated as cash and not left lying about on a table.

        1. re: Melusina54

          My first and and most likely thought is that it is a co-worker.

          DT

        2. re: Chao

          Most likely? We have at present the governor of a state accused of trying to sell a vacant US senate seat, and a long time investment advisor on wall street accused of bilking investors 50 billions. So how likely is anyone involved with the disappearence of the gift cards again?

          1. re: PeterL

            I live in NJ and it seems like just about every day I open the paper to read about yet another state/local politician/businessman caught with his/her hand in the till. And when these people do get caught the only remorse they exhibit is the fact that they GOT caught. And most of these people end up with nothing more than a slap on the wrist. It's no wonder that this kind of rehensible behavior is seeping down through all levels of society and I agree with all the other posters who said the culprit was more likely one of the co-workers than the restaurant staff. I also agree that the recipients of the gifts had a responsibility to handle these gifts properly. Carelessly leaving them on the table sends a very negative message about the value these two people placed on these gift cards.

      2. If your group was 50 and the group of people serving you was 5-10, statistically it was one of yours and not one of theirs.

        2 Replies
        1. re: mojoeater

          NO! "Statisically" estimating outcomes depends on relevant and discreet characteristics of each group rather than brute proportions. Past behavior of members of each group can be used to assess probability of their respective future actions (all else held equal). Needed is a weighted or respective probabiity rather than brute proportion. One group being recidivist ex-cons should influence assumptions; as would another group comprising Land 'o Lincoln governors or auto CEOs.

          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

            Whenever I walk past that latter group, I grasp my purse a little tighter. CEOs *shudder*

        2. I'm not convinced that it was the restaurant's fault. Even in close-knit circles, you're not going to know everything about every coworker. With a group of 50, it's just as likely that one of your coworkers took the cards when everyone's attention was focused elsewhere. I had a group of friends with whom a similar thing happened-- someone misplaced a large sum of money and really ended up doing nothing but offending people in his search to locate the money. It's just not worth it.

          I would guess that it's not that hard to replace a gift card and/or figure out whether the missing cards have been used. I would go that route before accusing anyone.

          1 Reply
          1. re: queencru

            Count me also in as being confused as to why this is automatically the restaurant's fault. As many others have said, why is it not the responsibility of the person whom you gave it to to make sure they have possession of it? I find it rather forward to assume someone who works at the restaurant stole the cards. It is just as likely that someone in your own group walked off with them (if not more likely).

            I think the best action is to try to cancel the gift cards with the business who issued them. Perhaps they will turn up, perhaps not. Unless there is proof (i.e. witnesses, cameras) that someone on the staff walked off with the gift cards, they could have been simply misplaced or anyone took them.

            The restaurant isn't liable for the possession of personal property. If you leave your wallet on the end of the table and another customer steals it, it's not the restaurant's fault.

          2. I'm with everyone else on this. There is no proof of any wrongdoing by the restaurant and nothing to be gained by raising a stink about it. As mentioned previously, just call the businesses who issued the gift cards and they can most likely delete the record and reissue you new cards. I've worked several places where this has come up with loss/theft of cards and we were almost always able to replace them for the customer.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Stillwater Girl

              I probably have as much sympathy for you here as I do for the housewifes who leave open purses in their shopping carts at the grocery store. Regardless of who may have taken the cards (if, in fact, they weren't just lost and tossed), it was the recipients responsibility to take care of them.

            2. Just a couple of quick thoughts on this, though I'm no expert.

              First, having worked menial restaurant jobs, and having worked corporate jobs that have enjoyed parties in restaurants, I would say it isn't fair to assume that restaurant employees are automatically at fault. Though I have to say it sounds suspicious that two separate cards would disappear.

              But aside from calling the police or something, I guess the big issue here is how did the restaurant respond? Did they really seem sorry that the cards were missing, and did they really make an effort to find them? I think that makes a difference in how culpable the restaurant should be held.

              Lastly (and please forgive what might sound like impertinence), but $275 in gift cards divided among 50 people. Would it be such a hardship to replace them? Yes, I know, it's the principle of the thing, but still. And that's not quite related to the question of dealing with the restaurant. But I hope it means that the whole situation isn't lost.

              2 Replies
              1. re: weem

                That would come out to $5.50/person.

                My question is why is the group gifting UP? I thought it was appropriate etiquette to gift down....

                1. re: OCAnn

                  That would be a whole different thread, but yes I agree with you, at our place of work managers would never thought to accept monetary gifts from employees.

              2. Great thread! A real mystery, with lots of unknowns and variables, plenty to test people's stereotypes, preconceptions, and values. Wasn't there once a party board game with situations and quandaries like this? Or sitcom scripts??

                Chao, a lot of valuable information is missing. Most important is the location and identity of the missing gift certificates. Were they announced? Left out or in envolopes? Given to each recipient individually or handed to a single recipient together? Were these an attractive nuisance? (Easily cashable and widely desireable, like BestBuy cards? Or specific to a store unique to an industry and requiring ID to cash?) Are the servers and employees cleaning up longstanding employees or parttime, young temporary holiday help? What about the last dozen of the fifty employees invited to the holiday party? All of these and more are variables, and the most likely sequence of events still is that the envelopes simply got swept up and thrown out through inadvertance, in which case the negligence falls on the recipients for not securing the items.

                3 Replies
                1. re: nosh

                  Ok, this helps a lot. I have already called one of the places where a gift card originated, and will phone the other one today. I appreciate the advice from everyone. To answer some questions that have been raised, our group was one of 50 or so people who have all worked together for the past few years. It is, of course, possible that one of our group took the cards. Strange that they would contribute, sign the holiday card, and then walk off with said cards under the boss's nose, but I guess it could happen.
                  The restaurant where this occurred was staffed with young holiday help, and the cards were conspicuous in their value and in plain sight lying on the table, although the value of each was not announced. But it's true that I have no proof of wrong-doing by the restaurant employees.
                  Thanks again for the advice everyone!

                  1. re: Chao

                    I think chances are high that it is one of your "close knit" group. In instances of employee theft where I have worked it is always someone you would never suspect, the model employee.

                    1. re: James Cristinian

                      There was an article in the WSJ this week about how more employees are stealing from their employers now (in light of the economy), and how the majority of the big thefts are committed by the so-called "model" employees.

                2. Next time give them something sizeable that can't be hidden, lost or stolen easily. Aside from theft, giftcards are often never redeemed...to the tune of $8 billion (yeah BILLION) a year. Gift cards are a nice idea but a bit of a hassle if you ask me.

                  Sorry, I doubt anything can be done...be glad it wasn't someone's wallet or mobile phone.

                  1. Ultimately this is the fault of the 2 bosses who left them laying around where they could be stolen or misplaced.
                    Was it too hard to put a gift card in the pocket when they received it??

                    You may want to see if they ended up on eBay

                    DT

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Davwud

                      Ultimately this is the fault of the 2 bosses who left them laying around where they could be stolen or misplaced.
                      ~~~~~~~~~
                      Exactly what I thought upon reading the original post. They're *gift cards* - how hard would it have been to just tuck it in their pocket? It's not like they would be likely to be "left out and admired".

                    2. I'm not sure who is to blame, however you can notify the restaurant in writing of the incident and ask that they file a claim with their liability insurance carrier. The claims adjuster will conduct an investigation. However, I would deny your claim simply b/c you didn't report the "incident" to the police. So, that's another option.

                      I did have a friend whose housekeeper lifted several gift cards from her. When they realized the cards were missing they notified the police. The police were able to trace the transaction (w/ help of the GC receipts) and connect the housekeeper to the use of the card.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: lynnlato

                        Mant times the gift cards are registered with the entity issuing them. This might be info that the boss can get from his/her receipt.

                        There's no way to tie the loss to restaurant staff, even though your gut may tell you that's what happened. The bottom line is that it was, in hindsight, foolishly trusting to leave those cards unguarded for even a second. Maybe the message to your co-workers is to put such items away IMMEDIATELY, no matter where they are, whether in a restaurant, at work or elsewhere. If you REALLY feel certain it was done by a member of the restaurant staff, a specific warning about that restaurant is warranted as well. If someone on the staff would take gift ards, they might also be doing other underhanded things like monkeying with credit card receipts or pulling the gratuity scam on larger parties. Bad economic times & a decline in general ethics forces us all to be much less trusting than we might have been 10 years ago. It's a fact of life.

                      2. Next time something like this happens turn off all the lights and announce if the cards are returned all is forgiven. Hey, it worked in the old time Charlie Chan movies. Who knows who took them? Would the boss's have left cash sitting there. I doubt it, but in effect that is what they did. Next time give booze.

                        1. Does anyone else think it's odd that the bosses were given gifts by the staff? Everywhere I've worked the staff gets gifts from the bosses.... Anyway, just a thought.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: jenhen2

                            I don't think it's all that unusual. My mom gets a group gift from her employees every Christmas (she obviously doesn't demand it, it's just always been the tradition). I've also worked at a place where we got our boss a gift, but it was more a small, gag type of gift.

                            1. re: jenhen2

                              I'm working for the first time in a situation where they collect money for gifts for the director. I asked bluntly (and privately and nicely) why the people who make A LOT less money are giving gifts to a very well-compensated individual. The answer was that treats still to come (like monthly staff lunches, holiday dinners, bowling outings, etc.), were paid for by the boss, often out of his own pocket, and the gifts were to show appreciation for that. I found it a satisfactory answer, and happily contribute.

                              1. re: optimal forager

                                I'm in a similar situation. We're a very small office group, only 5 full-time including the boss. She is always very generous, taking the whole group out to lunch for each birthday and buying thoughtful Christmas presents. We're part of a larger institution, so she doesn't control the purse strings and can't give bonuses, instead she is generous with time off to enjoy festivities at work and get home early on the last day before holidays (not just Christmas, we leave early for all holiday weekends and don't have to use vacation time). So when her birthday comes around, we organize a very nice breakfast for the group (her favorite meal) and buy a gift. Yeah, she makes a lot more than any of us (2x the next highest salary in the group) but even wealthy people deserve and need to feel loved!

                                1. re: mpjmph

                                  You are SO lucky to have such a great boss. Yes, I agree it's appropriate to show such a person appreciation.

                              2. re: jenhen2

                                they "gift up" where I work as well. I just don't give or contribute to any gifts at work, it got to be too expensive. Between birthday gifts, birthday lunches, holidays and boss's day it was upwards of $250 a year so I am the office "scrooge" because I'm the only one that doesn't participate.

                              3. I'm strangely reminded of the Dirty Dancing... There was a rash of wallet/purse thefts at teh resort, and the management blamed Patrick Swayze's character. Turns out it was the cute old couple who had been picking pockets and restaurants and resorts all over the region.

                                I know with my luck the cards would turn up somewhere completely random (like the inside pocket of a coat, or a purse they fell into under the table as the dishes were cleared) as soon as I fired off the stern letter.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: mpjmph

                                  ""Dirty Dancing...""

                                  LOL! I am watching DD and stumbled in here. Okay, the end did not change, I look for him to drop her...

                                  Anyway, when gift cards, checks, or cash is are handed out, SECURE THEM, YOU RECIPIENTS! = NO EXCUSE!

                                  1. re: mpjmph

                                    I was thinking of Dirty Dancing as well! OK for other reasons, but...

                                    Everyone should check their own pockets and billfolds/wallets. Drinking and revery can sometimes lead to accidental misplacements or rather unconscious misplacements. Make it OK for everyone in the office to check and return them if they are the ones.

                                    Also, pretty darn nice of that manager to sift thru the garbage. Perhaps a thank you note is more in order.

                                  2. You informed the managers who immediately caused a search of the garbage to see if the cards had been thrown out by mistake. No dice. What else should he have done? Strip searched all the wait staff? Did you strip search the rest of your party?

                                    It's possible that someone working at the resto took the cards, but also possible that someone in your party took them. I am not sure what else the resto could do?

                                    I agree with other posters - contact the businesses the cards were from and ask about replacement cards. Maybe they can do it, maybe they can't. This is a huge problem with gift cards - they are cash equivalents and prone to theft and misplacement with little or no recourse.

                                    9 Replies
                                    1. re: akq

                                      So, I called the place from which I obtained the gift certificate for my boss. It happens to be his favorite restaurant. The manager there was unwilling to replace the certificate, but fortunately I was able to wheedle a replacement out of him. As he handed it to me, he said"try not to let this one get stolen." Oh, how I adore being patronized. (I'm sure he didn't mean it that way... the events of last night have made me edgy)
                                      The other gift card was from Borders and one of my co-workers is looking into replacing that.
                                      So, lesson learned. Never leave gift cards out on the table. And we'll be finding a new place to host next year's holiday party, just in case.

                                      1. re: Chao

                                        Just in case what? You are still blaming the employees of the restaurant with no proof whatsoever.

                                        1. re: PeterL

                                          Maybe the OP should read this article:

                                          http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/...

                                          1. re: PeterL

                                            Yup.

                                            1. re: Chao

                                              Yeesh, chances are the klepto-employee (if he/she truly existed) won't be working at that place next year. It boggles the mind as to how crazy people are... and I feel bad for the restaurant owners (unless the owners came in disguised as your coworkers and stole the gift cards.... then I'd say, "Take that!"

                                            2. re: PeterL

                                              Exactly. The blame being put on the restaurant's staff with no actual proof is galling, to say the least!

                                            3. re: Chao

                                              "As he handed it to me, he said"try not to let this one get stolen." Oh, how I adore being patronized"

                                              What a bad attitude you have! The restaurant manager was under no obligation to replace the misplaced or stolen or thrown away gift card, but did so. I would have been a little (or a lot) nicer about this!

                                              And obviously you're still convinced that a staff member of the restaurant is responsible for their disappearance. With no proof, you just magically know that it was not a member of your merry little party. I think you're being really unfair to just about everyone involved in this sorry matter, when the blame should rest with your boss, and his boss as well!

                                              1. re: Chao

                                                >>So, I called the place from which I obtained the gift certificate for my boss. It happens to be his favorite restaurant. The manager there was unwilling to replace the certificate, but fortunately I was able to wheedle a replacement out of him. As he handed it to me, he said"try not to let this one get stolen." Oh, how I adore being patronized. >>

                                                So, he did you a favor and you're still complaining. You're also planning to punish the other restaurant after they went through the garbage for you. This kind of behavior by customers is part of what makes it oh so special working in service over the holidays.

                                                1. re: bibi rose

                                                  and you have to figure that the nice restaurant manager who replaced the certificate is also figuring he's going to be providing two free dinners when he was only paid for one (assuming that the original was stolen and not lost)-- of course he's going to be peeved. And you think he has no right to be? What fault of his was it?

                                            4. I have read this and the replies several times and STILL cannot understand why the OP feels that a person who left valuables/a gift/a purse/a wallet etc unattended; and had it come up missing is ANYones's problem but that person's.

                                              OOOOh I left my purse in the shopping cart, it is missing, the store is responsible?

                                              The restaurant went ABOVE and beyond to do such a sweep of the linen bags and trash, Did you offer to deep drive?

                                              Your boss and his boss are solely responsible for their possessions; as was everyone in the room. The gift cards were THEIR possessions once they were presented.

                                              It is very sad you wish to blame the restaurant and want the giftcard retailer's to "replace" them. They are are as good as cash. You go to the bank and ask them to replace every coin/dollar you lose? Or maybe since you cashed it from your paycheck, you ask your employer to replace it?

                                              I am sorry you feel responsible for your boss and his boss' lack of care for your group's gift. But they were the one's who lost them.

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: Quine

                                                ""They are are as good as cash. ""

                                                But only redeemable in merchandise and subject to "whatever" restrictions the merchant places on them.

                                                I once had a gift "teaser" card that needed lots of extra money or a Visa Gold card, to purchase anything.

                                                1. re: RShea78

                                                  you really need to find some classier friends!!!!!!!

                                                  1. re: GodfatherofLunch

                                                    No, it was family, of which hurts even worse to end up as a donation back to the store. (no refunds to either party) Unfortunately, the giving family member went on the "word of mouth" recommendations of higher class friends with no clue in how the store operates. The store also closed down in less than a year, because they only had such a small base of wealthy clientele.

                                              2. Simple, just call the issuer of the gift cards, have them cancelled and issues new ones. Ordeal over.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: cstr

                                                  How do u cancel a giftcard? Not sure about other establishments, but the resto I'm affliated w/ cannot cancel a gift card.

                                                  1. re: cstr

                                                    Not so simple. Many/most gift cards are "once you buy them, they're as good as cash" - meaning if you lose them, you're screwed. The OP is extremely lucky in that the manager to the restaurant acquiesced and gave them another gift card, despite it being the recipients' responsibility to secure the gift cards once they received them. The expectation that they can be easily replaced is misplaced.

                                                  2. Yeah, I dunno, I find it MIGHTY suspicious that the gift cards disappeared from two seperate diner's seating areas during the clearing of dishes. I'm somewhat amused by how everyone is equally quick to assume that one of the OP's co-workers took off with the loot, but yet it's appalling to think anyone in the restaurant could have taken them. Both are automatic, knee jerk responses no?

                                                    AND I can honestly say that during any celebration at a restaurant where gifts are presented, i've never seen anyone (myself included), shuffle away immediatley to safeguard a gift. Unless it's in the way, it stayed on the table. I hardly think it's stupid of anyone to have left the gift card near their place setting.

                                                    Yeah i've known employees who've stolen, but any time i heard of it, it was a helluva lot more discreet than this situation, and even then, they faced the disgust and mistrust by their peers from then on in, and in some cases could possibly have lost their jobs. (in the situation i refer to, the employee had been skimming money from a fund that people donated irregular amounts to, no one but this employee knew what the totals were) This being said, you'd have to look at who'd have the most to lose in this situation. 50 people is not such a large group that such actions could slip by un-noticed in a closed room, and a long term employee from a close knit group as described here could face serious repurcussions, particularly as this is stealing from their own boss (whoa bad move), whereas perhaps someone with no connection to the group or any individuals, who might be temping there as holiday help for one season...maybe not so much.

                                                    I can see this leaving a bitter taste in the mouth and maybe making the OP a bit wary of returning to this restaurant. On the flipside as well, i'd be vocal about this at work, if for no other reason to possibly inspire some remorse from any individual there who might have swiped the cards, and if you're also vocal about how the cards have been replaced and others cancelled (insinuating that they are now null and void), the originals, if taken by an employee, might be less likely to be given a shot at trying to cash them in, if they thought they might be traceable.

                                                    It's too bad that you really have no way to know if someone attempts to cash in the originals.

                                                    I'm thinking you're not going to have much luck at Borders, but who knows, those cards come with an individual # sometimes and maybe can be cancelled through the computer system. But I have to say as well, that the times i've purchased a restaurant gift certificate, not from a chain, I watched while they wrote the # of the certificate, amount and the name of the recipient in a ledger somewhere. Wouldn't it then be simply a matter of that restaurant putting a notation next to this particular entry as VOID, alerting anyone who tried to accept the GC, that it was stolen?

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: im_nomad

                                                      "I'm somewhat amused by how everyone is equally quick to assume that one of the OP's co-workers took off with the loot, but yet it's appalling to think anyone in the restaurant could have taken them."
                                                      ~~~~~~~~~~~~
                                                      My issue with this situation was that the OP immediately thought it was restaurant help who took the gift cards and continued to seem to blame the restaurant staff without any tangible proof, and didn't include the fact that it could be a coworker who took it. Either way - it's appalling.

                                                      1. re: im_nomad

                                                        Most of the time, gifts are larger, tangible items typically wrapped in a box or put in a gift bag. They're too large to put into a purse and are pretty easy to notice if someone is trying to walk out of an enclosed space with them in hand. A gift card, on the other hand, is a different story. They're small enough that they can easily be transferred without anyone noticing- put a napkin over it and bring it to your lap, palm it discreetly, place it under a plate/coffee cup. There are hundreds of ways to take a credit card/gift card unnoticed.

                                                        Even in a close-knit workplace, you're going to to be privy to everything that's going on in every employee's life. There may be some who feel like management shouldn't be getting gifts in this economy (or ever), others who have financial issues going on at home that they don't want to discuss, etc. I seriously doubt any workplace wants to search and question everyone who went to the party, so if the cards aren't traceable, it's not like the risk is that huge if you can steal the cards unnoticed.

                                                        1. re: im_nomad

                                                          I'd sincerely like to caution getting vocal about the cards at work. You want to inspire remourse - go work your magic on a loved one. They cannot so easily fire you.

                                                          My advice - get over it. Bad people exist. Try not to join their side by acting like a prig.

                                                        2. Since I work in a restaurant I have to chime in with a note about how often people blame the restaurant staff (especially the busboys) of stealing something that the person has misplaced. My example being cellphones in particular. One person started yelling racial epithets about the busboys and when he came in again after finding the phone in his car, there was no apology, no embarrassment about assuming guilt based on a person's skin color and job description. I'm not saying it can't happen, I'm saying certain people are awfully quick to blame others.

                                                          6 Replies
                                                          1. re: Missmoo

                                                            I wholeheartedly agree with you, missmoo. I have worked in so many restaurants from lower end to fine dining, and the blame that customers tend to place on the bussers is staggering. If I had a dime for everytime when a customer's phone was "stolen" by a member of the staff- though the wait staff/bartenders were not the ones first accused- I would not have to wait tables as a second job. In well over a decade of waiting tables, I would have no problem telling any customer that the least likely person to steal anything would be a busser. The bussers are the individuals who do the worst and the messiest work for the least amount of money, but are the first people to run out of a restaurant after a customer who has left their phone, purse, umbrella, leftovers, etc. The bus staff depend on their jobs too much to take advantage of anyone.
                                                            The worst customer behavior that I have witnessed- REPEATEDLY- is tables that insist on handing over the check paid in cash "just to make sure that I get it." While this is approriate in some situations, i.e. there are outside tables or a long wait in the bar- most of the time the implied gesture is that the staff might steal it. I have had bussers that I would go to bat for over chefs.

                                                            1. re: littlepiggie

                                                              The worst customer behavior that I have witnessed- REPEATEDLY- is tables that insist on handing over the check paid in cash "just to make sure that I get it.
                                                              ___________________________________________________________

                                                              If a customer goes out of the way to insure his payment is received so there is no complication for anyone.....I would hardly agree this could be considered the worst customer behavior..REPEATEDLY...no less. It's actually commendable they have the presence of mind to care enough you receive the payment....and not give the opportunity for anyone, employee or customer to swipe the cash. I am sure if there was just a single instance where the payment was not received involving your receipts....you would have a very different perspective on your previous comments.

                                                              1. re: fourunder

                                                                In complete agreement, fourunder. I think littlepiggie is incredibly lucky if this constitutes worst customer behaviour ever. I also think littlepiggie may be rushing to a more unforgiving conclusion of an action that aims to be efficient, and in fact, may also be just as (if not more) concerned about other restaurant patrons.

                                                                1. re: fourunder

                                                                  jfood does this at times to make sure that the server receives the money. BUT he never leaves money around for anyone to "accidentally" slip it intheir pockets and when jfood does this he is more concerned with the other diners than the staff. And in fact when the runners have done a great job and the server was invisible jfood has actually given money directly to the bussers and runners to make sure they got it as well.

                                                                  1. re: fourunder

                                                                    I don't see anything wrong with handing the server the money directly. Like Lizard pointed out, it's more likely that people are concerned about other patrons taking the money. I recently went to a branch of my school that was located in a very touristy area of the city. Many of the restaurants around there had serious problems with pickpockets, so you really had to be vigilant about watching your belongings.

                                                                    1. re: queencru

                                                                      My SO and I use the opportunity to hand the money directly to the server for two purposes: 1) to make sure that the server gets the cash and full tip (anyone could swipe it from an empty table that hasn't been bussed yet); and 2) to personally thank the server for a lovely meal. The personal touch goes a long way in terms of mutual respect and goodwill. It's genuinely nice to say: "thanks and see you next time ... and here's our payment and tip".

                                                              2. First of all, to accuse ANYONE of sticky fingers is pretty heavy stuff. I really do put the blame on the recipients of the gift cards. Anyone with half a brain would realize that a gift card is, indeed, the same as cash and should put it in their pocket or purse. Aside from that, I truly think placing a gift such as that on a table is just rude to the workers who gave these people the gift. I can assure you if I were the recipient of such a gift, it would be placed in my purse immediately. The only other thing I would think of is, despite going through the trash and not finding anything--the card is still buried under SOME sort of debris or trash. Speaking for myself, I've always been extra cautious in giving gift cards. Some expire. Do your homework next time. Copy the number of the gift card and keep it in a safe place so you can call the business you purchased it from and hopefully get it replaced or track it to see if anyone purchased something.
                                                                Also--it could have been trashed by a disgruntled employee--you never know. Hopefully, your bosses gave you and your co-workers a holiday gift!

                                                                6 Replies
                                                                1. re: jarona

                                                                  Interestingly enough, I just purchased a gift card from the Stephen Starr restaurants. I purchased it on line. It was made out to a particular individual's name, had my name written on it & had a number on it. I made sure to put the number of the gift card on my receipt, which I tucked away for safe keeping.

                                                                  1. re: PattiCakes

                                                                    Thanks, Patti -- I was waiting for someone else to make this observation. Any gift card should be purchased with a credit card, and the paperwork involved should include the gift card's sku number or some other way to trace it. If it is stolen, a quick call to the issuer of the card will alert them to the use of the card by someone unauthorized to do so. Last year I sent a gift card from BabysRUs to a cousin with a new baby. A few weeks later, having not heard a word from them in the way of a thank you, I asked if they had received it. They said no. I checked with the store and discovered that the piece of mail containing the card had been stolen from the mail by someone who used it right here in my town (it never even made it to Chicago, where my cousin lives). Annoying? Yes. In the future, I am going to start handing these things over in person.

                                                                    Everyone above was quick to absolve the restaurant staff of any wrongdoing, but their innocence in not ALWAYS the case. Back in the 90s I attended a wedding where people had piled up gifts for the happy couple on a table at the back of the reception room. (NEVER a good idea, but apparently common practice here in the South) No one had made a specific plan for the finaly destination of these gifts and it was discoverd weeks later at least 10 packages had gone missing and unaccounted for. Apparently someone in the wedding party had asked what he thought was a member of the restaurant staff to help with the loading of the gifts into a car, but instead, these gifts went elsewhere (as did that hotel "employee").

                                                                    1. re: Cheflambo

                                                                      As long as we are taking wedding gifts/cards missing... I recall a wedding party which found out it was robbed, The Purse where all those Wedding Cards (with money) was found to be missing at the end of the reception. It was a big enough robbery to hit the TV news. Upon careful watching of the various videos shot by the wedding guests , the thief was found: the bride's father! And to boot, the Police had asked the guests who had give cards, what sorta amount was in them, so they could appraise the amount of the total theft. Yep, you guessed it...alot of folks *gave* more when they thought the card was stolen than what they later found out was actually in the card.

                                                                      So, you never know!

                                                                      1. re: Quine

                                                                        We had a trusted family friend take charge of the wedding $ at my daughter's wedding, which was held in a massive villa in Puerto Vallarta -- we had heard too many horror stories, and we knew that any problems would have been dealt with at the hands of the Mexican police. Not a good thing. The friend actually followed the bridal couple on their tour of the guest tables (discreetly) & put the $$ into a room safe immediately.

                                                                        My staff just presented me with a bank gift card. Although my office atmosphere is fairly secure, this whole thread has made me extra watchful. It came with instructions on registering it on line: "your information identifies you as the owner if your card is lost or stolen and may be used to authorize online purchases". Of course you can't do this in a restaurant unless you have a blackberry & go on line immediately.

                                                                      2. re: Cheflambo

                                                                        A gift card at the retail store where I work is like cash, there is no way to track and refund it if someone loses it. Having the # on the gift card wouldn't make any difference, as there is no proof of purchase. You'd have not only the number but the receipt to proove purchase, and the receipt doesn't print out the whole GC number for security reasons, so there's no way to refund it. you either have the proof of purchase but not the card, or the card but no proof of purchase. They are like cash. If they're lost/stolen, it's unfortunate, but it's not the issuer's fault and they're under no obligation to replace or refund.

                                                                        1. re: Cheflambo

                                                                          i'm not saying that it *never* happens that the restaurant/hotel employee turns out to be the culprit, but the ol' "steal the silver spoons, then blame it on *the help*" has gotta be the oldest trick in the book. usually the person most shrilly complaining about "can't get good help these days" is the real culprit. bussers, barstaff, servers, maids, etc. assume that they are always being watched (by many people at once), or in the case of barstaff, are used to working while being videotaped, so they're very careful to keep their hands clean and not do anything that could even *seem* to be improper. i've seen more scenarios similar to Quine's example, & lots of plain ol' getting tipsy at the reception and misplacing/forgetting where someone squirreled away 1/2 the cards-- everything turns up ok in the morning. doesn't do much good when there's some drunk father of the bride screaming accusations at some poor seventeen year old busser just trying to do her/his job. . .

                                                                          if the folks didn't keep track of their gift cards, i don't see how putting blame on the restaurant staff is such a knee-jerk reaction. i'd be looking more at the guests-- & if the cards can be cancelled/replaced, it should solve everything anyway, and illustrate how folks just need to be more careful.

                                                                    2. I attended a private dinner last night for my SO's company. We were in a closed room with two dedicated servers. The CEO handed out the holiday bonuses in small envelopes. Every single person put that envelope in his/her pocket. Not one was left on the table (I looked, thinking of this thread). That is the appropriate way to handle a monetary gift.