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Dec 11, 2008 04:30 PM

Can I do anything about this?

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.


        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.