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Jun 21, 2009 03:35 PM

The Craftsman MPLS - Scam or Good Biz?


Recently my wife and I went to The Craftsman with another couple. Never having been there before I made reservations online. Upon arriving I realized that was probably not necessary. It was a Saturday night and was not busy. We sat on the patio. I ordered the strip steak and my friend ordered the other steak. The ladies ordered the special pasta of the day. Service was VERY slow but we got the appetizer cheese plate and drinks. The cheese was awesome! The main course eventually came out and I was surprised with the small portions of pasta, but it was excellent. My steak was pretty tough. Actually, they knife provided would not cut the steak and I could not chew it either. Strange, but whatever, I just waited for the server to come back so I could get something else. I waited, and waited. While everyone else finished their meals, I still had a plate of uneaten steak. The bus boy finally came around and started clearing plates. He looked at my full plate and asked if I wanted a box. I told him I really just wanted something else to eat. He took my plate and must have gone to the kitchen to inform somebody. A few minutes later the server came back and apologized, I ordered a spaghetti. Another 20 minutes and that came, it was pretty good. Then we all had different desserts. NOW! Here is where I actually get to the point. The check came and each couple paid with a separate card. We calculated it out and I told my buddy to include the tip on his card. I did not put any tip on my bill. Due to the long waits and the one bad dish, and an overall lack of attention and care, the tip ended up being just over 10% of the bill. Now, don't jump on me yet!, My usual tip is at least 20% (just for breakfast this morning I tipped 25%) But I felt this experience justified 10% and it probably should have gone to the bus boy. JUMP TO ONE WEEK LATER---- I am reconciling my bank card statement and find that The Craftsman charged my card 18% more than what I signed for! I thought maybe it was a mistake and gave them a call. I talked to the owner and he said that when receipts were lost it is possible for them to add a tip to the bill. I asked it the receipt was lost because I had my copy. Turns out he was looking right at the receipt for mine and the other couple's card. He said the other couple left a tip and I did not. I told him that I was aware of that. He then said it is industry standard to tip 18% and although tipping is discretionary, they are within their rights to add a tip. He stated that 10% on the meal was low, and repeated that although tipping is discretionary, 18% is industry standard. He did offer to put the money back on my card. I told him just to keep it if that is the way he felt. I still don't know how I feel about this. The more I think about it, the more I think I should have had him refund it. I realize that the bad meat was not the servers fault, but the speed and the lack of any caring about anything was. The food was very good overall and I feel the whole experience is muddied now after finding out they decided to just take what they wanted off my bank card. You can razz me if you want, I just wanted to see if this has ever happened to anybody else.

  1. mike phillips said that? that's. . . weird.

    i will say that the craftsman is imho a great little restaurant and i've had some fantastic meals there. i think that generally the quality of the food there is really very good & some items are excellent. that said, they do the local-sustainable-grassfed-small-farm-beef (and other meats) thang there, and so i could see somebody getting unlucky with an inconsistent steak once in a while. i will also say that i have had middling to poor service ( or just omg you are clueless, is this your first serving job?) at the craftsman on a few occasions, and the service issues are what keeps me from rec-ing the place more often to folks. kind of frustrating, honestly, that the restaurant can't seem to get it together on the foh end of things, because phillips' food can really be great. bummer.

    i don't think the craftsman runs a shady establishment, the chef has a good reputation and he has very high principles when it comes to food quality and sourcing. it also seems like (totally my own impression here)--maybe he's one of those folks who doesn't have a great handle on his foh (perhaps because he spends all his time doing his house-cured meats and otherwise fussing over the food:)). hearing about your experience at this restaurant makes me sad.

    no, none of our tabs at the craftsman have ever been altered in any way. do you think that this situation could have been an error, or a situation where the house (mistakenly) took the side of a server who fibbed about her/his own level of service so as not to get into trouble (for totally ignoring your table)? how much money are we talking about, here, exactly? i know this isn't the point, but sometimes you can let $5 go, but not $18. . . would you ever consider returning to the craftsman?

    1 Reply
    1. re: soupkitten

      You are right, the actualy dollar amount is not the point, I was talking in percentages. I never mentioned $5 or $18, only percentages. I don't see the difference if my meal was $50, $100, or $250, the service warrants a certain percentage, not a flat dollar amount. Hmmm, interesting.

    2. IANAL, but I think you have a case for fraud. I know that if I had ever altered a credit card slip as a waiter, I would have been sacked the instant management found out. "They are within their rights to add a tip"?! I'd really like to see that stand up in court!

      Now, I'm a curmudgeon, but I'd be back on the phone pronto with the manager, leaving him one of two choices: 1) refund the entire bill - not just the tip - (just on principle) and you'll let it slide, or 2) don't do anything, and you'll take him to small claims and notify the media. Let your credit card company know, and they will probably support you as well. They don't want people to stop using their cards for fear of having unwanted charges added to them.

      If you do go back to them, please report back and let us know how you fared (sic).

      1 Reply
      1. re: KevinB

        I agree. I don't think it's "within their rights to add a tip" without consent.

        As KevinB said, if it happened to me, I would call them back to let them know that I am most definitely *not* pleased and that if not reversed (the tip portion, at least) I would be taking next steps (ie; calling credit card company, notify media, etc.).

      2. How would the owner have known if you had left a cash tip instead of putting it on your cc card? (as just one example of the problems that crop up with the owners assumptions about how to run his business)

        1. "He then said it is industry standard to tip 18% and although tipping is discretionary, they are within their rights to add a tip."
          No - they are NOT within their rights to add a tip if the patron chooses to pay a smaller tip or leave it off entirely. What he did was theft. The very word "discretionary" means it's up to YOU to choose what amount or even *if* to pay a tip.

          I don't think you should have left it on there; I would call him back and tell him to remove the tip on your portion of the bill. Tell him WHY your friend only tipped 10% - because of poor service.

          And to clarify - this was 10% of the total bill - meaning both his and your receipts totaled together? Or just 10% on HIS portion?

          1 Reply
          1. re: LindaWhit

            10% of the entire bill was the total tip.

          2. Having been on both sides of disputed credit card charges i can say, definitively, that Mike Phillips is incorrect here. There is no way that telling this story to your credit card company will not work. Restaurants have the ability to modify charges after the fact because this enables tipping without the customer having to wait around to get their modified reciept. I could see how if one of two split checks has a 10% (of total bill) tip on it they might have assumed both intended to, but clearly he continued along his line of fallacious reasoning after that possibility had been quashed.

            In another splitting checks is a nightmare for everyone story, some friends were celebrating a birthday at Saji Ya on grand ave and split up the bill on multiple (4 i think) cards. The server brought slips for everyone to sign and then the whole party lingered for close to half an hour. A week later the friend found an additional 100 dollars charged to her card and when she called the restaurant the manager explained that the server had left part of the bill off when splitting it and they had just decided to add it to one of the cards after the fact. They got the charges declined in the end, but its now about impossible to get them to consider going back for sushi there.

            2 Replies
            1. re: tex.s.toast

              I have decided to let the charge stand and not spend the time and effort it would take to dispute it. I will simply express my opinion on their business practices by never returning. Neither myself, nor my friends will return.

              1. re: princebaal

                I would suggest writing a letter/email as the final point. Feel free to indicate that no matter what Mike Phillps may say you will not be swayed into coming back even for free food.

                As soupkitten said he probably isnt a bad guy, and certainly would not want things like this happening in his restaurant. if you can be charitable enough to cut him a tiny bit of slack (a stretch i know) and assume he was preoccupied when you spoke with him on the phone, it is something he probably wants to hear about. he many not run the foh with a ton of care to detail, but in these lean economic times no reasonable business owner can afford to let things like that happen, and perhaps a written account would give him the time to recognize the issue, even if you never return.