HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >

Discussion

Rounding down to the Dollar ?

  • w
LOCKED DISCUSSION

A friend writes:
I recently had an experience at a yuppie neighborhood restaurant that seriously took me aback. I stopped in for a quick sandwich and juice at lunchtime. I'd like to stress that the two people I dealt with were both pleasant, friendly, eager to please. When I got the check, which was $10.89, I decided to be nice and pay in cash, and I put a $20 bill on the table. The change brought back to me was $9 even. I looked under the plate, around the table for the 11 cents that I expected as a matter of course to be there -- to no avail. I asked the waitress nicely where the change was. She replied something like "When it's close to the dollar amount we just round up or down." I was kind of shocked -- I'd never heard this before in a restaurant -- and said, "That's all very well when it's in the customer's favor, but you don't do that when it's in the restaurant's favor." She looked totally surprised and offered to bring the change, saying something further about their not having any change on hand. Are others out there finding that this is becoming common practice? I find it totally outrageous and tantamount to stealing or adding on some gratuity without asking the customer.

  1. Whew, wew. But wouldn't you have left $2.11 as a tip anyway?

    1 Reply
    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

      Well, yes, that's exactly what I intended to leave, and I actually said that to the friendly waitress. But the thing is, I found it outrageous that the decision about change not being returned to me was made by the waitress (or whoever instructed her) and not by me.

    2. I have not encountered this, but I agree that it is wrong. Give me all my change, and I will tip appropriately. In this case, I might have spoken to the manager - if it is a resto rule, he or she should hear from the customer that it is a bad idea, instead of the server (who is following the rule). 11 cents is tiny, but if enough people complained, it might change.

      1. This over eleven cents? I always pay cash and often the rounding is in my favor. It averages out, it's expedient, and lets busy people do what they do best, which is not scrounging small change. I want to go postal when a cashier needs a nickel to provide me with exact change, doesn't have one, and sends someone to the safe somewhere in the back to get a roll of nickels. Let me out of here!

        1. Not a big deal, IMO. I get a med. cup of coffee every morning in the cafe at the bottom of my apartment building. Cost is $1.67. Most days I give $1.70 and they keep the three cents, so every once and awhile when I pay $1.65 they don't mind. This has been an unspoken agreement for about a year now, never discussed. It all evens out in the end, even if it's just karma. Totally not worth the blood pressure points.

          1. I agree, it's weird, and not anything i've ever heard of. It's not about how small it was, or whether it would have made it into the tip otherwise. Who's to say you planning on tipping $3 even so you could have a quarter to make a phone call or use a vending machine or something.

            How do they decide what's "close to the dollar" ? And counting change is no different than counting bills. If someone has to fuss over change and I decide to tell them "keep it" that's one thing. Skipping that step seems a bit off to me .

            1 Reply
            1. re: im_nomad

              Indeed, what governs the rounding – in 5, 10, 25 or 50 cent increments? How would the consumer know?

              Eleven cents is a relative pittance to argue about, but would the server have rounded down if the tab was 10.81, rounded down to 10.80 or 10.75 or 10.50? If she did, wouldn’t her till be short at the end of the shift and then be docked the difference?

              I’m squarely on the side of “give me back my change.” I can decide for myself how to spend my money.

            2. hhhhmmm...wonder if they are paying tax on that?

              1. I work as a server in a nice restaurant. We don't have a cash register. Every server has to make their own change, which usually involves bugging a bartender to break down a bill or hunting down a manager to break a $100 bill.

                99% of the time I dig through my purse to find 37 cents to give someone as change, they leave it on the tray. It's very annoying to stop everything and look for change, but I do it. I just know that the one time I don't, the person will be upset and I'm not willing to lose my job for a few cents.

                8 Replies
                1. re: Azizeh

                  I have been a bartender for many years, I have learned that it is in your best interest to bring your own "bank" of change for the customer. I always had $200 in $10 $5, $1, and change.

                  1. re: gryphonskeeper

                    We usually keep a bank of about $20. I definitely wouldn't feel comfortable carrying around $200 in cash. Evenings also tend to work in themes. I either get no cash paying customers or ALL cash paying customers.

                  2. re: Azizeh

                    It might be annoying, but if restos didn't want to have to give back loose change, they should price things such that after tax & such that the prices would always fall on full dollar amounts. If they're going to price things that end up with loose change, employees should expect to have to make change and not complain that it's "very annoying"

                    1. re: jgg13

                      You're right, Jgg. I shouldn't be annoyed by rules I didn't make but still follow. As I'm sure you wouldn't be annoyed if your water sat empty while your server was hunting down some nickels.

                      How do you suppose restaurants price things so there are no coins needed? Most menu items are prices without change. I know that where I work, a NY Strip is $33. It's not $33.50. There's not a single menu item that isn't rounded to a dollar. Sales tax in Los Angeles is 9.75% So unless the restaurants do away with sales tax, how do you figure they can make it so that prices are dollars only?

                      1. re: Azizeh

                        I'm assuming that someone on the resto staff has passed remedial math and could figure out a menu price such that when you added that and the tax that it'd come to a whole dollar. In fact, I've seen a number of places who do just that ... somehow they managed, or maybe I'm wrong and they simply managed to bumble into those prices by chance.

                        1. re: jgg13

                          "ALL PRICES INCLUDE SALES TAX"

                          Algorithm:

                          Price divided by (1 + tax rate)

                          For Azizeh's example:

                          Strip price including tax = $33
                          Tax rate = 9.75%
                          $33 / 1.0975 = 30.07
                          Tax on $30.07 at 9.75% = $2.93

                          If you want to charge ~$33 for the steak

                          Charge $36
                          Beef = $32.80
                          Tax = $3.20

                          Now all you need to settle is the tip based on pre- or post-tax total. Oh what a tangled web we weave...

                          1. re: jfood

                            All food in the country should be a single prix fixe, gratuity included ... say $50pp. Problem solved.

                            Crap, what about wine though :(

                    2. re: Azizeh

                      I think it's wonderful that you make the effort to do this for your customers and would hire you in a second if I had a restaurant. From this and your other posts, it seems that you are a very conscientious worker.

                      Personally, a few cents here or there doesn't make a big difference in my life now. But for some people 11 cents is a big deal, even when dining at a "yuppie restaurant." When I was in school, I have dined at "yuppie restaurants" and had to save and scrimp for those experiences. I feel very lucky that I'm not a part of that camp anymore.

                      What I dislike is when the server automatically assumes shorting somebody on change is OK because it's "only 11 cents." When I've seen servers making an attempt at making proper change, I just tell them to forget it because it's really not worth it. Sometimes a server has asked me if it's okay that they don't give me the proper change or if I have some change so they can give me bills back. That's perfectly fine with me. At least the server had the courtesy to not make assumptions.

                      And I've shopped and dined at many places throughout my life. With the exception of the people who don't give me my penny back and my Magnolia Bakery experience that I noted below, this has never happened to me.

                      And I also agree with jgg13 that if an establishment doesn't want to deal with all that change, then adjust the prices so that they include tax and fall on whole dollar amounts, the quarter, whatever.

                    3. I wouldn't sweat it for 11 cents, I think it's reasonable that they would expect you would leave at least that much gratuity in a restaurant. What annoys me is when the bill is $10.11 and they give me a $10 bill as change.

                      1. I had this EXACT thing happen to me this week, but it was on an order "to go" and the cashier quoted me a price of $14.00. As I was walking away, I saw on the receipt that the actual price was $13.89. When i got home, I called and spoke to a manager. Again, it's not the amount but the principle involved. It's not their decision whether I choose to leave MY money behind, whether it is 1 cent or 25 cents. The funny thing is that the manager apologized profusely and said this particular place uses ONLY quarters (they are mostly a bar) for change and that the casiher should have returned 25 cents to me. Her apology was so sincere and complete that I am eager to return there, not to mention that the wings I had were fantastic! But again, this subject has been debated on this site before and the idea that returning change is an inconvenience for a business or server does not justify keeping my money and assuming what my intentions were for it.

                        1. Put simply...
                          The restaurant and their employees are thieves.
                          No one has the right to steal your money.
                          I have done retail security work in the past, and an employee stealing as much as one cent in customer's change has to be fired immediately. If the employee would steal a cent from a customer, you can be sure they'd steal much more from the establishment.

                          If this is the owner's policy, to steal from his custimers, then the employees know the owner condones stealing and they will steal from him as well.

                          I would never return to an establishment that has made it a policy to steal my money, and I would not be shy about telling others to avoid this dishonest establishment as well.

                          49 Replies
                          1. re: bagelman01

                            Calm down, buddy. The change thing often works in the customer's favor.

                            1. re: invinotheresverde

                              I am entirely calm, Stealing from a customer is NEVER in the customer's favor. And management instructions to be dishonest are NEVER acceptable.

                              This petty thioevery is NOT victimless crime. Every customer shortchanged is a victim.

                              It is not hard to have a cash register with a proper change bank, here management is guilty of laziness as well as dishonesty.

                              If the management doesn't want to have a change bank, then price everything in even dollar amounts, and list them as tax included. Then the management can settle up with the tax authorities from the gross sales, BUT don't steal from your patrons.

                              1. re: bagelman01

                                "Stealing from a customer is NEVER in the customer's favor."

                                Again, this works out to the customer's advantage sometimes. For example, if the bill is $80.29 and the customer pays $100, we'd give them $20 back, not $19.71.

                                1. re: invinotheresverde

                                  unfortunately "sometimes" is not adequate. The restaurant has no right to decide to give LESS THAN the amount due to the customer.

                                  1. re: jfood

                                    Yeah, I mean I guess I hear what you're saying. We just don't use change where I work. Most customers pay with plastic, as most people don't keep a few hundies in their wallets, so it's pretty much a non-issue to begin with.

                                    I don't completely understand the law of averages, but I can safely say we round up as often as we round down. It's not done to steal (or,conversely, to give someone back an extra dollar). There's just no change in the restaurant and it's been that way for ten years. If it was an issue with customers, something would've changed, as our owners take every complaint seriously.

                                    1. re: invinotheresverde

                                      If I'm the customer who gets "rounded up," I don't care that your "law of averages" is preserved because some other customer got "rounded down." I care that you decided to keep some of my money.

                                      PS: There is no law of averages, so you don't need to bother trying to understand it.

                                      1. re: small h

                                        I know there's no formal Law of Averages, but, at least in my little corner of the world, it's a common idea that things even out in the long run.

                                        I hear what you're saying. I'm just saying that, apparently, the thousands of people who've paid with cash at the restaurant where I work, don't care about being rounded. If they do, they haven't spoken up.

                                        1. re: invinotheresverde

                                          If you've long been performing this little feat of monetary redistribution, and no one seems to mind, then by all means keep doing it. I would mind. Deeply. And I would speak up. Loudly.

                                          What you're calling the law of averages sounds more like karma to me. Have you noticed light bulbs burning out before they should? Milk going sour? Lettuce wilting? The universe may be trying to tell you something!

                                          1. re: small h

                                            " And I would speak up. Loudly."

                                            That's cool. You'd be in the vast, vast minority, though.

                                            1. re: invinotheresverde

                                              invino, i disagree (LOUDLY) that small h is in the "vast, vast minority."

                                              my money is my money, and for whatever reason you can't give me the proper change, then you need to rectify that problem.

                                              it is theft.

                                              1. re: alkapal

                                                I worked at this restaurant for six years, literally waiting on thousands of tables. We did not use change. I never once had anyone ask for it. Not even one time.

                                                So disagree all you want, but I have years worth of evidence backing me up.

                                                1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                  swell. then you have a bunch of doofuses in your place.

                                                    1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                      We seem to be alone, you and l, worked great for me in the store l worked. We also left a dish of cash on the counter if people needed it for parking meters or whatever. Sort of the way l like to live so we just extended it.

                                                      1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                                        That's a good point. Lots of places around here have a dish of pennies where they just take it out of there to give you your change (takeout/coffee places, not restaurants) if it's only a few cents. Not many people take it, but it's there for the principled.

                                      2. re: invinotheresverde

                                        There is no such thing as "The Law of Averages" that meets statistical reliability.

                                        See:

                                        http://www.stat.berkeley.edu/~stark/S...

                                        Each time you have ~50% of giving too much or too little. But for the customer it is a single draw at the roulette wheel, betting red or black (let's not get into "0" or "00". The payment of the bill should not be placed in the same class as a roulette spin.

                                        Jfood does not like to carry any bills less than a hundy. Therefore when he buys dinner for $40.99, he rounds down to his lowest form of payment and therefore that is $0. Sorta sounds silly doesn't it. So does "There's just no change in the restaurant ." that should never be an acceptable business model.

                                        Peace.

                                        1. re: jfood

                                          "There is no such thing as "The Law of Averages" that meets statistical reliability."

                                          Duh. ;)

                                          I'm just telling you how it works at my restaurant. Don't shoot the messenger.

                                          1. re: invinotheresverde

                                            Fair point on the messenger I, apologies extended.

                                          2. re: jfood

                                            jfood is a fugitive of the law of averages, as am I. We were taught in B school that when 2 people meet to determine how to spend a third person's money, fraud will result.

                                            1. re: Veggo

                                              A customer buys something for $89 and gives the owner/cashier a crisp hundie. The owner/cashier gives the customer back $11 and customer leaves. Upon further review there were actually two hundies stuck together. Now here is the question? Should the owner/cashier tell his partner.

                                              1. re: jfood

                                                There are honest partners, as there are four leaf clovers.

                                                1. re: jfood

                                                  I know this was in reply to Veggo, but I subscribe to the "what comes around goes around" and "do unto others" theory when it comes to money. I've been undercharged at restaurants a few times, and always brought it to the attention of the casheir. I hope if the reverse is ever true, someone will do the same for me.

                                              2. re: jfood

                                                Actually, there is a restaurant in a city near Dallas that allows you to pay whatever you feel it's worth. The restaurant is called Potagers, and is extremely unique. read about it here:

                                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/604356
                                                http://www.potagercafe.com/todays-menu/

                                                1. re: DallasDude

                                                  there was a place like that in colorado. (?)...until it went out of business from freeloaders.

                                          3. re: invinotheresverde

                                            Unless it happens all the time, you are stealing the customer's money.

                                            1. re: bagelman01

                                              Our customers don't seem to have a problem with it.

                                        2. re: invinotheresverde

                                          doesn't matter, the "it all washes out" argument is faulty. If a places chooses to give me a gift (ie round in my favor), that's their perogative ... they do *not* have the right to force me to give them a gift (rounding in their favor).

                                          And as someone else pointed out - what are the chances that they're paying taxes on that extra money? Granted it isn't much in the aggregate, but another principal of the thing aspect.

                                          1. re: jgg13

                                            It's faulty in that it's not scientifically perfect (one week may have more rounding up, one more rounding down), but I bet it actually DOES pretty much end up a wash longterm. That being said, there is no extra money that needs to be taxed.

                                            1. re: invinotheresverde

                                              It might come up as a wash for the resto, but for the customer it doesn't matter even if it comes out as a wash *or* their favor. The resto should *never* short the customer for any reason. If they choose to short themselves, that's their business.

                                              1. re: jgg13

                                                I guess we just fundamentally disagree.

                                                1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                  So if I was at your place and decided to round my bill down before paying, you'd be okay with that too?

                                                  1. re: jgg13

                                                    To the nearest dollar? Absolutely.

                                                    1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                      How common do you think that'd be though, where establishments would be ok with customers doing that? I doubt it'd be something that would be commonly appreciated if customers just started handing $20 when their bill was $20.40

                                                      You also get in to the "how close is close enough" issue that others have brought up.

                                                      1. re: jgg13

                                                        I'm only talking about one specific restaurant.

                                                        1. re: jgg13

                                                          If I were a server and you left me $20 on a $20.40 tab I'd be pretty irritated. Not so much about the forty cents as the tip you just stiffed me on.

                                                          Take a step back and look at the big picture here. The OP and invino are both talking about situations where a tip is customary. So the bringing of the change isn't the end of the transaction. It's ultimately the customer who gets to decide if rounding is appropriate, and if so, whether to round up or down.

                                                          On that $20.40 tab, most people are going to leave $24. If you're displeased with the fact that the server didn't bring you change, just leave $23.

                                                          I suppose you could request pennies so that you can tip, say, 18% instead of 18.05%. But doesn't that strike you as a little silly? Of course it does - because it's fundamentally unreasonable not to round to one extent or another.

                                                          1. re: alanbarnes

                                                            As others have said, it is the principal of the thing. I know it isn't considered this way around here, but technically the tip is an optional payment (even if optional is "nearly all of the time" in practical terms) but they're presuming. People shouldn't feel that they can choose how I'm going to spend my money.

                                                            In practical terms is it really going to matter? No, of course not. But it is definitely off-putting when it happens to me.

                                                            1. re: jgg13

                                                              Ah, those presumptuous servers. It's their effrontery that makes it okay to make their federal minimum wage $2.13 an hour.

                                                              Tipping isn't optional. Although it isn't legally required, the social contract imposes an obligation on the diner to leave a gratuity. And the reality of this obligation is recognized in the wage and hour laws. So there's an ethical requirement to tip in the absence of truly atrocious misconduct.

                                                              So it's not presumptuous at all for the server to assume that bringing change isn't the last step in the transaction. On the other hand, it's presumptuous as hell for somebody to take all their change and stiff their waiter after having been served a meal. And for that person to then complain that the change was eleven cents short? The mind boggles.

                                                              1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                given your new avatar it appears that the server is doing this to the customer and the customer is doing likewise to the server.

                                                                -The server says that it's only a few cents and you were going to leave it anyway, so no harm no foul;
                                                                -The customer is saying until I decide it is 100% mine and it is the principle.

                                                                Both agree it would probably go to the server, but the road to get there has a different route.

                                                                It is like the rule in baseball that you have to touch all the bases on a homerun. What purpose does it serve? Jfood goes back to his initial comment, see the new alanbarnes avatar.

                                                                1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                  Technically, tipping *is* optional. We might view not tipping as being something that only neaderthals are going to do - but still it is custom, not legal writ.

                                                                  1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                    Isn't it $7.25 an hour? (the FMW)

                                                                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                      not for tipped staff, it's much lower

                                                                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                        $2.63 in my state. I've seen it as low as $2.13.

                                                                  2. re: alanbarnes

                                                                    So here's a question, going along your same scenario ...

                                                                    Say my bill is $50 and I pay with a $100. The server brings back two $20s. Well, according to you that'd be fine - custom dictates that I'm going to be leaving at least $65 anyways, right?

                                                                    Would you still be AOK with them doing that?

                                                                    Furthermore, given that most of the people who support this are saying, "Ah, it's just a few cents, who cares?" ... don't you think that the overall support for this behavior would go down in this situation?

                                                                    1. re: jgg13

                                                                      An establishment that wants to make change simpler without earning the mistrust of some customer has a simple solution: always to round in the customer's favor. Very simple. If they are comfortable with the auditing mess from rounding to begin with, this would not be a big deal.

                                                                      1. re: Karl S

                                                                        Honestly, I'd just prefer everything to be in whole dollar units anyways. It isn't as if we're swimming in items that cost less than $1 anyways, at least here in the US. Of course, I'd also just prefer that we don't have this silly sub-min-wage rule for tipped employees, pay them appropriate (and jack up the menu prices) and do away with tipping altogether.

                                                                        Our economy could seriously use a refactoring, to steal a term from the software world.

                                                        2. re: invinotheresverde

                                                          how does it work when the customer has only been at the restaurant once? I can only see things evening out if the customer were regulars.

                                                          1. re: im_nomad

                                                            It works the same way and no one (in my station, at least) ever once said a word about it.

                                                    2. re: bagelman01

                                                      If the employee that rounds your change down is a thief what do you call the customer who takes the change when the change is rounded up?

                                                      1. re: KTinNYC

                                                        The recipient of a gift!

                                                        Take MY money without asking, you're a thief.

                                                        Intentionally give me extra money, you've given me a gift.

                                                        If I don't know that the extra change is intentional (hearing the server say "we don't use pennies, so I'm giving you twenty cents instead of eighteen") I would bring the inncorect change received to the attention of the employee who handed it to me.

                                                        I don't want what is NOT mine, and you can't take what is mine. If you make an intentional gift it is mine.

                                                        And yes, I do call mistakes in my favor to the attention of the establishment. Honest is honest, it's not a one way street.

                                                    3. This exact thing happened to me recently. I think the difference was more like 42 cents, not 11 cents.

                                                      I paid for a $9.58 check for a take-out meal with a $10.00 bill and they never brought me any change. When I asked where my change was, they kind of looked at me blankly and walked away.

                                                      It's a place I go to regularly and it just left a bad taste in my mouth, no pun intended, so I haven't been back since. And I didn't leave any tip for that meal. They can split the 42 cents among them.

                                                      The impression I got was that they either a) couldn't be bothered with change or b) were annoyed that they weren't getting tips on take out orders.

                                                      I don't care if it's only 42 cents, or only 11 cents and may sometimes work in my favor, it's flat out stealing. It's also probably against the law unless it's stated on the menu somewhere.

                                                      1. I'm a little curious about the "it's only 11 cents let it go" stance of some in the thread.

                                                        If a national bank employee skimmed a penny from every client's account and directed into their own, they'd be guilty of fraud. I think people like that count on people not noticing or caring about a penny or a dime.

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: im_nomad

                                                          It's not the same. You don't tip the teller when you go to the bank. You do tip the server at the "yuppie neighborhood restaurant". I'm not suggesting that the server shouldn't be giving you all your change, I'm just suggesting that 11 cents isn't worth getting hot and bothered about, just take it off the total tip.

                                                          1. re: hsk

                                                            Some of us would say if the server assumes it will be included in the tip it just may be the server's entire tip.

                                                            If there is any rounding it should ALWAYS be in the customer's favor.

                                                        2. a while back a similar but different situation happened to me. I went to Sbux and my coffee was $2,89. I gave the woman $3 and she put the 11c directly into the tip jar not into my hand. I was so taken aback I didn't say anything. I was going to put 50c into the tips jar but ended up giving her nothing.

                                                          I don't think it;'s right to assume that the 11c belonged with the tips.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: smartie

                                                            smartie, this happened to me at a Sbux too,,, how strange! I was going to put a $1 in the jar, and when the barista took my change and popped it in her jar and smiled, I folded the one dollar bill back into my hand and said... Guess you chose your tip!

                                                          2. There is only one word for actions like this...stealing. Plain & simple. I have been in restaurant management for over 25 years and have fired servers for doing it. Servers should not only bring all of the correct change, they should never ask if you need change when you pay your bill. Any restaurant that management team and servers that think this is an ok practice should be a place you never visit.

                                                            1. Not directed to the OP so much as those who are accusing the server of theft... How far are you going to take this?

                                                              Let's say you've got a $10 tab and state and local taxes are 7.75%. That means your total is $10.775. Are you going to complain that you've been robbed if the server only brings back $10.22 in change? Hey - you've been shorted half a cent.

                                                              Okay, assume that nobody has 100-year-old "mill" coins around to reimburse you for the tenths of a cent that have been "stolen" from you. What if the server brings back $10.20? How big a deal are those two pennies?

                                                              Point is, it's reasonable and necessary to round up and down. To the nearest cent, for sure. Maybe to the nearest five or ten cents. Rounding to the nearest dollar may be going too far, but then you have to consider context.

                                                              And the context here is that (a) you're talking about $0.11 on a $10.89 bill - 1% of the total (rounding just a little); and (b) you're going to be tipping.

                                                              If you feel the need to tip precisely and pay in cash, you really should bring (or request) sufficient change to leave an amount that's accurate to the nearest cent. Heck, you can even carry a pair of metal snips so that if you want to tip 20% you can leave a total of exactly $12.755. You and the server can each try to figure out what you're going to do with half a penny (besides cut yourselves).

                                                              But if you're just going to take $7 of the change and leave the rest, who cares? And if **you** care, just take eight bucks. The 12.25% tip should be sufficient to express your (IMO unreasonable) displeasure at having the total rounded.

                                                              3 Replies
                                                              1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                Jfood agrees with you in concept since he hates pennies (except when he goes to the machine at S&S and converts to dollars. And he would absolutely agree with you if this is mentioned somewhere and an agreement is reach. Personally jfood uses plastic everywhere for the points so he does not exactly have a firce dog in this hunt. But if the menu states that in the interest of convenience, the bill will be rounded to the nearest $0.25 or the nearest $1.00, and is pointed out by the server at the beginning of the meal for agreement then that is a great solution. It is the action occuring with no notice at the end of the meal that jfood has an issue with. Wonderful meal, then the "rounding surprise".

                                                                As jfood has stated over and over again, the restaurant experience could be so much smoother if people would just communicate as adults and equals.

                                                                1. re: jfood

                                                                  Exactly. If rounding (to the nickel, the quarter, the dollar, whatever) is a restaurant's policy - or any other sort of retail establishment - and it's made clear to the customers at the outset that such is the case, then I have a choice to patronize them (and accept this policy) or not. My choice: not theirs; that's the critical difference. .

                                                                  Parenthetically, I'd be happy if every place rounded to the nearest nickel. Pennies are useless (unless you're a penny collector) and should be eliminated.

                                                                  1. re: jfood

                                                                    +1 to the tenth power. Communication. How many ills would be cured by it?

                                                                2. Every so often we hear of the US Mint discussing abolishing the penny. I am for that. At one time the Feds actually made money on the coin, but now with costs of materials skyrocketing, they are not.

                                                                  Here is what Canada has to say about their penny should they decide to abolish (note rounding):

                                                                  If the penny is removed from circulation, only the totals of cash transactions will be rounded to the nearest five cents. For example, a transaction for one or more items with a final price of $9.98, $9.99, $10.01 or $10.02 will be $10.00; if the final price is $10.03, $10.04, $10.06 or $10.07, the final price will be $10.05.
                                                                  Rounding off cash amounts will not allow buyers or sellers to realize a monetary gain over the current situation where cash transactions are settled to the nearest penny. On many transactions, consumers and retailers do not realize losses or gains if prices are rounded symmetrically. If companies (operating in a competitive market as is the case with most retail businesses) could actually increase their prices and ultimately their profits by raising their selling price a few pennies, they would do so. In a competitive environment, it is therefore false to claim that sellers would realize a gain at the expense of buyers by systematically rounding up their prices. It is also unfair to say that eliminating the penny would permanently increase prices or even the inflation rate. Three Bank of Canada researchers arrived at the same conclusion. Moreover, the experience of many countries that have stopped producing low-value coins also goes against this type of erroneous thinking.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: DallasDude

                                                                    I saw a story about the abolition of the penny on, I believe, the CBS Sunday Morning Show. IIRC, the mint actually loses money on every penny pressed but there is a large lobby against the end of the penny. The lobby? Charities that have programs where they collect coins. These charities make hundreds of thousands of dollars a year on the penny donations and don't want them to go away.

                                                                  2. This has happened to me as well in a bakery. Bill was $4.50. Gave her a $10 bill. Just got $5 in change. Didn't appreciate that at all.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                      Well, that's a tidy 10+% tip. Damn cheeky.

                                                                    2. Guess l was a thief. When l worked at a cheese shop where l took the money and an average sale was say $ 30. l would routinely round up or down, this was before we took credit cards. In three years no one questioned my, 'Let's call it $28' style.

                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                      1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                                                        if the shoe fits. but in your example, you weren't a thief, if you returned to them "undeserved" change of $2 on a $30 sale (but you were cheating your employer -- perhaps to ingratiate yourself with the customer?). or you'd only charge $30 for a $32 dollar sale?

                                                                        there was no objection when you didn't give change? i find this unimaginable that nobody objected in three entire years of this practice.

                                                                        further, were you the owner of the shop? if not, you were not doing right by your employer when you gave back undeserved change (or overcharged, for that matter. it does go to reputation, whether you saw that or not).

                                                                        1. re: alkapal

                                                                          Had approval of owner, wealthy area, people seemed to be like me, that change was a pain, so one time they got charged too little, next too much; they felt as l change was muchadoo about too little.

                                                                          1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                                                            yeah, let's see how that concept works in less flamboyant times, though. in any event, i think it's an imposition on buyers/and or the owner. it's not a straight-up way of dealing, in my opinion.

                                                                            i will stick to my opinion: it's my money.

                                                                      2. Oh, we've had several long flamefests over the years on this chestnut. The most recent last year:

                                                                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/539551

                                                                        Bottom line: the restaurant cannot do this without your cooperation and consent. For a restaurant to present the practice as given runs a risk for the restaurant's good will. A smart MOD will know that it's not a battle worth pushing. It undermines TRUST - and that is a dangerous thing to undermine, especially in bad economic times. It's penny wise and pound foolish for a restaurant to push this practice.

                                                                        1. Had the same thing happen to me with a takeout order. When I asked for my change (and it was more like 45 cents), she looked at me and said, "Oh, I'm out of change." She then proceeded to search her apron pockets, pulled out a couple nickels and tossed them on the bar at me. I laughed it off, but I have never forgotten it.

                                                                          When I was in Romania, the cashiers at a small local bread shop gave out small bread rings as change if the amount was very small. A charming solution I think.

                                                                          1. This has rarely been a problem for me, because my wife and I are such creatures of habit that I already know what our total bill will be before we sit down in a restaurant and I usually carry a dollar or more in assorted change to "make it easier on the wait staff", so they don't have to count change.
                                                                            But I had a situation where the bill was $23-something, and I had a $20 and a $10, and when the waitress asked "would you like your change back" (hoping for a nice $6+ tip) I said "yes", so she brought the change back as a $5 and a $1. Yes, I could have left the $5, but that would have left me only $1, and quite frankly the service wasn't worth 25%...so she got a $1. But fortunately, due to the law of averages, the next time, when I tipped another waitress 20%+...the tips averaged out.

                                                                            8 Replies
                                                                            1. re: podunkboy

                                                                              """But fortunately, due to the law of averages, the next time, when I tipped another waitress 20%+...the tips averaged out."""
                                                                              ~~~~~~~
                                                                              thank you, podunk boy! {;^D.

                                                                              1. re: alkapal

                                                                                I'm curious if the pro-establishment side of this will chime in, as they're in a bit of a bind. They can't support him as he's stiffing the server, but they can't argue with him as he's making the same argument they are.

                                                                                1. re: jgg13

                                                                                  Unless the two waitresses are life partners, one need not be a card carrying radical to recognize flawed logic.

                                                                                  1. re: Veggo

                                                                                    So the various customers that are getting randomly short & over changed are also life partners? If it is okay to say, "that's fine, it all works out in the end for the customer", it is okay to say that for the servers as well.

                                                                                    1. re: jgg13

                                                                                      No. I'm agreeing with you that one waitress was stiffed. And generously tipping another does not mitigate it. Your suggestion above about doing away with the tipping system by raising pay and prices would indeed be far less complex , but I'm concerned that if the pay-for-performance incentive were removed, that service quality would decline precipitously.

                                                                                      1. re: Veggo

                                                                                        That's how I used to feel, but given that we've come to a point where wretched service supposedly warrants a decent tip anyways, how entitled servers seem to have become regarding tips and not to mention the whole "it can't be my fault!" culture that has erupted in our society as a whole, I don't think it'd really matter anyways. It seems that far more people are more likely to just think you're a cheapskate instead of thinking that perhaps they did something wrong.

                                                                                        Just like in any industry - some people are going to do well and others are going to slack ... c'est la vie.

                                                                                  2. re: jgg13

                                                                                    Not really. The issue from podunk is that the waitress brought a large bill and a small bill, making it impossible to leave her a standard tip.

                                                                                  3. re: alkapal

                                                                                    my point was thanking podunk boy for pointing out the flaws -- through sardonic humor -- of the whole "it'll work out in the law of averages" logical fallacy.

                                                                                    ~~
                                                                                    hence...the beloved (by sam f) laughing face.

                                                                                2. Funny how this has turned into another tipping thread, when regardless of whether a tip is warranted, the server should not short change you.

                                                                                  How many of you would squawk paying $10 for a $9.50 bucket of popcorn at the movies and getting no change back? Believe me, from my experience, it wouldn’t sit well with anyone.

                                                                                  I’m curious though, having never been a restaurant server: At the end of the shift doesn’t your cash till have to balance with the checks? Wouldn’t rounding up and down throw it off and make you constantly short/over? Maybe that doesn’t matter?

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: cuccubear

                                                                                    yes, cuccs, it always devolves this way!!

                                                                                  2. There's a simple solution if you don't have proper change - round down in the customers favor, even if it's almost a dollar. I would have given you $10 in change. I don't work in the restaurant business, but I'm a retail manager, so I deal with customers and cash. The impression is what's important.

                                                                                    In any case, the situation never would have come up because I always have enough change on hand...it's really irresponsible and unprofessional not to, IMO, no matter who you are or what industry you're in.

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: foodpoisoned

                                                                                      This is precisely what has been going through my mind as I watched this thread spin out of control. Always round in the customer's favor. My guess is that the good will this generates would lead to even higher average tips for the server in the end. I know that I always toss in extra when I feel that a server has done something 'special' for me.

                                                                                    2. Folks, this thread is getting increasingly repetitive and hostile, so we're going to lock it now.