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Should I have told the waiter he left a dessert off the check?

Last night we went to a local place for dinner. It is one of the nicer and more expensive restaurants in our area but it seems to be struggling. We go there probably once every other month and it is never too crowded. We go there often enough that we are recognized by the owner when we come in.

The restaurant is running an early bird dinner special if you are seated by 6:30 which includes soup or salad, one of about a dozen listed entrees, coffee and dessert for $19.95. My wife and I ordered from the early bird but our adult daughter didn't.

When our salads came and she didn't get one, it became clear that she didn't realize that we had ordered full dinners while she had ordered an entree only. I told her that if she wanted dessert, she could still get a dessert. Which she did.

When the check came, I saw we were not charged for the dessert. It's clear to me that the waiter knew our daughter hadn't ordered the full dinner since he didn't bring her a salad at the beginning, her entree was not available on the early bird, and he charged the correct price for her entree.

My assumption was that either the waiter or the owner -- who came by our table a number of times to ask how things were -- had decided to comp our daughter's dessert, which I thought was a nice gesture. Normally if a waiter makes a mistake I do speak up, whether it is in the restaurant's favor or mine. I.e., if he had neglected to charge for our daughter's entree I certainly would have notified him. But in this case, I did not -- and I tipped based on what the check would have been including the extra dessert.

Would you have called the waiter over to tell him he had left the extra dessert off the check?

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  1. Yes! ~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    1. This happens to us occasionally, as I'm in the restaurant business. I speak up, and it's usually a comp. There was a time when it was an honest mistake and the server was grateful that we pointed it out -- he said that the owner would've made him pay for the dessert had the owner found out!

      Given the circumstances you've described in your post, it seems to me that the dessert was a comp -- to make your daughter feel comfortable. I certainly don't think you ought to feel at all guilty about not calling over the waiter. Perhaps the waiter was at fault -- perhaps they forgot to let you know "the young lady's dessert is on the house."

      You tipped on the correct amount. Forget about it, unless it happens again. Then tell 'em.

      1. Certainly. This isn't even a question. You order X, you pay for X.

        1. It would be a really bad idea to invite bad restaurant karma by NOT letting them know of the mistake. If it was intended to be comped, they would have the opportunity to say so. If not, you might have saved the server from having to make up the difference.

          Almost the same thing happened to me last night: we were charged for a glass of wine rather than a bottle. We pointed out the error; both the server and the manager thanked us for our honesty. It was a fine meal, but I might not have digested it quite so well if we had let the error slide. And I might have had an accident driving home.

          Bad restaurant karma can be a bitch.

          1. I would have mentioned it, and expected for the check to be adjusted.

            1. Yes, I would have called him over to tell him. If it was a comp, he'dsay so. If not, he is probably paying for that dessert.

              1. yes I would have told him.

                1. yeah, you should have pointed it out. either a mistake, and the waiter would thank you, or a comp, and them you would have had the chance to thank the owner.

                  1 Reply
                  1. Had the waiter added a dessert to your check, that you neither ordered nor consumed, I'm sure you would have raised a question with the waiter. No difference here where the waiter omitted an item you ordered and consumed. You should have asked about it.

                    1. Is there another answer other than "of course."

                      1. In the words of the most humble, but very beloved Plato... WWJD.


                        2 Replies
                        1. re: DallasDude

                          Cute - was he using his crystal ball when he asked?!? :)

                          1. It has happend a few times lately.

                            I usually pay in cash. I have handed them the check, added the amount of the forgotten item, tipped on it all and then told them they forgot. Then it is up to them to change the bill or keep it all.

                            No guilt on my part.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: Cathy

                              So even if they were trying to comp you on something, you'll give the value of that item, plus full tip, to the server?

                              1. re: woodburner

                                Maybe that is why this happens to Cathy more often than average?

                                1. re: woodburner

                                  Yes. If they don't say anything that it is comped and I see there is a math error, I correct it myself.

                                  Same with a math error the other way. But I usually tell them and let them correct it on their computers before I pay.

                                  I have running totals in my head everywhere...supermarket, farmers market, restaurants, fast food places. I know how much cash I should have in my hand/how much is in my pocket when standing in line.

                                  It does seem to happen a lot more often lately, in my favor...

                                1. Many times I have noticed items I ate or drank that did not appear on my bill. I wonder how often the server omitted the item purposefully and hoped I would quietly notice and subsequently augment the tip, or whether it was inadvertent. I will never know. I always call attention to it, and have probably caused the need for awkward 'splainin' by the server to the MOD. But I won't be a partner to a server or bartender ripping off an owner. Carelessness or thievin' ways result in the same loss to the owner, with whom my allegience lies.

                                  1. Would you have called the waiter over to tell him he had left the extra dessert off the check?


                                    1. I'm guessing it was an accident. As a server, it's good to mention comps. You tell them that dessert's on us tonight and hope that helps make the tip a little more generous, of course. Plus, it makes people feel special and they'll be more likely to return, so there's no reason not to mention the gift.

                                      1. yes.
                                        I had a similar experience at a well-known joint in rowayton. i told the waitress there was a problem with the bill and explained she didn't charge me enough. she laughed and told me to forget it. very cool. at the end of the day, we all came out ahead.

                                        1. If the bill doesn't match what we ordered either way (esp. too many drinks or too few), I'll let the waiter know about it so they can correct their error... they're human and they make mistakes and they shouldn't be penalised for them.

                                          1. Yes. You should always read the check and if it doesn't match what you ordered, alert the staff. This applies in cases where you may have been overcharged (you don't want to pay extra), or comped (you want to acknowledge it) or undercharged (you don't want to pay to little).

                                            1. I once walked forty-five minutes back to an osteria in Alba, Italy when my friend and I realized we hadn't been changed for our super-yummy desserts. The staff at the restaurant couldn't restrain their laughter. They wouldn't let us pay and I'm guessing they laughed at the crazy foreign girls for a week.