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Dec 15, 2010 07:32 AM

Picking up the tab


My husband took his staff out to dinner and one person in the group ordered a $70++ after-dinner drink[whisky]. I honestly don't believe the gentleman knew how expensive it was nonetheless, it appeared on the bill. My husband was mortified but didn't make a scene in the restaurant. Is it appropriate for the waiter to disclose the cost of the libation if it is way out of context with the rest of the meal? Should this happen again, how do you recommend he handle the situation?

  1. I don't think it is the waiter's responsibility to bring up the cost.

    The problem is with the $70++ booze drinker.

    If he ordered such an expensive whiskey knowing the price, well then he is a pig-ish jerk. (I encounted too many of these when someone else was paying the tab)

    If he was clueless and didn't know better, it still makes him look bad. He should have choosen a whiskey in line with the rest of the meal.

    If the prices weren't listed, he should have ordered something he recognized as not be crazy expensive or asked the waiter the cost of XYZ brand.

    8 Replies
    1. re: cleobeach

      I had an experience once that may be similar to what happened here. I was in a Carrabba's Italian restaurant in the midwest and ordered a Remy after dinner. When the bill came it was for $35, for a glass of Remy Martin XO. I had just asked for a Remy without being more specific, and I had seen a bottle of plain old Remy Martin VSOP on the bar, so of course that was what I was expecting, and that would normally cost maybe $10 or so for a pour.

      I protested to the manager, and was in the end charged only for the VSOP - and what was a $120 bottle of cognac doing in a family-style chain restaurant in small-town Ohio anyway?

      But my point is, the guy may have ordered a common single-malt Scotch by name and they brought him an unusually old and expensive one. Since he didn't see the check he may not even have known what he actually got - though I do hope he enjoyed it. But in that case (as in mine), the restaurant was at fault, not the diner.

      1. re: BobB

        BobB - good for you to stand your ground. That is total BS on the part of the restaurant and darn right they should adjust the charge.

        To explain my line of thinking - I used to bartend. If the waiter went came to the bar with an order for Johnnie Walker, I would ask "red, black or blue?" I would never had sent out a glass of blue without knowing that is specifically what the customer requested.

        You are right, it very well could be the restaurant's fault.

          1. re: cleobeach

            Yes, it was Johnny Walker Blue that he ordered and, @jhopp2127, I'm in total agreement. He won't be invited back - thanks for the affirmation.

            1. re: Smith38

              if you indicated ......

              I honestly don't believe the gentleman knew how expensive it was nonetheless...

              Why the change of position now.

              1. re: Smith38

                How exactly do you have a staff dinner and leave out one person? Unless he is no longer with the company for the next one, that is.
                Unless he was someone's date, your husband should have some idea about whether this was an error or greed on the guy's part.

                1. re: Smith38

                  I find it really funny that an add for Johnny Walker Blue is showing right here>>>>>>>>

          2. Anyone who orders a $70 whiskey knows exactly what they are doing. I say their invite is lost in the mail next year.

            3 Replies
            1. re: jhopp217

              But as I pointed out above - he may have just ordered something like "a Macallan" and the restaurant decided to pull a fast one and send out a shot of the 20- or 25-year-old stuff instead of the common 12-year-old.

              1. re: BobB

                I'm sure he did order something like Johnny Walker and they gave him the Blue. usually places that carry stuff like that, don't do that.

              2. re: jhopp217

                With due respect, I beg to differ. Liquor and Wine labels and offerings are always expanding. Most people are not liquor and wine knowledgeable. I've been in the Food and Liquor Business for over 5 decades and there's a lot I do not know of....or even aware of....and I receive all the trade periodicals monthly.......

              3. Just curious....does the whiskey drinker know *now* that he ordered a 70++ drink?

                1 Reply
                1. re: sedimental

                  I wondered that too? Or did he know your husband was paying for it or did he think it was on the company dime? Either way if he isnt extremely apologetic I would think twice about what he adds to my staff!

                2. I was out with the family and one of the boyfriends accompanied. He ordered a Johnnie Walker Blue for his drink. As the waiter left I excused myself to "go to the men's room." I approached the waiter, told him to cancel the JWB and make it JW Red. Boyfriend never knew the difference and fortunately daughter told him to take a hike shortly thereafter.

                  Your husband needs to have a chat with the person, give him the benefit of the doubt and ask what he ordered, ask him if he knew the price and watch his eyes. Then he needs to have a little chat on manners and taking advantage of the boss.

                  To your questionthough, the server is your server, not the host's baby sitter. If there are limits to ordering then the host needs to make that clear to the restaurant when the reservationis made. Liquor can get way out of control for the host and he needs to be a little proactive. It happens to everyone once, people have lots of stories and i bet it never happens to your husband again.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: jfood

                    Your husband needs to have a chat with the person, give him the benefit of the doubt and ask what he ordered, ask him if he knew the price and watch his eyes. Then he needs to have a little chat on manners and taking advantage of the boss.
                    with all due respect, jfood, why didn't you take a similarly direct approach with the boyfriend? isn't it possible that he ordered the blue because he had perhaps heard others order it before, but didn't necessarily know the price distinctions among the JW varieties? he certainly wouldn't be the first guy in history to have done something foolish while trying to impress his girlfriend's father...

                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                      Embarassing a boyfriend in front of their girlfriend is not a good move by any stretch of the imagination. And he knew the price as well.

                      1. re: jfood

                        i was thinking more along the lines of talking to him in private, but okay.

                  2. (1) How did he order? Does the host know? If so, and he said "I'd like a Balvenie" or whatever, then argue it out with the staff directly afterwards.

                    (2) If he ordered specifically, but prices were not included, it's trickier. Is the person an idiot?

                    (a) The person is not an idiot = They knew that the 30 year limited edition Bruichladdich was $70 a glass, or thereabouts. They should be shunned and/or fired.

                    (b) The person is an idiot = The person needs to somehow be made aware of what happened. Is it informal? Try "Oy, Bob, let's say you take me out for a porterhouse to get me back for that scotch sometime, eh?" Or "Well, Charles that muist have been a rather choice vintage, old chap" Obviously, that's going to be pretty gauche in some circles. I'm doing a terrible parody of appropriate lines for different groups, but you get the idea? Because then Bob can try to cover the cost, or argue about what he meant with the staff if there is an error, etc.

                    Or just be nice and don't say anything assuming that he would be humiliated.

                    (3) Prices were on the menu. See 2(a).

                    11 Replies
                    1. re: Raids

                      Can they fire someone where you live for ordering an expensive drink after work at a dinner?

                      1. re: fryerlover

                        Well yes if it is a company function or it was on the company card....I see salesmen fired for out of control spending all the time.

                        1. re: LaLa

                          Oh, yes for that, I'd understand.
                          I was thinking more along the lines of the boss is taking out his staff and paying for the staff. The staff are not spending company money as I see it......they are being taken out by their boss.

                          1. re: fryerlover

                            In NC, we have what is known as employees-at-will which very basicly means employees can be terminated for any reason (boss doesn't like their hair color, for instance) so long as the reason is not a violation of their civil rights.

                        2. re: fryerlover

                          Sorry to give such a lawyer answer, but yes where I live, anyway, because in the states you can fire anyone at any time for any reason, except reasons that have been specifically prohibited, like age, race, sex, ehtnicity, religious orientation, etc., unless there is an employment contract. You can fire someone because you didn't like what they ordered, don't like their tie, whatever.

                          1. re: Raids

                            I appreciate your lawyer answer as I am in Canada and am not aware of state labour laws.
                            I'm sure it happens here too, however people can report to Labour Standards. Although I'm not sure how well that works out as luckily I've never had to go that route.

                            1. re: Raids

                              For non-union personnel. "Employees work at the convenience of the employer".

                              1. re: ospreycove

                                The customary language in an employment contract in an at-will state provides for termination: "for any reason, or no reason at all".
                                Doesn't exactly give one a warm fuzzy.

                                1. re: Veggo

                                  VEGGO......"AT WILL STATE" THAT IS THE TERM I WAS LOOKING FOR (FOGGY BRAIN)!!!

                              2. re: Raids

                                Oops, just saw your response. I basicly stated the same above. My bad. ;-)

                              3. re: fryerlover

                                For an at will employee, there is no protection against being stupid. However, it would also tell something about the boss if he should do this.