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You’re charging me for that?...Really?

Withnail42 Apr 12, 2011 06:45 PM

Recently while on a winter visit to Palm Beach we decided to try a local restaurant. It is a Palm Beach outpost of a well known Miami chef, fried chicken enthusiast and occasional Top Chef judge. When I made the reservation I was asked if it was a special occasion. I told them it was my SO’s birthday, but made no special requests of any kind.

The meal was excellent. Service exceptional. Shortly after the dessert arrived so did a plate with two sad looking store bought mini red-velvet cupcakes. The kind of things you find at bad office parties. And they were stale. It was a total contrast with the quality our evening. But thought them cute appreciated the gesture. It was fun.

However when the check arrived the birthday cup cakes went from cute to pathetic. Much to my dismay this stale offering, which was not requested, appeared on the bill. It wasn’t a huge amount. I couldn’t be bothered talking to the manager it would have been a waste of time after a nice evening. But it did leave us feeling that place was incredibly cheep. Perhaps even taking advantage of customers.

I’ve never encountered anything like this before. Has anyone else?

  1. k
    kevin47 Apr 12, 2011 06:52 PM

    It irritates me when waitstaff offers a drink to compensate for having to wait (either for a reservation or a meandering course) and charges for it.

    In this case, particularly since you bought dessert, it is incredibly cheap to charge for a cupcake you did not order. It is well worth bringing up to the manager. You don't need to make a scene at the restaurant. A call after the fact will suffice.

    1. l
      Leonardo Apr 12, 2011 07:40 PM

      Have never been treated like this. No way would I have paid for it.
      And had I bought dessert in addition to this, that fact would be irrelevant.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Leonardo
        The Drama Queen Apr 12, 2011 08:22 PM

        I'm with Leonardo on this one. You were under NO obligation to pay for something you didn't order. I would have called the manager on it before the bill was paid and had it removed. You may have been mistakenly charged for it in which case they would have taken it off the bill. If it wasn't in error then they thought they could get away with it. Apparently they were right.

      2. mamachef Apr 12, 2011 07:42 PM

        I have never heard of such a thing. Completely tacky, IMO, especially considering that you were specifically asked to volunteer information that it doesn't sound like you'd thought about giving them, and they used that info. to increase your ticket without confirming with you that you wanted that type of special treatment in the first place.
        I am glad though, that the first part of the evening was pleasant and that the food was good, so it wasn't a total bust. : )

        1. b
          bobbert Apr 13, 2011 12:47 AM

          My knee-jerk reaction would be to say, no way would I pay for the cup cakes but I can visualize a very nice celebratory dinner and then the bill comes. What to do about a couple of dollars? Make a stink? This often leaves an even worse taste in ones mouth than having been charged to begin with. Then there the birthday person who thought this was a cute gesture but certainly not cute enough to spend a couple of bucks on? You're in a no-win situation (especially if it wasn't a huge amount).. I would have done the same as you but I would definitely have followed up the next day asking the ever popular question WTF?

          1. g
            givemecarbs Apr 13, 2011 12:52 AM

            I'm weighing in early on this thread when there are still only four replies. Your experience validates my own reticence to reveal that it is a special occasion when I eat out. They did ask though. Hmm. Sounds like a racket to me, or do restaurants usually ask these days?
            Complaining never seems to work for me withnail so I think you did the right thing by paying and not saying anything although I'm in the minority so far. In my experience complaining is like scratching a mosquito bite, it only seems to inflame and make the annoyance bigger and longer lasting. Sorry that happened to you. Once my mom was give a nice bottle of perfume as a gift and later charged for it. She was an easy-going lady but being jerked around that way made her furious. No one likes being duped.

            4 Replies
            1. re: givemecarbs
              alwayscooking Apr 13, 2011 05:45 PM

              Very recently I made reservations at a more expensive chain restaurant for a birthday dinner - they asked if it were for a celebration; I did not volunteer the information. We were greated by small sparklies on the table, a menu with a named happy birthday salut to the lucky person (so subtle I nearly missed it), and a large selection from their desserts after dinner, all artfully displayed and personalized.

              Thankfully no song.

              Lovely

              And no charge - Because I did not ask for it . . . It was a gift the restaurant choose to give us and it created much, much goodwill. And most likely more repeat business.

              Sounds like your experience created the opposite effect.

              1. re: alwayscooking
                alwayscooking Apr 14, 2011 05:32 PM

                Geez - if I'm going to say something nice about a place I suppose I should name it. Roy's in Tampa did the bday grand. Thanks!

                1. re: alwayscooking
                  l
                  Lixer Apr 15, 2011 07:11 AM

                  Awww! My boyfriend and I had an anniversary dinner at our Roy's and they went all out for us, though we did giggle that the poem in the menu mentioned our marriage. :) Too bad they closed that location down.

                  1. re: alwayscooking
                    b
                    beachmouse Apr 15, 2011 03:51 PM

                    I know there are a lot of people who aren't fans of OSI, but they do seem to have a corporate culture that encourages their individual restaurant managers to be very pro-good customer care, and a number of their managers do seem to embrace the concept.

              2. s
                smartie Apr 13, 2011 05:04 AM

                I think I would write/email the chef/owner/GM with the story. Say you are not complaining but merely pointing out the bad taste left in your mouth if you'll excuse the pun.

                1 Reply
                1. re: smartie
                  Quine Apr 13, 2011 03:10 PM

                  I agree with this suggestion, In fact email the chef owner this thread so he can get an idea how the CH community feels about it as well. You sound less like a complainer and more like a person with constructive and productive comments.

                2. LindaWhit Apr 13, 2011 05:22 AM

                  The fact that they asked if it was a special occasion, but you didn't volunteer that information or make a special request for special treatment would automatically make the cupcakes a "gift" to you from the restaurant. You never ordered them, you shouldn't have had to pay for them.

                  However, as bobbert said, the price of a few cupcakes is small enough to just eat the cost, as you ended up doing. I *would*, however, write the chef/owner and let her know that you felt this was the ultimate in tackiness to have been charged for something you never asked for.

                  1. k
                    kimmer1850 Apr 13, 2011 07:40 AM

                    Coming from a waiter's POV, I want to say that at first glance this is incredibly rude. That being said...
                    Last week I had a couple celebrat their anniverersy in my section. Now, we do a complimentary baked alaska for special occasions. We have to ring it in and then get a manager to comp it from the bill. Well... we were busy and it completely slipped my mind. You guessed it. I dropped the check on the table and then collected the payment. It never occured to me until after they left that I had charged them for their special occasion treat. I was mortified.
                    If they had paid by credit card I could have refunded their money immediately but they paid cash. Luckily, they had made a reservation via Open Table so I had their phnoe number. I called them but their was no answer. left a messageto apologize and say that I could do one of three things. They could come in the next day and I could give them thier money back. They could come back and I could comp them another dessert. Or, I could send then a gift card for the amount of the dessert.
                    As of today I haven't heard back from them, but I still hope I do.
                    My rather long winded point is accidents happen. If this was an accident the waiter/restaurant could have and should have made it right. Otherwise, I have to believe the restaurant is just cheap.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: kimmer1850
                      The Drama Queen Apr 13, 2011 07:46 AM

                      You did the right thing kimmer and I'm impressed. I stand by my initial response. I would have brought it to the attention of the waiter or the manager. I'm willing to bet the bill was more than a "couple of bucks" for those cupcakes given that cupcakes sell for $3.25 to $4.50 per.

                      1. re: kimmer1850
                        chowser Apr 13, 2011 12:13 PM

                        I'd guess it wasn't worth the time for them to come in and get the money back but if I were them, I'd be impressed with your effort and that would make all the difference in my opinion of the restaurant.

                        1. re: chowser
                          b
                          bobbert Apr 14, 2011 02:48 AM

                          +1

                        2. re: kimmer1850
                          h
                          hilltowner Apr 13, 2011 06:42 PM

                          The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that it was a mistake, much as kimmer described. The waiter had to order the cupcakes somehow, to get them out of the kitchen. They just forgot to comp them.

                          It seemed so strange to me - and I'm in the business - that anyplace would do this. It's so completely over the top. I'd love to find out what the restaurants actual policy is. People are so quick to always blame the restaurant/server, when more often than not - it's a misunderstanding or an honest mistake. Could the OP maybe call the restaurant and simply inquire about their special occasion policy?

                          1. re: hilltowner
                            thew Apr 15, 2011 07:38 AM

                            it seems like a mistake to me as well.

                        3. onceadaylily Apr 13, 2011 09:00 AM

                          I'm curious if the server said anything about the birthday when bringing you the cupcakes? Or if the cupcakes were just served as if you had ordered them? If the former scenario occurred, I would have assumed they were complimentary and thus complained about the charge. But with the latter scenario, I would simply have said, "Thank you, but we didn't order these," with the assumption that the dessert was meant for another table.

                          1. h
                            Harters Apr 13, 2011 01:50 PM

                            Perhaps they realised that you were not going to ruin the evening by having to have a discussion about getting a trivial amount removed from the bill.

                            1. scubadoo97 Apr 13, 2011 04:27 PM

                              I think I would have taken a pen and drew a line through the item and price and deducted it from my bill without much thought and added a written note on the bill that it was not ordered

                              1. Midlife Apr 14, 2011 03:43 PM

                                I agree that charging for an unordered item is pretty outrageous, but............................. is there also an issue here as to whether the right thing is to consume the item or to say something before doing so???????? That could be rather awkward, because it throws the issue to the guest, where it doesn't belong (ie- having to ask if the item will be on the bill if that point is not explained). I'm just asking if anyone sees the guest as compromising their own position by consuming the gift item.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: Midlife
                                  d
                                  DGresh Apr 14, 2011 03:48 PM

                                  so one should also ask if the amuse presented is going to be a separate charge? That would make me feel like a bumpkin who "doesn't know about such things". As a guest I just can't see feeling right in asking such a question.

                                  1. re: DGresh
                                    Quine Apr 14, 2011 04:01 PM

                                    Great point.

                                    I also think that asking if these un-ordered celebratory items ( which are SUCH the opposite of an amuse) were to be be paid for by the person who *ordered*; this is an excellent question to ask the server

                                    1. re: DGresh
                                      Midlife Apr 14, 2011 05:21 PM

                                      I'm not at all sure that a celebratory dessert is the same thing as a small palate cleanser, which is pretty standard in a 'better' meal service.

                                      I agree that it is very awkward to have to ask, and I presume your answer is "No"..... consuming it does NOT compromise your 'right' to be upset if it's on the bill.

                                  2. p
                                    pitterpatter Apr 17, 2011 08:18 AM

                                    This reminds me of an incident several years ago. A VERY FAMOUS chef in NYC has just opened a restaurant that was getting a lot of hype. My friend and I were both working sales reps for distributors he was buying from, and he kept saying, come on in for lunch. When we arrived, the waiter told us, "pick out an appetizer and he will send out the rest of the meal." Well, send out food he did. It was enough for 10 people, let alone two. Then we got the bill. It was $250!!!! What to say? Since he was a client, it would have been completely unprofessional to complain.

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