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By drunken mistake, i later realized i slightly undertipped...what to do? (long)

Simon Nov 25, 2011 02:35 PM

So a few days ago, i went to one of my absolute favorite restaurants (an elegant place w/ an 8-seat sushi bar in NYC)...went there on a date w/ a girl whose birthday it was...

Food was stellar, service was stellar...long sashimi/sushi omakase, paired w/ white and red wines (half-glasses, tasting portions, a couple full glasses), small dessert...before my date arrived, i told the sommellier to really knock himself out on the wine pairings since my date likes/knows wine and it was her bday and she would appreciate the varietals and combinations: and the sommellier did great (e.g. soft red Austrian Blaufrankisch w/ saba?? -- counterintuitive but great - who knew?!; a sublime white Mersault to smooth out the edges of various shellfish and white fish sashimi courses? -- awesome) ...i bought the sushi chef a glass of fine white wine...i don't go there super-often, but i know the sushi chef well from the previous place he worked, and i intend to continue going there at least somewhat frequently, maybe once every month or so, (some of the time solo)...

When the bill came: a) we'd each had the equivalent of about 5 glasses of wine, so i was a bit buzzed, b) we were in fun mode and i wanted to walk in the rain, head back to my home with her, continue the bday, etc...so, i signed the credit card fairly hurriedly...and i only noticed the next day, that i'd slightly undertipped...

The bill w/ tax was $435...in my drunken haste, i rounded up to 500 and tipped 65....which is just barely 15%...given the wonderful meal and vibe, i would have normally tipped at least just north of 20%, maybe a little more, if i'd been thinking/adding clearly..

i considered stopping back in (the place is right near my home) and giving them 40 bucks to add the night's tip jar: but that prob would have seemed tacky and/or overly eager...yet, given the absurdly good quality of the meal, i'd hate to say/do nothing and be thought of as a cheapskate/low-tipper...another option would be to return solo soon (perhaps sooner than i might have otherwise), mention my drunken quasi-error in passing, and tip 25 or 30% to compensate...i'm leaning towards the latter option...

First-World Problems, i know...but what do people think?...

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  1. Veggo RE: Simon Nov 25, 2011 02:40 PM

    Do better next time.

    1. h
      Harters RE: Simon Nov 25, 2011 02:51 PM

      I find it hard to comprehend that you consider there's an issue here.

      6 Replies
      1. re: Harters
        stilldontknow RE: Harters Nov 27, 2011 03:57 AM

        It's a Yank thing. Better leaving them to it.

        1. re: stilldontknow
          Harters RE: stilldontknow Nov 28, 2011 02:16 PM

          Fair point. Although I'll never understand this American obsession over tipping.

          1. re: Harters
            chowser RE: Harters Nov 28, 2011 03:00 PM

            It's not really an American thing as much as a CH thing. I don't think I've had many discussions IRL about tipping.

            1. re: Harters
              egit RE: Harters Nov 28, 2011 03:28 PM

              It's not an obsession, per se. It comes down to the fact that bars and restaurants pay almost nothing. It's expected that the servers will be paid primarily from tips, so tips are their primary source of income. In most of the rest of the world, or at least in most of Europe, the servers are paid from wages that ultimately come from slightly higher menu costs.

              I'm not saying one is better than the other, but it's Just The Way It Is in the states.

              1. re: Harters
                scoopG RE: Harters Nov 28, 2011 06:05 PM

                Why weigh in at all John, if you don't understand?

                1. re: scoopG
                  Harters RE: scoopG Nov 29, 2011 06:46 AM

                  Well, I weighed in because the OP asked for opinions and I had an opinion to offer the OP.

                  And, no, I certainly will never understand why anyone would be the slightest bit concerned about *slightly* undertipping. Or slightly overtipping. Or tipping to the exact amount that represents the tipping custom where they are. I try to understand foreign customs but this one, which appears regularly on CH under slightly different guises, always beats me.

          2. m
            Meann RE: Simon Nov 25, 2011 02:56 PM

            "i considered stopping back in (the place is right near my home) and giving them 40 bucks to add the night's tip jar"

            Do it. The staff lives on their tips.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Meann
              Stelmaria RE: Meann Nov 27, 2011 12:49 AM

              I second this. Go for it! I'm sure they'll be pleased.

              1. re: Meann
                egit RE: Meann Nov 28, 2011 02:12 PM

                I third this. I've accidentally stiffed/under-tipped a bartender before. I've gone back the next day and apologized in person (and with the intended cash).

                Go back when you can, and hopefully when you know the waiter and sommellier will be there, and make up the difference.

                1. re: Meann
                  QuirkyCookery RE: Meann Nov 28, 2011 06:53 PM

                  Agreed. Hopefully much of the staff that was there your night will be there the night you toss in the extra tip.

                  1. re: QuirkyCookery
                    Simon RE: QuirkyCookery Nov 28, 2011 07:00 PM

                    Its a very small place: we were served almost entirely by the sushi chef and the sommellier, with other staff clearing plates discreetly. I'd say there is not much diff in staff from night to night.

                2. c
                  califkatie RE: Simon Nov 25, 2011 03:12 PM

                  Go back. Explain to management and give them some more money.

                  1. p
                    purple bot RE: Simon Nov 25, 2011 03:31 PM

                    I can't imagine the staff would be anything but pleasantly surprised if you went back and made it right.

                    1. l
                      lrhr RE: Simon Nov 25, 2011 04:16 PM

                      I once signed a credit card slip and completely forgot to leave a tip. Wasn't drunk or even tipsy...just blanked. Realized later that night. Went back the next day, with cash and a very short note of apology, something like: "No reflection on your service. I don't know what I was thinking." The waiter was off that day, but the waitress who took the envelope and promised to give it to him was blown away. She was sure I must have waited tables at some point, which I never have.

                      And this may be a "first-world problem" to you, but it might not be for the waitstaff. Sometimes a few bucks makes a huge difference in meeting the rent. And the gesture will go a long way towards your reception the next time you dine there. Do it.

                      1. g
                        gardencook RE: Simon Nov 25, 2011 04:18 PM

                        I think you left 15%, which was fine. I don't see the issue here at all.

                        1. e
                          escondido123 RE: Simon Nov 25, 2011 04:18 PM

                          I was on Cape Cod many years ago for a girls weekend out. We went to a fancy place for dinner where we were treated well and drank way too much. None of us are quite sure how it happened, but we tipped generously TWICE. No way to solve that one graciously!

                          1. s
                            Simon RE: Simon Nov 25, 2011 04:57 PM

                            Thanks to all for your thoughts

                            1. p
                              pie22 RE: Simon Nov 26, 2011 05:17 AM

                              this happened to me a few weeks ago and i called the restaurant the next day and the manager was just like "don't worry about it. thanks for calling" almost a brush off so i got the feeling that my waitress was never informed that i tried to right my wrong. i was going to ask they just add on to my credit card (if possible since the transaction was still open online when i checked).
                              so i would suggest trying to get back there soon for dinner again or if you feel so strongly about it just stop in.
                              it was 15% of $465 which is still a large tip in the general realm of things so don't beat yourself up on it.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: pie22
                                HoosierFoodie RE: pie22 Nov 26, 2011 07:38 AM

                                I've done this before. Call them, tell them what you did, and tell them how much you want to add on to your CC. My wife and I eventually became friendly with a sommelier at a nice restaurant. We told him about this and he said that it happens all of the time. No big deal.

                                1. re: pie22
                                  Janet from Richmond RE: pie22 Nov 27, 2011 04:43 AM

                                  I was with you until the 15% on a bill of $465 is a large tip. It's a fair amount of money but not a large tip, especially in the context of the evening the OP described.

                                  Call the manager, explain what happened and they'll help you make it right. BTDT.

                                  1. re: Janet from Richmond
                                    pie22 RE: Janet from Richmond Nov 27, 2011 07:04 AM

                                    no agreed it is not overly large given the context - i meant it in terms of not being worried about it and then next time he is there he will make things right (as he said was an option).

                                2. Cheeryvisage RE: Simon Nov 26, 2011 09:10 AM

                                  I think I know which restaurant you're talking about. I'd either call or stop by to make amends. I doubt the restaurant would brush it off like mentioned upthread. The owners are gracious and lovely people.

                                  1. chowser RE: Simon Nov 26, 2011 10:28 AM

                                    I'm with those who would call the manager and tell him what happened. That way, the tip will go to those who served you, not whoever happens to be there the night you go back to tip. Or, even better, would be to tell the manager what night you were there, find out when that person will be on and then go back. It would be good for the server to put a face to what happened. I've gone back a couple of times and they've been very appreciative (one was for son's first trip to a restaurant himself, another when their machine went down and it threw me off and I undertipped). It's worth putting a face to it.

                                    1. mariacarmen RE: Simon Nov 26, 2011 11:25 PM

                                      i've done the same thing before and actually called the restaurant and told them i'd made a mistake and would be back to make it up to the server. they were gracious and we all laughed about it. sure, when i went in it was a tad awkward, mostly for the server (who didn't want to feel greedy at all, obviously), but again we all laughed it off, he was MOST appreciative and grateful. i felt better. all was right in the world.

                                      1. TheBitchyWaiter RE: Simon Nov 28, 2011 06:03 PM

                                        You should totally go back but make sure you know which night you were there so the right people can get the tip. They're not expecting you to come back so it would make their day. It happens on occasion and it's always so nice.

                                        1. scoopG RE: Simon Nov 28, 2011 06:07 PM

                                          Just stop back and let them know and top up. Happened to me before..late night, poor lighting...a drink too many.

                                          1. s
                                            Simon RE: Simon Nov 28, 2011 06:17 PM

                                            Thank you all for your take. Part of the reason i posted was because i thought it possibly a close call/grey area: if i had left solidly below 15% i would have def been back the next day with money in hand...if it had been above 15 but less than i wanted to tip, i would have let it go til next time and overtipped then and mentioned it in passing. But as it was almost exactly 15 i was on the fence. As i havent made it back yet, i'll prob just go there for a solo meal soonish and mention it/tip more then.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: Simon
                                              rockandroller1 RE: Simon Nov 29, 2011 05:25 AM

                                              I agree. It wasn't a faux pas, it's just that you intended a little more love than the standard. I would just make up for it with future visits, tips and sales instead of making a special trip back for this particular meal. generally in my experience, servers don't grumble about people who leave 15%, only about those who leave less -sometimes much less. They might scratch heads a bit as they might have thought you were being pretty free with the money by running up such a high bill and with the free reign of the sommelier, but I doubt it was something the server puzzled over all night long. Sometimes when people receive a really steep bill, they sometimes get sticker shock so they hold back some on the tip; it's not all that unusual. I would just tip to a higher percentage if you think it's deserved on your future business.

                                              1. re: Simon
                                                chowser RE: Simon Nov 29, 2011 05:29 AM

                                                I think it depends on how much you would have left if you were sober. If it's not a big difference, I wouldn't think about it. But, if it is, and the place wasn't far, I'd swing by and make sure the right person/people got it. If you tipped an extra $20 the next time you ate there, that would be great for the person who served you then, but it might be the wrong person and the right person would still be short, whether he/she knew it or not. It's nice that you care because I'd guess the people you left the tip for aren't thinking about it nearly as much as you have and have forgotten or never noticed.

                                              2. RealMenJulienne RE: Simon Nov 28, 2011 07:50 PM

                                                15% is good enough. My philosophy is, if service is horrific, they get 0%. If it is poor to excellent, they get 15%. Worrying about this is like worrying that the restaurant is not charging you enough for taxes. Don't worry about it.

                                                1. l
                                                  LeoLioness RE: Simon Nov 29, 2011 07:04 AM

                                                  I've done this before, but in my case, it was a really bad tip (12%, I think?). I felt like such a a jerk.

                                                  I wouldn't be able to get to the restaurant that week, so I sent a Mea Culpa "drinking wine in the sun = bad" note with a copy of the receipt (bearing the server's name and time of my meal--this was a busy restaurant) and some cash. I have an unusual name, and the server actually found me on Facebook and sent a message thanking me.

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