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Where's my change!?!

Went to a place today, got a burger, fries, shot of bourbon -- you know, the usual lunch. The tab was $14.62, and I gave the server $20. She brought me back 5 singles -- apparently thinking I'd never miss the 38 cents in change.

I've had that happen more than once, and I always short the tip, figuring the server is helping themselves to my money, so I don't have to be as generous as I usually am.

But it irks me -- if I saw 38 cents lying in the parking lot, I'd pick it up. That change is approximately 2 per cent of the bill!

Ever happen to you? How'd you deal with it? Oh, and I'll not go back there again. Stealing leaves a bad taste in my mouth -- more so than their burger!

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  1. I've had it happen the other way around: I'm owed $4.78 in change, so the server just brings me five singles. I usually apprecate that - less change for both of us to mess with.

    I wouldn't care if my sever shorted me a few pennies, but 38 cents on a $14 total would irk me.

    18 Replies
    1. re: Ditdah

      Rounding up is OK. Taking people's money or "assuming" it is a tip is not. The 2 acts are not morally equivalent.

      1. re: postemotional1

        I disagree. Rounding up is still stealing, but from the restaurant. Bring the exact change and let me deal with the tipping and coin fiddling.

        1. re: melpy

          "Stealing" presumes that the server is not a) following owner policy, or b) making up any shortage in an end-of-shift reconciliation.

          1. re: Midlife

            "Stealing" presumes that they are taking YOUR money without YOUR permission, which is EXACTLY the described situation. I don't give a rat's ass WHY they are doing it.

            1. re: PotatoHouse

              Sorry? The two possibilities I gave are not 'why's' at all. They are real possibilities of how this could work. To presume the server is stealing seems unfair.

              1. re: Midlife

                I have to say that I don't understand the b), but if it is the owner's policy to not bring the change, and the server chooses to work there and follow that policy, I think he or she is stealing just the same. If someone hires me to rob a bank, but I have to turn all the money over to them, am I not still stealing?

                1. re: 16crab

                  Totally agree. A couple years ago my employer asked me to commit healthcare fraud. I refused. Saying "My boss told me to do it!" would not have helped as a defense in court.

                  1. re: 16crab

                    Come on folks, in the example I was referencing (see Dit Dah above) the serve is rounding UP and bringing you MORE than you are due. Make sense now?

                    Rather than carrying around a lot of change the server rounds up and makes good with the house when the shift ends (if the house wants that). I'm not sure why everyone is so eager to find negatives.

                    1. re: Midlife

                      Midlife - 'dit dah' was not the OP. different issue.

                      1. re: hill food

                        This specific string is replying to Dit Da, who was replying to the OP. At least that's how I've always understood how the nesting works. Dit Dah raised the notion of "rounding up".

                      2. re: Midlife

                        I see now. Missed the post about rounding in the customer's favour as stealing as well. Don't see how a server would be able to get away with that because I think they'd have to settle up all their bills with the restaurant and then whatever is left is tip. Although if they are supposed to tip out to bartender, busboy etc. and they round up in favour of the customer, they are affecting those tips.

                        1. re: 16crab

                          Sometimes it's actually companybpokicy, therefore it isn't theft. My job expects me to give change in the customers favor, and they're aware that it impacts what we give deal with at end of shift. Typically I don't see any change in my tip percentage while taking that I to account.

                          1. re: bonesplosion

                            If it's company policy to round in the favour of the customer, then have at it. I meant if it's not company policy, it has the potential to get pretty expensive for the server. I once waited tables in a place with pooled tips (another thread, around here I'm sure). If I'd been rounding in the favour of the customer and it affected tips, there would have been some pretty pissy co-workers. As it was they were pissy anyways. It was a short-lived job.

                            1. re: 16crab

                              That's horrible. Honestly, I thought it was an awful idea until I saw it in action at my specific restaurant and thankfully people here tend to be generous with heir tipping and I've only had a single person short change me. That also had nothing to do with the change, but with them being drunk and rude.

                              1. re: 16crab

                                Come on! We are talking maximum of a buck here! If the tip is jepoardized ......we're talking a quarter if it's a BIG spender. That Pissy needs an attitude change!

                                You wait 10.let's say 20 tables a shift.(assuming and upscale place, not a hash house) 5 bucks on top of.or rather off......the pool. BFD!

                                1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                                  What pool? You're assuming that I'm being short changed here and I said previously, I have never walked out with less than 20% in tips due to it. People who have short changed me are people who were too drunk or rude to understand their bills. I'm not saying that in other restaurants this wouldn't be an issue, but in mine it is not. And you need to calm down.

                                  1. re: bonesplosion

                                    although placed here, it was not directed to you. Chill

            2. re: Ditdah

              Yep, I've had it happen that way too, but never rounding THEIR way! Nervy! I think I might have thanked the server for doing the tipout for you.

              I pick up pennies. I always need one.

            3. I'm with you -- it's the principal thing, and it irks the snot out of me.

              Last time it happened to me, I shorted the tip AND she had the chutzpah to point that out -- I told her that had she not opted to pocket my change, the tip would have been higher.....when the door closed behind me, she was just standing there in shock. Oh well.

              18 Replies
              1. re: sunshine842

                Had breakfast with a friend that totaled $12. Gave server $20. She then asked me if I wanted the change back. After responding yes and waiting 20 minutes I had to track her down and ask for the change. Her reply was "Oh, sorry.....I forgot." Needless to say, I have not returned to that restaurant.

                  1. re: barb2007

                    "asked me if I wanted the change back "
                    ------------

                    I don't even like to be asked that question.

                    Yes, I'd like my food brought to me. Yes, I'd like clean silverware. Yes, I'd like you to remove the dirty plates when I'm done. And...yes, I'd like you to bring me change. Like...do your job, y'know? No part of that is optional.

                    1. re: Jim Leff

                      +1- I think some people who wait tables can get into a mode and don't stop to think about how tacky little tricks they've been taught, like "Do you want change back?" are. It's up to the management to occasionally repeat what the behavior should be like, in case there's tackiness afoot among the waitstaff. Because if your waiter attempts to stiff you, for instance, that's going to be what you remember about that restaurant, no matter how good the food was.

                      1. re: EWSflash

                        I for one think asking if you want change is a fine question, as i usually don't want any. If the server is using one of those black receipt holders they don't know what is in there when they ask, and when dining with a group or alone and paying with cash we are usually able to leave the amount we want to inclusive of tip.

                        1. re: sbs401

                          I am sorry but the appropriate response to being handed more than the amount of the bill is, "I'll be back with your change" leaving the guest the chance to say they don't need any/what is in there is yours. It is beyond rude to presume that any portion of cash belongs to you as the server until told so or the guest s had vacated leaving cash on the table.

                          1. re: Astur

                            Yep! It's your change, and you should get all of it unless you specifically tell them to keep it. End of story.

                            http://burghfeeding.blogspot.com/

                          2. re: sbs401

                            > asking if you want change is a fine question ...

                            For me, It depends ...

                            If the establishment has included a mandatory tip ... I consider asking "do
                            you want change?" to be quite rude.

                            1. re: sbs401

                              Well... in my experience if people do not want change, the customer will say so like "keep it". I would fire someone if I caught them pulling that. I don't care if it is one penny change - you return it promptly to that table.

                              1. re: sbs401

                                I agree about asking if they can't see the amount etc. if they can see and the customer doesn't prompt "all set" or "no change" then They should bring exact change, period.

                          3. re: barb2007

                            I had a similar thing happen. Similar amounts, too. Service was poor to begin with, anyway. When the server said, "I'll get your change", I said, "Thank you". Fifteen minutes later I finally flagged her down and asked about my change. She said, "I thought 'thank you' meant 'keep the change'." I just said, "A 70% tip??? You've got to be kidding." I didn't leave a tip *at all*. The one and ONLY time I can remember ever doing that in my life.

                            1. re: velochic

                              I can do one better. I was a a resuturant bought a takeout item that was $3 paid with a $20 (it was the smallest bill I had on me. And no, no one asked if I had anything smaller) and the server actually said (I assume the change is part of my tip?) Yes, not only did he think a 567% tip was reasonable, he though it was insufficient!

                              1. re: jumpingmonk

                                i can't top that, jumpingmonk.
                                your story takes the cake.

                            2. re: barb2007

                              I swear they do that on purpose. how many times have you been to a place talked with your friend and both of you say 'what are we waiting for, aren't we done here?" and then realize during drive home the server hadn't brought you back change-

                              1. re: barb2007

                                Wait, she expected an 8 dollar tip on a 12 dollar order and then 20 minutes later still didn't bring the change. Time to talk to the manager. I used to be a server, I never did that.

                              2. re: sunshine842

                                This scenario happened to me once as well. Irksome indeed!

                                1. re: chefathome

                                  and it just amazes me....if they'd returned the 38 cents, I'd have left far more than that....talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face!

                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                    Exactly. This one is difficult to fathom.

                              3. this has been discussed a lot already

                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/783113
                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/466098

                                I can't say I remember it happening, but that's probably because I try and leave the bill amount and the tip together (I often have small bills and coins) or I pay by debit. But it would annoy me if it were more than a few pennies.

                                1. I may get grief for this answer but when a server does that to me they have sealed their fate. I just concider they have helped themselves to their own tip and i leave nothing else. I have worked as a server and carried my own bank, and i would never do that. The one time a server called me on it I told her why I did it. Bet she stopped doing that.

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: suzigirl

                                    Good for you. I wonder if some waiters don't take advantage of people's aversion to confrontation.

                                    1. re: EWSflash

                                      I believe they do. Its a gamble that i can only assume often goes in the servers favor. As you see the posters may leave a lesser tip, but truth be told, they are stillrewarding the bad behavior. Leave the greedy buttheads no tip and they may get it. And yes, I cannot dismiss those who hate change that jingles but I work my ass off for my money. And if you want the change to stay with the server, let it be up to you as a patron. Its not the servers hard earned money.

                                    2. re: suzigirl

                                      I agree with the concept...but I would make sure the manager knows why

                                      1. re: suzigirl

                                        You'll get no grief from me. Perfectly reasonable and sane response.

                                      2. I'm not sure this has ever occurred to me in a place where I am not known. But once I'm in a place a few times, they generally know not to give me back coins. Can't stand that stuff rattling around in my pocket.