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Please bring me my check!

I know a lot of restaurant folks frequent the Chowhound boards, so I have a question about an issue that absolutely VEXES me almost every time I eat out.

Why, oh why, is it so hard for me to get my check, then to have it settled, in a timely manner once I've finished my meal?

I suppose it might have something to do with the fact you are no longer a candidate to order more food or drinks once you ask for the check, so your order of importance drops from those who can still add value, but especially in getting the check in the first place, I still have my gratutity/tip to consider so I would think any waiter/server interested in maximizing my satisfaction would not want to annoy me at the EXACT moment prior to my decision on said gratuity. Also, in a busy place, since I'm done ordering wouldn't you want me to settle up so you can clrear and turn the table?

However, whether I'm at a Cheesecake Factory or an independent restaurant where I've dropped more than $200-$300, I consistently run into issues in this area. I'm like "please, please take my money" but the servers disappear and it leaves a very bad impression of my experience no matter the quality of the meal - especially if I have somewhere to be after the meal (movie, concert, relieve the babysitter, etc)

This is something that has happened to me in many areas of the country (though I admit it is a bigger issue with younger servers), so I feel there must be a reason why restaurants do not pay attention to this - or maybe I'm just asking wrong. But all research shows the final impression of any experience is the dominant one for impacting satisfaction and intent to return or recommend, so why a restaurant would want to create frustration at this stage is a mystery to me.

Please enlighten me......

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    1. While I agree with you, I think, at least in some cases, it has to do with priorities.

      As in folks waiting to order, have food delivered (hot & in a timely fashion), have drinks refilled, are more pressing in the grand scheme of things than check duties.

      I'm not saying it's right, just that that's what most likely happens.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Bacardi1

        That makes sense on the surface but paying the bill is as much of the experience as is ordering, eating etc, and it's even more of an issue as it's the establishments final impression - but I would guess the average server likely is more focused on the food and drink issues.

        1. re: YosemiteSam

          i can't speak about chains because i've never worked in one, nor do i eat in them.

          however, some places sop is to NOT drop the check until the guest actually asks for it. if you know you want to pay and not get dessert, just ask for your check when the meals come.

          you have no idea how many guests "hide" the credit card inside the check presenter, so a server can't tell if it's ready to be processed or not. they don't want to keep asking because that seems rude.

          there may only be one cc processing station, with lots of servers trying to use it.

          if you pay cash, the server likely has to wait for a bartender or manager to close the check and make change. if the bar is slammed or the manager dealing with something else, this could take a few minutes.

      2. Can't enlighten you as this rarely if ever happens to me. The exception is usually if I am forced to dine out on a hallmark holiday (VD, NYE, MD, etc) as those days are usually slammed and it's all the servers can do to keep up-one of the reason we stay home for them. The other exception is a new server/bad management but again this is rare.

        We don't eat in chains like CCF or Applebees type places but from an outsiders view they look like the type of place where they want to turn a table quickly so that makes no sense why they don't get you the check.

        1. When you order your meal (if you know you won't be getting anything more) or your dessert, ask the server to bring the check along with the food. You can add that you are on a tight schedule, if you want to be certain s/he gets the message.

          1. Hi, Sam:

            This has bothered me occasionally, when the server has *already* brought the check, yet delays in processing a visible card or bringing change when cash is laid out.

            However, for me anyway, I think it makes for a *worse* experience for the server to leave the check the second the fork has been turned over. In many places in the world, it is considered rude to bring the check until the patron asks for it. I kind of like the idea that the top is mine for as long as I wish.

            Aloha,
            Kaleo