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Jun 22, 2013 11:04 AM

Technical issue on tipping

We went out to dinner last night and as I'm prone to do I forgot my glasses. My wife left the table about the time the check arrived and I squinted and peered and did my best. I thought the check was for $118, left a $25 dollar tip and totaled it to $143. I noticed my copy this morning and the total was actually $110.

So, will they correct my error and take a $25 tip or take my total amount?

I'm not in the least sweating the $8, just curious if there is some kind of "rule" regarding what is done when customer's inevitably make an error on the tab.

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  1. I'll bet they'll take the final amount at the bottom you signed on, which is why I usually put the final in and let them do the math for the middle line. of course in this way after a long dinner with lots of wine I did end up leaving a 50% tip once... oh they liked me lots on subsequent visits. ehh my mistake.

    1. Good question. Please let us know when you receive your cc statement!

      What do they do if you scribble something illegible for the tip and/or the total? And who reports the final amount to charge? I guess the restaurant, but that seems to open things up to all kinds of temptation/fiddling. Always seems like a strange system to outsiders…

      1. Yeah, I've gotta agree with hill food. I think the bottom line is the amount you will be charged for and the tip will be revised to reflect the total to which you agreed to pay by signing it.

        1. Way back when I managed a restaurant, this happened a few times a week. Over 95% of the time (not a scientifically proven percentage) it's inherently obvious what was intended, as people tend to do one of two things. Either they tip a round number dollar like you did- $25, OR they tip an amount that creates a round dollar on the final total, so if your bill was 110.45, the write "32.25" as the tip, and "143.00" as the total.

          In the first instance, I would give the servers the amount written as the tip. In the second, I would give them the amount that equaled the total authorized. At a certain point you realize that a healthy chunk of the general population really, really sucks at math.

          3 Replies
          1. re: plaidbowtie

            "a healthy chunk of the general population really, really sucks at math" [...] "if your bill was 110.45, the write "32.25" as the tip, and "143.00" as the total" LOL!!!!!!

            Unrelated to how bad peoples math skills are:
            If the bottom line is lower than that the total plus tip line sum to, is the waiter/restaurant allowed to change the bottom line so the waiter receives the intended tip?

            1. re: kpaxonite

              The amount that was determined to be intended was the amount charged, regardless of if it increase or decreased the actual tip.

              1. re: plaidbowtie

                It seems that in my case it would be clear that I meant to leave a $25 tip.

                They might assume that I couldn't do simple arithmetic and they would have no reason to know that I'm a retired accountant.

                I do feel like if the waiter was consulted he might point out that I was having trouble seeing (he offered to go find me a pair of glasses or hold the menu another foot or two away for me) and that I also drank a full bottle of wine less the tablespoon my wife had.

                I can see how if you were running a restaurant this kind of thing would be a pita and I really need to do better about my glasses.

                For the record, had discovered that I shorted the waiter, I would have called and made it right.

          2. Probably they went by the tip. The way it works in every restaurant I've worked at is that servers put the tips into the credit card machine at the end of the night. This might seem strange, but we very mostly ARE honest people. I don't generally even look to see if the math is right. The credit card machine does all the work and all it asks for is the tip. If a tip is really inconsistent with the check total AND the math is incorrect, I generally try to figure out the intent of the payer. For instance, as in the OP's case, it would become clear that he/she thought the check total was 118, when it was really 110. I would then determine what that tip percentage is, as adjust the tip downwards. I'm not sure I would be comfortable adjusting it higher, though, and would probably just take the hit. It's not a big deal in the long run.