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Brought Food That Wasn't Ordered and Charged For It

So I was eating at a neighborhood restaurant and had just finished a moderately expensive meal (expensive for me). I was debating getting dessert, since a) I was somewhat full b) dessert was pricey ($10 for a slice of pie, just pie)

The waiter asked me if I wanted to order the pie and I decided against getting dessert since I really didn't want to spend any more money. I ask for the check.

Instead of bringing the check, the waiter comes back with a slice of pie and winks at me, I thank him profusely and with surprise.

After I finish the pie, he comes back with the check. I open it to see I was charged for the pie.

I ate the pie, I have no issue with paying for what I eat..... but the incident rubbed me the wrong way. I didn't want to ask him "hey, did you mean to charge me for this?" since I'm pretty sure most waiters know how to comp a dessert. But I didn't like having choice taken away from me when I refrained from ordering pie due to budget.

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  1. Hmm... Tough one. I also don't like ending a meal on a sour, combative note, and sometimes I'm sorry later I didn't handle it differently.

    I don't have any issue paying for what I eat either, but I do have an issue in being asked to pay for something I didn't order. I think your incident falls into that category.

    Are you a regular or semi-regular there? If so, maybe you ought to ask to chat with the manager on your next visit, try to clear the air. It's bothering you enough that you posted about it here, so rather than let it gnaw at you, tell the manager what happened and how you felt about it. Restaurants often say they want patrons to give them any negative feedback so they have a chance to address it.

    If it was your first visit, maybe chalk it up and consider it your last visit as well.

    Either way, your waiter was in the wrong.

    2 Replies
    1. re: BrookBoy

      I'm the same way, I didn't want to cause a stink and I didn't want the waiter to get defensive if it wasn't meant to be comped. I eat at the place somewhat regularly but I don't think I'm going to mention it, it seems a bit late for me know and I don't want to cause drama with the waiter.

    2. It would very much rub me the wrong way, and indeed I would likely say something. If, as you said, you did not wish to order the pie and he brought it to you anyway (especially with a wink), it would IMHO seem to reasonably imply he was comping you with it, and thus the fact that you ate it seems irrelevant. I would likely point this out to him, and if it wasn't taken off my check, I would consider taking it off his tip.

      1 Reply
      1. re: josephnl

        He winked and dropped off the pie without stopping and I thanked him profusely as he walked by. To be honest, I thought he was comping the pie, that's why it rubbed me the wrong way, but I still tipped him regularly. Also, he was the one who collected my check so he would have seen if the pie was comped or not.

      2. Sounds like it could have been a misunderstanding:

        1) it's possible that he brought it to you not picking up on the cue that you didn't want it (and not meant for it as a freebie);

        2) he acknowledged you didn't want it, but gave it to you as a freebie (and winked as hint), but later either forgot and rang it up anyway (or someone else rang it up for him).

        I think the point of confusion (or clarification) was when he brought it to you (with a wink). That's when it would have been best to ask him directly if he brought it by mistake, or by intention (freebie or not).

        HOW was the pie ?!?

        2 Replies
        1. re: LotusRapper

          I should have asked him if it was comped instead of assuming. Lesson learned for me, the whole thing just sort of has lingered with me, mostly because it was expensive pie! It was pretty good, but I could have easily refrained from spending $10 on a slice of pie.

          1. re: Pookipichu

            <the whole thing just sort of has lingered with me>

            Most likely it's lingered with you because you didn't handle it the way you know you wanted to.
            You were asked if you wanted dessert, you kindly refrained and then the waiter brought it anyway.
            You were duped/tricked into purchasing the pie you didn't want.
            When he brought the pie I would have asked him why he brought it....you specifically said you didn't want it. I'm not sure why you ate it, why would he comp it unless you're very familiar with each other?
            Take it back. If he had a problem with it then the tip would reflect that.

        2. Whoa. There's something wrong here. In the situation you have described, there is only one way I would have viewed the pie. It was comped - free. Anything else would be incorrect, immoral, irresponsible, whatever else that starts with the letter "i" on the part of the waiter. You didn't ask for it. You should absolutely have pointed it out.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Bkeats

            I thought it was comped too, I think I'm definitely going to just gently ask next time if it was meant to be comped.

          2. I think my gut reaction before thanking the waiter after he brought me the pie would've been to say I didn't order it, and in that case, I would've received verbal confirmation if it were being comped. I frequent a few bars, and this happens to me a lot with drinks. It's usually either because some creep (why is it always the creeps) from across the bar bought me one, or the bartender is giving me one on the house. They will usually say something without me even asking, like "hey, the guy over there in the blue shirt bought this for you" but the other night I had left my seat to play bar pong (yeah, it's embarrassing to admit) and when I came back I had another drink sitting there. I immediately questioned it and was told that my friend 2 seats down bought it for me.

            That all being said, in your case, I still would've taken the waiters non-verbal cue of winking to imply the pie was being comped. If it wasn't, then what was the wink for? Is he now winking for screwing you over on a dessert you didn't order? I would've brought it up myself, and if not rectified to my liking, then yeah, I'd probably have returned the favor by screwing him over on the tip and deducting the cost of the pie out of it.

            13 Replies
            1. re: SaraAshley

              In a somewhat related note, when guys offer to buy me drinks, what I really would like is a plate of buffalo chicken wings, but I guess that would not be appropriate to mention.

              1. re: Pookipichu

                Haha, yes, I know that feeling. I also try not to go *too* overboard when I drink, so sometimes a guy will ask to buy me my next drink when I've reached my cut off point, and I'll politely decline stating why, but sometimes I just want to be like "no thanks, but you can buy be the one I'm currently drinking." Lol, I never would though.

              2. re: SaraAshley

                I'm curious. How do you know they're creeps? Are they creeps b/c they buy you drinks and that creeps you out? Do they ever talk to you or just buy you drinks? The reason I ask is in my single days, I've bought my share of drinks for women and I'm not creepy. At least I like to think that. Usually look fairly respectable. Heck, some of those women even went out with me afterwards. Once in a while, I've even had women buy me a drink. That's always a very pleasant surprise.

                1. re: Bkeats

                  Can't speak for SaraAshley, but I find it creepy to send alcohol to women you don't know. Want to talk to me? Cool. Want to get me drunk/make me accept your gift or have an awkward scene/put me in your debt? Nope. I always refused drinks from guys. The idea is weird to me. You may be a perfectly normal guy but it's just not for me.

                  1. re: Hobbert

                    Same here. If I'm chatting with a guy and he offers to buy me a drink, it's appreciated. If someone buys me a drink without speaking to me first, it's creepy. It carries a certain degree of presumption that just doesn't sit right.

                    1. re: mpjmph

                      Actually, any good bartender should never just show up with a drink for a lady from anyone, creep or nice guy, without first asking the woman something like "the gentleman (fellow, guy, creep, dude, etc.) would like to buy you a drink." You should always have the opportunity to turn it down if you're not interested.
                      Back on subject. As stated, tough one. It could have been anything from an error to an up-sell and the wink might have been a twitch or even a pass. When the pie showed up, I think something along the lines of "I'm really full, thanks but I couldn't eat another bite" would have put the ball back in the waiters court where he would have been forced to reply with a "it's on the house" or something similar. Hindsight is always pretty easy. I probably would have ended up doing as the OP, complete with just being pissed after the fact.

                      1. re: bobbert

                        Maybe the fact pattern of what I did wasn't clear. I never told the bartender to bring a drink to a woman. I would never do that as I have no idea what she is drinking. It would be either what bobbert has described. I'd tell the bartender that I would like to buy the lady her next drink and s/he would go tell her that the guy in the (color) suit (back in the day when we still wore suits) would like to buy you a drink. Or I would walk up to the woman say hi, I'm Bkeats, can I buy you a drink? I can't imagine just telling a bartender to send a random drink to someone. That is creepy even to me. But given the reaction from the woman on the board, its a good thing I'm only buying drinks for one woman now.

                        ETA: I just reminded myself of a story. Back in my impecunious grad school days, I went with my girlfriend and one of her friends and that friends boyfriend to a club. The ladies wanted to go and dance. After paying the cover charge, the other guys and I were flat broke. So our two dates asked us what we wanted to drink and told us to stay put. They were gone for 5 minutes or so and came with drinks for us. They found plenty of guys to buy them drinks. Probably seems like a horrible thing to a lot of readers, but the other guy and I got quite a laugh out of it. Poor saps were buying the two girls drinks and had no clue that they were just being played. I have to now wonder if that had ever happened to me when I bought someone a drink. Women have quite the power over us poor guys.

                  2. re: Bkeats

                    How do I know they're creeps? This is actually a hard question to explain. Yes, generally speaking, just the act of sending over a drink to a girl you have never spoken to can be pretty creepy, but let's just put all that aside, the guys sending over the drinks would never be guys I would be interested in the first place. Just to be blunt, they're usually older and or less attractive than what I would normally go for. No offense to you at all Bkeats (I will admit that I am unusually picky, and I turn down perfectly nice guys for dumb (to other people) reasons) but sending over a drink to a girl just comes off as a little desperate to me, and desperate is not a guy I like. I like to work super hard for guys I like, hence why I'm single, but that's a personal problem, lol. This is not to imply that you are desperate at all, and clearly you've already stated that you've found yourself a lovely lady, it's just how it comes off to me with the guy's I've experienced it with. Now, do I accept the drink even if I'm not interested? Yes, normally. If a guy wanted to know if I was interested in him first before buying me a drink, he should've came over and talked to me first. It's also interesting that about 50 % of the guys that send me over drinks without speaking to me first, actually never end up coming over and speaking to me after I've accepted their drink. Go figure!

                    And yes, for guys I'm really into, I will also buy them drinks from time to time. :)

                    1. re: SaraAshley

                      If that is a picture of you, I can see why you have guys buying you drinks. If I ever happen to see you in a bar, I won't buy you a drink but I will come over to say hello.

                        1. re: Bkeats

                          Thank you, that's very flattering!

                        2. re: SaraAshley

                          I know what you mean, I always found it an odd move to get a random drink delivered. Well, it didn't really happen to me, but a friend I went out on the town with, who was beautiful but pretty unapproachable. It seemed like a bit of passive aggressive move to send her a drink and then what, wait for her to get up and go to them? I guess they were signalling interest in a low-risk way and waiting on her reaction, but it wasn't attractive. Maybe guys see this in the movies and imagine the woman will turn to them so invitingly that the rest will fall into place... but I think IRL you need a follow-up move to make this work.

                          1. re: julesrules

                            Truthfully, I'm not a shy girl at all in social situations. If by chance I was actually interested in a guy sending over a drink to me without speaking to me first and he didn't come speak to me afterwards, I would have no problem approaching him myself to thank him and to get to know him further.