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Culinary Ethics 101

My wife is away at a conference so I am eating in the opposite manor in which we normally dine. Monday night I went to our local pizza shop for hot wings. I had called the order in and the gentleman on the phone said my large order of wings would be $12.95 (not including tax) . When I arrived to pick up my order, the young lady who retrieved my order from the kitchen rang me up and gave me a total of $7.00 even (BTW, a small order of wings is $7.95 +tax). I was surprised by the lower price but thought it may have been happy hour or something so I left a $2.00 tip and it wasn't until I was driving home that I began to ruminate over the discrepancy. Should I have said something at the cash register? Would you have? My life will be so much simpler when my wife gets home tonight....

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  1. I would have said something right away, but to be totally honest, if I was on the road and it happened at a place where I knew I would never return.......

    1. Take the money (or wings) and run!!! Don't look back!

      In all honestly I probably would have questioned it when I picked up the order to make sure I wasn't getting an order of chicken fingers or something similar instead of my intended order. (or perhaps if she gave me someone else's order)

      If it wasn't discovered until I left or when I got home, then no......I wouldn't say a thing. That's the same though when I do take out and I don't check the order before I leave and I get home and there is something missing. I chalk it all up to in the end it will all even out.

      As my father would say "some day's you get the bear, and some day's the bear get's you".

      1 Reply
      1. re: jrvedivici

        I usually use, "Some days you get to be the baby. Other days you have to be the diaper."

        Tough call but I think I would've questioned it. Mostly because I would've thought for sure it wasn't my order or that my order had been screwed up.


      2. <Should I have said something at the cash register? Would you have?>

        Yes, so that the cashier could verify that the lower total was in fact correct. Profiting from someone else's innocent mistake isn't my idea of a good time. Maybe because like jrvedivici, I also believe that "it will all even out."

        1. We have all had the same experience.
          There are variables in the mix tho.
          Would saying something have endangered the cashiers job?
          Was the merchant a small business or a mega store?
          I have gotten "deals" at mega-stores and not blinked an eye,while on the other hand I have gone back to mom and pop stores to make it right.

          However, stealing is stealing....

          1. I would probably have said something like "is this on special or something?" because, in some places, the cashier has to make up the mistakes from their own pocket. I would not, however, driven back if I didn't think about it til I was on the way home.

            1. I probably would have said something because the price difference is very big. Either the $12.95 or the $7 is wrong. I probably would have said "Are you sure it is $7? Because I was told it would have been higher"

              It could have been a Happy Hour thing though.

              1. I come from a long line of family grocers, father, grandfather, and great grandfather. My father always told me it's the employee's responsibility to make sure that what was rung up on the register was correct and that the change that was given was correct. The employee's responsibility.

                In this case, it was the employee's responsibility to make sure you got the correct product for the correct price. My dad never intentionally cheated anyone, but if someone gave him short change he was the loudest to scream, and if someone gave him too much change, he took it and never looked back.

                If someone hands me the incorrect change and I notice, which I was trained as a kid to do, I ether give them back what they gave me over or ask them to recount, although no one can count change anymore. If I was on the way home, no way I'm going back to question if it was rung up correctly or not.

                One word of culinary advice though, never get wings where the word is proceeded with Buffalo. If they have to tell you, their not buffalo wings.

                1. So, even though you knew the $7.00 ring-up was incorrect you still said nothing to the clerk? Your own local pizza place where you don't seem to know the names of anyone who works there? Why do you even feel the need to post about this? Does your wife handles all your ethical matters?

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: scoopG

                    "Your own local pizza place where you don't seem to know the names of anyone who works there?"

                    What does knowing the names of employees have do do with it? I order from the same places all the time in my town and I don't know anyone's name. I would never cheat any of them out of a couple of bucks, but why is knowing their names so important?

                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                        If it was Cheers they'd know the customer's name..............

                  2. I would have questioned the total at the cash register because I am a stickler for accuracy. You can rectify the error next time you go in there. How were the wings? Any good?

                    1. If you had been overcharged, would you have asked to be charged the correct price at the cash register? If yes, then why wouldn't you ask for the correct price when obviously undercharged?

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: janniecooks

                        I probably would have questioned the $12.95 I was first quoted, as in my area that would be the price of a sit down wing meal with dressing and celery garnishes and bread and butter, NOT the price of a takeout order. If I didn't question it, I might have assumed the man quoted me the dining room price and the young lady rang up the to go order price.

                        If when I got home I was really concerned, I might look at the restaurant menu on line and try to verify price.

                        The other thing to consider was that this was MONDAY night when pizza joints run all kinds of specials to stimulate business (especially for Monday Night Football). In our area the $13.50 large cheese pizza is only $6.95 (pick up) on Monday nights. But if you call in the order and a dining room or bar staff member answers the phone and takes the order they'll quote full price, as the special is to go/pick up (no delivery) only. Wings are also promoted on Mondays during football season.

                      2. If it bothers you enough that you post a question here, the answer is obvious.

                        1. Were the wings any good?

                          1. I'm kind of surprised by the responses on here. I don't think $6 is going to hurt anyone. I doubt the employee (if she ever even noticed the error, if in fact it was an error) is giving this as much thought as you are today. And if it was an error, it's not your fault anyways, so your conscious should be clear! Okay, I mean maybe if you verify the original higher price to be correct and after repeat visits, are still being charged $7, might be a nice thing to tip off the business that their prices are coded wrong at the register, or whatever is happening, but I wouldn't fret about this one time. :)

                            1. Personally, I would have done no different than the OP, except in two respects.

                              First, I wouldnt have had a second thought about getting it cheap and wouldnt be posting on an internet discussion board about it. A business undercharges me, then that's their loss.

                              And, second, I wouldnt have been tipping. It is not in my culture to tip on take-away.

                              1. $12.95 sounds high for an order of take-out wings. Are you completely sure that the guy who quoted you that price was correct? Also, the poster who mentioned Monday night specials has a good point. In any event, if it was a mom n pop place where I go all the time and they know me, I would have mentioned the pricing issue at the register. If it was a one off, probably not.

                                1. If I wasn't sure of the actual price, I probably would have said something in pleasant surprise, which may or may not have triggered the counter help to check to see if they had rung me up correctly.

                                  However, if I'd seen the price on the menu and felt that I was being undercharged, I would definitely have let her know.

                                  But sometimes, things just happen more quickly than we are able to process and don't exactly rate the pang of conscience that requires us to remedy the situation when we finally do realize what happened. I consider your scenario one of those times.

                                  1. PotatoHouse,

                                    You were were given a bill for 7.00. You paid that 7.00. The bill was different from the price quoted. No big deal. But it was sweet of you to fret--no snark at all, sincerely.

                                    No big deal. Hope the wings were good!

                                    1. I would have said something. Sometimes mistakes are taken out of the cashier's wages.

                                      7 Replies
                                      1. re: Pookipichu

                                        Having been a cashier in my lifetime, I agree with you 100% and always do so when faced with the OP's situation.

                                        1. re: ttoommyy

                                          I always try to think about how I would feel if I were in someone else's shoes. That's why if I find money on the street I'll yell out "did anyone drop money?" although it may be hard to find the person who actually dropped it. One time I found money on the sidewalk, a woman several feet in front of me heard me yelling, checked her pockets, she came rushing back and told me she had dropped $50 which was the bill I found. Owner found. She was very happy, relieved and grateful.

                                          It feels great to find $50 but it's feels equally bad for someone else to lose $50. Nothing is for free, I'm glad I was able to return her money because I know I would have been devastated to drop that much money.

                                          1. re: Pookipichu

                                            Where I live, fifty people several feet in front of me would come rushing back.

                                        2. re: Pookipichu

                                          In my days of opperating a cash register, that only applys to shortages. If the register is short cash, then the cahsier had to figure out why or make the cash drawer come out even. That does not apply to ringing up something incorrectly, as may or may not have been done here. If the register works on a code for inventory and the incorrect keys were punched it simply expects to find $7 in the reciepts not $12.95, so there is no shortage. If it doesn't and the cashier made a mistake on the price, it's still only going to expect to find reciepts for $7, and since the OP paid what was asked the cashier is still not on the hook for a shortfall in the register.

                                          Sometimes I think people just want to make someone feel bad and come up with some not very well thought out senerios.

                                          1. re: mikie

                                            It's not about making people feel bad, it's about trying to be considerate and recognize that other people may suffer when you don't speak up. If your point is that people should feel good about getting away with a "free discount", it's a slippery slope toward taking advantage of people.

                                            So what is your point, just so I'm not misunderstanding?

                                            1. re: Pookipichu

                                              My point is that in my opinion and experience, it's highly unlikely the cashier suffered any monatary penalty if in fact the price the OP paid was incorrect. Your post stated the difference in the two prices, the one quoted and the one charged could be taken out of the cashier's wages, which likely isn't the case here.

                                              1. re: mikie

                                                My point was that there are times when a "freebie" will come out of a cashier's wages. I did not say that it happened in this instance. I was a cashier, as were you. But many people have never been cashiers. They may not know this.

                                                Also, if the cashier is ringing up a $14-15 item as $7 she may get in trouble if the manager finds out.

                                                I've seen a co-worker break down in tears because her till was short $20. It wiped out her entire day of earnings. Some shopper out there might feel very lucky he/she saved $20, but someone paid the price for the mistake.

                                                I think the original poster's whole reason for posting was because he now feels that he should have said something, and I agree that it would have been good for him to do so.

                                        3. Don't beat yourself up. You can always rectify the situation. The next time you go to the pizza place, mention that they undercharged you (if you are sure they did) the last time. Either they'll forgive the debt or add it to your bill. It's that simple.

                                          1. I would mention a discrepancy at the register, if I were aware of it. Afterward, it would depend on whether it was enough to be important.

                                            1. I wouldn't have given this issue more than 60 seconds of space in my brain.