Now I’m a Thief

“Hello, the Bistro. How may I help you?”

“Yeah, I want to talk to the manager,” an angry voice sputters.

“I’m the manager. How can I be of assistance?” I reply sweetly.

“One of your waiters ripped me off last night!” the man yells.

Oh boy.

“Tell me what happened,” I ask bracing myself.

“I ate in your place last night. The check was $100 and I left a $12 tip. I checked my bank balance as soon as I got home and a $120 dollars was taken out of my account. Not $112. $120! The waiter gave himself an extra eight bucks!” he shouts.

“Do you have a copy of the check?” I ask

“Yep, I keep copies of everything,” he crows proudly.

“What kind of card did you use?”

“Visa.”

“Ok, now what’s the name of the server on the bill?”

He tells me. It’s my name. Great

I remember this guy. A cheap affectatious turtleneck wearing wine snob. I remember being pissed at his lame tip. Asshole.

“I was your server last night.” I state.

“You’re a thief!” the man hisses.

I take a deep calming breath. “Sir, did you pay with a check card?”

“Huh?”

“Does your Visa take the funds directly out of your checking account?” I ask

“Yeah, it’s my ATM card too. What does that have to do with anything?”

“When you pay with a check card the bank often holds extra monies aside during processing to cover the gratuity. When the amounts are reconciled the bank will return the extra eight bucks. Your statement will probably read correctly tomorrow,” I explain

“Bullshit!”

“Call your bank sir. They’ll confirm what I’m saying.”

“I’m gonna call them right now. If you’re lying I’ll get you fired.”

“Good, I look forward to your apology.” I say politely.

“What?” he croaks.

“Have a nice day sir,” I say hanging up on him. Prick.

I’ve had several calls regarding bank cards. No one ever called me a thief.

Turtleneck never called back. He probably contacted his bank and they confirmed what I told him. Quick to impugne my honesty he wasn’t so quick to admit when he was wrong.

But I expected nothing less.

What kind of person goes out to eat and checks his bank balance the minute he gets home? A person who can’t really afford to go out to eat?

No. It’s a person constantly in fear of being ripped off.

Turtleneck’s so paranoid that he zealously guards what little he has. Assuming the worst about everyone and everything he immediately arrived at the worst conclusion about my character. Everyone is a threat. Everyone wants what he has. We’re all wolves in sheep’s clothing. He probably treats everyone like that.

Turtleneck must live a lonely existence. Maybe he suffered a trauma that made him that way. Maybe he’s stewing in a hell of his own making.

I recall his date last night couldn’t wait to leave. She fidgeted uncomfortably throughout the meal. Turtleneck went home alone.

Big surprise.


Comments

Now I’m a Thief — 18 Comments

  1. I usually leave a tip through my credit card, always whole dollars. On one occasion I wrote $5, summed it and left. The server then changed the tip to %15 and finessed the total to agree.

    For a while after that I wrote my tip amount in words “$FIVE” to prevent that kind of dishonesty. But on reflection I realized if I distrusted the person who is bringing my food, I should just eat at home.

  2. I draw a line through the tip space and leave my tip in cash. That way, my charge matches my receipt and an added bonus (for tax cheating waiters) is they can choose not to declare the entire tip to the goverment.

  3. I think you’re being a bit hard on the guy. He could easily be just a guy who’s been cheated by a waiter in the past. I know my wife has checked our credit card charges and asked me about how much I tipped. I just throw my hand’s up and say 10 bucks or so isn’t going to kill anyone. Which is convenient, because I rarely keep recipts and wouldn’t want to go through all that trouble to get a $10 gift card. I’ve also been warned by friends never to leave the tip line blank etc. I agree his manner was a bit crap, but it seems a bit unfair to pass judgment on his finances and social life. I know it’s an old entry, just thought I’d comment. And at this point, I hope you have fewer of these kinds of rants.

  4. Ahhh…I just discovered this blog, loving it, and since my job sucks (i answer phones and they don’t seem to ring much) I’ve been reading your blog literally all day. It’s fantastic. I’d love to sit at your table and I promise I would tip you well.
    However…recently this happened to me. My husband and I went out with some friends to a pub for quiz night. Hubby and I had a seperate tab from the friends, which worked out to $35 and change. I tipped her about $4.50, rounding the bill up to $40 even.
    I know its obnoxious when customers tip you with change like that but let me just add that this waitress hated her job and had no interest in being even the least bit competent. She screwed up every beer, every sandwich, and after letting her know about each of these, she would appologize and walk away. We assumed we had been given no choice but to eat what we were served. Eventually, the manager stopped by and we let him know what had been messed up and told him we were happy to take what we were given. We of course got free desserts. She also brought my husband a diet coke instead of a beer and it took forever to flag her down and let her know. Turns out she gave his guiness to a kid at the next table. Nice. I get that guiness is dark but, um…it doesnt look like soda?
    She also over charged my friends and took a good 30 minutes to fix it and bring their checks back. I could go on in detail for days. I was nice when I tipped her about 10% and figured she’d get the message that she’s not performing adequately since I kind of think 15% is the starting point. However, I found that my account was later over charged by $10. After contacting the manager of the restaurant and expressing my concern, I came to discover that not only had our server added a “1″ before the “4″ in the tip area and then tried to turn “$40.00″ into “$50.00″, but she did so with a different color ink. All was fixed, and since we frequent this place for quiz night every week and haven’t seen her again I’m pretty sure I got her fired. I’m wondering whether I should feel bad or worry that she did it to other people and they didn’t notice…and if so, for how long. I have to say changing your tip from 10% to 40% is inexcusable, but I also believe that this will never happen to me again. The odds are too slim. The vast majority of servers are honest and hard working, as well as knowledgable.

  5. I was puzzled when this temprary overcharge happened to me. I did go to my bank for an explanation. In late 2006 I spent a lot of time back in my home town because of a family crisis. Almost every night I took mklyself out to dinner. The end of the day when I do something for myself. This one time I went to a pub connected to the University of the hospital. It was under management of a major hospitality chain. THis is the check that had the temprary overcharge. There’s something I didn’t like about that. The service was pleasant, but I would never go back.
    I really had to keep track of expenses back then. Dining out was therapy, but I also had to be aware of where my money was going, as I was taking off considerable time from work and traveling a lot.

  6. Lol. A similar thing happened to me, except with a voided item. The angry customer brought a print out of her bank statement. I pointed out the part that said the void was still pending. She didn’t seem to understand and left in a huff when I told her to come back if it hadn’t gone through in a few days. She never came back.

  7. Lest place I managed I had a guest call back about a 20 cent overcharge on the tip and he wanted to press charges for fraud. Mailed him a quarter…..

  8. OUR bank pre-authorizes the amount of the check, then when we complete the transaction (check + gratuity), it actually charges the final amount to the customer. Often, a customer eats then rushes home to check their account online. They see both amounts (the pre-authorization never actually is charged to them). Invariably, I get a call claiming they were charged twice. I explain to them that only the final charge ends up on their account and to call back in a few days if it is otherwise. They NEVER call back.

  9. What’s really ironic about this whole thing is the bastard never realized that it was so widely assumed by civilization that he’d leave a 20% tip, that’s what was automatically held by his bank. He should have felt guilty for under-tipping. 12%??? Come on!

  10. A coworker of mine had a table and they wrote a tip on the tip line but the total was a lot more money. She put the total tip amount and they called and said they understood why she did it and they weren’t mad. The management made her pay back the entire tip! Some guests don’t know how to add and will either short you or tip you extra and either way they don’t miss it.

  11. I agree that guy was a massive douche…but as an ex-waiter myself, I have to say I worked with some pretty gigantic, dishonest assholes.

    Sometimes the amount isn’t important. When someone knowingly steals from you it can make your blood boil.

    Also, don’t assume that what YOU know is common knowledge. Not a lot of people know that their bank will withhold the usual 10% tip.

  12. “What kind of person goes out to eat and checks his bank balance the minute he gets home? A person who can’t really afford to go out to eat?

    No. It’s a person constantly in fear of being ripped off.”

    No, it’s a person who’s done damage to their bank account before and is tired of paying overdraft fees, so they balance their checkbook every night. And since a visa debit card is just like writing a check, it’s a fairly responsible thing to take a peek at the end of the night. There are also short windows in which you can claim fraud if it happens. Checking frequently means you don’t get screwed out of the timeline (or that something doesn’t get lost in the list of transactions because you waited two weeks to look at your bank account). I’ve worked in banking and I’d rather someone check every day than not check, get ripped off, then scream bloody murder because they have no other recourse through the bank. Or, instead of being ripped off, just not know how much is coming and going out of the account and have to eat a pile of fees.

    Yeah, the dude is still an asshole, but quite honestly, where do you get off assuming someone who actually keeps track of their bank account on a regular basis is paranoid? It’s just called being a responsible adult.

  13. in my experience as a server, i heard of some of my fellow coworkers performing this dishonest deed. but if you’re smart, you don’t, because it can get you fired. what it comes down to with those dishonest servers though is this…if you leave a good tip, they won’t change it. if you leave a poor tip, they might change it, because they feel slighted and most of the time rightfully so. a customer checking on their bank account for things like that is obviously always a poor tipper, because a good tipper would never have to worry about the server changing their tip. they would know the server was happy with what was left in the tip line.

  14. I’m a server for many years now and I have never changed a tip, nor has anyone I know. But it is very common for people to add incorrectly. As a rule in our restaurant we never change a total on the bottom line. Sometimes it’s in our favor, sometimes it’s not. Most people remember their total on the bottom when balancing there checkbook anyway. The only time this actually isn’t true, I had someone subtract instead of add. The bottom lime was less than he actually owed! Wedid change that one. Hehe

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