True Story: The Dashing Diners

Last night, I was working a double shift at The Hot Spot .  After my 15 minute break, I saw that the manager put me in a section that I’m not usually in (at the front of the house, near the hostess desk and the front door).  Now, normally, that’s a pretty good section, but seeing as how it was a quieter night, I only had 2 tables.

It started off well and everyone was very nice and polite.  I saw my table #6 lifting their hands to get my attention, so I walked over and asked if everything was alright.  They were 3/4 done their meal and thought maybe they wanted to take the rest To Go.  But, the girl asked me for another Coke and the guy asked for a glass of water.  So, on my way towards the kitchen, I picked up the Coke, grabbed a glass of water, and headed back to the table.

As I got closer to the table, I noticed that no one was sitting there anymore.  The plates were still on the table, so nobody had given them the bill in the few moments I was gone.  I ran to the hostess desk and asked if anyone saw them leave.  One of the hostesses said that they said they were going out for a smoke and would be back.  I felt better, but when I looked outside I didn’t see them standing by the door.  I thought to myself Maybe they went to smoke in their car…it is really cold outside, but I knew better.  They had just dined and dashed.

I waited 15 minutes, just in case they’d come back, but they never did.  I was furious!  It was the first time this has ever happened to me and I couldn’t believe it.  How can you just walk into a restaurant, order drinks, appetizers, two main meals and just leave without paying?

I told a coworker about it and he told me that Karma’s a bitch and that they’ll get what’s coming to them.  He said that this happens from time to time and to just let it go, because there’s nothing you can do about disgusting people like that.  He’s right.  There’s nothing you can do.

So, I put on a smile for the rest of my customers and something amazing happened.  I got the best tables I’ve ever had on a Saturday night.  I was getting 20-25% tips all night.  One table said that the next time they would come, they’d ask for my section.  Another said that it was the best service they ever had.  It was just amazing.  Starting the night off with a bunch of thieves, I thought that maybe it would be “one of those nights”, especially since it was a full moon, but it turned out completely differently.

Sure, Karma’s a bitch.  But, it can also turn around and send good vibes to a good person who deserves it.  Thank you, Karma.  Just one question to the couple who left without paying:  How do you sleep at night?

So, to all those diners out there, please show some respect and actually PAY for the food and service you are receiving.  Otherwise, you’re just a thief.

The Waitress Confessions

Advertisements

Tip Accordingly: Paying the Bill With a Gift Card

Throughout the year, and especially around Christmas time, people receive Gift Cards to either their favorite Italian restaurant or to a new Sushi Shop in town and are delighted by the fact that can use the Gift Card to either pay the entire bill – or part of it.

We all know that the standard tip a diner should leave the server is 15%.  Now, there seems to be a lot of people out there who believe that if they have a Gift Card it means either

  1. They get a free meal because of the Gift Card – in which case they don’t need to leave a tip   or
  2. Half of their meal has been  paid – which means they only have to leave a tip only on the amount after the Gift Card amount was deducted

This is a big problem between Gift Cards, Servers, and Diners.

What is the protocol here?

1. Paying the whole bill with the gift card

Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that your bill is $50 and you  have a gift card for $100.  You think “Wow, this is great! I don’t have to pay a cent for my meal plus I get to keep another $50 on my Gift Card for the next time I come to eat”.  I know it sounds great, and it is, but you have to keep in mind that the waiter/waitress who served you is (in a sense) not working for free.   S/he took your order, served your drinks,  made sure everything was to your liking, cleared the table, brought you coffee and dessert, etc.  Getting a “free meal” never means skimping out on the tip.

2. Paying part of the bill with a gift card

Let’s say that your bill is $50 and you have a $25 dollar gift card.  You think “Wow! I only have to pay $25 for a $50 meal.  This is great!”.  And you’re right, it is.  The thing is, when the waiter/waitress who served you takes your credit card and passes it at the remaining amount ($25) it doesn’t mean that your bill is suddenly only $25. The server doesn’t cancel half of your bill, they just declare at the end of the day that the bill was paid for by credit card and gift card.   You must tip according to the full amount of the bill before the Gift Card amount is deducted.

3. Paying with a bank card and gift card

When using a gift card and a bank card to pay your bill, a problem can arise when using the hand held machine to complete the purchase.  Let’s say that your bill is $50 and you have a $25 dollar gift card.  The server brings the machine to pass your bank card and puts the amount at $25 (the remaining amount after the deduction of the gift card).  The problem with this is that it will ask you what kind of tip you’d like to add (15%?  20%?  Other?).  If you choose the option of adding 15%, then it will add 15% of the amount put into the machine – which was $25.  Now you’re leaving a lower than 15% tip on a $50 bill.  Be careful to choose the “Other” option in order to add in the exact amount you want, or better yet you can always pay the tip in cash to avoid confusion.

A Note to  Waiters: Be Kind

It is considered to be inappropriate to approach guests about the amount of tip that was left.  Some mistakes are obvious and sometimes it’s easy to see when someone doesn’t understand how the system works, but please be kind.  Don’t lose your cool and make a fuss about it, that won’t help anyone and is extremely disrespectful.  Find a way to inform your customers of the original cost of the bill, or consult with the floor manager with the best way to deal with this kind of situation.

Have Any Questions?

Unsure of what to do when paying with a gift card?  Feel free to ask a server (or manager).  They should be happy to tell you the correct way to pay.  If anything, feel free to ask by leaving a comment below.

The Waitress Confessions

Related Posts:

Remember to Tip Your Waitress: a Guide to a Better Dining Experience

Remember to Tip Your Waitress: a Guide to a Better Dining Experience

Nowadays, there are such amazing varieties of restaurants you can eat at.  Whether it’s for a business meeting, family get together, or a hot date the choices are endless.  Anywhere from French cuisine to Fast Food!  There are a lot of factors that make your experience at a certain locale either good…or bad.  Music, ambiance, cleanliness, decor, seating, food quality, food portions, etc.  The list goes on and on.  But all of that means nothing if the service is terrible, right?

I think we can all agree that the most important factor, besides good food, is having a good waiter or waitress, right?  No matter how much you love that cozy little breakfast place, you wouldn’t go back if the waiters didn’t even bother to refill you coffee.  What a pain!  As customers, we do deserve to be treated with respect and served politely.

It’s a problem, however, when people start to treat their waiters like their own personal servant.  I’ve seen it many times, a gentleman snapping their fingers angrily at a waitress instead of politely saying “Excuse me, Miss?”, a woman calling out to a waiter while he’s in the middle of taking another guest’s food order, customers ignoring waiters when they ask questions like “Would anyone like some more coffee?”.

A little friendliness from yourself (as a guest in the restaurant) can go a long way.

Here are a few tips on how to treat your waiter with kindness and respect.

TIP # 1

Learn your waiter’s name.  It’s encouraging for waiters to hear their name from their guests.  It lets them know that you respect them (ex: Thank you, Jessica) and it also makes your dining experience all the better.  You’ll know who your waitress is and be able to get his or her attention better when they are walking by your table.  If you say “Excuse me, Michael” as they pass, hearing their name will definitely grab their attention!

TIP # 2

Smile.  Many experienced servers can tell in the first greeting whether their guests are happy, nervous, angry, frustrated, etc.  If you don’t smile at them, they may pick up on some bad vibes coming from the table and limit themselves to basic monotone service, anxious about upsetting you more.  Smiling will let them know that you are open to hearing what they have to say (whether it’s about the evening specials or the daily desserts) and in the end your server will feel relaxed and give you an even better service.

TIP # 3

Be understanding.  Waiters are first and foremost people and what do people do?  They make mistakes.  It happens.  They order your steak Medium-Well instead of Medium-Rare (they sound pretty close in a crowded, loud dining hall on a Saturday night).  They forget your refill of Pepsi.  They order a small beer instead of a large.  I’m sure it’s happened to you and trust me, it will happen again.  The thing to remember is that people make mistakes.  Now, I’m not saying that if your server makes 10 mistakes in a night that you should be 100% okay with it, but maybe that waiter just went through a divorce and has other things on their mind, maybe it’s just “one of those days” for them, or maybe their car broke down on their way to work.  You never know what could be going on in their lives that could be affecting their work.  It’s good to try to give them the benefit of the doubt.  The only problem with that is that there actually are waiters out there who really just don’t care.  You do have to watch out for that.  But if you have a waitress who’s smiling and you can tell is doing her best to satisfy her guests, if she forgets to bring you bread …try to be understanding.

TIP # 4

Be polite Say “Thank You” and “Please” when addressing your server.  They are there to help you, and if you are getting good service then it’s important to let them know you appreciate it.

TIP # 5

Compliment them!  If you just dined at a restaurant and had the BEST service you’ve ever had at that restaurant, or even any other restaurant you’ve been to, let them know!  Don’t be afraid to tell them.  You may notice they suddenly feel shy or even surprised.  Many people don’t open up enough to let people know they are doing a good job.  Hearing that from guests will give good servers a reason to stay that way.

TIP # 6

Leave a good tip.  If you go to the same restaurant every other day, every other week, or every other month and the staff recognizes you, it means that you appreciate the staff, quality, and food the restaurant has to offer.  It means that they must be treating you well!  Make sure that you let them know that you appreciate their hospitality.  When it comes to paying the bill, be sure to calculate your tip correctly.  There are many apps for your phone that are designed for calculating tips.  You can always ask your server to add on the correct percentage.  The average tip should be 15% of the bill and an excellent tip for excellent service should be more if you really want to show your appreciation.  Money isn’t everything, but you must remember that your servers are making under minimum wage and rely a lot on their tips as their income.

TIP # 7

Ask for your favorite server.  When returning to a restaurant that you love, learn the names of each waiter you’ve had and ask the hostess/host in the front to be seated with your favorite server.  If there’s one in particular that you trust to make your dinning experience a pleasant one, ask for them.  They will feel ecstatic to know that they remember you.  A bonus in asking for the same waiter/waitress every time is that they get to know your likes and dislikes and should know them by heart.  If you order a beer to start every time you sit down and you ask for the same server every time, they may already order one for you so that it arrives as you sit at your table. They may give you something on the house.  If there’s a problem with your meal, they will try their hardest to right it because you are now a regular customer.  There are major advantages to asking for your favorite server.

All these tips can really help you with your dining experiences.  Remember to recognize the difference between those servers who just think of serving as another job and  those who do it because they love it!  You’ll notice a huge difference.  Be kind, understanding, and treat them with respect and they should do the same!

The Waitress Confessions