The Insane Waiter

Running wild on customers, chefs, owners and managers since 1997. I bring to you, The Insane Waiter. What do bring to your table? A crisp bottle of San Pellegrino ? Perhaps a lovely seared Sashimi Tuna? Start off with a wonderful bottle from Tuscany perhaps? Why I'll be more than happy to bring you your White Zinfandel and Chicken Caesar. No you can't order the mac and cheese off the kids menu and sorry no, we don't serve cheese sticks....

Sunday, March 26, 2006


The Ides of March

Last Friday night was a rocking event in the middle of the post holiday slump.

I had three back to back 8-12 tops and enough tables to keep my section full of smaller groups as well.

As far as the groups went they were awesome.

A table of eight ladies had a great time with me and the rest of the staff, Cosmo's and white wine were flowing like the rain of heaven.

The second group came in on the heels of the eight top, twelve of them, steaks and several bottles of decent wine were the order as well appetizers, soups, salads and desserts, great tab and very gracious guests.

I separated the ladies' checks and added the auto gratuity, it is restaurant policy that we do this to guarantee the waiter is taken care of.

I circled the gratuity on each check and deliver the check folders.

I hurried back to the POS stand and ran all their cards through, my twelve's third course is coming up.

I returned with the change and credit card slips and they all thank me profusely, the few ladies that had cash handed me back their folder saying I did a great job and deserved the extra tip, the ladies with credit card each bumped me up to 30% as well.

Very nice.

As the twelve is finishing up their entrees another ten top goes down where the ladies were.

While didn't order to the extreme as the other tables they had a few rounds of drinks and decent entrees, not a bad table as they were friendly and lively.

A bit later I split up the twelve top into couples and I am amazed that the people are vying for the right to pay for appetizers and wine, at least they are generous with their friends.

They were with me as well, several of the couples threw in another five or ten dollar bill on addition to the marked gratuity.

In fact on Monday one of the people who didn't throw in extra called the restaurant and complimented me on my great service and left me another $15 over the phone on his card as he felt that 20% wasn't enough.

The last table was ready to leave as well and I dropped their check off and they threw another $40 on top of their gratuity as well, once again thanking me for making their night so pleasurable.

Great night, one of the few that came around recently that was perfect top to bottom with great tippers and no problem guests or other issues.

Then this week hit, another cold spell meant slow lunches and dismal returns on the night shift. As with all weeks, that last Friday's tips were swallowed up by bills and maybe a little fun, tight times come as quick as prosperous times.

The restaurant received an angry call yesterday, the last party that threw on an extra $40.

It seems they felt they tipped me too much and didn't realize what the gratuity was on the bill. They didn't mention the fact that the policy is stated on the menu...

Also the receipt, which I either highlight or circle clearly marked the gratuity in large print on their credit card receipt right above the total payment line that must be signed.

Of course the manager apologized and refunded their money.

Not from the restaurant's till which averages over 100k a week or the millionaire owner, but from me.

Who do you think can afford it the most, with this slow month, not me that's for sure.

I argued a bit, but to no avail.

The manager asked what I would do in his place.

I told him I would back up my staff, I'm honest and have had no problems before with this type of payment.

"The credit card slip is a payment contract and always read it," I told him.

"It's the customer's mistake not mine, why should I have to pay," I argued.

No avail.

I pointed out that each of my other parties left extra and with the level of service all the rest of my station received it wasn't unreasonable for me to think that they were just hooking me up, like the other tables had.

"I circle each ticket that has gratuity, its their responsibility to read their ticket and credit card recipt, I highlight it for them, just so there won't be confusion like this," I pleaded.

He looked at me like I was crazy.

The term "back up your employee" has almost no place in this business.

As much as I pleaded I knew the outcome, I would be forced to pay.

He took it out of my cash out tips, I walked with $10 for the night.

Rent is due, I thought.

Car payment.


Phone bill.

All in a week, that was a bill I just gave up.

To many $40 is nothing, but for a shit month like this its make or break time.

The really bad thing is if that table meant the $40 to be the tip on the total bill it would have been a really shitty tip, like 10% shitty.

That's why the Auto-Grat exists I suppose.

The only good thing was they still were forced to pay the regular gratuity, at least I didn't have to refund that as well.

I love this business, I can't think of more than a handfull of other industries where a line employee is expected to financially cover mistakes themselves and the company doesn't have to pay a lick.

The restaurant is pretty quick to give away dinner, drinks and dessert at the drop of a hat, they eat the cost no matter what so the customer is happy.

How about keeping your employee happy and eating this cost as well?


At 5:59 AM , Blogger Jen said...

We make $3 + change an hour..We're dispensable. That's why they don't care about making us happy...
Love your writing, by the way..:)

At 10:17 AM , Anonymous Danielle said...

I agree with her but at the same time, people get greedy when we automatically add things., I had a 15 top once as as soon as they found out there was a 15% tip added they broke up into differnt tables in different sections just so us servers wouldnt put that tip on... i had 2 out of 4 tables and total tip: 2 bucks.... when their combined ticket was about 100 or so.... ahh the life of a server! hang in there, love the stories

At 2:48 PM , Anonymous cds said...

It's complete bullshit that they forced you to pay it back.
We had this situation a lot at my restaurant in Columbus.
I've had many people add to the auto grat, but none have called back (that I know of)

We are requried to verbally tell the table that grat is on there (because, as we all know, acutally READING the grat line on the menu is not going to happen)

I, like you, circle the grat on the receipt. If they add more, it's on them. I will not cave in to a guest's refusal to pay attention.

A friend of mine got a callback on grat and she used the " it's a contract.... would you not read a contract before signing?" That was all she needed to say, because the restaurant either refused the request (doubtful) or paid it back out of their own deep pockets.

Sorry that happened to you.. :) Karma will get you that money back.

At 3:54 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nephew Dude:

I agree with Jen when she says "We're dispensable. That's why they don't care about making us happy..." The income the establishment makes every week is the ONLY priority.

Your manager(s) sound insecure in the sense that, if they back up their staff, they fear those customers will never return AND will blacklist your restaurant to all their friends.

An establishment that felt confident about the quality of their menu and secure in the loyalty of their clietele wouldn't act like your manager(s) do(es).


Uncle R.

At 4:37 PM , Blogger Chance said...

That is lame. I was thinking this was going to be an actual Good News post, but I guess the customer is always an ass. Sorry about that, but it sounds like you're great at your job. Don't let it get you down, and you'll get the big tips. I hope.

At 7:10 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Waaah. Lemme bitch and moan about a customers mistake.

Quit being an ass.

The customer messed up and they wanted to correct their mistake. If you accidentally overpay a bill of any kind, and catch it later on, are you going to say "Oh well" or try to get the correct amount back?

And in terms of management. You cost the restaurant money. Customers bring in money and pay your wage. It's pretty easy to see why they aren't going to side with you.

At 3:53 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, to respond to the above post, the manager could have refunded the amount from the company till. I myself recently left a job where they put me through very expensive and time consuming training because the restaurant management wuld nickle and dime the staff- no family meal, no affordable menu items for staff- it was fine dining prices and we only gr 25 percent off- and the like. In the long run, the restaurant I was at would have come out ahead by giving the staff small considerations.

At 7:19 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's your place in life to be walked on. Now brush off those footprints and get back to work.

At 10:59 AM , Blogger AWE said...

That sucks.

Even if I had left the $40 by mistake. I would have eaten the bill. Like you said, the auto grat. was printed out.

At 11:17 AM , Blogger Cricket said...

OB's CC receipts print from the computer terminals now, so they get a printout with two tip lines, one pre-filled, the blank labelled "Add'l tip." I've never seen anyone mistake it.

What kind of cojones do you have to have to call a place and demand $40 back from a guy who makes $2/hour (well, I don't know your state's rules, but I make federal minimum)?

At 11:20 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it takes massive balls to call and ask for the tip back. I can't imagine doing anything but slapping my forehead and saying "boy am I STUPID".

Unlike when someone skips and they make you pay (which I think is total bullshit), I'm not as convinced on this, cuz the $ did go in your pocket. Still they could have been somewhat nice and ate it.

I think this would have been better in two posts though...looked like you were actually going to post something positive.

At 11:42 AM , Anonymous Anon #6 said...

But if it had been something positive, then it wouldn't really have qualified as a rant. I liked it: I was thinking, "Wow, he had a good night." But then the twist at the end, leaving a sour taste. Excellent writing!

The way I figure it, though, one of the people at the table took the $40, and never told anyone else about it. It seems strange that they would rave about the service, and then demand the money back. (Or the manager pocketed it.)

And your manager sucks, man, I can't believe he didn't take that out of the drawer. I have the vague feeling that his demand that you reimburse the customer may have been illegal.

On the other hand, if the manager was trying to buy employee ill-will in large quantities for cheap, he just made a great deal.

At 12:57 PM , Anonymous Dana said...

How about this... as soon as those in the service industry start paying income tax on ALL the cash they receive as tips, I will agree that the manager should have refunded the tip out of general restaurant revenues. Let's be honest, tips are not 'pocket money', this is the cash you use to pay your rent, pay your bills, save for a vacation.

At 3:36 PM , Anonymous stove said...

That's a tough call, but if I was your manager I would have found a way for the store to cover it. Or at least I would have bought you some dinners/drinks.

At 7:48 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I have the vague feeling that his demand that you reimburse the customer may have been illegal." I really doubt if restaurant managers give a shit about laws.

At 4:33 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is BS. Once that money hits the table it just became your property. Read the Labor Code. Tell your management to F&%K off. If they want to refund it they can but its not heir money to touch. The worse part is that manager like this will make waiting a union job and that will just create new problems.

At 10:09 PM , Blogger Christine said...

Demand the money back. If it is a chain restaurant, call corporate. The company decided to refund the money therefore, they pay it. Don't be a sucker.

At 3:00 PM , Anonymous stove said...

Dive! Dive!
Don't worry, I won't tell....
I guess now you'll have to review every comment?

At 5:12 PM , Anonymous marco said...

Screwed by that cheap asshole, and then his stupid fucking friend screws up your blog! Shit! Happy April!

At 8:52 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Suck it up and quit whining pal. Be thankful that a.g. is in place. Try working bare nuts on large tables and getting hosed. So you lost the forty bucks, if it was entirely left to the guest, and you give good service, count your blessing if you get 20%. They think they're doing you a favour. I think you made out pretty well.
Besides, my guess is that you make more money than a lot of your guests anyways, but don't tell them that.

At 10:58 AM , Blogger Palema said...

The manager did not demand that YOU reimburse the customer (he reimbursed the customer - his choice). He demanded that you reimburse HIM. I call that stealing. And bad policy. If a boss can't back up his employee, he's got the wrong employee.

One day at my job, a guy said to my boss: "You're doing a great job here," and my boss said, "The one thing I do right is hire great people - my staff is excellent!" That's the kind of support you deserve. That kind of support makes all the difference. I can handle sucky customers with aplomb and without too much stress, because I know my boss supports me. And you know what? it also makes the boss look good!

Wait staffs should get together and make demands. They can't run a restaurant without you, any more than they can without customers!

At 4:13 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

With double tips, you have to watch out for AMEX, they show the tip and the check seperately on the end of the month statement. Visa, Mastercard, etc simply show the total. We learned this the hard way when one of the servers got nailed at my pub. Although, in that case the restaurant picked up the tab.

At 6:23 PM , Anonymous MzscrewedbyUrworkplace said...

Another money wash...

I brought in the New Years working from 11:00 AM until after 12:00 pm at Como's steakhouse in Lake Las Vegas Resorts.

The checks that are printed for the customer have a gratuity line on the darn receipt! A couple came in, spent $150.00 in food and liquor. The bill was folded under and presented to them. It was quite busy, when I returned...the moron signed a receipt, even left me a $33.00 tip on a nothingness check and was GONE.

How can a customer not know that he left no money or credit card for payment? Boss made me pay the bill...couldn't close out my shift until it was paid in cash by me! I had to go to the casino ATM and pull out money from my savings account! Left pissed off and with no money for a long work day!

I don't know which is worse...a customer who does this or a GM who demands money and won't call it a house wash. Hardly seems legal...

Disgusted in Vegas


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