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.
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.
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.
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?