Steven I Need to Speak With You

This is what I heard from the supervisor upon entering the restaurant yesterday after being off for 3 days.

Right away I thought this cannot be good at all and it wasn’t. A table I had a couple of weeks ago lodged a complaint about myself on email. I remember this table like yesterday.

Three people are stopping by to have a bite to eat on their way home which is still a hour or so drive from where I work. They have had what looks like a beer already before arriving and order another round. They seem friendly enough but I have a feeling I have to pay special attention to this table for some reason. Maybe on the inside they were not that friendly. However I do gain some rapport with them and making sure they get the service everyone expects. Also they mention that they eat at the restaurant by the same name locally too so they are pretty familiar with the menu etc…

I clear the entrees away and offer them the dessert menu to see if they would like a dessert but say everything was great but they were full and they have that drive ahead of them. The weather outside was not great either so I presented them with the tab that was $91 and change.

I wished them a safe trip and thanked them for coming this evening.

In the bill fold I see they have a $100 Gift Certificate and a $20 dollar bill. As always when this happens I ask if that is okay and do they need any change. The man says no that is for you. A good tip but not anything out of the ordinary or I would have questioned it. They seem genuinely pleased with the meal and since they are use to eating at same restaurant locally I figured everything was fine and they just were pleased with the meal and service. So the tip amounted with the balance on the gift card of $8 and change plus $20 was pretty nice of them I thought and I thanked them once again and wished them a safe trip back.

Well in my section I get a couple more tables and I was busy with that , but during this time they are just sitting there and not moving but I figured like a lot of people they were finishing up their beers and chatting a bit before heading out. Then I glance over again and the guy is looking at me so I go over there and ask if everything is alright?

I will use the name , Dick to give him a proper name. Dick says , do we get the gift card back? My jaw drops realizing Dick wanted his gift card with the balance of $8 and something change back still on it. I apologize immediately and explain I have closed the gift card and did not know he wanted it back. So to make amends I apologize once again saying I misunderstood and that at that precise moment because I could not give it back to him I pulled out $10 right away and handed it to him to cover the balance of the gift card that was left. Hoping that was enough I made a joke about I didn’t think they needed it back with only that amount on it and that I understood when he said ok that it was for the gift card and $20.

I apologize again and thank them and wish them a nice trip and they leave.

So the email says they did not know they could leave a tip with the balance that was left on the gift card. For christ’s sake Dick where have you been the last 59 years? Now if it was about getting change back for the $20 I think he would have had every right to be pissed off. But how was I to know when he said it was okay that it was for the $20 and not the gift card that had a balance on it of $8 something! Usually when someone tells me it is okay that means everything.

Then he said I slapped the $10 down which is ludicrous because what I did is not hesitate to pay him back the $10 covering more than the balance remaining on the gift card. Geez I would have at that moment given back his $20 too but that would not have been a good idea.

Well in hindsight had I known the guy was going to send a lousy email back on this I would have just called the manager over to wipe the tears from Dick’s eyes!

Now I have to go into work even earlier today to have a meeting with the manager on this. And yes he will get a phone call and I am sure another gift certificate to play the same game with another waiter hopefully in Scarboro where he normally eats to pull the same routine.

What a guy!



  1. You have to treat customers like they don’t know anything. Sometimes, often?, it makes you look silly for having to ask after everything. But then again…you get nimrods like this if you don’t.

  2. What a Dick.For that very reason I have quit asking if the customer needs change back. I just give them their change and then they decide what to leave me. I’m sorry this happened to you. There’s always a Dick in every crowd.Just remember, karma’s a bitch.

  3. Sous Gal..I know , but I think this guy was a special nimrod.

  4. Chris..I am sure that will be the result. Now Steven you have to give the change back…..

  5. If I had a dollar….Often, the worse customer complaints don’t come from bad service, food, etc – but from simple mis-understandings.Even when you ask (as you did) about wanting change back, this shit then arrives as a consequence.As Chris said, take mis-understanding out of the picture and just leave the change there and let them leave the gratis.Thats when you give them a geography lesson “Folks, tipping is not a city in china….”

  6. Ah, the joys of being a waiter.

  7. Banquet Manager…yeah banquet waiters do not have to deal with gift cards do they…Ha!

  8. James..but how do you give change back for a $20 when he says it’s okay?? Then find out later it was the gift card. Do you see how bizarre this was? It wasn’t about the money it was the gift card.This was a unique situation.1 in a million.Was I supposed to return 4 five dollar bills? I know what you are saying and everyone else but this was crazy.

  9. That’s so ridiculous–the guy obviously wasn’t clear on what he wanted and expected you to read his mind. Idiot.Sadly, most managers don’t care about things like that. I’ve had similar situations where my managers have basically told me it’s my fault for not assuming the customer is an idiot and getting everything spelled out for me. Grr.

  10. Purplegirl..and you know what despite the phone call to the guest and the reply was Steve provided outstanding service right to that moment when we were a little puzzled upon leaving and we don’t want to cause trouble , the least the GM could have done was forgo the writeup.And despite the fact the GM told me yesterday I was a great waiter she still decides to write me up. I signed something that says next time you are suspended then after fired. Fuck Me!!! And others when they get a complaint are not even sat down for a talk. Who is playing the favourites here!I hate that when management decides one should be a scapegoat.

  11. Duh, now I get it. But the guy was still a Dick for calling your sup. And your GM is a schlep for handling this in such a poor manner. Unfortunately, you have just been made an example of by her. She should have had your back. I’m glad you rocked the place last night. That’s a great feeling when everything flows and feels right. Those nights make up for the crappy ones.

  12. Chris..I am going to do a post on the follow up meeting with the manager shortly. I just haven’t done it yet. You have hit the nail on all points especially on the manager backing me up a bit on this one. Like in my entire years being a waiter/bartender etc. I have never been written up like this. But I will do the post shortly.I think there must have been more going on than just this.

  13. damn right your manager should have had your back! not good enough man! hey, you’ll live to fight another day…..

  14. Manuel…that is what I figure. A nice place to work all of a sudden becomes a bit strange. I am not too worried just a bit bewildered.

  15. i HATE TO (excuse me) to say this, but those Gift Cards are generally meant to be maxed out on merchandise and not treated as cash. I understand the confusion they create, but as policy, I would always return the card even if it only had .99 cents left on it.I personally think you assumed a little too much. A $28 tip on a $92 tab is maybe more than just “pretty nice”…its quite exceptional in these parts and would have made me question wat was going on there.Course what do I know? i haven’t waited a table in 28 years and had to steal tips to get by!

  16. Bulletholes…okay but then just leave me $10 cash. That would have been fine. The other night a tab came to $80 and they had a $100 gift certificate and they said it was okay but I had them sign it. What change was I supposed to give back? Anyway in hindsight sure I should have given it back and in fact I did in cash but they still weren’t happy. So it was in the cards anyway. I am shortly writing a post on this soon on the followup meeting. I appreciate your comments as all the others. Believe it or not it is not unusual to get a tip like that especially when the gift card part of the gratuity was not theirs’ but someone elses.So they left a 20 for a free meal.Post will be shortly.

  17. I suspect Mike the call might have used the feared (by corp chain mgrs) threat of calling corp office. Otherwise unless you had “attitude” when she busted your chops on the incident.Personally I always offer or say as I grab the book “I will be back with your change.” I had a guy go postal about it when I asked him when weeded if he needed change while on a probable 1st date in of all places a corporate chain.Hmmm might make a cute blog posting-thanks for the idea Mike!Bulletholes- yeah they are designed to be maxed out but many places dont offer change or balanced corrected cards as change they expect you to spend the full gift card not to string it out over sev trips.And $28 on $91 tab is 30.7% which for a server of Mike’s caliber not typical is far from unheard of.

  18. Food Service Ninja…thanks for joining in with your comment.Not sure if by Mike you meant me ( Steve ) but that is fine. Thanks for the backup on the tip amount. These people were regulars at another restaurant of the same chain so figured when they said okay it was okay , you know what I mean. Tomorrow I will do the follow up.

  19. Sorry Steve I linked in from another blog that mentioned you and Mike the Waiter in the same sentence and got you 2 confused.

  20. Food Service Ninja…no worries I kinda thought that was what happened. I haven’t heard from Mike lately should check him out.

  21. I find it a tad suspicious that these customers went to all the trouble of sending an email about the gift card mix up, especially once you had apologized and reimbursed them. They even mentioned that your service was exceptional. My take? Nice enough not to want you to be fired, but dicky enough to jump on the chance to get something free. And you shouldn’t get written up over a misunderstanding!

  22. Bev Rage..I am with you on everything you said. I am putting it behind me though.

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