Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Nothing like a cheat

Okay... I have a brief story for you and then will ask a question.

On Mother's Day, Randy reserved a table for us to take his mother to a nice upscale restaurant . We wanted it to be special. I managed to keep my mouth shut about where we were going so that it would be a surprise. When we got there, it was of course packed, being the day it was... mothers everywhere you looked.

We were seated. This place is set up like a railway station... and you eat in railroad cars. Fun and the food is reputedly quite good. The waitress tells us to grab plates and we could use either buffet... then she ran away before anyone could say anything. I knew that this was not what Randy had in mind... a buffet, so I hopped up and followed her. I asked for menus instead. She said she was sorry but buffet was all they were offering today.

Back at the table she explained this again to everyone, then asked us if we would like a drink. Our choice of drink was a mimosa. Not much of a choice. I accepted one... you know me. However Randy and his mom wanted rootbeer. They had to pay extra for the rootbeer, which was warm. When I reached the end of the buffet line and got my tiny little sliver of prime rib... and I do mean tiny... I asked for aujuice and horseraddish. The guy serving the meat, who looked very bored, scanned the table and said "Oh, I guess we ran out." No offer to get more. I took my plate and sat down. We never saw another server or waitress again.

Randy had to run someone down to get the check. He used his card... debit, then left a healthy tip on the table. We left and life went on. Monday morning he looked at his bank stuff and there was the cost of the meal... $25.00 more than he had signed for at the restaurant. He got out his reciept and sure enough, that amount had been added on after he had signed for the meal and gotten his receipt.

Randy is a very careful person with money. It truly is impressive to see how careful he is. Everything he buys is dutifully entered and the amount paid for it and he keeps all those slips for a time. So we got in the truck and drove to the restaurant and asked for the manager. She came back with a total ditz response to why an extra charge had been added on. She claimed that it had nothing to do with them. That all restaurants are required to take that much more for a meal until the check clears in case of bounced checks and to cover the cost if a tip is not left at the table. Randy pointed out that it was not a check, that it was debit and the amount had already been paid and that the tip had been left on the table. He wanted that amount put back in his account. She said this would take up to three days. Gentleman that he is, Randy said okay and we left. But he was not happy.

I have a debit card and while I do not eat out often at all, I have over the years eaten at a few nice restaurants. I have NEVER had a charge added to the amount that I have paid for a meal like that.

Have any of you?

Needless to say we will not be going back there. The buffet was as costly as a normal diner would have been. The food was not very good... some of it way over salted. The service was poor. Worse, the manager did not seem to care that we were upset by the added on cost. Sheesh!


  1. Good grief, you should really name and shame. My wife (before we were married) and her family all talk of a terrible restaurant experience where the food was late, cold, the meat was blue, and in the end they had all drunk lots of wine while waiting, so they said they'd pay for the wine, and left. Must have cost the restaurant a small fortune as they cooked bad food badly for a large group that ended up leaving!

  2. Mo-- Good for them! That place deserved it. If it had not been Mother's Day, and his mom had not been happily impressed at his choice of well known places, we would have left as soon as she said it was only a buffet.

  3. We don't eat at "nice" places very often, but I do almost always pay with my debit card and have never been charged extra like that. That is crazy!
    Well, at least I hope his mom enjoyed her food and going somewhere she'd wanted to try.

  4. that sounds illegal to me. we don't sign for debit cards, we swipe the card then punch in the pin number and the deal is over, no more charges without the swipe and pin number.

  5. I've never heard of that before. I wonder if the waiter/waitress added more of a tip for themselves. I can't believer the manager didn't kiss your asses all over the place. That sucks.

  6. Well, we have just listened to the audiobook of Waiter Rant, so we have heard about Mother's Day from the point of view of the restaurant employees. They have extra work to do, more customers to take care of, and they usually end up getting paid less for it.

    The last few years we have picked a Chinese buffet for our Mother's Day outing, not because that is her favorite restaurant, but the line was shorter and you didn't really need the wait staff to do anything after they brought the drinks.

    As for the problem with the bill, there are a couple of things. First, there's usually 18% added tip already on the bill if you have a party of six or more, or maybe if you go on a particular day or time. There's no getting out of it, and it is written on so many menus now I don't think to look for it anymore, I just know that it is. We had a few problems with it in the beginning, with people not understanding what the charge was for and then tipping another 15% or so in addition to the 18% they were already charged.

    We had an interesting experience at The Cotton Patch a few years ago. The gang went somewhere in costume, like a charity thing, and then we later went for an early dinner, still in costume. All twenty something of us, with most of us requiring separate checks. Getting the check split up does not get you out of that 18% added tip, and I wasn't going to complain about that, just that the check needed to be split up correctly so that I don't get charged for someone else's beer or something. And we had several different people waiting on us, plus other waitstaff came to get pictures of us and such. At the end of the dinner, I knew that my check should be about ten dollar plus tax and that 18%, and at first I was given the correct check with the correct amount, but then one of the staff left with my debit card and came back with something for me to sign that was over fifty dollars. Someone had put four checks together and gave me the bill. And I pointed out the error, and they came back with the correct one, and I signed the correct one.

    The next day, the correct one did not go through, but the over fifty dollar one said pending. I didn't call to complain, since it only said pending, but that was fifty dollars that I couldn't spend if I didn't also want the hassle of later complaining about overdraft fees. Eventually, the fifty dollar charge was removed from pending without me having to say anything about it, fifty dollars was not taken out of my account. But the correct amount was never taken out either. I guess they just lost the bill that I did sign for and tried to submit the other one, which I guess the bank wouldn't honor without my signature. So I guess that I got my dinner for free. Other people had trouble that night, but I don't remember how it was resolved, just that I did not end up paying anything.

  7. That's too bad that it didn't go the way you had hoped for... I hope Randy gets that money back..As for the restaurant, do they have a place where you can complain, here we have the Better Business Bureau.. so maybe something like that and of course word of mouth that they offer poor service and not very good food..

    We have this great hamburger place we like to frequent, one day we decided to stop in and have lunch as a treat..we ordered our food and as we went down the line, we noticed that the guy behind cooking the (raw) meat had taken some burnt buns and shoved deep into the garbage with the same tongs as the meat was being handled with.. BHM spoke up and they all looked like we didn't know what we saw..We sat down once we got our order and had been quite specific about not having that meat on our order.. The manager came over and apologized, he told us the guy was new there and we said, don't fire him, just educate your staff on the proper procedures for handling raw meat and cross contamination.. He impressed us by giving us $25 in gift cert.. So we basically got our meal for free.. At least the manager had enough sense to fix it.. instead of ignoring it..
    I too have never heard of that kind of charge/fee.. They are suppose to keep records of transactions via debit/credit cards..

  8. Went to a McDonald's once. Still I have a story.
    Don ordered whatever the heck he was willing to eat from that dump. The voice in the box told us we had to pull into a parking stall because our order would take a little time. Fish, I think. Well, Don had downed a lot of beer and proceeded to fall asleep.
    When our order came, the manager delivered it. He was appalled that our order had apparently taken so long that poor Don had fallen asleep waiting for it.
    Don got his junk food for free that day.
    It pays to go to a restaurant with a drunk person.
    Hope this all gets worked out. You are a lady, Randy is a gentleman, and I hope Randy's mom enjoyed herself in spite of the obviously disrespectful way you were all treated.

  9. laura b.-- Yes, Mom did enjoy it and we did not say anything around her or about it later. It was her treat.

    Randy got his money back today. Yay! But we are still not going back there again.

  10. billy pilgrim--We do the swipe and pin too, but sometimes they do it like a charge card. I think she was just giving us a line of bull. I wonder if Randy would have gotten his money back if he had not gone down there to request it.

  11. Churlita-- She was amazingly bored with us. We decided to write a letter to the owner. Maybe he would like to know that his manager is not very concerned about his restaurant's reputation.

  12. laughing-- All she did was show us a table and ask if we wanted drinks. Some poor bus person brought the drinks. The service was poor, but not so much because it was busy. Several were just standing around doing nothing.

  13. Mrs.HarryWoman-- Well its good you got satisfaction from them. Ick!

  14. Peggy-- Ha! I enjoyed that story.

  15. I've never had a debit card, but I would think it would be illegal, as it is with credit cards, to add unauthorized charges.

  16. I was going to suggest a nice (really) letter to the owner but you've already thought of that. It's always worth a shot. Especially with a little creativity - perhaps it should be "Mom" who didn't get the horseradish &c. And, of course, the "I love your restaurant and this has never happened before..." thing. At least you sometimes get free stuff that way.

    Surprisingly, this also works when a place is great, or for products you love. Write 'em and say so, you get free stuff at least half the time. My Nana taught me that - it works.

    So does haggling in department stores, but that in itself could be a post.

  17. i have never had that ahppen. the ony situation that comes close is when an establishment has posted on a sign or in a menu that large parties over a certain size will automatically have a certain percentage of a gratuity added to the bill, but it has always been posted somewhere hard to miss and the server has always reminded us of this before ordering or the person taking the reservations has done so at the time we called. it was inexcusable that this restaurant did so, particularly for a party of 3 and with no notification that such was the practice. i'd insist quite unyieldingly that the $25 be returned to me.

  18. I've never heard of a restaurant adding a charge after the fact. I also wonder if you really would've gotten your money back if Randy hadn't noticed.

  19. Cube-- He did finally get it back, but I am sure that your suspicions are correct. I wonder how many people they billked on mom's day.

    You try to do something special for someone and sheesh!