# Tips on restaurant receipts, and arithmetic mistakes

Mr. Neville and I went out to dinner one night last week. When he was filling out the credit card receipt, he made a mistake in adding the tip to the bill (I caught the mistake, and he fixed it, so he didn’t end up leaving a 50-cent tip). He has a math degree, so he can’t do simple arithmetic

I got to wondering afterward- maybe someone who’s worked in a restaurant could tell me the answer to this. What do restaurants do when someone makes a mistake adding in the tip? Do they go by the total amount at the bottom of the receipt, even when there’s an obvious arithmetic mistake in calculating that amount? Or do they go by what you wrote in on the tip line?

In my experience, being one who works in the restaurant business, I go by the total regardless of the tip amount entered. But if the difference is less than 50 cents, and the handwriting is questionable, I’ll go by the tip amount. It’s a judgment call in those situations.

The difference would have been \$10 in this case, if that makes a difference.

In a case like that, I probably still would’ve gone with the total as wrong as it was. There are times when I’m so busy during my shift, I don’t have time to “finish out” each credit card slip as I collect them. By the time I go through and close each ticket (near the end of my shift), I would rather not speculate on the intent of each customer. It usually backfires when the customer comes back in the next day after checking their charges online and gives the manager a good verbal beating.

I’ve known of a few cases where an employee has been fired for “padding” a tip amount on a credit card. “I’m sure the customer meant to leave me more of a tip” is never a good defense in this situation. Besides, if I had received a 50 cent tip instead of the usual 15% or 20%, I’m sure I can make it up elsewhere or on another day.

Wow, such an utterly different attitude from this thread

Well, some people just don’t think about a tip. If they do, they don’t always do the math to figure out what to leave in relation to the total of the check.

It’s just not worth getting your panties in a bunch. If a bad tip can ruin the rest of a shift for someone, maybe the service industry isn’t the right gig for that person.

I hereby nominate this sentiment for “Post most out of line with prevailing line of thought on SDMB, 2009”.

I can see why that might be a problem.

I’m glad I caught the mistake and we didn’t ruin anybody’s shift. Especially not at that sushi bar- the waitresses had blowtorches (for making seared tuna nigiri, which were delicious). I don’t want pissed-off sushi waitresses with blowtorches running amok in my neighborhood.

Do you always go by the total or do you go by whichever’s lower? (Like if they tip \$10 on a \$15 meal, but the total comes out to \$20).

I’ve done this. The restaurant went by the total, so the bank cleared it for what was the correct amount (for them.) I had to make an adjustment in my checkbook once I realized I had added wrong.

Again, it’s a judgment call based on the following: (a) the tip amount is clearly written and (b) the total is obviously the result of bad math. If the slip meets each of these requirements, I will go by the tip amount. In that case, I may also jot down a quick note on the slip itself about the discrepancy. That way, my manager has a paper trail to refer to on the off chance that the credit card holder comes in with a complaint.

I had a clown misread a \$6.00 tip (on a \$25.00 tab) as \$600. I had to fight with Amex over it. FWIW, the restaurant went under 2 months later.

For a while, I was in the habit of making the tip round the bill off to a whole number, and one one bill I did the math wrong and was a buck off. I noticed it when the CC statement came and it wasn’t a roudn dollar amount, so I went into the restaurant to ask them about it. They said in a case like that, sometimes the CC woudl reject the charge if they tried to take the tip, since there were conflicting numbers, so they basically just shafted the server on that bill.

(I gave them cash on the spot to make up for my stupidity and asked that it be passed on to the server, who shouldn’t get stiffed)

I almost always go by the amount listed under the tip line, since that’s clearly what they wanted to leave me whether or not they did the math right.

Why do you even need to total it out in the first place? Can’t they just make the credit card readers do it automatically?

At many places, they make you total it even when it’s a situation where leaving a tip is ambiguous at best, or in a situation you wouldn’t normally tip in. I’ve just signed without writing anything in the Tip or Total column, and had the cashier ask me to write the total in. I’m wondering if they’re expecting me to leave them a tip at that point.

I work at a big national chain steakhouse, and deal with this about once a week. Official company policy is to go by the original amount + tip, then adjust their total if it’s wrong. It’s not usually a difference of more than ten cents, and to my knowledge no one has ever complained.

Actually, unless I’m mistaken, the restaurant is obligated by contract to charge what you total. That’s why you are asked to enter the total yourself. The line for “tip” is just to help. It’s not the deciding factor.

I think we’ve had a thread on this within the last two years, but I’m too lazy to go look it up.

I am not in the US.

We do not tip here…

Having said this, it sounds like practise there is that your credit charge slip comes to the table, tip added and signed and then the server goes and sends the charge through to the bank AFTER the diner has left?

Here, server swipes my card, I check the amount (I always circle the total) and sign, transaction is completed. IF there is any discrepancy the amount on my receipt, that I have circled and signed is correct…the server cannot change it.

Yep. It’s an actual charge slip, but with fields for tip and total that you write in. The server usually takes it after you walk out the door; a limited number of restaurants also lets you take your check up to the cashier up front and finish the deal right there if you prefer. I should note that the credit card companies here are also very consumer-friendly in terms of unauthorized charges, so I’m guessing – my experience is limited to fraudulent retail purchases – that a changed slip would be fightable. That is if the restaurant manager doesn’t do something about it first.