Waiters: YES, I want my change, thank you!

Several times recently waitresses have asked me as they picked up the payment for my meal if I wanted my change. WTF? Sometimes they hadn’t even opened the presenter to see how much I had put in there. I might have put in a $100 bill on a $10 check.

No, I’m not leaving you a 900% tip!

Perhaps they think that by asking this question they’ll get a bigger tip, by cowing people into giving them the entire difference. If so, this is manipulative and rude. Perhaps they just don’t understand the presumption implicit in the question.

Twice I’ve tried to explain why it is a presumptuous and rude question, and have suggested that it would be more appropriate just to say, “I’ll bring you your change.” Then, if he wished, the customer could volunteer, “No that’s okay. Keep it.” A more pleasant experience for everyone, IMO.

The first time I think the waitress got the idea, but today’s waitress just stood there gawking and didn’t seem to understand what I was talking about. Nor was she particularly gracious about receiving what I offered as polite and helpful advice.

If this is going to become a service-based economy, people need to get a better idea of what service is.

maybe you need more realistic expectations of service.

The first time I think the waitress got the idea, but today’s waitress just stood there gawking and didn’t seem to understand what I was talking about. Nor was she particularly gracious about receiving what I offered as polite and helpful advice.


Maybe she stood there, mouth agog at what an incredible ass you were being. I find that most waitpersons will stare at you like you’re an alien if you’re being particularly rude. Which you were. I’m not exactly sure where you’re from, Sparky, but it’s pretty much a standard question these days. I can also assure you that most waitstaff neither need, nor appreciate a lecture from a particularly uppity client who doesn’t appreciate the way they handle their business.

Different people handle paying the tab in different ways. Many people put all of the money for their waitperson in the folder, including the tip. Some people need change and when the waitperson “presumtuously” asks if they will be needing change, and when told “Yes, thank you”, bring the change back to the customer.

Christ. Could you be more easily offendable?


Yes, it is presumptuous and rude. Just as presumptuous & rude as trying to teach manners to another adult. I will allow parents a second chance at this if they promise to do it only to their own offspring who didn’t get it the first time, and only in total privacy, (not at the family gathering in front of siblings, spouces, cousins…). Otherwise, it’s just a rude as any other rude behavior. You had me on your side until you mentioned teaching manners to strangers. It simply isn’t done. And my cite is Miss Manners Guide to Excrutiatingly Correct Behavior. Judith Martin is with me on this one. So, and I know that wait staff are going to pit me for this, your only valid response is to adjust the tip down according to just how angry it makes you. I know they aren’t paid well, but we have to have some way to indicate bad service. Which includes rude assumptions.

Hey, I think I know you. You’re the guy who spent 5 minutes explaining to me why it would be smarter for me to give him his dessert and his coffee for free than it would be to charge him for it, because that way he could use that money to tip me.

I was dumb. I charged him. I got no tip.

Somehow, though, I feel as though that would have happened anyway, what with the way I gawked at him when he offered his “helpful advice” . . .

Or maybe she’s just trying to plan her next couple of moves in order to provide everyone in her section with more efficient service. Give her a break.

Waiting tables is a hard job to do well. Every second counts, especially when she’s busy and waiting on demanding tables, and she’s asking you if she has to go directly to the register and then come back to your table, or if she can take the money and bid you goodbye, and then use that time to refill drinks for another table, make sure other tables aren’t in dire need of extra napkins or straws, bring the check to another table and make change, greet and take drink orders for a new table, and then deal with your check before heading back into the kitchen to pick up and deliver food and start the process over again. Trust me, no waitress makes good tips by doing only one thing at a time - she has to plan out how many things she can get accomplished in any one trip through her section, or else fall behind and lose a bunch of money.

C’mon, hazel-rah. On this one thing – a server asking if the patron wants their change back – commasense is exactly right. There’s no need to make any further extrapolations about how commasense does or does not treat servers in general.

This is covered in Day One of Server Training: Never make a patron think that you’re assuming a tip.

How do I know this? I did my own lengthy “tour” in the service industry – four years of which was spent waiting tables.

I’m not a waitress, but as far as I can tell, asking if the customer would like his change back is pretty damn standard. So if this guy just tipped lower, I wouldn’t think, “Oh no! I have offended him by asking him if he would like his change back, which he showed in tipping me horribly! I shall never ask that question again!” I’d be more likely to figure he was just a cheap bastard.

Still not a valid excuse … not nearly. However, your concerns can be easily adressed by changing the totally improper question to a declarative:

Not “Would you like your change back?” …

but “I’ll be right back with your change.”

The patron still has a chance to let you know that they won’t be needing change, which still saves you the time you need. And you haven’t risked offending the patron.

A lot of people in this thread are saying that asking “do you want your change?” is now standard. Really? Were you encouraged to ask this during your training? How often do you hear this question asked in fine dining establishments?

Moot question IMHO. I gotta think that credit card is the standard method of payment in fine dining establishments.

Count me in with those who get really bugged by the server asking if I want my change. They’re always safer off assuming that I do, thus giving me the opportunity to say, “No, keep the change.”

It doesn’t bug me enough that I lower the tip or anything, though.

You’re right in theory, but really, commasense seems to think this is some sort of sneaky way of making off with a larger tip, and I’ll bet you dollars to donuts it’s nothing of the sort. Seriously, he thinks every waitress is trying to strong-arm him into letting her have all the change? It smacks more of paranoia than bad service.

I love it when ex-waitstaff say you can’t do something because it wouldn’t be done in a “fine-dining” establishment. Like there’s no difference between the service you can expect at Antoine’s and what you get at Friendly’s? Poppycock.

Since the OP took the trouble to point out that sometimes the server hadn’t even checked the payment book I don’t see how the question’s a matter of assuming a tip. It’s possible that there’s exact change in the payment book. The server hasn’t even looked yet.

I suspect that Jenny Hanniver is more correct about the motivations of the servers. It seems unlikely that it’s a ploy to guilt a better tip out of patrons.

That last was directed at bordelond. I forgot how quickly these service industry threads move.

While I’d never say anything to a server about it, this really ticks me off. A polite waiter will always just bring the change. No asking, no nothing, just bring the change. If I am no longer here, good on you, you get to keep it. It’s stunningly rude to ask if you’re being tipped. It’s not “convenient”, any more than it would be “convenient” to do many other rude things. Waiters do this because they were taught by other waiters who don’t know any better. Staff at very nice restaurants very, very rarely ask if they should bring you any change.

When I was a server, I always said, “I’ll be right back with your change.” I find it rude when a server asks, “Do you need change?”

Well, I won’t comment on the assholeishness of the OP, 'cus everyone else has done a pretty good job.

I would point out that he may want to avoid returning to the restaraunts where he offered up his “advice”. Cus, ya gotta know, he’s gonna get snot in his food if he does.

Sorry - that’s just the way it is.

If the servers had taken the time to examine the payment they could reach more appropriate conclusions about the need to make change. I doubt if the servers in question opened a payment book, saw a $100 bill for a $15 tab and thenasked if change was necessary.

If a server was busy, as JH speculated, it would save time and effort to ask ahead of time if it would be necessary to make change.

FWIW, it’s also rude to ask if people are through with their plates; to take away the plates of those at a table who have finished eating when others at the table are still eating; and a list of other minor grievances. None of them however are a part of conniving on the part of the staff, though. Just things that make teh rest run more smoothly.

comma must not’ve had morning coffee when comma’s panties bunched.

After all, examine the difference between saying, “Yes,” and proceeding to give a lecture to someone who has unwittingly chosen to participate in what has become a relative commonplace practice.

comma may either be perpetually disgruntled (with or without lecturing waitstaff) or comma can learn to say, “Yes,” while remaining gruntled.
Everybody has choices to make.

IMHO, it’s so much simpler to say, “Yes,” and remain gruntled.

OK, then, I tell you what. There’s another angle to this – asking if someone wants change almost certainly cost you, the server, tip money. Maybe not a huge amount, but some. A lot of people won’t speak up like commasense – they’ll just say “Yes, I’d like my change, please”, then quietly deduct your perceived slight from your tip. What would have been 20% become 15%.

Making the question a declarative costs no more time or effort, and will be kosher with all customers. Why risk even a dime of your tip money?

It’s true that points of service and customer expectations differ between different kinds of restaurants. But IMHO, asking for change doesn’t count as a point of service as do, say, sweeping crumbs from the table or serving women before men. Asking about the change is a very fundamental etiquette breach, and all levels of server at any establishment should be aware of that. Working at Friendly’s is not an excuse for insulting customers.

Still not a good enough reason to ask the question … but it is the perfect occasion to make the declarative statement. Your assumption should be that you are bringing change back to the table of a cash-paying patron, whether or not you have seen the money. Tell the patron you are returning, and they will let you know whether or not you need to bring change back.

I’ve heard this before in different places, but always from those who either on’t work in the food service industry.
After too much time in the food service industry I’ve yet to see a single instance of this.

Seen some pretty nasty places where snot might’ve been preferrable to the food, though.