Okay, Dopers. I’ve got a scenario for you that happened at work tonight.
We have a not-so-bright waiter whom I’ll call Jeff. He had a male customer tonight whose tab came to about $18 bucks.
The customer put his money into the little black server-book, handed it to Jeff, told him to keep the change, and then left.
Jeff opened the book and saw two twenty-dollar bills. Jeff obviously got very excited, and told a coworker how pleased he was that the guy had given him a $22 tip.
It was a slow night; within an hour, Jeff was let off and went home.
Two hours later, the guy comes back and wants to talk to the manager. He tells our manager, whom I’ll call Chris, that he has a bunch of new twenties, and that he accidentally gave Jeff two twenties, when he meant to give him just one, because they were new bills and got stuck together.
He wants his money back.
Chris tells him that Jeff has already gone home for the night, and that he won’t be working again til Thursday evening. So the customer gives Chris his business card, and stresses how very important it is that he get his money back. He says he’ll be back on Thursday “to talk to Jeff.”
He leaves, and then comes back again to give Chris his hotel information as well. (He’s here on business from out of town.)
Now, I’m of two minds here; Jeff is not a particularly good waiter, so it’s highly doubtful he’d get that kind of tip, although tips like that do happen. (I’ve gotten a $50 tip on a $12 tab; I think everybody in the service industry’s gotten at least a dozen “incredible” tips before.) So I think Jeff should’ve suspected it was a mistake, even if he hoped otherwise.
But then again, the guy didn’t even wait for Jeff to count the money; he just said “Keep it!” and walked out the door. It isn’t outside the realm of possibility, from a waiter’s standpoint, that he was getting what we call “a gravy tip.”
Should the guy get his money back from Jeff on Thursday? Is Jeff wrong to want to keep it, or is the guy wrong for making a mistake and then chasing $20 bucks around all week, when he’s the one who made the mistake? I personally would probably be too embarrassed to do this for $20 bucks; I’d feel really stupid, and resolve to count my money a little more carefully next time, especially since they were all brand-new sticky twenties. But I don’t think I’d have the nerve to chase a waiter around two days later trying to get my money back…because there isn’t even any proof that he did give Jeff that money. It’s just his word against Jeff’s; even Chris says he has no way of making Jeff give it back.
If Jeff had been the one making the mistake…if he had accidentally given the customer too much change, which happens to everybody at some point, Jeff would have no way of getting that money back from the customer, because he’d have no way of proving he did give too much change. He’d be out that money, regardless. (And this happened to me just the other night; I gave a guy change on a $20 instead of a $10, and had to pay it. Sometimes you’re just not paying attention, and you have to pay for it.)
But I do see the error here; Jeff was stupid to think that some guy would just tip him over 100% for no apparent reason. Like I said, Jeff’s not a bright guy.
So who’s more wrong? The customer who accidentally over-tipped his waiter and wants it back? Or the waiter who probably won’t want to give it back two days later, if he even has it?
Just curious, because I’m really of two minds on this.
[sub]I put this in the Pit b/c any thread having to do with tipping always seems to get violent, even if it doesn’t start out that way. [/sub]