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Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Case of the Missing Credit Card Voucher

Thursday, 9:58 PM

I'm closing the place down and waiting for my last two tables to pack it up and move on out. It's a dark and rainy night outside and the warmth of the restaurant is no doubt keeping the customers here longer than normal. I can't blame them for not wanting to go out into the elements, but as Sherril Holland, manager at Houlihan's, used to say: "You don't have to go home but you can't stay here."

Finally, one of the tables begins to put on their coats and it signals to the other table that it might be a good idea to ask for their check. I remind them that I placed it on the table twenty minutes earlier. The woman laughs at her own absent-mindedness and she digs into her purse to hand me her Visa card.

"Good night, folks," I say to the exiting customers as I walk to the credit card machine. "Stay dry. Thanks for coming in."

I swipe the card and am annoyed to learn that the magnetic strip is not working. I swipe it again in the hopes of avoiding having to punch in all the numbers manually. It still doesn't work so I dig my reading glasses out of my apron to read the card. The total is $72.63. The machine prints out two vouchers; one that says Merchant Copy and the other that says Customer Copy. As per the norm, I take the Customer Copy and fold it up along with the original receipt and then wrap it around the credit card. On the other copy, I circle the words Merchant Copy and place it in a folder.

"Here you are folks. Thanks for coming in and have a good night," I tell them.

I move over to the other table and begin to clear it, placing the empty water glasses and napkins onto a tray and head to the dish room. When I return to the dining room with a towel and cleaning solution I see my last customers walking away from their table ensuring that my night is nearing an end. I say good night again and they are gone.

I head to my last table to clear it and pick up the credit card folder. There is no voucher. I run to the door of the restaurant to see if I can catch them, but they have disappeared into the darkness and all I see are people walking their dogs in the rain.

They took the fucking voucher.

I know that I gave them two vouchers. I know one was very clearly marked Merchant Copy. I know I will not be getting a tip.

Where did that voucher go? Could it have been stuffed into her purse with the other one? Did she eat it? Did she shove it up her ass to avoid tipping me? I will never know. All I know for certain is that when people walk out of the restaurant with the signed copy of a credit card voucher, I will not be getting a tip. I know that I served them for absolutely no reason other than for the sheer joy of serving and we know how much that is worth.

Don't take the signed copy. I can't just assume that you left 20% and add it because the second I do that, a call will be made to Visa and my ass is in trouble for credit card fraud. Yet I can't make a call to Visa and charge your ass with stiffing me.

Maybe it was taken by accident, but maybe it wasn't. Is it that hard to believe that people would willingly walk out with the signed copy just to avoid that $14.00 tip? It is feasible and very very likely. 

I close the card with no tip. I don't risk getting fired by adding a tip that I didn't see. It's a shitty ending to night. What do you do when someone walks out with the signed copy?



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23 comments:

BeccaDee said...

That's awful, I hate when that happens. My restaurant recently upgraded the systems so all tips, even AMEX, are inputted and printed, and they just have to sign.

On an unrelated note, I'm in the opening night of my first ever performance tonight. I took the liberty of pulling a Bitchy and having a glass of wine to soothe the pre-show nerves. Hope today is better good sir!

Anonymous said...

Here's a more ethically challenging question: customer takes credit card but doesn't take any slips. No signature, nothing on the tip line and all the copies are there. What then?

Anonymous said...

Last week I showed up for my shift and the manager handed me an envelope that had $10 in it. Turns out a guest had realized that they had taken both copies and came back in to leave me a tip. Made my day, not so much because of the ten bucks, but because this guest took the time to fix the mistake.

Rogue Wino said...

I always check the papers underneath that they did leave, usually there's an indentation where they wrote. You have to dash around to find the right lighting and angle to see it, but it's there. Nine times out of 10 I can recoup my tip this way. Unless you're in a super stuffy place that demands to have the original copy. I can't see people complaining though if you put in the right tip.
Now as for completely forgetting to sign, or taking all the papers, then you are just screwed.

Annabehl said...

I have both copies one on top of the other, if they happen to leave with the merchant copy, there is usually an imprint on the bottom and you can tell what they left. If they take both, then, it's no tip. I would never assume to I put a tip when it's not there. It really doesn't matter what you do, there is always some numbskull who leaves with both!

Sarah said...

Can't say I have never held up the unsigned copy and looked for any sign of imprint as to guess what they tipped then went with that...although in your case that wouldn't work. Also when & if they do leave the blank copy there is often no imprint which leads me to the conclusion that they totally did it on purpose. I've hunted them down and they've coughed it up with nothing written on it, thus proving they were trying to get out of the tip part. I've even suggested they fill it out & sign it & had them huffily do so without filling out the tip. MORE PROOF. People sometimes suck.

Anonymous said...

Some classless people like to take both copies so they can call and dispute the restaurant charges, leaving not only no tip, but stealing from the restaurant too. Happened at an applebees I used to work at.

Anonymous said...

Thats why I like tip trays and not those books. I keep an eagle eye out for the slip AND my pen! I laugh but I'm serious when I tell my customers I will lock the doors and shake everyone down if my pens comes up missing.
If a tip is not entered on the slip and no cash is present, I will ask if they "want the total to stay the same?" Its a 'prompt'.... if they forgot, they can put the tip in and if not, I am 'looking out for them' by writing the sale total on the bottom line (so it couldn't be 'adjusted' later).

I know someone who got fired because a customer said the server wrote a tip on the restaurant's copy of the slip. The customer admitted to not having THEIR copy as proof but the server got fired anyway.

~The Damn Yankee

Kimberly Perron said...

Don't wrap the other copy around the card! A signed copy is a signed copy, regardless of if it is the guest or merchant copy. Also, if a guest just takes the top copy, you can often still see the imprint of their tip, total, and signature. Many restaurants will let you keep the tip! I stopped folding the dup copy years ago. Good luck!

Kimberly Perron said...

In my ten years serving, that's never happened to me! Amazing!

Anne O said...

Are you able to sticky tape or bluetack the merchant copy to the book, so that only the customer copy can be taken?

Cherie said...

I've gone a few pages deep, and I'm on my phone so I apologize if this has been asked. I was wondering what you and other waiters consider an acceptable tip. Not so much what you hope for, but when you don't feel like you've been shortchanged. And then what you consider generous, what would make you feel a moment of gratitude. Just for a table of two or three. I only go to one restaurant, not really a nice place, but I love it. I rarely see the same people which must mean it's not a great place to work. But I keep hoping maybe they'll remember me. I usually tip about the same regardless of my bill. Sometimes I only want coffee, but I feel I should tip as if I did get a meal because they still have to wait on me. I'm not trying to toot my own horn. I really wish that it was common practice. But I just want to know that I made the server happier. I want to make sure I meet the threshold of the waiter being glad that they served me. I live in Utah, the conservative area with big families. My guess is that people around here are horrifically bad tippers. So the threshold is probably lower, but I could be wrong and I want to make sure. .

Lorie Turnage said...

Just a thought.. leave the copy for them to sign and when you pick up that copy give them their credit card and customer copy!

Anonymous said...

Pick up the check presenter before they leave and say thanks again. I have worked with some people that feel uncomfortable doing this but my restaurant wants us all to do this. You are just finishing a business transaction. Then if they didn't leave the correct slip or forgot to sign you can catch it before they leave. Also prevents people from leaving their credit card behind, you know that happens occasionally.

JoeinVegas said...

Yes, she is probably the one to call the credit card company and ask the whole charge to be removed, asking for proof that she was there. Don't do it . .

maxi said...

We have chip and pin in the UK so this doesn't happen. We are not allowed to take the card from the table either, it is all done in front of the guest. I get a bit ansty now whenever I'm in the US and the server takes my card away!

Julie said...

Well, I wait until my manager is 2 Stoli Razz and Sevens in (usually around 10:00 - and no he isn't a 17 year old girl, that is what he drinks...every night) and tell him. He will say to put 18%, so I do and then I am covered. I also wait until this sweet spot in the evening to ask for time off.

Rebecca Cowan-Thompson said...

A good tip is 20% standard cheepos usually leave 10%

Rebecca Cowan-Thompson said...

Despite its rudeness i reached a point where i would hover. Hey asshole remember me, yeah the one who just made thirty soda suicides each to your cup to cup specifications, then spent thirty minutes explaining to your drunk friend i am a server not a lap dancer? Yeah i expect a tip, im not your qife and she wouldn't put up with you so thats why your in my station

Rebecca Cowan-Thompson said...

Dear pope bitchy,
Forgive me father for i have sinned. Being an incurable believer in peoples ability to change (and not having seen your 9-14-2012 post) i committed the ultimate sin.... i fed the troll. Having a weak moment both as restaurant owner and ex-entry level server i thought, maybe springs1 just got a bad rap... maybe she's misunderstood... so i popped onto her blog.
It was immediately apparent i made a mistake after reading a twenty minute rant about how servers should act as slaves blah blah, so i furthered my sin, i spoke to it... it was rude and unpleasant. It kept blowing up my email with idiocy, scattered rantings of a truly unwell over entitled god complex suffering mind. I am ashamed in the hour of my life i will never get back. Will you absolve me as i apologize to all servers and bloggers who have heard the foul grunts of the blog troll or smelled the ranch on its breath? As an owner i have always prided myself on my ability with stupid belligerent people as my restaurant has a no drink minimum, due to being in nv we also offer gambling 24hrs a day. I also pride myself on how i treat my employees. They are given the right to 86 customers that regularly come in demanding shit but leave no tip, or who refuse to control their parties themselves. Server warns you twice, your done. If they provide excellent service while im on shift and then get shafted in their tip, i try to cover it out the days house take.. so i promise to ne`er again question the word of pope bitchy or feed a troll....ever

Owen Black said...

That's pretty awful. Well, a lot of restaurants do that nowadays. Anyway, we'll just avoid those establishment. Hope you'll have a great day ahead.

Anonymous said...

Something very similar happened to me. It was an 80$ check and the guy took both copies. I dryer my tears and moved on, even though I was so so pissed off I could have breathed fire. An hour later my boss asks me if I had a customer leave with both slips. I answered with a confused yes. He informs me that the customer called, worried I wouldn't get the tip. My boss told him I wouldn't and the guy authorized a 20% tip and said he'd mail in the slip. Seriously restored some of my faith in humanity.

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