[Editors note: I posted a column earlier today on the subject of tipping.  I wrote it in a rush, without giving it as much thought or care as I usually do. Consequently the wording came out much differently than I intended, so I removed it. I think the topic is important so I decided rewrite today’s column.]

When I go to a restaurant I usually don’t even look at the bill. I just hand over a credit card and sign the bill when it comes. I had a conversation with several restaurant owners recently that made me realize that my habit is not the best one. Usually everything turns out fine. Odds are, however, that eventually I will encounter an unscrupulous server that wants to take advantage of me. Here are two things you need to look out for:

The double-tip trick: When a restaurant party, usually 6 or more, accidentally pays a tip for a bill that already had a gratuity factored in,  the server is supposed to let you know of your mistake, or in the case where you already have left the restaurant – remove the second tip from your bill. Unfortunately some unscrupulous servers intentionally give the customer only a charge slip to sign. The original itemized receipt, that mentions the already-factored-in tip, is missing. This increases the odds the customer will accidentally leave a double tip.

The fill-in-the-tip-after-the-customer-signs-the-receipt trick: This problem is pretty self-explanatory and here are ways to avoid it:

  • Always fill in either “zero”, “cash”, or a line thru the tip space so that it cannot be changed.
  • Always take the extra copy of the cc receipt with you or have it destroyed.  A lot of times customers fill in one receipt and give it to the restaurant and then leave the blank one there.  If an unscrupulous server traces the signature even remotely closely and fills in the tip they want, no one is going to notice unless it is the customer themselves.
  • Fill in a tip amount on your own copy of the receipt so that when the amount posts to the account, you have a record of how much you tipped. Always check your CC or debit card transactions online and save your receipts for at least a week to make sure they post and clear accurately.  It is unlikely you will remember the exact amount of the bill, especially when tip was added, and you will need to reference your receipt.
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4 Responses to TIPS ON TIPPING

  1. a p c says:

    That’s so funny that you do the ‘don’t-look-at-the-bill-just-hand-over-the-card’ thing, an old boyfriend of mine used to do that, and complained that servers would give him weird looks. Aside from the fraud thing, I think it’s better to even just pretend to look at the bill just so you don’t put an actually scrupulous server in the awkward position of charging you wrong and getting in trouble for it when you realize it later.

  2. Robert Staudenmaier says:

    I applaud your perfectionism and whatever motivates you to prune and rewrite your articles, but can you not leave them at the same URL when you do? Thanks, rs

  3. Justin says:

    With the advent of camera/smart phones, I have gotten into the habit of taking a picture of the “restaurant copy” of the credit card receipt (complete with tip, total, and signature). Since the duplicate (“customer copy”) receipt is not a carbon copy, it’s your word against theirs in a dispute (though the consumer usually wins).

    It might look odd taking a picture of the receipt, but you’ve got a picture of the actual receipt the restaurant has, and indisputable evidence in case there is one.

  4. francisco says:

    The truth about the tiping problem is that the first tipping goes to the BOSS which is always safe because it is added to the bill (the waiter NEVER gets it) and then the second tipping goes to the waiter, that is optional from the costumer. The same problem happens in many restaurants all over the world.


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