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Stiff the Waiter?

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Stiff the Waiter?

Jim Ruben | Jun 5, 2002 01:12 PM

After a poor meal at a local restaurant, management invited me back for a meal "on the house". No letter. Just a verbal offer.

Last night, I took up management's offer. I overheard the manager tell the waiter that the entire meal was comped. While perusing the wine list, I asked the waiter which champagne I should try: $11, 15, 25 a glass. He suggested the $25. I replied "Well, since it's on the house anyway, why not?" He says nothing. We ended up having 4 glasses of various wines between us for the meal. BTW, service and food were excellent.

End of meal, waiter brings over two checks. First is showing what management is picking up. Second, is what we owe. Nearly $100 for the four glasses of wine.

Now, I was prepared to give the waiter a healthy tip. When I've had free meals in the past, I usually over tip: 20-25% of the bill. (In this case, about $70).

Now I understand that ordering a 1982 Petrus is obviously out of line, but a few glasses of average (Retail $15-20 bottle) wine??? Cost to the restaurant maybe $20 at most. In fact, I figured that the restaurant was probably now making money off my meal (I'm only including food/alcohol costs. not labor/rent etc..). Anyway, this really left a bitter taste in my mouth. All of a sudden, my "free" meal is going to cost me $150!!!

Question: Would you tip the staff, especially in light of the fact that the waiter did not mention that I would be charged for alcohol? Plus the fact that he suggested the most expensive wine?

Bottom line: Instead of leaving with a warm and fuzzy feeling and a desire to return, I now have no interest in ever patronizing the restaurant again.

Jim

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