UnderCover Waitress: Too Much Tip

Friday, October 12, 2012

Too Much Tip

Reddit never fails to please. While browsing in the Ask Reddit archives, I found this gem from a couple of years ago. This post generated over one thousand comments.

"Wednesday morning I was waiting tables at a seafood place when five women came in and ate. The first woman to leave asked for her check, which was $13. She left a $100 bill and walked out without waiting for change.

I waited all day for her to come back in but she never did, so I figured she was rich and could afford to drop benjamins like that. Yesterday I paid my power bill with her tip. Today she called the restaurant asking for me, and told the manager she wanted her change back.

My question is, how long does somebody have in this situation to ask for the money back? Should I reasonably be expected to pay her back money that I had for three days, and have already spent? Looking for input from waiters, restaurant owners, and whoever else. "

My first thought was perhaps the woman expected to pay for her friends, but then why ask for separate checks? She could have the money with her friends. If she expected to pay for them all, it sounds like a case of very poor communication on the customers' part.

Three days is also a long time, and strikes me as grossly unfair to the waitress. If the customer could not return before three days time, she could have called.

In "Don't Get Your Hopes Up," I wrote about a customer warning me not to expect as big a tip as the last time I waited on her.  I thought it was a downright rude thing to say, but I wonder if she mistakenly overtipped me ($10 on a $20 tab) and was too embarrassed to ask for the money back.

I am curious how people may feel about this situation today; don't know if reactions today would differ from a couple of years ago. Feel free to share. 


  1. I think three days is a long time to wait before asking for that tip money back. I don't think it's right to demand it back after two days. Two days is a reasonable amount of time to wonder if they meant to leave that money. By the third day I would assume it's mine, too. That being said, I personally always wait a week (since it has happened to me before and they told me to give it back or be fired) before spending a tip like that.

    When your wages are comprised of what people leave you, where do you draw the line on when they can demand your wage back? I know when companies accidentally overpay their employees they demand the employees return the wage...but I'm pretty sure they can't force them to do so. The employee may be fired, but money changed hands and the employee isn't obligated to right the mistake the company made.

    I can't seem to post using my WP credentials... interesting.

    1. You should be able to post using your WP credentials...? I just checked, and it should work. Sorry for the inconvenience!

  2. I'm more careful about tipping these days than I was four years ago. When times get tough and the economy turns on us, we tend to tighten our purses a bit. However, I'm all for the server keeping what they receive the night they receive it.

    I once ran after a man who left a $10.00 bill for a $4.00 ticket. He laughed at me and said, "The rest is your tip, but thanks for your honesty." What if he'd meant to leave a $5.00 bill instead?

    How should servers know this? They're not mind readers.

    To the lady who left a $100 bill for a $13.00 ticket, suck it up. Servers aren't the babysitters of your wallet, YOU are. If you can't keep your money straight, don't expect the burden to be placed on society to do you right.

    Personally, I'd return the money, that's just how I am. I wouldn't judge a server for wanting to keep the money or even refusing to give it back. Though I would hope the lady who left the $100.00 learned a lesson over it. If I had done something like that, I'd be too embarrassed to ask for it back.

  3. As a person who's never been a server, let me say - WTF lady! Three days? No, that's the server's and you can suck it

  4. Three days on, that money's gone, and the woman should recognize that and shouldn't have asked for it back.


Please share your thoughts.