Social Question

chyna's avatar

Is this normal for a wait person to ask?

Asked by chyna (45306points) November 4th, 2016 from iPhone

I was eating out with friends and my bill came to 14.30. I gave the waiter a 20 dollar bill. He asked if I needed change back. Sure, because you are not getting a 40% tip. He asked the other person,too if she wanted change back. Is this normal? It seems rude to me.

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59 Answers

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

It’s kinda rude. No, not normal but not unheard of.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

I would consider this way too aggressive and I would loudly tell the motherfucker that in exactly those terms so other customers—who had possibly experienced the same—could hear me. If he wanted to take the confrontation further, i would bring the manager or owner in on the conversation, rip that waiter a new asshole, argue for his termination and threaten to never set foot in the place again. I would make a huge deal out of this. This shit must be nipped at the bud. If milquetoast customers allow these things to pass without comment it will become the norm. Next thing you know, they won’t feel obligated to bring back change unless asked to do so.

And then I’d stiff the sonuvabitch.

zenvelo's avatar

The smart server will smile and just give you back 5 ones with 70 cents change.

I would not go so far as @Espiritus_Corvus, but I might get sarcastic and say, “yes, two fives please.”

canidmajor's avatar

Where I live it’s very normal to ask, especially if it’s at all busy. I have seen too many patrons be annoyed at servers that have to take the time to bring back the change when they had planned to tip the change.
It’s meant as a courtesy to ask, and it’s very simple to say “yes” to the query. I have never seen a server get upset when the customer answers “yes”.
They’re not being rude at all, simply trying to streamline the process. Often, managers suggest this.

@Espiritus_Corvus, please tell me you were kidding, you forgot the tilde.

ETA and please remember that the server isn’t taking the time to do the math, they’re trying to get your check to you, so they don’t know if the change would be a reasonable tip or not.
Give them a break. It’s a rough job.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Sometimes that’s the case but it’s obvious when they come back with change in large bills that would require the patron to ask them to be broken to leave a proper 15% tip and not like 50% That is where I get pissed. Asking if change is needed does not bother me.

elbanditoroso's avatar

I’ve been asked that before. It sort of depends on the place. It’s happened to me more in bars than in actual restaurants.

I wouldn’t have the strong reaction that @Espiritus_Corvus has. This isn’t that big of a deal.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

It is a huge deal. From the responses I see here, it is a trend. I’m not talking about screaming here. I’m talking about moderately loud conversation. This is totally unacceptable and I will buck trends like this till the day I die.

Seek's avatar

It is absolutely bad customer service.

Zaku's avatar

I had a waiter not ask and just not bring back change, even though that would mean I was leaving him a really gigantic tip…

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

@canidmajor Waiters do the math. They do the math on every table. They estimate totals and multiply by 0.15 and 0.20. You bet they do the math. And a decent one who really wants to make money will have cash on them and when it gets too busy will make change right at the table for the convenience of their customers. You make things easier for your customers and you will make money. I did this job for four years straight. It is hard, but it’s not rocket fucking science. It he whines to you about being too busy to get your change, then turn that shithead upside down and shake him by the ankles. And watch the money fall out.

canidmajor's avatar

@ARE_you_kidding_me, I have never had that happen. Ever. Have you guys actually talked to be who wait tables? @Espiritus_Corvus, when was the last time you waited tables? This was not a thing until the last decade or so, and the servers in much nicer establishments don’t do it, it’s usually mid-range and some chains.
And really guys, if you don’t like it, just deal with some grace instead of taking it out on some less-than-minimum-wage person who has been on their feet all day and is probably taking taking stuff home to keep food costs down for their family.
If you can afford to be eating out, you can afford a little grace.

SecondHandStoke's avatar

In my serving days I phrased the question as a statement:

“I’ll be right back with your change.”

This let me know if the change was mine without putting the guest on the spot.

@chyna “He asked the other person…”

You’re splitting the bill over $14.30 a head???

You had your awkward moment coming.

As one of my favorite haunts used to state on their menu:

“If you are dining with people you don’t trust we will happily split the check for you.”

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

No fucking way, candi. No fucking way am I going to give a 40% gratuity to someone who is too stupid and lazy to carry cash on them and who just tried to gouge me? This is a hustle.

kritiper's avatar

It’s unethical. I worked with a guy once who would ask for tips. Mondo-bizarre-o!

ucme's avatar

He’d never make butler status, too crass & stupid.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

@canidmajor haha yes many times. It was always met with please break this bill so I can leave you less than half of what you would normally get or just simply walking out sans tip.

Sneki95's avatar

He is obligated to give you your change back. This is the stuff that should get him fired. How rude to even ask something like that, of course you need your money back.

Cruiser's avatar

I have never had that asked of me before and consider it unprofessional and frankly rude. I would politely reply that yes I would like my change back. When he comes back with the change I would explain to him that I enjoy going out to eat and enjoy receiving good service. I then enjoy tipping for that good service at my discretion. For you to ask if I wanted my change back is unprofessional and frankly rude AND extinguished any joy I would feel by leaving a tip for your good service. If he didn’t make a scene and did give me good service that meal I would still leave a tip but not the 20% I normally give for very good service.

I want to be the one to say keep the change when appropriate.

janbb's avatar

In my area, the servers will usually say, “I’ll be back with your change” and then you can say it you want, “That’s fine, it’s all yours.” I wouldn’t go apeshit over what he did but it was kind of thoughtless.

SecondHandStoke's avatar

So many cheapskates ITT.

I guess that’s how you afford your Internet service…

chyna's avatar

@secondhandstoke. No we were not solitting the bill. My bill was 14.30. Hers was 21.15. She gave the waiter two 20’s. But thanks for insinuating I was quibbling over a seven dollar check.

ucme's avatar

This is like the opening scene in Reservoir Dogs…I play Mister Pink :::plays world’s smallest violin:::

canidmajor's avatar

@chyna, in no way am I suggesting that you or your friend were in any way inappropriate. Just making sure you know that.
@Espiritus_Corvus “Pooch” or “dogface” would be more fitting to nickname me. ;-)
And, do make sure your outrage is aimed in the right direction. Some managers want the servers to ask, as it saves a lot of time.
Unless the server is snide or ride, why on earth would any of you be? On another thread I saw people take apart a guy (yes, I did, too) for denigrating people in a serving profession, but here many of you are outraged by someone in the same position who is trying to save time, yours included. How are you any better than that other guy?

This tends not to happen in higher end places where the servers make pretty good money, very few people use cash, and the server has good change in their pocket.

These are servers, people, give them a break and climb off your high horses. Jeez. Don’t go back if you don’t like that, and damn, the effort expended to say “yes please” isn’t that much. Try it sometime.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Poor service is not deserving of a reward. Tips are an acknowlegement of good service and not automatic, they must be earned.

dappled_leaves's avatar

“Do you want any change?” is something I don’t hear a lot here, but it does happen occasionally.

It’s rude, but only because of this weird social construct in which we pretend that a tip is something we only give on special occasions to that unicorn server who satisfies all our dining needs in a way no one else ever can. The reality is, we’re probably leaving our change at least half the time, and many people don’t want their change back. On its face, his question is not unreasonable at all.

The other aspect of this is that he may never use this phrase, but you happened to get him in a thoughtless moment; I wouldn’t assume he says this to all customers. I remember when I was working in customer service; sometimes you’d catch yourself saying the weirdest, most out-of-character things, just because there are hundreds of thousands of transactions, and you’re going to say weird things sometimes.

Anyway, even if the guy was being rude, I’d shrug and move on. He’s already done his job at my table, and I’ve already decided on the tip before he even asks this question.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

@canidmajor What you’re talking about isn’t about saving time and the change isn’t just 15% to 25%. We’re talking about somebody standing over your table and asking if they can have 40%. This is a hustler and should be treated like one. And no decent manager would ever advocate this behaviour and expect to keep his job. You’re just making that shit up.

ragingloli's avatar

I love how you people say that “tips are a reward for good service”.
They are not. Deny it, or not, they are, in fact, automatically expected.
That is the culture you live it, and that you have fostered over the decades, and the guy’s behaviour is completely expected and predictable.
Deal with it.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

@ragingloli hahaha that’s not how it works, not here anyway. I get shitty service I leave lousy tip.

ragingloli's avatar

You just proved my point.

stanleybmanly's avatar

It happens routinely in restaurants here. I always assumed it was just a matter of the waiter trying to save time by not having to return to the table with the change and then watch you leave it there. @ragingloli I don’t understand your take on the notion that “tips are a reward for good service”. That is EXACTLY what they are. It doesn’t matter if they are automatically expected. Good service is automatically expected as well. The guy’s behavior may be “expected and predictable”, but if his behavior fails to meet MY expectations or runs counter to my predictions, I cheerfully withhold his would be tip.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

I expect a server who got stiffed to do their fucking job next time. If someone delivers that service properly not leaving a tip is a dick move.

BellaB's avatar

It’s the norm here to ask if people want change.

In the example you gave in the opening post, I’d probably tell them to give me $2 back. 25% tip (pre-tax) is the standard, with a round-up if the service isn’t bad.

janbb's avatar

It is possible that the server wasn’t paying that much attention to what your bills actually were and that is his normal question.

Blackberry's avatar

I had no idea this was rude until now, but I understand why.

The 40 percent isn’t a huge deal cause it’s only a few bucks.

If the bill was something larger like eighty I’d be more aware.

SecondHandStoke's avatar


If the F&B comes to under a certain amount even 20% doesn’t cover occupying the table.

(We have great respect for patrons that drink, you wouldn’t believe what sins we will forgive if you just have a couple rounds).


Gratuity isn’t reward for service, it is the payment for service.

If a tip is unusually high we get your statement. We will remember you for it, and like any other independent contractor, will focus our attention on you more during your next visit.

SecondHandStoke's avatar

From Atlanta’s The Vortex menu:


Help us maintain a quality staff. Always tip your server appropriately. Tipping for service in restaurants and bars is the currently accepted custom in this country. It is also how our servers and bartenders make their living. So if you can’t afford to tip, then the truth is you can’t afford to eat at full-service restaurants. It’s just that simple.

If you think tipping is a scam, then just buy a TV dinner, stay home, and watch wrestling. We never add a built-in gratuity to our checks because we expect our clientele to be better than that, and we expect our servers to provide the best possible service at all times.

If you ever receive service that you feel is not tip-worthy, please notify the Manager so we may take corrective action. Providing excellent service is always one of our top priorities.

ragingloli's avatar

Tipping is just an excuse for restaurant owners to not pay their staff properly.

SecondHandStoke's avatar

^ Incorrect, since the tradition of tipping significantly predates the reduced tipped employee minimum wage.

As is almost always the case the almighty State is responsible for the situation.

But hey, not really my problem as during my serving and bartending tenure I made profoundly more through gratuity per my hour than those making an ordinary minimum wage.

If I didn’t like the situation I always had the option to leave such lines of work.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

That’s been my experience. Servers typically bring in 3x what the kitchen staff does.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

All I can say at this point is that it is good that a waiter never tried to pull this on me. Maybe it’s because I treat them like my best customers treated me and I empathize with their position when they are busy. But I have no empathy for penny-ante hustlers who abuse what little public confidence they are given.

canidmajor's avatar

No, @Espiritus_Corvus, I am not “making that shit up”. I have had conversations with managers in my area (I have a couple of friends who own restaurants) and, like I said, I have young friends who wait tables. I have no reason to be “making that shit up” at all. You, however, with your recent history of spending so much time out of the country, and therefore out of touch with the way way customs shift, seem so determined to hold on to your poor opinion of a group of people that it’s necessary to accuse me of “making that shit up”.
Enjoy your high horse, careful you don’t fall off. And be sure to be as much of an ass as you can to people making less than minimum wage, they always appreciate the wisdom of folks like you.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

@canidmajor Don’t try to equate my intolerance for cheap hustlers with a bigotry against people who are victims of a system that refuses to pay a living wage. That’s bullshit, too. You seem to think just because someone is a victim of that system that when they attempt to abscond with an undue gratuity that they should be cut slack—that they should live by a different set of ethics than the rest of us. Ha. Which one of us thinks lesser of them? Docile, silent customers like you are responsible for these trends.

stanleybmanly's avatar

I think it is a mistake to assume that the question “do you require change?” is necessarily a scam to gouge diners, though I remember on hearing it the first couple of times, that is EXACTLY what ran through my head. But I quickly grew accustomed to hearing it anytime I pay in cash & that’s virtually always. It’s been going on for decades and believe me, if you eat out frequently, you will get used to it.

YARNLADY's avatar

The server is obligated to bring back the change, and NEVER to ask.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

^^Yes, as it should be.

stanleybmanly's avatar

From what I’ve experienced, the practice has yet to spread to high end establishments. I can’t decide whether this is about the rarity of someone picking up a $200 plus tab in cash, or the question of the practice being supposedly too vulgar to inflict on “quality” people.

jca's avatar

From what I’ve experienced, when the cash is placed in the bill folder (usually black, padded), the waiter takes the folder and doesn’t open it when they ask “do you need change?” Therefore, they don’t know what’s inside. Is it 30 dollars? 40 dollars? 60 dollars? Exact change? I think they’re trying to save themselves from having to come back to the table if they can avoid it. I get annoyed, too, when they ask “do you need change?” but then I tell myself they don’t know what’s in there.

Haleth's avatar

Why are people so adversarial toward waiters? They’re trying to save themselves an extra trip, not rob anyone. In the American service industry anything less than smiling, obsequious bootlicking gets people up in arms. Service industry employees are expected to act this way in rough working conditions while catering to every whim of the general public, in the face of rudeness, condescension, sexual harassment, and all kinds of other mistreatment. Why is it not enough for them to simply do the work? Why do diners require this forced, fake emotion on top of it?

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

Stop trying to morph this one case into something it is not. The OP stated the case in the details. She placed a 20 on a $14.30 check and was asked by the waiter if she wanted her change.

According to a later post here by the OP, the waiter, after I presume he was told to bring back change by the OP, then asked the OP’s companion if they wanted change when the friend had laid two 20’s on a $21.15 check. Are you fucking kidding me? At these prices, this doesn’t sound like Maxim’s, but that is no excuse. A waiter knows what he served a table and knows the price range of his restaurant.

This particular waiter in this particular case was not just trying to save time, he was hustling and that is all there is to it. He’s lucky someone didn’t nail his hand to the table with a fork.

johnpowell's avatar

Or we could stop the practice of rewarding your servants for good behavior. PAY A FUCKING LIVING WAGE FOR THE PEOPLE HANDLING YOUR FUCKING FOOD and this all goes away.

flutherother's avatar

I find the question offensive and unacceptable and will guarantee that I will leave no tip to the unprofessional waiter who asks it.

jca's avatar

If the waiter sees the money and they ask, I find it offensive. If they don’t see the money because the bills are obscured in the folder, I don’t find it offensive.

kritiper's avatar

@johnpowell Wait a second… Wouldn’t that mean the restaurant owner would have to raise his prices at some point to meet the higher pay of his staff, which might cause him to price himself out of his market and thus put himself out of business? Then his staff would be laid off to find another possibly lower paying wage somewhere else so the whole mess would start over again? Of course, if everybody did it, it might be fair but then every business would have to raise their prices to stem the ongoing inflation affecting everyone, so sooner or later the whole thing would wind up back at the start.
What goes around, comes around. Economics 101, IMO.

JLeslie's avatar

Normal. I would answer back, “I just need $3 back.” Sometimes they have the cash right there on them, and I don’t have to wait for them to go to the cash register.

Edit: normal at fairly inexpensive to moderate restaurants. I would find it very odd at an expensive restaurant.

Judi's avatar

My husband doesn’t have a very adventitious palate so we tend to go out to the same places and they know us. Since they know we are generous tippers it doesn’t bother me that they ask. It just saves them time. They don’t ask if we give the a hundred on a thirty dollar tab though. That I might think is out of order.

Judi's avatar

The federal minimum wage for servers is $2.13 freakin’ dollars an hour people. If you don’t tip because you’re butt hurt you’re part of the problem.
In my book, since breakfast is cheaper they always get at least $5—$10. Otherwise for me the minimum is $20%.
Anyone who works for a measly $2.13 deserves at least that much, even if they’re having a bad day, maybe ESPECIALLY if they’re having a bad day.
It’s part of the cost of the meal since our system is so screwed up as to allow such a dismal minimum wage. If I can’t afford to pay it I can’t afford to eat it.

chyna's avatar

^I did give a 25% tip.

ucme's avatar

“Wait over there, go & be a waiter over there”

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