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JLeslie's avatar

Would you be annoyed by what the restaurant did?

Asked by JLeslie (61774points) June 17th, 2017 from iPhone

I went out to eat tonight and my dish comes with one side. The side I wanted is a pricier side than most, $3.99, so the waitress told me there is an “upcharge” and I said that’s fine.

We ate, and then when the bill came the side was charged at the full $3.99 for the side. I asked her about it, and she said that’s what the side cost. I thought maybe she had charged me incorrectly, but no, she said that side is more expensive. I said I know, but why am I paying the full price?

She wasn’t getting it.

I said, “name me a side that’s free with the meal.” She said, “a baked potato.” I said, “so if I had ordered a baked potato, then I would get that with my meal, and I can order the side I did get in addition for $3.99?” She said, “yes.” I swear she still didn’t get it. She just started saying it’s not her rules, stupid, ridiculous, babble, something or other. Can it be no one else complains about this? I told her I’ll take my baked potato to go.

Am I wrong?

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52 Answers

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

I would have talked to the manager and not troubled the staff. She should have let you talk to the manager. I was trained not to defend the stores prices and to refer them to the manager, or the 1–888 number. She was wrong to try and negotiate with you. It’s the managers job.

Zaku's avatar

Well, I think it’s a grey area but the waitress didn’t communicate well. It would be much better if she had said what the “upcharge” would be, and if fact what she should have said would be something like, “that’s not one of the sides that you can pick with that dish, so sadly they way our menu works, we’d have to charge for that one separately”. Best of course would just be to add the difference, but different restaurants use different systems. Some even charge, for example, fees for sharing a meal.

I would be mildly annoyed, partly at myself, but I might tend not to want to come back, which is why I think such policies are a bit foolish even from a perspective of pure greed – I think it tends to put people off – at least it puts me off.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

Like when my store was selling $8 orange juice for one liter. I was told to direct complaints to my boss or the toll free number.

stanleybmanly's avatar

it’s interesting that the waitress didn’t get it. Maybe she would understand if you threatened to deduct the full price of the side from her tip.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

Yes, I would be annoyed. In effect, you could have a baked potato as a side, but if you didn’t want that, there is no side and you pay full price an alternative.

I’d have asked to speak to the manager who might have understood what you were saying. Given how you feel, I’d also write a review of the restaurant and make sure you alert other diners.

It’s horrible when something like this leaves a bad taste in your mouth when dining out. It’s a pity you couldn’t talk to the manager so you could resolve the problem then and there.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Their policy. Don’t go back there again. There is a restaurant that does the same thing here. I stopped going there.

The waitress was the wrong one to complain to; the manager should have been the one to fix it. But if it is policy, even the manager would have had his/her hands tied.

Vote with your feet.

canidmajor's avatar

I would simply have assumed that that was policy, and not get ruffled by a $4 charge. It may have been unclear, in which case, if I liked the place enough to go back, I’d make sure that I understood before I ordered, being forewarned and all.

ragingloli's avatar

You ordered a side for 4$ and then were surprised that you had to pay 4$?
Sorry, but it is you who is clearly in the wrong.

JLeslie's avatar

I told her to pack up my free baked potato to go. She did.

We don’t like that restaurant. We only go when someone else wants to go there, sonits no great loss.

@ragingloli The side costs that if I buy it separately. The entree comes with a free side. Those free sides costs $2 if you buy them separately. The upcharge should be the difference.

Another example is a lot of restaurants include soup with dinner. Almost all of them do an upcharge if you want French onion soup. They charge an extra dollar or two, but if you buy the soup as a separate item it’s $6.

jca's avatar

I think the waitress sounds like she’s not too smart for not comprehending what you were saying.

I am thinking of Outback where the menu states that these certain sides are an extra dollar or extra two dollars. The Italian place where we order lunch from has on their menu a list of additions for salad and they have “for a $1 extra” and “for $2 extra.” It’s not like what you were asking is something that is hard to comprehend.

If I were you, after the first time she said she didn’t get it, I would have asked to speak to the manager. Hopefully he would comprehend what you meant.

If she was going to charge you full price for the side you got, she should have, right off the bat, offered you the side that was included so that you could have it, even if just to go.

It sounds like she was young.

I like the “write a review” idea offered by someone above, also. When you write it in a review, it’s being read by the restaurant management, and if it’s a chain, it is read by others higher up the ladder. They will take steps to correct this for the future, if it was not what they intended.

I think @ragingloli is busting your chops.

JLeslie's avatar

@jca This morning I went online to see if I had read the menu incorrectly, and if it plainly said the $4 was maybe the upcharge price. The online menu doesn’t show the sides of course. If the menu does, and if I completely read it wrong, she did a shitty job of handling it anyway. When I first asked her why the $4 my tone wasn’t combative, I did become that way after I got frustrated with her. I admittedly was tired and a little stressed last night, so I’m willing to say it’s possible I read it wrong, but $4 extra for that side is a ridiculous price.

She should have asked the manager to come by the table without me asking in my opinion. Usually, I would ask to talk to a manager, not only because I’m not happy, but also because I think the feedback is good for the restaurant. I just didn’t do it. I did write a review.

She still got a great tip, I’m sure she blew it off.

I’m going to look at the menu next time I’m near the restaurant

jca's avatar

She sounds like she was stupid. Honestly, maybe that’s not the politically correct term (LOL) but that’s what it sounds like to me.

If it still bothers you, I’d call the restaurant and speak to the manager, today, if for nothing else so he can educate her about what is really supposed to happen when someone orders like you did.

JLeslie's avatar

It doesn’t really bother me. It was just a moment in time thing. I want to look at the menu for my own curiousity.

imrainmaker's avatar

Did you talk to the manager?

PullMyFinger's avatar

It’s hard to decide which side to side with in this ‘side’ matter. Besides, siding with one side is at times decided by where you reside, not how you decide to feel inside.

(OK…..I’m done….)

canidmajor's avatar

Now I’m curious, what was the side that you ordered instead of the baked potato? It’s almost lunch. Food’s on my mind. :-)

cinnamonk's avatar

So you paid full price for a (meal – side) and full price for a side? Do I have this correct? If that’s the case then yes, I would find that very annoying.

chyna's avatar

I would find it annoying, but not enough to contact management or write a review about the situation.

Kardamom's avatar

The other item you ordered was not a side that was included in the price of the combo. You were charged correctly.

canidmajor's avatar

Was it steamed broccoli with a light lemon sauce and capers?

JLeslie's avatar


Macaroni and cheese. The type from a box! It literally said it’s Kraft mac and cheese, so I knew it would be the stuff where cheese sauce is made from powder.

I would review the place anyway, because I do that now and then on TripAdvisor anyway. I wrote what was good and what was bad.

funkdaddy's avatar

To review, this is all about a $2 difference in expectation, once? So many bad memories of waiting tables and this exact situation. Can someone explain how something like this actually matters so much, even in the moment? What principle are you standing on or defending here?

From the other side, imagine what it looks like. You’re good dropping 3x costs on all the other stuff, and would be good spending $2 on Mac n’ Cheese, but not $4?

I once worked in a place that served a ton of fajitas. The fajitas didn’t come with guacamole, for whatever food-cost related reason. This was unfortunately before Chipotle let the world know that guac is extra and the amount of anger the $1.95 side of guacamole could cause would blow your mind.

Once a lady was so far gone on the issue, she decided even after talking to me, talking to the manager, and getting the guacamole removed from the bill, she still needed an explanation from me. I calmly handed her $2 and asked if that would take care of it. She left that for the tip. Absolutely worth it.

Twoooooooo dollars!

JLeslie's avatar

@funkdaddy This happened last night. Like I said above it’s not like I’m holding on to my annoyance the next day. I just wrote the Q that same night, I’m not months later still seething. Don’t make my responses to the situation more than it is. I didn’t ask for the manager, I still gave the waitress a very good tip.

Yes, $2 matters. It’s not just about the amount, it’s about the representation and the value.

$1.95 might be excessive for guac? I don’t know. I don’t remember what I pay for an avocado. A lot of restaurants I go to charge extra for guacamole.

chyna's avatar

@JLeslie But you went on line and wrote a bad review about it. Seems you were holding onto your annoyance.

JLeslie's avatar

Held into it for an hour maybe. I wasn’t all wound up for the hour though. I review all the time. I review restaurants, hotels, activities. Like I said, it wasn’t an all bad review. I would have reviewed them anyway eventually probably. I’ve reviewed more than a few restaurants where I live.

jca's avatar

@funkdaddy: The review is not a bad thing, it’s a good thing. She is doing a service to other diners by writing a review. The purpose of the review is to let other diners and management know of something they should be aware of. If the issue of the side order is not important to people reading the reviews, they can disregard it. However, I am betting it’s going to be important to at least a few people.

If I read a review that told me what happened in the case of @JLeslie, I’d know that if I don’t want the side that comes with the meal, but I do want another side, I may as well get the side to go and eat it at home or be able to give it to someone (@Jleslie’s husband, maybe).

flutherother's avatar

Where the restaurant went wrong was in not explaining clearly what they would charge. The menu should have explained what your options were and what they would cost and the waitress should have explained that there would be an upcharge of $3.99.
Restaurants are free to charge what they want and customers can choose whether to pay what they ask but the “upcharges” should be upfront.

janbb's avatar

I would have to see the menu to offer an opinion. Most restaurants either post sides not in cluded with a flat charge listed or a charge that says $-.00 extra. If it just listed it as a flat charge than that’‘s what I would expect to pay.

JLeslie's avatar

This is the menu, but I think it must be an old version.

If you go to “steaks” you’ll see it comes with a side. Then if you go to “extras” then you’ll see the prices of the sides, but as I said a baked potato for instance is included as the free side. The mac and cheese isn’t listed on the website link, solo that’s why I say it might be an old version. The wording for how the sides are charged might be totally different on the menu in the restaurant, but, I’m feeling like I’m pretty sure I’m still right, but willing to say I might be wrong. The thing is, in my mind I remember every side having a price, so that means even the free one that comes with your meal had a price when listed on the menu. This is very common, and usually the price is if you order an extra side, or just sides.

jca's avatar

Another way they often word it is “no substitutions” which lets you know that these certain sides are included. Any other sides would be for you to pay full price.

Waitress should have clarified when you placed your order. That way, you could have gotten the original side right up front to go, since it was included anyway and you paid in full for your other side.

JLeslie's avatar

I’m going to try to swing by the restaurant this week and take a photo of the menu if they let me.

snowberry's avatar

@JLeslie It’s in the kids section of the online menu.

chyna's avatar

I’m going to try to swing by the restaurant this week and take a photo of the menu if they let me
I’m glad you are letting go of it.~

canidmajor's avatar

OMG, this is still going on?

elbanditoroso's avatar

I thought this was deemed “no big deal”.

Next time try another restaurant. Or sue them.

ragingloli's avatar

Or torch the place. Or leave a dead horse’s head on their doorstep.

JLeslie's avatar

I don’t see how it’s a big deal to look at the menu. Why is that called not letting it go? Jellies in the Q are asking me questions, I’m right in front of that restaurant all the time. It’s barely out of my way to take 6 steps from the sidewalk and look at the menu. If I’m there, and I remember, I’ll do it.

Jeez, and I even have said maybe I read it wrong. Most people who are angry and holding on are sure they were right, and all worked up about it.

If I’m right I might bother to give feedback to the restaurant that it’s unclear. Not a complaint, just feedback.

JLeslie's avatar

I don’t see where someone wrote it’s under the kids menu, but that jelly deserves a gold star. It’s not a side, it’s a kid’s entree. I could have sworn it was listed with sides. Hmmm. That would be part of the problem there. I still think the waitress should have said, “but do you still want another side.

canidmajor's avatar

So did you ask if the server was having an off day? A sick kid at home? An ailing parent? Worried about paying the rent this month? Or maybe she is a little bit simple.
Did it even occur to you that maybe before writing a review for what? Mildly bad service? youcould find out. It’s a cheap steakhouse chain.
This is why some of us are annoyed. We’ve waited tables. And she didn’t even charge you the full $4.39 for the substitution.

jca's avatar

@canidmajor: It seems like @JLeslie‘s wanting to research is so that if she does a review, she will be accurate if she states that the server was incorrect. She is giving the server the benefit of the doubt.

I’d do the same thing. I’d say to myself, maybe I’m mistaken and the server was correct with the restaurant’s policy.

Kardamom's avatar

People get upset if you ask a Q on everyday stuff, such as this, and they get upset if you ask a Q about something extremely important, and they get upset if you ask any Q in between.

There’s nuttin’ you can do to please ‘em.

canidmajor's avatar

She already wrote the review, @jca. She has made quite a point about how the server should have reacted here.

Kardamom's avatar

I like the idea about writing the review. She’s just letting the restaurant owner know that there is something that could be fixed/tweaked/changed/clarified to make things easier/better for everyone, the patrons as well as the staff. No harm, no foul.

jca's avatar

You’re right, @canidmajor.

Good point by @Kardamom. Nothing wrong with writing a review. Lots of people do it.

As for the server having a bad day, lots of us have bad days and/or make mistakes and we have to account for them when we do. If I screw up at work and I say “I am having a bad day” or “things are not going well at home” or “I’m stressed out right now and that’s the reason for my screw up” I don’t expect my boss to look the other way.

JLeslie's avatar

I wrote the server was ok (and she was ok, not great, not bad). She was pleasant enough, but didn’t always fill our water glasses quickly enough, and when we asked about salad dressing she seemed a little slow on the pick up too, but no big deal. I didn’t write all that, I just wrote she was ok, and my frustration regarding the side dish charge.

Anyway, I wrote the food was mediocre, but a couple of people at my table really liked their entree. I then wrote the service was ok, but I was annoyed about the upcharge for the mac and cheese. People can read that and decide for themselves if it matters to them. I never care about the reviews regarding service when I’m reading through reviews, unless I know I will be in a hurry.

@canidmajor I didn’t have to ask her if she was having a bad day, it wasn’t that big of a deal. It got resolved with taking the baked potato to go. I didn’t last her into next week. How obnoxious would it be for me to say, “are you having a bad day.” That pretty much sounds like code for, “are you an idiot?”

I’m amazed that jellies who are criticizing me forcsuppisedky “holding on to this.” Are holding onto bashing me because they feel I’m too emotional about. Lol.

I worked in customer service, still do to the extent that I still deal with people, and I want to know when someone sees or experiences something in my business that might be frustrating so I can improve things.

Like I tell people, when someone brings you a complaint, the initial response should be, “thank you for telling me.”

Edit: It looks like I was likely wrong about this being a side dish, but that doesn’t change that it is not an “upcharge” it was a charge for a kids meal. The free side should still have come with the entree then.

Zaku's avatar

It’s not the +$2 that strikes me, but the wrong/misleading communication. The waitress said an “upcharge”, which I’d expect to be less than full cost for the side unless they said it wasn’t available as the free side so it’d be the full side cost.

Then failing or refusing to understand and take responsibility for the miscommunication is discourteous, petty and foolish. If they had followed “the customer is always right” and reduced the charge by $2, they could have earned goodwill and return business. Instead, they bought a lot of ill will, lost business, a bad review, etc.

The frequent failure of petty businesses to understand this and offer courteous service is what’s a big deal. Its sourness spreads and spreads.

JLeslie's avatar

^^Exactly. Thank you. Upcharge is never full charge in my experience. And, her not seeing the logic behind what I was pointing out was quite surprising to me.

funkdaddy's avatar

One more story from waiting tables that may or may not help.

Gentleman comes in and decides he wants a mushroom burger with no beef. He wants to swap the beef out and would like as many grilled mushrooms as we can fit on there in its place. I talk it through with him to make sure I understand what he’s looking for.

OK, a quick trip to the kitchen to make sure they can do it, come back, put in the order with several lines of instructions. It comes out, and I drop by to see if it’s “right”. The guy loves it, and says most places tell him no. He’s happy.

The bill comes out and he’s upset the burger and side is $9 even though there’s no beef. He says beef is more expensive than mushrooms, so the burger should be cheaper. I mention what he had doesn’t exist on the menu, so I’d ordered our cheapest burger, but ask how much he thinks it should be and I’ll talk to a manager to see what we can do. He wants to pay $5. Average ticket in the place is right at $20 per person.

Get a manager, because most places don’t let waiters discount food themselves. The manager wants no part of that, he doesn’t even talk to the guy, he jokes around that I’m an idiot for doing it, discounts the burger to $6 and leaves me to it. Someone thinks they’re funny.

I deliver the updated check with an explanation. He pays cash to the penny and leaves. No tip.


I’m fairly sure ordering a kids meal as a side isn’t something the restaurant had a set policy for, other than the generally understood “you’ll be charged for what you order”. Her job is to make sure the right food makes it to you and to work on your behalf to make that happen, while trying to make the experience easy or enjoyable for you. She doesn’t set prices or policies any more than the cashier at the grocery store does.

She was staring at you because you ordered a kid’s meal and were asking why you had to pay for a kid’s meal. It’s a tough thing to explain politely.

She was probably surprised as well and trying to keep it together, positive, and courteous.

JLeslie's avatar

@funkdaddy If you were the waiter, would you be confused by my surprise, or see the logic in it? If I was substituting the mac and cheese for a free side, would you ask me if I still want any other side since you have to charge me the full price for a kids meal? Or, would you just call it an upcharge for the mac and cheese? If I ordered a soup or salad with my meal that doesn’t come with it would you call it an upcharge? It’s an odd word to use for something that will be full charge.

The check was over $100 by the way, and my husband picked up the check. This wasn’t someone trying to get away paying $5. I should have probably given a dollar less to feel better about it, we gave a very nice tip. I did get my side that’s included in the end, it just put a little bit of negative on the overall restaurant experience. That place isn’t my choice to begin with.

Your customer not tipping you was a jerk, and your manager not coming to the table was a jerk. $6 seems very reasonable if a typical burger is $9.

jca's avatar

“Full price” is not an “upcharge.” Good point made by Zaku. If she said right off the bat that you pay full price so do you want your original side anyway, even if it’s in a to-go bag, then it would be clearer how she was going to charge.

JLeslie's avatar

Yeah, the more I think about it, the more I think the management should know about it, because it’s a definition thing. This waitress needs to know the difference. It will just create future problems for them. As a side comment to them I would recommend it should simply be an upcharge to substitute the side, but they might go for that, they might not.

I don’t remember her name or anything, not that it matters, because the point is not to get her in trouble in any way.

Zaku's avatar

@JLeslie Yeah, you could call or write/email the management and say “At least one of your wait staff seems not to know that ‘an upcharge’ for asking for, say, mac and cheese as a free side, implies the customer would pay something less than full-price for ordering mac and cheese. To avoid future upsets, perhaps you could make sure they’re clear about that.”

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