I asked my friend if he believes in tip rounding and he said “Yeah, I do it all the time!”. I said, “I’m not talking about rounding the tip off to the nearest dollar by choice – I am talking about the server doing it for you when they only give you dollars back and assume that they should keep the coins portion of the change!” My friend was appalled and so was I when this happened to me recently at a local restaurant.
Should restaurants assume that consumers don’t want the coins portion of their change when they are paying using green backs instead of plastic or should that choice continue to be left up to us, the consumers? The manager of this particular restaurant explained to me that when the busboy cleans the tables and picks up the folder with the tip inside, very often, the change spills out all over the floor. He continued to explain that most people these days are not carrying big wallets to hold change so they really don’t want it back. His policy is to round up the change given to customers if the change is more than 50 cents and round down if it’s less than 50 cents. In my opinion, if the server short-changes me, I blame it on the waiter, not the restaurant, and that does not sit well with me – when it’s management’s policy. In fact, during my research, I learned that this may even be illegal in some cities throughout the United States.
Surveying my friends, nobody seemed to mind the “round up” part of the restaurant’s policy, however, being short-changed purposely lends suspicion to either the server or the restaurant and can leave a “bad taste” behind after what should have been a good meal.
This topic lends itself to other discussions such as “Should we be forced to leave a certain percentage as a tip even if the service sucked?” Another comment on the topic of tip rounding was “Why not include the service charge, otherwise known as The Tip, in the cost of the meal, as they do in Europe?” One friend commented that when he used to be a waiter years ago, he would always carry extra change with him so that he could quickly deal with any customer’s request to break a large bill to leave him a tip – it’s all part of the good service that people expect!
While some people did mind being short-changed to the nearest dollar, would they care so much if it was just to the nearest quarter? If this restaurant does not want to chance pissing people off in an area where there are so many other places to eat, I would recommend only rounding up and asking the serve staff to carry a buck’s worth of change with them in case anyone complains.
And that’s MY TWO CENTS for today!
The Weekend Concierge