Unfiltered Story #114795

, , | Unfiltered | June 16, 2018

Our group (around 15 people, workmates after a meeting) had a nice buffet, all-you-can-eat dinner at one of those modern restaurants where you order your drinks (and potentially other stuff) via iPad.

Unfortunately, the software was not modern enough to assign the drinks to individual persons but just assigned to the table, instead. When people leave (everyone was expected to stay as long or short as he likes and can), they pay for the stuff they call as theirs and these items are taken from the total list.

If someone forgot to pay for something he ordered, it stays on the list. If something was delivered in error, it stays on the list. If drinks were mis-assigned, they stay on the list. If someone else plays with the iPad while we’re getting food, stuff stays on the list.

You can imagine where this is going: When the last of us want to pay and leave, there are items left on that list that none of us feel responsible for. There’s a common german idiom “Der letzte zahlt die Zeche” (“last one has to pay”) but we are certain that this is not law: The restaurant is responsible for keeping track of who ordered what and for charging them. Trying to pass that responsibility onto the customer by using a common list is “fishy” at best.

There’s a malt beer on the list that we remember on the table with nobody wanting it (and it finally being returned) and the cashier deletes it from the list – still tries to guilt us into paying for the remainder and then later investigating who ordered and drank it. We see it as “adopting his problem at our expense” and refuse.

The list is down to one coffee, 2,20€ in worth. With 15 people, the buffet being 20€ per person and some people drinking expensive cocktails, I assume that we already paid 350-400€. I estimate the sum of tips to be a multiple of that coffee cost: one of us gave 2.10€ alone. My own rule of thump is rounding up by about 10% but that is for service. The whole scenario kind of opposes the idea of service: not talking to waitress but using the iPad; waitress not bringing us the drinks in person but just putting them on the rotating table; no one bringing the food but having to fetch it from the buffet; having to bring the iPad to the cashier instead of someone coming to the table to get paid.

As that trouble brewed before I could pay, I also round down a bit more. Still two of us alone gave more tips together than the coffee was worth. There’s also an open voucher of 4€ that was not deducted.

Unfortunately, the cashier cannot count that against the open position. He says he doesn’t get anything from tips but cancelling that coffee cost would be deducted from his pay.

I wouldn’t exactly say that things “escalate” because everyone stays in the restaurant and everyone stays calm when the cashier calls the police and until the policemen arrive and question everyone. They try to convince the cashier that 2,20€ is not worth the trouble in the context but fail to do so.

So in the end they have to take his formal complaint against “Unknown” (we have no reliable information on who ordered the coffee) and police takes our contact information as we are considered witnesses in that case. I think I also hear them mentioning that this is not the first time that the police has to visit the restaurant for something like this.

On the one hand: Kudos to that cashier: This site is full of people who are willing to take hits (handing out money, comping meals) just to make an annoying customer go away. There are a lot of managers and corporates that are willing to hurt the company (refunding used and broken things bought years ago) in the name of keeping potential customers happy.

Our cashier definitely is not one of them. If the restaurant system works that much against him (having to pay for uncalled items but seeing none of the tips), I cannot even blame him.

On the other hand: Maybe sometimes it is worth cancelling 2,20€ from a >300€-bill. Although it definitely was a fun, noteworthy and funnily absurd experience to have the police called on us for a coffee, it really disqualified that restaurant from some of our personal “places-to-go”-lists.

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