Vail Valley Voices: A tip about tipping
Vail, CO, Colorado
I was perusing my credit card statement the other day, as I do at the end of every pay cycle, to make sure my receipts match the numbers on the statement. What I found was disturbing.
Clearly printed on my copy of one restaurant receipt was a total for my purchases, a total for the automatically charged gratuity (I was a member of large party), another line for any additional tip and a line for the total. The auto-gratuity was 20 percent. I thought that was adequate. Apparently, my server disagreed.
What should have been a grand total of $9.60 came through on my credit card as $17.70. I was stumped. I called the restaurant and asked why I was charged twice what I was expecting. The manager assured me that their credit card-processing company does a preauthorization on every card and that I would be credited for the difference. I told him that I was familiar with the practice but thought that the amounts were usually whole-dollar numbers. He again told me to be patient and check my statement later.
At this moment, more than a month later, I am still waiting for that credit.
Here is what I believe happened: My server, miffed for whatever reason about getting “only” the automatically generated 20 percent for a tip, decided to write or punch in an additional tip before processing my card. This is not only dishonest, it’s stealing.
And, unfortunately, this is not the first time this has happened to me since moving to the valley less than a year ago.
The first time, I was disgruntled but let it slide because it was only a few dollars. You better believe that I will be getting my $8 back this time around.
Before anyone gets up in arms about the necessity of tipping and how critical it is as a supplement to the sometimes lack-luster paychecks restaurant workers often receive, know this: I am a good tipper. Friends have even called me an overtipper. As a general rule, I tip at least 20 percent. I tip on carryout. I tip anywhere someone hands me a credit card slip that has a tip line on it because I can’t bring myself to draw a line through the space. I get post-tipping guilt if I feel like I haven’t tipped enough.
That said, it is my right to tip when, where and how much I feel is warranted. I have never stiffed anyone, no matter how bad the service was, but if I did, it would be my choice to do so.
Why would anyone think it was OK to steal money from me, a paying customer? I will not return to either establishment that tampered with my check, and the experience has made me wary of every transaction on my card where a tip is involved.
Maybe I am the last person in the world who actually checks the charges that come through on my credit or debit card, but I’m hoping that anyone who reads this who doesn’t check receipts against statements will consider doing it in the future. If you charge your meal and leave a cash tip on the table, write “cash on table” in the tip line so someone can’t write something else in there. If you feel inclined not to tip, have the guts to write “no tip” on the line.
You never know when someone will take it upon themselves to add in a few dollars with the hope that you won’t notice because, most of the time, you probably won’t.
Krista Driscoll is a copy editor at the Daily.