Is it acceptable to ask a waiter to pay if a customer leaves without paying?



I’ve recently started working for a restaurant (which will be anonymous for now) in Virginia (U.S.A.) as a waiter. I’ve learned to enjoy it, but recently a customer left without paying. I looked around everywhere to see if I misplaced the tab somewhere, but couldn’t find anything. I asked my boss to see if she received their payment, but she didn’t. We both looked at all the receipts for that day, and couldn't find theirs. My boss then said if they didn't call in and pay within a week, I would be responsible to pay for their check.

Is this fair? It wasn’t my fault they left without paying, but my boss said it wasn’t her fault either. Is this policy different among restaurants? Is this even allowed? I’m assuming it isn’t allowed, as I don’t think it’s fair that the waiter should pay, so should I tell my boss anything?

UPDATE Thank you guys so much for all your responses. My conclusion is it is obviously not legal to make a waiter pay for a dine-and-dasher. Thankfully, the people held in question actually did pay, we just completely missed their payment in the receipts (they did not tip me though >:-( ). When I told my boss I did the research and she wasn't allowed to force me to pay, she told me she did not know that, and wouldn't do that again. Seems like we were able to resolve the problem briskly.


Posted 2017-07-30T14:22:13.303

Reputation: 1 102

64Is it possible that the boss was joking?Strawberry 2017-07-31T17:27:41.330


Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.

Lilienthal 2017-08-01T08:06:27.167


If anyone lands on this page looking for a real-world based answer to the question, rather than a load of fuzzy groupthink, they would do well to check out the answer from @KateGregory (far) below all the highly upvoted ones...

jkf 2017-08-02T21:33:00.793

It used to be, maybe 40-50 years ago, common (though I can't say how common) practice in the US to dock a server's pay if the customer walked out without paying. But in the intervening years most jurisdictions have enacted laws and regulations to prevent this, or at least greatly limit it.Hot Licks 2017-08-03T00:31:35.857

9JFK: Why do you think this is "fuzzy groupthink"? OP has an opportunity for legal recourse. OP lives in the US, not the UK in which you seem to live. Please elaborate.user2896564 2017-08-03T04:00:04.353

1You are being too kind to this restaurant by not giving its name and location.O. Jones 2017-08-03T14:31:00.857

1Why should another person be held responsible for someone else's theft? Docking your pay is also theft. Two wrongs do not make a right. That's unreasonable.Matt 2017-08-03T22:09:57.260

8@user2896564 If the OP threatens the restaurant with legal complaints, they will probably not dock her pay, but they will most likely find a way to fire her. Whether this is a good thing or not depends on details that we do not have, but the fact that this policy is not fair (or even sensible) does not mean that it is not super-common in the North American restaurant industry. If OP wants to keep her job (she may not) the top voted answers are not good. (IRL)jkf 2017-08-03T22:30:46.153

3@jkf The OP is a guy though.Jaboyc 2017-08-04T03:26:17.117

@Jaboyc whups, sorry about that -- not sure where I got that idea from. I see now "waiter" is clearly in the question! Looks like a happy ending, so that is great.jkf 2017-08-04T04:08:48.890

1I mentioned that in my answer JKF. Being fired for filing a complaint is also illegal--and OP may be entitled to compensation (I'm not sure).

Yes, they may be fired--in that case, good! Go work at a retail store, or a fast-food restaurant, or a chain restaurant, or a Pizza Place...

There are so many places that don't do this, anyone with self-respect won't put up with it unless its their only option. – user2896564 2017-08-04T12:15:38.677

“they did not tip me though” Aren't you getting a salary for your job?Andrea Lazzarotto 2017-08-04T21:40:59.743

@AndreaLazzarotto It's commonplace for waiters to get small wages and for the restaurant owner to expect the waiter to 'top up' their wages by earning tips.Pharap 2017-08-06T02:35:09.833

@Pharap could be commonplace (where?) but it's weird and unacceptable. Waiters should fight together with their labor union to get adequate salaries. It's not a customer's duty to pay the workers.Andrea Lazzarotto 2017-08-06T09:39:31.050

@AndreaLazzarotto The only articles I could find about it are roughly 10 years old, but here, here and here...

Pharap 2017-08-06T11:20:22.167

@AndreaLazzarotto And it turns out there's an even worse practise now: the waiters' tips or service charges go straight into the bosses' pockets. here, here and here.

Pharap 2017-08-06T11:21:45.007

1@Pharap gosh that's really horrible.Andrea Lazzarotto 2017-08-06T18:33:55.700

1@AndreaLazzarotto What's even stranger is that service employees in some areas have fought AGAINST new laws designed to raise their wage to the legal minimum. Plenty of them feel like they'll take an overall pay cut if that happens, as people will stop tipping. I knew a bartender in a beach town who pulled in more cash than most regular white-collar office folks in the same area. Furthermore, cash tips are not 100% reported, so they aren't taxed on all of it.Graham 2017-08-07T16:41:53.647

@Graham OK it makes sense that they are not taxed, given that they are technically gifts... Yet the fact that those involved are against minimum wage rise is pretty weird indeed.Andrea Lazzarotto 2017-08-07T19:55:56.617

@AndreaLazzarotto, you may have misread. Cash tips are not 100% reported, so waiters/waitresses aren't taxed on all of it. What they do report, they get taxed on. This is the basis of the Libertarian tip: Taxation is theft. :)

Wildcard 2017-08-08T06:56:13.830

@AndreaLazzarotto The best way to think of it is that some servers are making far above minimum wage because of their tips, and that if the public is informed that they're now making minimum wage, the public will mostly stop tipping altogether, thus resulting in a net loss for these average server.Graham 2017-08-08T13:00:45.090

@Wildcard, unless I misunderstood the term "tips", there is no reason to report them. They are gifts (of relatively low value), which shall not be taxed.Andrea Lazzarotto 2017-08-16T00:23:29.547



Here is Virginia law:

Legally, you can never be paid less than the federal minimum wage of $7.25/hour. If you work for an hour, you must make at least $7.25 (tips can count toward this). Your employer can't dock your pay below minimum wage--depending on the amount of the tab, and how much you make, making you pay the tab could easily take you below minimum wage.

That's beside the point.

From Virginia's Department of Labor:

The law prohibits employers from making deductions, other than for taxes or other items required by law such as garnishments, without first securing the employee's written authorization to do so. Even with written permission, employees cannot be required to forfeit their wages for shortages, errors, damages, etc. Employers can be assessed a $1,000 penalty per violation or face criminal charges for intentionally and willfully violating this law.

IANAL, but that seems pretty clear. Point this out to your manager. Unfortunately, the service industry in general is somewhat notorious for violating employment laws, so you may have to be prepared to go to the department of labor with this. They may also be able to fire you (they're not allowed to retaliate for you making a complaint, but in practice they might try or come up with an excuse).

The best course of action, IMO, is to show the law to your manager. If that doesn't work, start looking for another job (Even if they don't retaliate, you shouldn't have to put up with this garbage), and show no mercy filing complaints with the DOL.


Posted 2017-07-30T14:22:13.303

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Jane S 2017-08-04T01:21:06.440

@sondra.kinsey The second half of the answer covers deducting their pay for unpaid customer fees: can't deduct without permission, and can't deduct even with permission for a category this would seem to belong to.doppelgreener 2017-08-07T17:18:37.993


It's the company's money, not yours. Some "customer" stole from the company, not from you. There is absolutely no reason whatsoever why you should pay for the company when someone stole from them.

You say it's not your fault, your boss says it's not her fault either. Nice argument, but it's wrong. It's her business. Everything that occurs in that business is her responsibility. She doesn't give you a share of the profits, then why should you share the losses?

PS. The boss apparently wants you to pay for the difference between "customer pays" and "customer runs away without paying". The highest reasonable amount the boss could ask for is the difference between "person never orders anything" and "customer orders, eats, and doesn't pay". If the price of the meal is $30 but the actual cost of providing it is only $10, then asking for more than $10 is unreasonable, because that's the actual cost of the thief turning up at the restaurant.


Posted 2017-07-30T14:22:13.303

Reputation: 55 899

15All good but don't put the blame on boss. The bad guy is the one stealing.Džuris 2017-07-30T20:10:32.333

234The bad guy is the one who tries to rob her employees.gnasher729 2017-07-30T21:18:37.463

76If you want to argue fairness which your boss, point out that if you're responsible for customers who don't pay their checks, it's only fair that you get to reasonably manage that risk by choosing which customers you are willing to serve (based on your assessment of that risk) and cutting off customers if they order so much food that the risk becomes greater than you are willing to take. Perhaps you'd like to make some customers pre-pay if you assess the risk to be too high. If you're taking the risk, you should be deciding/managing it. That's only fair.David Schwartz 2017-07-30T23:00:24.400

20Or she should get all the money from customers who do pay their checks. That would also be fair.immibis 2017-07-31T10:27:51.777

34@gnasher729 There are two bad guys: the customer who robbed the restaurant and the boss who's trying to rob the employee.David Richerby 2017-07-31T18:22:31.117

@DavidSchwartz But on another point of view, isn't that a contract says that we work together, that this is our business. And if it's our business, then we should share the risks?Ooker 2017-07-31T20:25:34.227

5@Ooker Sure, in some cases. For example, agreements between investors or agreements involving stock options or profit sharing. Those agreements come with legal rights that allow the risk to be managed -- for example, stock comes with voting rights. But here, there is no upside for the employee. They get no profit sharing and no ability to minimize the risk. The employee's risk is limited to losing their job, but in exchange they get the right to quit at any time. What are they getting in exchange for this risk? How can they manage/minimize it?David Schwartz 2017-07-31T20:49:31.463

1@DavidSchwartz would it be logical to say that since their job is to take the money the customer paying, their ability is to keep their eyes on them? After all, part of the money is to pay for the waiter for serving them.Ooker 2017-07-31T21:03:20.243

5@Ooker So what? Are you saying a perfect waiter would never get stiffed on a check? This is not about whether or not the waiter is doing a good job. This is about what to do if the check isn't paid. (If an employer thinks an employee is not doing a good job, they can reassign, retrain, or fire them. It's not like competent employers can't manage the quality of the work they get.)David Schwartz 2017-07-31T21:06:28.260

1@DavidSchwartz what I'm saying is that do you agree that the waiter has a profit from and an ability to minimize (not completely avoid) the risk of not having the check paid, so it is reasonable for the boss to ask them to share the risk?Ooker 2017-07-31T21:14:41.533

11@Ooker No, I don't agree. As I explained, it's not even remotely reasonable.David Schwartz 2017-07-31T22:17:34.057

13@Ooker "a contract says that we work together, that this is our business. And if it's our business, then we should share the risks?" No, an employment contract doesn't say that at all. A typical employment contract says, "You work for me. This is my business. You get paid so much per hour; I take the risks so I get the rewards beyond that." If the employer wants to transfer risk (beyond "if the business fails, you're out of a job") onto the employees, they need extra rewards to compensate for that.David Richerby 2017-08-02T00:29:37.390


IANAL but this is not fair. That is a company loss. Take it up with your local labor commission.

They can no more make you pay for skip than they can make a dishwasher pay for a broken plate.

I was doing contract work and the customer we were working for did not pay so the contract agency tried to not pay us. Someone called the state labor commission and we got paid immediately. The risk is on the business owner not the employee. If they want to fire you for not doing your job then they have a case but they cannot charge you for the ticket.


Posted 2017-07-30T14:22:13.303

Reputation: 29 466


It's a pretty common policy, even in jurisdictions that explicitly forbid it. (Some employers, like some landlords, break the rules with a fair amount of confidence that they won't be taken to whatever board enforces them, or at least not often.) While I don't own a restaurant, I have a number of family members who have worked both front and back of house and say this is the policy where they work. (I have also seen retail cashiers held responsible for shortages in their tills even if the shortage was caused by a quick-change artist or a counterfeit bill. Again this may not be legal but it is nonetheless common.)

There are two reasons for it. One is that it motivates the waiters, who are really the only ones who know the state of each table, to get payment from customers quickly and accurately. The second is that if a restaurant covered "skips", a waiter could encourage friends to skip or even accept a generous tip to "look the other way" while strangers skipped. Heck, they could even put an entire cash payment into their pocket and just say the people skipped.

Are any of these likely to happen? Shouldn't a good manager be able to spot that sort of thing and fire the bad apples instead of forcing good people to pay for thieves? Sure, but many restaurants aren't managed well. You can even argue that knowing dine-and-dash comes out of the waiter's pocket, not the rich restaurant (ha!) will reduce the number of people who do it.

As for whether it's acceptable, that is up to you. You can choose not to accept it by taking your employer to the labour board if it's forbidden where you live, which may work, but is likely to affect your relationship with your employer, or getting a job somewhere else. I doubt you can get your manager to change the policy based on you not liking it: it's not as though all the other waiters love this policy or the manager thinks it's what waitstaff want.

Kate Gregory

Posted 2017-07-30T14:22:13.303

Reputation: 95 749


The advice given in this answer appears to be contested but the comments on it were turning into a discussion and have been moved to chat.

Lilienthal 2017-07-31T13:46:32.870

14The practice is illegal in many places (usually covered by a broad protection against docking pay without consent) so the answer would be far more credible if it offered some sources for "It's a pretty common policy.".Peter 2017-07-31T16:02:38.417

6@Peter It's the only policy I've ever heard ...fredsbend 2017-07-31T23:00:48.557

5I too thought this was always the policy but not being in the restaurant industry my experience is 50 years of hearsay.Bill K 2017-08-03T17:09:13.023

6@Peter, anyone who has worked in the restaurant business knows that these workplaces often have petty tyrant managers who break all kinds of rules whenever they can get away with it. I haven't personally seen waiters required to pay for "dine-and-dash" but I have seen a waiter fired for one "dine-and-dash" incident. For this question anecdotal sources is the best you can hope for. Kate's is the best answer.teego1967 2017-08-05T16:26:07.387


Is it acceptable to ask a waiter to pay if a customer leaves without paying?

If I owned the restaurant in question, that's not something I'd ever do.

To me, employees are valuable. Unless I thought the waiter was stealing from me (which is a completely different problem), I'd just chalk it up to "the cost of doing business".

I know that word of this sort of poor treatment gets around quickly, and the owner is going to be making it harder to hire new waitstaff. The job is difficult enough, without worrying that your pay is going to be docked due to an idiot customer.

And as a customer, I avoid restaurants when I know they are jerks to their workers.

Joe Strazzere

Posted 2017-07-30T14:22:13.303

Reputation: 207 512

33And if you did think an employee was stealing from you, you would fire them, paying them all the wages they were owed. Then, if you felt you had sufficient evidence, you could report them to the police and/or sue them. But withholding or docking wages is outrageous.David Schwartz 2017-07-30T23:02:35.430

8To the note that work of this kind of treatment gets around quickly - If it happened to me, I'd very quickly write up a description of this type of treatment on a site like GlassDoor, to warn other potential wait-staff.schizoid04 2017-07-31T06:52:10.363

6You might as well write in tripadvisor...Rui F Ribeiro 2017-07-31T17:20:53.427

I don't know man, I just... The more I read your posts, the more I want to work for you! got any openings? :pMöoz 2017-08-03T23:25:47.570

I heavily agree. Just as importantly, wait staff may figure a way to reimburse themselves. Stuff can go missing.emory 2017-08-04T22:15:37.743


Do cashiers in the bank have to pay it back if they get robbed? In normal countries the state (police, courts) has the monopoly to say "you did wrong and have to cover the incurred losses". Nobody else may fine you as a person.

Normally if someone thinks you caused them losses, the person has to involve law enforcement which decides if your actions really caused this etc. In this case the fault would clearly be on the malicious person who walked away and you would never have to cover this.

Sometimes there is a clause in contract that says that you have to pay fines or cover losses in some cases. Usually it goes like "either you pay or the contract ends" or just "you have to pay all loses that are caused by your actions". In most places (including Virginia as explained by user2896564) the labor law prohibits that. The logic is that if you make losses maliciously, it has to decided by law enforcement not employer. If, on the other hand, you make losses by error, it's the employers fault for you being in the position while not skilled/rested/trained enough not to make the mistake. And he may not decide to punish you for that.

But remember the last sentence. If the employer expects you to make sure clients pay and can't simply walk out without you calling them back and involving security/police, then this might all be your fault. While you may not be fined monetary, the employer can lay you off because you turned out to be unfit for the role. This is the reason why very often employees give in and cover the losses, sometimes even willingly - "sorry boss, I messed up, I will cover the losses". Not because they have to legally, but because they know they made an error and don't want to be detrimental employee.

By the way, these "you will be fined for this and that" while being forbidden in the employment contracts, is common for memberships. It's totally fine to kick a person from a fellowship or kick a sports club from a league if they break the rules and refuse to pay the assigned penalty.


Posted 2017-07-30T14:22:13.303

Reputation: 1 196

17"Do cashiers in the bank have to pay it back if they get robbed?" A few years ago when computers were a lot more expensive, there was the real risk that the workplace of a software developer was robbed. The company where I worked had the official rule "any robbers, you do whatever you can to keep yourself safe and not the company property. Replacing you is more expensive than replacing a few computers".gnasher729 2017-07-30T21:10:59.813

14@gnasher729 Cynically speaking, waiting staff is less expensive and more replacable than software developers.gerrit 2017-07-30T21:55:14.320

@gerrit: that may be true, but they are still more expensive to replace than covering the cost of a meal.NotMe 2017-07-31T21:33:30.693

"Do cashiers in the bank have to pay it back if they get robbed?" Robbed, no, "misplaced" and "unaccounted for", heck yes.fredsbend 2017-07-31T22:59:24.683

@fredsbend Got a cite to that? Because the law seems to say otherwise and every source I can find says otherwise as well. (Of course, if they believe you were sufficiently negligent or it was intentional, they can sue you or report you to the police.)David Schwartz 2017-08-01T20:28:09.323

1@DavidSchwartz I've known several bankers who've worked at several banks. The "legalities" are circumvented by a simple conversation between manager and teller: "If you want to keep your job the money comes out of your check." Then the teller usually agrees to it, because it's usually not a crazy high amount. If it's a big enough amount, they just fire you on the spot and possibly report it as theft. If it happens more than two or three times in a period, they fire you. I don't know why I have to continuously remind users on this site that law and practice frequently don't coincide.fredsbend 2017-08-01T21:02:23.747

@fredsbend That's nonsense. If the boss saying "The money comes out of your check if you want to keep you job" means you have to pay it then the teller saying "No, you cover the loss or I quit" means they don't have to. We all know what at will employment means -- yes, you can be fired as soon as your employer no longer wishes your services, but that if that means he you "have to" do something if he threatens to fire you for not doing it, then that means you have to do almost anything imaginable. (Short of things that are illegal to require from employees.)David Schwartz 2017-08-01T22:19:35.040

@DavidSchwartz I don't know where you're coming from but the ultimatum "Do it or your fired" is not nonsense. And in the USA, such a teller has little legal recourse. He may sue, but he'll likely lose. The bank's position is "We already have good reason to fire them, but are willing to forgive if they make it right." And they happen to have a legally sound position. So argue for morality, law, whatever you want. This is what happens, and not just with tellers, and there is little to no push back from the law, upper management, etc. so it will keep happening.fredsbend 2017-08-01T23:03:49.187

@fredsbend None of that refutes any of what I said. Yes, I understand how at will employment works, as does pretty much everyone else. But again, if "Do it or your fired" means you have to do it, then "Don't make me do it or I'll quit" means you don't have to do it. This logic would conclude that an employee has to do anything an employer can legally fire them for not doing, which would lead to absurd results. If I said "Bank tells have to shave their heads bald" and you said that's nonsense, could I respond by saying they can legally be fired for not shaving? That's what you did.David Schwartz 2017-08-01T23:18:14.487

1@David You're point is not as profound as you think it is. Fired or quit, it's just semantics to an employer. But you can bet you've lost them as a reference if it comes to that for this hypothetical teller.fredsbend 2017-08-02T00:21:09.123

@fredsbend And they've lost you as a reference when they're trying to hire the next teller. Thank you, Internet.David Schwartz 2017-08-02T01:33:51.750

2@DavidSchwartz they dont need a reference to hire a teller.The Great Duck 2017-08-02T03:19:28.183

@Typhon Just as you don't need them as a reference to get hired. Were that not so, there's no way you could have the job you already have.David Schwartz 2017-08-02T06:43:25.817

(Or, to put it more simply, do you want to work at Uber?)David Schwartz 2017-08-02T07:43:11.063

@fredsbend If there is a difference between what in is in the till and what should be in the till, then there should be an investigation. If the reason is because the teller can not count money (a basic function of the job) then the teller should be fired. I think if one is off by a penny, then one might conclude it is one's own best interests to cover the penny difference (preventing an investigation that might lead to one's dismissal).emory 2017-08-02T11:33:37.147

1@Emory If I remember correctly, the threshold amount was $20. If you were off by under $20 they expected you to make it up out of your pocket. Off by over twenty you risked being fired. If you were off more than once in a short timeframe, I wanna say it was 2 or 3 months, you risked being fired. Their exact numbers will certainly vary.fredsbend 2017-08-02T16:57:27.837

As for "investigations", that's only if they suspected theft.fredsbend 2017-08-02T16:58:41.000

I have actually seen fines in employment contracts in an EU country with much stronger protections for workers than the US. The specifics were very different from the OP's situation but it's not unheard of. Importantly, the OP is not being fined, he is expected to cover the loss, which is quite different. Also, in general, law enforcement is concerned first and foremost with criminal wrongdoing. Damage payments and compensation for losses are typically decided by the justice system but law enforcement is only marginally concerned, if at all, with investigating civil matters.Relaxed 2017-08-02T18:45:55.397

@David Schwartz I'm sure you'll have a hard time getting another job as a teller when your employer tells the other bank that you're suspected of theft. After all, money went missing. They can just threaten to have you arrested.The Great Duck 2017-08-07T23:51:46.240

@Typhon Sure, anyone can threaten anything. But the question was whether you "have to pay it back". And the answer is no, you don't. Can an employer make your life miserable if they want to, sure. Does that mean you have to do whatever they say? No. Not if words are going to mean things. You could insinuate that you'll torture their family to death if they make you pay. Does that mean you don't have to? The arguments are equally silly.David Schwartz 2017-08-08T00:06:27.523

@David Schwartz I completely agree. I was only arguing the counter regarding an employer needing a letter of recommendation. I agree that legally you do not. I was merely supporting the counter that they can say you weren't a good employee. It's completely true.The Great Duck 2017-08-08T02:54:12.570

@Typhon Sure, and if it's the truth, they should say it. But whether or not you pay for it or the bank does, you still made precisely the same mistake.David Schwartz 2017-08-08T04:25:07.087


It's totally illegal, and poor management practice. I instead would offer as a manager to provide incentive to those who prevent skips if it was a legitimate problem. For instance, everyone who has no skips gets a 5$ bonus at the end of the week. This way they're still mitigating some of the direct risk and providing an incentive for you to check up on the customers. They could even do things like having a team outing if the entire team has no skips for x number of days/weeks.

Brian Deragon

Posted 2017-07-30T14:22:13.303

Reputation: 201


Do you normally get a cut when client pays? No - then it's not your problem. I think it's reasonable and makes sense. They should have got security cameras installed and working. There are other services to track down people, not part of waiter's job.


Posted 2017-07-30T14:22:13.303

Reputation: 1 015


Even if we ignore what the law says here as pointed out in detail in the other answers, then the point of view of the boss still doesn't make sense. The incurred costs for not paying the bill will typically be far less than the bill. The cost of the food is typically of the order of a few dollars, the time the cook spent preparing the food would typically be just a few minutes. The bill is an order of magnitude more than the total costs, because of fixed costs like the wages of the personnel etc.

When I eat in restaurants, I personally experience this first hand as I need to eat far more than most people. I will order food that's specially prepared, the quantities are more than double of that would be in a normal menu, and yet I'm paying the same as for a normal menu. And that's possible because the food itself costs almost nothing and it's not more work for the cook to prepare my meal than it is to prepare a normal menu.

Count Iblis

Posted 2017-07-30T14:22:13.303

Reputation: 733

8how does this address the question asked? See [answer]gnat 2017-07-31T13:36:43.743

1@gnat OP asked "Is this fair?" Which has a non-legalistic aspect to it which was not addressed in any of the other answers. The way the law works may make it illegal for the boss to act the way she intends to, but it could still be fair. I point out that it isn't fair even if you find it reasonable that the OP should compenstate the boss for the loss.Count Iblis 2017-07-31T14:07:46.260

2I re-read this post several times and still can't see how it answers to the question you mentioned, "Is this fair?"gnat 2017-07-31T14:10:46.200

@gnat Is the complaint that a bot should be able to scan answers and extract a yes or no from the written text and as written, my answer would not allow your bot to do that?Count Iblis 2017-07-31T14:20:38.123

3This answer does indeed appear to answer the question. "Is it fair?" Is what fair? The context of the question is "Is it fair that I should pay my employer $100 when the customer leaves without paying?" (100 chosen arbitrarily). This answer is "Even if you were to pay the employer, no, it is not fair to pay $100 since the employer only lost $10. Paying employer $10 for this situation might be fair." That is fairly clearly an answer to the question "Is this fair?" @gnatAaron 2017-07-31T15:09:22.707

@Aaron how are readers expected to see this line of reasoning in the answer text? Or do I miss some part of the answer explaining what you clarified in commentgnat 2017-07-31T15:13:31.837

@gnat "how are readers expected to see..." By reading the answer; after ignoring the fluff, that's the only thing left. There is a 1-sentence intro which partially puts the answer into perspective. The second paragraph is just an anecdotal example supporting "it doesn't cost the amount on the bill." Ignoring the intro and the anecdote, the only thing left is a three-sentence answer which says "The employer's loss is far less than the bill." 1-sentence intro setting the stage, 3 sentences of answer, then an anecdotal evidence paragraph.Aaron 2017-07-31T15:28:13.647

1@aaron You're saying the answer contains a piece of information, which can be used to extrapolate a partial answer to the question "Is this fair? Is this allowed? How do I respond?". IMO that makes it a useful comment, not an answer.Peter 2017-07-31T15:57:45.060

@Peter No, not extrapolate a partial answer; contains a piece of information which is an answer. It is an answer to the primary question: "Is it acceptable?" (from the title), and "Is it fair?" (from the body). "Is it like this elsewhere?" and "What should I do?" are sub-questions, tangential to the primary question. Plenty of other people respond to questions like this with comments "You need to split this up into multiple questions." Even though that hasn't happened here, that does not mean this answer is only "information from which an answer can be extrapolated." It answers the question.Aaron 2017-07-31T16:05:53.467

@Peter As an example comparison, Brian Deragon's answer really has only 1 sentence that directly answers the question, and that sentence is only 7 words basically saying just "It's illegal and bad." This answer is more full than that one, though that answer has no comments and enjoys a positive rating.Aaron 2017-07-31T16:08:52.517

2@CountIblis I would say that your post does answer the question, but it appears that it is not clear-cut enough for some people. You might want to edit your answer to remove any confusion. One recommendation is to try and make it apparent that the second paragraph is not your main point, and make your primary point itself stand out more.Aaron 2017-07-31T16:18:00.310

5I want to know how you get twice the food at no extra cost.Michael Burr 2017-08-01T08:53:18.967

@Aaron The answer could indeed be rewritten to make it clearer, but it's probably not going to help much as the point I'm making is probably also an issue here.Count Iblis 2017-08-01T11:13:29.180

@MichaelBurr I don't order a menu item twice, what I do is I ask the cook to prepare a meal like I would cook at home. E.g. 250 dry weight of pasta, 500 grams of boiled vegetables, a small piece of meat, and a small amount of olive oil on the side. And all of that prepared without any salt. How much does it cost to buy this in a supermarket? Just a few dollars! But to get the amounts from the menu items would require me to order multiple items but I would then end up with way too much meat and fat.Count Iblis 2017-08-01T11:26:55.693

A few days ago I ordered potatoes instead of pasta: 1 kg of boiled potatoes. When the waiter brought me the potatoes, he said that he couldn't imagine how anyone can eat this much potatoes, let alone a small skinny person like me. Clearly, for most people this is a massive amount of potatoes, but yet 1 kg of potatoes costs just 2 dollars. And it's also extremely healthy, you get about 800 kcal but this contains a massive amounts of nutrients.Count Iblis 2017-08-01T11:35:44.723


I worked as a waitron for many years in a major well-respected restaurant chain in Virginia. There were skip-outs on rare occasions, customers who sat there crying that they couldn't pay their tab, etc. Management did not offer money to pay -- it was the waitron's responsibility -- but they were sympathetic and tried to investigate and recover the money, which worked a few times. I see both sides. It would be IMPOSSIBLE for management to police and cover these losses. Waitrons would continually claim "skip-out" and pocket the money. It's completely untenable to have management pay. Anyone that says, "I wouldn't patronize a business like that." I say -- wake up. You already have and do so every time you go out.

Sue Swi

Posted 2017-07-30T14:22:13.303

Reputation: 31

27You claim it would be IMPOSSIBLE. No it wouldn't. Any reasonably competent shift manager would spot this especially with basic security measures such as CCTV.Martin Smith 2017-07-30T19:01:54.140

8It's not impossible, it's their job as the management to ensure adequate staff are available, and is not a significant issue for the majority of restaurants. Management don't pay, either. The restaurant does. That's how businesses work - they cover the business cost.Nij 2017-07-30T19:02:23.110

18it was the waitron's responsibility no ma'am. Attending to the customer and serving their food is their responsibility. Identifying these customers that skip out, understanding why this happens and finding solutions that DOESN'T antagonize personnel is the management's responsibility.A Concerned Programmer 2017-07-31T00:48:28.650

13If that's actually how things work in Virgina, you guys need to get a union or something together to fight against those policies.martin 2017-07-31T03:52:51.743

1You say "impossible" but mean "legally responsible"Joe S 2017-07-31T11:30:18.977


As David Schwarz says, it is not at all "impossible" to deal with dishonest employees who "continually claim 'skip-out' and pocket the money". They can be fired! It's not like it's impossible to notice if someone is doing this.

sumelic 2017-08-01T18:03:04.333

1You can also sue them and report them to the police. The point is, if you want to do more than fire them, you have to prove that they're responsible. You can't just believe it in your heart of hearts.David Schwartz 2017-08-01T20:29:46.183

2"Anyone that says, "I wouldn't patronize a business like that." I say -- wake up. You already have and do so every time you go out." - This feels like a big enough claim to require backing up with a source, if nothing else.BiscuitBaker 2017-08-02T14:00:54.670

3The Labor Board of California, like that of Virginia cited above, does not "see both sides". It absolutely prohibits this sort of conduct by employers.Andrew Lazarus 2017-08-03T00:07:12.447

1There's a difference between skips and customers who won't pay. Customers who won't pay are certainly not the waiter's fault and I can't imagine a restaurant where the managers or owner would expect a waiter to cover the bill of people who either won't pay or were successfully stopped from skipping but have no money.Foliovision 2017-08-03T22:57:17.323

@StephanBranczyk It makes no difference whose fault it is. That's not how a business works. If an employee makes a mistake that costs the company money, you can fire them. If you think they stole from you, report it to the police. But employees simply are not financially responsible for losses they cause the company through mistake or negligence (except in very limited circumstances that have nothing to do with what we're talking about here). It's utterly outrageous. If an employee does something extremely wonderful that makes the company an unexpected $100,000, do they get to keep it?David Schwartz 2017-08-08T04:29:23.993