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Who is to Blame When a Server Drops the Wrong Check?

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Today's Ask Eater submission is a bit long and involved, so for those who don't want to read through (though, it is strongly recommend that you do) here is the nitty gritty: a server drops the wrong check for a party of six. The party does not point out the error and instead tips generously on the check they were given. So the question is, is it wrong to keep the error to yourself as a diner? And what recourse does the restaurant have after the party has left?

There are two polls below, but first we hand the mic over to the proprietors of Jo's over in Nolita:

Last Sunday our brunch was a little busier than expected. When a party of six asked for their check, the server accidentally dropped a check for a table for two. It did not come to our attention until the check was being closed out, but when we noticed it, we immediately contacted the customer.

Jo’s: This is Johnny from Jo’s. You just had brunch here and it came to our attention that the server accidentally gave you the wrong check. She gave you a bill for $56 of which you left $120, when your actual bill was $201.

Madeline: Oh. Uh?we didn’t really look at our check. We just put in what we thought we owed. We are miles uptown. Well, what should we do about this?

Jo’s: If you like, I can tell you the balance, and if you want you can give me a credit card.

Madeline: Ok, we are getting in the subway. We will call you back.

Two days later, after hearing no response, Jo's emails the guest. She responds that her party of six is hard to get a hold of, that they are "all struggling pretty seriously monetarily as grad students in nyc," that they threw in money without thinking about it and had no idea it was the wrong check [yeah, ok], and that "as the confusion was on your end and not ours - I do not feel that in this situation the blame should fall upon our group."

So this brings us to our two polls. First, what should the people of Jo's do?

Poll results

And on a more general note, Eater readers, what do you do when a much smaller mistake is made, say a dessert is unintentionally omitted or a round of drinks?

Poll results


264 Elizabeth Street, New York, NY 10012 212 966 9640


264 Elizabeth St., New York, NY