First for any folks who aren't knowledgeable about German restaurant paying traditions, I will let you know how we go about these things. After the meal the diners must track down and sometimes almost tackle the waiter/waitress to ask them for the bill. If paying as one, then the bill is settled right at the table. The server will produce a printed receipt and the customer will state a figure they are willing to pay, usually rounding up to the next Euro to add a tip, or if there are several people, include a few extra Euro. Then the waitress says thank you for the tip and gives the appropriate amount of money back.
But if you are in a group with people paying separately, this is where it becomes interesting. The waitress comes to the table with a printed receipt and asks what the first payer had through the evening. As the customer declares their part of the bill, the waitress makes a tick mark, eventually adding up all the ticks for a grand total for that customer. Then they are charged, tip is exchanged, and move on to the next person at the table until finished.
Back to Saturday night. Our bill was to be split into two sections, one for our friends across the table, one for No and Snooker. As our friends paid first, this meant that we would normally just pay the leftovers, making it a simple matter of subtraction of the total minus what our friends had already paid.
When I suggested this instead of the tick situation, the waitress frowned and said this wasn't possible, that part of our order was not on this bill. It seems that she had brought the receipt yet the most expensive part was not on this bill. My meal, over 16 Euro, was not included. I gave the young lady a face which let her know I wasn't happy, and she asked with a puckered-up face if we really needed an official receipt. As No answered that wouldn't be necessary, I watched the cat's ass face turn back into a smile. Eventually it was all figured out, money paid and she went away.
Immediately after she left I asked if I had missed something in that conversation (she dealt with No, the conversation was mostly whispered in German -- and let's face it, I was at a disadvantage there) that explained WHY the most expensive thing on our bill didn't happen to be on the receipt. No one else had an answer either, just that the lady had said it was not on the bill and would need to be added.
Ahem, I worked retail for more years than I care to admit and this smells fishy. It was my job to pour through the receipts of the cashiers and try to figure out how they were stealing money. Lots of people got their walking papers because I was able to prove that they were using self-clipped coupons to get cash for themselves, or were playing scratch off lottery cards with no money on the HOPE that they would win and pay for the game... talk about gambling.
Another lovely little trick was for the cashier to take a common item with a simple price and just add it to the total they would request from the customer. Candy bars were a common tool for this ploy. The cashier would enter the items by hand, not including the candy bar. Once she had a total, she would add the cost of the last candy bar (say .75) to the sum of the customer's purchases. This way the customer was paying the correct amount of money and would not fuss. Then she would pocket that .75 for herself, causing the store a net loss of .75 cents. Done many times throughout the day, this would merit some nice pocket change and be attributed to shoplifting.
Of course this could also be done through the simple "no sale", where a customer would buy only the candy bar and hand a dollar to the cashier. The cashier would hit "no sale" which opens the register so that she could give a quarter back to the customer, then take out her three quarters. Skimming is probably the number one crime in retail outlets. But the smart ones didn't do this too much because the register makes note of every time the button is pushed. You would be surprised how many never understood that I could see what they were doing quite easily. This is why if you ask for change AFTER the sale at any Wal-Mart type place that they have to call a "key person" to come open the drawer.
Which leads me back to our Saturday night and 16 Euro which passed under the radar for the restaurant. The woman who brought our ticket was not the same young girl who waited on us all night, but instead was a slightly older and more experienced woman who I would consider a "head waitress" or something similar.
My questions are thus:
Did the head waitress do this on purpose?
If so, is she pocketing the money, or is the overhead going directly back into the business for some reason?
Why was the head waitress the one who came for our money? Why not the original waitress? Does the restaurant keep the tip money, or maybe split it themselves between waitstaff, bar tenders and clean up crew?
If they do split this money, do the staff actually get to see the correct amount of the money we give them?
Am I just being too suspicious?
Are years of doing this for a living having an impact on my bullshit-o-meter?
What do you think about it?
Anyone care to speculate?