What happened to my change?

| 23/08/2019
Ask Auntie, CNS Local Life, Caymanian status

Has it become the norm not to receive change when paying in cash? This has happened to me, not only in restaurants (where the service charge is 15% or higher), but also in fast food places and even dry cleaners. On occasions, particularly where the change is significant, I have had the embarrassment of having to ask for it, and the response is often “Oh, did you want it?”

I have never seen a debit or credit card slip rounded up, it is always the precise amount. So why do staff think that it is OK to charge me more when paying in cash?

Auntie’s answer: I certainly hope it is not standard practice to hold onto the change from a bill. My feeling is, if I haven’t said, “Keep the change”, then the service person better be returning to my table with whatever coins and bills are due to me, and then I can deal with the gratuity.

Don’t get me wrong; I am a good tipper. It comes from growing up watching my dad, who was not a rich man, never leaving less than a 20% tip at the table, and from my own experience in the service industry. Being forced into it is another story entirely, though. I am not a big fan of the automatic service charge, either, but at least you can see that coming.

If a server puts you in the awkward position of enquiring over your change and compounds the uncomfortable situation (made worse if you are with other people) by confirming that you actually really want it, to be honest, that would be my signal not to leave anything. Public humiliation is not a great incentive to leave a big, fat tip.

Of course, you also don’t want to feel compelled to preemptively tell the server when you pay to bring you the change; that doesn’t sound nearly as nice as “Keep the change.”

If your change is withheld in a restaurant which offers comment slips, I would definitely write a note to indicate your displeasure, or see if there is a way to register a complaint on its website. But I would also welcome readers’ suggestions on how to deal with this situation.

And, one other thing: fast food outlets and dry cleaners keeping the change? This is truly a world gone mad.

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Comments (8)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Can we just have an unofficial nation-wide policy that if a restaurant adds the tip to the bill automatically, you don’t have to leave another tip? Too many times I see people leaving a cash tip even when they’ve been charged 17% auto gratuity.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Ya’ll sound like a buch of penny pinchers.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I have had that situation happen to me when I buy food from most of the fast food restaurants – I am not afraid to ask them for my few cents back, because if I am a few cents short, they probably won’t give me my food that I ordered.

    Also, the cost of living is so high, I need those few cents to put toward my next purchase of food.

    I don’t have a problem to give a tip where I feel the person deserves that tip.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Slightly off topic, but would our government please do away with the “penny” coin, like Canada has.

  5. Anonymous says:

    This has happened to me several times too! It’s gotten to the point where I have to calculate whether or not I got the total bill wrong. Is there no business or consumer goods regulation board? Hmmm….

  6. Anonymous says:

    The group that own Waterfront Cafe, Miso, Craft, Pani and so on (I think it’s something like 10 or 11 restaurants now), no longer accept or use change. It’s not written anywhere to warn you either. They either round up or down, depending which side of the 50 cent mark it falls. However I have had a couple of cents into the dollar rounded up. I now refuse to pay in cash in those establishments, on principal and also because I don’t agree with the policy (though I understand it probably relieves a lot of headaches for the person who does the banking by not having to deal with all the coins!). But they should change their prices so that they are round numbers to the dollar. It’s the tip that messes that whole system up though.

    I’m not quite sure how that is legal to not accept legal tender – and it really irks me that you are not given a choice in the matter. I also don’t think it’s fair to the servers as they may be missing out on the proper amount of the tips – and people are less likely to give extra under those circumstances.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Ask Obama

  8. Anonymous says:

    Can we get the how did you feel after reading this on other articles too? I like it.. missing the LOL button these days too

    CNS: I actually found this while looking for a replacement for the LOL button – which I still haven’t found, sadly. I miss it too. I would add this to the main site but I haven’t yet found a way to turn it off for individual articles and it may not at times be appropriate. However, I think it’s safe on Local Life and you should find it on all articles here now.