Get $10 For Ratting On Your Denny's Server?

John writes:

Notice this remarkable “offer” at the bottom of the receipt from Denny’s Restaurant:

“If we forget to charge you for any item you received, we are sorry. Please notify the manager and that item will be free. Also, for your help, we will give you a $10.00 gift card to use on your next visit to Denny’s. Thank you.”

In other words, if some poor server forgot to list something you ate on your check, you can either let it go, or you can report the guilty party to management and still not have to pay for the food (and you get a ten-dollar reward for fingering the guilty party).

Is it just us or does this read like some kind of bounty? We’re not smart enough to know what the scam is, but heaven help the poor server who gets caught running it at that Denny’s.

Feel free to enlighten us in the comments.


Edit Your Comment

  1. Buran says:

    This looks like an example of businesses making customers do the work for them — give an incentive for telling on employees who screw up, so customers have an incentive to save the business the trouble of actually supervising and training their staff to stop deliberate and accidental mistakes, respectively.

  2. DeeJayQueue says:

    We used to go to Denny’s every night. I mean, every night. We knew the waitresses by name, and got anything that didn’t have to go back to the kitchen for free. At least, we never got a check for it, but we left tips big enough to more than pay for what we ordered. Mostly coffee and pie at 2am. I can’t imagine ever ratting on those gals, they were the best group of waitresses I could ever ask for.

  3. levenhopper says:

    It’s stopping waiters from giving away free food to get better tips, I think.

  4. JustAGuy2 says:


    Ding ding ding. Drop the $10 entree, get a $5 higher tip. Good for the customer, good for the server, not so good for the restaurant. It’s employee theft.

  5. surgesilk says:

    No, its for the soft drinks that are often left off. Servers don’t need to ‘ring it in’ to get the beverages, so when bust frequently forget, but beverages are a high margin item for the restaurants.

  6. surgesilk says:

    Err…so when servers get busy, they frequently forget to add it to the bill..

  7. DePaulBlueDemon says:

    This is so weird! I was just in Denny’s last night and I pointed this out to my friends. We all agreed it was to control the employees who might sweetheart a meal with some things… but c’mon! It makes very little sense.

    This reminds me of another time I went to Denny’s.. I ordered a club sandwhich of some sort that was supposed to contain bacon. However, when it got to my table it had no bacon on it. I notified the waitress on her next trip around and she asked if she could CHECK my sandwich to make sure it had no bacon on it! I nearly died laughing. What a joke.

    I guess Denny’s REALLY cares about the bottom line.

  8. Lawk Salih says:

    I bet they will fire all servers after missing an item or two.

  9. suburbancowboy says:

    Too much care for the bottom line is what drives away customers.

    For example, if I go to a bar, and the bartender buys back every few drinks, I am way more likely to go back there than I am to go to a bar where they never buy back. The bigger more corporate bars here on Long Island never buy back. Sure they make more money short term, but long term they don’t.

  10. othium says:

    Making life more miserable for servers is not something I would do. They have a tough enough job without this sort of hassle.

    (Ron Paul’s “No Tax on Tips Bill” would be quite good for servers, if it became law..)

  11. Hoss says:

    This must be a message from a Type-A franchise owner — no entity the size of Denny’s would write this on a receipt, …would they?

  12. davidc says:

    Just look at all the goodwill the company is generating from it’s servers with this message.

    If I was a server at Deny’s, I would actually find this rather insulting.

    As a customer, why would I do something that would hurt the person that serves my meals? I am sure my food will be “oh-so-perfect” the next time that person serves my food after they know I turned them in on the last visit.

    Bottom line it’s a lose-lose situation and one of the reasons I see less and less Deny’s around.

  13. Buran says:

    @suburbancowboy: I’m not a bar hopper, so what does it mean to “buy back” a drink?

  14. Dashrashi says:

    When I was at the airport last week buying a magazine (okay, three magazines and a candy bar), the guy didn’t give me a receipt, and there was one of those little signs that said, “If we don’t give you a receipt, call this number with the name of your cashier and your purchase is free!” I was tempted, but ultimately, I would’ve thrown the receipt away immediately, and I don’t need 11 bucks worth of bullshit magazines more than this guy needs to not get chewed out and possibly fired.

  15. @levenhopper: Do they discuss that with the customer first or do they just leave it off?

  16. I’ve seen this around for a long time — several local places give you a $5 bounty for finding a receipt error, whether that’s an item that doesn’t get scanned at all or an error on the receipt, plus the item free if it’s under $x.

    When I was a teenager I worked at a store that did this, and it wasn’t used to punish employees; it was used as a way to rectify routine errors in a way that enhanced customer satisfaction. Lots of customers come back when they find that kind of error, and then they either feel rewarded for being honest (missed item; no charge for it +$5) or less irate about “having” to come back for a scanner error. In either case it let us fix our inventory, improve customer satisfaction, and sometimes helped us catch relatively major scanning errors that were almost always the fault of the central office’s computers, so we could then fix those manually and locally until the central office fixed them on the computer.

    It made a big difference (for a small store like that) in accurately tallying shoplifting “shrinkage,” too.

    Anyway, I’m sure it COULD be used to find checkers who were running scams (and I’m sure they tracked the data for that reason), but the store treated a certain number of errors as normal and we weren’t disciplined for them but urged to correct them for the customer. I suppose that’s not as common in retail as it used to be, tolerance of errors.

  17. somacore says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: The girlfriend and I went to Denny’s yesterday for lunch and the waitress left off the carafe of OJ I ordered. We got the hell out of there before she caught on, and even if I’d seen the “reward” I wouldn’t have told on her. If she was trying to get a good tip out of the deal she failed miserably. We left her $2 and hauled out of there.

    Does that make me a bad person? Probably. Should Denny’s charge $7 for a meal plus $4 for 1 liter of OJ? Probably not. I can get that anywhere else in town for $5 cheaper.

  18. theninjasquad says:

    So you could get the forgotten item by not saying anything, or you could get it for free for saying something… hmm tough call

  19. Gloria says:

    The problem with this offer is that after I go to Denny’s once, I make a vow not to go back again, until I forget.

  20. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    It’s a good thing there are so many Denny’s around. If I would turn in my server it’s very unlikely I’d go back to that one to spend that $10 gift card. Unless I wanted a little extra Vitamin S in my food.

  21. clickable says:

    All the Walgreens around here have signs on all the registers that offer you a reward if you don’t get a register receipt and report it. I don’t see the point, since I’ve never seen a transaction that isn’t rung up on the register, and the clerks look too intimidated to contemplate any shenanigans.

  22. Negative says:

    How about giving us money to rat on them for crappy customer service?

    I used to go to Denny’s at least once a week but the 3 or so locations in my area have gone steadily downhill in the last few years.

    The last time I went half the staff was smoking up in the kitchen and we waited for nearly 30 minutes just to get a waitress to stop by (The place was not busy at all) and she was high as a kite.

    After she brought us our waters and took our orders I watched her pick up a piece of toast from a used meal and place it on the plate she was taking to a customer.

    We promptly canceled our order as we walked out the door.

  23. vitonfluorcarbon says:

    As a former waiter in my earlier years, I frequently did not charge people for things like Soft Drink Refills, etc. It was small stuff that I was supposed to charge for, but usually didn’t because I didn’t think it was fair to the customer. In the food service business, it is the customer who butters your bread, and a good server does not forget that.

    The restaurant doesn’t butter your bread. When I first started to wait tables, the pay from the restaurant was $2.01 an hour (and regular minimum wage was $3.35.) I always thought of myself as an advocate for the customer, and you really are – you have to fight with the cooks, dishwashers, hosts, etc., to make sure the customer had a good experience. I never “gave” anything away, but certainly wasn’t going to go through the hassle of opening a ticket back up to add a $0.03 glass of Coke for a refill.

    Luckily, where I worked the managers empowered us servers to do what we felt was right if there was a problem. Perhaps that was why our restaurant did good – they let the managers MANAGE!

  24. Jacquilynne says:

    The ‘let us know if you don’t get a receipt’ thing is to prevent cashiers from giving you your total, pocketing your money, and never ringing your order in at all. In fast food places where they know all the common order totals, that’s a pretty easy scam. It doesn’t make as sense in the Denny’s scenario though — if they brought you a bill, you’re going to pay what’s on the bill. The ‘I give you free stuff in the hopes of a higher tip’ thing is all I can think of there.

  25. royal72 says:

    dear lenny’s, considering you’re a corporate shit hole that serves overpriced junk food, i think i’m more likely to side with my server on this one. note to server: free stuff for me, equals more tip for you… that’s if i’d step foot into one of your “restaurants”, well besides the once in a blue moon, last call snack when i’m too damn drunk to taste or care about the shitty food i’m eating.

  26. Skeptic says:


    Ding! Ding! Ding!

    We have a winner. The offer at Denny’s isn’t about screwing over a server who brings you a free drink or forgets to charge you for something it is about catching servers who charge you for something the deliberately omitted from the register so they can pocket the cash. This is an area that is especially hard to monitor so Denny’s offers customers a reward if the are charged for something that is not on the receipt.

    This same offer also catches servers who pad their tips by offering free drinks and such to customers to seem magnanimous and earn larger tips. While offering free food as a makegood for errors or problems is reasonable on the servers part, it is not reasonable for them to give away food and drink without reason.

  27. STrRedWolf says:

    For the years they were in Philadelphia, Anthrocon left out “Denny’s” in their resteraunt guide pages. Why? It was consistently BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAD. “Yes, we know there’s a Denny’s there. We don’t list it for a good reason.”

    Not worth it.

  28. UpsetPanda says:

    I don’t really like eating at Silver Diner, but I have been known to go there once in a while when I got off work late and needed a place that was open late. One night, I went with my fiancee and we were waited on by a woman who seemed really stressed out. She kept darting back and forth between one table to the next. There were only three tables but one couple at another table seemed really demanding…they were really just downright rude. They kept complaining about their food and started to make rude comments about the waitress when she walked away.

    Because she was dealing with them so much, she apologized to us for not coming by sooner to take our order, check on our food, etc. I felt so bad for her, and it’s days like those that if I was in her shoes, I’d just want the night to be over so I could go home. When the couple left, I didn’t think they would tip very much, so I left her a 25% tip.

    @Skeptic: How does that work? Most waiters/waitresses I’ve encountered won’t go out of their way to charge you if they omitted something from the receipt. I mean, I’ve never been told, “I left off your drinks on there, you need to hand over $4.”

  29. alhypo says:

    This sort of thing makes perfect sense since waiting staffers often “forget” to put things on the bill in hopes that some of that money will be transfered to their tips. But I seriously doubt I would rat out my waiter. For one thing, if I just ate at Denny’s, it will be a long time before I find myself willing to eat there again, so the ten-dollar gift card is hardly enough compensation to override the guilt of reporting someone who is working a total shit job.

    This is the problem with a tip-based compensation system. It tends to encourage the employees to act on behalf of the customer instead of in the best interest of their employer. I’ve heard that tipping is very uncommon in many other countries. It would be interesting to go to such places and observe the tendencies of wait staffers there.

  30. kris in seattle says:

    I’m sorry, but when I ever get anything at a restaurant or bar for “free”, I never rat the server out. I usually just say thanks and leave a tip.

  31. coren says:

    @Buran: More or less, the bartender or server will give you one on the house for every few drinks, to show their appreciation for you being there. It helps build loyalty and you generally get tipped better.

  32. coren says:

    I general, I’ve gotten so I tell the server if they miss an item because it’s usually coming out of their hide sooner or later.

  33. RvLeshrac says:


    The tipping system also keeps restaurant prices down and gives the servers an incentive to give better service.

    Tip? Servers at busy restaurants can make $400-$500+/week.

    No tip? Servers won’t make more than $200-$300/week.

    Tip? Server has an incentive to check on you every 5-10 minutes to see if you need drinks, more food, whatever.

    No tip? Server can sit on his/her ass and make the same amount of money – and the restaurant makes less money because people are less likely to order more food or come back again.

    Tip? That hamburger plate costs $6+$1/$2, because you’re making up the difference in salary.

    No tip? That hamburger plate costs $12, because the employer suddenly has much higher costs.

  34. RvLeshrac says:


    I should also point out that the *reason* people wait tables is the tips:

    Tip? You have a waiter/waitress.

    No tip? You place your own order and get your own food – who wants to work such a back-breaking job for minimum wage? Especially one where you are *constantly* berated because soemone *else* messed up the food?

  35. StevieD says:

    It goes beyond waitresses forgetting to put stuff on the ticket (in hopes of a better tip), there are waitstaff that will charge their friends & family for a soda or coffee while a full meal is being served. Basically people are getting free lunches.

    Either way, it is hoped that the gread of the customers will spot light the activities of some waitstaff.

  36. newspapersaredead says:

    This is so messed up. The reason servers “forget” to charge for items is because they are being paid less than the regular minimum wage by Denny’s and praying the tips will be enough to buy gas in order to get home after the shift is over. One way for them to get more tips is to undercharge the customer. I know it’s happened to me at restaurants and wow, I find myself going back to the same restaurant . That waitress is responsible for my repeat business, not the management. So if Denny’s wants to rein in the wait staff, why not start some sort of rewards program paying a bonus or percentage for all sales in a given month. In other words, give the servers an incentive to get the customer to buy more items. (Would you care for an appetizer? Do you want any extra side items, they’re only $1.20 each? Would you like dessert with that?) This policy is going to do nothing but create friction and unhappiness with the employees. When the employees are unhappy the customers get poorer treatment and thus don’t patronize as often. Another example of a business cutting off their nose to spite their face.

  37. jimconsumer says:

    @dashrashi: You should have callled the number. The reason stores have “If we don’t give you a receipt it’s free” rules are simple: Employees often sell items to customers without ringing it up in the register, then pocket the money. It’s a quick and easy way to steal cash from their employer. No smuggling things out of stores, no reselling them on eBay, just charge the customer but don’t actually ring it up and the cash goes in the employee’s pocket.

    Hence, many stores now have such signs posted. It forces employees to ring up all purchases and is an excellent way to combat this type of employee theft.

  38. RvLeshrac says:


    Not “often.”

    Don’t forget that they would then have to split that money with the people making the food. There’s a manager on duty, too.

    $12 bill divided between all of the cashiers up front (2-3), all of the people in the back making the food with no order on the scren (3-5), and everyone gets $2? Totally not worth it when you have one person that doesn’t get anything, feels cheated, talks to management, and gets the rest of you fired.

  39. HungryGrrl says:

    Stop feeling bad for waiters and waitresses people…. THEY CHOOSE to work for tips, they arn’t assigned to the jobs by Big Brother. They could take their some-highschool skills and get a job at the warehouse up the street and make $7 an hour if they really wanted to.

  40. RvLeshrac says:


    The problem is that management ALWAYS turns those into “requirements.”

    Don’t sell a minimum of X additional items? You’re fired. It doesn’t matter if you asked, you’re still fired.

    This is why you get hounded at every turn when you’re in a place like Circuit City or CompUSA. The employees don’t *WANT* to ask you if you’d like to buy a service plan on that blank CD, they’re required to meet quotas.

  41. RvLeshrac says:


    Or they can work the restaurant and make an average of $10-12/hr after tips, with less in taxes. Which one would you pick?

  42. Buran says:

    @STrRedWolf: I seem to remember hearing that a denny’s actually evicted a bunch of congoers once although I’m not sure if it was that convention. I went to that one once after it went to PIT. Never again. I hatd the town, hated the convention center, hated the union rules bullshit, and all in all I decided I’d rather stay home and save the money for a plane ticket if I want to visit anybody. No offense to anyone from Pittsburgh mind but it was a LOT better when it was still in Philadelphia, and Albany had PHL beat for pretty scenery.

  43. b-real says:


    I’m not sure how this would work. Why would friends/family of the server turn him in for the “free lunch?”

  44. crypticgeek says:

    Why is everything I read always “oooh servers, WHAT POOR CREATURES!” This isn’t about turning in forgetful well meaning servers. This is about servers not billing for food in hopes of getting a tip. It’s theft, and this is a policy that may or may not help that problem. I personally think it’s tacky to try to get your customers to report employee theft, but I’ll admit it’s a…ahem…sticky situation.

  45. crypticgeek says:


    “Especially one where you are *constantly* berated because soemone *else* messed up the food?”

    Big deal. Go cry about it. In my non-tipped retail job, I’m yelled at by angry customers all the time because someone else in a completely different part of the company whom I’ve never met has screwed up the order I carefully wrote up for the customer and submitted for fulfillment. In any job where you interact with the public, you can expect to be confronted by an angry customer for something that’s not your fault. It doesn’t matter who’s fault it is, you’re a representative for your company and you have to take blame and apologize on behalf of the company. That’s just how it works. Anything else is petty and unprofessional.

  46. S-the-K says:

    I don’t think we have a Denny’s in town anymore. Even when we did, I only went there once with coworkers for lunch and the service was terrible! And they weren’t all that busy anyway. With that exception, it had been many years since I’ve been to a Denny’s. There are so many better options, but they are often the only exception when the bars close at 2 am. However, we have a Perkins which isn’t bad (or at least better than Denny’s).

    As for not being charged for something that I ordered and received, that has never happened to me. I must not be going to the right restaurants.

    I’ve not been charged for items that I ordered but not received. I don’t make a fuss as I usually didn’t need the thing that I didn’t get anyway. :-)

    I have had items comped for one reason or other. I had a sandwich that came with bacon but the bacon IMHO wasn’t cooked well enough. It wasn’t raw but it was still limp, not nice and crisp like bacon should be. I removed it from my sandwich and notified the server — I thought they should know for future orders. I didn’t make a fuss and ate the sandwich, but when the bill came I found that I had not been charged for it.

    Considering I’ve been ripped off at restaurants before — usually being charged for items that I did not receive — and considering that servers have to deal with some major @$$holes (entitlement junkies, et al), I would never rat out a server for not charging me for something that I ordered and received.

  47. rustyni says:

    @HungryGrrl: I waitressed for a whole month and a half right out of high school, and I’d never do it again.

    Wait staff have insanely hard jobs (contrary to popular belief) and I have the upmost respect for a server that can balance seven tables and still get my drink to me within five minutes of arrival. I could never do it and I AM college educated. The underlying education you recieve does not make you more or less of a person, and not EVERYONE chooses to be in the jobs they are in. Some people don’t have the choice to go to college or get a better job. Ever heard of supporting your siblings while your disabled parent does their best to get back on their feet?

    Not everyone has the same luxuries the rest of us do, and I’d NEVER rat out a waitress for something so dumb as forgetting to ring up my 1.20 Sprite.

  48. coren says:

    @RvLeshrac: I’ll go a step further.

    In many (if not all) states, it’s not only legal, but common practice to pay below minimum and expect people to make it up in tips.

    And a step beyond that, while it’s not always regulated, there’s an “expected” amount a server is tipping to the bartender (if there’s drinks), the busser, the kitchen staff, the seater, all that. And that eats into their tips..they’re usually lucky to see half that tip in many places.

  49. coren says:

    @HungryGrrl: Yeah, there’s always more jobs for people, like heavy lifting. Especially older folks, or smaller people. Can’t reach the top shelf? Oh no problem, we’ll hire you anyway.

    ..that’s how it works, right? Hiring people that can’t fulfill their job requirements?

  50. detroitsnow says:

    Okay, I see everyone on here debating about whether it’s right to rat on your server or not. However, not ONE comment I’ve seen indicates that any of the commenters thinks it’s wrong for getting an item for free from a restaurant, whether mistakenly or intentionally.

    Don’t any of you have consciences? If I notice something is missing from my bill, I tell the waitperson first, not because I want to “rat them out” or make them feel more stressed, but because I ACTUALLY INTEND TO PAY THE RESTAURANT FOR EVERYTHING I’VE ORDERED!

    Or am I the only honest person on this website?

  51. morsteen says:

    Wait staff get’s paid minimun wage where I live. Well I get paid minimum wage at my job, but I’ve only got tipped twice in 2 years. No tip?: 300 a week? That’s about 100 bucks more than I make. Until you start tipping every other menial job then quit your bitching about how much of a shit job they have and they deserve tips. I’m sure in other countries where it is uncommon to tip that they actually have respect for their customers and aren’t trying to rape them for their hard earned money. It’s merely taking advantage of a social situation/tradition. If I can make it on minimum wage then servers can too, and they can quit their bitching or get a different job that doesn’t tip. Ungrateful bastards.