At Applebee's, 2 For $20 Equals $21

Two meals and an appetizer for $20 at Applebee’s is a nice, simple price point. Not a bad deal, either. Jeff ordered it for carside takeout, but was baffled to receive his order and see that the price listed on the receipt was $21, not $20. The waitress explained that the extra $1 was sales tax, but Jeff didn’t buy that (and we don’t either.) The restaurant calculated and charged him accurate sales tax on the entire order.

I ordered some “Carside to go” from my local Applebees last night and encountered some interesting math on the receipt. Their advertised offer of “1 Appetizer + 2 Entrees for $20” was rung up on the receipt as $21. I did not order any substitutions or extras that should have modified the package price. I asked the waitress why a $20 offer was suddenly $21, and she told me it was “$20 plus tax, they should really start saying that in the ad”. She was immediately on the defensive, even though I was being very polite with her, and offered to bring the manager out to explain it. I wish I would have taken her up on that offer, but our food was getting cold and the family was hungry so I let it go.

After leaving I noticed that tax was added to the entire check down at the bottom, so her explanation was obviously a lie. I hope she enjoyed my $1 overpayment, because that was the only tip she was going to get from me. Fortunately for us, at least the food was good. Yes, I followed the advice on the receipt and completed their Guest Experience Survey.

Maybe the fuzzy math is ironic.

At the risk of setting off another round of comments section tipping wars, that’s not fair to the waitress. She didn’t pocket the extra dollar herself. Presumably.

A more direct method than taking the survey would be to call the restaurant and ask to speak to the manager, maybe during a between-meals time when the manager will be less busy.

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