I recently had an unpleasant experience with one of customers in a club where I work as a waiter on weekends (it's my weekend job to get some money as a student). So far, I haven't had any unpleasant experience because of the club's nature (people usually mind their own business, they are friendly (and so are we :) ).

But this weekend, we hosted an event for some agency, whose parties tend to get "wild". Fast forward to two unpleasant experiences with customers: I, for the first time, encountered two guys throughout the night who said they gave me a 20-dollar bill (but I was sure it was a 10) when I returned them change for a $10 bill. I insisted on my side of the story with the first guy (I'm always totally sober on the job, always check the money and do calculations for change in my head etc.), but I got "scared" with the second guy (questioning in my head: "What if he really gave me a 20? What if even the first guy gave me a 20 and I screwed him over?") and returned him 10 bucks more.

At the end of the evening, when we counted all the money, sure enough there was $10 missing. I had to cover them from my own pocket (you can guess what it feels like being a student who works for $5/hour and covering money from your own tips which don't get extensive here in Europe...).

How could a conflict like that be resolved? I always insisted on "the customer is always right" rule when it came down to work at some other jobs, but you just cannot do it like that when it comes to money. What should I say in my defense instead of things like "I'm totally sure that you gave me a 10."? In conflicts like these, it's their word against mine and I can do almost nothing about it...

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    Did you ask your manager what to do in situations like this in the future? Sep 16, 2019 at 19:10
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    Hi friderik! I think I might have a solution that might work for you, but... do you stay in one place to do these transactions, or do you have to walk between your customers and a register?
    – Tinkeringbell
    Sep 16, 2019 at 20:03
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    When you write that at the end of the evening $10 were missing - did you not collect tips that made that amount? Sep 17, 2019 at 7:59
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    @pipinstallfrisbee Tbh, I don't really feel comfortable with telling my manager anything else than necessary. She is not exactly a trained waiter too and gives enough hard time everyone anyways.
    – friderik
    Sep 17, 2019 at 20:38
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    @Tinkeringbell ThisIsMe just posted a good solution to it that I might use... Thanks anyway, I really appreciate it!
    – friderik
    Sep 17, 2019 at 20:44

1 Answer 1


The customer isn't always right. Especially on "wild" nights, customers can be highly annoying, they can easily make mistakes, and they try to screw you over (deliberately).

If a customer says that the food is too salty or undercooked; he is right. If he adamantly claims he gave you a 20, doublecheck.

Just a hint for next time (coming from an ex-waiter): don't put away the money the customer gave you untill after you handed them their change. That way, when you hand them the change, they can see for themselves what they gave you, no discussion. If they later come back to you: hey, they checked and double-checked: their fault

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    I can vouch for the 'keep money apart until after you've returned the change', that was going to be my answer too ;) If you want to, you might add something about the importance of documenting in 'he said, she said' cases for the 'screw you over deliberately': We knew exactly which customers tried to trick (new) employees into giving too much change/accepting unacceptable returns and we communicated that within the team.
    – Tinkeringbell
    Sep 17, 2019 at 9:25
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    This is what they taught us when I worked as a student for a casino. Leave the money visible, do not tuck anything away until the customer agrees that the transaction is complete. Sep 17, 2019 at 15:47

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