Did This Server Receive a $0 Tip or $100 Tip? This Restaurant Bill Just Gave Us a Headache

One server was left uneasy after a customer wrote an illegible tip, then left the total section and signature blank on their restaurant bill.

Kelly Corbett - Author

Aug. 18 2023, Published 12:08 p.m. ET

bill with unclear tip
Source: Reddit

From having to deal with rude customers who overstay their welcome, to those who send their crudo plate back to the kitchen because it was raw (?), a restaurant server's life is not easy.

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What's worse is that they only make a few bucks an hour and must depend on tips, which are generally coming from hungry strangers, to make a living. It can be frustrating when they get stiffed. It can also be frustrating when a customer fills out the tip section of a receipt but wrote the tip illegibly so no one actually knows what it says. Just take a look at this confusing bill.

woman checking bill in restaurant
Source: getty images
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A Reddit community of servers tries to make sense of what this customer wrote for tip.

Reddit user Ok_Basis_6466 struck up an interesting conversation when they posted a photo of a customer's bill in the r/Serverlife community on the platform.

The receipt pictured came to a total of $225.92 before tip. It appeared the customer had scribbled something on the tip line, but what it said was unclear. In one way it looked like it read "$ 00," meaning the customer didn't leave a tip. In another way, it looked like it read $100," meaning the customer left a rather extravagant tip.

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Unfortunately, the customer didn't write anything in the total section, which would represent the full amount that was being charged to their credit card.

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"What would you do?" wrote user Ok_Basis_6466 alongside the photo, seemingly trying to gauge where other servers' heads were at when they looked at this bill.

It was a tough spot because the grand total was either $225.92 or $325.92 — and the latter total clearly benefitted the OP, as they would receive a $100 tip. But what if the customer didn't intend to leave a tip? What if the tip amount actually read "$00"?

A majority of users commented on the post claiming that the customer left a $100 tip. "Oh that's a hundred bucks all day long," wrote one user.

A few other users shared a different take, claiming that one of the zeros written was actually a six and the tip amount was $60, which would have been a 25 percent tip.

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reddit comment
Source: reddit

OP shared a few more details in the comment section about their experience with this customer.

"The man was very happy and toasty. I took it as a $100 tip, my general manager said no," they wrote.

While it looks like the problem had already been sorted at OP's work, it still posed a conundrum to users.

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reddit comment
Source: reddit

One commenter pointed out that the customer didn't even sign the bill.

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reddit comments what happens when customer doesn't sign receipt
Source: reddit

According to My Bank Tracker, Visa, Discover, Mastercard, and American Express eliminated customer signatures on all credit card purchases as of June 2021, as signature requirements didn't actually prevent fraud and the process wasn’t as secure.

However, most restaurants seemingly still collect signatures on bills as their technology may not be up to date, which was reflected in the comment section as many users argued that the bill wasn't valid without the signature.

One user, who identified as a general manager, left some good advice that would solve all of these problems. "As a GM I would have called the reservation and said we didn't have a signed copy and to confirm what the total was," their comment read.

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