1 WWYD: Tipping on a Discounted Meal, Being Assertive | The Billfold

WWYD: Tipping on a Discounted Meal, Being Assertive

Today in “WWYD,” one of our favorite topics: tipping. And learning to be assertive.

I’m curious about how to tip when something has been removed from your bill. I went out to breakfast with a friend and my food came out the way wrong. Without saying anything to me about it, the server kindly removed it from the bill. I left the tip for our table, and left him 40 percent, which seemed reasonable as I was leaving it, but when I calculated it more precisely at home, I realized that I only tipped two dollars more than what his tip would have been if my food were on the bill. So now I’m concerned that I low-balled him.

Do you have any guidelines for what I should do in the future? I want to be generous to someone who has been generous to me, but if I’m being honest, I guess I also don’t want to pay back the entire cost of the bad food in the form of the tip. Or would that be the best thing to do? — M.

Perhaps our readers who have worked in the service industry can help me out on this one, but it seems to me that if you really want to be generous to your server, the thing to do is, well, tip generously. Generally, when you get comped items, I think it’s a good idea to tip as if your bill wasn’t comped at all, which is what you did. Continue to dine at that restaurant. Be kind to the servers, and tip generously for the great service. That’s the best thing thing to do.

Just over a year ago, I was awarded a scholarship for students in my area of study from a community foundation in my area. The scholarship fund is supposed to give me $500 per semester for the remaining years of study. I received the award no problem during the Fall semester of ’11 and Winter of ’12. Then I took the Fall semester of ’12 off. Now I’m back in school, and there’s been no indication that I’m getting the $500 this semester.

The last time I spoke to anybody at the foundation, it was early August of last year and I was still planning to be in school that fall (and graduate in December). Since they were waiting on my enrollment certification to send me the money (I have to be in school full-time to be eligible), I figured they just didn’t send it that semester, since they never got my enrollment certification, because I didn’t enroll. I sent them my enrollment certification for this semester, once I went back to school, and assumed that would set things in motion for me receiving the award again.

But the money hasn’t come, and I’m feeling super guilty because I have been really bad at communicating with these people—I never told them I was taking the semester off—and I want the money because I’m a poor college student and I could really use it (and, you know, I was awarded this scholarship and everything). But I really don’t want to write to them and ask because the whole thing is going to be me saying, basically, “Um hey, remember me? You gave me a thousand bucks and then I kind of disappeared and didn’t send a letter to the trustees updating them on how my education was going even though I promised I would do that? Well, I’m back in school now and I would really love it if you would keep giving me money, ha ha!” I’m going to be graduating in May—finally—and I won’t have to deal with this again after this year.

Do I avoid the humiliation and never ask for the money and remain quietly resentful of them and myself? Or do I risk it and write them a nice letter and explain what was going on and see if they got my enrollment certification for this semester? The answer is SO OBVIOUS when I write out the question like that, but I am just really bad at asking for things I want, especially when I feel like it’s my fault somehow that I don’t have the thing I want. Also, how do I write this letter? — N.

So even though the answer to N.’s question is obvious and she basically answers it for herself, I wanted to post her question in full to show how helpful it can be to write out a problem you’re having and examine it on the page. Yes, clearly N. needs to get in touch with the foundation and get this all sorted out. And the easiest way to go about doing that is to pick up the phone and track down a person who can help her get this matter cleared up: “Hi, I’m a scholarship recipient and haven’t received my funding for the current semester. Can you connect me to someone who can help me?” Once you’re connected, explain the conundrum, just as you described above.

It’s hard to be assertive if you’re the shy, non-confrontational sort of person—the sort of person who over-apologizes for things. I know because I also tend to lean in this direction. But I’ve also learned that if you don’t assert yourself and ask for things, you lose out. I saved myself a lot of money by asking for more financial aid when I was in college. I asked for and negotiated a smaller broker’s fee for the apartment I currently live in and saved myself $1,000. And as Rebecca says in her Craigslist piece today, you’d be surprised by how much you can save simply by asking for a discount.

I’d skip the letter and pick up the phone. You’ll get this resolved much more quickly.


Email me your WWYD experiences to me with “WWYD” in the subject line. See previous installments.



10 Comments / Post A Comment

clairapluie (#805)

LW2 – This definitely happened to me (with a variety of scholarships) when I took a semester off to do an independent internship, and I had to follow up with loans/scholarship people a lot.

Basically, people get paper/email slogged, you might just have to bug them a bunch. My job now involves tracking down a lot of billing, and I would suggest calling with the bare minimum of information “Hey – I sent you my enrollment form for Winter 2013 but haven’t received the scholarship. What’s up with that?” It’s not being confrontational – honestly they probably have this on their to-do list and once you call will think “Oh, crap! That’s been on my list for months, better do that ASAP.” I don’t hate people as a specific person who don’t send me invoices, I just figure they got caught up in other work.

I would avoid talking about the semester you took off unless they ask – they’d probably get confused. Just focus on this semester and the action items they need to do.

Side note PSA: I ask for discounts EVERYWHERE I go (it’s as simple as “hey, do you have any discounts/coupons going on right now?”) and sometimes they do. I’ve definitely saved money at places like Macy’s, getting my oil changed, etc. and I always feel thrifty.

Sincerely, Jane (#1,588)

The scholarship program has already invested $1000 in you! I’m sure they would much rather hear from you and have you take the rest of their money and be in good standing with them than to have you disappear and never talk to them again. They want to give you their money, and I’m sure they want a good track record of helping people complete their degrees because of their funds.

I received a lot of scholarships that I didn’t ask for and treated them cavalierly like an idiot college kid. Now, seeing all the debt my peers now have, I wish I had written all those letters and been more grateful at the time. Don’t be like me!

I had the opposite problems, I went to the fucking mattresses with my university for trying to charge me for classes I withdrew from to take an internship. I pursued it through every possible avenue before finally relenting when they wouldn’t send me my diploma until they got my $800, and even then I kept fighting for six months after graduation before I finally gave in.

And now they think I’m going to donate to their foundation? HA.

@stuffisthings They never got my library fines, though. That was a separate protest over the fact that the entire liberal arts library was closed throughout three years of my education. At a school of 50,000 people.

EM (#1,012)

Never feel bad asking for scholarship money. It’s not like you are taking that money out of their pocket; it’s allocated for students and it’s part of their job to see that money get spent. They probably just put a hold on your account when you were taking time off from school and they don’t know you’re back.

questingbeast (#2,409)

LW2: Just think of it this way: if you forgot to send a letter/ are putting off a letter you know you should write, there’s probably someone in the scholarship office doing the exact same thing. Give them a prod!

lizard (#2,615)

tipping 40% is MORE than reasonable. quite generous. the restaurant screwed up and did the right thing. dont sweat it

@lizard No kidding! I think 20% is generous, I can’t imagine tipping 40% or more even. I’m not American so I know it’s different (our servers and waitstaff are actually paid a living wage) but the guilt surrounding tipping seems so out of control.

I have worked at a Community Foundation and I can guarantee that they have seen your situation a million times before. I agree about calling as well. I bet they are really nice and really want to give you your money!

Jellybish (#560)

LW2, PLEASE call them! Part of my job involves awarding and administering scholarships, and I would bet that your foundation really, really wants to give you this money. It would have been better had you contacted them when you realized you weren’t going to register, but your assumption was logical. They’ve already budgeted this money for you, and they might not be able to spend it any other way.

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