When leaving a tip, the occasional math mistake is bound to happen. So what is a server to do if they encounter a bill where the tip and total don’t line up? A server on TikTok has sparked a discussion after making a joke video on the topic.
In a clip with over 22,000 views, TikTok user Kayla (@kaylahariston) flashes a pile of receipts.
“When they get the total wrong but the tip says $40.00,” she writes in the overlay text. The sound playing over the video says, “Legally or [illegally], we gon’ get that money.”
There’s little consensus about what servers are supposed to do in this situation. While the policy appears to vary from restaurant to restaurant, there is a rich discussion both on and off TikTok about the right path for a server to take.
If the customer does the math incorrectly resulting in a higher total than expected, many advise not taking the difference as a tip and instead sticking to whatever is written on the line.
“I think you’re right to charge the amount that’s on the tip line, even if that’s the lower amount,” states an advice column writer for The Takeout. “I think it’s the most clear expression of what that customer was going for, in most cases. After all, it literally says ‘tip’ and then a blank line.”
The author also consulted with “Michael McCall, who teaches at Michigan State’s hospitality business school,” who agreed with their assessment.
In cases where the total is lower than the given tip, users online are divided. Some on sites like Quora advise doing the math themselves and accepting the lower tip, while commenters under Kayla’s video claim they have chosen, or been expressly told, to simply take what the tip says as given.
“My manager says it’s not our fault if they can’t do math so he goes by the tip line,” claimed a commenter.
“if they can’t do the math right then idk what to tell you, im putting in what the tip says,” stated a second.
“lol always in my favor,” a third added. “not my fault they cant use their phone calculator right or at all!”
The Daily Dot reached out to Kayla via TikTok comment.