Man says he was charged for ‘surprise’ birthday cake that restaurant brought to table

Ivanko80/ShutterStock @seanlans/TikTok (Licensed)

‘It was $14. … We never asked for it’: Man says he was charged for ‘surprise’ birthday cake that restaurant brought to table

'That $14 birthday cake would've been their tip.'


Stacy Fernandez


Posted on Apr 25, 2024   Updated on Apr 25, 2024, 10:05 am CDT

Usually, when you’re seated at a restaurant and your server walks out with a candle-topped dessert to celebrate your birthday, you don’t expect to see that treat on your bill. Well, this duo was stunned when a restaurant made them pay for a slice of birthday cake they didn’t order.

“If a restaurant brings you a dessert for your birthday that you didn’t ask for, should you have to pay for it?” Sean (@seanlans) asks in a viral TikTok clip.

It’s common for restaurants and even some fast food establishments to offer you a sweet treat on your birthday. But it can be hit or miss whether or not it’s going to be free.

If you’re at a chain restaurant and are part of their loyalty program or checked if they have birthday offers then you’re likely to get the birthday treat for free.

But if you’re at a more high-end restaurant and specifically order a dessert to celebrate a birthday, it’s not guaranteed that it’s going to be complimentary. If you ordered it yourself, you’ll likely have to pay for it.

This mother-son duo wasn’t in either situation. In a viral video that has more than 700,000 views, Sean explains that he was out for dinner with his mom to celebrate her birthday. He brought her a gift that was sitting on the table in a bag that clearly said “Happy Birthday.”

Their waiter took note and wished Sean’s mom a happy birthday.

At the end of their meal, their waiter came out singing with a piece of cake, ice cream, and a candle.

“We’re both just like, ‘Oh my God, that is so thoughtful.’ The waiter noticed it was her birthday and then just brought it out. That’s so nice,” Sean says.

But then they got the check, and to their surprise, the slice of cake—which cost a whopping $14—was on there.

“That’s kinda strange, we never asked for that,” Sean says.

He also pointed out that the cake was vanilla and he and his mom are chocolate cake lovers, so they never would have ordered that anyway. They were actually planning to get ice cream somewhere else after.

Even though they could have raised the issue with their server, Sean says they ended up just paying for it. In the comments section, he clarified that the rest of the food was really good and he wanted to be able to go back to the restaurant without feeling awkward about the birthday cake situation.

@seanlans We were planning to get icecream somewhere else after so we were going to pay for dessert anyways but it was odd that they would charge for something we didn’t order #birthdaydinner #birthday #restaurant #expensive ♬ original sound – seanlans

The video has more than 3,000 comments. Many people gave their take on the situation and shared how they would have handled it.

“U should only pay for what u order most restaurants do the complimentary birthday thing,” a top comment read.

“I would’ve complained,” a person said.

Others said there was likely a simple explanation for the mishap.

“You should’ve said something, the waiter probably just forgot to get it comped!” a person wrote.

The Daily Dot reached out to Sean for comment via email.

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*First Published: Apr 25, 2024, 2:00 pm CDT