Last night I went out to dinner with my friend Alicja. I ordered the fish sandwich, which, the menu told me, cost $15. I asked the waitress whether I could substitute the fries that came with it for a baked potato, and she told me that I could.
The sandwich was fair. The taste was there, only the fish piece was long and skinny, so half of it hung over the bun and half the bun bites had no fish in them.
The bill came:
Fish Sandwich: $17.50
“Excuse me, but I thought the menu said the fish sandwich was fifteen dollars.”
This wasn’t a date, I should mention. If Alicja and I were on a date, I would have let it slide, of course.
“Hmm…I think that’s because you substituted the fries for the baked potato.”
“I wouldn’t have made the substitute if I had known it’d cost extra.”
“Let me see what I can do.”
I assumed the waitress was going to try to take the $2.50 off the bill.
I was wrong. She sent the manager over, and his opening line was this:
“I understand there’s a problem.”
“I wouldn’t call it a problem, I just-”
“Julie here tells me that you’re not willing to pay for your bill.”
Well that pissed me off.
“Actually, I didn’t say that. What I said was that I wouldn’t have substituted my fries for the baked potato if I had known it’d cost me extra. Julie, I guess her name is, didn’t tell me that it’d cost extra, so I don’t see why I should have to pay.”
The manager got a menu, shoved it in my face, and pointed to the line that said, “All side-order substitutions: $2.50”
“Well,” I said, “that’s fine. But I didn’t see it at the time.”
“It’s right there!”
“It’s hardly clear and conspicuous, and the truth is, I wasn’t on notice, so I-”
“It’s right in the menu! Right there for you to see!”
I was making Alecja uncomfortable, so I said, “Fine, I’ll pay it.”
IMMEDIATELY the manager said, “No, no, it’s no big deal, we’ll take care of it.”
And so I didn’t pay the $2.50.
Okay, future lawyers, who was right?