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I didn't know the cruise was free.

December 8th, 2006 at 06:25 pm

Also, this can be subtitled "or how I got tipjacked." Trust me, that does make sense, you just need to hear the whole story.

Last night, in the near hurricane winds of a cold front moving through (think 30 mph winds with below freezing temps), I went on a dinner cruise where I had won a cruise for two. The paperwork said "taxes and gratuities are not included", so its not like I wasn't prepared, but.... At the end of the meal I get the bill, and I give the man the certificate. He comes back a few minutes later with the bill, and very, very pointedly describes how I need to write down the gratuity for the bill, and the amounts have been calculated "for your convenience", and he would return. Well on the left are the what I thought were "recommended" tip rates, all calculated very nicely. When I am given recommended tips I am not a happy camper. If I want to be told what to do I can go back to living with my mommy, thank you very much.

The rates were 15%, 20%, and 24%. The calculated tip amounts are there as well, and they are based on the whole charge for the cruise and dinner ($80/person). Hmmmm, when you use percentages, isn't tipping supposed to be based on the charge for the dinner, not the trip? You mean the cruise was free??? (yeah, right) Anyhow, I am there with a bit of a quandary. I felt that basing the tip on the tax and overage ($15 total) wouldn't be right, but those amounts were exorbitant. While the service was nice, I get better service when I do my mystery shopping at restaurants. And that type of meal I could normally get for around $40 maximum, probably less. I talked with my date and she agreed what they are expecting is too much and so I put an in between amount for the tip, based on the realistic $40/meal amount.

Shortly after the guy takes the credit card, he returns very "concerned" that I didn't understand how to tip. He explained how the tip should be against the whole expense, not just a lower amount. He keeps this up and says something about not being able to put it into the computer that way. I ask him if he is saying that the computer won't accept a non-standard tip. Instead of answering he starts in again to explain how the tips are calculated on the standard charge for the cruise. Here I am, I have a Bachelor's in Mathematics, a Master's in Computer Science, and I'm having to listen to this drivel on how to calculate percentages. I was so tempted to explain to him I was willing to go and reprogram his computer so he would never have to enter tips into his system again if it would help him.

While I think my date would have liked for me to tell him that, I decided valor was the best part of getting the h*** off the boat, and just circled the 15%.

I hate to come across as someone that wants to find something to complain about. The trip was nice, the food was good, and they sure kept the boat warm. My date agreed that it was nice, but there was no way she would spend the amount they expect people to pay for that trip. And she was more than happy to leave as soon as possible after their poor performance. While its not likely, if I ever win this from them again, it goes onto craigslist for sale. Once was enough.

As a postscript, we had a fair amount in common, talked the whole time and really did enjoy it. She said she would be happy to go with me when I do my next mystery shop assignment. While I don't see us ever getting into any serious relationship, it is nice to have someone you can talk with and relate with in a casual setting.

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