Restaurants and Debit Cards

Maybe someone with experience or knowledge of the restaurant industry can help me understand a minor point on how debit cards are handled.

This arises from a situation on New Year’s Eve.  My wife and I went out to a restaurant to eat.  We’ve been there a time or two in the past, but not for a long time.

The meal was wonderful, and as we usually do when we eat out, we paid using my debit card.  As is also usual, I signed for the tip to be added on.

What I’ve noticed happens at most restaurants when I do this is that for the first day or two, the transaction shows up in my register as a pre-authorization and is usually for only the amount of the check.  This makes sense as I’m guessing that the restaurant swipes the card before bringing it back to the table where tip can be handled.  Typically, when the transaction clears after a day or two and appears as a Posted Transaction, the full amount including tip shows up.

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An Awesome Change By Restaurant.Com

We’ve used Restaurant.com for years.  The way it works is that you buy a coupon that gives you a dollar amount off the meal, and the price you pay for the coupon is way less than the face value.  Typically, you can get a $25 certificate for $10 or a $10 certificate for $4.  Towards the end of the month, they’ll often run 70% or 80% off specials (all you have to do is enter the promo code that they distribute to their e-mail members) so you can get them much cheaper.

We’ve run into very few problems over the years.  One time we had a restaurant refuse to honor the certificate, saying that they had opted out of the program but that Restaurant.com had not removed them from the site, but they later sent us a gift card as an apology.

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The Great Ranch Dressing Conspiracy

I love ranch dressing.  When I have a side salad, it’s automatically ranch dressing for me.

Your house dressing is great today?  No thanks.  Got an out of this world balsamic vinaigrette?  Good to hear, now please pass the ranch.

mb-201003dressingThe good thing about my love of ranch dressing is that I don’t use a lot.  I always ask for my dressing on the side, and I usually only use a couple of tablespoons worth, and it’s always much less than what the restaurants would normally add to a salad.

Still, there’s one mystery that often leaves me totally puzzled, and that is “Why does the ranch dressing taste so much better at restaurants?”

It does!  I’m not lying.

At first, I thought, it’s because I used light ranch dressing at home.  We generally try to eat with reduced fat varieties of things that are normally rich in fat.  In most cases, we adapt and feel better that we’re avoiding some of the negative.

So, I thought that must be it, and opened up a bottle of regular dressing.

Better?  Yes.  Good as a restaurant?  Not even close.

It never fails.  I go to a restaurant, eat a salad, and marvel at the ranch.  I eat one at home and I’m left wishing that I could get my hands on whatever it is that restaurants are serving.  They must have some secret stash of dressing that they’re working from that is not allowed to make it’s way into any home.

Maybe the secret ranch is the foundation of the entire restaurant industry.  Without the great ranch, sales would plummet and restaurants far and wide would close down.

It’s got to be some conspiracy, right/

Or is it just as simple as maybe things just taste better at a restaurant?  I don’t know, but while you’re coming up with your answer….

Could you please pass the ranch?