EDITORIAL: $9.67 for twenty minutes of embarrassment

Lindsay Moore

Whether it was your hang out back in high school, or the traditional Sunday breakfast stop with your grandparents, or you’re an African American secret service agent, no-doubt Denny’s has made a mark on your mind sometime in your life. Last Friday, I had my Denny’s experience—and as a direct result, I now associate the restaurant (their Green Bay, WI location, anyway) with greed, ageism, and poor service. My friend and I entered the restaurant with the expectation of friendly service and a simple yet filling meal, as one would desire of any 24-hour “family” restaurant chain. However, we suspected that this particular restaurant was not of the highest caliber when the two families that entered the building after us were helped before we were. Somehow we’d slipped through the cracks, passed over for the larger, wealthier clientele. But whatever neglect we received before our meal was certainly made up for afterward, when we were detained for supposedly “scamming” Denny’s out of a whopping $9.67.

After leaving eleven dollars on the table, we leisurely made our way to the car, after a stop by the bear claw machine, obviously in no hurry to escape. We had just put the key in the ignition when the clerk (the same who had previously ignored us) flagged us down, inquiring as to the whereabouts of said $9.67. Dumbfounded, we reaffirmed our payment. As Clerk ran inside to check, we noticed Man-In-Black entering from the side, taking down our license plate number. In no time, Clerk came back with a heavily made-up Junior Manager and informed us that no, the money was not on the table. We were ushered back inside.

For the next twenty minutes, we were badgered. Though they were back and forth between the kitchen, the garbage, and the suspicious Bus Girl, the “delightful” Denny’s staff did their best to intimidate us into repaying their bill. Outraged, my friend and I persisted to withhold the money until Junior Manager brought out a card bearing the name of the regional manager. As there was no “proof” of our innocence, we were to repay the bill anyway and call the number on the card in the morning. Supposedly, then, this vague regional manager would possibly refund our $9.67. Dissatisfied with this “arrangement,” we sent Junior Manager back for her boss. I whipped out my trusty legal insurance card, with its 24-hour attorney-access phone number, and prepared for the worst. The Manager (aka Man-In-Black) pulled the same rubbish as his subordinates until I politely asked for a phone call. After taking a look at the card, he changed his opinion and told us that we were free to go.

Perhaps it is only speculation, but had we been two distinguished, middle-aged males, there is far less of a chance that Denny’s would have sought to detain us for theft, let alone tried to intimidate us into shelling out more cash. But, as it stands, we were a couple of casually dressed college girls, and therefore looked easy enough to screw over. Whatever happened to the old adage, “the costumer is always right?” Apparently, there must be a clause restricting this courtesy from the young.