Lebanon is already an expensive place to eat out, so the routine habit of short-changing customers only adds insult to injury.
Lebanese business somehow find it completely acceptable to not provide accurate change, which makes you wonder how anyone can run a company if they can’t do simple math or respect their customers. 
This happened me yesterday at the Souks of Beirut at the upscale eatery Casper and Gambini. My bill for a salad and a water came out to whopping 26,5000LL but the waiter only returned 3000LL when I handed him 30,000LL, basically pocketing my 500LL (about 33 cents). 
This is the second time this has happened to me at the multimillion dollar Souks mall–last time was at another upscale place called The Met.
In fact the Souks only provides upscale eating, which is ironic considering that their wifi is as slow as Burkina Faso, the world’s slowest connection.
But at least some Lebanese companies are changing their habits. When I posted about being short-changed multiple times at popular fast food chain Zaatar W Zeit, the management actually wrote me back and profusely apologized. And I’m happy to report I’ve never been short-changed at Zataar W Zeit again. 
Finally, when did Capser and Gambini get so expensive? These prices are almost double what I used to pay when I used to order from them five years ago

UPDATE: Casper has apologized for the short-changing and assures me it won’t happen again.

  1. Casper is one of those places that I’m boycotting because of their prices. I refuse to be made a fool of. 26000 for a salad is crazy for a place that’s not in a 5 star hotel!

  2. Roadster on Hamra once charged my credit card $1,500.00 for a $15.00 tab. Unlike many people, I always keep my receipts, so immediately noticed the error. When I complained to the manager, he looked at me as if I was making a big deal out of a minor mistake. He had no sense of how massive a failure or large of a theft one of his employees was making and felt no need to apologize or make restitution beyond a simple sorry stated more to make me go away than in actual apology.

  3. Lebanese retail mentality is shocking sometimes, and unlike almost every other country where the higher up the scale you go the more friendly and better the service become, in Lebanon it seems that the best service and smiles come at your local cheap falafel joint.

    That short change thing though, always gets me whenever I’m in Lebanon. It exemplifies everything that is wrong with our country. But you know what, I don’t blame the retailers for doing this, I blame the customers who are so happy to be ripped off in plain daylight like that.

    Thankfully we have blogs like yours raising the bar and actually getting some results. The problem in Lebanon is that there are SO much snobishness that people who go to places like C&Gs are SO willing to be ripped off just so they can be “seen”. Same as the ridiculous prices most Lebanese plages charge for example. Or the fact that a small bottle of water costs 5000 in the duty free at our international airport.

    People make peanuts in our country yet our retailers act as if we are this international hub for luxury trade, a monte carlo of sorts. That is fine, it is okay for us to target that market, but let us leverage it for the greater good. Not everywhere is going to be a luxury outlet that can charge 20000 for a “gourmet” burger that you could’ve just done at home… We need a radical change.

  4. That’s what we do in the US. I worked as a server and bartender for 6 years in the States, and we never gave change (coins) back. But some customers would ask for exact change back and we’d have to go digging for them!

  5. What an incredible story Charles. Hope you saved the receipt! Would make a great post. The arrogance you and Kay Man describe is everywhere. It’s a strange syndrome when underpaid employees become as snobby as the patrons. And it’s hard to understand why every new “entrepreneur” wants to start a business no one can afford. Even then, you rarely get what you pay for, as Sareen noted.

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