Blanketing opinions that I'll probably regret soon.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Your 20% Tip is for Service *AND* Experience. Don't You Forget It.

Real Situation #1: You're at a restaurant, receiving perfectly fine service from the wait staff, when you bite into something very hard in your sandwich. You fish around in your mouth and discover a shard of glass. You put the shard on a coaster and ask for management. You're not injured, and would be happy with a free meal, but the manager refuses, saying that you must pay full price.

Real Situation #2: You're at a restaurant, receiving perfectly fine service from the wait staff, but your jaw aches from how tough the steak is. You mention it to the wait staff, they take it back, but the owner comes out and berates you for 15 minutes for insulting his establishment.

Let's say you left 20% in both situations. Wouldn't you feel emasculated? What recourse would you have, other than not going back and telling all your friends not to go? In extreme cases, the damage must go deeper, my restaurant-going friend. Leave a dog turd of a tip, or none at all, and you'll not only make the waiter hate his job and want to quit---therefore doing financial damage to the restaurant in the long run---but what's more, you'll feel vindicated.

But strangely, there are a number of people who would tip in the above situations. They're the same folks who force you and your friends to give some jerk-off rude waiter a 20% tip on a meal that came an hour late, just because it's hard to be a waiter (picture me, sarcastically making a miniature violin with my thumb and forefinger). Those friends must be man-handled and stopped.

The customer has the right to good service and a good experience while eating out. No duh. You should leave a shitty tip or zero tip for two reasons: 1) to teach a crappy waiter to get better or quit, or; 2) to force a crappy restaurant to go out of business because the wait staff keeps leaving. That might sound harsh, but think of it as tough love.

(Disclaimer: I tip 20% in 99% of the times I dine out. And yes, I've waited tables before, so don't even try that line.)
At Don Pablos this weekend I tipped the guy 8%. At the top of the check I wrote:

"Quite possibly the shitiest service. Ever."

He's got my credit card number. I hope he doesn't steal everything.
Sorry to hear about those situations.

Folks will also leave a tip despite bad service just to avoid any further stress with a restaurant and never go back.

I just posted some info on the options for complaining in a restaurant. If you're interested, click here.

Happy eating.
For the eating-out public, it feels insulting to have to pay 20% extra in those rare situations that I mentioned. Thanks for your suggestions, but I stand by what I said about not tipping in those 1% of cases where you feel insulted. Otherwise, most people well deserve 20% ... or more.
I'm so ashamed. I'm one of those douches who almost always leaves a 20 percent tip. Then again, I probably have more patience with waiters and restaurants than the typical diner... so I don't really remember ever being put off or pissed off by bad service.
Being new to the parent world, I've come to realize how attentive, experienced a waiter is when you have a kid. I've been served by great waiters in the past, but attending to diners with children is an art in itself.

It can really make or break a rare night out.

Just tonight I tipped over 20 percent for the first time in my life because the guy earned every penny dealing with us and an increasingly impatient 1 year old.
Its not an extra 20%. It's 20%, the cost of having someone serve you food and drinks. Tips are optional, but NOT extra. You're not hurting the establishment. You're stiffing a working stiff.

If the establishment berates you for a well done steak then they probably don't give a fuck about their servers either.

Here's the rule: Tip less when service is less not when (a) the manager is an idiot (the server did his job by getting the manager, right?) and (b) the kitchen can't cook a steak.

If you want to punish the establishment then don't go back.
"If the establishment berates you for a well done steak then they probably don't give a fuck about their servers either." - Then the server should quit, and my zero percent tip will speed up that process. If you think about it, I'm actually doing the server a favor.

But you know me, IW, I tip 20% every time you've been around me. But I wouldn't if something egregious happened, I assure you. And if I was a server, I wouldn't expect it. I didn't when I waited tables, and I don't now.

And let me clarify: I'm not talking about common occurances. I'm talking about extreme cases like the two situations I listed. In those rare cases, I'd feel personally insulted to have to be obligated to put any "optional" money down for such ineptitude. It's like tipping the crewmember who hands you the life jacket on a sinking ship.
I tip more now that I have kids and realize what a huge mess we make everytime we dine out. However, when service is bad the tip goes down. And I think a shard of glass in the food is grounds for immediate comp.
I agree with you that you should leave what the waiter deserved in tip, but I can tell you, since I also have a good amount of waiter experience under my belt, that if a bad waiter gets a bad tip, he will never think its because he gave bad service, he will only be offended. So if you want to really tell the guy that he needs to improve his skills, do what Mister Jinxy did and write a note.
If I get really good service, I make it a point to tell the waiter what a good job he did.

Often times I'll talk to a manager and tell them that an employee is doing the kind of job I'd like to see all waiters do.

If I see a good waiter getting shit from a customer, I'll catch that person before they leave and tell them not to worry about what some asshole is saying and that they're doing a good job.

Almost everyone I've ever done this to has highly appreciated it. I'd like to think someone would do the same for me if they liked the job I was doing. I know how hard it is and what a pain in the ass it is to deal with people.

However, if a food service employee is doing a shitty job, I don't get up on my high horse and tell the manager. I leave a sub-10% tip with a note designed to get their attention. Then I walk away.

I keep waiting for the day when someone will follow me out into the parking lot to complain, but sadly that hasn't happened yet.

That would be fun.
As a veteran waitress (14 years baby!) I have to say I'm shocked. I can't believe situation #1 didn't get you a free meal AND a gift certificate to come back. That's happened several times where I've slung hash. You would do better to tell us what restaurant it was!!

But situation #1 has nothing to do with the waiter's tip unless he/she didn't bring it to Mgt's attention. Situation #2 does, because the waiter probably presented it wrong, i.e. "this butthead is complaining" not "wow, the steak is tough tonight, can you go talk to him?"

Unfortunately, most restaurants are eeking by, and the managers just don't care. But give them some piss poor word of mouth - that will get you somewhere! Start talking!
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Dear Rush Limbaugh:

There's a huge difference between leaving a low tip for poor service or inappropriate behavior and a low tip for a management or establishment issue. I know it's somewhat old school mentality that a bad tip will somehow make its way back to the kitchen or to the management via worker attrition but come on - is that really going to happen? More likely the server will come away saying "what a cheap bastard" than "damn maybe i should let the establishment know that i don't approve of their lackluster kitchen / complaint response / steak tenderness" by leaving. It's not that easy to find a new job!

In the case that it really is poor service, sure, leave a lower tip. But personally, I like to give a server the chance to resolve the issue before I start cutting back his salary - beause face it that's exactly what your'e doing when you stiff him a tip.

The appropriate way to deal with an issue is by first giving the wait staff a chance to resolve this, then by escalating to a manager, then if still unsatisfied, get in touch with the owner. Make it known that you don't like the service and won't be back. Then don't go back.

Problem solved, AND you won't have to take it out on some server who was probably counting on a decent night in tips to go out and get his own drink on.


Red Storm

PS. Do you have any extra meds?
"At any given moment there is an orthodoxy, a body of ideas which it is assumed all right-thinking people will accept without question. It is not exactly forbidden to state this or that or the other, but it is 'not done'... Anyone who challenges the prevailing orthodoxy finds himself silenced with surprising effectiveness. A genuinely unfashionable opinion is almost never given a fair hearing, either in the popular press or in the highbrow periodicals." --- George Orwell
If the wait staf did a good job tip them well. If the owners or management of the restaurant don't deserve to be in business then write about them in your blog and name the restaurant.
I'm down with this one. I used to wait tables at a certain restaurant and I always understood when someone had a shitty experience with my shitty management and it reflected in a shitty tip.

And I did exactly what LB said this theoretical waiter would do. I fucking left, because I did a better job serving tables than the management did running the place.
Thank you, AUA, thank you. Point goes to reality (and George Orwell).
You're quoting Orwell when someone disagrees with you. Are you serious?

We're accountable for our actions at all times. Punishing person A in order to harm person B, is an odd way to feel vindicated.

I have to go with isacc about the optional/extra concept. When you tip, it isn't a gift to a begger. It's payment. If you don't get the service then don't make the payment. If you get the service then make the payment. Other things shouldn't factor in.
A tip is not something that should be expected - it should be earned. Earn your tips!

You treat me like a piece of crap - I won't tip you and I won't come back. Treat me (and my 20 month old kid that makes a real mess) like a king and you'll get more than 20% and I'll be back.

Serve me food with a piece of glass in it and you don't get a tip - you get a lawsuit.
Dude...I think you might be my long lost brother. I just came across your blog...I can't find anything I don't agree with. FUCKING 'EH
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