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People who grab the bill...

james Nov 13, 2006 04:44 PM

and don't leave an appropriate tip. How do you deal with someone like this? I have a friend who is always ready to grab the bill and pay for the entire thing but I know that, in such cases, he just cuts back on the tip. He looks like a big-shot, but the waiter is the one who suffers. What should I do?

  1. k
    kaycee Nov 28, 2006 07:03 PM

    I disagree with ASM305 about how Americans should be encouraged to tip more! Not long ago I was out with a group which included a native European. When the bill came, we automatically figured 20% for the tip. The European woman was dumbfounded and made a comment that she didn't understand this "tipping thing" in America. She said, "Americans tip for everything." I worked for the airlines for many years and visited many different countries. I can tell you that Americans do quite alright in the tipping department . . . there are no apologies to be made!

    1. Das Ubergeek Nov 23, 2006 07:21 AM

      If I'm going out with people I *know* are bad tippers, I put $10 (or whatever would be appropriate given the restaurant's price) under my plate or the centerpiece or whatever while everyone's reading the menu... then as we leave, I "nudge" the centerpiece so the money is mostly exposed and the server can take it. If the service really is so bad that stiffing the server is warranted (and talking to the manager, too, obviously), I can pocket the $10 easily on the way out.

      1. j
        james Nov 18, 2006 03:21 PM

        One more thing about tipping: once I had a guy who was out with a very nice woman on a first or second date, and he kept talking about the tip. "You better make sure we get good service, because I'm a big tipper." He said stuff like that, over and over. Finally I had to tell him; I said: "Sir, it's been my experience that people who *say* they're big tippers are, in fact, not so generous. So here's what we can do: I'll do my job, and I'll take good care of you, and *you* can prove me wrong by leaving a good tip. And, by the way, I'll let you know that a GOOD tip - or *big* tip, as you like to call it - is not less than 20%." His date just laughed, both at what I'd said and the expression on his face. He tried to make out that what I'd said hadn't affected him, and he kept being really chummy with me & thanking me for everything! But, at the end of it all, he left just less than 10%. She came back after they left though, slipped me some $$$, and thanked me for letting her know that she would NOT be going out with him again! :-)

        1 Reply
        1. re: james
          chowser Nov 18, 2006 05:19 PM

          That would be two reasons not to go out with him again--if a guy EVER talked about how he's a big tipper (even if he was, it wouldn't matter); and being a poor tipper.

        2. hotoynoodle Nov 17, 2006 08:48 PM

          if you know where you'll be dining, call ahead and give the maitre d' your credit card number and be adamant you will be paying the bill. if you don't know the destination in advance, discreetly give your credit card to the server or manager when you arrive.

          trust me, it's extremely awkward for your server when people tussle over the bill. this commando tactic saves everybody alot of embarrassment.

          3 Replies
          1. re: hotoynoodle
            james Nov 17, 2006 09:00 PM

            Funny story about that (people fighting over who gets to pay in front of the server), once I had some people arguing about who would pay the bill & I settled it by saying to one gentleman: "Well, who's the best tipper?" They both looked surprised at being asked that question...and then he gave the bill to his friend! LOL! It doesn't matter how nice people are or how good of a time I have with them...at the end of the day, I'm there for the $$$! Isn't that why most of us go to work?

            1. re: james
              Wanda Fuca Nov 18, 2006 04:46 AM

              Once the better tipper was discerned, you should have designated bad tipper to pay the tab and good tipper to tip.

              Live and learn.

              1. re: Wanda Fuca
                james Nov 18, 2006 03:14 PM

                It actually worked out well for me...although it could have turned ugly. Sometimes my mouth works faster than my brain can process the info! In this case the good tipper was glad to pay the bill, and he left me HUGE money, just to prove his point. They had a bid discussion about tipping after-the-fact, and it was quite interesting to hear.

                Personally, that was a one-off. I rarely ever talk about tips with customers. I just do my job well and hope for the best. Sometimes people are frugal, but for the most part I think customers appreciate the service that I give to them. (Fingers crossed!)

          2. h
            Happygirl Nov 16, 2006 04:29 PM

            The closest I ever got to working in a restaurant was working the register (McDonald's and Sizzler as a kid. lol!) I always wanted to learn how to drop the fries and man the grill. At Sizzler, I wanted to be a waitress. But no, upper mangement in both cases thought that my skill set was more appropriately used as a cashier. I had forgotten about Sizzler! That's funny.

            1. j
              james Nov 16, 2006 04:11 AM

              Glad to know that there are so many GOOD people out there! I've been in the business for a long time, and I've seen so many of the "let me pick up the bill" types that it makes me wonder sometimes. I know that some people are just out to save a few bucks & don't care about the people who are just trying to make a living...but it's nice to know that there are many others who have a good heart and a conscience to guide them through life!

              1 Reply
              1. re: james
                ricepad Nov 16, 2006 02:57 PM

                I would bet that most of the "good people" used to work on the other side of the table/counter/bar....some still do.

              2. h
                Happygirl Nov 15, 2006 03:38 PM

                My husband and I went out a couple of times with a chef friend. He seemed like a great guy. He was great with us but HORRIBLE to the staff at both restaurants we visited. He would ask questions that he knew the waitstaff shoudn't be able to answer and then get annoyed with them when they couldn't and bark at them during the whole meal. He would complain about everything. Anyway, both times we went out we went to upscale restaurants - $$$$. On one venture out, he flipped the script. He didn't say he would get the bill. This dude says, "I'll get the tip. You guys have children...I'm happy we could get out together...blah blah blah." We leave the restaurant and walk about a block and the next thing I know I hear someone yelling from behind, "Excuse me! Excuse me!" I trun around and it's the floor manager from the spot we just left. He's huffing and puffing and asking us what was the problem with the dinner. I said it was fine as did my husband. Meanwhile our chef friend is standing there holding our daughter while his lips glued together. So, the floor manager asks, then was there another reason why we didn't leave our waitress a tip. OMG!! It gets worse, if that's possible. My husbands, "Uh, I don't know." looking directly at chef friend who then lashes out at the floor manager telling him how the service sucked. He pulls my daughter close to his cheek and says, "How dare you try to scald this child!! You sent her pasta that we had to cool at the table with our own iced water. You bunch of incompetent idiots! Would you rather a law suit citing negligence had you given her third degree burns. How could anyone be so stupid as to send scalding hot pasta to a baby!!" Okay, i paraphrased some of it, but you get the gist. I was mortified. No, we didn't go back and leave a tip after finding out. We were just too stunned - and newly concerned with how to get our child out of the hands of a multiple-personalitied mad man!

                4 Replies
                1. re: Happygirl
                  Hunicsz Nov 15, 2006 08:03 PM

                  Whoa. That's a crazy story. Was there, indeed, a temperature issue with your kid's food, or was that just part of the ploy of getting out of leaving a tip?

                  1. re: Hunicsz
                    Happygirl Nov 15, 2006 09:29 PM

                    Yes and yes. The pasta was too hot for a small child, but to be fair, we didn't ask for a "pasta temperature" and who knows if the server was used to serving children or even eating with children in tow. This restaurant certainly was not one where hoards of children frequent. We did remark that the pasta was a bit too hot for a child. Other than the lack of foresight with the pasta, the server did an otherwise fine job. I can see making a deduction, but stiffing? I mean he did say that he was going to get the tip. He knew he wasn't going to pay the tip when he said that he would get it.

                  2. re: Happygirl
                    ricepad Nov 15, 2006 10:22 PM

                    Do you still consider him a friend? If so, do you still go out to eat with him?

                    1. re: ricepad
                      Happygirl Nov 15, 2006 11:42 PM

                      Actually I haven't seen him in many many years. I'm not sure if my husband has spoken to him recently or not. Like I said he was really nice to us. He was a great chef - really knew his stuff, so I guess he did have high expectations when going out to eat. That was the only occassion I know of his ever stiffing anyone. But like I said, in my experience, he was really a bit too hard on restaurant workers. I felt truly sorry for a couple of them. It can't be easy being a server.

                  3. a
                    andlulu Nov 15, 2006 03:09 PM

                    If I am going out w/ people that I KNOW this is what they are going to do I simply pick up the phone and give the restaurant my CC# and tell them to tip a certain percentage automatically and not bring any bill to the table.

                    This way my company does not even see the bill, so..no issue.

                    1. l
                      Linda VH Nov 15, 2006 10:07 AM

                      My Father used to undertip. My Mother would give me money and tell me to go back to the table and leave what she pressed into my hand (I was a kid). My Father said I really had to learn to go to the bathroom a little earlier so he wouldn't have to wait for me in the car lol!!! I never asked her why she didn't say something to him but it worked for her so.... Otherwise, he was a great guy!

                      1. c
                        chef4hire Nov 14, 2006 10:54 PM

                        I have inlaws that are the WORST - not just at dinner but everything- I have reports from my wedding that they stiffed the cab driver to the airport, the skycap at the airport, the bellman at our hotel, the bartender at our hotel bar and the roomservice staff-all on the same day- I know this because my other sister in law was with them and took care of everyone...some people have no clue

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: chef4hire
                          Wanda Fuca Nov 14, 2006 11:53 PM

                          They are not the WORST! You have not met MY Father-In-Law. He is your in-law, plus, he used to bring all of his wife's family to our restaurant, get his bill comped by us and leave NO TIP because ... "there was no money paid and 10% before tax on nothing is nothing."

                          I caught the tip the first time when our poor server was in tears, but you can bet your little booty after that conversation of 10% of nothing... that my husband gave him the bill and wrote at the bottom what he would be expecting pops to lay out for whoever had the misfortune of dealing with him and his.

                          And... I am with the "I'll get the tip" crowd. If they balk, tell them they are so overly generous and your getting the tip is the very least you could do. Oy.

                          1. re: Wanda Fuca
                            Michele4466 Nov 15, 2006 01:21 PM

                            Did your husband also explain that 10% is not an adequate tip, especially if the meal is comped! :-)

                            1. re: Michele4466
                              Wanda Fuca Nov 18, 2006 04:31 AM

                              If it were ONLY that easy. You can explain something to someone, but if they are close-minded, nothing will get through. M (my husband) told his dad that our folks worked their butts off and that even though he insisted 10% was fair, that since his meal was comp'ed and this was his son's place he would be tipping 20%.

                              An aside... that group was horrifying to our staff. Picky, demanding and self entitled. An extra bottle of wine was always popped at the end of the eve and we always topped tips for servers saddled with out of town family. An unenviable task to wait on those that think they are king.

                              1. re: Wanda Fuca
                                Michele4466 Nov 18, 2006 11:45 AM

                                "If it were ONLY that easy. You can explain something to someone, but if they are close-minded, nothing will get through."

                                I am in full agreement. In the case of my dad and his wife, I think it is something of an old world mentality - either way, frustrating.

                                So... as I said, my husband always makes sure to have cash at hand for padding the tip and in general, we are extremely nice and respectful to everyone who is serving us and we all have fun, including the servers. Even the night of my husband's birthday, the waitress was a doll (and laughed alot - you couldn't not), a harried one but a doll! And she sought us out to thank us as we were leaving.

                            2. re: Wanda Fuca
                              Jeanne Nov 16, 2006 07:19 PM

                              I can just about match that. A friend and I were out to dinner one night - we see one of our state politicians out for a dinner with his staff. The restaurant compted his meal. His waitress was also our waitress. She was about in tears when she told us that Mr. ______ politician had had his meal compted but had left NO TIP.

                              This man is now President of one of our leading state universities.

                          2. Michele4466 Nov 14, 2006 05:29 PM

                            My husband is always leaving extra cash at the end of a meal where he knows there are poor tippers. Had dinner last weekend with my nutty family. It was my husband's birthday and of course, we had to do separate checks. We never do unless we are forced to by dining companions. (Did I mention it was my husband's birthday LOL)

                            My husband and I are of the school, order whatever you want, leave what you leave - have fun and don't worry!

                            Well, after a crazy dinner (hubby drank three margaritas to get through it - pregnant me was designated driver), my husband tipped BIG on our tab and then left a very nice cash tip in the folder on the table to insure the harried, but super cool, server got a nice tip. He always does this without hesitation when it is warranted.

                            I do not think he does the James Bond thing and hides and waits... he may dawdle a bit but does not make it a big thing. If someone sees him, he can just say "just wanted to throw her something extra, she was a great server and we were a rough bunch". If it makes someone else think without insulting anyone, all the better.

                            1. jfood Nov 14, 2006 02:46 AM

                              There are several ways of getting a deserved tip when Mr. Big Cheapo does the right-wrong thing. Starting with "let me leave the tip", all the way up to saying good byes in the parking lot when you can go back to "use the rest room" to leave more money.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: jfood
                                james Nov 14, 2006 06:01 AM

                                That's nice, and I'm glad that many are conscientious enough to do this, but why is it necessary? Surely these people know better? They just do it because they think they aren't going to get caught. Or, there are those of us who know what they're doing, and choose to sneak back in and leave some cash for the server rather than confront the payer of the bill. Is this better? (Better for the server - who's worked so hard for that $$$!) Perhaps. No one likes confrontation, except for my mother...more on that later.

                                Do what you can! And make sure that good service is noticed!

                              2. r
                                ricepad Nov 13, 2006 06:38 PM

                                In the OP, it sounds as if your friend only stiffs the waiter only when he's treating others - it's the "in such cases" that makes it sound like it's a different practice than what he normally would otherwise do. Is he an otherwise decent tipper?

                                I guess my question is whether he simply shows off at the server's expense, or is he a poor tipper all the time, and the issue is that when he's with others it reflects poorly on the whole group?

                                I don't see anything wrong with JfromR's approach, nor Morton's.

                                There's a special circle of hell for those who make a show of paying AND tipping big, then leave the table last so they can reclaim some (or all) of the tip. People like that get remembered by waitstaff...but that's probably a topic for another day!

                                1. m
                                  Missmoo Nov 13, 2006 05:01 PM

                                  And you don't know how much that is appreciated! I have had people give me supplementary cash several times and it makes my night.

                                  8 Replies
                                  1. re: Missmoo
                                    abowes Nov 13, 2006 06:30 PM

                                    Missmoo, this seems like an opportunity to ask my own, related, "burning" question... I've organized meals with large groups and separate checks. I've taken to hanging back and asking my waiter/waitress if they'd received an appropriate tip. They've always said "oh yes" or something of the like, and thanked me for checking. Would they really tell me if they'd been (or felt) short-changed or stiffed?


                                    1. re: abowes
                                      Missmoo Nov 14, 2006 05:34 PM

                                      No, because there's no polite way to say that without it becoming awkward and/or petty. If you want to know, you might try collecting all the bills (to make sure all the slips are there you know) and then handing a bit more to the waitress. Or just hand the server an extra bill, if you want to.

                                      1. re: Missmoo
                                        abowes Nov 14, 2006 08:56 PM

                                        Phooey, I knew it!!!
                                        See, with separate checks, I don't really know what the bill was, nor what people chose to tip. I'll have to figure out some other way to handle it. (I'm actually always amazed when a restaurant will let a group of 15-20 get separate checks! It's much easier for us, but oh, what a pain it must be for them.)

                                      2. re: abowes
                                        merrymc Nov 15, 2006 03:50 PM

                                        Actually, a friend of mine once took me out to dinner to celebrate a job change. He gave the waitress less than 10% (I had no idea he did that, as I was being treated) and she ran out after us as we were leaving and asked if everything was OK, since he left her very little tip. He sort of looked at her and she started saying "It's just...I don't get paid much...and I thought I did a good job" and looked about to cry (she looked pretty young), and I pulled out $20 (more than the whole tip should have been) and walked off, leaving him and her. The worst part is he blamed me for not checking the tip (on the bill I wasn't supposed to touch). Needless to say, not my friend much longer.

                                        So there you have a tipping horror story...all to illustrate that yes, the waiter will sometimes ask when there's a very bad tip left. At least one will. You don't want to be in that situation of being chased down. I'd advise checking if you're unsure.

                                        1. re: merrymc
                                          Wanda Fuca Nov 18, 2006 04:25 AM

                                          That server should have been fired. Period.

                                          1. re: Wanda Fuca
                                            mshpook Nov 18, 2006 02:32 PM

                                            Wow. That seems really harsh. Since most folks seem to make a point of saying how they use the tip to communicate either their pleasure or displeasure with the service, i.e. less than 10% would probably indicate you thought the service was pretty bad, it doesn't surprise me that someone who thought they "did a good job" would want to find out why the recipient obviously did not think the same. I am not saying running out after the customer was correct, but I certainly disagree that the server should have been fired.

                                            1. re: Wanda Fuca
                                              JMF Nov 21, 2006 02:50 PM

                                              The server should have been fired because they asked if they had done a poor job and wanted feedback? From the OP's description she sounded like she was very upset that she may have done something wrong, not saying they were cheap tippers.

                                              1. re: JMF
                                                Covert Ops Nov 28, 2006 07:20 PM

                                                The server should have been fired because she followed the customers out after they had left and questioned their tipping decision.

                                                Maybe 1 time out of 10 it was an honest mistake or an addition error. But pretty much everyone leave the tip they intend to. If you argue with someone, do you think that by embarrassing them it will incline them to give you more money?

                                                There are peopel who are poor tippers. There are also people who are extravagant tippers. The two should balance out -- if not, then the server needs to find another job. But embarassing the customer is never OK. I've never worked in resto mgmt, but if I did and I saw that, I would fire her on the spot, too. It's just in poor taste.

                                      3. Morton the Mousse Nov 13, 2006 04:56 PM

                                        Janet's rec usually works, but sometimes people insist on covering the whole bill, and they may take offense at an offer to tip. In those cases, this is what I do:

                                        Bring cash, ideally in a range of denominations. As your party is heading out the door, excuse yourself and head to the bathroom. Wait a couple of minutes, watching your server to see when (s)he has a free moment. On your way out, thank him/her (so that if your friends happen to be watching you it just looks like you are being polite) and slip him/her however much money you think is appropriate. I've done this multiple times without any problems.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Morton the Mousse
                                          Janet from Richmond Nov 13, 2006 05:02 PM

                                          Good plan "B" Morton.

                                        2. m
                                          mark Nov 13, 2006 04:52 PM

                                          i have this issue with certain family members. if i know in advance that we'll be eating out, i just make sure i have cash and contrive to leave the table last so that i can leave/supplement the tip without being seen.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: mark
                                            yayadave Nov 13, 2006 04:56 PM

                                            Forget "not being seen"!! (I cleaned that up) Janet from Richmont is right on target.

                                          2. j
                                            Janet from Richmond Nov 13, 2006 04:47 PM

                                            Leave the tip yourself. Just say "I'll get the tip."

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Janet from Richmond
                                              Davwud Nov 14, 2006 01:40 AM

                                              Yes, end of story.


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