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Strange Experience at the RussianTea Room: Chowhounders Opinions Needed

Had lunch at the Russian Tea Room Today with GF. Review to follow. Alot has been said of the unevenness of service.However, we had a nice, pleasant waiter was a bit nervous and andward, but otherwise efficient a and affable. Here is where something quite unexpected and strange happened. When presented with the check I paid with my CC and as is my custom left the gratuity in cash. The waiter took the bill and thanked me profusely. He returned 5 minutes later and told me the manager is not accepting the gratuity as this was his first day and he is in training. Somewhat stunned, I insisted he take it to no avail. Upon leaving however, the manager asked me if everything was ok as i am not tipping. Being totally confused by now,I said fine, and explained to him I was told previously the tip was being declined as my waiter was in training. At this point I felt angry feeling I was maybe being manipulated at such a high level restaurant [was the maitre de expecting i should be offering it to him ?].. I told the him THEIR initial decision was now final and in the future come to an agreement before presenting a customer with this issue. I felt this was tacky and low class and ruined a very enjoyable dining exprience. My question is: 1-Did i do the right thing by not tipping ?
2- What are your opinions of what happened.

I would appreciate any feedback.

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  1. I would say that you are in the right. According to some, I usually overtip. But I will say that when I am impatient when the staff makes tipping difficult.

    I might have offered to give a tip but questioned the manager as to whether the tip was going to the server I had or whether it was going in the manager's pocket. Perhaps that's where the confusion started. Server might have been told that he can't take a tip on a table he handled but he misinterpreted it to mean that they couldn't accept a tip from the table period. Either way, they made it difficult for you, I would say that it's okay that you didn't tip.

    1. Thx magfitz.
      I agree with you.
      I was not going to get into politics at such supposed high end places.

      1. Totally bizarre and it strikes me as possibly illegal. Especially since waitstaff is often paid under minimum wage due to the presumption of tip income. But I don't know NY labor law.

        The only problem in leaving no tip is that in many restaurants the tip is shared among the waiter, the runners, the bus boys, etc. Just because the waiter can't take it, doesn't mean others weren't serving you as well.

        But given the circumstances I think you behaved reasonably with such an odd situation.

        1. Thx ks in la:
          Thats a very good point too.
          I felt very awkward as it also occured to me during this episode as if maybe the management were testing the waiter to see if he would eventually accept.
          I am going to write a letter to the owner tomorrow regarding what I felt to be a very disturbing and disconcerting experience.

          1 Reply
          1. re: DoctortedNYC

            Writing a letter is definitely a good idea! I hope you get a reasonable response or it provokes some thought on management's part.

          2. That is bizarre. I would have probably lost my temper and told the manager where to go and what to do with himself once he got there. I would not have left a tip [and I'm another "overtipper" for the most part]. Good for you keeping your cool.