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Mar 12, 2007 11:34 AM

When you leave a small tip...


Do you wonder if the waitstaff will remember you the next time you come in? My husband and I pretty much always tip 20% and hardly ever have service that we consider bad. We went to breakfast this weekend at a place we'd never been before, it's pretty casual, our bill was $24.00. My husgand had coffee and I only had water to drink and the waitress never refilled my glass despite coming by twice and saying she'd get me more water. My husband finally took our glasses to the area that had the water pitchers and refilled them. I was planning on leaving 15% but my husdand left 10%. The food was really good so I'm sure we'll be back, but I wonder if she'll remember us as the people that left the poor tip. So if you leave a small tip and don't talk to a manager about the service, do you wonder if you'll be remembered the next time you go to that restaurant?

  1. Hello.. Can you clarify: are you saying that the non-refills on your water were the determining factor in your (initial) inclination to subtract 5% and your husband's (eventual) decision to subtract 10% of the tip? If so, that seems unduly harsh; that would mean that you each left approximately $1.20 tip on your respective breakfasts, at a place where you actually enjoyed the food... And to answer your question, yes, I would guess that waitstaff (who need excellent memories to familiarize themselves with menus, orders, prices, etc) remember undue parsimony in their customers....

    15 Replies
    1. re: silence9

      Hang on a sec...a tip should reflect your satisfaction with the SERVICE, not the food.

      1. re: ricepad

        Hi... Quite right. But service (good or bad) most assuredly has great impact and effect on my enjoyment of the food, does it not? A waitperson who lets my piping hot lobster bisque sit to grow a surface 'skin' and grow tepid or cold on the service counter, eventually brings to my table a soup that I do not enjoy. How does one distinguish a 'fallen' souffle as being the fault of the chef vs. an inattentive or indelicate waitperson who manhandles my fragile dessert between oven and table? My dessert is ruined; to whom should the blame be parcelled or parsed, and how should I as the customer/consumer know how to go about assigning it? I just wanted hot soup or a fluffy souffle...

        1. re: silence9

          For the record - bisque is cream-based & should never be served "piping hot".

          1. re: finewineserver

            For the record - bisque is a soup, classically shellfish, thickened with rice. And all soups should be served piping hot, regardless of their dairy content, unless the chef is a hack!

              1. re: Cheffytown

                I don't like anything served to me piping hot. Then I'm just waiting for it to cool down so I can actually taste it.

                1. re: therealbigtasty

                  yes, but obviously you can wait for it to reach your temp, while
                  somebody who gets it cooler than they want, cant do much ...
                  or would have to make a major fuss. so it seems pretty clear
                  on they should err on the piping side.

                  same for salt and spice, although spice is a little harder call.

            1. re: silence9

              Most restaurants have runners that bring the food from the kitchen. You cannot blame a server for those types of issues. If you feel you are waiting too long for something, flag your server down (politely) and ask if s/he would please check in the kitchen.
              Servers do have some power speeding things along.

              1. re: momof3

                A slight difference of opinion. The server is responsible and if there are runeers the server should check or arrive simultaneously with the runner and the food. It's his/her table, not the runner's.

                1. re: jfood

                  I don't disagree with that at all jfood, as a server I do this as much as possible, but not always possible.

                2. re: momof3

                  I agree, however most restaurants have a policy that the servers share a percentage of their tips with runners, busboys, etc. since they are essentially "assisting" the server. Because of this, my personal opinion is that you need to hold everyone accountable when considering how much tip to leave. Having said all that, I typically never leave less than 15-20%, as it's very rare to recieve truly bad service. I also take into account how busy the restaurant is and how hard my server is working. If they're honestly trying to give good service but are running around and can't keep up, then I tend to have more tolerance. If they're standing around chatting...well, you get the idea.

                  1. re: wicked noodle

                    I don't see why one should be tolerant of bad service just because they are busy. What they lose in lower tip they gain back from all that volume.

                    1. re: Leonardo

                      I certainly didn't mean to imply that I'm tolerant of bad service just because they are busy. The point was that I'm LESS tolerant if it's because they're standing around vs. running around and at least attempting to accomodate their customers. It's my opinion that there is a difference. I tip less if I receive bad service, but even less than that if it's because they blatantly could care less.

                      1. re: Leonardo

                        Well, I disagree with you, Leonardo. I am much more empathetic of a wait person who is running around like a maniac and doing his or her best under crummy circumstances. If the restaurant is short-staffed it's management's fault, not the waiter's. Back in my distant youth when I waited tables, I remember one night that the restaurant was woefully understaffed and we had a rush all at once. I was running around like a track star, but still unable to handle my tables per my usual standards. Many years later, when I see the same situation happening, I don't short-change the waitstaff but do give the manager my thoughts on the issue. I believe under such circumstances a guest deserves a discount off the check, but should tip the waitstaff the usual amount if they were truly trying their best.

                        When service is below my standards, and it's a waitstaff issue, I tend to tip 15%, and my husband tends to tip 10%. I think 10% is too low (unless the waiter is truly, truly awful), a point my DH and I sometimes argue about. If I'm concerned he's about to short-change a waiter, I try to get the check before he does!

                3. re: ricepad

                  Exactly. You aren't tipping the cooks. you are tipping the waitstaff. You can tell that S9 is a waitor/waitress. As the client you shouldnt be expected to have to do anything, esp. get up and get your own water. That spells out poor service. And I would assume the person who waited on you will remember you next time, but hopefully took her 10% tip as a lesson. That is def. an experience ruiner, poor service.

              2. I can not sweat the small stuff. If the first 10% was justified I would have told the manager on the way out. If you did not want to play hall monitor and want to go back, by all means go.

                If you are concerned, tell the manager on the way in that you prefer not to be seated in XX section. I am sure they will comply. If you have the same waitress and she does not step up and do a good job the second time, you should leave her what you feel is appropriate and absolutely tell the manager the second time was as bad as the first.

                1. No, that wasn't the only reason, just the most annoying. The service was slow and the waitress was not very professional. She did a lot of leaning on our table and acted kind of scatterbrained. I was just annoyed that she said twice she would get the water pitcher and then didn't come back.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Boychucker

                    Well, if she couldn't remember the water, maybe she won't remember you, either! Hopefully you'll get another server next time.

                  2. To answer your question, I wouldn't expect the server to remember you after one visit, but servers DO remember repeat customers and their tipping habits.

                    1. I very rarely leave a bad tip, and only for very bad service. In those cases, I'd expect (probably wrongly) that the server would remember me, and I wouldn't plan on going back to that restaurant. Plenty of other restaurants without bad service/bad blood to go to.