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i left ZERO tip. (long story- but get this!!!)

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I went out with a friend the other night for a drink and a bite to eat. We chose a place in our neighborhood (downtown Toronto gay district) that I had been to a few times before- a funky diner type place- sandwiches, burgers, etc- nothing fancy. We sat on the patio. Saturday night. It was packed.

It was a good 15-20 minutes before we even saw our server. (later he explained he also had tables inside) he was not in a good mood. he quickly went down the entire row of his tables taking orders (and writing them down!) we ordered our drinks, my friend ordered her food, and I ordered the turkey burger. he was very impatient when he took our orders- practically cutting me off.

When our drinks finally arrived we had been there 30 minutes. “whatever” I thought- they’re in the weeds and I can understand that. Boy, can I ever.

About 10 minutes later a female server came out to drop off our food- but she had a turkey WRAP for me. I politely said “no, I asked for the turkey burger” and she took the food back to the kitchen. A minute later a different male server came out- again with the one wrong dish and I explained again that I had asked for the turkey burger, not the wrap. He served my friend her food and went to get our server.

Seconds later our server came over- WITH THE SAME WRONG DISH in his hand and told me he thought I ordered the turkey WRAP. “no,” I said for the third time, “I asked for the turkey BURGER.”

“Well then it’s going to be another twenty minutes unless you want to eat this”

“No, I don’t want to eat THAT. I would like to eat what I ordered”

He finally took the wrong dish back to the kitchen. He came back a few minutes later to quality check my friend’s food and explain about the business of the place. We were polite and understanding. After all- I’m a waitress too.

Twenty minutes goes by. Thirty minutes. Forty-five minutes. (all the while our server going back and forth, serving his other tables and avoiding eye contact with us). After an hour I figured I probably wasn’t going to get my turkey burger so I asked for the bill. (time was running out at this point- I wanted to get to the wine store before it closed.)

Server dropped the bill on our table without saying a word. $32 for the drinks and my friend’s food. I put $12 on my debit card and asked the server to put $20 on my friend’s visa. When he brought the visa back to us he literally THREW it on the table and walked away.

I really didn’t think any tip was justified. A tip is for service. What service did I receive?? And I AM A WAITRESS!!!! I know when a server is at least trying. That whole experience was just ridiculous. I didn’t, and still don’t, see any point in complaining to a manager. The place gets plenty of business as it is. I just don’t get the idea management would really care. If the place is understaffed and completely in the shitz - where was the manager then??? Whoever voided my meal off my bill obviously didn’t care that I didn’t eat.

Has anyone else ever had such an extreme experience when you felt no tip should be left? I’m still in shock. I really don’t ask for much when I go out- but I do believe in tipping fairly for service. even with the attitude- If I had at least eventually GOTTEN what I ordered I would have left him something.

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  1. Right on, Sister! I also am in the business. I always overtip because I understand what goes on as do you. However, it is a SERVICE business. If I knew that kind of service was going on in my place I would be horrified. If I were you, if it really bothers you and continues to do so, I would write a note to the owner and share your story, just like you have here. I always say to my employees, we can cook the best food in the world but if the customer has a bad experience in the front, we've lost them. I would not have tipped them either.

    2 Replies
    1. re: chefmo

      I can't blame you for not tipping, but why did you put yourself through all that? I would have walked out after 15 minutes and no server! It takes 10 seconds for someone to come by and say, "Hi there, I'll be with you as soon as I can."

      1. re: foodstorm

        I agree with Foodstorm. Depending on the circumstances, I'll usually give anyone -- anyone! -- no more than ten minutes to at least acknowledge my presence. And that's when the joint isn't particularly busy.

        If it's as busy as OP stated, I'd figure they had enough business for the evening, and take mine elsewhere. I don't need the aggravation enough to wait.

    2. My wife and I went out last night and had service that was about what you describe. I left a small tip. Sounds like about the worst sort of "service" it could be...but I think i'd still have left a few dollars (in this case, probably $3 or $4) as a tip for the drinks and the food that did make it out. Not saying you did the wrong thing...just that I'd have left a few bucks myself.

      2 Replies
      1. re: ccbweb

        Nooo! That's the same thing as rewarding kids or pets for bad behavior. Do a good job=I will pay you and leave a 20% tip, minimum. Get sassy, cranky, or downright rude with me, you still get about 15% if my order was correct and served at the proper temp and with a generally congenial attitude. Act like a total shit and disregard my order, we're out, so I don't have to worry about this business of tipping.

        1. re: amandaqtpie

          Like you, I believe in using positive and negative reinforcement and punishment in every day life. But you wouldn't punish your kid without also have a long talk about why -- so if someone is going to choose to not leave a tip to negatively punish (psych jargon, sorry) the server, that's fine, but then --as many others have said here -- really one ought to leave a note or speak to the manager, otherwise the punishment could go unappreciated and therefore uneffective.

      2. I empathize with you and believe tipping is the quid for the quo in the restaurant industry. However, get ready for the onslaught of the group who will crucify you for not believing, as they do, that it is your job to support and tip well any server, no matter how bad he/she might be, because the poor server doesn't make much money. Good luck.

        5 Replies
        1. re: ddavis

          I believe you are very wrong, ddavis. I think you'll see support, rather than crucifiction -- particularly from those in the service industry. After all, it is supposed to be about *service* and at least a little effort. Other servers understand this better than anyone else. As a server, I would've done just what the OP did. A tip is not guaranteed, you have to work for it.

          1. re: veeva

            veeva, there was a prior thread in which ddavis is correct, if you did not give a tip, or said that a lower tip was in order, the poster was lambasted. I think that ddavis was just making a comment based on his/her experiece from prior postings/threads. I think that the OP was well justified in not leaving a tip, but I would have commented to the manager/owner.

            1. re: justagthing

              Veeva was correct that there is general support for the OP in this thread. It did surprise me based on, as you mentioned, prior threads where the position was vociferously taken by some that you should tip the waiter 20% no matter what because "servers depend on tips to make a decent wage."

              1. re: ddavis

                I think the difference has to do with the reported reason for not leaving a tip (or not leaving what most feel is a sufficient tip). In other threads, my sense is that the OPs were generally trying to justify what they did and other posters generally disagreed with the OP's take on the matter. IE, what an OP would label "awful service" or something similar, others would see as "at least the server tried." In this case, its so thorough a report and such clearly awful service that there isn't much place for argument.

                In fact, in this case, for the OP, there was no service really...so, no tip. The theories still hold I suppose!

                1. re: ccbweb

                  also, I think a lot of us agree that there is no need to 'kick a person when they're down', especially since many of us have worked in service environments and found ourselves in the weeds. I think that is where the 'you should always tip' sentiment comes from.

                  There's a line between being compassionate and a sucker I guess, it sounds like this jerk of a waiter wasn't trying at all.

        2. I think that I know the soi-disant "restaurant" you visited (starts with a "Z"?). The food is terrible (why did you bother?!?), and the service is almost as bad and highy attitudinal. Zero tip? I would have walked well before it was a question.

          1. I left no tip only once. The three of us went to a location of a well known Chicago chain of Italian restaurnats (Not pizza). First, thay only had one valet working that night. It was raining heavily and I didn't want to park several blocks away and walk to the restaurant so we waited for our turn. The place was not too busy, but it took our waiter 15-20 minutes to stop by and take our food and drink order. The apps and drinks came out (not brought by the waiter) and we enjoyed them. about 15 minutes after we had finished the appetizers someone finally cleared the empty plates and had the kitchen fire our entrees. Our drinks remained empty. The waiter finally showed up again about 10 minutes after our entrees had been served and refilled our long empty drinks. After we finished our entrees we once again sat there for what seemed like a half hour before someone came over to clear the plates. We werent interested in dessert by that time so I asked for the check, which came out quickly. I put my card in the folder, but the waiter never came back. Luckily I had enough cash on me to pay, so I put my credit card back in my wallet and paid the exact total. As we were waiting for the one valet to retreive our car so we could go home, I saw out waiter sitting at the bar watching a ball game with a friend. During the 20 minutes we waited for the lonely valet to bring us our car our waiter never left his stool. The valet was working his rear end off running the four blocks to the lot to pick up cars, so he got a huge tip. We have never visited any of the restaurants locations since that night.

            7 Replies
            1. re: LabRat

              My mom invented the "two cent" tip. I don't know why, but it sure sends a message. Especially when you add $0.02 to the tip line on a credit card receipt. I've used this method exactly two times in my life for service that was borderline criminal.

              1. re: rudeboy

                Sometimes two cents is two too much!

                1. re: ubuwalker31

                  But it lets them know you didn't forget the tip.

                  1. re: Scrapironchef

                    A friend of mine once wrote NO TIP in large letters on the tab. Wonder if that recipt ever made it back to the boss.

                    1. re: Scrapironchef

                      goes along with the saying when you want to give your 2 cents/your opinion...you did a horrible job!

                  2. re: rudeboy

                    Not just your Mom. Mine did too.

                  3. re: LabRat

                    Now THAT is a good story. Valets are unsung heroes because of this. I'm guessing that many are not tipped well, if at all, because people assume it's a free amenity (and at some places it is) and don't realize they're working for tips, too.

                  4. I don't see anything wrong for leaving no tip for bad service.

                    I try to aviod places that are mobbed with people because I know service will not be it's best. Waiting 15 to 20 mins. to start with is the first sign, then waiting 30 mins. for your drinks to arrive. Sorry, I wouldn't have lasted that long, and would have been out the door a long time ago. I don't know why people put themselves in these situations to start with. You gave the facts and circumstances of the situation, but it was a recipe for disaster from the start, and you as a waitress should have seen the writing on the wall.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Infomaniac

                      My philosophy exactly. If service is that bad to start off, it's most likely not going to improve. Best to cut your losses and eat elsewhere instead of having an incredibly frustrating meal.

                      1. re: JennS

                        I understand what many of you are saying about seeing "the writing on the wall" and leaving but I can even more readily understand why the OP acted as she did. For one thing, she stated that it was a Saturday night--most places that are at least halfway decent are crowded on a Saturday night. So, to get up and leave and find another restaurant where they would probably have to wait again seems unreasonable. Plus, we have the benefit of looking at the entire situation and how it turned out--in the moment, as the OP states, she believed the situation could have been rectified at any time, even up until the last minute with the delivery of the bill.

                        Plus, your relationship to your dining companion plays a big factor in these situations. If you're with your best friend that you see all the time or your steady SO, you'd probably feel comfortable to fully express your feelings and perhaps even leave. But if you're with a friend you haven't seen in a year, a new prospective SO, a friend who is going through a hard time and pouring her heart out, etc., etc., etc. you might feel awkward making a big deal out of the service, even in this extreme situation.

                        I do agree that she probably should have said something to the manager but I probably would have just left, too. Despite being an improvisational actor, I often find myself at a loss for words in those situations and just want to get out of there! In those cases though, especially if it's still bothering me, I write a letter to get it all off my chest with the potential bonus of getting some sort of response/apology/acknowledgement.

                        What's difficult in these and similar situations for me is when the server seems to have completely written you off. You know, "there's no way they're going to tip me so I'm going to completely give up." It's so frustrating because, like the OP, I give servers every chance to make up any transgression. Someone being honest with me and/or giving me some kind of acknowledgement or apology goes such a long way.

                        As for the server seeming angry with you by the end--it's just a defense mechanism. Sort of a preemptive strike--"well, I know you're mad at me, so guess what? Now, I'm mad, too! So there!!"

                    2. You did the right thing, but as another poster on here said, get ready to catch some flack from those who will call you "passive agressive", or something like that for leaving a deserved zero tip for the server you unfortuantely had to endure.

                      Warranted bad tips weed out bad servers, and sends a message to them, or their managers that they have chosen the wrong career.

                      Well done.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: swsidejim

                        I don't think you'll see the backlash on this one. She describes truly awful service and never did, in fact, get her food. There might be some argument that her friend should have left a few bucks (I noted above that I'd have left a few dollars...as I think about, if I were the poster, I'd have not left anything, but if I were the friend, I'd have left a few since I did get food) but its clear why the OP left nothing. The other recent, similar thread was the 12 cent "tip" one in which the OP described a situation that many felt didn't rise to the level of "awful" service. Much harder to argue the point here, so I think the "always tip" crowd isn't going to leap on this one.

                        1. re: ccbweb

                          A successful restaurateur once told me that he gets the best from his service staff when he explains to them that they are like commissioned sales people. The better you present the product, the more the customer buys, the bigger the tip. The better the service and overall experience, the bigger the tip. It's as simple as that.

                          I always find that a good waiter can sell me on dessert - not so much for the food itself, but for the fact that I want to stick around and enjoy the moment. That's a bigger tab and a bigger tip for him/her.

                          In EMM's case, the "rep" did nothing to deserve a commission, so he got nothing.

                          1. re: ccbweb

                            yeah i agree w ccweb, & it does sound like excuse me miss was having a dialogue with the server and food runners-- everybody knew she didn't get the dish she ordered & nobody fixed the problem. the server's rudeness was unwarranted and the situation is different in the 12 cent example because that server tried, while excuse me miss' server didn't and was obnoxiously mean. the guy was in the weeds but it sounds like if he had just apologised for his mess-up and said-- "sorry the kitchen is backed up to east texas and it's going to take a long time for me to fix this," then emm and her dc would have rolled with it, probably tipped him normally despite shortfallings beyond his control. it is all about attitude-- if a server is totally slammed & still smiles and is nice they are a pro, emm's server sounds like he's not cut out for the work.

                            1. re: ccbweb

                              fair enough- others would have done differently. but we all admit it is ultimately the decision of the customer as to what a tip should be. my friend GOT her meal- but didn't enjoy eating alone while i sat there waiting. i feel the server could have redeemed himself right up until the last moment. a heartfelt "sorry" at the very end and maybe i would have left him a few dollars- but he really did THROW the billfold on the table- as if he had a reason to be angry with us.

                              and that's the thing- generally i am in the "always tip" category. always tip something- a proper percentage reflective of the service. i've NEVER felt compelled to leave nothing. i'm still in disbelief over the whole thing.

                              that's why i thought i'd share my story- thought you all might get a kick out of a truly horrible service story.

                              1. re: excuse me miss

                                I'm sure that after the first 45 minutes and you daring to decide you actually wanted to eat what you ORDERED (how dare you!! :-P) the server gave up on the possibility of any tip and decided to ignore you. And he proved himself right -- you said yourself he could have salvaged it if he hadn't totally given up.

                          2. EMM

                            glad our side bar was deleted by the mods, sorta silly.

                            But to this thread, you should have approached the manager and the manager should have comped the whole meal. Regardless of the business of the resto you were still a custo and deserved waaaay better than this.

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: jfood

                              jfood- did you get to read my reply first? about us shaking hands and agreeing to disagree and putting the subject to rest? hope so- i do respect your opinions and i'm sure you'd be a customer i'd get along with if you were dining in my section.

                              of course i though about complaining- but by the end of it all i just wanted to go. last time i felt i had a justified complaint i wrote a two page letter to the owner and manager (completely different place and situation) and i never got a response. sometimes- in this case- you just have the feeling it's a lost cause. their business won't suffer.

                              1. re: excuse me miss

                                consider our hands shook (did not see). :-))

                                the question of discussing with the manger is two-fold. First it is somewhat of a catharsis and closure to a situation. If you don't, for the next few hours you think about all those great lines you could have used. Second, there is no business and no aspect of a business that cannot be improved. Same-old same-old becomes old pretty quick. jfood has seen many resto that, as you described, are hot-hot. then something out of the blue happens and the ice creeps in. Telling the manager keeps them thinking about ways to improve or change.

                                hope your tables bring you lots of percentages and dollars tonite.

                                1. re: jfood

                                  Good job gentlemen (emm I'm assuming you are male, if not my utmost apologies)!

                                  1. re: jfood

                                    Let me second that whole "the next few ours you'll think about all those great lines you could have used" part too. I certainly did that in my situation months ago!

                                    1. re: boltnut55

                                      I'm going to get yelled at or deleted because this is not really about food but I have to share that I learned that in French there is an expression just for that experience, when you think of all the things you should have said, but when it's just too late -- they say "l'espirit de l'escalier" which means the spirit of the stairs, literally, or figuratively, that which one thinks of on the stairs (going out), which one wishes one had said before one left the room.

                              2. ok, here's a "part two" to my zero tip file- this time with me on the recieving end.

                                my current restaurant serves brunch- and we're very popular and busy for brunches. i always try to keep a huge smile on my face and maintain a positive attitude- i find it helps when the whole restaurant is completely in the weeds. generally our guests are understanding when they have to wait a bit longer for things.

                                so...table of 5. british man- 30something, his fiancee, and fiancees daughter, and his mom and dad. they were a second turn table (when the first round clears out and i get all new tables.) i greeted them immediately (with my jug of water) and offered them coffee or juice. they all looked at me and shook their heads "no".

                                me- "ok, just some water for now then?"
                                the dad- "actually i'll have a coffee"
                                me- "sure, so 1 coffee."
                                other guest- "i'll have a coffee too then"
                                me- "ok, anyone else"

                                etc....so off i went to get 4 coffees and 1 orange juice. i should mention at this point that when the first seating leaves and the second seating is arriving it's very hard to find coffe cups, sugar bowls, creamers, teaspoons, etc. often i have to grab them off the bussers tray and handwash them. with coffee orders over 2 i set everything on the table, then return with the coffee urn to pour for them. so yes, they definitely had to wait a bit for their coffees.

                                immediately as i was pouring their coffees the man informed me "we want to order now" (exact words)
                                "sure, just let me put this down and i'm all yours"

                                i immediately put down the coffee urn and returned to take their order- which i immediately punched in and returned to the table with milk for their coffee (i had originally brought cream)

                                food at this point is also a bit of a wait. kitchen is also in the weeds. i returned to the table while they were waiting to refill their coffees and waters. at this point i'm sweating. i'm working hard. i have 4 other tables also.

                                food finally comes out but it's spaced out- two dishes, then one, then...where's the rest of the food. kitchen error- their timing is off. yes, it's bad but unfortunately it happens sometimes. i (with a smile) apologize to the table and explain that the kitchen is very busy but i was just there and the last two dishes are being plated right now. they gave me the most unforgiving look.

                                i returned to the table within minutes (with my trusty coffee urn) to quality check and offer another coffee refill.

                                me- "is everyone enjoying their brunch?"
                                man- "no. it's too salty" (ham and cheese omlette)
                                me- with genuine concern- "oh, ok. can i have the kitchen remake it for you? or would you like to choose something else off the menu?"
                                man- "no"
                                me- "ok, well, while i'm here may i top up everyone's coffee?"
                                (i top up coffees)
                                me, picking up the plate- "are you sure there's nothing else i can offer you sir?"
                                man- "no"
                                me- "and you wouldn't like more coffee"
                                man- "no."

                                i informed the manager and chef of the complaint. the dish was taken off the bill.

                                i returned again as they were finishing- again with my coffee urn. they already had their visa out and asked for the bill which i immediately brought.

                                as they got up to leave i said thankyou, have a good afternoon to each one of them. the 10 year old daughter was the only one who didn't scowl and turn their head and walk by ignoring me.

                                bill was $150. tip- big fat ZERO.

                                on his way out the man pulled my manager aside to complain about how bad the service was and how none of them enjoyed their food.

                                i didn't get in trouble or anything- my boss knows what it's like there and she knows i did my best with them.

                                was the zero justified? in his mind- yes. he is the customer and he gets to decide so fair is fair. was i upset? of course! it's tough to deal with when you really are trying your absolute best and someone says that's worth nothing. were they just miserable people who couldn't stand it that they couldn't "break my smile" and make me miserable too? i hope so.

                                15 Replies
                                1. re: excuse me miss

                                  That sucks. As a Brit who has lived in N America for years, I can confidently say that many Brits are bad tippers. It's not convention to tip in a bar in England and, for food, a tip is often considered to be a little extra if your service was really good. Although in the past decade, tipping for meals in UK has become a little more Americanized.

                                  A friend who waited tables in Florida (Orlando, Disney, etc) said that they actually put a little note about tipping convention on the receipts! They felt they had to because they were getting 0 tips from the Brits and they couldn't keep their staff.

                                  Although I can't speak for your customer. He just sounds like a jerk.

                                  1. re: piggywiggy

                                    Sooo, the waiter was a real jerk and got your order wrong. Do you think he then was really just avoiding you for an hour? Maybe he forgot because he's obvioulsy not the smartest or most attentive individual. BUT, I read long ago and have always believed if you have a problem with any part of your dining experience, it is your responsibility to speak up AS SOON AS YOU FEEL THERE'S A PROBLEM. Don't sit there for an hour, talking to your friends about how pissed you are and getting angrier about it. I don't understand why you didn't flag down the waiter or manager and tell them how you were feeling frustrated and mad that he had obviously forgot your order and was being careless. I understand he didn't deserve much of a tip, but almost all restaurants I have worked at, the tip goes into a pool and not just directly to the waiter. There's busboys to consider, and bartenders. Did they mess up your meal too? I think telling a server face-to-facethat you're very unsastisfied with your meal is going to make them remember their poor performance a lot more than a non-existent tip, whereby most inconsiderate servers would view that more as a flaw in YOUR character, not theirs. People can't always read between the lines, you have to tell them how you're feeling.

                                    1. re: roasted138

                                      Don't k now if you read the OP's post carefully. EMm told two servers- three times!- that she ordered the turkey burger, not the turkey wrap, and that she did not want the turkey wrap.

                                    2. re: piggywiggy

                                      i don't know if the britishness was a factor- the rest of them didn't have accents.

                                      i've gotten great tips from brits- and bad ones. but i can say that about any demographic.

                                      1. re: piggywiggy

                                        Is there-- seriously-- a European tourist in this day and age who has come to North America (especially the US, where servers are paid next to nothing hourly and subside on tips- this is NOT the case in Canada where servers make at least minimum wage) and is REALLY UNAWARE of tipping conventions here? I vote " no." That's an excuse and a poor one at that- I don't see Germans lighting up cigarettes in banks because that's legal in Germany. Travelers have researched their destinations up and down and when it comes time to tip they plead ignorance- it's sickening.

                                        1. re: John Manzo

                                          I hear that it's still happening. Someone who works at the Ritz in SF mentioned to me that the servers are not getting tips from Europeans - recent comment. About 5 years ago, I was listening to a server in the table nexxt to me trying to convince her customers that it was the custom to tip in America, but they were shaking their heads (so they weren't agreeing w/her).

                                      2. re: excuse me miss

                                        Perhaps a bit off-topic, but I'm curious...Four brunch courses, four coffees and one juice was $150?!?!?!

                                        1. re: Marge

                                          i think so- maybe it was 115. definitely over 100. and there was a 5.

                                          1. re: excuse me miss

                                            I support you on both ends of the zero tip! You know, some people are just miserable sots and nothing you do will please them. Thank God you're not married or related to him and taking pity on those that are ;)
                                            In the initial post I perhaps would have sought out a manager. I think not only should you keep the tip money, rather, you deserve compensation for pain and suffering!! Just kidding. I think it would have been appropriate to get a reduction on the bill.

                                            1. re: excuse me miss

                                              You wrote that the 5th ("salty", duh, ham and cheese omelet) was taken off the bill. Four brunch entrees with no alcohol for well over $100 just seems very pricy to me...perhaps for $30+/- a head for eggs and coffee, these people expected white glove service. I am certainly not justifying their rudeness or obnoxious treatment of you, but just saying that if people are paying 5 star prices, they expect 5 star service with no excuses.

                                              1. re: Marge

                                                Brunches are generally high priced. In my area (NJ) $30+ each is normal.
                                                These people came in with a poor attitude and nothing was going to change that. As evident by the coffee order after saying "no" to coffee.

                                                1. re: Marge

                                                  "duh, ham and cheese"
                                                  hahaha! i think that's what the chef said too!!!

                                                  good point. that is very true. it's too bad- when people have expectations, they almost set themselves up for disappointment.

                                                  yes, our brunch is pricy. we don't offer "white-glove service" but all our ingredients are local and organic/free-range/pesticide and hormone free etc. you're paying for the quality. and portions are quite generous.

                                                  1. re: excuse me miss

                                                    emm - It sounds like you handled the situation with aplomb given the circumstances. If your self-reporting is truthful, which I have no doubt that it is, you kept your cool and acted like a professional. If diners want perfection, they should eat at home, where they have total control. It sounds like there was something else going on with these customers: unhappy family life, some upsetting news before they got to the restaurant, general malaise, or having a bad day. In eny event, their frustrations should not have been directed at, or taken out, on you. It is what it is. You did the right thing, kept moving on, and lets hope the good people outnumber the bad.

                                            2. re: excuse me miss

                                              I'm in the always tipping camp, because as a server I once got stuck with a fourteen table section, and six of those tables could accommodate eight. (Someone sprained their ankle, and the MOD didn't close a section down as he should have. I was considered one of the strongest servers). The two sections were in two rooms, and each was a hard section on its own because of the possibility for multiple big tables. That also meant that the people in one room couldn't see me toiling away in the other room. Anyway, it was a Sunday night, and the place got absolutely slammed, with an hour long waiting list. I made some mistakes that night, but kept smiling the best I could with a full 14-table section. If I get really bad service I always figure there could be something like that going on that makes it pretty much physically impossible to give good service to everyone. I rang over $2000 in food that night in a place with an average entree price of about $10, so that's slinging some serious hash. Luckily I made well over $300 and only got stiffed a couple of times. I think I got some sympathy tips from guys who saw me carrying huge tray after huge tray out of the kitchen as I am a petite and thin woman. I've never worked so hard in my life. Anyway, I'm not blaming you excuse me miss, just adding another horror story from the other side of the fence. For those of you who have never waited tables, fourteen is an absolutely ridiculous number. The standard is four to six tables that seat four per section.

                                              1. re: excuse me miss

                                                This is so maddening! You hit the nail, though...miserable people who want to break someone's smile. Or have a lot of angry energy to let go on someone else. I'm sorry this happened to you, but I think you're okay from it :) I've worked in plenty of restaurants and understand the frustration.

                                              2. I have to give you credit for doing the right thing. Afterall if you didn't know this aready, tip stands for To Insure Promptness and was originally paid before the service was extended. At some point it was moved to end of the meal as a way of showing gratitude for good/prompt service.

                                                Since you received neither, you did the right thing and left no tip.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: drbelfer

                                                  Sorry, we didn't know this already, because it's not true.
                                                  The use of the word "tip" in the sense of giving a gratuity dates back to the 17th century, long before the use of acronyms as words.
                                                  Plus you don't "insure" promptness, you "ensure" it, and it's not TEP.
                                                  http://www.snopes.com/language/acrony...

                                                2. i dunno if i would have stiffed them, i suppose it's how you feel at the time though and i wasn't in your shoes.

                                                  as someone who was a server for many years, i'm usually hard-pressed to actually stiff anyone. that said, non-ackowledgement is a pet peeve of mine. i would have left after the initial 15 minutes of non attention. and for the error, they should have apologized and not been combative (sounds like they were miffed that you asked for sep. checks at the end, that usually is something a server would tell another server right off the bat - 'we want sep. checks'.

                                                  when i was waiting tables, i don't care how weeded i was, i would always at least acknowledge a new table and i would be completely apologetic if something went wrong with an order - whether it was my fault or not. (usually it was the kitchen's fault)

                                                  but unless someone is blatantly rude - as you very well may have perceived your server to be, i always tip (10% for me is for bad or mediocre service)

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: hitachino

                                                    it doesn't sound at all like EMM asked for separate checks. they received one check and asked for two balances to be put on two credit cards. very common with groups of diners; i just did this last night at dinner with friends.

                                                    and i think a 10% tip just makes the diner look cheap, as opposed to delivering a message that you're dissatisfied with service.

                                                    i'm right there with you, EMM, i think you did the right thing.

                                                  2. I have "No tipped" only once in my life.
                                                    I made sure I took the little bill wallet over to the server as I walked out too.

                                                    DT

                                                    1. once I had subpar service but the bartender ended up doing most of the work at the table. so once the bill came. I as a server myself only tipped like 17 % but i also bought a bottle of merry edwards pinot for the bartender.

                                                      1. Hell, no tip? I would've gotten up to leave halfway before you left and waited for them to chase me down the street to pay the freaking BILL, never mind a tip. Hooboy, how do places capable of something like that even on a bad day survive at all?

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: MikeG

                                                          maybe, but i was enjoying my sangria- and my friend was eating- and she shared a bit of her food with me.

                                                        2. EMM, I support your decision 110%. Have to add two things: First, speaking as a gay man, I advise you never to eat on Church, ever, or any gay ghetto for that matter. The worst of the worst for food and service and everything except the people watching, which you can do for free elsewhere. Second, it's important that people know that Canadian servers do not get the lauguable hourly pay that Americans do- in some parts of the US, as I recall, a server might get $2-3 an hour and tips are what they survive on. In Canada, in most provinces there's no separate min wage for servers or bartenders (in Ontario bartenders do get a $1 reduction as in Quebec, but servers get the exact same min as all other employees). So this guy is not going to starve.

                                                          7 Replies
                                                          1. re: John Manzo

                                                            Oh, thanks, John, for shattering an illusion: I thought great clothes on people in even better shape--had to equal the care needed for great food!

                                                            1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                              You're a scholar and a gentleman, Sam, thanks.

                                                              1. re: John Manzo

                                                                John, I note in your profile that you're in Calgary, but from your postings, you must spend a fair bit of time here in Toronto. Speaking of the gaybourhood, what about that new place in the space that was The Looking Glass?

                                                                You might be interested to know that Heather McKenzie and Michael Guenther (first of Slack Alice and then of Looking Glass) left Church St and took over the house on Parliament St that had been Luciano's for years, now called Big Momma's Boy. On a posting elsewhere someone said that they had had terrible food at BMB, but I've had excellent pizza, and pretty good ribs.

                                                                1. re: hungry_pangolin

                                                                  "maybe, but i was enjoying my sangria- and my friend was eating- and she shared a bit of her food with me."

                                                                  Ah, then I have to change my original response I would only (has never actually happened) leave "zero" tip if the service ruined my meal ("experience"). If some flighty idiot just screwed up in theory but it didn't piss me off enough to leave, I'd have left a lower tip, but certainly not nothing. I'd also have gotten a little more vocal than it sounds like you did earlier on - maybe not quite so blunt as this but to the general effect: "I'm sorry you had a bad night, but how hard is it to get the right sandwich to the right table?"

                                                                  1. re: MikeG

                                                                    up until i asked for the bill i was under the impression my food would eventually arrive. if they had told me i wasn't getting my meal i probably would have left. and if i did get my food i would have left some amount of a tip. but...

                                                                    1. re: excuse me miss

                                                                      I reiterate that I think you were completely right to leave nothing, and I'm totally shocked that everything else you ordered (aside from your entree) wasn't comped. It was shockingly awful service. I know exactly how you must have felt out with your friend trying to enjoy a meal, making the best of a bad situation, sometimes it's just not worth raising a stink to further ruin the dregs of a good time.

                                                            2. re: John Manzo

                                                              LOL- well, we were really only looking to sit on a patio and have a cheap drink and stay close to home- i know better than to expect the finest in this neighborhood. generally i find the service and food is decent enough. it is what it is.

                                                            3. I totally stand with you emm. I too am in the biz, the fact that someone took your meal off the bill means they KNEW they screwed up and no one came to say anything to you.
                                                              That in itself is outrageous. And please, how stupid and disorganized is the staff to bring out the wrong dish more than 2x??? I would def give a call to the restaurant and just tell a manager about your experience. Maybe you will get a different person than the MOD from that night and shed some light on their inexcusible 'service'.

                                                              1. This has turned out to be a really great thread, that has fleshed out some of what people were thinking in the last tip-orientede thread in a useful way, I think.

                                                                Personally, I only leave no tip if my server is rude to me. I would never blame my waiter for problems with the food. But I am not of the one-tip-for-all school; I vary my tips immensely and although I suppose some waiters might not realize that it's a form of feedback, I'm pretty sure when I've left 40% or more they've known I was quite pleased... and unless I'm at a diner/dive kind of place, if I get service that annoys me enough to not tip or leave a low tip, I always fill out a complaint card or leave a note explaining why. I don't really care that much if the waiter is annoyed with me, but I love food and I love restaurants and I feel it is my duty to help them fix their problems, if they'll take my advice.

                                                                1. you did the right thing, actually i think you should have had your drinks taken off the bill too, and if the manager was worth anything they would have just settled the check for you...a customers time has value...eating out is an experiance, so when a restaraunt fails providing that, and makes it negative, they have taken from you...

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: batt730

                                                                    I think we can all agree that one can tell when a server is really trying to accomodate and when they are not. Having worked both foh and boh, I empathize with all. Sometimes it is the kitchen's fault, but the server cannot say that at least not directly. In my experience the customer just needs to be listened to. I cannot tell you how many disasters I have saved because I merely listened. After that, comping certainly helps. It sounds like EMM's server was full of attitude and therefore did deserve the stiff, even if pools were tipped and the other workers suffered. Her responsibility was to let management know, but sometimes we don't feel like saving the world and just want to get out.
                                                                    Perhaps you could forward this thread to the management of the restaurant?

                                                                  2. I used to waitress at a place that had an account with Southern Cal Edison. When we had storms and power issues the Edison workers would be out working for days and would roll in tired and hungry for breakfast. They could really, really eat and kept us hopping. During the time they were there they pretty much took up your whole section so all your regulars would end up going elsewhere.

                                                                    The rough part was that we had to wait ~30 days for Edison to pay the bill to get our tip. And they applied a standard 10% to the check. I was always a bit annoyed that those guys would have me running my tail off for over an hour and not once did one of them ever leave any money on the table. Even a couple bucks as a gesture. It sure would have made me feel better about paying my electric bill....

                                                                    1. For those who say to walk out... what exactly do you say or do when you have been served part of the meal or even just drinks? I'd like to be able to walk out instead of explaining to the waiter, "Would you please bring me my bill for the drinks? We've decided not to wait" and then have to listen to their speech about "it hasn't been that long" or "the food is already being cooked" or whatever they might say. I'm not saying to not pay, but what's the most efficient way to do this?

                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                      1. re: boltnut55

                                                                        I think you can walk out and let the manager/Maitre d' know instead of speaking to the watier about it. A manager is less likely to convince you to stay, I think (I guess it depends on who it is, but if youre standing and holding your coats at the front of the house, you've made your intention pretty clear). If you know how much what you ordered (like the drinks that actually came) should cost, handing it to him in cash would be the easiest way to pay what you do owe and move out quickly. I don't think you're under any obligation to pay for food that didn't show up in a reasonable time, unless they warned you.

                                                                        1. re: boltnut55

                                                                          the OP said they didn't even initially see their server for 15-20 minutes. THAT's when i would have walked out. i'd say that's a bad omen for your dining experience if ever there was one.

                                                                          since the person decided to stay and had continued problems with food and service, a talk with a manager was certainly called for....comps were in order. if the server was rude on top of the problems, i can most definitely understand the stiff - but they still should have complained to the manager.

                                                                          as for 'in the weeds' - we used that back in the 80s when i was a server, i had no idea they used it on top chef. no idea where it comes from. i would think that it would have something to do with weeds holding you back/down - or being lost?

                                                                          to this day, i still have 'weed dreams' where i'm waiting to take someone's order and they can't decide and are asking really stupid questions and i'm watching table after table get seated and they're all waiting for me to take their orders -- man i hate those dreams.

                                                                          1. re: hitachino

                                                                            I think the term comes from golf--when your ball is in the weeds it's really hard to hit it out of there. (I could be wrong though.) I still have those dreams too. The worst ones I've had involve working at two restaurants simultaneously and having to drive between them to wait on people. It's weird what kitchen work does to one's psyche.

                                                                        2. Tangentially,
                                                                          I'd like to know about this expression, "in the weeds." I know what it means, just wondering if it has a long history as part of restaurant-business jargon or if it got popularized by Top Chef (which is where I first heard it, and now it seems to be everywhere)

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: GDSwamp

                                                                            "In the weeds" is a long time established restaurant biz lingo. Top Chef has perhaps brought it into a light that others not in the biz hadn't seen (heard) before.
                                                                            There is a very funny resto movie called "in the weeds" made a couple of years ago. Sometimes we say we are in the forest, so far in the woods that we can't even see the weeds. :)

                                                                            1. re: GDSwamp

                                                                              I've heard two explanations of the origin of "in the weeds." First, during Prohibition restaurant/speakeasy owners would hide their liquor out back in the weeds when the cops came calling and it came to cover any time when you were in trouble. Second was a military reference from the late 1800's where being literally in the weeds could give away your location and result in death to the troops.

                                                                            2. i'm going to go back there sometime and bring my own ribs.

                                                                              1. I didn't read through all 80 posts but i just realized that I'm so used to bad service that I didn't even know that I was getting bad service until just now. Waiting long for the entrees, waiting to get the waiter's attention, never getting my water refilled, etc, happens so frequently that I thought it was the norm, especially in Manhattan. And obviously, I'm not talking about hole-in-the-wall places.. In fact, when I do want to take out my very Korena family/relatives out to a nice dinner, I deliberately avoid most "American" places because I do not want them to feel slighted by the service and somehow mistake this type of treatment as something that's specially reserved for non-English speakers. This is so unfortunate because many a times, I do want to take my family out to a higher-end "American" restaurant because it's different from what they'd normally eat (Korean)..

                                                                                Now I know that all the times I got this kind of service, I was getting bad service. Somehow though, I don't think things will change much, at least in this rude city of Manhattan.

                                                                                5 Replies
                                                                                1. re: koreankorean

                                                                                  I took 2 visiting Brits to a restaurant VERRRRY close to the one the original poster attended, we started with Margarita orders, but got juice glasses with sugar on the rim, containing some sort of Kool Aid. Lunch went DOWNHILL from there. When the Brits who were paying inquired about tip level, I said tips were toreward service, and since we didnt get any, the tip should be zero.
                                                                                  As we wer leaving the waiter checked th ebillfold, and YELLED across the resto"Gues how much tip these fucking cheapskates left?"!
                                                                                  I am so embarrased by the service available in teh gay village in Toronto, I make it a point of staying far away, even this week when its PRIDE WEEK. Wish these servers could take some pride in their work, and get it right, or live with no tips.

                                                                                  1. re: Danybear

                                                                                    I don't know why we have been reluctant to name names in this discussion (I include myself in this observation), since if the OP names an establishment, CHs are pretty quick to pass judgement by name. Danybear: what was the offending establishment near Zelda's? The public has a right to know! (And, happy Pride weekend.)

                                                                                    1. re: Danybear

                                                                                      A Kool Aid margarita in a juice glass is not the server's fault, it's the restaurant's fault. S/he brought you what they serve. A server's responsibility is SERVICE, the quality of the restaurant and what they serve is an issue to bring up with management. If you got your lame-o margarita and your lunch within a reasonable time of ordering without an extra dose of rudeness on top then you should have left a tip of some sort, I'd be yelling "cheapskate" after you as well. I reiterate, it's not the server's fault if you don't like what you order.

                                                                                      1. re: ballulah

                                                                                        when queried about the margaritas, one was to be a virgin margarita, two with alcohol, and no discernible difference in the three, the server said that's what I punched in. I guess they have some sort of drinks machine in the kitchen, bereft of human contact. The server said he and the staff in the kitchen would be happy to drink them! As to service, I really dont consider an elbow in my eye when removing another diners plate, tip worthy service. There were more negative actions form the server, but who cares. If the server has a problem with a tip, speak to the customer. Yelling across a restaurtant is not going to up the tip in my mind.

                                                                                        1. re: Danybear

                                                                                          That's a different story entirely. It felt like there was more to the story than just the bad margaritas. But I still contend that the servers aren't responsible for what the restaurant serves, only HOW it is served. However, they ARE responsible for the attitude in which a complaint is made about what is served, telling you that he and the other wait staff would gladly consume what you are complaining about is idiotic and rude, I grant you. If you're faced with rudeness, bad attitude and carelessness, then they're asking for trouble.