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Tipping: Decent Food-Terrible Service

Went out to dinner tonight. Should've known better that going on a Friday, but was tired and hungry...
We were seated righted away.; The waitress showed up in a decent amount of time and proceeded to ask "what can I getcha?" hmmmm drinks maybe? So we ordered drinks, she him-hawed around and eventually came back to us. Finally got our meal ordered....at least 30 minutes later, we still haven't gotten our food. In the meantime, there are about 3-4 tables who sat down after us (anywhere from 10- 20 min), getting their food. One couple even got their food, ate, and were leaving. So..we grabbed the first person we could see. Told him we were wondering why we haven't gotten our food. He said he'd find out. He walked right past our waitress, didn't say a word to her, didn't come back. Asked for a manger. Manager arrived just as our food arrived. He proceeded to tell us that some orders don't take as long to cook and that's why other people got their food first. (what a bunch of BS). Then he said our order took longer to get out and he would take care of a part of it. (Geez, thanks big guy!) The waitress is finally around, asking if we needed anything else. Yeah, silverware! "Oh well I didn't have enough hands" she said. Got our silverware, at least our food was hot and tasted decent (steak was ordered meduim rare- came medium-well, but not sending it back, never know what would happen to it). She brought back one refill, never asked how the food was, and brought our check. Looked at the check, wow, they only charged us for drinks. (2 sodas). That was better than I expected. I still don't feel like the manager cared what the problem was. He didn't even take time to talk to us, just ok I'll take care of it. (makes me wonder how often this happens) The waitress' attitude was not good to begin with and after the manager came it was even worse. So we didn't leave a tip. I always tip, and if I must say, I am a damn good tipper too. I like to take care of my servers and know that they will take care of me. I feel a little guilty for not leaving anything, but you know, she really didn't deserve a tip. It just irks me when I go out to eat and end up disappointed (yet again). Eating at home sometimes seems like a pain, but in the end the food and service are always better!

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  1. You know from what you describe I tend to agree with you. Sometimes it is not the falut of the wait staff but the chinzy owners for not hiring enough staff. I usually tip well but if it is obvious that the waiter/ress just doesn't care or is rude then I would be doing a disservice to my fellow restaurant patrons by encourging lousy service by leaving a tip. I once had such rude service that I left a penny so they didn't think I just forgot. If you didn't get results from the manager an even better ploy would be to send a registered letter to the owner at the restaurant and tell him of your plight.

    3 Replies
    1. re: malibumike

      jcattles, are you saying that they only charged you for the sodas and comped you for both meals? I don't want to comment until I understand the whole scenario. I can say that I would not have left no tip under the circumstances described. I can see leaving a tip that reflected poor service, such as ten percent, but I would save zero tip for someone who is offensively rude or argued with me.

      1. re: Val55

        Yes they comped our meals. The drinks came to just under $5.00. We left a five, so I guess we really did leave a couple of cents as tip, but we didn't tip anything above the change.

        1. re: jcattles

          I think the Mgr did the right thing. Comping the 2 meals was more than reasonable and was his way of "taking care of" AKA: Apologizing to you. Whether or not his story about some meals taking longer to prepare than others was true or not is unknown, but he did offer some sort of explanation. I don't know what else you expected of him. As for your Server... Hard call. I tend to think I would have left her a minimal tip, but I can understand why you felt compelled to leave nothing.
          The frustrating thing about situations like yours is that the Server sees no tip and somehow feels justified in thinking the customer is a cheap jerk. I wonder if any Servers take a minute to self examine and wonder what role their actions (or lack thereof) caused the end result?

    2. That meal goes into write it off and live and learn. Service lousy, manager couldn;t care less so just comped the whole thing (probably easiest and best solution for him) and the food was not served as ordered.

      Jfood would have left a Lincoln as you did nad thanked the MOD on the way out and place on the DNR list. Jfood had a similar situatiuon and left a 10% tip with a note on the charge slip to give all the tip to the bussers and runners (none to the server) who did all the work and mentioned it to the MOD on the way out.

      8 Replies
      1. re: jfood

        Odd, jfood, that you would have tipped poorly in this situation but take extra money over to a screaming delivery guy in another thread.

        Jcattles, the manager comped your two meals, really what more did you want him to do? I realize you had a bad experience but beyond comping your meal and giving you an excuse/apology what more could he have done right then and there?

        I'm certainly not an overtipper but no way would I have left no tip after a free meal. The server sounded busy or like she didn't want to be there, but she at least provided SOME service. Don't see how at least 10% of what the total should have been wasn't at least warranted.

        1. re: Rick

          not really R. Inthe other thread the first domino in the bad set of facts was the poor tip, in this case it was the bad service. If in the other thread the delivery was late then the root cause would have been the delivery not the measly $4.

          One must find the root cause to correct the underlying reason for the following dominos to fall.

        2. re: jfood

          Jfood did not do a very good job of reading this the first time so he would like to retract and amend.

          - The server asked for a drink order and they were delivered (OK OP did not like the syntax)
          - jfood does not know what him-hawed means
          - Thirty minutes if apps are not ordered on a Friday night is not great, but it is not terribly awful either
          - Can't blame the waitress if the other person just walked by her. If the OP saw this why didn't OP stand up and go over to the waitress or try again?
          - It required 30 minutes for the OP to notice no silverware?
          - "Didn't have enough hands" if these were the actual words, then not a good syntax either
          - manager comped both dinners (What more could you ask for?). Again OP did not like syntax

          But the waitress
          - took the order,
          - brought refills,
          - brought utensils
          - brought the check
          - did not ask how everything was (who knows maybe the manager told her not to after the complaint telling the server to lay low)

          So jfood would now take the position that altough the server was not stellar, she did most of her required duties. Was this a Ponderosa or Outback, sorta sounds like it.

          But the server deserves ~15% on the cost of the entire meal pre-comp.

          1. re: jfood

            Thanks for making my point in your usual, logical way. I couldn't seem to get my thoughts together clearly enough (it IS St. Patrick's Day, after all) to say what I was thinking.

            1. re: jfood

              "But the server deserves ~15% on the cost of the entire meal pre-comp."

              NO, because she was rude. You don't tell someone you can't get utensils right now, because your hands are full. That's just mean.

              You act like the waitress did all of those actions *CORRECTLY*, when she didn't. Just because someone takes an order, brings refills, brings the check, brings utensils, etc. doesn't mean they deserve 15% just because the meal was free. Thank the MANAGER for your free meal. If you want to tip him or her, tip the MANAGER since he or she gives a free meal. The server is not taking out of her own pocket, so WHY act like she gave free food to the customers unless she admitted a mistake and asked for her manager to comp something?

              My husband and I for instance have had major overcharges before with NO apology. I don't care if the server SERVED us, there was no tip due to no apology. Sometimes there were comps, sometimes there wasn't, but they had NOTHING at all to do with the SERVER since they didn't even apologize, so it's not like they asked their manager to give us the comps when we did have some. No apology = no tip for major mistakes such as large overcharges.

              1. re: Springs131

                wow, that's very harsh.

                Since the waitress had her hands full when the utensils were requested (i.e. no runner) let's assume this is not FL. So custo asks for utensils when the waitress might have had three plates up one arm and a fourth in the free hand and the custo asks for utensils. The waitress responds "i'll get them for you right away as my hands are a little full right now." And that constitutes a stiff on the tip? Nope, can't get there.

                Jfood is not acting like the waitress gave them the free food, the MOD did, no argument. The waitress did her job, the MOD did her job and the waitress deserves the tip and the MOD deserves a thank you.

                "Just because someone takes an order, brings refills, brings the check, brings utensils, etc. doesn't mean they deserve 15% just because the meal was free" - uh, yes it does.

                But no apology = no tip seems like a fairly harsh policy from the custo.

            2. re: jfood

              Yep, as a former server myself, that's the way I've handled it when we get lousy service. I leave nothing but buttonhole the manager on the way out, explain what happened, and that's why I'm not leaving a tip for the waitress, but here's $5-10 for the bussers, cooks, dishwashers, etc. who all normally share in the tip pool. Since many places - especially chains - charge a percentage of total sales to the waiter for the tip pool, leaving nothing for the server actually costs him/her to serve your table. This way, the manager will at least give the server a break on your table.

              1. re: KevinB

                I think tip pools are more common in Canada than the States because servers in Canada actually make a wage. And in the story mentioned, the busboy was not helpful.

            3. Man, you guys are tough customers, or hunger just makes you cranky, jcattles. You basically got a free meal for your inconvenience. The waitress sounds like she was harried, but still got you your refill. It was likely not her fault that the kitchen was late with your order. She may not have been as attentive or apologetic as you would have liked but it was a busy Friday night. Personally, I would have cut her some slack. I think under the circumstances, after being comped two meals, I would have gratefully tipped 20% on what the bill should have been, and been happy with my bargain. It was extremely nice of the manager to comp two meals. It sounds like you brought some attitude to the table also.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Val55

                Val55
                . The Mgr wasn't being 'extremely nice' he was correctly correcting a bad service situation. To be appreciative, yes. To be 'grateful" as though he was doing the OP a favor?....Uhhh ..No
                While I agree that some tip was perhaps in order, tipping 20% would have been missing the whole point and just reinforcing the Server's belief that her poor service was not the problem. It might even have given her the impression that the customer was happy with her service and just out for a freebee meal.
                You're saying that b/c the OP saved on the cost of the meal he/she should pass on some of those savings to a bad Server...

                1. re: Tay

                  I see your point. It is still what I would do, but not necessarily what should be done. I guess my problem is that I don't think the OP describes a situation that warrants two free meals or leaving no tip. Yet despite receiving two free meals, he is still not mollified. The manager and waitress were not sufficiently apologetic for him. I do not doubt that the OP received poor service and waited too long for his meal. But the fact that he indicates that he is often disappointed suggests that perhaps the OP may have set his standards for service a little high for what sounds like a moderately priced restaurant. I wouldn't be surprised if you could make the argument that the manager was rewarding the OP's poor behavior. For the service as described, I think the OP should have left no less than 10%. The OP did not describe a no tip situation, which IMO should be reserved for only the most extreme situation.

                  1. re: Tay

                    Has it occurred to anyone that maybe the server was embarrassed that something had happened (maybe she forgot to order the food, or some special order had not been relayed to the kitchen :ie no seasoning on jcattles chicken so it had to be remade before it got to the table) and ASKED that the meals be comped off. All to often managers take the high position that they are the one there for the guests best interest, when the server was the one who asked for something to be taken off the bill, or that a free dessert be given to the customer, whatever the case may be.

                    Also, as a part time server, I know what she probably still had to pay tipshare on your comped dinner. For instance, if I ask that $100 be taken off my customers bill for whatever reason, I am still charged $3.60 for tipshare at the end of the night for that food. If they don't leave me any tip on that food amount I still have to pay the tipshare. I don’t think anyone should ever have to pay to wait on their customers.

                    Because it is an automated system, there is no "changing" a servers tips for the night and if you give the manager the tip he is either going to hand it back to you or hand it to the server.

                2. Just to clarify... They manager comping the meal was a surprise, I actually thought he would take some off, not all of it. That was not my complaint. What bothered me most, was the fact that manager acted as if this was a normal thing and didn't even bother to listen to us. As for the waitress, she didn't even acknowledge there was a problem, just kinda ignored us and her attitude sucked. Maybe my standards are high, but when I go out, I expect to be treated with courtesy and if there is a problem I expect an apology, not be brushed off. Is that to much to ask?

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: jcattles

                    >>Is that to much to ask?

                    No, not at all.

                    >>when I go out, I expect to be treated with courtesy and if there is a problem I expect an apology, not be brushed off.

                    You are a 1000% correct. Any restaurant which does otherwise should go out of business.

                    1. re: dolores

                      I always give 15% even if it isn't great service and more if it is better, we are in the service industry not food and I just think it is fair. We all have bad days even if you are a CEO of a company and they still get there trillion dollar bonuses. help out the little guy.

                      1. re: nbermas

                        A little OT, but years ago we had a guest speaker at work who spoke amongst other things about the "i'm having a bad day" cop out (he didn't call it a cop out)....he referenced generalizing this to all professions..and gave the example of airline pilots and brain surgeons....just imagine the state we'd be in if they decided to do less of a job because they were "having a bad day".

                        I think of this every time i hear this statement. And try to remind myself of it as much as possible.

                        1. re: im_nomad

                          im nomad
                          Bravo! Well stated and very, very true. Anyone can do a good job when things are going smoothly. The sign of a true professional is one who maintains that same level of service/dedication, when things are not going well.

                    2. re: jcattles

                      I understand. I think you would have felt better about your dining experience if you had received a sincere apology instead of a free meal. Sometimes words speak louder than actions. By comping the meals, he acknowledged by deed that the error was the restaurant's, but somehow was unwilling to do it verbally. That is frustrating. And the waitress displayed the same attitude. I find that a simple apology disarms people. I am surprised that more people in service industries don't utilize this powerful tool. I am sure tips would improve.

                      1. re: jcattles

                        Would it have been better if you got a sincere apology from both the waitress and manager and not compt'd on the meal? I think sometimes people think they are the same thing. OTOH too many people say sorry without really meaning it. If it's a choice between an apology and a comp'd meal I would choose the latter since my time has been wasted and at least I dont have pay for terrible experience. I would probably put that place on DNR list and be done with it. If they are really interested then I would expect to invited back with an incentitive to try again fresh start.

                      2. I think that your story is somewhat wanting. However, I understand the difficulty of stiffing a server. I had a similar experience where the waitress kept walking past our table (we were right next to the door to the kitchen) and though both my companion and I were looking straight at her, she never once looked at the table. She resolutely avoided eye contact. I find that completely unacceptable.

                        I think that I'm projecting my own experience on your story in my opinion that you are justified in not tipping. I just think your story needs more. And I fully understand about the apology vs. free food. Empathy goes a long way. But as for the "some food takes longer to prepare than other food" explanation, I thought kitchen expedited in order of time, not simplicity. I understand that a burger can take about 10 minutes, whereas a chicken breast could be 20, but I don't see how the difference would be so gross that the other party would be leaving before your food arrived.

                        One thing I will say, however. I think it's possible (though unlikely) that the second person you spoke to was on his way to talk to the kitchen staff about your meal, instead of the waitress. Perhaps he also knew that the waitress was in the wrong line of employment, and tried to deal with the problem himself. (Although not returning to your table is an indication of his general apathy.)

                        But I don't think that you could, in any way, be mean spirited. I think that you tried to see the best of a bad situation. (I feel this way because you called the food decent, even with the error on the steak. If the service had been excellent, would you still have called the steak decent? Or would it have been downgraded? I know that I would not describe a restaurant's food as decent if my steak was anywhere near well done.) I think I would have written a note explaining WHY I didn't tip, though. Or at least explained myself to the manager. (Why so much effort? It's the educator in me. I want to help everyone in any way I can, whether they like it or not.)

                        1. This story doesn't sound right to me. The manager comps your two meals but because he didn't apologize profusely (perhaps the kitchen was totally swamped and he was trying to put out other fires at the same time?) you were surprised, but not appreciative of the two free meals? In fact certain items do take longer than others as far as cooking time, although it sounds like there may have been a mixup as well. You didn't have any silverware when you sat down? Again that sounds odd. At the very least you should have tipped 10% of what the bill would have been. But then again there is a note of non-empathy to your post.

                          19 Replies
                          1. re: Missmoo

                            "You didn't have any silverware when you sat down? Again that sounds odd."

                            I was thinking the exact same thing. In the 30+ minutes it took you to get your food, you didn't notice you had no silverware? Sounds strange to me.

                            Then, "So we ordered drinks, she him-hawed around and eventually came back to us."

                            You mentioned it was a busy Friday night. Did you physically see your waitess standing around with her thumb up her bum, or was she busy waiting on all of her other tables? Also, the bar could've been backed up, so she couldn't get your drinks, even though they were just sodas.

                            I have no idea what I would've tipped, since it didn't happen to me personally, but receiving a free dinner and then stiffing the server (who may or may not have had anything to do with the slow food) seems downright nasty to me.

                            1. re: invinotheresverde

                              I really don't think the fact that he got his entrees for free is relevant. He had no problem with the price of the food, and even described the food as "decent." The problem was with the service, and nothing was done to improve the service. No one apologized, the waitress became more distant (I only have so many hands"), and the customer, overall, was not happy. None of those issues were fixed by a free meal.

                              1. re: miss_bennet

                                The service doesn't sound awful to me. Sure, it doesn't sound great, but the guest was greeted in a timely fashion, received his drink (and a refill), had his order taken, and a check delivered. I think the real problem is that he had to wait for his food, and chose not to believe the manager who explained some dishes take longer to cook than others. Is thirty minutes really an unreasonable wait, especially on a busy Friday night?

                                Also, he states that the manager didn't care what the problem was. How that affects your waiter's tip I have no idea. Slow food is the kitchen's fault, not the server's, and is being displeased with management really your server's fault?

                                Without being there, the only service problems I see are the informality of the initial greeting, not noticing the guest had no silverware, and not checking back. While those are definitely blunders, are they really worthy of a complete stiffing of the tip?

                                Regarding the lack of apology: if the manager was telling the diner the truth, that the dishes really take a longer time to cook, what should be apologized for? An apology isn't going to cook the food any faster, and frankly, forces the restaurant to apologize for something that may not even be a mistake.

                                1. re: invinotheresverde

                                  You're right, the manager's behaviour doesn't affect the tip. Which is EXACTLY why a comped meal should have absolutely no relevance on tip.

                                  And the service wasn't only not great, it was passive-aggressively rude. I don't need a server snarkily telling me that she only has two hands (or some variation on that). I want my silverware. If she had said something like "I'm sorry, I'll go grab it right away!" then she probably would have gotten a tip. But she didn't. To me, that comment is really what justifies the lack of a tip. She threw the first stone, she was rude and ignored them.

                                  And as for the meal being the kitchen's fault, it is possible that she forgot to put the order in. Or the kitchen forgot to start it. Regardless of who is directly to blame for the meal (even if it is merely that it takes a long time to cook), the server should be communicating to the table that the meal is taking some time, and apologize for the wait. Then again, I haven't worked as a server. Maybe it's not their job to communicate with the customer. If it isn't their job, or their not doing their job, why should we pay them for it?

                                  1. re: miss_bennet

                                    "And the service wasn't only not great, it was passive-aggressively rude. I don't need a server snarkily telling me that she only has two hands (or some variation on that). I want my silverware. If she had said something like "I'm sorry, I'll go grab it right away!" then she probably would have gotten a tip. But she didn't. To me, that comment is really what justifies the lack of a tip."

                                    Here's where we fundamentally disagree. I don't perceive this as rude; in fact, it could've been a lame attempt at humor.

                                    There were service problems, definitely, but in my opinion, they didn't warrant stiffing. I'd probably have left around 10-15%.

                                    YMMV.

                                    1. re: invinotheresverde

                                      I guess I have a completely different view because where I live, sevrers actually make minimum wage + tips. So, in BC, if they work 5 hours, they get at least $40, plus whatever tips they accrue (although these are usually pooled with the hosts, busboys and kitchen). So as the restaurant is paying her to do the bare minimum of her job, I don't see why I should.

                                      Food is not more expensive in restaurants here because restaurants have to pay servers a base wage. Service is not better becasue servers make a base wage. But a tip is earned, not given beause the server did the bare minimum and therefore is entitled. And while foreigners (Asians, Europeans) are known for being sub-par tippers here, Americans are known for being obscenely high (not that anyone's complaining).

                                      1. re: invinotheresverde

                                        "I don't perceive this as rude; in fact, it could've been a lame attempt at humor."

                                        It IS, because a customer should NEVER have to tell their server they need something to eat with or a napkin. So YES, it's RUDE. I wouldn't make a joke about people having to sit with their hot food getting cooler by each second that goes by that, because that would just piss those people off. Think when YOU are hungry, would you like someone to say that to you or would you rather have your server apologize for not being OBSERVANT of your needs? 15% is average service, so no way would I have tipped that for her being rude about the utensils.

                                        I really don't see how you don't find that rude? MOST people would to be honest with you.

                                        1. re: Springs131

                                          Sorry, but I don't really think you're qualified to decide what "most people" would or wouldn't find rude. Do I think better verbiage could've been used? Absolutely. Would I, in a million years, leave no tip in this situation? Absolutely not. The waitress did most of her job.

                                          "Just because someone takes an order, brings refills, brings the check, brings utensils, etc. doesn't mean they deserve 15% just because the meal was free" I love jfood's "uh, yes it does" response. Free meal or not, if this isn't the server's job, what is? To sing and dance for you? To give you a backrub? No, it's to bring you your food. I understand one part of service was lacking, and I would MAYBE ding the tip a bit for it, but I guess I just don't go out of my way to look for reasons NOT to tip.

                                          1. re: invinotheresverde

                                            I really wouldn't mind it if servers gave me backrubs!!!

                                      2. re: miss_bennet

                                        "And as for the meal being the kitchen's fault, it is possible that she forgot to put the order in. Or the kitchen forgot to start it. Regardless of who is directly to blame for the meal (even if it is merely that it takes a long time to cook), the server should be communicating to the table that the meal is taking some time, and apologize for the wait. Then again, I haven't worked as a server. Maybe it's not their job to communicate with the customer. If it isn't their job, or their not doing their job, why should we pay them for it?"

                                        Thank you miss bennet! The fact is, it may HAVE been the server's fault and it was VERY MUCH the server's fault for not communicating with the table to tell them about a delay with their food.

                                        "To me, that comment is really what justifies the lack of a tip. She threw the first stone, she was rude and ignored them."

                                        TOTALLY agree 100%. I feel she ignored them and was rude to top it off. She sounded very LAZY if you ask me. Not noticing utensils and then telling the customers "Oh well I didn't have enough hands" tells me she didn't feel like getting it. I feel most servers feel "It's not my job" if another employee makes a mistake that is obvious like that.

                                2. re: Missmoo

                                  "You didn't have any silverware when you sat down? Again that sounds odd."

                                  This has happened LOTS and LOTS of times to me and my husband at restaurants. Today, MOST servers are NOT "OBSERVANT" to their customers needs. We have even seen other customers ask for utensils when they were brought their food. I have gotten up lots of times to get my own, because it's just easier. This is NOT a rare thing, believe me, it's more common than what you think.

                                  I have also been to a restaurant that ran out of clean utensils and the waitress even brought out salads knowing this. Apparently she lacked a bit of common sense, because she even brought out a ketchup bottle that had about a dot worth in the bottle for my husband. We left 12%. We usually tip 20%-25% for good service, but this was NOT good service. A server should NEVER serve food without utensils. The server should have cleaned a couple of forks real quickly if she wanted to serve us salad. We sat for a good 3-5 minutes before we got some. She even served another table their salads as well without utensils. I think it's COMMON SENSE you don't serve an almost empty bottle of ketchup to someone and not to serve food without utensils that need utensils. At least this waitress wasn't rude and it wasn't like it was really her fault that they didn't have any clean utensils, because it was very busy. The fact is though, she should have had enough common sense not to serve us salads without utensils and not to give a bottle of ketchup to us that was almost empty.

                                  1. re: Springs131

                                    Either I'm just lucky, or you're incredibly unlucky, but that has never once happened to me. Again, not once ever.

                                    1. re: invinotheresverde

                                      Never happened to me either. However, the ketchup bottle reminds me of a time, at a restaurant, when receiving my burger, I asked for ketchup. 'Do you really need it,' the server asked, 'we're rationing'.

                                      Yeah. Not good. Probably still tipped for basic service, but that was not impressive (especially with a market across the street and a McDonalds a few doors down-- someone could have done a ketchup run).

                                      1. re: Lizard

                                        Once or twice I've been in a situation where the table has been set for 2 and there have been 3 or 4 of us and the Server has accidently forgotten to bring additional set ups. That's been easily remedied and an aplolgy was always offered by the Server.
                                        As for there being insufficient utensils to cover a meal service or being given an 'empty' bottle of ketchup, as with Invino, that's never happened to me. If it's a common occurance, I just wouldn't frequent those restaurants.
                                        IAs for:
                                        " The server should have cleaned a couple of forks real quickly if she wanted to serve us salad."
                                        Uhhh... Not so much

                                        1. re: Tay

                                          Why couldn't the server have cleaned some forks? Or hustled to the dish pit to grab some? Why "not so much?"

                                          1. re: miss_bennet

                                            it's actually not cool in restaurants to hand-wash dishes without a sanitizing rinse. germs you know. silverware will generally go through a hobart twice before they are ready for service. if the restaurant did have a triple-sink system with a sanitizing station totally set up somewhere, then, technically, the server could have hand washed the silverware and run it out to you still wet--and customers will complain if their silverware is still wet-- why didn't the stupid waitress dry them with a towel? answer: health code; or if the silverware are too hot to hold because they just went through a heat sanitizing rinse-- any other situation and she may have been putting customers at risk. waitstaff are sometimes put in tough situations when there is a shortfall of forks, coffee cups, etc. it's a management problem, probably not the server's fault-- but yeah it looks really bad for the server when it happens. customers tend to think only in terms of what they would do at home in the same situation (quick, wash a couple of forks for the extra guests, towel dry, onward!), but restaurant employees have to follow the more stringent rules put down by the health dept. if the waitress had intentionally broken health code just to serve you faster, she probably should have been fired.

                                            1. re: soupkitten

                                              I'm pretty sure it's the law here that every restaurant HAS to have a triple sink station for washing things that don't go through the dishwasher. The server could wash and sanitize there. I just find it hard to believe that a restaurant would
                                              a) run out of forks to begin with
                                              b) not be running forks through the dishwasher when they ran out of forks
                                              c) serve you food without cutlery

                                              It's a moot point, anyway, though. The server should not have had to run and wash a couple of forks herself (either properly or not) because she should have realized the customers needed utensils when she took their order. She should have informed someone and dealt with it before it became a problem.

                                            2. re: miss_bennet

                                              Miss bennet

                                              Souplkitten explained it perfectly!

                                              Thanks Soup! :-}

                                          2. re: Lizard

                                            Lizard
                                            I cannot imagine a Server saying that! I think I would be at a loss for words. Since I cannot imagine a Server coming up with that utterly ridiculous inquiry, I'm pretty sure I'd have to ask if that was a managerial dictate. What would they think if you asked them to discount your bill 5%-10% because you had a tight week and were "Rationing" your money?

                                    2. From what you have described, I feel like it is the manager that is really at fault. I am basing this opinion on a past experience my daughter had, when she worked at a particular restaurant. The manager was a total jerk, to his staff, and friendly to his customers. Now, your manager wasn't quite as friendly as this guy was, but the same attitude comes across. It is the "I will be nice to you if you aren't complaining, but anything else and I will blow you off, not charge you and hope you never come back." Meanwhile he is somewhere screaming at your server. She is unhappy, he is a tyrant, and unfortunately you were the scapegoats.

                                      My daughter got so tired of working at this place, and she knew she wasn't doing a good job, so she left. She was an excellent server, and actress, because for the most part her customers didn't bear the burdens of her "environment", but she was getting worn down, so rather than be a bitch to her customers she quit. Her days started with lectures to the entire staff, about what losers they were and how "they" were bringing the place down, even though the kitchen made most of the mistakes. He constantly threatened them, and it showed. We ate there once, after she left, and you could feel the negative energy in the place. This place didn't last very long.

                                      I personally would have left a bit of a tip, but not my usual percentage. And jfood is right, put this on the DNR list.

                                      1. something doesn't sit right with the op's story. it sounds like what actually was happening was that either the waitress very inexperienced or totally swamped. no apps are mentioned-- were they not ordered? is this a very casual or chain place? across from the stadium or concert arena before a show?

                                        in any event an error in communication with the kitchen may have happened to delay the food order, and when the manager realized what the problem was (whatever it was), he comped 2 mains including a steak. perhaps because of the op's obvious displeasure or interactions with the staff, the manager didn't seem to want to deal with the op. sure, be disappointed, but chalk one up to experience and dnr-- don't assume that service is crappy everywhere on a friday night, it just isn't so. there's not much substance in the op at all, but i'm guessing the place may have been a poor choice for the op's standards. sounds like she's hard to please.

                                        1. Having not been there, I can't really comment on the OP's views. But I will say this, not all places are first come first served when it comes to the kitchen.
                                          If it's a busy Friday night, and you come in and order two well done steaks, and someone comes in after you and orders the special, which is all ready to go sitting in a holding over or steam table, you can bet your bottom dollar I'm going to knock that ticket out right away.
                                          The goal of the kitchen is to get the tickets out, and why not get an easy ticket out of the way while some other persons steaks are grilling?
                                          I'm not saying the waitress might not have messed up, again I wasn't there. I'm just telling you how it works, having been in commercial kitchens most of my life.

                                          1. I am usually fairly aware of what is going on when I go to a place...It's usually fairly easy to tell if a waiter is new or overwhelmed or just had a fight in the kitchen cause the food was late. The manager obviously knew things were going on and comped the meal. I would forgive the service this time and give a general tip, 10-15%. If I went back and the problem existed again, the place would be a do not return,

                                            1. I would have tipped at the most 5% for being RUDE by saying ""Oh well I didn't have enough hands" and not checking back. By her saying ""Oh well I didn't have enough hands" tells me she acts like it's not her job, but it IS when the hostess or host forgets to bring some. That was MEAN and RUDE.

                                              Things she did wrong to get that bad of a tip:

                                              1. Not noticing utensils
                                              2. Was RUDE to tell you ""Oh well I didn't have enough hands"
                                              3. Didn't check back with you much.
                                              4. Honestly, it sounds to me she could have not put the order in right away, therefore, the food got delayed all because of HER possibly. We don't know for sure though.
                                              5. She could have also pressed the wrong button on the register to put "Medium Well", so that COULD have been her fault also, we don't know.
                                              6. Depending on what else was ordered, if the food's cooking times were less or the same on the other entree, the waitress should have noticed the TIME it took and CHECKED ON THE ENTREES by writing down when she put in the order on her PAD OF PAPER, because YES, that's HER RESPONSIBLITY to know HOW LONG the customers are waiting for their food to check up on it in the kitchen, because it's possible that the kitchen staff didn't get the order due to a computer problem of some sort or the kitchen staff overlooked that ticket completely. Medium Rare doesn't take as long to cook as a Medium Well steak, so the other entree was let's say for example, a chicken sandwich, the server should have checked on your food BEFORE 30 minutes, even if it was busy, it sounds kind of like SHE didn't put in the order as soon as she could have if you ask me, but as I said, WHO KNOWS?

                                              The manager comped the meals, but that has NOTHING to do with the tip. It's not like the WAITRESS took her OWN MONEY out of her own pocket to pay for your food, then that would be totally different. It's also not like the waitress probably asked the manager to comp the bill since you called a manager over and she never admitted fault for anything, YOU, in a sense, ASKED for the comp with your complaint to an extent. The waitress did NOT ask the manager for the comp more than likely, therefore, this has NOTHING to do with tipping her a certain amount.

                                              I honestly think that the waitress should have gave you an update of a problem in the kitchen such as if they dropped the food or if the food was getting delayed. THAT was HER FAULT she didn't let you all know the situation. I still think that the server did not put in the order right away, therefore, the food got delayed a lot.

                                              I am SO TIRED of people such as "invinotheresverde" that act like it could NEVER be the server's fault for slow food: " "Slow food is the kitchen's fault, not the server's." IT COULD BE. My husband and I have had FORGOTTEN appetizers that our SERVERS ADMITTED FORGETTING to put the order into the computer. Also, if the server puts in the order wrong, it gets cooked wrong or the food is completely wrong, which you CANNOT blame the kitchen staff when that happens. We have had wrong ENTREES due to the SERVERS ADMITTED fault that they put in the order incorrectly into the computer system.

                                              You cannot always go by the "it's always the kitchen staff's fault" attitude, because that's simply NOT TRUE.

                                              4 Replies
                                              1. re: Springs131

                                                Why 5% Springs131? The way she acted was similar to the shrug I received when I had a legitimate complaint at a restaurant. I complained to the manager/owner. He shrugged too.

                                                I left 0 tip. 0 tip was warranted in this case, since the server in essence shrugged.

                                                1. re: dolores

                                                  "since the server in essence shrugged."

                                                  The thing is, she DIDN'T "shrug", because if she did I would leave nothing, because that means "SO" or "I DON'T CARE" as far as body language goes and it doesn't just mean someone doesn't know something.

                                                  There's a BIG difference between a server that seems to refuse to do the task by shrugging vs. a server that seems partially willing to do it, just doesn't want to.

                                                  "Why 5% Springs131?"

                                                  Because we DON'T know the circumstances of why the long wait for the food. It could have been that the kitchen staff messed up or overlooked the ticket. Let's say that it wasn't the server's fault and that the only thing she did wrong was to be rude by saying "Oh well I didn't have enough hands" and she would have checked on her customers, well, I still feel she did the rest of the stuff correctly and she didn't outright refuse to give her some utensils, that's why I would leave 5%. Now if I would know for a FACT that the server would have been at fault for not putting in the order right away and also not putting in the order correctly, then I would have left nothing even without the rudeness, because I care MORE about it my food is right and to me in a timely fashion. The rudeness would have lowered her tip to 5% ONLY if I knew it wasn't HER fault for the food delay and being cooked wrong. Now if she would have ignored the request for utensils or shrugged her shoulders, then I would have given zero even if every single thing went well. I just feel as long as my food is correct, gets to me in a timely fashion as much as the server can control, and if the server isn't extremely rude or ignores me, I would tip something like 5%. I do feel that saying "Oh well I didn't have enough hands" is rude, but not extremely rude. I have had a waitress tell me "That's the hostess's job" when I complained to her about all her mess ups since she never apologized for any of them all because I complained to her about asking for utensils twice before the food came. She got fired. I think that's worse being said to a customer, because that shows how LAZY she was that "it's someone else's job, not mine" attitude. I know the hostess should have done her job, but she didn't, so it's not the customer's job at that point, it becomes the server's job.

                                                  1. re: Springs131

                                                    Understood, Springs131. However, since my 'shrug' incident at a restaurant, I am less tolerant of rude behavior by a server. I just ask for a pleasant dining experience, with respect mutually exchanged.

                                                    Remember, the OP said:

                                                    ....at least 30 minutes later, we still haven't gotten our food

                                                    I would have been out of there at that point. 30 minutes after getting drinks and no food? Not acceptable. Not to me.

                                                    This just sounds like another restaurant which should go out of business.

                                                    1. re: dolores

                                                      D, as you've stated many times, you only order appetizers. Generally entrees take significantly longer to cook. :)

                                                      I don't think 30 minutes on a busy Friday night is unreasonable in the slightest, especially for steaks, which need to rest for a few minutes after cooking.

                                                      Jhopp217 has a great post about time down a bit. Springs131 should definitely read it...

                                              2. All I can say is tipping is a minefield in America! I think I prefer the European way when it's included in the price of the meal....

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: greedygirl

                                                  "All I can say is tipping is a minefield in America! I think I prefer the European way when it's included in the price of the meal...."

                                                  Then the server has NO INCENTIVE at ALL to get things done right. Answer this: If you had a choice of taking a $20 bill to do absolutely nothing or to work as a server for an hour during let's say 7p.m. on a friday night when it's very busy, which one would you pick HONESTLY? More than likely, your answer is you'd take the free $20 as MOST people would, so adding the tip to the bill is like just giving the server the tip no matter how much they mess up or be rude. Do you think that's truly FAIR or RIGHT to pay someone well to make your dining experience miserable? I sure don't feel it's very fair or morally right. I feel treating people fairly and morally right is to treat them the exact way you get treated. So if they did a poor job, no tip or a bad tip. If they did a great job, 25%. If they did a pretty decent job, 18%. If they didn't do that well 12%-15%. If they did extremely wonderful and you were very needy with asking for lots of stuff, 30%. If they did not so good, but not enough to totally stiff, 5%-10%. If they just totally sucked completely, no tip. That is just how things SHOULD be I feel and I would think MOST people feel.

                                                  1. re: Springs131

                                                    I'm guessing you haven't been out to dine much in Europe (not that I could speak for all Europe since it's a large continent). The notion of tipping as incentive is not universal-- in some places, tipping and/or overtipping are not well regarded,

                                                    And how does this incentive programme work out in all the cases of poor service that seem to be chronicled on Chowhound?

                                                    Oddly enough, while I do find the US very service oriented, I find that this mentality comes through in stores rather than restaurants. I actually find that a tipping economy becomes justification for not taking care of a server as a full-service employee (proper pay, benefits) and moves responsibility of the server care to the customer. This is a stressful situation for all involved and might be why it is such a minefield on these boards.

                                                    I have more to say on that topic, but won't since then I'll be speechifying and going into my 'US is primitive for its lack of national/public health care' rant.

                                                    1. re: Springs131

                                                      I have had excellent service in Asian cities where tipping is not customary, and I've never had bad service in European cities where gratiuity is automatically included in the bill (and, as Lizard pointed out, in some European cities, tipping is not well regarded and could be perceived as an insult). The "incentive" should be pride in getting a job done and done well.

                                                  2. Maybe I'm reading this totally wrong, but apparently you went out with another person, being you said "we were seated," you had nothing other than four sodas, and you didn't have apps, salads, dessert. I know this wasn't a good steakhouse or a fine dining establishment, because I have never ordered a steak at a steakhouse and seen it within 30 mnutes, ever! The chef assumes you're enjoying some appetizers, some drinks, the atmosphere. Now if you were at the Ground Round, Outback, or some other popular famiyl place, on a Friday, and you expected food in under 20 minutes you have lost your mind. So you complained and the waiter bypassed your waitress and got management, which leads me to beleive you were less tha polite about your complaints. The manager took care of your "steak." I put it in parenthesis, because I'm assuming your $50 meal was a $5 check. You even addmitted the food was ok. So you went out, ordered, got your food 30 minutes later, and ate for free.

                                                    If I went out for dinner on a Friday night and was seated right away, ate within an hour, and was charged $60 for hat you had and the service you received I'd leave $20. You weren't happy, that's fine, and you complained and got your entire meal taken care of and you were charged for soda, not even Martini's or wine, soda. You decided because the waitress didn't speak the way you liked, and didn't decide that you were her most important customer (the order may have had something to do with it), and because people who came in after you and were leaving (in 30 minutes, what was this Burger King?) that she didn't deserve to be tipped. WHat about the guys who coutn on the tips to clean off the table before you got there, after you leave, and to wash the dishes. Did they hurt your feelings? So you ate for free, and maybe deservedly so, but because you ate for free and it took to long, you decided you're above the staff. If I was the manager, I would have very poilitely followed you into the parking lot and asked that you choose another place next time. Complaining is fine, but once you are treated well by the management, everything that preceded it, should have been null and void. It sounds like maybe you should stay home and serve yourself.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: jhopp217

                                                      Well said jhopp. With all of the people on here always stepping all over themselves to overtip or tell others that they've left a poor tip, I am extremely surprised by how many felt the OP was justified. I strongly feel that had the manager said "I'm sorry" and comped nothing we'd be hearing about how all they got was an apology.

                                                    2. 10% for bad service, 15% for average service, 20% for good service.

                                                      Based on the description of what she did, I'd tip 15 %, definitely not 20% and definitely not no tip. She did after all, provide a refill, check back and return with silverware while the food was still hot. That's more than I've had in other places.
                                                      Thirty minutes to the main course isn't that far out of line. Normally in a casual sit-down restaurant, you get a first table visit within 5 minutes (take the drink order), drink comes back within 3 minutes (take the meal order), appetizers out within 11-13 minutes, and then mains out with reasonable pacing after the appetizers are done (17 minutes is typical). So 30 minutes after seating is not only not out of line, it's the norm during a busy time. It sounds like someone didn't flag that you had no first course so you got the full 30 minute treatment. The server should have noticed that you didn't have any food, and she should have said something before you had to flag someone . Also, she should have noticed that there was no silverware before she left with the drink order, or if not, when she took the food order.

                                                      Manager might have sounded a bit more contrite but I would have been darn happy to have as a big a comp as that. Plus you got the order pretty quickly after the complaint. Normally you just get a crappy free dessert. So 15% on the full bill even if you wouldn't go back.

                                                      1. First of all, some orders genuinely do take longer to cook, particularly when burgers, steaks, or seafood are involved. Cook time depends not only on the temperature you order it cooked but also on the thickness of the cut. I once had a table order two of our largest steaks done medium well (typically takes in the neighborhood of 30 minutes) and then complain when the table next to them (who arrived later but only ordered salads) received their meals first.

                                                        Secondly, from the way that you describe being greeted and from the fact that silverware was not already on the table when you sat down, I have a pretty good idea of what kind of restaurant you were at. It sounds a lot like a place I once worked at, where the goal was simply to get as many people in and out of the restaurant as possible. Friday and Saturday nights were a beating because management didn't like to go on a wait, giving servers and cooks virtually no time to catch up. I consider myself to be a pretty strong server, but I'll be the first to admit that my service on those nights was sub-par at the VERY best. Ticket times ran an average of 30 minutes, and managers were comping meals left and right.

                                                        The bottom line, though, is that although your server may not have been outrageously attentive, none of it seems to be her fault specifically. And, from what I can tell, it doesn't sound like she was rude - perhaps just a little busy or frazzled. What I would have done after seeing that I was only being charged for drinks is to inquire about the price of the bill prior to the comps. That way, your server could have been tipped fairly for the amount of work she did (whether you chose to leave 10, 15 or 20 percent). The fact that you didn't have to pay for either meal doesn't negate the effort she put into serving you, and it's only fair to compensate her for her time.

                                                        3 Replies
                                                        1. re: Al_Pal

                                                          'Oh well I didn't have enough hands' and not at least coming back during the initial 30 minutes (more than 30 minutes in the OP's description of getting a manager) to say that the food would be out shortly and apologize does not warrant a good tip. It warrants a bad tip.

                                                          1. re: Al_Pal

                                                            Very well said AlPal and it is always refreshing and informative to hear from the server's point of view. And things happen. Some people expect white glove service at in/out places and the lack of empathy some show is quite disturbing. Obviously inthis case the server was frazzled and one unacceptable syntax cause many onthese boards to throw fits. Hey jfood read it too quickly the first time and was inthat camp but the idea of those few words greatly reducing or eliminating the tip is very wrong.

                                                            Actually jfood thinks the manager was too nice. Did not think this warranted full comp, neither did the customer. Now how can one state that the customer was surprised that the total meal was comped (therefore they were not inthe scorched earth category) inthe same sentence as atrocious service. OK the server did not receive a BA in English but gotta lighten up on the syntax and have some empathy.

                                                            1. re: Al_Pal

                                                              Al Pal
                                                              I think you wrote a thoughtful and fair post. In rereading the Poster's OP I can see that he/she has a bit of a sarcastic attutude.That having been said, I think some, if not all of the 'ill will' could have been negated or at least, minimized, had the server at least made some sort of effort to communicate with the OP. A quick "Sorry about the delay, folks" might have gone a long way. I think most peole are very understanding if they are made aware of a problem/delay in service. I think it's being ignored that annoys and frustrates most people b/c it's a non verbal way of commmunicating that the person isn't important and not deserving/worth the effort. Once the OP complained to the Mgr, it really was his responsibility to speak to the server and make sure she provided better service. I don't believe in the passive/aggressive resopnse of 'getting back' at a server by not tipping, so I agree with both you. and Dolores. Some sort of tip was in order