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Question for Waiters

I have never beena waiter, but I have noticed more and more that menus state that gratuity is included for parties over six. I seem to remember when this policy was for parties of eight or more, but now it's for six.

Here's my question. Do waiters like this? Do they usually get stiffed in these siuations?

Here's why I ask. I went out and there were six of us (3 couples). The bill came to $292. Each couple threw in $120 and handed the waiter $360. He was a standup guy and pointed out that the tip was included. So we were ready to give the guy 23% (and this bill was drink heavy). We ended up giving him what the bill stated which was exactly 20%. The bill before tip would have been $245, and we definitely would have split it three ways and threw in $100 a couple. Sounds like nothing, but it cost him $8. If that 3% happened on every bill, he'd be out a few hundred dollars a week.

What is a waiters point of view?

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  1. Yes, in my experience the more people at the table, the more likely you are to get almost nothing for a tip, that's why this has been instituted so many places. Especially when you get a group of 8 or 10 and they all want separate checks, there are always a few couples who don't tip at all - people miscalculate or it's more than they expected or they don't chip in for the appetizers that the table shared so the person who pays for them doesn't want to tip or what have you.

    I once waited on a party of 30 people by myself in a lunch shift, it was a kids' soccer team and their parents. They insisted each child have their own check and the 2 other people who were supposed to help me with the party never showed up so I had to do it all myself from start to finish, it was not fun to say the least and they left a HORRIBLE mess at all the kids' tables.

    Not only didn't they leave a tip, but instead left those religious cards explaining why Jesus loves me and thus why they don't tip, but they didn't even leave quite enough to cover all the checks, which I had to make up out of my own pocket. The party took up my entire lunch shift and my station was closed before they had even left, so not only did i not make one dime that day, I ended up paying a couple of bucks out of pocket too. There are dozens of stories people have like this, which is why it's been instituted.

    You are always free to leave OVER the mandatory gratuity if you think it's deserved, I don't know why you felt slighted and took away the server's extra money you would have otherwise given them just because their restaurant has a policy in place to prevent the waiters from getting shafted.

    3 Replies
    1. re: rockandroller1

      oh-that is a horrific story! takes me back to the days when I was a server and used to get stuck with the "ladies that lunch" tables.....ugh :-(

      1. re: rockandroller1

        I've gotten those cards before - more insulting even than nothing. In the places I've worked the "automatic" gratuity for parties of X isn't actually automatic, it's at the waiter's discretion. As a server you look at the group and decide whether to apply it or not, knowing that if you do apply the automatic charge you are unlikely to get anything on top, even if that customer is usually a big tipper. But if you don't apply the charge, you risk getting less.

        1. re: rockandroller1

          I was estimating the amounts, but what had happened was someone took money from two couples and put it on their CC. They then gave the exact amount of what three couples would have split and bought the next round at the bar.

          Oh and I've been in that situation from the kids team point of view. I was 19 and took my little league team out for pizza. It was (I thought) assumed that the parents would come and chip in. I had twelve 11-12 year olds and the check came to somewhere around $100. I ended up having to pay for the entire meal myself, plus tip, which of course, even at the ripe old age of 19, I gave the servers about $40 on the $100 bill.

        2. I have the distinct feeling that you and your friends may be more of the exception that proves the rule (or reason) of why many restaurants impose this rule. Also, from the waiters point of view the chance of working very hard for a much longer period of time on a large party, which takes him away from his typical evening of two and four tops, and then getting screwed at the end of the night makes the downside of missing out on your $8 pretty slight.

          And, just as an aside, didn't you all feel like throwing in an extra $10 for your waiters honesty in the face of a scoring a possible double tip?

          1 Reply
          1. Great subject but I'm speaking from a customer perspective - Hubby and I always give more when it's warranted, even if it's on the bill (some areas, even with two people - it's included) - we are just careful to know what it is and whether we should leave more. Miami area is many times included to reduce prejudice. Our trip to Bahamas was included most of the time too.

            1. As a customer, a waitress, as a co owner of a restaurant. I am in favor of the tip included with larger parties. However, when I served I found that most people added extra by leaving it on the table. Also I waited many times and got basically stiffed with large parties, so the tip included outweighs the tip not being included for these large parties. Anyone who has been in the restaurant business for the most part will usually over tip anyways. It was honest of the server to mention it however.

              1. while I undestand that with some(myself included), the Autograt is actually below what they would have tipped, its not the norm. The restaurant and servers have taken the trade off that they would rather insure atleast a baseline type from the 90% that would shaft them, and limit their tip from the 10% that would have tipped more.

                My Peeve about this issue is on the rare occasion that the service is so bad that I get offended by having to tip the server the Autograt. It ends up being just one more negative towards the restaurant!

                10 Replies
                1. re: nkeane

                  Understand your point ... Question, ever been a server and waited on large parties, not the nice ones but the many that under tip or don't tip at all. I'm not being sarcastic, but once you have waited on large parties and got stiffed so many times, I am understanding of the 15%.

                  Maybe because where I have worked as a server is an area that isn't a big city and most would barely give 10 not even 15. Now where I live, lots of tourists and retirees so 15 is asking a lot. Where when I worked in my restaurant is was different. I think the make up and demographics of who the restaurant caters too and serves also has a part in that. I know that most people I know in the business prefer the add on gratuity for the larger parties.

                  When I was a server, they always gave large parties to me cuz no one else would take them. I always got compliments on their way out. The best server, she was great etc. Next time we will ask for Kim, etc. I still barely got 15 if that.

                  Just my thought, please don't take it personally

                  1. re: kchurchill5

                    No waiting, but I have(and contemplating a return) bartended. Yes I fully understand and relate to why its(autograt) done. Like I said, its the 90/10 rule.........

                    from my experience, larger groups foster a sense of anonimity, and thus, people feel like they can "cheap out on this one" and no one will know who the deadbeat is!

                    1. re: nkeane

                      I think people often don't mean to cheap out. When they get their own bill, they know they owe bill amount + tip. The restaurant does the math for them! When they are on a group bill, they do their own math, forgetting perhaps the tax or one pint of beer or a shared app. They come to a total that seems reasonable to them, and if the table is short, it must be someone else who is being cheap! It's still somewhat self-serving, and annoying, but not totally evil IMO.

                      1. re: julesrules

                        Yep, I remember "customer math" - "Oh, my share is $28.50 - 10% is $2 - here's $30". Do that six times around a table of ten, and even if the other four are generous, you still end up with a lousy total, and one table of ten is much more difficult to take care of than two 4's and a deuce. I'm all for service charges on big tables, even though I stopped waiting years ago, and I don't mind paying them now so long as I get decent service. If I don't, you can be sure I complain to the manager.

                        1. re: KevinB

                          I had to laugh, though there is a real down-side to the bit. I have been the one doing the gathering of all payments, and have encountered similar, but I loved the way that you stated it. That's when I just put in the extra to make up for that/those diner(s) and then add an appropriate gratuity, regardless of the "contributions," or their "logic" behind their amount.

                          Thanks for the chuckle. Glad that I had already swallowed my wine!


                  2. re: nkeane

                    I have had a couple of occasions where the service didn't even warrant the basic included gratuity; if you complain, they will remove it.

                    1. re: rockandroller1

                      I have too, and I would too complain. Absolutely. As a restaurant co owner I refuse to let my wait staff not be on top of things. We have "not training" but get togethers, very informal every Monday am. Just to go over specials for the week, special wines, and everyone hired gets trained by the owner, not other staff. They should be knowledgable but if they don't know just admit go and ask and then go right back to the table. If busy, just admit and ask anyone who has a minute to help you even the manager. I wouldn't of minded. It is all about comforting the table. Even as a bartended I took many orders over personally to a table when the server was busy. I didn't mind, it helped them out. Too many places don't allow that. Everyone has a job and they don't work together. My place was never run like that.

                    2. re: nkeane

                      Nkeane....that was a subjext for another day. I definitely find that when there is an automatic tip, in general, the service is less than stellar.

                      1. re: jhopp217

                        Most of those in my restaurant and those I still know who work in catering and local restaurants will differ. They actually work harder to impress hoping they can get more. It usually works.

                        Where are you from

                      2. re: nkeane

                        I am less a fan of the automatic gratuity, but then I tend to tip generously.

                        Considering your scenario in the last paragraph, that is where I usually write a letter to the management to complain about the service and also the practice.

                        Unfortunately, there are some servers, who will slack, because they know they will get 20%, or whatever, gratuity. Fortunately, not many, but some.

                        I've been the guy, who picks up the total tab, and receives the cash from the other diners. Some times, they do not calculate a tip, though one is mentioned. I always just pick up the full bill, with appropriate gratuity, and often the "miscalculation" of the other diners. This stuff just happens, and someone needs to buck-up for the server. When the calculators and copies of the menu come out, I usually know that I will pay my bill, my tip and then a good deal of "underage." Then, I seldom dine with these folk again.


                      3. Large parties are very difficult. It's a lot to orchestrate, and that's if everyone just orders off the menu and doesn't think it's cute to ask for everything on the side or to deconstruct a composed dish. In most restaurants, the best servers get the large groups because it's not something most newbies can handle.
                        Even in small parties where there are 3-4 people who ask to cut the check in equal parts, it's amazing to see the difference in tipping among those friends. One person will tip 10, the other 20. In large groups, I think bad tippers may assume that everyone else is making up for it, so they wouldn't need to bother tipping more. It's just a little insurance and helps the server get through it.

                        1. Thought I'd chime in with the scientific, social-psychological explanation: One process that is happening is the diffusion of responsibility. The more people in a position to potentially help, the less responsibility most individuals will assume -- someone else will do it. The classic example was the fatal stabbing of Kitty Genovese in NYC in 1964, where she was stabbed in multiple attacks over a period of time, with her screams heard by dozens of people. When asked why they didn't call the police, the common response was, "I was sure someone else would." Another phenomenon occurring at the same time is the social definition of the event. We look to the actions, or inactions, of others for clues on how to interpret a situation and to define what is an acceptable or appropriate response. When we observe others do nothing or little, we use that information to justify to ourselves that the situation is unimportant and that our inaction or minimal contribution is all that is expected or normal. Finally, there is the invisibility of being just one of a group or crowd, the reduction of accountability.

                          So in the tipping situation, most people feel less responsibility to tip heavily when in a big group because surely others will take up their slack. Also, that person ordered a drink and I only had water, so I shouldn't be paying more than or as much as him. That couple on the other side only put in so much? Well, they must have thought the service wasn't that good too. And finally, as long as I dump something onto the pile left at the table, that server will never know what I paid, anyway.

                          14 Replies
                          1. re: nosh

                            Nosh, this is so sad, and so true. I've seen it happen SO many times. Divvying up the check becomes such agony for so many people, it makes me want to avoid group restaurant events all together. In another situation (I've elaborated in another thread) I was in a group of 5, where our hostess got plastered and bragged that even though she was drunk, she could still calculate 15% for the tip.. If I had even a hint that she was going to be so obnoxious, I would have taken a moment to leave the table, flag down the server, and tell him to autograt our party.

                            I think the worst example is poor rockandroller, who got stuck with the Jesus-doesnt-tip cards. Those people should be ashamed of themselves. They are raising a whole passel of non-tipping adults. And they probably tithe 10% to their church!

                            1. re: Cheflambo

                              And Jesus doesn't pay taxes either.

                              I had hosted a birthday party for Mrs. Doc at a nice catering/restaurant for a brunch. Maybe 20 people. I was upset with the service when the coffee was served 30 minutes after the cake. I discreetly complained to the manager, Mrs. doc did not want an argument. The manager agreed that this was wrong. The waiter put on the 20% auto tip. When I spoke to him about the problem his answer was "You had a good time with your friends, what are you complaining about?" I bit my tongue in deference to wife and paid the check. She saved this idiots tip. BTW I never got my own coffee although the rest of my party had.

                            2. re: nosh

                              While comparing Kitty Genovese's murder to the act of non-tipping might be a little much, the explanation of the Bystander Effect is correct, but I tend to disagree when it comes to tipping. It seems to me that in most instances the cheapest person will lunge to calculate the check as to save him/herself $2-3. Those who are aware of this person's miserly ways will probably just accept it, thus proving your point.

                              I myself don't go to dinner with those types of people when I can help it, and I almost always ask what the total was (pre-tip) and if I feel the server is being slighted, I request to throw in the difference. This usually will make another member of the party also contribute.

                              The rules of tipping have changed so much over the past few years, and the thought that 15% is actually still seen is appalling. I regularly tip 25%. If the service was terrible, I give 20%, if it was great, I will compensate based on how great it was, the quality of the meal, buybacks, etc.

                              1. re: jhopp217

                                "and the thought that 15% is actually still seen is appalling"

                                That is the subject of much debate. And jfood would ask that people please refrain from all of these adjectives describing what many feel are still standard tips.

                                1. re: jfood

                                  15% was a standard tip....in the 70's!

                                  1. re: jhopp217

                                    Jfood understands people really want to believe that normal tipping is mid 20's+ but the data just does not support either that 15% was a 1970's data point or that mid-20's is normal. Here are a few URLs to review.

                                    If you have anything other than your experience jfood would love to see it.


                                    1. re: jfood

                                      Based on your charts I'm Donald F'in Trump!

                                      $2 on delivery? I rarely give less than 15% on delivery. In fact if I get it for myself, I have never tipped less than $3, and food for two, never less than $5

                                      And those bartender numbers should be more specific. 10-15% unless you are actually sitting at the bar for any length of time. How can I sit and watch footbal at a bar for 4 hours, get a bill of $40 and tip $6. That is insulting. I have taken a seat for four hours that could have been filled by 2-3 people who would have each tipped around $5. I usually tip between $33-50 of the bill if I sit at the bar.

                                      15% is cheap. It wasn't in the 70's when people could survive on $60 a night. But times have changed. If I go into a diner and get eggs and coffee (w free refills) and my bill is $8. How can I not leave my server at least $3-4

                                      In the course of any given week, between dining out (not fancy), takeout, and bartenders, I probably spend about $275 a week. Out of that, I would say $75 of that is in tips. I might be the exception, but I think when you get good service it's worth showing your appreciation.

                                      I also work for a company that gets deliveries and I tip out of my own pocket (I'm not the boss) when the delivery guys take everything off the truck. You'd be surprised at how $10 makes that next delivery the first one in the morning, or the last of the day. Plus, I don't have to lift a finger and if I don't have anything that time for them, they still put forth the effort the next time, knowing that at least I do make the effort where as most do not.

                                      1. re: jhopp217


                                        First thing please fix the hair. :-))

                                        And like most things in life, the real answer is "it depends". Jfood once went to breakfast after golf with some old guys and breakfast special was $1.99. Tax brought it to $2.22. They each left $2.50. Jfood left $10.

                                        And there are plenty of delivery tip threads. Very different amounts by type and distance, et. al.

                                        Jfood's point was not creating a science out of it, but 25% is as much an outlier as 5%. And 20% for bad service? Very generous. And if you are tipping $75 on $200, they should buy you your own stool and call you Norm.


                                        1. re: jfood

                                          They haven't got the stool in yet, but the Norm thing has been thrown my way quite a few times! I would prefer Cliff, but they seem to think I have more physical qualities of Norm. And after a few too many, I'm sure the mental qualities of him too.

                                        2. re: jhopp217

                                          can you come eat at my restaurant everyday..pls??? hahah

                                      2. re: jhopp217

                                        But, because it's a percentage of dinner and because dinner prices have gone up, tips have gone up. I'm not saying 15% is enough but this argument always suprises me because it's not logical. Long and Fosters tried to go to 7% realtor commissions and one realtor complained that she'd only been getting 6% for the past 20 years and therefore, has never gotten a raise (never mind that house prices increased more than 5 fold) in the 90's. I thought, now that is a realtor I will NEVER hire if she has such a poor concept of math. Using the logic that the percentages must rise, eventually tips will be 100% and climbing.

                                    2. re: jhopp217

                                      Well, please continue to tip 20% for "terrible" service, because somebody has to make up for my wicked ways. I wouldn't be able to look at myself in the mirror if I threw a fifth of the check at someone who wasn't doing his or her job properly.

                                    3. re: nosh

                                      I always think people who don't tip well don't tip well, whether they're in a group or not. I wonder, though, if the tip were paid in the middle of service, how much better it would be than when people can slink out quietly. If people had to face the person they undertipped, instead of slinking out, they might think twice.

                                      1. re: nosh

                                        When dining in un-hosted groups, we usually discuss the gratuities, so that each paying party is on the same page. There is little worse that two couples doing 22% and one doing 10%. If there is any quesiton, as to who had what, I'll just pick up the tab, tip on it, and be done with the whole mess. If there is a foie gras dish on the menu, I am very likely to have it, though it might mean one more course (plus an appropriate wine) for me. I always offer to take a larger "share," and have been known to instantly share with a party of 5, when the fifth is a family member of the other couple. In the end, it all works out.

                                        What I do not like is the surreptitious gratuity, that is often "hidden" within the bill. I see this often in the UK. At least in most cases in the US, it's listed and I can either pay it and add, or pay it and later complain. Fortunately, I seldom have to complain. Most servers are doing their best to satisfy.


                                      2. As a diner, I like the practice when eating out w/ others. It seems that some people always pay less than they're supposed to and I end up paying so much more (eg recent trip w/ other dance moms and I paid $85 for two pasta dishes and a dessert for my daughter and me). I ate out w/ my Italian class and was so grateful the waitress thought to give everyone separate checks w/out us requesting it. It's hard to know what non-friends do. I added extra to the tip because she did it. So, in your case, the waiter would have gotten the extra money, regardless. But, it does bother me if the service is poor to have 20% automatically added. I had a server tell me she had to add it but if I wanted to add more, I could. I saw her three times during the whole meal--once to take the order, once to bring the food, once to give us the check and we had to flag her down for the order and the check. Restaurant was empty.

                                        1. A local restaurant used to automatically add the tip even on small parties. Our first visit became our last for many years when we had a rude server and the tip was added on our bill for a party of two.

                                          The restaurant discontinued the practice, and we've now been back several times. I understand that the owner has two other restaurants in the area that still include the tip on all bills.

                                          IMO, if you're going to add the tip automatically, why not just increase the prices 20% and say NO tipping? Just a thought.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: LJBTampa

                                            In my tourist area they are starting to add the tip on all meals because the have been running buy one get one deals and people were only tipping on the one meal.

                                            1. re: LaLa

                                              I think they should add tips to BOGO meals, and discounts. Too many people don't know they're supposed to tip on total or forget.

                                            1. re: jhopp217

                                              Gee, that receipt must be from the 70's since the amount of tip equals 16.7% of the after tax total if the sales tax were only calculated on the food.

                                              1. re: jhopp217

                                                From that article "Studies demonstrate that waiters can increase their tips by introducing themselves by name, squatting alongside tables, touching diners and drawing smiley faces on the backs of checks."

                                                I don't know who they surveyed or studied for that conclusion. Not me. I hate it when waiters squat beside the table, and DO NOT touch me.

                                                1. re: Sooeygun

                                                  agreed. squatting beside the table is so unprofessional and makes me squirm. seems as though the waiter is tired and needs to "sit" and/or lean on something...

                                                  1. re: Sooeygun

                                                    I am less a fan of this level of familiarity. I would choose a server, who knows the menu, the kitchen that night, and is a bit more formal. I might even deduct for a "smiley face." They are there to serve me, and not win a spot in my heart to date my daughter, or son, if I had one. I do want them to feel comfortable with me, but I will not be taking them home. They need to understand this, going in. Keep it factual, plain and courteous. Give me info on any question that I might ask about the menu, and serve my guests, or dining companions in a very timely fashion. If we encounter a problem, either handle it immediately, or get someone, who can, to my table in a hurry. Expedite any replacement dishes from the kitchen.

                                                    I do like being able to address my server, or my captain, by name, though that is not 100% necessary. Still, I'd rather summon "James," than "hey, you." Not my style.

                                                    Tell me of any problems that the kitchen might be having, especially if it impacts my, or my guests' choices. Please do not share how your day is going. I will also refrain from sharing my day with you. If I order a wine that you KNOW will not go with the particular prep of whatever, please take it upon yourself to have the sommelier stop by.

                                                    If a server follows these, plus a few "givens," they are likely to receive more than most would tip.

                                                    A server should first "serve," and then inform. Beyond that, I am not likely to want much more, especially "smiley faces." If I want those, I can download a bunch from a dozen sites. I am the patron - you are the server, but at no time do I assume that you are indentured to me. Just do a professional job, and make my evening (or whatever) memorable, and we will get along swimmingly, plus your tip will be good.


                                                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                      Mr. Hunt,

                                                      I am afraid to call you Bill, as you might find it disrespectful and hunt me down and kill me. Wow, that was some post. I pretty much disagree with everything you said. I want my server to asbolutely tell me their name and familiarize himself with me. I want to know that he respects me and I respect him. If a server doesn't feel comfortable with me, he might not be there when I need him.

                                                      The only point you made that holds any validity for me, is the comment about not wanting to hear about the servers day. I do dislike when a server tells me how busy it's been. When someone works for tips, that is a good thing, right?

                                                      I have dined with people who exhibit the feelings that you have put down so precisely, and I can say, they never...ever leave a tip that is more than most. That is because they feel entitled and superior. Now I'm not saying that is the man you are, but you sure sounds like quite a afew I know.

                                                      Finally I like to be informed and then served, not vice versa. I would like to know what the specials are, I want to know what is in season, I want to know if there is anything wonderful that people are raving about. I want to know what he eats when he eats there. Then I want to be served.

                                                      Your humble servant

                                                      1. re: jhopp217

                                                        Bill is cool. You are safe from me, and no need for "witness protection programs."

                                                        It's fine to disagree. I stated my feelings, you stated yours, however much they might diverge.

                                                        Yes, they (the servers) are serving me. However, I attempt to give them the utmost respect, and anticipate the same, reciprocally.

                                                        I do not plan on counting them amongst my “friends,” but greatly appreciate their efforts. Those efforts will be rewarded very well, and likely above that of many other diners in their station’s realm.

                                                        I often defer to their knowledge of the menu and the kitchen that night. They should know if the halibut is fresh, or left over from four days before. The menu might read the same, but the server will likely (or should) know about that night. I entrust myself, and my guests to their knowledge and professionalism.

                                                        I’m not really sure that we disagree, as much as you might think, but if we do, so be it.


                                                      2. re: Bill Hunt


                                                        jfood agrees with most, if not all, of what you say but it does come across a bit harsh.

                                                        Like you jfood and the server are in a professional relationship from thesit-down to the leave. Saying hello my nae is Tom is fine plus How are you works as well, and that should be the level of chit-chat.

                                                        Like you jfood does not want them date his daughters, does not want a lengthy how was your day and absolutely wants facts. If the kitchen has only 5 Prime ribs left (happened last night) inform ther table. If a party of 12 has just been seated let him know so he can order before the slam.

                                                        First things first..."hello my name is tom, i will be serving you this evening. can i get anyone a cocktail while you get comfortable." Bam, good start.

                                                        Do not sit, do not come down to eye level, do not reach across jfood's nose to save a few steps, just be courtious and helpful and jfood will do likewise. And most important do not lie and take jfood for a fool. He can smell BS from 30 yards and Mrs jfood can smell it from 50. Do not tell jfood the food will be out in a minute when you know it is 15 minutes out.

                                                        And wrt the smiley face, if jfood has just spent >$100's on a dinner, has not complained, has not sent something back and you have not screwed up, a smiley face is NOT going to increase your tip. If there has been a screw up and jfood sees this smiley face, it may incense him as well. There is no upside to the smiley face at a restaurant. Ding the tip, probably not, since it has probably been determined over the previous 2 hours.

                                                        Just do your job and jfood promises to do his. Pretty simple stuff.

                                                        1. re: jfood

                                                          I have long been in awe of jfood and his articulation of common sense. Sounds about right to me again.

                                                          1. re: jfood

                                                            Sorry if it came across as harsh. It was not intended to be so. I appreciate a good server, and rely on them all of the time. I want them to feel comfortable with recommendations and suggestions. However, I expect them to be spot-on for that night, if they talk me, or my party into going with dish X. If they are good, and professional, they will. There will be no "up-sell" on anything, unless it's really, really good.

                                                            Considering the heat that I have taken, it is obvious that I did not articulate my feelings, as well as I had hoped to. I like your comment on "a professional relationship," as that is what I want, expect, and appreciate. I do not look upon my server(s) as being of a lower "station in life," but as a professional, who is hired to serve me and my guests. It is the same for my attorney, my physician and my financial planner, though my attorney happens to be a good friend.

                                                            Sorry if I was not clear.


                                                          2. re: Bill Hunt

                                                            Obviously, my observations and feelings either did not translate to word well, or there is some vast conspiracy, where the words I typed, and appear on my monitor, are not the words that show up on CH. I know that the site has been having some problems lately, but have not seen this. After I read three replies, taking me to task, I began to get the feeling that something wasn’t translating well. Though I re-read my post, I just could not see what the fuss was about, but the subscribers to CH do not usually go off half-cocked. Must be something there, that I am missing, and missing in a big way. Either that, or I AM Ebenezer Scrooge, the Grinch and, maybe the Terminator, all rolled into one.

                                                            First, I am a visual communicator, and not a word-smith. I admit that, but I usually do not miss my intended mark so poorly, as I must have in my reply.

                                                            Instead of defending a position, that seems to have raised so many hackles, let me put it all another way, just to clarify. I’ll use an anecdotal discussion that I had with the then CEO of the Ritz-Carlton chain back in the late ‘80s, or early ‘90s. The Ritz-Carlton chain had just won their first Malcolm P Baldridge National Quality Award. I had the good fortune to dine with him and asked for a summary of how they achieved this high rating. His words put it all beautifully together, “we look upon the situation as ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.” [Paraphrase due to the passing years.] That statement pretty much sums up my feelings, and was said in a manner far more simple and elegant, than I could ever convey.

                                                            That was what I was attempting to convey, with a few examples. That is what I want, anticipate and react with my gratuity based on. I want the relationship to be purely professional in every way. I do appreciate a certain familiarity, but not too much. I look to the server, or service team to be efficient, friendly and to provide me with insights, that I might not otherwise have, unless I had dined the night before on the same exact fare. I offer great respect for the server and expect the same in return.

                                                            I am sorry that I missed getting that point across. I was wrong in my statements, and the good folk of CH were right, based on the number of replies. I missed my mark, and must have done so horribly.

                                                            Sorry for the brevity of my replies, but I was battling winds that reached gale force on my patio. I was trying to get the session over, to get the laptop back inside, before everything blew into a nearby county. Now, it’s calm. The sun is shining and I can type at my leisure.

                                                            The fault lies squarely with the words that I typed, and not with everyone’s reading of them. Though I could not find the problems with them, they must exist. The sheer number of people, who were left with the same impression is overwhelming. I am to blame, and I apologize for not stating things more clearly. Mea culpa - mea culpa.


                                                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                              I guess for a brief post, you weren't in Kansas anymore!

                                                            2. re: Bill Hunt

                                                              100% agree- I would rather have an efficient server, even a little surly, than the nice one that forgets everything and keeps apoligizing.

                                                              1. re: waitress

                                                                Oh how true.

                                                                Three weeks ago:

                                                                Ordered special pasta at 730 - returned with sorry we are out
                                                                Ordered clams prepared one way, brought another - sorry we will refire, 20 minute wait with others staring at their apps
                                                                Ordered pasta for entree, inedible - sorry would you like something else...yup the check.

                                                            3. re: Sooeygun

                                                              My SO and I bet on the later appearance of a smiley face when servers squat like a duck to introduce themselves [shudder]. The meal then becomes a game of spotting the next quirky waiter behavior - fun but I rather just have a good meal professionally served.

                                                              1. re: alwayscooking

                                                                I've seen a few studies, that indicate a better acceptance of the server, if they lower themselves to eye-level. Personally, I've never cared one way, or the other. I do like to know the server's name, and will often ask for it, should it not be offered. Same for much of the service team, should there be one.

                                                                As for "smilies," I do not expect to see them on my check from Guy Savoy, but have no problems if I'm at a much more relaxed spot. Does it influence me to tip better? No. The service does that.

                                                                Now, I have to admit that I am from the Deep South. Waitstaff is often much more "familiar" there. There are many restaurants, that have had the same servers for decades, and certain families would not think of dining there, should they not have their "family waiter." I wonder who gets the "family waiter," should there be a divorce. Also, there it's common for two and three generations to be waitstaff at the same restaurant. Things can be a bit different, and I'm sure that years of this has tempered my thoughts on how a server does their work. Still, at the end of the day, it's not about how many times he/she touched my shoulder, knelt by the table, or what they drew on the check. It is about the service, and while I grade hard, I do tip well.

                                                                I do see negative comments on servers' deprotment all of the time, but things that others notice must slip over my head.


                                                          3. I am not a waitperson. Never have been. However, in the above cited instance, the person would have gotten the original, intended gratuity, as a reward for being upfront and honest, though he/she probably knew that it would yield less for them. Honesty should have some reward.

                                                            Recently stayed at an "all-inclusive" lodge. If the efforts of the staff were above the ordinary, I tipped "extra." Each was quick to inform me that the lodge was "all-inclusive." That made my "extra" tip more worthwhile. They risked getting much less, but were also very forthcoming, which made my decision to tip them "extra" more worthwhile.

                                                            If someone finds my lost wallet, and all of the money is inside, they will get part of that. For me, it's never in question.

                                                            Sorry to reply, when you were so specific on your audience. Please do not take offense, but I felt strongly enough to risk being flamed.


                                                            1. I used to own a restaurant and I served. As many people have said, it depends on the demographics. We added gratuity for over 8 people. We stamped the check so there was no misunderstanding. Our tourist season was filled with large parties of drunk people who - can be a crapshoot tipwise. They either forget or tip crazily. For you, if gratuity has been added and the service was exceptional, by all means add on extra. If she tries to give it back tell her to keep it. If the service was terrible, PLEASE refuse to pay the added gratuity and speak to the manager who WILL take it off. If service was adequate - good then round up or get it to the penny if that pleases you.

                                                              I used to balk adding gratuity to large parties until I had one of those tables.

                                                              Poster with the children with separate checks: My sympathies. Thank you for the knowing chuckle.

                                                              8 Replies
                                                              1. re: Sal Vanilla

                                                                so recently my work had told us that due to a revenue canada thing, we are no longer allowed to put a grat on a table. No normally if the large group is of competent adults I have enough faith in my serving ability to know I will make more than what i would have than with a 15% grat. However, this supposed "legislation" is troubling because over the weekend, I had a 25 top reservation of teenagers who not only were half an hour late inh arriving but also turned out to be only about 11. Not only did they not tip, they shorted me sixty nine cents. Taking up my entire section, and leaving me to tip out close to 10 dollars...which meant I essentially made approx 5 dollars an hour while they were there.........thoughts?

                                                                1. re: yuyu

                                                                  Speaking from someone in the restaurant business I understand your frustration, but it all averages out in the long run doesn't it?

                                                                  1. re: monku

                                                                    Unfortunately it does not seem to work out. Although most people are in the 18-20% range it is more likely for people to undertip than overtip especially recently with the economy the way it is. Large groups are the worst and one of the biggest pet peeves I have(and most servers agree with) is when three people will put down lets say 60 dollars and two people will split the remainder of 40 dollars on their cards. Well unfortunately the people who split the remainder on their cards only tip on the amount put in front of them, so 20 each in this case, therefore there is 60 dollars the server does not get tipped on in the slightest.

                                                                    As far as smiley faces and squatting you need to be able to read your audience I think. Family with kids? Yes, I would find it appropriate to squat down and talk to them, especially when talking to the children. Four businessman discussing a file? No, absolutely not. As a server you should be able to tell very quickly whether your table cares about talking to you or not. Either way as long as you are polite to me I don't care either way, we can chat about our crappy days if you want to or we can exchange nothing more than simple pleasantries and discussion about the menu.

                                                                    1. re: monku

                                                                      let me ask you..if you were working a "regular" 9-5 job..and one day your boss decided to pay you less than 1/2 your wages..in the POTENTIAL....that it averages out over a week...would you be OK with it?

                                                                      1. re: yuyu

                                                                        I said over the "long run".
                                                                        The poster mentioned one incident. The poster also said under a normal situation they'd make more than 15%

                                                                        Never really had a 9-5 salary job.
                                                                        When I was in restaurant management for 7 years, there were some 14 hour days and 60+ hour weeks, did it average out, maybe. When I hear a server complain about making $5/hour in tips- in there they got an hourly minimum wage also....that's more per hour than I was making if I was working a 60+ hour week. Sure they're isolated incidents and every server has a story like that.

                                                                        I went on to be stockbroker and sure there was a small guarantee every month against your commissions, but the first day of the month you start at zero. Took me several years to make good money, but when I look back, in the long run it maybe it averaged out for during those lean times.

                                                                        I tip 20%+, does that average out for the one customer that tips 10%?

                                                                        1. re: monku

                                                                          "I tip 20%+, does that average out for the one customer that tips 10%?"

                                                                          Except it's not one customer. It depends on the geographic area of the restaurant, the typical customers, the check average, how many shifts you get that week, etc. My last serving job, it was definitely an 8-10% average. You got some great people who did tip 20% but you got a lot of retired people and families and teenagers who tipped anywhere from zero, less than zero or up to maybe 12% on average. When you have to make up the amount of the check out of your own pocket because they didn't leave you enough money, or you have people who tip 8%, the 20% people really don't make up the difference.

                                                                          1. re: rockandroller1

                                                                            I agree it depends on the area and the check average(type of restaurant) what the average customer tip might be.

                                                                            I worked at a place where suits on expense accounts ate and entertained. There was a high proportion of professional servers (lifers-not an interim job or part timers) because the money was very good. Sure, they'd complain about the occasional bad tip situations, but being professionals they knew it was a numbers game. Sure, sometimes for the number of hours I had to put in they made more per hour than me,

                                                                          2. re: monku

                                                                            It is true that it generally evens out - UNLESS you work in a place that caters to large parties or young adults/children. There is some anonymity associated with a large group check. I have seen the one person who is gathering the cash for the check have to force people to pony up their portion. You can imagine what the tip will be. If there is alcohol people get even cheaper. "I only had a glass of that" or "I did not choose that expensive wine, I am going to pay the amount of what I would have ordered..." believe me it is endless. Would not happen if they were alone or in a small party.

                                                                            And then there are parties where they are foreign. Canadians (by and large) merely round up on their check. French, Japanese... same. If you work in a primarily tourist destination where the majority of your customers are foreign - there is no even out. And then there are the taxes on the tips.

                                                                            Not all restaurants are the same.

                                                                  2. I am very math challenged...I always approximate
                                                                    ...a $143.00 restaurant bill
                                                                    quick calculation 10% =14.30 double that $28.60 I leave $30.00 and if the service was exceptional at a restaurant I frequent , then I palm $20.00 to my waiter on the way out the door. If the serviced sucked they get the $14.30(ya can't take iut with ya!)

                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Hue

                                                                      Why do you "palm" the waiter $20? Why not just pay everything together?

                                                                      1. re: Hue

                                                                        I am wondering about the palming too.

                                                                        If the food sucked would you take that out of the tip?

                                                                        1. re: Sal Vanilla

                                                                          I never understand why people shaft the waiter if the food wasn't good. The waiter can't control what comes out of the kitchen.

                                                                          1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                            Excellent point KT, and something I've never understood myself. I can't imagine shorting a server for something entirely out of his or her control.

                                                                            That being said, unlike others on another thread that was posted, I have absolutely no qualms about being completely honest with a server if s/he asks about how I like the food. Granted, I will do it politely and with grace (I am a good Southern Boy, after all), but I will certainly let them know if it did not meet my tastes -- with a few exceptions based on setting, time and place.

                                                                            If the kitchen messes up, I tell the server (or manager), and it gets removed from the bill, I still always make sure to tip based on the entire meal, not just what was on the check.

                                                                          2. re: Sal Vanilla

                                                                            I' think what Hue meant with the plaming statement was to give something on top of the tip that would be split between the waiters. I've done this too. Tipped 20% on the bill and on the way out explained that I wanted my server to have an extra $20.

                                                                            The question about the food is an interesting one. I myself have left a lesser tip because the food was bad, but that was because it wasn't hot when it was served and I assumed that the server was to blame. I might have been wrong, but when I complained about it the waiter said he'd take it back to be heated. I had a steak and it would have been a little too well done had they reheated it. I didn't feel like waiting another 20-30 minutes for another one either. I think I left 15% exactly.

                                                                        2. I am a restaurant professional who's waitered, managered and now owns. The opinions expressed hereinabove seem to me to be a pretty good reflection of the types and proportion of tippers out there.

                                                                          Automatic gratuities are necessary. This from experience: times when servers have either trusted a group to pay the gratuity, or worse, forgotten to attach the gratuity (we hand-write checks). Some folks who normally tip 15%-18% become cheapskates when dining with a group (with separate checks but "group gratuity") and try to slink off without paying the gratuity. It warms my heart when others in a group will dutifully write in a gratuity on their charge slips, only to be told that it's been added into their bill. Some of these folks say "let it stand; the service was great!"

                                                                          To Bill Hunt and the others who disdain server familiarity: this is a case-by-case issue. The professional server is mindful of his/her customers' needs and will be polite but distant with some, and "warm and fuzzy" with others. Some customers thoroughly enjoy the jocular, warm and familiar approach. These are diners who typically go out less frequently or are more emotionally "needy."

                                                                          In a perfect world, we wouldn't need to tip servers at all, and service at all restaurants would be excellent all the time. Until then, we'll be forced to abide by auto-tipping when out with groups, but we'll also reserve the right to complain about it if service is slipshod.