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Feb 25, 2010 03:50 PM

"Customer Dubbed Poor Tipper Refused Service"


I have mixed feelings about this. But I really would like to know how much this woman tipped to result in such a ban. According to the video, she had been going to this restaurant "for years" so also unclear why the restaurant would do this now?

I feel this is an ill-advised business practice.


  1. I think a business should have the right to refuse service to anyone unless it violates the standard discrimination exceptions.

    If a customer is not pleasant or is rude you should be able to deep six them. If they don't tip then deep six them. The danger in doing this of course is you might be left with no customers.

    1 Reply
    1. re: duck833

      I agree with this.

      Whether or not tipping is a social contract, an agreement between a patron and a restaurant to trade food for money is an actual contract. No private person or business has a "right" to contract with anyone else. The business here decided the costs of doing business with this customer outweighed the benefits!

    2. I think this is awesome!

      She can complain all she wants. This isn't racism. This isn't sexism, etc. This is a direct result of her cheapness. She says she's angry because she's being treated differently than other people, but if she's not willing to conform to tipping standards, she's acting differently. She has to accept responsibility for her actions.

      It takes some seriously awful tips in order for staff to refuse to wait on you, especially for the owners to get behind it. Think about it- the owners aren't even willing to take her money. That's really telling.

      34 Replies
      1. re: invinotheresverde

        I'll be the first one to tell you the customer is not always right....but I also believe you should serve anyone and everyone, unless of course they have caused problems on a repeated basis. These people cannot be pleased and should be banned.

        I purposely did not read the attached link before posting ......because immediately, I was reminded of the story of an old man who always looked a little disheveled who used to come into a small diner in some small town, USA. He used to leave small tips and eventually all the waitresses (older women), but one, refused to wait on the old man. The one who did wait on him every time he stopped into the diner was a younger girl. The story cited how this young girl still made a point of treating him kindly like he was a family member.......the end of the story is, when the old man passed, he left his fortune entirely to the young girl......which was in the millions.

        1. re: fourunder

          well that is a charming story. I don't buy it, but even if I did, it doesn't explain or in any way excuse his treatment of those servers.

          1. re: lisa13


            And, in my opinion, continually leaving what has got to be a terrible tip IS causing problems on a regular basis, fourunder. The tip is part of the cost of the meal. If, time and time again, this woman doesn't feel she needs to pay the tip, she wouldn't be welcome in my restaurant, either.

            Also, rewarding one waitress doesn't make up for the poor treatment of the others.

            1. re: invinotheresverde

              I was at one of my favorite restaurants and a couple of the women there were comparing paychecks, they were both under 10 dollars. These people work for tips, it's their livelihood. Why shoud they work for free? They've shared some of the horror stories of dealing with rude customers. I work retail, fortunately I rarely deal with the public, but I've been cursed out by entitled customers for something that is no fault of mine.

              1. re: invinotheresverde

                i and j,

                While I am usually in agreement with both of you on many issues, here I will have to disagree. Plain and simple, tips are optional.... there is no social contract to leave anything. If this were true, then you would not have so many people leaving what is considered a bad tip for perceived miscues, instead of a 15% minimum.. In my youth when I worked bars or nightclubs, more patrons did not leave tips, then did leave tips. At the end of the night, 10% of the draw was the norm....which was fine, because the draw was always big, so the tips were more than acceptable in the end.

                As a past worker, manager and owner.....I can tell you I always believed things balanced out in the end. You get stiffed today, but tomorrow someone leaves you an exceptionally generous tip for no apparent reason. I never lost any sleep when someone did not leave something. can correct me if i am wrong, but I do not believe you have ever been an owner, correct? While I agree owner's should do their best to make a pleasant workplace for all their staff....the simple truth is they cannot guarantee you will be left a tip. Unless the house guarantees you will make a certain amount each shift, that's the chance you take as a server. In the end, the house has to make money to be successful for all. If you turn away a customer, you lose dollars......sometimes that's a necessary thing to do, as I have indicated earlier, but as an owner, I would expect you to serve everyone who comes through the door, unless I direct you otherwise. For me the decision is an owner's prerogative, not a manager or any employee.... I can tell you stories of a certain group of people that are known not to ever leave tips ....yes, it's a stereotype, but if they were ever banned, it would not be worth it in the end to deal with the decision to do so.....This is from actual experiences

                1. re: fourunder

                  Usually Invino and jfood disagree so this is a rarity.

                  1) Plain and simple, tips are optional - totally agree (enter social contract versus must do's) and the reason that the US has tips versus service charge is the subject of a different thread and many do-loops
                  2) There is no social contract to leave anything - Optionality and social contract are two separate items. You show up at a place knowing that a tip is expected you have entered into a social contract
                  3) If this were true, then you would not have so many people leaving what is considered a bad tip for perceived miscues instead of a 15% minimum- a contract has two parties, each expected to perform. Miscues on one side can be met with reduction on the other

                  Jfood agrees that the owner makes the final decision on who gets served, and in this case the employees told the owner they would not serve this customer. Owner sided with the employees. As jfood stated somewhere on this thread, he thinks the owner should have told the customer of the issue, told her that if there was a problem that she should reach out to him, but if the service was up to par, he would hope that she left at least a 15% tip. Then if she did not, he could tell her that her next visit would have the fixed + surcharge 18%. Then when the reporter shows up he says, "I tried to work with her but she continued to refuse to leave a tip."

                  Without that jfood would bet that the service would eventual reach equilibrium with the tip, that water glass is slow for refill, when the veggies and shrimp started getting divied up her plate hers would be a little short changed, a little extra salt on her portion, the hostess would lead her to a less than perfect area, all kinds of soft ftuff would happen to her.

                  You show up and disrespect the restaurant and its staff, do not expect warm and fuzzies. It's a good rule in life, treat people how you want to be treated.

                  1. re: jfood

                    Agreed. If one cannot afford to, or is unwilling to tip, eat at home.
                    If they paid servers a higher wage it would simply be reflected in the prices on the menus, thus not giving the servers any incentive to do an excellent job. The system works except for cheapskates.

                  2. re: fourunder

                    I agree that a server needs to do their job, but as a manager, you have to protect your staff, otherwise you wont have one. Unless you hire high school kids and expect nothing from them, your staff wont work for minimum wage alone. Sure, the house gets its money for whatever items are sold, but the negative morale costs more than what you'd lose by telling a notorious stiffer to not come back. I'm not talking about a certain race of people that tends to tip badly, I'm talking about an individual person who constantly leaves little to nothing.

                    1. re: Azizeh


                      I with you for the most part, but consider this......employees can be replaced.....reputations cannot. If my choice is to serve someone who doesn't tip, or live with the consequences of banning such person and in the process.....receive backlash from customers, negative press in the papers, internet or 300 people who signed a petition to boycott.....the decision is easy for me......I'll take a twenty out of my pocket and let the server order lobster....

                      1. re: fourunder

                        Every business decision has customers happy or upset. Let's hope that when the people who signed the petition see this they will call her up and tell her to get her butt to that place, apologize and give them some money for past stiffings. Yeah right, but jfood can hope.

                        But mybe they will have the common courtesy to call the owner and apologize that they were not given the whole story before they signed the petition. Jfood hopes for the greater good on this one. Hopefully there is a report back in a few weeks.

                        1. re: fourunder

                          I work for one of the most successful restaurants in the country and management regularly asks people who don't tip not to return.

                          With that being said, I understand that most places don't have the same reputation as we do and the bad press could hurt them.

                          I'm wondering what the opinion is of this, outside of the food world where we all act pretty decent in restaurants.

                          1. re: fourunder

                            The only folks who are going to be offended by a restaurant banning a bad tipper are other bad tippers. Let them boycott the restaurant...

                            1. re: StheJ

                              i am an overly generous tipper. i'm completely offended by this story.

                                1. re: thirtyeyes

                                  because i find adding an 18% gratuity for a party of 3 when the menu lists 15% for a party of 6 outrageous.

                                  but mostly because, given the article, which is all the info most of us have had in this thread, is inconclusive, but people are jumping to conclusions.

                                  1. re: thew

                                    Yes I agree with this point; regardless of how *later* information we've seen reflects on the situation, I think the original information *as presented* was ambiguous as to fault. And to those who say "well it was just obvious what was going on" I might say that keeping an open mind as to two sides of a story is always valuable. However bad she looks with further information, that information was not in the original story.

                        2. re: fourunder

                          I agree, but this woman is constantly tipping badly and is a regular in the place. If the service was awful, she wouldn't be back so often that they know her face. She's not tipping based on service, she's just a bad tipper.

                          1. re: fourunder

                            Tips are not optional.

                            Dining out is optional. If someone doesn't want to support a system depending on tips for service, that's certainly their choice. They can stay home and make and serve their own food.

                            If that person dines out in the US, however, tips are a required part of the system. Again, nobody says they have to like or agree with the system. But if they choose to join the system, they need to follow the rules. If they don't tip, the server who serves their table doesn't get paid for the work they've done. The server has done their part of the job, the customer is expected to do theirs.

                            If a restaurant decides to send that message loud and clear in such a way, kudos to them. I wish more places would do it.

                            1. re: Chris VR

                              C VR, I was reading the posts to see if anyone had a viewpoint like mine. Several do more or less. You posted pretty much exactly what I would have written, however.

                              1. re: fourunder

                                " In the end, the house has to make money to be successful for all. If you turn away a customer, you lose dollars......"

                                Agreed. That's why this woman must have been an extreme case. The owners weren't even willing to take her money (unless she adhered to the gratuity). Not many owners would risk losing a regular ($$$) just to keep their staff happy. For that to happen, this woman must really have continuously left almost nothing.

                                Also, if your whole wait staff is refusing to serve her, what are you going to do? Fire them all?

                                Also, it was more common not to tip, or tip less, back in your day. Today, people tip an acceptable amount for acceptable service. Who doesn't do that? Only those who don't deserve to dine out. Maybe this will eventually give this woman a clue: if she's been leaving atrociously bad tips for no reason, her behavior is deplorable.

                                1. re: fourunder

                                  There's no legal requirement that a customer tip, but there's no legal requirement that a restaurant serve a deadbeat customer, either. It's the customer's decision whether to tip and the restaurant's decision whether to seat her.

                                  In this case, the owner decided that this particular customer was so much trouble that he wouldn't seat her unless she agreed to tip appropriately. While you may believe that that was a bad business decision, the 1000 people who've signed the petition supporting the restaurant disagree with you. And at least some of those who signed the original petition are upset that their signatures were obtained under false pretenses.

                                  So your "actual experience" seems inconsistent with what the actual facts of this situation. If I lived in Winston-Salem I'd certainly make a point of patronizing Kanpai, and any other place that has the stones to stand up to abusive customers like Ms. Covington.

                                  1. re: alanbarnes


                                    Where exactly did you read from any of my comments I specifically disagreed with the decision to ban Ms Covington. I only threw out hypothetical situations. My original comment specifically stated I did not read the link, but relayed a story. Maybe you missed this sentence...

                                    If you turn away a customer, you lose dollars......sometimes that's a necessary thing to do, as I have indicated earlier,

                                    1. re: fourunder

                                      I was more focused on the bit about how "it would not be worth it in the end to deal with the decision" to refuse service to a group. But on reading more carefully I see that you're not talking about a few individuals, but a broader class. I also missed your comment about it occasionally being "a necessary thing to do." Sounds like we're on the same page. Sorry for not reading your post more carefully.

                                      1. re: alanbarnes

                                        As odd as it sounds, there are times when it is appropriate to "fire" a customer.

                                2. re: invinotheresverde


                                  Maybe you missed it, but my comments above said I made them purposely without reading the story. I wasn't defending anyone or the practice of stiffing servers.

                                    1. re: fourunder

                                      And none of the other servers treated him poorly.

                                      1. re: KTinNYC

                                        Give me a break ......the story was from over 17 years ago.....and I may have read a different account in another newsrag. You should be impressed I can even recall the story from so long ago.


                                  1. re: fourunder

                                    There are many definitions of "caused problems." It does not always mean carved bad words into the table top. If they have not lived up to their end of the social contract, many people, including jfood would include that in a bannable offense bucket.

                                    1. re: fourunder

                                      That's the line I use when stiffing waitresses: "Just wait 'til I'm dead!"

                                      They often volunteer to help me along.

                                      1. re: fourunder

                                        I just don't buy this story either... But even if it's true, what kind of a person would give 500k to someone they didn't know but not a decent tip for an actual service that they recieved? Answer = a jerk.

                                        1. re: fourunder

                                 its a myth. But as a bartender I do hate cheapskates who order frozen or elaborate drinks and do not tip. HOWEVER, I do have several regulars who I know are falling on hard times and they leave very meager tips if any at all, Those I don't mind serving with a smile because they are nice, they order an easy drink, and they talk to me like a friend. There are often people in the biz who are "high maintenance" service wise and "low rent" mentality. I do not care how much you earn, but when you talk down to me, and demand I treat you like a queen, then you leave a no tip... it is hard to crack a smile next time I see you.

                                      2. Right off the top of my head I thought: I wonder if this would happen in Europe? My second thought is why go where you aren't welcome? The whole mess makes me glad that I am cooking at home more.

                                        7 Replies
                                        1. re: givemecarbs

                                          "I wonder if this would happen in Europe?"

                                          Short answer is no. We take a generally different cultural attitude to tipping on this side of the Atlantic (and to the employment position/rights of restaurant staff). In some countries (like Belgium & France) a tip is never required or expected. In others, depending on national custom, a service charge may be levied or a tip expected, but it is *always* a voluntary matter - and many folk do not pay it.

                                          That said, it is an absolute right of a restaurant to refuse future service, except for reasons which contravene a country's specific discrimination laws.

                                          1. re: Harters

                                            Thanks Harters, that is what I thought. Another thing I have heard about your side of the Atlantic is that people can linger at their table and not feel rushed because the staff wants to fill the table again quickly. Is that generally true? At least the manager was upfront with her. I can think of ways the situation could have turned really ugly if he had let her in and then she received appalling service. Again, I can't imagine why the heck she would ever want to eat there again. Thank you for the insight on why this might have happened soupkitten I always enjoy your posts.

                                            1. re: givemecarbs

                                              servers here in the States want to turn tables because since they earn minimum wage, they count on tips for the bulk of their the greater the number of separate parties they wait on in a given service, the more money they'll hopefully/likely earn via tips.

                                              servers across the pond, however, make good salaries, which is why tipping is optional and not really all that common. of course the restaurant owners and managers still want to ring up as many meals as possible to generate revenue, but the servers aren't driven to do it by a desire for tips.

                                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                Some states have server wages set well below minimum wage. I was pretty shocked when I moved from CA to AZ and the server wage in AZ was $2.18hr in 1998. At that rate you need to turn tables and make great tips just to make a living.

                                                1. re: just_M

                                                  Server wage here in VA is $2.18/hr today, 2010

                                                  1. re: just_M

                                                    i meant to say minimum wage *at most* - sorry. yes, it's higher here in many other states it's no more than a couple of dollars.

                                                  2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                    Minimum wage up here(Alberta Canada) is $8.80/hr for all employees, servers included - rates vary by province and ours is one of the if not the lowest in the country. The minimum is just a floor's not unheard of for starting hourly to be $10.50/$11/hr though. I don't feel the same need to tip as I do when visiting the US but $8-11/hr barely makes ends meet so I usually start at 15%.

                                            2. It's interesting when you view the video. She is looking for "fairness" but it is unclear what the historical tipping pattern has been. The interview with the owner was very short and they did not ask / answer that question. And they did not ask her the question either...bad reporting / cutting. If she has been a customer for years and has either stiffed or SIGNIFICANTLY undertipped, the first step should have been a discussion between the owner and the customer to resolve. If that did not work, then the restaurant did the absolute correct thing. There is a social contract when you eat in a restaurant and she may have violated it. Jfood only wonders how she phrased the events to get 300 signatures.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: jfood

                                                though I agree this was very poorly reported (or edited), I got the impression that her definiition of "unfair" was that the restaurant says on its menu that it automatically adds 15% for large parties, and that not only is her party not large, but it also is charging her 18% (rather than 15%). While I do think there's probably a big "back story" on her past behavior that was not really reported, I can see the issue of "where'd this extra 3% come from".

                                                1. re: DGresh

                                                  Always hard to claim that you should be part of the crowd crossing the streetwhen you have run alone across the street so often in the past

                                              2. I only tip fifteen percent for basic, unremarkable service, usually twenty for good, and more like twenty five if I am a regular. If this woman is too cheap to pony up 18 percent, she should stick to the drive through. I wonder how many other waiters at area restaurants she has stiffed.