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When do you tip low (10% or less)

Would like to see what others consider a barometer of bad service and how you compensate (or don't) in your tip accordingly.

Tell me your stories! And I will share as well.

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  1. It's a rare occasion in our area, NY Metro. The service has to be very poor in a restaurant where you expect better. Being ignored, waiting for menus, water, bread or anything you requested, lemon, cheese, butter etc.. Servers who let you know they would rather be doing something else. It's been a long time since I left a meager tip.
    One occasion I do remember: We were a large party seated at a big table in the back of a large restaurant. For the life of us we could not get the servers attention to get the check. Otherwise the service was good. I used my cell and called the restaurant from our table. "Hi, can we get our check?" "Who is this?" "The table in the back, I am waving to you." it was a riot.
    We didn't stiff the server.

    3 Replies
      1. re: Motosport

        Too funny--I may have to borrow that! I find that standing up usually gets their attention. Recently when we had waited an excessive time to order, I asked the bartender if we could order from him, and he summoned the waitstaff.

        Recently I didn't get my salad, but was charged for it. I gave the waiter my card, spoke to him about the mistake, and he agreed to remove the salad. I get my card back approximately two minutes after our conversation, and I've been charged for everything. I rounded up to the nearest dollar and left it at that (and wrote a reminder that we had agreed that the salad would be removed).

        1. re: foiegras

          Yes I learned the stand up and put on your coat trick long ago. But a couple of years ago I had sent my husband and young kid outside, stood up and put my coat on, and told the waiter I was ready to leave in no uncertain terms.. while he continued to buss dirty empty tables. Talk about not getting the hint.. this was after we had waited patiently for our order because we could see he was alone in the restaurant. But by then the other two servers (owners?) who left were back and I thought his priorities were off (I get not wanting tables to sit dirty but I was ready to leave 20 minutes before. Not to mention 9.5 months pregnant and not having much patience for anything, LOL). This was a dessert place btw so waiting 20+ minutes for our bill after eating for less than 20 minutes - I would feel more leisurely after a long meal with friends, but not cafe dessert with a toddler.
          So in that case I left about half a tip. It's really rare that I leave nothing, because I think that can leave the server confused (maybe they never tip?) or just dismissive that I'm an asshole. I think half a tip leaves the message that yes a service was provided, but not well.

      2. Unless the server is out and out poor at his job, I never tip below at least 15%. By poor I mean forgetting things, nonexistent service, rude behavior and the like. Poor quality food, surroundings or anything else out of the server's control never enters into my figuring the tip.

        2 Replies
        1. re: ttoommyy

          That's pretty much our policy, too. 15% means the service was adequate but not necessarily good. Our standard tip for a good server is 20% and up if we have made special requests and/or have felt especially well treated or note extra effort from a server with too much to do, etc.. Twice in our decades together, DH and I have stiffed egregiously bad/non existent service, so bad you couldn't believe you weren't on Candid Camera or something. I'm always on the server's side and it takes a pretty complete lack of service and awful experience to cause us to walk without a tip.

          We never hold the kitchen's foul up against a server, or anything outside his/her control.

          1. re: ttoommyy

            Same here: my typical tip is 20% but if the service is bad, I go down to 15%. Maybe I have good luck, but I usually have excellent service (I mostly eat out at home in Chicago, and while visiting my parents in San Francisco; maybe service in other cities isn't as good).

            Actually, I usually tip $1/drink if I'm getting them at the bar, which means that I'm not doing 15% for a $8+ drink, but it's 33% if the drinks are on $3 special, which happens fairly often. I guess it evens out.

          2. Only once did I tip virtually nothing. (This is not a comment of French waiters at all because except for this one occasion I have always been treated well by waitstaff in France.) We were are a restaurant in Paris and I had to keep on my prescription sunglasses because I'd accidentally left my glasses at the hotel. I mention this because I can't figure out any other reason for the waiter's bizarre behavior. I was on the banquette facing toward the bar where he stood and lounged actually making faces at me. When I asked what the soup of the day was--this conversation was in French--he informed me that it meant "soup." It got so bad I started crying so we got the check and I told my husband I would leave the tip. I found the smallest coin in my purse and as we got up and the waiter looked our way, I pointedly dropped the coin in the water glass.

            2 Replies
            1. re: escondido123

              "...It got so bad I started crying."

              CRYING? You and your husband allowed a waiter/stranger to treat you so poorly you actually CRIED? There has to be more to this story.

              1. re: thegforceny

                Sorry, that's basically the story. Long difficult day, struggling with the language, nasty waiter. Guess you had to be there. (That was 30 years ago. Now we'd be gone in a moment.)

            2. I will tip low when the issue is the servers neglect and has nothing to do with the food. If it's a kitchen made issue I will always tip properly.

              1. The only time I can remember was in college (10yr ago) and we left the waitress no tip. The only time we saw her was to take the order. Didn't bring the drinks or food. Didn't check in on us. Only brought check after we had someone track her down. So she got no tip. However my friend went into the kitchen and gave a tip to the busboy who did all the above.

                1. When do you tip less than 10%?

                  Never.

                  Florence Fabricant's column in the New York Times, Dear FloFab, is a great resource for anyone unsure about restaurant etiquette. She fields a lot of questions like yours, and the bottom line is, like ttoommyy said, one should never tip that poorly.

                  4 Replies
                    1. re: treestonerivershrub

                      When finishing their private conversation or taking a smoke break is more important to them than bringing my food to me then I think it does warrant a very low or no tip.

                      1. re: treestonerivershrub

                        regardless of what some NYT writer thinks, if the service is either truly horrible or insulting, I am not leaving a tip. Tips are to be earned. It is rare but sometimes servers are really that bad.

                        1. re: treestonerivershrub

                          I have tipped 10% or less on only a few occasions in my life. On each of these occasions it was for rudeness on the part of the server. Incompetence or simply bad service I can forgive and will still tip 15% or so. Rudeness to me results in either no tip, or a very small tip. On one memorable occasion while dining at a bar, the bartender referred to me while talking in hushed tones to a colleague as an "a..hole" after I asked him to please remake a cocktail which tasted funny to me. That bartender received no tip...indeed, I would have immediately walked out had not my entree been just served.

                          1. re: linguafood

                            As a former waitress (through high school & college), I have never tipped less than 15%, & that's low, my average is 20-25%. Service would have to be absolutely abysmal for me not to tip, & usually, service issues tie into general direction of the kitchen. If you don't want to pay the service fee (tip), cook at home or get takeout...

                            1. re: thistle5

                              Are you saying that you don't tip anything for takeout?

                              1. re: svnirvana

                                That topic has been very well covered in other threads....

                                1. re: Karl S

                                  Along with every tipping scenario possible, but still we post.

                              2. re: thistle5

                                I get that you were a waitress for some time and have an intimate understanding of how hard the job is and the things that happen that make you look bad when it is not your fault, but have you really never been in the situation where your waiter is too busy repeatedly checking his cell phone for text/emails/whatever against the bar to bother attending to you in any way, even when you were the only party in his section? (Or insert some other unacceptable situation that can be nothing but the wait staff's fault.) I consider myself a generous tipper (20-25% in most situations, more if we order lightly or the kids make a mess, and 18% when I'm not pleased). My wife worked as a waitress for a while when we were in grad school, and I have a lot of respect for those who do it and work hard, but when someone brings an apathetic, flippant, rude, and generally 'couldn't-care'less' attitude to my table, a tip shouldn't be expected (though I always leave at least something so it's clear I was making a statement instead of just forgetting.) Mistakes can be overlooked, and frankly I usually let little stuff like forgetting small requests go without any tip 'penalty.' But when a waiter just does not care to try, it's a different situation altogether.

                                1. re: jljohn

                                  The problem is you never know whether tips are pooled, and you could be punishing a hardworking dishwasher for the attitude of someone who likely won't last long in the industry anyway.

                              3. re: linguafood

                                Exactly. I only tip if the service is exceptional in some way.

                              4. My rules: 20% for normal, good service
                                15% if the service has been poor, but well-meaning/polite
                                25% and greater if I've been a pain in the ass, If my parents or any
                                high-maintenance friends are with me, the server did something extra special, etc.
                                0 if the server is downright rude. this has only happend twice in my life.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: danna

                                  I'm with you 100%! My policy is an exact carbon copy of yours. I too have only dealt with outright rudeness a few times in my life.

                                2. I generally tip high, only once do I recall purposely tipping very low. I was in college at a local restaurant/bar with my boyfriend. Waitress openly flirted with him & pointedly ignored me. She presented the check to him, only to be visibly dismayed when I took it & said dinner was on me.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: elfcook

                                    HEHHE! I still remember years ago a waitress treating me like a dog. When husband came in, she was so nice. That just ticked me off even more. He gave her a nice tip. I never thought of your solution. You are sharp!

                                  2. I think unless there was something done that borders on abuse, to tip lower than 15% is despicable. I usually chalk it up to someone having a bad day, which we've all had at work. I usually tip 15% for bad...18-20% for average and 25% for good service and will definitely throw more in if the person went above and beyond.

                                    I also think it's awful when people are in a luncheonette and the check comes to something like $8 and people tip 20% and ask for the 40 cents back.

                                    One time I asked a waiter why the food was cold when I was the only table in the restaurant and they told me they ddin't know and walked away. A few minutes later, I realized they weren't coming back. My bill came to a measly $17.50, so I left $20. Still about 15%. Probably smallest tip I've ever left

                                    12 Replies
                                    1. re: jhopp217

                                      I also think it's awful when people are in a luncheonette and the check comes to something like $8 and people tip 20% and ask for the 40 cents back.
                                      ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                      Yeah, me too. I witnessed this recently when lunching with someone who could easily afford leave a couple more cents to the waitress yet she was really offended at my suggestion to just leave the $20 on the table. We were splitting the tab (our meals were equal) and I suggested a tip that was 20% and the change above the 20% was 50 cents. She wanted her 25 cents back. And this wasn't a Depression era issue like it would have been with my grandparents.

                                      1. re: cleobeach

                                        I was sitting at the counter in a tiny luncheonette and I just happened to see the amount of the bill of the guy next to me. His bill was tiny, $4.55. He left $5.25 (I believe almost exactly 15%. My bill was a tad over $6 and I left a ten. The best part is I was wearing shorts, a tee shirt and flip flops and this guy was wearing a three piece suit. The waitress just started laughing. I just don't know how people treat others so poorly.

                                        1. re: jhopp217

                                          I'm unsure why your respective clothing was a source of amusement for the waitress. Did she just assume that because you were dressed very casually that you'd be a poor tipper? I'd have been quite offended if I had been you.

                                          1. re: carolinadawg

                                            Last time I checked, 15% wasn't a small tip. And a 66% tip is extremely large, but hardly the kind of thing I would fault someone for *not* doing, no matter what their fashion sense is like.

                                            1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                                              70 cents is a small tip, regardless of the percentage. I always throw percentages out the window when dealing with low check prices in situations like lunch counters and breakfast. I always leave 2 or 3 dollars on a 6 to 7 dollar tab in that situation.

                                              I don't know why my response to Harters was deleted, but to paraphrase, when the situation jhopp217 described is taken in it's totality; that is, the well dressed guy left a small tip, and the casually dressed guy left a large tip, the irony is funny.

                                              1. re: carolinadawg

                                                Thanks for the explanation. Must be a different culture thing - where I am, I would never assume that someone dressed in a suit was more affluent than someone casually dressed.

                                                1. re: Harters

                                                  it isn't a standard part of US culture everywhere: in California one could never assume that someone in a suit was more affluent.

                                                    1. re: Karl S

                                                      I noticed when looking at senior residences in the last couple of years that most men that were dressed in suits were most always the men to flag down for questions. Virginia, Connecticut, Maryland. Pennsylvania.

                                                      However, one never knows if they were CEO's of the corporation. :-))

                                                2. re: carolinadawg

                                                  I definitely adjust my thinking away from percentages when dealing with small amounts or very casual situations. It always seemed unfair to base a tip on the cost of the meal rather than the work that a server does. Someone who orders a large orange juice ($4) and an omelet ($6) shouldn't have to tip more than someone who is getting constant refills on his $1.25 coffee and eating $2 pancakes with butter and syrup.

                                                  Same argument at a bar with a strawberry margarita with well tequila, compared to a shot of top shelf tequila. One is $5 and the other is $15. Which one is more work?

                                                3. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                                                  My personal sense of etiquette says that the smallest tip you should EVER leave is one or two dollars... and that's for something like a cup of coffee and a piece of cake. Sure, if you went strictly by the percentage you'd only be leaving 50c, but that's just cheap. The percentage rules fall down when it comes to small purchases.

                                                4. re: Harters

                                                  No, she assumed that because he was dressed in business attire, he'd be a little better than a 70 cent tip

                                          2. I presume the OP is directing this question to north Americans, as in many parts of the world, 10% would be a very good tip rate. I don't tip at all if I have poor service

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: Harters

                                              I live in Canada and do not tip at all if I have poor and/or very rude service. Thankfully it does not happen often. But in many European countries 10% would be almost shocking as it is just not expected. We have encountered sublime service in countries where tips are not expected and we tip well. We have had interesting comments including a few telling us we paid too much and try to give our money back.

                                              1. re: Harters

                                                In many places we've been in Asia, tips are simply not expected at all.

                                              2. On occasions where the service is abysmal enough to warrant stiffing the waiter, I solve the problem by discretely approaching the host and requesting a new waiter. This has happened twice. Once when taking the in-laws out to a neighborhood steakhouse. Our waiter was so condescending my mil was totally flustered. We never saw him at that restaurant again. The second time was in a tourist trap restaurant in NYC. Our waiter was so slow we watched an entire table get seated, served, finish and pay the tab in the time it took our waiter to take our drink order and deliver our drinks.
                                                We ended up being waited on by the manager that night.

                                                6 Replies
                                                1. re: iambecky

                                                  On occasions where the service is abysmal enough to warrant stiffing the waiter, I solve the problem by discretely approaching the host and requesting a new waiter.
                                                  -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                  I can remember two instances where I needed to do this. Both times our servers seemed to be having "challenges." As a former server, I can be both very understanding or not, depending on the circumstances.

                                                  The first was at a high end restaurant ($100 pp before wine/drinks) and for reasons we never understood, the waiter threw (literally threw, like a frisbee) my desert at me and ran away. I put my hands up in time to stop it from hitting me in the chest. It was QUITE the scene.

                                                  The waiter had behaved oddly towards us from the start. We were regulars at this place (it was owned by a client) and always had the same two or three servers. This guy was new so it wasn't like there was some bad blood we didn't know about. I thought the manager was going to explode. Many apologies and a comped dinner check. We did not tip, throwing a plate at a customer (for no good reason) crosses the line.

                                                  The second time was on vacation at a restaurant we frequent once or twice a year for the past 15 years. The waiter was just a jerk and the manager picked up on it by just one look from me, he came over and said he would take care of our table for the rest of our visit. He must have had problems with this guy before if all it took was me turning around to look for the manager.

                                                  Turned out just fine because we ended up taking his wine pairing recommendation and had an enjoyable evening. He had runners helping him and we assumed/hoped that the tip would be split between them.

                                                  In general, when we have less than great service, we will tip 15% versus our standard 20%.

                                                  1. re: cleobeach

                                                    I can see that. But how do you request a new waiter when you're sitting at the bar? :) I most often go out to lunch by myself so I usually sit at the bar. Had terrible, terrible service yesterday in every respect and really struggled with how much to tip.

                                                      1. re: iambecky

                                                        to where? Just plop down at a table?

                                                      2. re: rockandroller1

                                                        I have moved from the bar before--consulted with the host before doing so. I had not been served anything yet (not that that would stop me if I felt a move were necessary).

                                                  2. I can't even remember the last time I had service that I would consider bad. Maybe I'm just lucky, but it seems to me since the economy hit the skids- I find servers nicer and the rest of the staff, even at the "hot" spots not condescending like sometimes in the past. Always at least 20%, more if high-end.

                                                    1. Two times stand out, for me, one from years ago and one from 2 weeks ago.

                                                      Back in the 80's, a group of us got together to have a last dinner with friends who were moving across the country. We ate (made reservations and were a party of 10) at a fine dining Establishment in North Jersey. I guess they were used to the over 50 crowd, since they really gave us the skank eye, as we were in our late 20-30's. Our waitress could not have been ruder. She rushed our food out so fast that, I was just served my soup and then she was standing over me with my main course. Then she said, loudly, "move that bowl". We all felt bad that our farewell Party for our friends was made so miserable. When we paid, we used AMEX. The group decided (unanimously) to leave the penny tip. Well, guess what we found when we got the copy of the AMEX back in the monthly bill? Yepper, someone at the restaurant changed the 0.01 to 20.01. AMEX was not pleased to know this had happened. I am sure the restaurant was even less pleased to get the call from AMEX.

                                                      2 weeks ago, we were having lunch at our usual place, small, locals diner type place. I ordered the fish and chips, because they do it so well. That day they did not, the fish as well as the house make chips, were just loaded with oil. Our waitress never checked back with us after she served the food and when she thought we were finished, asked if we wanted anything else. We asked for two take-home boxes. When she came back, one box in each hand, I showed her the drenched in oil food, She threw up both hands and said "What do you want me to do about it?" So I just got up and approached the hostess (a family member of the owners), She saw the issue immediately and took it back to show the kitchen and offered if I wanted anything else. I declined. Just wanted to take it home for my cats to finish. The waitress never gave my Mom the take-home box she had asked for and just gave her the bill. As I went up to pay for it, I could see it wasn't right. Sure enough, the waitress had added on $5 overcharge. This, I also brought to the hostess' attention. As I signed for the bill, I crossed out the tip section and told the hostess, that I really wanted to write in there, "What do you want me to do about it?"
                                                      Normally I am a 20%er.

                                                      5 Replies
                                                      1. re: Quine

                                                        This reminds me of a classic story that I have no doubt told before....once with a group of college friends we went to a dive in a neighborhood where we were, well, out of place....One of my friends received a hamburger that probably had never touched the grill. When he pointed out the raw meat to the waitress, she folded her arms across her chest, and said "Honey, I don't cook 'em!" "I don't cook 'em" became a standard catch phrase for anyone in our group who felt they should take responsibility for something but just didn't want to do so....

                                                        (No, the waitress didn't get a tip....)

                                                        1. re: janetofreno

                                                          Here's a reply from a woman-server we have been getting a kick out of for years. When we asked a similar question, she replied, "How would I know?" It was in a certain tone that we always try to imitate; and then we whoop it up! Sometimes it demands that we wipe our eyes we're laughing so hard. Oh, my, if she only knew what happiness she has given us over the years, she probably would not have answered at all. 1993 - I can't count the moments.

                                                          1. re: Rella

                                                            Mr. Pine was served a supposed "oven-fresh" pie that still had some ice bits in the center. When he pointed it out to the waitress, she glared and said "microwaves don't go all the way through food." We gave her the 10% Dumbest Line Ever tip.

                                                            1. re: pine time

                                                              Oh, a freshly "microwaved" pie. Sounds dreadful.

                                                        2. re: Quine

                                                          Funny, I used the words, "skank eye," just a couple of days ago. DH corrected me with "It's STINK-EYE." Either way, it's a great description!

                                                        3. Don't bother to tip 10%, the server will just think that you are cheap. If the service is that bad, and you haven't been able to rectify it with a manager, leave two cents...the point will get across! (Hopefully)

                                                          1. Never. It's tacky and demeans you.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: beevod

                                                              Exactly. It's like picking your nose because you got bad service.

                                                            2. I worked in restaurants for more than 6 years, and am usually an outstanding tipper. However, I can think of 3 times I've only left 1 or 2 dollars. One time we had waited an hour and a half for breakfast at a place with only 3 other tables. We told the owner we were leaving, but he insisted we stay. The waitress was so rude and condescending that I couldn't believe what she was saying to us. I told the owner on the way out the door that we wouldn't be back, and the table next to us said the same thing. It was a small locally owned cafe that I wish I could support, but they were clueless about how to run the place. They closed a month later.

                                                              Another time we had dinner and beers with friends, and the waitress kept telling us that we should hurry up and leave because she wanted to end her shift and go out with her friends (it was Friday night). I asked the host if someone else could handle the table, but he wouldn't let her off until she finished her tables. She continually glared at us until we left. I talked to the owner the next day, who was an acquaintance of mine. Part of it was the host's fault for not lettering her leave, but if you're scheduled to work on a Friday night you should be prepared to work and not take it out on your customers.

                                                              I have a medical condition that prevents me from drinking ice water or any ice-cold drinks (it causes muscles spasms in my esophagus) and I always ask for water without ice. The waitress rolled her eyes and sighed as if it was the most absurd request she'd ever heard. When I ordered a salad with my meal she asked if I wanted it cold.

                                                              5 Replies
                                                              1. re: Jeebs

                                                                I have a medical condition that prevents me from drinking ice water or any ice-cold drinks (it causes muscles spasms in my esophagus) and I always ask for water without ice. The waitress rolled her eyes and sighed as if it was the most absurd request she'd ever heard. When I ordered a salad with my meal she asked if I wanted it cold.
                                                                _____________________________________________________________________
                                                                *eyebrows up*

                                                                WOW. That is absolutely absurd. A request for water with no ice is a common request!

                                                                1. re: Jeebs

                                                                  my grandmother has the opposite problem - due to an illness she is extremely dehydrated and does not have enough saliva to properly digest food. she requires large amounts of water in order to eat a meal, and you would not believe how many times waitstaff will give her a hard time for asking for "too much" water...

                                                                  1. re: jamieeats

                                                                    I need to drink a LOT of water with meals, but it can't be too cold or I get spasms and can regurgitate food (I have achalasia if anyone's curious). I've gotten into the habit of bringing a Nalgene with me, but sometimes I forget and have to ask for lots of water. After years of restaurant work I've learned to never question a request from a customer because it could be medical related.

                                                                    1. re: Jeebs

                                                                      I am so glad you mentioned this. A co-worker of mine used to have this and never knew what it was. I am going to email them right now!

                                                                  2. re: Jeebs

                                                                    I am a no-ice person. If it's brought to me with ice andyway, I just pass the glass on to my husband, and then he asks for no-ice for me. I don't ask again. I'm petrified of those rolled eyes! LOL.

                                                                    But what is a more prevalent reaction today, it seems, a head turned to the side with a small mouth grimace.

                                                                    So darned funny.

                                                                  3. Last month while on vacation in Tucson, AZ I left a waitress no tip. It was the worst service I'd ever encountered.

                                                                    I feel horribly guilty to this day and have thought about contacting the restaurant to find out how I can compensate her. I don't remember her name though. :-( Who knows what the circumstances were...maybe several servers had called in sick. Maybe she was going through a personal crisis.

                                                                    I'll never do that again.

                                                                    1. I'm astounded by some of these stories--I waited tables for 14 years before moving into the kitchen, and I would NEVER have treated a customer badly or rudely--WTH is going on with those people??? I even kept working while literally having a miscarriage one night, and didn't frown at anyone! Sheeesh.....

                                                                      1. My general rule on the subject is: 20% for good or at least pleasantly incompetent service. 15% for surly service.

                                                                        Nothing below 15% unless the service is so bad I've been forced to complain to the manager about it, in which case, I don't tip at all.

                                                                        1. we had a waitress once that kept bringing the wrong foods such as onion rings instead of fries, etc. however, she would leave the wrong dish on the table, and then bring out a new one. at the end of the night, she charged us for all of the wrong food that she left on the table, even the stuff that we left completely untouched! we subtracted all of the food that we were charged for out of her tip, since she wouldn't take it off the bill.

                                                                          5 Replies
                                                                          1. re: jamieeats

                                                                            Does no-one TRAIN these idiots???

                                                                            Oh no, wait, I'm from a generation that didn't grow up with self-entitlement....or resentment about having to actually WORK for my living!

                                                                            1. re: KSlink

                                                                              There is an independently owned, upper end of the price range restaurant in our town that qualifies as a local institution. It has been in business for 25+ years and I know a lot of people that work as waitstaff at this place, including some in my own family. We are also friendly with the manager.

                                                                              The long-term employees universally say they can earn a nice chunk of change working there. There are a lot of moms working at night or on the weekends, young professionals working a second job, teachers working during the summer, etc. It is the type of place that has a combo of higher prices, great booze sales, good table turnover and corporate/group business.

                                                                              To get to my point - the manager and waitstaff both report that the constant rotation of new waitstaff simply does not get it, at all. The one waitress was saying that tips (and the potential to earn more tips) falls far, far, far below sneaking into the restroom to text their friends. She says they are untrainable.

                                                                              1. re: KSlink

                                                                                You can go back hundreds of years to read some variation of your comment.

                                                                                1. re: BubblyOne

                                                                                  "I see no hope for the future of our people if they are dependent on frivolous youth of today, for certainly all youth are reckless beyond words... When I was young, we were taught to be discreet and respectful of elders, but the present youth are exceedingly wise [disrespectful] and impatient of restraint" (Hesiod, 8th century BC)

                                                                                  "The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers. (Socrates, 4th century BC)

                                                                                  "The world is passing through troublous times. The young people of today think of nothing but themselves. They have no reverence for parents or old age. They are impatient of all restraint. They talk as if they knew everything, and what passes for wisdom with us is foolishness with them. As for the girls, they are forward, immodest and unladylike in speech, behavior and dress." (Peter the Hermit in A.D. 1274)

                                                                                  1. re: 2roadsdiverge

                                                                                    Thank you! It was the Socrates comment I couldn't remember- but these are all excellent.

                                                                            2. I pretty much just always give 20%. The tip is a component of their wage (and everyone else they're pooling tips with), so you're essentially cutting their salary by under tipping. Further, even when it appears that their service is poor, I don't think you can necessarily hold them responsible. Management may have simply assigned them too many tables, or someone is out sick and they have to take on more stations than normally, and that's why they're less responsive than they should be. Maybe the reason they're slow to take your order is because they're in the kitchen arguing with a chef who screwed up someone else’s order, and they’re trying to set that right. You just don’t’ know.

                                                                              If there service really so offended you that you want to under tip, your issue is really more with management and you should either take the issue up with the host or restaurant manager, or resolve not to return to the restaurant.

                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                              1. re: von_levi

                                                                                I actually originated this thread in light of awful service at a bar yesterday at lunch. I was a server for 15 years so I know all the reasons service can suffer and as such am both overly generous about mistakes and more hip than a non-server to what I see going on/the big picture. The bartenders (2) were not overly busy, the restaurant was not overly crowded, and they were universally inattentive and awful to everyone at the bar. Each person had to wave/flag them down or verbally yell as they went by to get their attention, ask to order, ask for the check, etc. I did resolve not to return. Regardless, I enjoy the CH discussion and thanks for your view.

                                                                                1. re: von_levi

                                                                                  If only we could dock the salary of other service workers who didn't do their job well...

                                                                                2. I do believe the title of this thread should have a disclaimer "in North America" or the US.

                                                                                  The same rules just don't apply in many other countries (where other CHs live, too, believe it or not!)

                                                                                  25 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: linguafood

                                                                                    Yes, I get that now that several have mentioned it. Sorry I didn't think to specify that up front.

                                                                                    1. re: rockandroller1

                                                                                      No worries. This site, after all, is overwhelmingly dominated by US -Americans, and thus your topic makes more sense to the majority of users.

                                                                                      1. re: linguafood

                                                                                        Is it still the case in Europe (I'm not including England) that service is included in the bill, and then you leave the change from the payment your bill?

                                                                                        Or has it changed, and one adds another percentage to the bill, a percentage of your choice?

                                                                                        1. re: Rella

                                                                                          It depends on the country, Rella. Some, like France, have service included. With others, traditional tipping is expected (or there is a specific service charge added to the bill) - that's the situation in the UK (not just the English part of our country).

                                                                                          1. re: Harters

                                                                                            I was a little embarrassed last year in Derbyshire - I hadn't been back to the UK in several years, and had completely forgotten what the tip protocol was. I was traveling with French/American friends who didn't remember either -- we knew it wasn't included like in France, but we tossed it around for several minutes....I finally leaned over and asked the folks at the next table.

                                                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                              No-one would have been much fussed if you hadnt tipped at all. Or hadnt tipped much. In a sort of related industry, the brother in law is a taxi driver - been doing it around 10 years. He says when he started tips were quite regular but it's rare that he gets one now and many customers will even wait for the very small change from a fare. I have a strong view that similar is happening in the restaurant industry (which is why an increasing number are introducing the service charge). Even though it is always discretionary, I suspect few people will ask for it to be taken off the bill, where there's no possible hassle in simply not leaving a tip.

                                                                                              1. re: Harters

                                                                                                this was at a small gastropub somewhere between Liverpool and Buxton (not sure I could tell you where if I had to!) -- the staff were extremely friendly, made suggestion to accommodate a picky eater, and had everything to us lickety-split as we were running late for an event...so they well earned their extra 10%. (and pity I can't remember the name, because the food was good, too)

                                                                                                1. re: Harters

                                                                                                  Really? I always tip a cab driver. Plus, they usually look at you like they expect it.

                                                                                            2. re: Rella

                                                                                              I also can't speak for the entirety of Europe, despite having traveled to many countries.

                                                                                              In Germany, yes, service is almost always included in the bill, and you tip anywhere from rounding up a couple Euros to 5-10%, depending on how generous you feel that day, I s'pose.

                                                                                              1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                I always get confused in Belguim (a country I visit most years).

                                                                                                I always presume that in the Dutch speaking areas, they follow the practice of the Netherlands (tipping at around 10%) and, in the French speaking areas, they follow the practice in France (not tipping). Gets very confusing as the area I visit jumps between the two all the time.

                                                                                                I've never visited the small German speaking area but presumably, they'll follow Germany as indicated by linguafood.

                                                                                                1. re: Harters

                                                                                                  You are not alone on what is "considered the norm." I stay confused.

                                                                                                  You mentioned a UK cabbie in the family. My feeling is that if it is a "social requirement," that I tip a cabbie in the US, for zero service, then I do so in the UK. When there is any hesitation, I explain the situation. In general terms, UK cabbies are a rare breed, indeed, and deserve a "little something extra," at least from a US passenger. Heck, I have had them handle all bags, secure a trolley at LHR, and load those same bags. In the US, many cabbies will not even open the trunk (boot), until I pound on it, and yell at them! Touch a bag? No way, yet they expect a tip?

                                                                                                  Just my colonial way of thinking.

                                                                                                  Hunt

                                                                                                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                    Hunt - what has always confused me about US cabs is while they have a per piece surcharge for luggage, all the driver usually does is pop the trunk. the few (very few) that actually do heft it, get a nicer tip. I never know how much so just follow the skycap rule. how much is that these days? used to $1 per is it $2 now? (standard size stuff nothing silly huge)

                                                                                                    1. re: hill food

                                                                                                      I agree with you. I never see any more than the hitting of the trunk button (seems even slower, if I am standing in the rain), in many large US cities.

                                                                                                      However, out in smaller US towns, many cab drivers DO assist. In the UK, I have never had a cabbie not help getting my luggage onto a trolley at LHR, even in the rain. Though it is not normally done, I tip them too. They have always been 100% standup gentlemen.

                                                                                                      Hunt

                                                                                          2. re: rockandroller1

                                                                                            For this European, I am always fascinated by American tipping threads on the board and the detail into which folk will go to discuss the subject.

                                                                                            Even though almost every Euro country has its own tipping culture, it's almost never a subject for discussion boards here, even though we often visit other countries. .

                                                                                            It genuinely amazes me that Americans will experience lousy service (and I mean appalingly lousy service) and still say they'd tip 15% instead of their usual 20%. And that's not just about the % - it's about leaving anything at all when you've had such a bad time. Wouldnt happen here (although I accept many people here wouldnt tip at anything like what used to be the going rate of 10%)

                                                                                            1. re: Harters

                                                                                              You should hear some of the conversations that take place at the table. A lot of Americans need to use a calculator just to figure out how much of a tip to leave. It can be quite embarrassing to eat with some people.

                                                                                              I've never like the idea of tipping by percent. I'd rather tip by effort, but I will leave more at an expensive restaurant (assuming the service is also up to par).

                                                                                              Most servers in the U.S. are young and inexperienced, but they are often attractive. It's a shame servers aren't hired based on their work ethic or passion/knowledge of food, but rather based on their appearance.

                                                                                              1. re: Harters

                                                                                                It is equally amazing that Europeans put up with such atrocious service in places where the tip is included in the cost of the meal. I've never had service as rude in America as I've had in Europe. Never. I've had some dolts here in the USA, and some inexperienced fools who obviously didn't understand the job, but I've been waited on by people in Europe who had obviously been doing the job for years, who sighed and rolled their eyes and ignored customers--including their fellow countrymen, not just the ugly Americans or other tourists.

                                                                                                I've waited on educated Europeans who obviously had some money to blow, who speak fluent English, travel to America regularly, and who would have been briefed in EVERY guide book (and, at least once, even on the AIRPLANE on their way to the USA--I know because I was ON IT) that American servers do not get paid a salary with benefits the way most waitstaff in Europe do. Yet they STILL feign ignorance of our customs, pointing to American extravagance and pretentious "overtipping" to justify their low tip (or no tip)--really just to save a few guilders and kroner (yup, they're the WORST), which we find hilarous. They'll kick in a few million every year for their monarchy but begrudge that "optional tip" at the end of a meal in the USA--even one that was served flawlessly by someone who gets a paycheck that says $0.00 every week and depends on tips as the sole source of their income--and seize the opportunity to save themselves a little spending money. Talk about fascinating.

                                                                                                1. re: Harters

                                                                                                  As a Canadian I am fascinated with this as well. Where I live tipping is not a topic. Nearly everyone I know tips about 10-15% at most and will not tip at all for very poor service.

                                                                                                  1. re: Harters

                                                                                                    I think the American fascination with tipping is that it is well known that servers' livelihoods are dependent on tips. So there is the underlying guilt of not tipping well enough or some light back patting of tipping well.

                                                                                                    I currently live in Jerusalem, and here it is customary to tip 10% - but servers are also paid a living wage. Speaking as an American with that bias - the service here ranks pretty poor. I have seen people walk out and leave without paying because their attempts to ask for the bill/pay were ignored for ages. And in one case a friend of mine found a cockroach in their food (in a nice place)and after telling the server received the response of "well, it happens".

                                                                                                    After reading all of these threads on tipping - I think the value on the American system is that it does lead to overall better service. However, after living with mediocre to poor service for a while, ultimately doesn't ruin or improve my meal so much and there's no question of whether or not I need to tip 15/18/20/20% based on whether or not I think someone did their job correctly.

                                                                                                    1. re: cresyd

                                                                                                      I think the "better service" depends on what you mean by good service and what you are used to. And I certainly think that styles of service differ between Europe and America. Yes, it is a matter of culture but I generally prefer our style of service here in Europe to that in America (never been to the Middle East so I dont know what service is like there)

                                                                                                      1. re: Harters

                                                                                                        My experience in Europe is a generic mix of being a graduate student/tourist/on business in various locations across Europe, and personally I don't see any significant difference with the US. I lived in Ireland for a year, and don't remember the service as being noticeably different.

                                                                                                        Israeli service (particularly Jewish Israel, and not the rest of the Middle East/Arab world), for someone coming from a US background, I believe truly ranks as horrible. Basically the entire range of "bad service" (ignoring customers, being rude, being dismissive of concerns or questions etc.). Typically this won't effect all aspects of service for the whole meal, and it'll just be noticeable at one point - but there are times when you get all of it.

                                                                                                        All that involved, it is customary to tip 10% and so that's what I do. And while I have no trouble complaining about "bad service" here - over time it's become something I'm used to. Both the kind of the service and that I tip.

                                                                                                        It is unfair to lump Israeli service with European service, but I guess my main point is that I don't like the notion of personally evaluating if someone has performed their job well or not. If I'm in a restaurant and it's "horrible" - I am probably not the best person to determine if it's the fault of management, the kitchen, the servers, or whatever else. I'm also not looking to deprive someone of their livelihood. So just tell me what I owe, and I'll pay it or fight with the manager. Personally that makes me happier.

                                                                                                      2. re: cresyd

                                                                                                        I mostly agree, especially on the back patting thing. I know people who pride themselves on being a "good tipper", which is in my opinion like being proud of going into Best Buy and spending $350 on a clearly labeled $300 TV. Overspending is overspending no matter the venue. Servers should receive compensation for artificially low salaries but it's not a reason for self-congratulation.

                                                                                                        I disagree that the US system produces better service. I think there is no correlation whatsoever. In Taiwan there's no tipping and service is friendly to the point of being obsequious. In mainland China there's no tipping and service is brusque, but efficient. In India there's marginal tipping and service is fawning. In Russia there's tipping and service is aggressively bad. In the US there's tipping and service ranges from horrible to excellent. So really there is NO consistent advantage to the US system in my experience. Just a lot of uncertainty, hassle, and annoyance.

                                                                                                        1. re: RealMenJulienne

                                                                                                          I am not sure that I follow you, but you seem to be derisive toward people, who do tip well, and I am not sure that you are a worthy judge of their worth, or a viable critique of their personal policies.

                                                                                                          In my case, I am just glad that I am in a position to award a good tip for good service, and a great tip for great service. I do not need someone to dissect my motivations, or the ROI that I get.

                                                                                                          As for the US producing the best service, I tend to agree, as I have experienced fabulous service in Europe and the UK, though have also experienced such in the US. The ratios do seem a bit skewed in favor of Europe/UK, but that does not diminish the great work by many servers in the US. This is just observation, and could well be influenced by the level of restaurants frequented in the US vs those in Europe/UK. With few exceptions, when one considers "apples to apples," the levels of service seem to be very close.

                                                                                                          Hunt

                                                                                                        2. re: cresyd

                                                                                                          I have also observed some differences, though even in the US, there are some geo differences.

                                                                                                          I have met many "professional servers" in the UK. They look upon their work, as their career. In the US, I do not see that very often. Some New Orleans restaurants seem to be the exception, where a few servers, that I have come to know, are 2nd, or 3rd generation servers, and often for the same restaurants, as their fathers, or grand-fathers.

                                                                                                          In many (most?) restaurants in the US, it seems that the servers are just killing time, until their screenplay is picked up, or they get that third call-back for a supporting actor/actress role in a TV series, or a motion picture.

                                                                                                          However, in the end for me, it is about the service that I receive, regardless of the server's motivation for providing it.

                                                                                                          Just some personal observations,

                                                                                                          Hunt

                                                                                                          1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                            Bill

                                                                                                            Indeed, we have many professional servers in the UK. In my smallish northern town, we have a catering college which trains chefs and front of house staff to nationally recognised qualifications. By the by, the college has a training restaurant open for lunch and dinner where the students cook and serve food to the public. And, for around £7, it's the best value three courser in the borough.

                                                                                                            John

                                                                                                            1. re: Harters

                                                                                                              We are fortunate to have several similar:

                                                                                                              Northern Arizona (NAU) has a full degree program, focusing on many aspects of the hospitality industry.
                                                                                                              Several culinary institutes cover many aspect, though the concentration is on culinary skills. Still, most require the students to learn and run all aspects of a restaurant, including wine service.

                                                                                                              Most of those have "class restaurants" to, and they are usually great fun, great bargains and educational for the diners, as well.

                                                                                                              Now, when it comes to just the "service" aspect, other than being a "block" in a larger curriculum, there is not THAT much. In the US, there are probably only a dozen "schools for butlers," and most are probably run by UK, or ex-UK persons. I would guess that there are at least 20 good ones, just in London.

                                                                                                              In the US, most hospitality students have their sights set on becoming chefs, GM's, restaurant/hotel owners, etc., and none imagine doing much actual service work, after graduation. With but a few exceptions, no one in the US wishes to have a career based on being a server, even at the higher levels of restaurants.

                                                                                                              Things are just different here. A nephew wanted to pursue a career in the culinary arts. As we have no children, and as he had been sort of "short-changed" much of his life, we offered to get him into a culinary program, and pay his tuition. We introduced him to several of the professors, plus several well-known chefs. When he found out that he would possibly be a line-cook for a few years, then if good and fortunate, a sous-chef for many more, before he could expect to be recognized as a chef, he decided to become a nurse instead. He though that we could offer a fast-track of some sort (we had actually thought that we were?), and that upon graduation, he'd be given his own restaurant, and could boss around all the others.

                                                                                                              All of the above does NOT mean that there are no great servers in the US. We have encountered many, all across the US. It is just that few consider being a server, even in a great restaurant, as being the exact career path.

                                                                                                              Maybe I am just missing something?

                                                                                                              Hunt

                                                                                                  2. The lowest I've tipped is 15% and it would be because of incompetent service. I don't penalize the server if they're slammed, new, food is bad, etc. It is rare that I have tipped less than 20% but I have done so recently.

                                                                                                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8118...

                                                                                                    Is there a circumstance I would leave less than 10%? Of course. If the waitstaff were rude, condescending, belittling, etc. I can see myself doing that. But I guess I've been lucky because I've never encountered it.

                                                                                                    1. When do you tip low (10% or less)

                                                                                                      _____________________________________________

                                                                                                      When the gratuity is already included in the final tab, and I think something more should be added.

                                                                                                      But rarely, if ever, for bad service. If service is bad, I tip the norm (15%) and then raise it with management if I intend to come back.

                                                                                                      1. Really slow service - the kind where you are waiting half an hour before they even take a drink order (note that this is different from a leisurely meal, like a traditional Italian mid-day meal, where the pace is slow but steady).

                                                                                                        Surly or rude service. I don't really want the server to be perky and pretending they are my best friend, but they should be polite - no eye rolling or dramatic sighs, no insults, no audibly discussing the party and our order with their co-workers.

                                                                                                        Mistakes, not necessarily. But it is a problem if they make numerous mistakes (forgetting requests, getting orders wrong) or if they make a major mistake but don't apologize, fix it immediately and/or provide some sort of compensation (for example - if they forget someone's entree and one person ends up getting their food after everyone else is finished, they should comp it and apologize).

                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                        1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                                                                                                          "no eye rolling or dramatic sighs, no insults, no audibly discussing the party and our order with their co-workers. "

                                                                                                          Thankfully, I've never experienced any of those in some 30 years of eating out fairly regularly. Have I just been lucky or are the servers where I am in the world (and the countries I visit) just better servers who wouldnt do such things?

                                                                                                        2. It's pretty rare, but it's happened a couple of times --

                                                                                                          I used to wait tables, too -- so I go out of my way to take care of the staff....I'm very aware if they're really busy, or if they have a table who are being jackasses, and try to make allowances wherever possible.

                                                                                                          I've even tipped extra on a night that another table was giving someone an undeservedly hard time.

                                                                                                          I start with 15% and add or subtract from there -- I almost always tip at least 20% (in the US) -- absolutely indifferent service that just gets the job done stays at 15% -- and it's pretty common for me to approach 25%.

                                                                                                          The worst ever was a sushi place that had been highly recommended. I was starving, so I was a little early, and as is my habit, I sat at the counter, where I was the only customer.

                                                                                                          The waitress was fine until about halfway through the meal, when the weirdest thing happened -- a fly folded up and died mid-air, and crashed onto the bar, right in front of my plate. (truly bizarre - I've never seen anything like it before or since)

                                                                                                          Since the napkins were cloth, I asked her if she could bring me a paper towel or something else with which I could dispose of the fly. She walked over, tossed a dirty (!) washcloth/barmop over the carcass of the fly, sneered "Now you no see it" and spun on her heel into the corner, where she proceeded to glare at me -- the dirty cloth and the dead fly were still on the bar in front of me.

                                                                                                          I'm not particularly fussy, nor am I a germophobe, but this was beyond the pale -- I just got up and left -- I gave a tip directly to the sushi chef, with the admonition that if he shared it with her, I'd be p.o'd, and told the manager on my way out. No idea what (if anything) was done.

                                                                                                          Weirdest restaurant experience I've ever had.

                                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                            You were supposed to eat the fly, I suspect. It wasn't a bug, but a feature. (Sorry, couldn't resist.)

                                                                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                              I once found the zigzaggy leg of a 'water bug' in some fried rice at an Americanized Chinese restaurant. That's when I learned the attitude wasn't Americanized. The staff seemed to think I was freaked out over nothing ("Yeah, they get in the bags of rice sometimes"), and when I was discussing the incident when it was time to pay, a restaurant employee said, "How do you KNOW it was the leg of a cockroach?!?!' (As it happened, one of my colleagues who was there with me had a master's in entomology and was able to professionally confirm the obvious.) It's been some years, but I'm pretty sure I didn't tip on that ticket. I think I got them to comp everything, actually. I returned the favor--I went back to the office and arranged a complimentary visit from the health dept.

                                                                                                              I remember once going to a TCM doctor and asking for a translation of the ingredients in my prescription. When he 'wasn't able' to translate two, I knew those were the two I needed more information about pronto. One turned out to be (I am not kidding) powdered white cockroaches. (I did not fill that prescription.)

                                                                                                              It's definitely ... cultural.

                                                                                                              1. re: foiegras

                                                                                                                heh -- gotta love it when it all falls into place - the guy's face when your colleague went into the full detail of why this was the leg of a cockroach must have been priceless.

                                                                                                                1. re: foiegras

                                                                                                                  My husband got a live grasshopper in his salad at a french restaurant. Several bites in. Buried and covered in dressing, but still moving. Hubby called the waiter over to point this out and quietly told him "there is a grasshopper in my salad". The waiter clearly did not believe him and said in a loud voice " a GRASSHOP---" and then saw it for himself.

                                                                                                                  I believe they offered a replacement salad, which he did not want. He was not offered a different appetizer nor was the salad taken off the bill. But the bill was added by hand and came out about $20 high. A different waiter told us that the bartender adds the bills and that "she gets it wrong a lot."

                                                                                                                  I feel certain that was a pretty low tip.

                                                                                                              2. We were in a very casual restaurant/bar, seated next to a young couple--and by young, I mean young--maybe18 ish at most. The restaurant is located within walking distance to a prestigious college-prep boarding school. When they received their check, they noticed that the tip had alredy been added in. They called the waitress over and 'called her out' on it. This certainly wasn't the normal practice for the establishment, and they questioned why the waitress had done it. She had no reply. They got a little confrontational with her, told her they took exception to her adding the tip in, and stated loud enough for others to hear that their conclusion was that she thought they either wouldn't notice and give her an additional tip, or that she was afraid they would stiff her on the tip. They didn't tip her and neither did my DH (who is ordinarily a solid 20-25% tipper). We also approached the manager/bartender who is an old family friend and told him what had happened.

                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: justme123

                                                                                                                  Well, that's not cricket: not tipping based on an issue involving another table that did not involve you, that is. The other couple had a basis for its complaint; unless she repeated the mistake with you, you did not.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Karl S

                                                                                                                    And it never was going to happen to them if indeed the discrimination was on the basis of the other couple's age. It's certainly the right thing to do in my book to take exception with someone else being discriminated against and act accordingly.

                                                                                                                2. God I hate American restaurant culture. I hate that this is even a question we have to ask ourselves, every time we go out. Here is my very simple tipping scale:

                                                                                                                  15% for medicore to excellent service
                                                                                                                  0% for poor service (rampant inattention, aggression, bigotry, or physical altercation with the server)

                                                                                                                  Don't pretend to be my friend, don't fake flirt with me, because your tip will NOT CHANGE. Keep that shit to yourself and just do your job.

                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                  1. We tipped a few coins once at a restaurant after really bad service: we were ignored while every other section in our table was attended to (perhaps because we were teenagers, but we were very well behaved). Literately we were waiting for menus, while tables that came in later got menus and drinks, and we were waiting for food while tables that came in later already finished eating. We couldn't get the server's attention at all, but he doted on every other table. To top it off, the server spilled red sauce on my friends white shirt, and didn't offer so much as an apology. We saw through the window after we left that the server was furious after seeing we left a small tip.

                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                    1. re: PotatoPuff

                                                                                                                      and we wonder why teenagers lean towards fast-food joints.

                                                                                                                    2. I've been on both sides of this coin. I've gotten terrible tips from customers who received great service and incredibly high tips from customers who didn't. I've given tips that were very low and probably more that were that particular server's best tip of the evening. I know how to look around the room and see what's really in play at any restaurant. I don't confuse inexperience with malice, or a server being swamped with being inattentive. I also know (even though a lot of people--even on Chowhound, apparently-- don't) that the server isn't the only one getting paid out of that tip. I'm certainly not looking at the tip as a place where I can save a few dollars, which clearly some of you are.

                                                                                                                      I can see when there's a pack of stoners in the kitchen and that's why it's taking 25 mins for my food to arrive. I know when a tyrant presiding over the kitchen is making the wait-staff be the bearer of bad news, such as strict no-substitution laws. I can sniff out bad management from the sidewalk or the parking lot--before any idiot sauntering around in a suit makes an appearance in the dining room to schmooze, but not help his overwhelmed staff. That said, I tip fairly standardly: 15% for someone who just "did their job" in a place that didn't particularly impress me, but just fed me. 20% (at least) for people who were attentive and did their job well, answered questions knowledgably and steered me in a direction that made my experience better.

                                                                                                                      If I'm going to tip 10% or less, and I have, I have the balls to explain to the server and/or management WHY I'm doing so. Leaving a bad tip and scurrying out of the restaurant is the work of cowards. If you have a problem with the service and are basically going to dock someone's pay, then you better be able to explain why. The reasons why I have tipped low are fairly obvious:

                                                                                                                      rudeness or sarcasm or impatience or a condescending attitude. And my favorite:
                                                                                                                      "I'm not REALLY a waiter/waitress. I'm a _______ (actress/artist/student/whatever)," so I don't really have to put any effort into this job that you are expected to pay me for doing."

                                                                                                                      1. Only when the service is horrible.

                                                                                                                        Not THAT long ago, we were dining on Kaua`i, and our dinner service was THAT bad. The server got 10%, though hat WAS on the wine too. However, our busser was excellent, and helped up greatly. He got a US $ 20 into his hand, and a big thank you.

                                                                                                                        Hunt

                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                          If a server is working in a restaurant that shares the tips, I wonder when doing this if the other servers do see this transaction for extra good service, if the server is obligated to share the money. Particularly if they bring up the gift.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Rella

                                                                                                                            I have no idea what the "pact" is, but I tipped on service, so was comfortable in my choice. Our server was totally unfocused, and inattentive, so his tip, as applied to my credit card, was much less, than he might have expected. OTOH, our busser, who was very good, got a few crisp bills, in his hand. How things progressed from there, is beyond my knowledge, and my "pay grade." I try to not over think things too much, or I would drive myself into a crazier place, than I already am.

                                                                                                                            Hunt

                                                                                                                        2. I've been both server and underserved. If the service is non-existent, then so is the tip. For example, my husband and I went out for breakfast at a well-known chain restaurant. His breakfast arrived in a timely manner. Mine did not. The waitress dropped one plate down, and dashed away before we could ask for Tabasco. After husband finished his breakfast, the waitress arrived to ask if we wanted anything else. Uhm, my meal would be nice. With a perplexed frown, she assured us that my meal would be right out. Several cups of coffee later, I was served a nasty plate of burnt egg and bacon that a stray dog would turn his nose up at. Guess what restaurant we no longer patronize? As a former waitress, I felt the $0.00 tip was fully justified. And yes, we did speak to the manager, who was polite, but apparently clueless. So, we no longer choose to spend our dining out dollars at his establishment. I made myself some toast and scrambled eggs at home, two hours after I should have been served at >chain restaurant<.
                                                                                                                          We live in a small town, so our dining out choices are somewhat limited, but there are nicer places to spend our money and time. When I was a server, I would have been ashamed to treat anyone so badly.

                                                                                                                          6 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: RosePearl

                                                                                                                            Hm-m, sounds like my afore-mentioned experience. Luckily, our busser was on top of things, and we seldom wanted for much - other than service from the kitchen to our table.

                                                                                                                            Now, I am not blaming all servers for horrible delays, from the kitchen, but would have expected a decent server to be table-side, with updates, and apologies. When I feel that things have gone wrong in the kitchen, and are beyond the power of the server, to correct, I tip on the service, and not issues in the BOH.

                                                                                                                            Hunt

                                                                                                                            1. re: RosePearl

                                                                                                                              I do have one question, just to satisfy my curiosity. How enormous and how packed was this place that you weren't able to flag down the waitress in the time it took for your husband to eat his entire meal? This inevitably (especially in diners and chains) seems to happen. I remember this happened while out with two couples. One of us didn't get our plate and the waiter did the drop and run. We got up and walked to manager and told him what had happened and they offered to take everything back and make everyone another meal. We explained it was OK, as we all were eating breakfast and we assumed this could be rectified quickly. Within 3 minutes, our fourth diner got her food. Mistakes happen, but allowing them to progress into a completely awful experience, sometimes falls on the diner, for not voicing their displeasure.

                                                                                                                              1. re: jhopp217

                                                                                                                                In busy place, I've had the experience more than once of flagging down the server, getting a nod of acknowledgement, and not seeing him/her again until the next time I flag him/her down -- getting a nod of acknowledgement...and so on and so on and so on.

                                                                                                                                When this happened to me at breakfast one time (they were busy, but not slammed - there were still empty tables) -- I asked four times in a span of 15 minutes for a refill on my coffee, and "yep, I'll be right back with it" -- only to have her walk right past me with the coffee pot! I was seated where I could see the coffee machine, so finally I got up, walked into the kitchen, and refilled my coffee cup, then returned to my table without a word.

                                                                                                                                Total uproar -- the manager all but sprinted over (not angry; panicked) asking why I was in the kitchen. I told him that I'd asked her four times in 15 minutes to refresh my coffee, but figured that since she continued to pass me by, obviously I was in the self-service section. I got a full apology and my breakfast immediately -- but I also didn't get any more coffee, nor did he comp or reduce the bill.

                                                                                                                                Last visit to that one....

                                                                                                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                  I thought I was in the self-service section ... love it, I am definitely hanging onto that one.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                    I had a similar experience a couple of weeks ago at a micro brew place. It was mid afternoon and only a few tables were occupied. I ordered a burger that came with chili mayo.

                                                                                                                                    Our waitress just couldn't seem to keep it together and after the 4th request for mayo, I got up and walked into the kitchen and asked for it myself.

                                                                                                                                    The head person in the kitchen went nuts (not on me) and ran out of the kitchen after the waitress. He didn't even ask who was my server so I suspect it wasn't the first time there was a problem. Management comped my burger, which I thought was reasonable because my husband and son were nearly finished with their meals before I got my own mayo.

                                                                                                                                    My husband thought I took it a litte too far (going into the kitchen) but darn it, I wanted that chili mayo!

                                                                                                                                2. re: RosePearl

                                                                                                                                  If you are in the U.S., I'll bet I know what restaurant of which you speak! I NEVER go there, but f-i-l gets DH to stop there, when I'm not with them. I think they like to be punished :-))

                                                                                                                                3. the only time I recall that we didn't tip at least 10% was at a chain where we'd gone for breakfast with a few friends. The waitress was terribly rude, brought part of the food, left one of us without silverware, then disappeared. We left a tiny tip and explained the situation to the manager as we paid the bill. We never went back.

                                                                                                                                  If we need our server and haven't seen them, I am not above asking the very next server/busser/manager who walks by to find and send our server to us. It usually works like a charm.

                                                                                                                                  1. If I have been polite and patient (not always, but usually) and the service has been belligerantly poor, then I consider a lesser tip. If the waitperson is trying but struggling, I assume that there are challenges going on for them that are possibly not their fault, and they really do deserve their tip. Their attitude is what counts.

                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                      I agree that their attitude counts, but in the long run, poor service with an apology and a smile numerous times in a meal gets to be tedious.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Rella

                                                                                                                                        Yep, if they're in the weeds and just can't get ahead, I'm willing to be forgiving.

                                                                                                                                        Blatant incompetence coupled with apathy? No way.

                                                                                                                                    2. To be honest, I'd never tip 10% or lower, since if service is that poor, then it's probably not something you should be paying for at all.

                                                                                                                                      I generally tip 20%, so for me 10% would be half that. If I got served food in a restaurant that was so badly made that I felt it would be unfair for me to pay more than half its menu price, then that's food I'd send back. Similarly, if service is that bad, I think the best thing to do would be to take it up with whoever's in charge and see what can be done about it. And if it's a

                                                                                                                                      Naturally, I'm not talking about service that's just slow, or a bit disorganized. But if it's something that's the equivalent of food that's inedible, why should you be expected to pay for it at all? It's rare, yes, and I've never personally encountered service that bad, but we know it can happen. And if that's the case, and your server, by being rude, or by completely ignoring you, or by throwing a dessert at you has actually made your dining experience unenjoyable/upsetting, then I don't see why that person should be paid for doing it.

                                                                                                                                      You could say that you should never go under X amount because otherwise the server gets next to nothing, but at the same time, if it really is remarkably bad service, then the server hasn't actually done the job that he/she is being paid for.

                                                                                                                                      Still, I don't really like the idea of tipping nothing without saying anything, although I'm of the mindset that when something's wrong, you should always complain about it until whoever's responsible for it or in charge fixes it. So if there really were a problem bad enough to warrant not tipping, I'd be sure to let someone know.

                                                                                                                                      1. I just about always tip 20% - maybe I should say 'always do.' However, there are things that really make me wonder why I do. Even though serving is done graciously, I'm am atttuned to a server doing such things as this: picking up a menu off the floor, putting it back in a menu box, putting those fingernails and thumbs onto my plate without washing up, noted by following the footsteps and where stopped.

                                                                                                                                        Yes, one can say that the server may have washed hands on a chloroxed towel, put the menu in a bin that needs to be washed (I usually take note to see if the menus are clean), and so on.

                                                                                                                                        It gives me pause on the tip, but I go ahead and do it anyway. I cannot police the wait staff, nor kitchen, alas!

                                                                                                                                        1. I have only done it twice in my life. The most recent time, the waiter gave us the wrong drinks twice, took 45 minutes to get our food and 30 for refills on our drinks). Our food was stone cold on arrival. When we tried addressing these issues with the waiter, he rolled his eyes and stormed away, to go back behind the bar talking with his friend and laughing. My food was completely wrong, and when I pointed it out, he asked me why it mattered (it wasn't even close to being right). It wasn't a particularly busy night and our waiter only had about 3 other tables. Had it been busy there and we noticed that they were understaffed, I would have tipped better, however it was not only slow and negligent, but downright rude. Anyway, needless to say, I won't ever be returning there!

                                                                                                                                          5 Replies
                                                                                                                                          1. re: vvvalerie

                                                                                                                                            I wouldn't have tipped anything. And talked to the manager. WTF.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                                                              +1, lingua. That's a no tip situation whatever part of the world you're in.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                                Hey, I didn't say how much under 10% I tipped - I gave him $0.01. LOL.

                                                                                                                                                The manager was busy screaming at the only girl who seemed capable of giving decent service in the entire restaurant, so I didn't feel like he would be the best person to talk to. I just refuse to ever go back!

                                                                                                                                                1. re: vvvalerie

                                                                                                                                                  Good for you, vvvalerie.

                                                                                                                                                  Sounds like the manager should be looking for an enforced career change. In whatever business, you don't scream at your employees. And you certainly don't do it in front of customers.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                                    A good manager should hire people, smarter than they are, and just sit back, and let them work.

                                                                                                                                                    A bad manager... well, who knows what they might want to do?

                                                                                                                                                    Hunt

                                                                                                                                          2. I genrally tip 20% or more, but last night the server was so bad that I left $1. He didn't deserve anything, but I wanted to make sure he knew I didn't forget to tip.
                                                                                                                                            The 15 year old finished school for the term yesterday and wanted to go shopping at the mall and to eat supper at Ruby Tuesday's. Her choice and Dad knows that it's his job to go along and pay.
                                                                                                                                            We were seated and after 5 minutes the waiter came to take a drink order. I said that I'd like a Cup of coffee with my meal and my daughter ordered a diet cola. He showed my 15 year old the drink menu that was on the table and said: "wouldn't you rather have one of these Margarita's?"

                                                                                                                                            I replied, "wouldn't you rather serve alcohol to someone of legal age." He walked away muttering thatwe were a cheap table ordering no cocktails. 15 minutes later he brought the diet coke, and took our order, we went to get a salad. After eating our salad the mains arrived and the waiter said, I'll be right back with your biscuits and coffee. During the next 40 minutes we never saw the waiter in the dining area. There was no manager to be seen either.
                                                                                                                                            I finally stopped a hostess and asked her to find our waiter. Ten more minutes passed and the waiter finally appeared asking "what's your problem? I was on break."

                                                                                                                                            I looked at him with a straight face and asked if the biscuits had come out of the oven yet and if my coffee had finished brewing....................."
                                                                                                                                            There was no reply and he wandered off towards the kitchen. 15 minutes later the hostess came to the table and presented the check. I took the check out of the holder and ripped it in two. The hostess looked shocked. I told her to tell the waiter to do his own dirty work. Eventually a manager came by with an apology and a new check. I never got my coffee or biscuits. I placed the amount of the check plus $1 in the holder and we left.

                                                                                                                                            The good news is that my daughter found a $50 bill under the table. This morning I called to speak with the general manager about our experience. It seems the waiter was spending the evening in the bar trying to pick a young lady and neglected his tables. I asked the manager if any customer had reported losing any money last evening in the restaurant and was told no.

                                                                                                                                            My daughter gets to keep the $50 and we won't be returning to that location.

                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                            1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                                                              My experience yesterday didn't even begin to be as exciting, but prompted me to say that we did leave a 20% tip - most usually we do. The service was less than adequate, but darn, but he was trying, and calling me 'yes, mamm' no matter what I said.

                                                                                                                                              The menu was a plastic covered 2 pager, even though lunch was over, when we went in about 3pm, the bus-girl gave us the menus, but mine had FRESH SALSA dripping down the side of it - a near hit on my new sailor sweater outfit! I picked up another menu myself as no one was there, but it was a dinner menu. I had a hard time finding the wine list, but eventually I did find it on the dinner menu and a little card was on our table of the few wines they did serve. So.. we got a late start.

                                                                                                                                              The salsa, I can understand dripping on the menu because each dip of a chip was almost the consistency of water and dripped across the table. One napkin (no plates) was available wrapped around your knife and fork. We got the waiter's attention for a couple of plates to 'pour' our salsa over the chips.

                                                                                                                                              The rest of the meal went ok, with a lot of attention to us, and a free sopapilla at the end with some cool-whip type of topping and some drizzled thin strawberry over it. I took one bite. I don't deduct from the waiter's tip no matter how lousy the food is, but one always feels like it.

                                                                                                                                              Yep, 20%, but not going back. No $50 found. I forgot to add that this is not a chain, but really it doesn't matter, whether it is or not.

                                                                                                                                            2. I don't think I have ever left zero tip, and have rarely left less than %15. Having worked in the industry for years, I both understand how to do the job and the fact that a million things could be going wrong that day that could affect your service. That being said, I feel like good servers know when they ocassionally give poor service, and bad servers THINK they are great at their jobs. If you give a bad server a bad tip, they are most likely going to just think you are a jerk who doesn't know how to tip. When I have bad service, even really bad service, I might be compelled to leave %15, but I always speak to the manager and explain how poor my service was. Hopefully this will lead to a conversation with the employee (and possibly lead him to reconsider his profession or work ethic).

                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                              1. re: doodle79

                                                                                                                                                "If you give a bad server a bad tip, they are most likely going to just think you are a jerk who doesn't know how to tip."

                                                                                                                                                If the server does think this, well ... really, there's nothing one can do about it -- one cannot enlighten the world. Maybe something might connect (lightbulb?) for the server if this keeps happening.

                                                                                                                                                The last time I did speak with the manager not about the server, but about the food - only because he was standing there as I was preparing to leave - really, I thought he was mad at me. Who knows, maybe he thought I was a chronic complainer, or a bad tipper?

                                                                                                                                              2. Never. If the service is truly horrid, I won't tip. And if it is good enough to warrant a tip, it'll be a 15% minimum, with 20-25% standard.

                                                                                                                                                1. I normally will tip around 15% for good basic service and somewhat higher for excellent service. Very rarely have I experienced service so poor that I've left less than 15% or even nothing, but one event stands out in my mind.

                                                                                                                                                  About 25 years ago, a friend and I were dining at a family-owned restaurant at which we were weekly regulars. We were both in our twenties, dressed casually, and placed orders for drinks, appetizers, and entrees such that our bill was not going to be insignificant. The waitress who served us (not one I recognized from our regular visits), however, was nasty to us from the moment we sat down to the moment we received our bill. I was so irritated by her attitude that I left a Midol for a tip. And, yes, we did speak to the manager. I probably would not leave the Midol today, but, eh, impulsive youth.

                                                                                                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: laskiblue

                                                                                                                                                    *that* is hilarious. Nasty, but hilarious.

                                                                                                                                                    eta:

                                                                                                                                                    I have had a few times when I've just asked the server "Hey, you're obviously irritated -- what is it that I/we have done to deserve being treated like this? I understand if you're having a bad day, but taking it out on me and making me leave you a smaller tip isn't going to make anything any better."

                                                                                                                                                    Ihave yet to have a bad result (although it's admittedly a bit in-your-face and could backfire) -- they've at least softened a bit, and a few have apologized profusely and made a complete turnaround.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                      But still, I wonder why they do it in the first place when they are semi-dependent, if not completely dependent on a decent tip.

                                                                                                                                                      Cliche: Mine is not to wonder why.......

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Rella

                                                                                                                                                        because it's been a bad day -- overslept, wake up to find the cat puked in the middle of the hallway (and "in your bare feet" is such a great way to discover this), your other half picked a fight, the baby has a cold, the milk was sour, the coffee filter folded over and you got a mouth full of grounds, and your boss just chewed your ass for something that wasn't your fault in the first place.

                                                                                                                                                        Tends to make one lose perspective.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                          (Is there any other way to discover that the cat had a hairball?)

                                                                                                                                                          I really do try to keep this in mind if I receive less-than-stellar service. Yes, people in professional settings should act professional. Of course. But if I am honest with myself, there are days when I'm not exactly Employee of the Year material. It happens. I like to allow others the same slack, within reason.

                                                                                                                                                    2. A few weeks ago, I was out with a group at a local bar/restaurant. We basically ordered pretty much the entire appetizer menu to share. Once we got our food and the initial round of drinks, the server disappeared. I mean to the point where we hadn't seen him in twenty minutes, I went out to smoke, saw him hanging out with the hostess and I asked him to see our table cause we wanted another round. I smoked a cigarette, took a phone call, etc, went back to the table and he still had not showed up and another 10+ minutes had gone by at this point. We started just ordering our drinks at the bar. About 10 minutes after he saw us doing that, he showed up asking if we needed anything.

                                                                                                                                                      The final straw was I ended up on a separate check than the main group since I showed up late. I paid in cash and he didn't return my change (about $5). The main group didn't tip him after that and I ended up with people trying to throw singles at me to make up for him screwing me on my change (which I declined).

                                                                                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Jackie007

                                                                                                                                                        Not responding to your dilema, but envisioning all smoking servers lined up leaning up against a brick wall with one foot supporting the wall and the opposite hand with a hanging cigarette. Drive by just about any back door of a restaurant and you can see them. In the winter, one can guess whether it's smoke or the cold breath that is creating the white smog coming out of the mouth.

                                                                                                                                                        By golly, I think one could make a coffee table book, a chapter for each state. One could make a career of it, and have a book each for fast food restaurant smokers, one for chain restaurant smokers, and one for top rated restaurant smokers.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Rella

                                                                                                                                                          I usually tip near 20% for competent service and 10% as a rare low for incompetent service. If the service is rude or MIA I immediately get the manager involved.

                                                                                                                                                          These days many restaurants take 5% to 7% of each server's total sales as a tip-out to support staff so I don't want to be too punitive.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Rella

                                                                                                                                                            I grew up in DC area and saw them standing in front of every govt. office bldg doing the same--on tax-paid lunch hours. I lived in NYC for 8 years and saw them in front of every office bldg as well. Will you include them in your book as well?

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: staughton

                                                                                                                                                              I don't think I'll do any books myself. But: government workers, if I were doing these theme books, that's a book that someone else would have to do :-))

                                                                                                                                                        2. I will go well below 10%, all the way to 0% if...
                                                                                                                                                          - I feel I have waited too long for my beverage. This is the biggest and most usual offense in my experience.
                                                                                                                                                          - I feel I have waited too long for my food, it is cold, or there are missing dishes or components that are not immediately, and I mean immediately, replaced. Extra deductions for cold food that is simply re-fired instead of re-made.
                                                                                                                                                          - The server ignores the table or is otherwise impossible to flag down. Extra deductions if the server is in my field of view, especially if they are talking and commisserating with someone.
                                                                                                                                                          - The server is rude, obnoxious or otherwise unpleasant.

                                                                                                                                                          Pretty much all of these sins can be forgiven if the issue is addressed and/or food or beverage is comped.

                                                                                                                                                          5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                          1. re: MonMauler

                                                                                                                                                            How is food timing the fault of the server? Bartenders get backed up as well--you punish the server for that?

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                                                                                                              One restaurant we frequent more than others, some of the servers are involved somehow with the staff in the kitchen. For instance, I know from previous trips that 'this or that' was not cooked to specification (rare or medium-rare or well done) or something was 'not very fresh the last time.' or 'this was pretty soggy the last time.'
                                                                                                                                                              These servers smile and say a word or a mumble to us to indicate that 'they, themselves,' will make sure that it is as ordered.
                                                                                                                                                              I believe the server does have the clout to ask the chef and refuse to take out the order if it is not as requested.
                                                                                                                                                              Hey, was this not stressed in "Hell's Kitchen"?
                                                                                                                                                              Yes, I know, not everyone watched "Hell's Kitchen."
                                                                                                                                                              A server is much more than a 'just a server' if he/she wishes to be.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                                                                                                                When you can see the plates sitting there getting cold while the server is off doing something else. East Coast Grill we sat there staring at our food getting cold. After serving it didn't see the waitress again until we asked for bill. Lowered tip and probably won't return.

                                                                                                                                                                When the server forgets to put in the order. Rendezvous tapas night bartender forgot to put in order for sardines. When we asked about them admitted to forgetting to place the order and apologized. Obviously busy. Didn't affect the tip and didn't affect our opinion of the restaurant.

                                                                                                                                                                When the server doesn't warn you that a certain dish needs a longer prep time.Muqueca. We didn't realize how long the muqueca took to cook. Hungry and irritated we asked if they forgot about us. We realized that the wait wasn't that long once the waitress explained how it was all made to order. So again tip wasn't affected, but we have decided that it isn't a place to bring out of town guests.

                                                                                                                                                                So as long as the server communicates, takes responsibility, or is actually busy (not gossiping/smoking/flirting) I don't fault them.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: viperlush

                                                                                                                                                                  Thanks for those examples (and weirdly, I ate at both East Coast Grill and Rendezvous this past weekend)

                                                                                                                                                                2. re: LeoLioness

                                                                                                                                                                  Usually the waitstaff tips the bartenders. Waiters who don't take care of their bartenders get crap service -- light pours, slow service, wrong service. So if your drinks are slow or wrong or light it might be the bartender's fault. but it could also be the waiter's fault.

                                                                                                                                                                  Stuff trickles down.

                                                                                                                                                              2. The general concensus is that the standard tip in the U.S is 15%. (You can look it up).

                                                                                                                                                                But don't look at food oriented sites, where the claim is often 20% or higher as a standard tip.

                                                                                                                                                                What might surprise some, is that it is at food sites where I read many stories of people leaving no tip at all.

                                                                                                                                                                Foodies - overtip like rubes on their first day off the farm or undertip like Ebenezer Scrooge.

                                                                                                                                                                1. I, like one other poster here, am surprised at the list of terrible experiences with wait staff that people list.

                                                                                                                                                                  In the last couple of years, I've become lazy. I dine out hundreds of times a year and try new places all the time. I never see anything like the various circumstances described here. Sometimes I wait longer than I would like for initial service or final bill. Sneering rudeness, bizarre behavior? Only from my friends.

                                                                                                                                                                  22 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Rella

                                                                                                                                                                      Like Frank, we regularly dine out and it's usually at somewhere new and we never experience the sort of vile service that is often reported by folk posting on this board.

                                                                                                                                                                      Now what is interesting to me - as a Briton - is that, here in the UK, servers are paid a "proper" wage, as well as receiving tips or a share of a service charge. Yet, in America, staff are almost completely dependent on tips for their income, where you would not think they would do anything to upset the tipper.

                                                                                                                                                                      Surely there must be some wider issue, other than the tip, that accounts for the differing experiences between continents. I don't know enough about American culture to speculate what that might be - although it makes me wonder if servers think they can be vile towards customers and still usually get tipped.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                                                        I dine out regularly too, and also never experience some of the vile service that others report on. Then again, any time I hear one side of "terrible", "obnoxious" or (my favorite) "rude" service, I'm always curious as to what the other side of that story is.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                                                                                                                          Most usually when a person complains about being treated badly, I believe them. There is no reason not to believe them that I can think of.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Rella

                                                                                                                                                                            I think a lot of it comes down to perspective and the fact that there is always at least two sides to a story. Some people also like to over exaggerate, complain, feel persecuted or have unreasonable demands/expectations. Sometimes those behaviors are intentional, sometimes completely unintentional and the person has no idea they are making the situation out to be something unnecessary or what it is not. In my experience it is always the same people who have multiple horror stories or who continually claim to get horrible service. Often times I will have been there and had a completely different perspective of the situation.

                                                                                                                                                                            When I dine out, I am polite and civil to the staff. I don't have unreasonable demands or expectations. I don't try to hit on them or make them my friend, I simply interact with them in a courteous, pleasant demeanor as I do anyone else I encounter throughout my day. Aside from the occasional really crappy server, I find I have none of these problems. I don't have a platinum AMEX, so no one is kissing my ass or handing me bottles of expensive wines in hopes of a giant tip, but I'm not expecting that.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: pollymerase

                                                                                                                                                                              "In my experience it is always the same people who have multiple horror stories or who continually claim to get horrible service. Often times I will have been there and had a completely different perspective of the situation."

                                                                                                                                                                              I've never known people who are prone to these behaviors in dining situations, so I assume you have experience with the people who do these things; so ....

                                                                                                                                                                              Kissing ass because the customer has an AMEX? Is this what a server does? I've not heard this before. Is this often the case?

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Rella

                                                                                                                                                                                So.... sometimes it is hard to avoid situations where you must dine with coworkers, or friends of friends, etc. Also, I don't believe I'm the one who is asking 'what is the secret' to having non-crappy service. I realized long ago it is simply about treating others with respect and how you would want to be treated.

                                                                                                                                                                                Also, I didn't say AMEX, I said 'platinum AMEX'. People often like to think that level of service is based upon salary or status. I'm simply saying that I have neither of those, yet I have never found myself wondering what the secret is to getting decent service.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: pollymerase

                                                                                                                                                                                  so your server asks to see your credit card when you sit down?

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                    No. My point isn't what specific credit card one has, but rather that at times people get exceptional service based on their status/income. It was simply an example or way to express that the person is likely to have more money to spend than the average face in the crowd. A hostess, manager, or server need not see someone's actual bank account balance to perceive someone as a 'big spender'. As a poster in a thread discussing if it is acceptable for a restaurant to wait for the entire party to be present prior to seating recounted, if she were to arrive for a reservation but her whole party wasn't there, she would be informed she would have to wait (as per restaurant policy). However, if her boss, who is of known stature arrives and not everyone is there he is immediately seated.

                                                                                                                                                                                    I'm not complaining that some people get better service or perks because of their status, I'm simply pointing out that it is a fact of life that it exists. I've seen it is a restaurant/bar patron and I've seen it as a restaurant/bar employee. Numerous times I have experienced managers/owners say, 'Mr. So and So, owner of Company X has just arrived. Make sure he immediately gets whatever he wants. Make sure you tell the chef which ticket is his, etc, etc.' It's just the way life works.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: pollymerase

                                                                                                                                                                                      Florida, my home for over half my life, is a classic example of "can't tell a book by its cover".

                                                                                                                                                                                      I can't tell you the number of people I've seen who dress like a million bucks -- and are so in debt up to their eyeballs that they will never see the light of day....

                                                                                                                                                                                      ...and millionaires who wear flipflops and dreadlocks.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Treating someone like a winner or a loser solely based on what they're wearing today is a major assumption -- and the ass will be u, every time.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                        I agree with you regarding you shouldn't judge one on their appearance, not just because your assumption about their net worth may be incorrect, but because I believe it is inherently wrong to not treat all people with equal respect. However, just because it's not the correct thing to do, doesn't mean it doesn't routinely happen. I routinely read accounts on this site of things that will never happen to me, or probably the vast majority of the population, because I can not afford to travel first class or drop 5+ figures on dinners. Again, I really don't care and I'm certainly not losing sleep over it, but I think it is naive to not acknowledge that it happens.

                                                                                                                                                                                        This brings back nicely the point of my original response to the question of 'what's your secret? (presumably to getting non-terrible service)', is simply to treat others with respect, be polite and courteous, and don't have unreasonable expectations (i.e. expecting that everything is going to be perfect and the staff is there to cater to your demands). Simply put, I don't believe that I, as a customer, is always correct.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: pollymerase

                                                                                                                                                                                          I will play the "other side." I do feel that I am correct, regarding my demands, regarding service and food. However, I try to communicate my expectations in a very friendly way. My expectations ARE high, but no one can ever say, "Hey, I didn't know."

                                                                                                                                                                                          When hosting a dinner (a common occurrence for me), I will pull the service captain aside, and quietly explain what I want, and in the degree of detail necessary. This has almost always worked perfectly. If someone in the service team deviates, then I have another quiet talk with the captain. Most of my requests regard wine service, and I am demanding there. However, I am never unrealistic, and am as helpful, as I can be. I consider that first talk to be between professional adults, and without it, incorrect assumptions can come into play, whether it's regarding how things are usually done, or how others want them done. In my case, there should be no ambiguity, and if there is, a simple question will settle things.

                                                                                                                                                                                          OTOH, I view my service team as "partners," helping to assure that my guests get the very best possible. If the service team does not know what I expect, then I am at fault, as they cannot read my mind. That attitude, and that extra effort, have served me very well. The few issues that I have ever had, only came from instances, where I did not communicate well enough - they are all on ME.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: pollymerase

                                                                                                                                                                                        Now, I can see some potential for your points. When I was much, much younger, and a bit more casual (it was popular in those times), I might not have gotten the "respect" from the FOH, to the servers. Now, and being much older (and affluent), I am usually "dressed up" for my dining experience. I also have my lovely wife on my arm (I did back when, but she was also more casual then), so they might look at her, and assume that I am someone special, when I am really not. Still, I do seem to "command" more respect, than I did in the early '70s, but then much HAS changed, and not just with me.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Now, and with the exceptions of our "regular" restaurants on several continents, most do not know me. They do not understand that I am "President of the Phoenix Chapter of the Trophy Husbands Society." My lovely wife is the IMPORTANT person. However, if anyone gets a bad dish, or lax service, in our family, it is her. Never figured that one out. Some years back, I did a trip review titled "A Tale of Two Entrées," as we dined across two Islands in Hawai`i. She got the "bad one," in every case, while my dishes were always great to spectacular. Even with some of her "bad luck," we normally have wonderful food and service.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: pollymerase

                                                                                                                                                                                      "Respect," is what I try to focus on, regardless of what, or where the restaurant is. Most of our dining IS in what would be called "fine-dining" establishments, but we also do others. Regardless of the restaurant, I attempt to be highly respectful. I would be horribly saddened, if any server portrayed me in any other light, and that is from the sommelier, the service captain, the servers and the bussers. I attempt to treat them, at the ultimate level. With but a very few exceptions, they have all reciprocated. I appreciate that. I am not trying to become their "friend," but only to have a pleasant, professional relationship for that evening.

                                                                                                                                                                                      I think that you nailed a very important part of the equation.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                    3. re: Rella

                                                                                                                                                                                      Going way back, we led many ski trips. There was one couple, who frequently traveled on those, and they ALWAYS had issues, from even before the group left. I never understood why they went, as everything was horrible, and nothing was enjoyable for them. I decided that some people were just "genetically surly," and no amount of personal attention was going to change that.

                                                                                                                                                                                      I am about the polar opposite, in that I intend to have fun, and someone needs to work hard, to spoil that. Some, however, have found ways to do just that, but they had to work at it. My dear, and late M-I-L was one, who always found major issues with everything. There were few dining instances, where she really had a good time, even when my wife and I enjoyed every aspect. For her, nearly everything was bad. Not sure what the issues were, and I never figured that out. Many in her family were in the restaurant business, but still, she complained about some great restaurants, from "soup to nuts," and I always seemed to disagree, albeit silently.

                                                                                                                                                                                      As for the AMEX, I am with you. Almost no one knows which card I will pay with. The only possible exceptions would be if I used AMEX Concierge Services to book a restaurant, or maybe the hotel, and then dined in their restaurant, but that is a bit of a reach, at least in my mind. Unless maybe I used it to secure the reservation (I use several, and of different "colors"), they cannot possibly know. At one San Francisco restaurant, where we dine about every other, or every other third of our monthly trips, I have used almost every card in my wallet, depending on which "points" I want at that time. Other than one VISA, I think they have seen all the rest. How would they know?

                                                                                                                                                                                      Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                    4. re: pollymerase

                                                                                                                                                                                      Those are good points.

                                                                                                                                                                                      I never want to complain. I enjoy my dining far too much. I want to enjoy my meal, and the staff to enjoy serving me. I am adverse to confrontation. I just want to enjoy, and work with my servers to be explicit, exacting, friendly and help them do their best job for me.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Now, with our inter-continental dining, we DO have many favorites, built up over the decades, so we are often seen as "regulars," even when we live 6,000 miles away. While it is ultimately about the food, we also seek out very good to excellent service too. For us, a meal can be ruined from the front of the house, through the servers to the kitchen. They are ALL important to the level of enjoyment.

                                                                                                                                                                                      As for the credit card, I do have many of the "upper-level" ones, but few restaurants know that, unless they have a dossier on me. I never expect those to do anything for me, as they are not pulled out, until after the meal.

                                                                                                                                                                                      For tipping, I do so, based on service. I do not mind doing so, and am so very happy that I can. When things are perfect, I want the staff to know about my appreciation, and besides the tips, will often seek out the server, the service captain, the sommelier, and usually send kind words back to the kitchen. I feel that some restaurants ONLY hear about problems, and not so often about satisfied patrons. I hope that I can adequately communicate my enjoyment, where it is warranted.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: FrankJBN

                                                                                                                                                                              It's not so much that these experiences are common as that this is a good thread to share em.

                                                                                                                                                                              My most memorable bad service story - In college, a group of friends and I went to a casual college greasy spoon. It was a weeknight and a little late, so the restaurant wasn't at all busy. Our server, a beefy-looking guy and probably a fellow college student, takes our order. He seems a little less friendly and cheerful than usual as waiters go, but nothing to write home about. Nothing memorable yet.

                                                                                                                                                                              He then goes over to the bar and chats with the bartender for a while in plain eyesight of us, so we're assuming he's not super busy or anything. 20 minutes later he unceremoniously drops off our drinks. Took a little long considering that he obviously wasn't very busy, but my friends and I are having a good time catching up, so no one thinks much of it. 20, 30, 40 minutes go by and now we're getting a little restless. After an hour, the server comes over from the bar where he's been chatting, maybe 20 feet from our table, and says 'I never put in your food order and I forget what you guys wanted.' Every bit of his body language and tone conveyed 'Why can't you people just leave? I'd rather have a root canal than be waiting your table.' No idea why as we weren't drunk, mean, loud, or smelly, nor did we look or dress any different than the restaurant's normal crowd.

                                                                                                                                                                              I don't even remember the rest of the meal though I think we actually stuck around and got our food eventually.

                                                                                                                                                                              I've eaten out many times, but that's the only one I can remember where I felt downright insulted by a server.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                                Wow, very bad form!

                                                                                                                                                                                Sorry to read that.

                                                                                                                                                                                Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: FrankJBN

                                                                                                                                                                                remember that this thread is, by definition, a thread for relating the most horrible stories ever to illustrate why you lowballed or skipped the tip entirely.

                                                                                                                                                                                For me, my two jaw-droppingly bad stories (pouring my own coffee at breakfast and the dead-fly incident) are the only two truly awful experiences from twenty years of traveling for a living -- that means at least two, sometimes three, meals day eaten in a restaurant for 30-40% of the year -- that's a LOT of meals. Did I have stellar service at every other meal? No -- but the rest were anywhere from just okay to truly wonderful.

                                                                                                                                                                                It's like being afraid to get in your car after reading a compendium of car crashes.....you have to keep it all in perspective.

                                                                                                                                                                                (edit for clarity)

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                  That is true. I can think of more times where the server has deserved a larger tip because of our actions than when the server didn't deserve a tip because of their actions. As with most threads I think it helps to remind ourselves to keep on point and in perspective.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                    Thank you for that "perspective check." I have been very guilty of deviating from the original topic, and for that, I apologize.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Back on track, or so I hope, I have had but few instances, where I tipped less than "my norm." One was a greatly vaunted spot in New Orleans, beloved by 99% of that board, where everything was bad, and I do mean bad. Regarding sanitizer in our wine glasses, after speaking with three different servers, I finally had to take our wine glasses to the bartender, insist that he drink water from them, and tell me what he tasted - sanitizer! There were dozens of servers, all clustered into two groups having great fun and conversation, while we were left sitting, and sitting, only to get embarrassing dishes, that were mostly inedible, and maybe 40 mins. after we ordered. Was the horrible food the responsibility of our server? No, but the extremely bad service was. I left 10% on a hefty bill, and did NOT figure in the wines, or the taxes, as I normally do, just on net food only.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Fortunately, over maybe 300 dinners out, over the last few years, that was the only bad one, and the only one, that I can recall tipping so low. Normally, 15% (on gross) is my low point, with 20% (on gross) being my norm. On great service, it goes up, and is calculated on gross. If the wine service is also spectacular, the sommelier will likely get something extra, just for him/her. I have also passed on some "extras" for maybe a great busser. I want to say "thank you," and show an appreciation for extra effort.

                                                                                                                                                                                    I appreciate your reeling me in, as I was off on a dozen tangents. While they might have been worthy of discussion, I agree that this particular thread is not the ideal place for them.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: FrankJBN

                                                                                                                                                                                    We are traveling about 150 days per year, and while much is in the US, much is in Europe/UK. We dine out almost every travel night.

                                                                                                                                                                                    With but a very, very exceptions, we have encountered just what you describe. The service is usually good, to excellent, with more very good, than just good.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Is it just good fortune? Possibly.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Is it related to the level of restaurant? Probably.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Have there been exceptions? Yes, but few.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                  3. I'm surprised by all the people who tips regularly even when provided bad service. When you do this, it is just reinforcing the idea that the bad service does not need to be improved.

                                                                                                                                                                                    11 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: MellyMelle

                                                                                                                                                                                      If I was working a job and wasn't getting minimum wage... there'd be no improvement. i'd just vamoose. some people are more desperate than that.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Chowrin

                                                                                                                                                                                        Are you saying that most people in the food service industry are in desperate situations, and that's why we should tip a certain minimum amount regardless? I don't buy that argument - sympathy does not get me paid in my job, and it shouldn't. In ANY job. Plus, if you rely on your tips, your motivation should be to provide great service to increase that portion of your compensation. Being a grump or not doing the job does not improve the server's situation, only makes it worse. I'm from Canada and our servers typically don't make minimum wage either, but with tips, you can make a fairly prolific living, especially when you look at required job skills/education/training vs. compensation. I don't have a problem if you choose to tip regardless, but you may want to consider what kind of message you're sending the good hard working server who is making only a few % more than a server who does the bare minimum and sometimes less.

                                                                                                                                                                                        I worked in the service industry for 6 years putting myself through school, have been a hostess, busgirl, cook, server, bartender, so it's not like I'm speaking as an armchair critic. It ain't rocket science, just takes some effort. My hourly wage as a server/bartender averaged around $5.25/hour, so it was a bit higher than what it appears to be in the US. Regardless, the tips made up the majority of my compensation.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: MellyMelle

                                                                                                                                                                                          I'm saying that the whole system is vile and not worth participating in.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Chowrin

                                                                                                                                                                                            Then is it correct to assume that you do not tip, because of the vileness, or that you do not dine out, for the same reason? Somehow, I am missing something here.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                              yes. both not tipping and not dining out (which eliminates the social obligation to tip). If i dine out, I do it on someone else's dime.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Chowrin

                                                                                                                                                                                                Got you. In that respect, we are "polar opposites," as we are "out of town," more than in town, so dine out all of the time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                Thank you for the clarification.

                                                                                                                                                                                                Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                                  ever eat a sammich on a curb, while all the rich tourists walk by? ;-)
                                                                                                                                                                                                  If I'm out of town, I'm generally hiking...

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Chowrin

                                                                                                                                                                                                    No. I have not been in that situation for maybe 20 - 30 years.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Now, I travel in at least BC, but then have traveled with but a bag on my back, many decades ago. Times have changed, and so have my travels. Such is life.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: MellyMelle

                                                                                                                                                                                            If one gets beyond the "service rendered," there are tons of pitfalls.

                                                                                                                                                                                            I do not consider the employment situations of the servers, the chefs, the sommelier, the GM, or anyone on the staff. I contribute heavily to many charities for the down-trodden, the abused, the homeless, and many others. When I tip, it is based on the bill, and the service rendered. Trying to determine the exact wage scales, and then the take-home pay for all servers would drive me crazy.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: MellyMelle

                                                                                                                                                                                              Thank you, Melly. I'm glad omeone finally stated this. To state the obvious, TIPS = To Insure Prompt Service.
                                                                                                                                                                                              We should I supliment someone else minimal wage when they're not doing that I'm supposed to be paying them for? The folks who state that they give a minimum of 10% when the service is bad, I litterally can't understand the logic behind that. A tip is a reward., and these people reward other for trating them horribly? 15-20% is a respectable. If the waiter has been exceptional, I still provide the same tip, but I inform the manager how great the person has been. (I've actually scared a few waiters doing that. heh heh heh)

                                                                                                                                                                                              But to provide a 10-15% tip because "it's expected" when you didn't receive the "expected" service...I just don't get it. Like others have said a few times, you're rewarding bad behaviour. I don't do that with my dog.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Midknight

                                                                                                                                                                                                "TIPS = To Insure Prompt Service"
                                                                                                                                                                                                While this may be a handy mnemonic, it is not really the origin of the term.

                                                                                                                                                                                                http://www.snopes.com/language/acrony...
                                                                                                                                                                                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/552584

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. First, keep in mind I'm in California where, to my understanding, waiters and waitresses make state minimum wage, not $2-3 an hour as they do in most states. One hot day in the 1980s, my mother, God rest her soul, and I were taking a walk around Westwood, which was a fashionable place to shop and dine at the time, and we decided to get dessert. We entered the restaurant, sat down and ordered cheesecake. We also requested water, which in California usually is not brought automatically due to frequent droughts. The cheesecake came before the water. I was terribly thirsty and didn't want to eat the sweet dessert before getting water so I waited and waited. The waiter walked by, I stopped him nicely and said we were really thirsty because it was hot outside, and I didn't want to start eating until I got water. He said he'd send a busboy over with it right away. A couple of minutes later a busboy walked into the eating area with a tray full of luscious glasses of water. He headed "away" from our table so my mom and I said "we're over here, hello!" And then the waiter came up with water for our table and yelled at us "I'm bringing it right now, GOD!" And I said, we didn't know that, you said you were sending the busboy and he was walking away from us. And he snaps "Well I'm bringing it!" He stalks off in a huff. The worst is yet to come. He goes over to another table of customers, talks to them heatedly, looking over at our table, and the people at that table start looking at us, and they and the waiter all start laughing at us. When the waiter brought the check, whichever one of us was paying signed it and then I wrote on the check, "Rude waiter equals no tip, have a nice day." We had our own good laugh at that. To me, leaving a tip for someone like that is like lying down on the floor and saying "walk on me some more, I like it."

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. once in SF I was tempted to severely undertip. it was a dump known for lousy food named for the capital of Iraq and a so-so indie movie. the waitress seemed a little stressed and while we were waiting she gathered all the ketchup bottles to refill them at an empty table (weird, but I didn't care) our food came and after the plates were unceremoniously and loudly dumped on the table I asked "excuse me?" she whipped around, bent down into my face and hissed "WHAT?" "umm just our ketchup back?"

                                                                                                                                                                                            "oh" she immediately softened and I could see it must have been a tough day.

                                                                                                                                                                                            actually my problem is having too many drinks before/with dinner - I either vastly over or under tip no matter what the service. I want to be grateful, but I'm bad at math. in DC it was easy, double the sales tax (about 9.5%x2 = 19% tip) on decent service, a short cut that until I understood it cost either me or the server a lot of money. I think once I left 30 on a 70 tab. oh well, they loved me the next few visits before they closed for good. I wasn't going to ask for it back, but then there are places I've realized later looking at the receipt I should have left 10+ more and wondered if I should go back to fix it.

                                                                                                                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                                                                              When you do not have the easy DC tax to work with, just move the decimal point one place to the left to get 10%, and double that for 20%.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                                                                                Got it with the wine and tipping. During a celebratory dinner with a couple of friends when I was paying, once I sobered up (I wasn't driving) realized I tipped nearly 35%. Bet that was one happy waiter.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                                                                                  You know, I have encountered a few servers, who seemed to be having a rough day (same for flight attendants too), and I try to help lighten that mood a bit. I cannot recall a case, where they did not soften, and serve us well, and often with a smile, that had not been there initially.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  We all only go around once, and that trip needs to be as much fun, as is possible.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  The few bad services that I have had, seemed to come on nights, when the servers were not that busy, and showed no outward signs of having that bad day. Most were on nights, where the majority of servers were having a great time in discussions, with few patrons. Judging from their laughter, I do not think that they were on a downer, due to the lack of business.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                                2. Normal good service = 20% tip
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Outstanding/exceptionally good service = 25% tip
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Poor, incompetent service = 15% tip
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Truly abysmal.sevice (pretty rare) = 10% tip
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Unacceptable rudeness (a very rare occurrence) = no tip, and a complaint to management.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: josephnl

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Always alert management to any service not meriting at least the customary 15-20% tip; that way, the server and mgmt knows it's for service, not because you're cheap or...idiosyncratic.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. Once in Costa Rica. I tipped absolutely zero for a drink. I went to the bar, asked for my drink & handed the bartender a US$10 bill. He actually threw it back at me cause it had a rip in it. Had he said I'm sorry, but this bill has a rip in it & the bank won't accept it, I wouldn't have been so ticked, but he just flung it back at me & said I'm not taking this - it has a rip. Went back to boyfriend who was lounging on the beach, got an unripped $10 & handed it to the bartender. He gave me my change back with - you guessed it - a ripped bill. I said oh, I'm sorry, one of these bills you handed me has a rip in it. MY bank won't accept it, so can I have another? He grudgingly swapped out the bills & as he did, I said oh, by the way, I'd leave you a tip, but I'm afraid you may not find the currency up to your standards, so you get zip, Next round, boyfriend went to bar with the ripped bill I swapped out. Bought drinks, handed the ripped bill to the bartender who did not know who boyfriend was with cause it was a schlep from the beach to the bar. Bartender took the ripped bill. Go figure. BF then asked why he took the ripped bill from him, but not from me. Bartender wouldn't answer. He got no tip again.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Jerzeegirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                        American currency is happily accepted at some locations in several countries in southeast Asia (Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, etc)...but, not only will they not accept any bills with a tear, unless the bills are new and unwrinkled they will be considered suspect and may not be accepted.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. I can remember two specific instances of leaving no tip - writing "-0-" on the tip line so they didn't think we forgot. My ex-husband was notoriously frugal, and between my father and I, we had finally gotten him to tip appropriately for good service.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        The first time we decided on zero was at a local restaurant who's owner had opened and closed a few places already. The owner greeted us and seated us in the middle section of tables. The sections to either side of us had great service. We had practically none. Our server was the one bartender, who was very busy with drink orders. The owner came by to check on us and we mentioned the lack of service. We got a "Yeah, that happens" from him. The place didn't last long.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        The second was a place we went to weekly. The building is split-level on a hill, so entrance at ground level to the restaurant/bar, storage and baking on the first floor, with a patio outside for warm weather dining. We were about the only ones in the restaurant as I recall, with a couple of parties down on the patio. The management had decided to have only one waitress handle the bar, restaurant and patio. She hadn't been there for long, and at the time, there was one guy who could have handled the situation easily. A couple from the patio waited so long to have their table cleared and pay the bill, that they brought their dirty dishes up and the waitress just nodded them towards the tub on the busboy trolley. Our service was terrible the entire night also. Since the waitress disappeared after processing our credit card, we told the cook why we'd left nothing. He lasted a lot longer than she did. Thank goodness there's new ownership there, and they kept on the guy I mentioned earlier. His service and great attitude (in my opinion) kept the place from closing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Traveling in the Balkans this summer I was happy to tip 30-50% on a bill as everything was dirt cheap, and it's heart-breaking to talk to restaurant staff making 200 euros a month while commuting 2+ hours a day to a 12-hour shift where they converse with foreign customers in five languages fluently...

                                                                                                                                                                                                          ... except, that is, at one restaurant in Sarajevo. I ordered a pizza. I ate the pizza. I waited. I waited a really, really, really long time. And my waitress didn't ever come back out onto the terrace. After waiting a really, really, really long time I stood up and went into the restaurant, where I saw ALL of the staff sitting around a table having a smoke. I smiled and waved, and signaled to my table. Then I went back to the table, thinking she would be out shortly. I waited some more. Other servers came out and helped their customers, but my waitress was nowhere to be seen. At this point in time I turned on the stopwatch on my phone. Having already waited upwards of half an hour, from the time I turned on the stopwatch I waited another seventeen minutes before she came out to check on me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          More tip for the next server.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          23 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I had no desire to end up in jail in Sarajevo.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: Jetgirly

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Wow. 30 - 50%. The staff must have loved you.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              The going rate is a maximum of 10%, in those countries where tipping is common. You can see why we love north American tourists visiting Europe :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                                                                                                "You can see why we love north American tourists visiting Europe :-)"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                And as a former waiter here in the US, you can see why the converse would be true here. ;)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Absolutely.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I've been visiting America since 19080 and I've often felt that the style of service I've received was forced and contrived - presumably because I'm European, and that Americans would receive a warmer, more genuine approach.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    No, it feels contrived because it is contrived, not because you're European. When a system is set up so that waitstaff have a financial incentive to pretend to like you, what else can you expect?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: RealMenJulienne

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Now, I am not European (at least not for 6 generations now), but I do not care if the service is contrived, so long as the servers convince me that it is not - maybe those Hollywood call-backs ARE paying dividends, even if my server did not get the part.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I do not have a butler at home. I do not like to be waited on hand and foot
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        by some servile thing entirely dependent on my kindness and generosity.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        ... maybe this is why i don't go out to eat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I used to wait tables in a state popular with European and UK visitors -- if anything, anybody with a British accent got even more attention, because everyone loved the accents. (yes, really)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        <<because everyone loved the accents.>>

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Going slight OT here, but I agree. I also now miss them around London - English (whether the Queen's, or any other version), is now long lost. When I encounter it, I do spend more time, just talking, but mostly listening. When there is good food, and good brews, or wine, things are even better.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I had my friend visiting NM from England recently for two weeks, and we ate lunch at one restaurant frequently, because he fell in love with it. The waitress gushed over his accent every time. When he complimented her's, she was just like, "I just have this borin' ol' West Texas one."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    3. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I remember one lunch of a huge plate of buckwheat pancakes (made from the whole grain, not the flour, and fried to crispy perfection) covered in a sauce of wild mushrooms, with a huge serving of delicious stewed beets on the side, and a pint of homemade kvass... for less than three euro. Yeah, I can leave a five.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Well, 30 - 50% is a bit much, even for me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        In the UK, I normally factor any service charges, and then decide if the service warrants additional. Over the decades, there have been few exceptions (and you know some of those), and we usually DO add something, but it depends on the service.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I do not mind the relatively standard UK "service charge," as we see similar in the US, with parties above about 4. In the UK, I cannot recall any check, where that was not clearly noted. We seldom just "leave it at that," but that is only because we normally receive very good, to great service.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        All things considered - the service charge, plus an extra - we might nudge up to about 30%, but only for exceptional service. Then, we also shake many hands on the service team, and verbally express our delight. It all just depends on many variables.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: Jetgirly

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Now, one thing that this "daft Yank" learned, many, many years ago, was that one needs to signal for the check, in Europe/UK. That was new to me then. However, it seems that you were totally unable to make that signal, as your server was MIA, and even when you DID signal, you were ignored.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        i do not blame you.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Jetgirly

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          We tip excessively in India, partly because the food is so darn cheap, and partly because we know the waitstaff really need the money. We went to 1 place every day for about 3 weeks, and it was really poignant to see the waiter (we got the same guy) go from initially surly to polite, then with a draped white towel over his arm, to giving us cloth napkins (there were none, not even paper, at the beginning), to salaaming and sahibing us (all of which made us really uncomfortable).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: pine time

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            We spent some time in Cambodia (average annual income = $300 US) and were strongly advised by our superb guide and tour company not to significantly overtip servers, hotel staff, etc. We were told that it not only unreasonably increases their expectations from future guests, it can sometimes be misread and be considered insulting. What was specifically recommended to us was that instead of overtipping, we would do far more good by contributing money to local charities. We did so by making a contribution to the local children's hospital in Siem Reap.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: josephnl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              <<What was specifically recommended to us was that instead of overtipping, we would do far more good by contributing money to local charities. >>

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              That is how we handle things too, and not just in third-world countries. While most of our charities are in the US, two are in the UK, and one of those focuses on providing neuro-medical care to parts of Africa.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              When tipping on restaurant fare, our equation is basically the cost, and the service factored from that. Now, we still tip per our US standards, but do not factor in "living conditions," etc. Just the cost of the meal with the service factor.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Agree. Tipping well in poor countries is fine, but grossly over-tipping because of your justifiable empathy for the kind, but likely very poor server, guide, porter, etc. may well be inappropriate. Better to inquire of the guide or hotel staff as to where a contribution will do the most good...and then be generous!,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: josephnl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  If it's inappropriate the server is welcome to donate the tip to the local charity of their choice. For some reason I don't think that happens a lot in the places I tend to visit.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I think that for people with money- people who go on trips with "guides" and stay in hotels where the staff stop drinking beer and watching football on the old, fuzzy TV long enough to answer your questions about local customs- there is often a romanticism of the "dignified poor". But really, when was the last time a server you know in the developed world complained that after they served a perfectly normal person a perfectly normal meal, they were over-tipped? Why would we think that servers in developing countries would feel differently? It's not like I'm going to be back the next day expecting them to wait on me hand and foot because I tipped them well the previous day; chances are pretty good I'm already on my way to Kazakhstan in the back of someone's pick up truck.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Jetgirly

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The main point is that if you are disheartened by the poverty you see when visiting poor countries, your money will likely do more good in the appropriate charity. Keep in mind that servers, porters, guides, etc. have jobs and may well represent the most well-off residents of poor countries. Surely you can't expect these folks to donate their tips to charity!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: josephnl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I'd rather give it straight to the local folks -- local charities (as opposed to the Red Cross, Mèdècins sans Frontières, etc) in developing nations don't have a particularly good record for actually getting cash donations to the people who actually need it. (graft)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        We ask a few locals...and trust their advice as to where to give it. There are some pretty reputable NGO's operating in 3rd world countries. Yes, Medecins s F is great!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        All this is not to say that one shouldn't tip perhaps a bit extra well in these areas, but it's only going to impact a single person or family.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Wow , this is really getting off-topic!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. I have tipped low exactly two times in my life, both within the past year. DH and I, like the vast majority of hounds here, excellent tippers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          First low tip event was at a 99 restaurant. I know, I know....a chain. I ordered prime rib medium rare and it kept coming out really quite raw....not ideal for a fatty cut of beef. DH's onion soup order was delivered crock half-full and slopped into the saucer which held it. Sounds impossible given half the soup was missing? Nope, it happened. He also requested no bread/crouton topper, just cheese, and the half crock of soup was half bread. No refills on coffee, no inquiries about "would you like more coffee, water, etc?' Just bad.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Second event was at a small (and usually good) family restaurant in our town. DH and I ordered veggie omelets, and specified "really well cooked eggs...light brown outside is fine".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Well, you know where this is going. Omelets were delivered super undercooked, and waitress disappeared to chat with girlfriend in a banquette. Our calls of "excuse me" went unheeded (she'd duck her head down and position her body away from us) so I actually walked to the open kitchen window and asked the very nice cook to cook the omelets. He apologized profusely, said he didn't know, the directions weren't written down, and gave my DH four comp slices of bacon.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Cook got a ten dollar tip. Waitress got 50 cents. Good news is I haven't seen her there in the last couple weeks, though I've only popped in a couple times for coffee.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. Like most other CH-ers, I usually tip 20% for normal/mediocre service. I also tip 25-30% when the service was especially good. I'm generally pretty easy-going, but if my experience suffers due to poor service, so does the tip.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            If the server seems like he/she does not care about doing even a half-way decent job, e.g., no refills on beverages (even when asked), disappears for long periods of time when I need something, surly attitude, etc., I do not care about leaving a good tip. Depending on how annoyed I am, I will tip 10% all the way down to change. (For example, if I ordered gelato for dessert, and the server forgot to leave a spoon, ignored my attempts to flag him/her down, and delivers the check once the gelato is melted with no comment about the problem.... the tip is probably going to be diminished.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Unless it is a restaurant I really care about, I don't care to have a confrontation about the poor service. I'm a lawyer, and I have enough confrontation as it is. (Not to mention, my fiance, my usual dining companion, would be uncomfortable if I were to speak to the manager.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            On occasion, I will leave a comment as to why the tip was lowered on the receipt, depending on my mood.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. Servers work hard but guess what? So does everyone else.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Exceptional service = 30%, any of:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              - Server is especially nice, cordial, cares to chatter if you are bored but not if you're busy with people.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              - Server remembers your food preferences
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              - Accepts and gracefully delivers a customized order (more than 2 customizations)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Perfect service = 20%, I expect all of:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              - If anything has a free refill, you ask if I want some more *before* I run out of them. If refills are not free *I* will ask.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              - Less than 2 minutes from the time you bring the check to the time you pick up, and have fully processed the payment.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              - Only have to interface with 1 person. Food runners, other servers = you failed your job.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              - Correct timing of asking for drinks, order, and removing dishes.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              - Not asking questions about is it OK or not, or ask me anything while I'm chewing food. Or asking too many times.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              - Especially prompt service for a party of 1.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              - Acknowledges you if you are a regular.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Good service = 15%
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              - Generally if you mess up one or two of the above.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Bad service = 10%
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              - Staff chatting with each other visibly while I'm waiting for them.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              - Missing more than 2 of the above points.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Negligence in service = 0% + Note on receipt
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              - Drink spilled in saucer, dirty plates, attitude, personal questions, food is cold, interface with the whole restaurant to get some food, food not served together, tell me to "go get something myself" (or tell me to do anything).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. Once we had very dismal service. The waitress was terribly rude and negligent. I asked for water once nicely, the second time I had to ask I didn't say please and the 3rd time I pointed out that we had already asked 3 times for a water. Her response to me was "better late than never". The service just went downhill from there. When I paid with my cc, in the tip section, I wrote a big zero and the words "better late than never". I thought I was pretty clever.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Only once. I ordered a large steak, cut it in half, asked to take the other half home. Waiter said sure, took it away, never saw it again. They stole my steak! Manager refused to deal with the problem. Considered waiting til they closed, calling the cops, etc. Finally paid up. 0% of course.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. i normally tip less than 10% when at the ice cream/gelato parlor (which is self serve) and at any other self serve venue that is on my regular rotation.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. When it's so bad, you leave a $5 or $10 bill ripped in half. Shows you aren't doing it to be cheap, just because they suck so bad you'd rather throw the bill in the toilet since it's worthless after ripped in half. Again, that's after really rude or horrible service. I only did this once about 20 years ago.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: hankstramm

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I said it once below, and I'll say it again. Tip according to the level of service you received. If it's bad, tip less, and if it's great, tip more. We all work hard for our money and servers are not exempted from this principle. Ripping a bill in half is still money out of your own pocket and quite frankly all the server has to do is to tape it back together to reap the benefits.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Why is everyone so concerned about whether the server thinks you are cheap? It's a stranger, for crying out loud, who cares what they think. By the way, the best way to get the message across that the service sucked is to speak with management. Tip less, and submit a complaint...seems pretty sensible to me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: MellyMelle

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I am pretty sure they meant rip it in half and only leave one half of the bill.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Motosport

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Gotcha. Still money out of your own pocket though (why punish yourself?), so I still don't get it, when you can get the message across for free by speaking with management, or heck, the server themselves.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. i'm usually a generous tipper (20%+), i'll tip 15% if service was lousy. only once can i remember ever NOT tipping.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        we got seated. the waitress was slow getting to us; ok, whatever, it was karaoke night in the pub and things were a bit nuts, and we weren't in a hurry. but, after we'd ordered, and about ten MORE minutes had passed, i flagged the waitress and politely asked for water. she seemed a little huffy; 5-10 more minutes passed, i asked again, she blamed the barback for being slow. water finally appeared. our appetizers arrived; one needed sauce spread on it, but our place settings did not include knives (?). also, on one of the items (cheese plates), the menu clearly stated it came with bread; no bread. flagged waitress again; asked for knives and the bread. she made a weird face, and asked why i wanted her to bring bread. she then proceeded to force me to show her, on the menu, where it said the item came with bread (?! it had soft cheese on it! what am i supposed to do, lick it off my fingers...?). she also told me they were out of clean knives. awkward pause. she grudgingly said she could bring a steak knife if i'd be ok with that (as if i was somehow being demanding or unreasonable).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        anyway, the rest of the meal was more of the same. eventuallywe wrapped up, had similar hassle getting the bill. finally got it; left no tip, and a note explaining our issue with the service. we were so thoroughly flustered and off-kilter that the person who paid actually forgot (totally innocently) to sign the receipt.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        the waitress followed us out, shouting at us, calling us names, and threatening us if we ever returned to the establishment.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        needless to say, we haven't been back. and i feel only mildly guilty for not tipping, it was that bad.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. i've left 0 tips many times. I think the one that drove me the most insane was at boston pizza. We had a group of 35 guys, all of us were either in their 20s or 50s. ONE OF US was a foreigner and came here to study. He didn't have a proper ID so they didn't serve him alcohol. Now I know what your all thinking, that's normal. HOWEVER, this guy looked like my FREAKEN GRANDPA. Wrinked face, more scars u can imagine, he had some crazy ass vietnam tattos from his village. he looks like he's in his 60s and he's 40 lol. They didn't even serve him. All of us were shocked like this guy shouldn't need to be carded. They skipped all the other guys that look like they were in their 40s and 50s. Only the younger ones like me were carded. So we were all really pissed that our night got ruined cause of this, so we paid for our drinks that we got before they carded him, cancled all our other drinks, paid in change quater, dimes and nickles and 0 tip. I think that is the worst service i've gotten. They lost 35 drunk people worth of service and tips. The place was empty as well so I think thats a huge blow to them for the night's earnings.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: ShinjiCook

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Your night was 'ruined' because you got carded? I wish that was my worst experience.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: ShinjiCook

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              < They lost 35 drunk people worth of service >

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Then maybe the no tip was worth it to them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: ShinjiCook

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Sorry but if you've ever done the training for alcohol service, you know that people can look older than their age. The guy could have lost his job if he'd served the guy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. The only time I gave no tip at all was when I gave a $20 bill for a $15 ticket and the waiter didn't return with the change. When I asked for my $5 he told me he assumed it was for him. I informed him it wasn't and asked for my change. He gave me a $5 bill in return instead of 5 singles. I didn't leave anything because I assumed he didn't think I was going to leave a tip. I am usually a big pussy cat, but that day my inner tiger came out to play.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                My ex was a former waiter (and always empathetic towards waiters) became livid when I told him what happened. He said he would have let the manager know as well as not tipping. He felt the manager had a thief in his/her midst and that a waiter like that could tarnish the good name of the establishment and harm other waiters.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. T E X T I N G in my line of sight. I have been serving folks for 30 years. I have only had a cell phone since 2010 but you will never seeit and i keep it in my backpack while working. The guest is more important than whatever else is going on.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: postemotional1

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Reminds me of a meal a couple of years back. The owner is taking our order. His phone rings - not only does he answer it but he walks off to have his conversation (with his mother).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/796873

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. one trip to a kids bday night out at a Teppanyaki / Hibachi place, early dinner, before the rush, the four of us, at that communal flat top griddle with two other couples, the waitperson was indifferent, the cook was boring and didn't care what we ordered or how and the included "dessert" was ice cream, to which we were told they had only vanilla 'cause the other flavors were "frozen".
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I left a cash $1 tip, just so they didn't think I forgot and they were commenting to each other on our way out that it was because of the ice cream, not the lack of any service at all. we never returned and never corrected their assumption of flavor instead of service.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. I've never left no tip. I think maybe the worst I've ever left is 10-15%, but I rarely receive service that bad to even warrant that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Maybe I've gotten bold in my old age (28, hah, I'd hate to see how I act when I'm Mom's age) but if I'm not receiving good service at a place, I don't usually just sit there and continue to receive bad service, I bitch, and I usually end up turning the experience around to at least warrant the server receiving some sort of tip.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. My formula is pretty consistent:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        If I'm never going to be at a place again, for whatever reason, I tip 15 percent for good service.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        If I am going to be at the place again, I overtip for good service.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        If service was poor, I do not tip; if I'm going to be there again I ask to speak to a manager.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I never take out the kitchen's sins on the server.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. When I go out to eat somewhere, I treat an additional 15% as though it's part of the bill. Come time to pay, it usually ends up being something closer to a little over 20%.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          That 15% isn't a payment for good service; it's just payment for service. If your server took your order and you got your food, there's almost no reason not to pay it. People who earn a salary don't get paid to be good at their job; they get paid to be competent, and if you can do a full week's work without getting fired you get a full week's pay. I don't think we should use the fact that servers effectively don't earn a salary to hold them to a stricter standard than we're held to at our jobs.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          As far as service that's truly incompetent, or offensive, I'd say that's an issue to take up with the manager or whoever's in charge instead of waiting until the meal is over and you're paying.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          It's like food: if you get food that's kind of disappointing you still pay for it, but probably won't return to that restaurant. If you get food that's inedible, you say something when you get it; you don't eat what you can of it and then dine and dash.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: A_Gonzalez

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I agree, this reminds of something a friend mine once said: "serving tables is literally the only job that I can think of where you get paid less if you have a bad day." Thinking about it, obviously the same can be said for any profession where you earn tips and commission, but the point still stands the same. In my profession, if I get in a fight with my bf or come into work hung over the next day, I naturally drag my feet a little that day, but I still get paid the same.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: SaraAshley

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Actually, there are plenty of sales jobs where much of your pay is highly dependent on how good you are on a daily basis. Table service is not utterly different in that regard alone.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. Just did about two weeks ago. Dinner at Oceanaire in Indy before a concert. We became concerned after it took so long to get our drink order. And, when it did come it was wrong. The first of many problems.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            We voiced our concerned and were repeatedly told we wouldn't have any issue getting to the concert. We thought two hours would have left us plenty of time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            But no. Got our apps after 45 min.-never got our mains. I think we were there for an an hour and forty minutes. Just a terrible experience. They totally over-booked the place and everyone was having problems.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            This is not the first time we have had this problem (though never this bad) at this place and we won't be back. And that is unfortunate because its the only place in Indy that is remotely close to a decent seafood restaurant.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: HoosierFoodie

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              That's too bad about Indy Oceannaire. I went there with family and friends (about 8 total) for grad school graduation. The service was great, they printed menus with "Congratulations, Erin" on them, and several staff signed a card. This was about 6 years ago. I live in DC now, and have fond memories of midwest service...