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Tips: What determines your tip %?

I had another post about tip years ago, but I have a few new questions.

I am sure that most of you agree waiter and waitresses service determined the tip level. Is he being polite? Is she being tentative?

Previously, most of you said that the foods/dishes should have no impact on the tip. In other words, getting an overcooked/dried out salmon should not count against the tip. Conversely, having a perfectly cooked steak should not boost the tip amount.

What about food delay or order being mixed up? Let's say you ordered a piece of steak and you got a piece of tuna? Or you order 4 small dishes and the 4th one never came until you asked for it, and you had to wait for another 20 minutes?

Thus far, I did not count these against the tip, but I wonder what do you people think?

When you gave out your tip, what exactly were you grading in your head?

Thanks for sharing.

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  1. For lunch, minimum 2 bucks or 20 percent if issues were not the server's fault.

    For dinner 15% standard with the ebb and flow of typical service, but no problem going up or down from that if it truly was a device problem.

    Poorly cooked food, not the waitstaffs problem today. Long term,well talk to the chef.

    1 Reply
    1. re: autumm

      "Poorly cooked food, not the waitstaffs problem today. Long term,well talk to the chef."

      It can be if it's obviously served wrong such as something that you can smell or see without touching the food it's burnt when not ordered burnt.

      Poorly cooked food can be a server issue also if they put in the order wrong such as "medium rare", but they meant to put in "medium well."

    2. Food delay, probably won't affect, but food delay and no update from missing in action waitperson could.
      Screwed up orders are forgivable if there is an appropriate apology and swift replacement.
      But they have to really piss me off to have me dock the tip- i usually double the sales tax and add a few bucks.
      For delivery i'm generous when they are quick and the order is correct, or if it is raining or bad weather.

      For a drink i leave $2/per, those average between $12-15 around here.

      15 Replies
      1. re: Ttrockwood

        "Food delay, probably won't affect,"

        Why not, usually that's the server's fault, here's why:

        Ask yourself these questions as a server:

        1. WHEN do you put in my order? Do you wait or do you go put it in immediately after taking it? If you are double sat or triple sat, you can still go put in each order into the computer after taking each table’s order. By not doing that can result in a much longer wait and that would be YOUR FAULT.

        2. FORGETTING to put in an order. My husband and I have experienced this for REAL that servers ADMITTED to our faces they have FORGOTTEN TO PUT ORDERS IN. All of them were appetizers, bar drinks, and a cup of soup.

        3. Did you put in the order CORRECTLY into the computer? Have had many times servers ADMITTED to our faces they did not do that correctly. Have had wrong entrées before due to our server putting in the order wrong. Have had wrong bar drinks too due to the server putting in the order wrong.

        4. Did you FORGET ANYTHING I ORDERED such as a SIDE DISH? We have had this happen a number of times as well.

        5. Did you DROP anything I ordered? Luckily, we have not had this happen, but I have seen a server once drop some fries from a plate before and I did have a waiter spill some margarita martini when pouring into a martini glass. In other words, it is possible, not likely, but very possible.

        6. Did you remember to GET my food? We have had a server do that before. Also, we have had a number of servers forget bar drinks.

        7. Did you bring out my food obviously correctly if you bring my food out? Do you realize how many times OUR OWN SERVER brings out DUH mistakes like the side dish is wrong, the entrée is wrong, something obvious is not correct bacon that isn’t covered up isn’t extra, extra crispy when you can clearly notice that it isn’t without touching anything, etc.? Every DUH mistake you bring out is YOUR FAULT I am waiting for what I did order by you wasting my time bringing me the wrong item or wrongly prepared item or forgot something. While we all make mistakes, I would have to say a good 90% of the time, servers NEVER COMPARE THE WRITTEN ORDERS TO THE FOOD, because they are TOO LAZY and DON’T CARE!!

        8. Course you said: Servers DO wait to put in entrée orders when appetizers, side salads, or cups of soup are ordered. THAT *IS* THE GOD’S TRUTH! Sometimes it’s TOO LONG THEY WAIT! If it’s another server, it still doesn’t make it the kitchen staff’s fault I have the wrong side dish for example since that is something that’s obvious. It’s either my server that didn’t put in my order correctly or this other server that didn’t compare the ticket to the food or that this other server did compare the ticket to the food, but just missed it(HIGHLY UNLIKELY, but possible).

        9. WHEN do you come to GET MY ORDER? That part is covered in #2 below.

        10. WHEN do you DECIDE to LET ME ORDER? That part is covered in #4 below.

        11. WHEN do you decide to DELIVER MY FOOD? That part is covered in #1 below.

        12. Do you, because they are out of something, decide to assume everyone wants the closest thing so you do the ordering for me? That part is covered in #3 below.

        1. Once, we had a Red Lobster waitress had our 2 entrées on the tray as well as 2 side salads that were for a couple that wasn’t even there when we ordered. Anyway, instead of bypassing their table to hand us ours first since WE DID ORDER FIRST(common sense would tell you that it takes more time to cook food than it does to fix a side salad anyways even if it wasn’t our server that delivered our food, but it was our waitress that delivered our food), she decided to hand them theirs first off the tray. THAT IS SOMETHING THAT IS IN THE SERVER’S CONTROL TO HAND OUT THINGS OFF THE SAME TRAY IN THE ORDER IN WHICH IT WAS ORDERED IN!!

        2. Once, we had a waitress that greeted us which we ordered an appetizer as well as our drinks when greeted. I saw she tucking in chairs at empty tables and pretty much doing everything but coming back to get our entrée order. Well, I found out what happened. She brought out our appetizer and when I asked she said that she wanted to wait to put in our entrée orders. The thing is, that delayed us more by not at least coming to GET our orders. That way, when the appetizer was ready, we wouldn’t have gotten delayed eating our appetizer since we then had to give our entrée orders when we could have given our entrée orders WELL BEFORE THAT and we would have gotten our entrées faster due to that she could have just left to put our entrée orders into the computer after delivering our appetizer instead of taking time to order when our appetizer was sitting in front of us. The point is, SHE delayed our entrées as well as to be able to start eating our appetizer because she could have at least TAKEN our entrée orders and then when our appetizer would have been brought out, could have immediately gone to the computer to put our entrée orders in.What she did was make us wait while our hot appetizer was sitting in front of us, we couldn’t touch it, because we had to order our entrées and could have done that wayyy before that. She also delayed our entrées because we had to spend extra time AFTER our appetizer arrived to give her our entrée orders when we could have done that wayyyy before that.

        3. Once, we had a waitress that assumed that because they were out of raspberry topping for a cheesecake slice when we had ordered dessert that she’d bring us strawberry. Turns out, she knew when she put in the order that the computer had it the manager told us. So she did it on PURPOSE to be so lazy and uncaring as to not come to ask if we wanted the next closest thing. We didn’t, we sent it back, so she had MORE WORK. Also, she didn’t even think about what if someone is allergic to strawberries. I just honestly can’t believe someone would do that. If they are out of something, common sense would be to come to see if the next closest thing is ok. Not everyone wants the next closest thing. So it wasn’t like it was just getting the order wrong by accident or by not verifying the written order with what she was bringing or putting in the order wrong by accident, this was on PURPOSE to be LAZY and to ASSUME. I didn’t know at first that she did that. I thought at first she just was that stupid(or truly just messed up(highly doubt it)) to bring us strawberries on top of a cheesecake when we ordered raspberries.

        4. Your server delays coming to get your order or delays you ordering due to personal conversation. We have had that before as well. Once, we had a waiter that we didn’t know after waiting 15 mins. for a table on Mardi Gras day ask us BEFORE we ORDERED ANYTHING “How’s y’all’s Mardi Gras” “Go to any parades.” See, I don’t mind chit chat with a stranger, but be considerate to do it AFTER we have our orders into the computer so you don’t take up our time.

        We have also had servers not come to get our order due to playing around. Sometimes taking a long time or a longer time has A LOT to do with the server:My husband and I have had 3 TIMES where servers FORGOT to put food orders into the computer. We also have 4 times servers forget to get bar drinks from the bar. Once a waitress forgot to put in a bar drink into the computer. Two of the 3 times it was an appetizer and the servers ADMITTED doing so. The third time was a cup of bisque which is normally served before a meal just like a side salad is. My husband and I also have had delays due to that the servers delayed putting orders into the computer when they COULD have such as deciding to buss a table first or decide instead of a mini-greet(I’ll be right with you all), one waiter I saw decided to take a party of 6 people’s drink/appetizer orders instead of putting in our food orders into the computer. I can understand if they call you over, but if they don’t, you should be putting that order into the computer not delaying our food. The longer you wait to put in orders, the LONGER WE WAIT!! So truly think about that MOST of the time when you wait a LONG TIME for your food or bar drinks even, it could be the server’s fault. 9 times out of 10, your server had *SOMETHING* to do with the delay in most cases! That’s the GOD’S TRUTH!

        "Screwed up orders are forgivable if there is an appropriate apology and swift replacement. "

        Forgivable some, but if I have like 3 things wrong on a plate that's OBVIOUS to the EYES from MY OWN SERVER, NO they didn't **TRY*** their best, therefore, even if I get an apology, I won't be forgiving NEARLY as much, because that's just ridiculous. For example, having all the condiments missing when you asked for 2 mayos, 1 mustard, and 1 ranch when that stuff can be brought out ahead of time SHOULD be docked. HOW will they *LEARN* otherwise, because that won't teach them to check over what they bring you, will it?

          1. re: bobbert

            Yeah. Really, Biting my tongue here, but I wonder if some people here have EVER been served fast enough? EVER had a good experience in a restaurant? Rants, err, discourse like this makes me really glad Im not a server any more.

            When I WAS a server, I always asked (and appreciated knowing) if the customer had timing issues with their food. Are you on your way to the theater? I can suggest dishes that are quicker to prepare than others. Would you like your soup when I bring his salad? Allergies/intolerances etc? I can help you work around those too. Do you want extra lemon with your iced tea? What kind of sauces do you like? On top or on the side? Please don't make me read your mind. But docking some frazzled server's tip because they brought 2 mayos instead of 1 mayo and 1 mustard, or it didn't come out fast enough, is just petty. The scorecard above is just plain scary.

            A LOT of things happen in BOH that customers don't ever see or know about. Not every delay, every mistake and every miscommunication is the server's fault.

            This reminds me of a line from a skit we wrote in college. Server is working the Borscht Belt in upstate New York where the regular customers are known to be notoriously critical. He's made several trips back and forth to correct orders, add items the customer found lacking (but hadn't actually ordered) and finally returns for the check back "Well, ladies" he says "Is ANYTHING alright?"

          2. re: SpringsONE

            As my friends and I say, "That's a long middle part"...

                  1. re: SpringsONE

                    Posts like this make me so happy my restaurant work was during college and not any kind of long-term job.

                      1. re: SpringsONE

                        i consistently tip well enough so that the restaurant staff think of me as the ANTITHESIS of customers like SpringsOne.

                        i like being viewed as a consistently reasonable, generous, customer.
                        maybe that is why i almost always receive excellent service.

                        1. re: westsidegal

                          I'm totally on board with what you're saying but I don't even think you have to be a regular. We go out like maybe 6x/yr and are almost always highly pleased with the service. I think more people are doing good jobs than bad.

                        2. re: SpringsONE

                          You must keep a notebook w/ you at all times in order to record all this. Either that, or what a memory you have.

                          1. re: HeyImBack

                            "You must keep a notebook w/ you at all times in order to record all this. Either that, or what a memory you have."

                            Anything that affects my feelings I remember. I don't write it down, I just remember it as if it were yesterday or something.

                      2. Staff who takes your should know what your order was....but if a mishap happens, I generally do not dock anyone for it....unless of course I make a special request and it is completely ignored, e.g. when I have a breakfast omelet...regardless of ingredients, I request that there not be the slightest hint of brown on the eggs....going as far to say they can serve them like loose scrambled eggs if need be. The smell of well done browned eggs is not agreeable with me. If the waitress then brings me out an omelet with brown on it...then the onus is on her and not the kitchen.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: fourunder

                          " If the waitress then brings me out an omelet with brown on it...then the onus is on her and not the kitchen."

                          THANK YOU, that's MY POINT that if a mistake is *VISIBLE* without touching the food, then if it is your server that brings out your food, then YES, that makes the issue THEIR FAULT, NOT the kitchen staff's fault. It's just like seeing let's say bread burnt on top, but serve you bread anyway.

                        2. When things go wrong, I "grade" the server on if I think the server actually cares. Sometimes they can't fix a problem, but if I think they care (and gave it a genuine effort) then the tip is not effected. When they give me signals that they don't care, then I don't care to leave a nice tip.

                          This rarely happens though. I have had a few times where the server cared more for the cute bartender than waiting on me, or seemed to forget items repeatedly then throw it on the table like it was a bother, or gave me poor eye contact, was grumpy, spraying negativity all over me and my guest and didn't seem to want to be serving that day. That stuff I lump under "not caring".

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: sedimental

                            <I have had a few times where the server cared more for the cute bartender than waiting on me>

                            I didn't remember reading this from you before (presumably from you). I laugh every time I read this. :)

                          2. 20% most of the time. Service has to be exceptionally good or bad to get me to notice and adjust my tip.

                            Late food... not too likely to drop the tip. Messed up order... as long as they fix it courteously, it's not a problem. If I'm unable to find the server for a prolonged period while I need something... Ok, that starts to annoy me. One of those tricky 'soup or salad?' upsells (where neither is included, but tone implies they are)... now you're on my shit list.

                            I don't tip based on the quality of the food,

                            I sometimes tip more if I'm just in a particularly good mood. And to be honest, I'm more likely to raise my tip because I like the server than because they did an especially great job of serving - I'll tip for charisma.

                            I'll sometimes tip bartenders less than 20% if I'm ordering an expensive drink - tipping a buck on a drink that cost $10 or $15 doesn't offend my sensibilities. That said, I'll also over-tip a bartender who shoots the shat with me for a bit, especially if I've had a few drinks.

                            19 Replies
                            1. re: cowboyardee

                              I also give 20% in general, but I was told that 15% should be normal and 20% for exceptional. Do you know what do most of your friends do?

                              <If I'm unable to find the server for a prolonged period while I need something... Ok, that starts to annoy me>

                              That happens to me recently (a month ago), and it really irritated me. All the waiter and waitresses disappeared, and I wasn't able find them.

                              <I don't tip based on the quality of the food>

                              My problem is that the quality of the food often affects my mood and my party's mood, which then can affect the tip.

                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                How unfortunate for the person serving you, who has no part in preparing the food....

                                1. re: LeoLioness

                                  Be my guest, if you think you are one of those people whose mood is unaffected by the quality of the food.

                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                    My mood may be. My tip is not, except I suppose an extraordinary meal would make me tip more.

                                    But stiff a server for the chef's work? Nope. Not my style.

                                    1. re: LeoLioness

                                      <My mood may be. My tip is not,>

                                      Keep thinking that. Human actions are often affected by mood. I am not saying that you will stiff your waitresses or waiters by the way.

                                      <I suppose an extraordinary meal would make me tip more.>

                                      Excellent counterpoint.

                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                        I can literally count on one hand the times I've left less than a 15% tip, so I'm confident in saying that bad food does not reflect in my tipping practices.

                                        1. re: LeoLioness

                                          <I can literally count on one hand the times I've left less than a 15% tip, so I'm confident in saying that bad food does not reflect in my tipping practices.>

                                          Actually, it does not. It only means exactly what I said earlier. You are not going below, but it may still prevent you from going above.

                                2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                  Good point. Though I don't think I've ever tipped below 20% unless there is also some obvious problem with the service. A bad meal may indeed be more likely to make me notice service errors, just as a good meal may be more likely to put me in a mood to overlook them.

                                  1. re: cowboyardee

                                    I don't think I have tipped below 20% neither. It just seems so much easier to calculate 20% :P

                                    To be more clear, I should spell out a bit more. We tend to tip higher than above (say >20%) when we have unexpectedly good service. It really help when the the overall experience is good, and not just the service.

                                    To be more specific, I can probably count in one hand that I tip 30% for a crappy meal. Whereas I have definitely tipped up to 30% when then overall experience is superior.

                                    In short, a disgusting salmon may not make you tip below 20%, but a disgusting salmon may decrease your chance of tipping at 30%. Whereas, you may tip 30% when you eat at a beautiful restaurant with the best steak of your life while that waiter or waitresses may not be doing that much better than an average server.

                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                      Agreed. A fantastic night often makes for a generous tip, even if the service was nothing special from an objective standpoint.

                                      The same might be said of how much fun I'm having with my dining companion[s] regardless of the quality of the meal or service.

                                      1. re: cowboyardee

                                        <The same might be said of how much fun I'm having with my dining companion[s] regardless of the quality of the meal or service>

                                        Like when babycowboy laugh at your jokes?

                                3. re: cowboyardee

                                  " One of those tricky 'soup or salad?' upsells (where neither is included, but tone implies they are)."

                                  I had this happen to me once. Server took the menu from me and then asked what kind of salad dressing I wanted on my salad. Then the bill comes and the salad is extra. Pi$$ed me off. I asked for the manager, but none came so I deducted the price of the salad from the tip and left.

                                  1. re: chileheadmike

                                    That's the WORST version I've ever heard!!!!! Shady!

                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                        I guess the 'worst' would be just bringing a salad (without asking if you want it or what dressing, etc.) and then getting charged for it! :) Or being charged for the salad (without being asked or ordered) and never receiving it!

                                        1. re: The Oracle

                                          Hmmm... good points. I guess I was thinking more in term of what is the worst thing a waiter/waitress can do.

                                      2. re: The Oracle

                                        I referred to it as stupid waiter tricks. I still don't understand why a waiter would pi$$ off a customer to add 4 bucks to the ticket.

                                    1. re: cowboyardee

                                      I agree with most of what you are saying, except for this part:

                                      <One of those tricky 'soup or salad?' upsells (where neither is included, but tone implies they are)... now you're on my shit list.>

                                      I've had friends who work at places where they are required to do the upselll. They could get in trouble if they did not try. Plus, would you consider "Would you like some dessert?" An upsell? Because it is, but most people would be really pissed off if not offered.

                                      1. re: ludmilasdaughter

                                        Upselling is fine as long as they don't try to trick me or my party into it. No problem at all with 'would you like a dessert?' or 'care for a salad?' or even 'I reccomend this more expensive bottle of wine.'

                                        If there is some deceit though, I'm pissed and the tip is forfeit regardless of whether or not its policy at the restaurant. I'm a bastard like that. Oh well.