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Small things I can't stand at chains or other......

Had to meet someone for lunch yesterday he suggested a TGIF as the meeting place. It was his call so I agreed. This is how my dipping "sauce" arrived. How long would you estimate that had to be sitting for the film to form? Does the runner not check the plate before serving? Ugghhhh

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  1. for now, here are a couple of things i can't stand, i'm sure that i'll think of some more later:

    1) attempts at upselling.
    really, i can see that you sell desserts and starters.
    truly, i don't need or want a "reminder" to order coffee.
    what next? are you going to remind me to wear my jacket when it is cold out?

    2) ridiculous things written on the charge slip like little smiley faces, or a "thank you!!!" or ANYTHING else.
    the charge slip is NOT a place for you to try to bond with me after the meal is over.

    3) crouching when talking with me so that our faces are at the same level.
    this is not a preschool. i am not 2 years old. it's just so WEIRD. normal adults DON'T DO THIS WITH OTHER ADULTS. it is STRANGE.

    4) touching me
    you are NOT my friend. do NOT feel that it is ok for you to physically touch me in the normal course of taking my order.

    these kind of behaviors so turn me off that i will avoid any establishment at which they are practiced.
    i like my servers to behave with a little bit of dignity.

    fortunately for me, there seems to be a positive correlation with these sorts of server behavior and lousy food. . . . .

    13 Replies
    1. re: westsidegal

      I cannot possibly imagine being angered by someone thanking you for visiting a restaurant.

      Nor can I imagine being angered by someone getting down low so they can hear you better in a noisy restaurant.

      Nor can I imagine being angered by someone asking me if I want dessert or coffee at the end of my meal. Matter of fact, I can't remember going to any restaurant, ever, that didn't ask me if I wanted dessert.

      1. re: Boston_Otter

        asking if i'd like dessert is one thing,
        trying to sell me on dessert by giving me an unrequested recitation/description of all of the dessert offerings and a testimonial about how awsome/fabulous each one is, is, completely uncalled for.

        asking if i'd like anything else is one thing.
        going through the litany of exactly what "anything else" could be is another.

        it is simply an obvious attempt to upsell.

        1. re: westsidegal

          I think that it's part of the server's job to tell you what's being offered for dessert, and I always appreciate knowing what's available -- and especially their opinions on what's worth ordering.

          If you specifically say "I don't want dessert," and they insist on running through the menu anyway, that's poor service. But I've never had that happen anywhere.

          1. re: westsidegal

            I have to agree - "Will we be having dessert?" "No thank you, I couldn't eat another bite." "Are you sure? There's the chocolate...blah blah blah."

            Also the faux-sneaky upsell - "Have we decided on an appetizer?" No "we" haven't. We are not ordering an appetizer.

            I hate the upsell more than anything. Offer once, fine. Then leave it alone.

            1. re: NonnieMuss

              NonnieMuss: your appetizer example is called the "assumptive close" technique: they start out "assuming" that you are going to buy an appetizer and by doing so, put you in an uncomfortable position of having to refuse.

              some consultant probably sold the chain on the idea of forcing their servers to use this disgusting technique.

            2. re: westsidegal

              This bugs me as well. Also there are times when it is clear you have ordered what you want, period.

              For example, on rare occasions I stop at the Panda for quick take-out "Chinese" food. This is a case where everything on offer is out there like a buffet for all to see. I say what I want and anyone paying attention would realize that I am done with ordering what I want. At literally every "station" in the line I'm asked "egg rolls, pot stickers, <etc>?"; and then "drink, soda, bottled water?" NO!

              I get it that the empoyees at the establishment are required to do this, so I do not blame them. But it is a huge turn-off.

              I actually quit a waitstaff job at a regional East coast chain many years ago because the corporate parent really pressured its employees to "suggestively sell." The budding foodie in me simply could not find enough things on the menu I could recommend! (Also, this was early days of sous vide, and the chain made a lot of stuff at a central kitchen which it then delivered to restaurants. When customers asked for even the most trivial and minor modifications, we'd embarassingly have to say that it couldn't be done, and struggled with avoiding having to admit the food was boil-in-a-bag.)

              1. re: westsidegal

                We were at an Olive Garden once where they were RELENTLESSLY pushing the wine from the moment we walked in. Surprising since this is the Deep South where there are a good number of religious types even in this day and age who frown on such things. I'm not one of those but I am a grumpy person and finally I said "Look, I am a recovering ALCOHOLIC and I'd appreciate it if you would stop trying to get me to drink alcohol!" The look on that girl's face was priceless and we didn't hear another word about buying their damn wine!

                1. re: Bliss149

                  Maybe they realized customers who drank were less likely to notice food quality.....!

              2. re: Boston_Otter

                I echo Boston_otter here.

                I have been in customer service professions, in one way or another, on and off throughout my life. It is my opinion that there is a substantial minority of people who enter a customer situation expecting, looking, and actually HOPING to be ticked off about something. While I enjoy much of what I read on Chowhound, my time on this site has borne out this opinion.

                A substantial number of threads on this site include over-the-top statements of anger or disgust entirely out of proportion to the matter being commented upon.

                Items 2 and 3 in this case say more about the complainer than the restaurant.

              3. re: westsidegal

                ...OR, WSG, those things put me into the mood where the food tastes even worse than it really is. Good set of observations.

                1. re: westsidegal

                  I'll go with numbers 1 and 4. Smiley faces and getting closer to hear me in a loud setting are not bothersome.

                  Upselling, especially when done so sloppily that you know chef has over-prepped and needs to move out yesterday's fish ASAP is an annoyance. You want the duck. Eyes roll. "You must try the fish." No...I was really...

                  Also, being shoulder-embraced by an impatient, hip-swishing waiter who thinks I've taken too much of his time deciding what to order is an affront, especially when staccato tapping his pencil on his tablet and whispering "I'm waiting! I'm WAITING!!!"
                  (FYI Philly Hounds: that happened at "two chimneys.")

                  1. Hahaha Ewww. I would have just asked for a new sauce

                    Here are a few of mine.

                    1. Asking for a sauce that was supposed to be included in the meal and not getting it. Only to have the server come back with a thimble full of it.

                    2. Asking if you've been here before and when you say yes, they still go through the first timers spiel.

                    3. I've noticed recently that wing places will not give celery and dressing unless you ask for it. Plus they charge for it separate. I just want my buffalo wings they way they were intended to be.

                    4. A charge on the bill for the higher cost of health care which they are passing on to the customer. Yes this really has happened.

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: Sandwich_Sister

                      If in San Francisco, the health care surcharge is legally mandated. Whether it actually goes for employee health care or gets skimmed by management is another issue.

                      1. re: mwhitmore

                        We just had an issue down here in Orlando Florida with a franchise. One franchise owner has decided to charge another one in the area isn't. It has created quite the confusion. and the charge is not the norm here in Florida.

                      2. re: Sandwich_Sister

                        Health Care surcharge?
                        Are you serious???

                        What other business expenses do these owners explicitly pass on to their customers?

                        If there is a rise in the cost of TP or hand soap is that cost advertised and passed on to the consumer as well? Good grief.

                        No wonder I prefer t cook at home.

                        1. re: pedalfaster

                          The few that do it here, it never turns out well for them. People stop going and consider it political issue that the owner is mad about.

                          It just doesn't work.

                          1. re: pedalfaster

                            Well, several of the companies that "serve" me tack on a fuel-surcharge. And lovely Waste Management has such a hard time processing my check they charge me an 'administrative fee', since I don't pay electronically

                            1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                              Hey, FCF ... if you're talking about Allied, and if you're paying more than $72/quarterly, we should talk.

                              1. re: CindyJ

                                No.it was Waste Mnmgt......who just today took over yet another of the remaining local companies.so I suspect soon I'll be up in the stratosphere

                                1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                                  Pretty soon there will be just one company doing trash pickup for the entire area. The reason for my comment, though, was because I recently spoke with a neighbor of mine who had been paying $164 for the exact same pick up service, from the same company, as I pay $72 for. A quick phone call and she got the $72 rate, too.

                        2. That photo really just makes me wonder if that "food" is actually safe to eat..... Looks way too much like melted plastic to me.

                          Personally i can't tolerate waitstaff that lies to me. I often have questions about the menu due to dietary restrictions and have had waitstaff tell me what they think the "right" answer is, and then i find out they did not give me accurate information. Go ask someone in the kitchen!! Don't just make up shit because you *think* you know the answer!

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: Ttrockwood

                            Just a FYI that was from lunch on Thurs the 20th and I'm still alive and kicking! So I guess it was safe to eat, although very dissapointing.

                            1. re: Ttrockwood

                              My first visit in1976 to the new Red Lobster in NE Philly had even less appeal. I saw fresh Blue Point oysters as an app and ordered them. They arrived as little shriveled filaments more akin to wood ear mushrooms than oysters - obviously shucked and chilled on the half-shell days ago. I sent them back with my 19-year-old waitress' retort being: "Well, I don't eat them slimy things and I don't know what thems s'posed to look like."
                              I say first visit as, in 1996, my dear old Dad wanted to go to the lobster fest, and I relented. That was THE last.

                              1. re: Chefpaulo

                                i recently was at a Red Lobster for the first time; it was for
                                lunch and I ordered the wood grilled shrimp tacos (3).
                                I was AMAZED to find it was pretty good, with a couple of really good accompaniments @$7.95

                                1. re: VenusCafe

                                  I actually love the fish tacos at Ruby Tuesday!
                                  Fish tacos + salad bar is $9.99.

                                  You can't beat it!

                            2. Hardly a halcyon surface. Small craft warnings should be in effect.
                              But I used to eat pudding skin.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Veggo

                                Pudding skin is a delicacy my friend.

                                1. re: jrvedivici

                                  as is the skin on any dish with sauce/gravy that's been sitting for a while

                              2. That definitely looks like sauce that's been sitting under the salamander for awhile while the other tables' dishes were being finished. Not pretty! But about what I'd expect at TGIF.

                                What do I hate?
                                - Poorly managed waitstaff. There's nothing more frustrating for people waiting a half-hour to be seated than being able to see an entire section of the restaurant empty, with tables totally unused, because the server for that area is on break, called in sick, whatever.
                                - Fake "specials". Try our new $9.99 steak! (fine print: it's a 5 oz. steak with no side dishes. For $15 bucks you can get an 8oz steak with a side and a freakin' lobster tail but we hope you don't do the math.)
                                - Increasingly insane cocktail prices. Now that 'craft cocktails' are all the rage, it's become common to see drinks like manhattans for $10-14 at chains.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Boston_Otter

                                  Learned years ago, Specials are not very special.

                                2. Dressing on the side. There's nothing like a well-dressed salad, and even if you could replicate it at the table, you'd probably become a major spectacle.

                                  I'm talking about the places that ALWAYS serve dressing on the side, not those that do it on request.

                                  But to those who ask for it that way, probably on the advice of one of the giant diet Nazis: if the restaurant knows how to properly dress a salad (and not overdress it), you'd probably use less dressing ordering it that way.

                                  But so many people - in both restaurant and home kitchens - serve salads dripping in dressing. I was taught that you should be able to dress and toss a salad in a collander with nothing dripping out the bottom.

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: WNYamateur

                                    << if the restaurant knows how to properly dress a salad (and not overdress it), you'd probably use less dressing ordering it that way.>>

                                    the "new-normal" way i've seen people using dressing-on-the-side is to dip their fork in the dressing and then use the fork to spear undressed salad.
                                    doubt that any restaurant would use less dressing than that.

                                    1. re: westsidegal

                                      I can count on one hand the number of salads I've ordered in 30 years that have been properly dressed. The default salad comes with an entire bottle of dressing because it's cheap (mostly corn syrup) and gives the illusion of "value."

                                    2. re: WNYamateur

                                      Outside of very high end fine dining i have only ever gotten very over dressed salads- i want my salad to be a healthy option! Not the same caloric value as the french fries....so, yeah, i'm one of those olive oil and vinegar in the side people.

                                      1. re: Ttrockwood

                                        I'm pretty much of the same mindset.

                                        If I'm at a nicer/non-chain/fancy restaurant? Please do mix that dressing in. If I'm at a diner or a chain restaurant? Only ever on the side, so it's not swimming in oil.

                                    3. Haha, I learned long ago not to expect much from TGI Fridays. I will say, however, that I very much actually enjoy their Jack Daniels shrimp with the dipping sauce. It used to come as just an entree in itself, but now you are forced to get it as a combo with chicken, and the chicken kinda sucks.

                                      Anyways, to answer the question, and to tie into your sauces complaint, I don't like when warm sauce is served cold, or room temp, such as marinara sauce for mozzarella sticks. I don't like when small accompaniments for my food are left off, if stated on the menu that they will be included, ie: a roll with my salad.

                                      6 Replies
                                      1. re: SaraAshley

                                        Yeah that Jack Daniels dish was tolerable when they first came out with it. I haven't had it in years though......that picture above was from their pick 3 appetizer, I had fried string beans, wings, and their home made pretzel rolls. That was the cheese sauce for the pretzel rolls, not very impressed with any of it,.

                                        1. re: jrvedivici

                                          I think it's the sauce that makes the Jack Daniels dish. I'd like them to sell it.

                                        2. re: SaraAshley

                                          SaraAshlely: you may enjoy their Jack Daniels shrimp.
                                          i say skip the shrimp and just get the unadulterated Jack Daniels. i think you'll find it an improvement. . . .

                                          1. re: westsidegal

                                            West, can you clarify that for me please? Just get the sauce?

                                            LMAO......never mind I think I "get you" now. Yes I agree, just go for the Jack - Ashley!

                                            1. re: jrvedivici

                                              Yeah, leave the gun, take the Jack.

                                              Especially if Westsidegal is going stand-up -- her comment was hilarious. It made me think of "I'll have the Jack Daniel's Shrimp, and hold the shrimp."

                                              1. re: Tripeler

                                                "Now all you have to do is hold the shrimp, bring me the Jack, give me a check for the shrimp with Jack Daniels sauce, and you haven't broken any rules.

                                                You want me to hold the shrimp, huh?

                                                I want you to hold it between your knees."

                                                With all due apologies to Carole Eastman and Bob Rafelson

                                        3. Sticky and/or greasy table tops.

                                          Why, oh why, can't chains eradicate this?

                                          My little nit-picky thing is the flatware. I get that the spoons won't be silver, but *must* they be the lowest-grade, cheapest stainless possible?

                                          Ditto for the paper napkins.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: pedalfaster

                                            And there's my number one peeve at any restaurant, sticky tables and dirty rags used to wipe them.

                                          2. Ew, that cheese is beyond vile!
                                            My biggest pet peeve occurs at Olive Garden. I'm outvoted several time a year :( and those nasty breadsticks are slicked down with more oil than a sunbathing Real Housewife of Beverly Hills. They just freak me out by even being on the table.

                                            1. My guess is that nasty cheese bowl was heated in the microwave with a piece of cling film/ Saran wrap on top and that nasty pattern you see on the top is the impression the cling film left. Of course it would then have set up like that as it then sat under the salamander.

                                              I really don't like condiment bottles that are left on tables. Who knows what's been done to them and how many germs they harbour.

                                              ETA: Oh and don't get me started about servers "cleaning" your table with that horrifying community rag.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                Exactly right about the Saran wrap; that was my first
                                                thought upon seeing it...and those greasy rags, OMG!

                                              2. When they try to commit my order to memory instead of writing it down and have to ask me again when they can't remember something.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: ebchower

                                                  I can't tell you how many times I've had this situation:
                                                  Me: Don't you need to write this down?
                                                  Server: Ha ha, don't worry, I've got it!
                                                  (food arrives)
                                                  Me: Er, I actually ordered the (x), with a side of (x).
                                                  Server: Are you sure? I think I would have remembered that.

                                                  1. re: ebchower

                                                    In a now long gone place in Cleveland (New York Spaghetti House) all the wait staff was Eastern European. I once saw one of 'em wait on a table of twenty. Drinks, apps, salads, pasta & main course and not write a thing down until totaling up the bill.
                                                    Some of the folks even tried trading seats to mess him up but he never skipped a beat.

                                                  2. Often in a diner - not fond of the server delivering an arm's length of plates where the bottom of your plate is on top of my fries and my plate is on top of someone's sandwich and their plate is on top of someone's scrambled eggs.

                                                    Please, use a tray.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: Foody4life

                                                      While I completely understand where you are coming from and not trying to discount your feelings on this subject, I on the other hand find this to be a lost art form.

                                                      I myself can only do three plates at a time, in one hand/arm, anyone who can do four or more has my respect!

                                                      1. re: jrvedivici

                                                        yeh, something about it skeeves me out.

                                                        Of course at any ballpark I'm allowed to do the same with a couple of dogs stacked on top of the fries - to free up the beer carrying hand!

                                                    2. Everything seems like it's tequila-lime-chipotle-bourbon-glazed-southwestern-fajita-style.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: NonnieMuss

                                                        You forgot to top that all off with a battered and fried jalapeno "caps" garnish :D

                                                      2. There's a chain that goes to the trouble of toasting the burger bun, but then wraps the whole thing in aluminum foil and to make matters worse, seals the whole thing up in a closed paper bag. By the time you find a seat and unwrap your meal, the bun has turned into a soggy mess.

                                                        7 Replies
                                                        1. re: cavandre

                                                          I'm going to take a wild guess and say that's Five Guys. They also have no idea how to fry their "fresh cut fries" so they're burnt on the outside and soggy on the inside. They're then dumped into a paper cup at the bottom of a bag so you get 8lbs of soggy steamed fries. Shake Shack seems to have fallen for the "fresh cut is always better" canard, but it seems like they haven't quite licked the problem yet. Meanwhile, at the bulletproof Chinese carryout across the street, I can have perfectly crispy frozen crinkle cut fries.

                                                          1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                            Best fries I get are with the pizza from the joint down the street. Regular sort of pizza/subs place with wonderful fries.

                                                            1. re: ccbweb

                                                              Chinese takeout fries, hands down always amazing! :)

                                                              1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                If they've been in the fryer that's cooked the eggrolls, springrolls, and wontons, they take on an ethereal seafood-ey-ness. In food snob terms, you end up with a bold, potato forward aroma that burns the palate with hints of peanut oil, shrimp toast, fried chicken, and oyster.

                                                                1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                  I've never noticed any sort of seafood-ey-ness or my palate just sucks.

                                                                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                    They probably don't fry enough shrimp eggrolls and other seafood. That, or they change the fryer oil regularly. Stupid Health Department Codes. I hate them so much...

                                                                    1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                      Most restaurants that specialize in fried food usually have a dedicated fryer for seafood items. For just this reason!

                                                          2. When they automatically assume the order is take out without asking.

                                                            1. Ok, this is a weird one, but has happened at several chains. "What can I get you to drink - we have Pepsi products, lemonade, iced tea..."

                                                              Well actually I wanted some alcohol, but I now feel like you disapprove of it somehow. I get that many people don't drink, or they want to maintain the family-friendly atmosphere, but you have a huge, well-stocked bar right where I can see it and neon beer signs everywhere. Why list every single virgin beverage you have? It doesn't bother me, I just find it weird.

                                                              16 Replies
                                                              1. re: NonnieMuss

                                                                It seems to me that if they were to list every possible alcoholic drink they offered, you'd be there for a good half-hour, listening. I would never take the offer of soft drinks, lemonade, or iced tea as a condemnation of alcohol. Since the first question of most people ordering soft drinks is "Do you have Coke or Pepsi?", they're letting folks know what's available.

                                                                1. re: Boston_Otter

                                                                  I don't think it's necessary to list any drinks at all - a simple "What can I get you to drink?" would suffice. What I find odd is the listing of every single non-alcoholic drink they serve.

                                                                  It's especially odd because you would assume that servers would prefer to serve a few cocktails at $6.00 each than a Coke for $1.50.

                                                                  1. re: NonnieMuss

                                                                    $6.00 cocktails? That'd make me feel like a kid again. I may finally be beginning to understand the appeal of these places. At least now I know why jr goes so often.

                                                                    1. re: MGZ

                                                                      Stick with me kid I know all the $5. "Martini" Happy Hours as well as a $1.00 domestic can of beer!

                                                                      1. re: MGZ

                                                                        Smaller city in the South = lower cost of living!

                                                                  2. re: NonnieMuss

                                                                    Totally agree! I will still order my alcohol, but thanks for making me feel weird.

                                                                    1. re: NonnieMuss

                                                                      And this is why I am so glad I don't work in restaurants anymore. I'd appreciate this because I can't stand most Pepsi products and it's nice to just know and be able to move on. There's just no way to please everyone all the time for people in restaurants.

                                                                      1. re: ccbweb

                                                                        I think that if someone feels shamed or 'weird' about ordering alcohol after a server offers a selection of soft drinks, that says a lot more about them than the restaurant.

                                                                        1. re: Boston_Otter

                                                                          Maybe someone start an alternate thread of things they think shouldn't bother people at chain restaurants?

                                                                          1. re: Boston_Otter

                                                                            I think that this thread proves, beyond a shadow of doubt, that servers can't win with some diners no matter what they do, or don't do. ESP looks to be a job requirement in order to be a good waiter or waitress it seems.

                                                                            1. re: Servorg

                                                                              But since we're talking chains, it's more the corporate policies. I know the servers have to follow the rules with the upselling, suggestions, etc. I don't hold that against them. I've waited more than my share of tables and you sure can't please everyone. One person's smiley face is another person's tooth-grinding annoyance.

                                                                              1. re: NonnieMuss

                                                                                My wife and I go out to dinner, wherever it might be, to have time to catch up, relax and enjoy a little downtime after work. If our server gets our order right and is there if we need something without having to hunt them down, then the rest of this stuff doesn't even register with us.

                                                                                1. re: Servorg

                                                                                  Again - great post for the "things that don't bother me thread", but this is a thread called "small things I can't stand".

                                                                                  (Please understand that I'm teasing - it's sometimes hard to read tone on a message board and I'm just posting in fun.)

                                                                              2. re: Servorg

                                                                                servorg: many times the server actually KNOWS what the customers like/want and would be happy to comply, but the CORPORATE ENTITY dictates that they act differently.
                                                                                the server is not going to risk their job . . . .

                                                                          2. re: NonnieMuss

                                                                            This reminded me of my waitressing days. Very often my question "What can I get you to drink?" was met with the response "We don't drink, I'll have a Pepsi" or "Nothing, thank you, I'll just have water".

                                                                          3. This one happened to me today, and reminded me how it always seems to happen and how annoying it is.

                                                                            Diner club sandwiches. "Please order by the number" the menu states.

                                                                            "I'd like a number one club sandwich, please."

                                                                            "Which one is that?"

                                                                            "The turkey"

                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                            1. re: ebchower

                                                                              I'm almost willing to bet that question "Which one is that?" is purely self-protection by the server because some diners get it wrong and then complain "You didn't bring me the right sandwich." Just sayin'...

                                                                              1. re: ebchower

                                                                                How about this one? " A small coke please." " We only have medium and large." Oh.

                                                                                1. re: James Cristinian

                                                                                  I have a friend who likes to order root beer. She can't understand why places suggest a Dr. Pepper when they don't have root beer. I've seen it happen several times with her.

                                                                              2. I HATE when a server asks "do you need change?" The last time this happened to me was 4 days ago. I was paying with a credit card (which was sticking out of the top of the billfold with the check) and my response was "No, but I'd like my credit card back." The server had other issues throughout the meal and seemed somewhat new, so I chalked it up to poor training.

                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                1. re: punkin712

                                                                                  About 25 years ago, I frequently lunched at a small rural hotel 35 miles outside of Philadelphia. One day, my tab came to $7.25. I gave waitress (known for her asking everyone if they needed change) a $20. From across the almost full dining room of regulars she yells, "Do you need change?"
                                                                                  "What was the tab and what did I give you?" I queried.
                                                                                  "Seven twenty five and you gave me a twenty."
                                                                                  "You're good but not that good."
                                                                                  Unanimous raucous laughter erupted as she crawled off to the register. Maybe she learned something that day.

                                                                                    1. re: Chefpaulo

                                                                                      That took cajones to even ask if you wanted change- I think my tip would have gone down.