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Bad Service - Libretto's on Ossington

I love Libretto's and hadn't been there in a while but decided to go while I waited for my iPhone to be repaired. They have a great lunchtime special - $15 for salad, pizza and dessert. I arrived at about noon on a weekday and the place was about 1/2 full. There were tons of serving staff. The waitress was very pleasant and smiley and I immediately ordered as soon as I sat down. She brought water immediately and then 10 minutes later some bread and olive oil. A couple sat down beside me right then and also ordered.Then another 10 minutes went by, Finally I motioned her to come over and asked if the salad was going to be coming. She said it wouldn't be long. 5 minutes later it came out, delivered by someone else. 25 minutes is kind of a ridiculous time to wait for a small arugula salad with some shaved pears and parmesan, no?

My pizza came out about 10 minutes later, again by another staff member, along with the pizza for the couple beside me (they had no appetizer). I gobbled it up quite quickly as I was starving and the waitress came by a bit later and asked what I wanted for dessert. I asked for the gelato (they give you one big scoop in a glass). Well that took 15 minutes to arrive, yet again by another staff member! It takes 15 minutes to scoop up one scoop of ice cream into a glass?

During the whole episode my waitress must have walked by a hundred times. Anyway, i asked for the bill because I didn't want to wait even longer for that. Yet another person came out with it and one of those handheld credit card machines (which I am not very fond of). The automatic tip button on the machine was hard-coded at 17% (of the after tax amount). WTF? Why tip on the after-tax amount? They never got that when the taxes were lower and it has nothing to do with them. Also, why 17%? Why increase it from the standard 15%? Anyway, I was so peeved about the very slow service and that 17% button I tipped 10% before tax to send them a message. In fact any time I see a tip button that is more than 15% I am going to tip less than 15%! And, yeah yeah I know it may not have been her personal fault about the slow service but if it wasn't she could have put a bit of a bug in the ear of the kitchen staff about the salad and dessert. ANyway, the fact is restaurants share tips so all are involved in ensuring good quality food and prompt service. Lastly, maybe she could have had the presence of mind to apologize or explain why the service was oh...so..........slow...

Has the service level gone down at this place or did I just happen to have a bad experience? And what's with 17% of after-tax amount hard-coded as a tip? I bet most people just hit the button because they don't want to look cheap especially when they have to hand the terminal right back to the server instead of before when you just sign the credit card slip and ran out the door. Psychological studies do show that the main reason people leave adequate and sometimes high tips is not because they think the tipee deserves it but because they don't want to look cheap, especially in front of others.

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  1. Where is Libretto's on Ossington? I've been to a similar place in the same area called Pizzeria Libretto and have always had good service. ;)

    1 Reply
    1. re: ThoughtForFood

      That's the place I meant. Many call it Libretto's. I've been going since it opened.

    2. Honestly they probably don't care much about your $15 meal....The 17% is also not the server's fault. And I bet the kitchen wouldn't care for your $2 in tip anyway. They do have food runners at libretto and I guess that's why they ran the food to you instead of your server? Did the food taste good though? $15 good?

      18 Replies
      1. re: brushfire

        unfortunately that's the reality. It's like brunch. Unless you're spending $$$ most servers can't be bothered.

        1. re: brushfire

          "Unless you're spending $$$ most servers can't be bothered."

          That is not even close to true!

          1. re: chowfinder

            In other cities it might not be true. In Toronto, I find that brushfire's statement is accurate.

            Toronto has horrible service (generally speaking).

            1. re: magic

              The worst is, lately, wherever I go, high end or mid range, the service is great, up until the point that I'm finished with my meal. Then, I get completely ignored while trying to either find the server or get his/her attention to get the bill. It drives me absolutely nuts!

              1. re: kwass

                I agree that the service is generally great at mid range for sure...and casual too. From my experience, I have sometimes found it tough to cash out as well. When I've asked I've been told that the resto doesn't have enough of those machines to go around so the wait time begins. Usually servers are very happy to get you out and turn the table. :-) Meanwhile enjoy the good food kwass!

                1. re: justsayn

                  I've been to some great restaurants this summer, and enjoyed the food at all of them. It just gets frustrating when you're ready to leave and have to wait 15 minutes to get your bill.

                  1. re: kwass

                    Skip the bill and ask them to bring the machine over. Much more efficient and saves a bunch of time. I never ask for the bill.

                2. re: kwass

                  In my own experience I find that servers in Toronto adopt an attitude where serving and customers are an annoyance. Or that servers are generally inept and unknowledgable. Or that servers are unfamiliar with the concept of gracious hosting. Or that servers possess a combination of all these things.

                  When I travel to other cities I'm always stunned by how much pride, graciousness and knowledge servers have.

                  And it makes me realize how bad we have it in Toronto. Again – this is taken only from my experience and is generally speaking; it does not apply to every service experience I’ve ever had here.

                  1. re: magic

                    Well, as they say, "the fish rots from the head" - the best service I have had is in places where the owner(s) and chef know what they are doing, and engage the respect of their entire team top to bottom, who in turn understand that creating a nice night out in a lovely room with good food and great service is what keeps people coming back, and it involves a commitment to teamwork.
                    In many places I've dined at, the servers seem disconnected from the chef, they are plainly just putting in their hours. There is no camaraderie on display amongst them and their fellow servers (no, I can't bring you water, it's not my section....")

                  2. re: kwass

                    when dessert comes, not only do I ask for the bill but also I give them my card. De rigeur, no exceptions.

                    1. re: kwass

                      16 of us went out for a staff lunch from work when a colleague was leaving and everyone except me paid by debit or credit. which meant that for those 15 minutes that the waitress was brining the machine over to those 15 people she was not looking after other tables and no one else could pay because she had the machine!. Before these machines people would just throw down the cash and you would be out in 3 minutes...

                      Also as it was lunch pretty much everyone else in the restaurant was also trying to pay at the same time as they all had to be back to the office by 1. Same thing happens at bars at the end of the night.

                      Until the point when each staff member has their own machine this will continue to be a problem. And right now these machines are cellular and pretty expensive as each one actually requires its own phone number & sim card to communicate.

                      So moral of the story is that if you are getting ignored by your server at the end of your meal it may just be that at large group of people are all trying to pay by card at the same time and not that there is some conspiracy against letting you leave.

                        1. re: pourboi

                          I don't agree with what you said about each machine requiring a SIM card. Most have various communication options available, and wifi is one of them.

                          Have you ever wondered why most restaurants have wifi even if it is not for the customer's use? Its for these terminals.

                          I can't imagine why a restaurant owner would use the cellular network when wireless is an option.

                          Here is a terminal that I did some development for: https://developer.att.com/developer/d...

                          I heard it costs around $250 so it not really all that expensive to have four or five

                          1. re: foodyDudey

                            And how many times have you heard someone say "Shit the wifi is down" with all of the separate rooms, patios, kitchens covered in stainless steel, wifi is a huge pain in the butt especially when you are talking about a restaurant of the size that needs multiple machines.

                            Cellular is the most reliable (after land line).

                            Moneris (a very common payment processor) is cellular on their terminal: http://www.moneris.com/en/Products-Se...

                            and even their "short range" system does not use wifi but instead uses Bluetooth to a local base station.

                            1. re: pourboi

                              Sure, that can happen if you cheap out and get monkeys to install the wifi. If it's done properly, it will work. Now back to the regularly scheduled program....

                          2. re: pourboi

                            Never for a minute did I think that there was a conspiracy against me. Half the time the server just disappears when I want my bill and the other half, I just can't get his/her attention.

                            1. re: pourboi

                              But the machine doesn't stop you from continuing to throw down your cash like before.

                    2. re: brushfire

                      I didn't care about who was delivering my food. What bothered me was the long waiting time. The food was great as always, except the salad seemed to be a bit smaller then if it wasn't a part of the $15 fixed prix.

                    3. Besides it being slow, what was "bad" about the service? Just that everyone was helping out with bringing you food, and a management decision to have 17% be the default on the handheld?

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: canadianbeaver

                        Slow service is enough. It's hard to screw up on bringing a plate to your table other then the waiting time, right?

                      2. I believe that servers can only enter the grand total into those machines, which is why they can only calculate the post-tax tip automatically (the machine doesn't know the pre-tax total).

                        As for 17%, maybe this is to compensate for the post-tax tipping, and end up with a final tip that would approximate a 20% pre-tax tip?

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Michael N

                          That makes sense -- I hadn't thought of that before.

                          This wouldn't exactly be a difficult technical problem to solve if it were something anyone in the restaurant industry really wanted to solve. But I suppose inputting two numbers would slow the process down and increase the chances of errors happening, as well.

                          Still, I find it odd to blast one restaurant for something that's true of every restaurant. I don't think I can recall the last time I got one of those prompts with only one option and it was 15%. If there are multiple options, they're often 15, 18 and 20 or similar, but if there's just one, it's usually 17 or 18, not 15.

                          1. re: Jacquilynne

                            It is not true of every restaurant. The majority of restaurants I have been to both here and in other cities do not have a % tip hardcoded into the handheld credit card machine and when they have it hasn't been the single choice of 17% or a $ amount. Most just have '%' or '$ Amount' and you choose what % or what $ amount.. So, I think it's quite presumptious of a restaurant to expect what amounts to a tip of 19.2% of the pre-tax amount. So, given this I will blast all I want, lol.

                            As for having to punch 2 numbers in. That would have taken the server 10 seconds vs the numerous long waits I had for my food.

                        2. Did you comment to a manager yet?

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: Pincus

                            No, Because of the excessive delay I was already late and had to leave, not to mention I was already so peeved I was not in a mindset to want more aggravation by having to wait for the manager to come over (and given everyone else's tardiness in this place it would have been a wait) and then have an unpleasant discussion with them.

                            Maybe I'll email them and hopefully get a complimentary meal next time which I hopefully won't have to wait too long for again.

                            1. re: Flexitarian

                              If you're so inclined, you should send a tweet. The owner has always gotten back to me whenever I've sent one.

                              1. re: kwass

                                If your tweet was a complaint and not a compliment, have you gotten anything complimentary from them the next time you visited?

                                1. re: Flexitarian

                                  I've never had reason to complain, but I always get a response to any inquiry I've had. Chef Rocco is very gracious, so I wouldn't be surprised if he does offer you something complimtary.

                              2. re: Flexitarian

                                Yeah, I gathered lunch was running far too long. But, it can't hurt to contact management. At worst, there's a new restaurant to cross off your visiting choices.

                            2. i have also had terrible service at libretto which would be forgivable if the food was anything to write home about. there is a lot of fanfare for this restaurant but it is only ok imo.

                              35 Replies
                              1. re: frogsteak

                                Agree. Hubby and I have never been to the Ossington location but to the Danforth one three times. Totally inept service every single time. Too many servers wandering around doing nothing-I don't get it?

                                1. re: BlackMambaSommelier

                                  How did you like the food? I have also been three times, but not in the last two years as it does not seem like anything special.

                                  1. re: foodyDudey

                                    I was there about 2 months ago and the food was fantastic! As good as ever!

                                    1. re: foodyDudey

                                      It's not. I've had FAR better VPN in NYC.

                                        1. re: BlackMambaSommelier

                                          Ha - I know you mean Napoli pizza but given the discussion about networks...

                                            1. re: justsayn

                                              vpn also is commonly used as an abbreviation for 'virtual private network', hence jules' comment. . .

                                              fwiw, i think nyc doesn't do vpn any better than toronto. . .

                                              1. re: afong56

                                                Yes, NYC does VPN better than Toronto. That said, it's pizza - "bad" VPN is never really that bad and "great" VPN is only so good. It's good pizza, but it's still pizza.

                                                1. re: BigBabyYeezuS

                                                  just curious as to which restos you think are the top nyc pizzerias for vpn, the ones that are better than pep, qmp, or libretto. . .

                                                  1. re: afong56

                                                    Fewer NYC places have the official VPN certification, which isn't much of a mark of quality but is merely a checklist. For example, Libretto is inconsistent with their oven temps and PEP is really pretty average.

                                                    For Neapolitan pizza in NYC - Keste, Motoroino, Roberta's (less traditional, sure), Luzzo's, Franny's, etc. are all serving better Neapolitan style pies than anything in Toronto. It's ultimately pizza, though.

                                                    1. re: BigBabyYeezuS

                                                      okay, thanks for the clarification. so when you originally said you've had far better vpn in nyc, you really meant neapolitan style pizza, not vpn.

                                                      having eaten at keste, motorino, don antonio, and forcella, i'd say that there are some good neapolitan style pizzas in nyc. none of them, imho are consistently better than our top places here.

                                                      and yes, it may just be pizza, but to compare vpn certified places (with all of their constraints) with neapolitan "style" pizza joints--not sure that's always a fair comparison.

                                                      nyc has plenty of bad pizza, for the record. . .dollar a slice places hawking utility slices dripping in orange grease, come to mind.

                                                      1. re: afong56

                                                        There's more bad pizza in NYC than anywhere, that's for sure.

                                                        VPN is kind of bs. It doesn't mean anything about quality, just that you've checked a bunch of boxes. Those boxes help quality but, mostly, it's a marketing thing that people pay a couple grand for. Una Pizzeria Napoletana (SF, formerly in the Motorino EV space in Manhattan) is as authentic and obsesseive a Neapolitan pizzeria as anywhere and doesn't pay for a VPN certification. It's quality that matters, not some marketing certification. Otherwise, you're saying that Viva Napoli on Mt. Pleasant (VPN certified and not very good but still kind of good in the way that all pizza is good) is better than QMP (not currently VPN certified: http://americas.pizzanapoletana.org/m...


                                                        How many of the NYC places have you eaten at consistently? I found Motorino EV to be very consistent while I find Libretto to be all over the map (and I like Libretto!)

                                                        1. re: BigBabyYeezuS

                                                          vpn is no guarantee of a good pie, that's for sure. the spectrum of quality that hides behind a certificate is very broad, and viva napoli is a great example to pick.

                                                          my point was only that if a vpn joint with the limitations placed on it by the organization is compared with a place like don antonio, that serves a similar style, but can do things like drop their formed dough into a fryolator before saucing and topping their pie--not sure that comparison is fair.

                                                          as for that style in nyc, i have come to the conclusion that i'm going to stick with john's on bleecker if i want pizza in nyc from here on in. there are some places in brooklyn (roberta's and juliana's) that i still want to try, but coal oven style is imho, the best that nyc offers for pie.

                                                          1. re: afong56

                                                            PL is VPN certified. I was merely comparing apples to apples. It's a fairly simple concept. I never made any statements to the veracity of such a 'certification'.

                                                            Once again, I'm happy to be where I am-this digression certainly reinforces that.

                                                            And I stand by my statement that when comparing VPN joints in Toronto and NYC, the latter is where I would choose to spend my dollars.

                                                            Further to that, no one in Brussels takes offense in the statement that hamburgers taste better in America or Napoli style pizza is better in Naples. No one cares because they understand every city/region/place has something they specialize in. Cantonese is tops in Toronto, that's for certain.

                                                            1. re: BlackMambaSommelier

                                                              okay, i thought i understood your post, but now i am definitely more confused.

                                                              first off, i was actually agreeing with you that vpn is 'kind of bs', when i said that the certificate doesn't guarantee quality. my comment was not a 'digression' as far as i can tell. . .

                                                              but, are you suggesting that comparing motorino to libretto is apples to apples? when did motorino actually become certified? don't get me wrong, they do a solid pizza. . .but, comparing these two is an example of what i suggested was problematic. . .

                                                              unless your point is suggest that a non-vpn joint can be as consistent or more consistent than one that is certified vpn. on that point, i agree--totally possible. however, your blanket statement that when 'comparing vpn joints in nyc and toronto' you would spend your dollars in nyc is puzzling since i don't believe any of the places you mentioned in the five boroughs is actually vpn-certified.

                                                              for the record, libretto has been consistent every time i've been--good, not great. maybe i just got lucky?

                                                              as for taking offense, none taken--given that vpn sets those restrictive guidelines, it makes it pretty hard to make truly terrible vpn pizza (but not impossible). that's why i have a hard time with your statement that nyc vpn is 'way better' than toronto.

                                                              yes, every city has something they specialize in. i don't think in either case (ny or toronto) that thing is vpn. if we're talking ny pizza, imho, that specialization is coal oven.

                                                              and btw, i've had good, bad, and great pizza in naples as well

                                                              1. re: afong56

                                                                I never even mentioned Motorino. Nor did I say VPN was kind of bs. You may want to read this thread over. But I guess I am responsible for mentioning VPN in the first place.

                                                                I've been eating coal fired NYC pizza for 35 years, so yeah agree it's good.

                                                                I'm out Jerry. Ciao Toronto.

                                                                1. re: BlackMambaSommelier

                                                                  At least we know one thing for sure, you must be enjoying some mighty fine Brussels sprouts over there!

                                                                  1. re: BlackMambaSommelier

                                                                    bms, thanks for the suggestion to re-read the thread--you are correct. i was responding to bby, and when your post dropped into the mix as a reply to my post. . .hence my confusion.

                                                                    gold, jerry, gold!

                                                                  2. re: afong56

                                                                    Motorino's pie (and Keste's and Luzzo's, etc.) is a Neapolitan style pie. Sure, they have the advantage that they don't have to use transatlantic tomatoes, but technically, it's the same. It's fair to compare QMP to PL because they both cook Neapolitan pizzas - I don't care about the certification. If it's the same style pie, it's fair to compare.

                                                                    There are only two VPN joints in NYC and neither is well regarded for its Neapolitan pizza. If VPN holds back restaurants from cooking good Neapolitan style pizza, then there's a problem with the VPN system.

                                                                2. re: afong56

                                                                  My go-to old school pepperoni slice in the village is found at Fiore's on Bleecker. Addictive for me.

                                                                3. re: BigBabyYeezuS

                                                                  Man, I just checked out Una Pizzeria Napoletana's website.

                                                                  $25 a pizza is an outrage!

                                                                  Imagine, when I went to Napoli last year, it was only 4 Euros at Da Michele, Il Pizzaiolo del Presidente or Di Matteo.

                                                                  While I don't think anywhere in North America can duplicate the stuff I've had in Naples, the best I've had in Toronto (pains me to say this) is at Mark McEwan's Fabbrica.

                                                                  And no, I have not had any Napoli style in NYC. For that price I'd rather buy 25 - $1.00 slices and give them out to those in need.

                                                            1. re: BigBabyYeezuS

                                                              Who made you the judge?

                                                              This is supposed to be a discussion board. How is any discussion advanced through sweeping statements that VPN pizza is done better in NYC? Some VPN pizza I've had in NYC has been worse than what I've ordered here. And I'm sure some is better. While some VPN pizza might be better than what I like at PL Danforth, I realized a couple years ago that I'd rather not seek out VPN in NYC because I'm content with what I consider to be good versions in TO.

                                                              I prefer PL Danforth's Pizza Margherita to the versions I ordered at Motorino and at Don Antonio in NYC. I also realize VPN pizzas can be inconsistent, often depending on who is pulling them out of the oven. Even if Motorino is more famous, and recommended more frequently, and located in NYC, I like the pizzas I've ordered at Pizzeria Libretto Danforth better.

                                                              It's a matter of taste. There's no accounting for taste. YMMV. To each their own. And so on.

                                                              1. re: prima

                                                                I was responding to a comment that said the Neapolitan style pizza was better in Toronto than in NYC. I said that I didn't think so - which is a pretty standard opinion (it would be surprising if it wasn't, given the sheer number of Neapolitan places there and that it was one of the places that started the Neapolitan revival in North America) - and was asked where I thought was better. I listed places. As part of a discussion. On a discussion board.

                                                                That said, I don't think pizza's much of a destination food. Libretto, heck, even a place like Defina, does a good version of Neapolitan pizza and nothing you get anywhere else in North American is so much better that it's worth seeking out. So I mostly agree. If I'm in NYC, I'm not seeking out pizza, even if I think that you can get better Neapolitan there than here.

                                                                1. re: prima

                                                                  For what it's worth, I can't stand the crust at PL, and the sauce always tastes bland to me. I prefer Pizzeria via Mercanti for that style in Toronto.

                                                                  I grew up eating various styles of NYC pizza so my tastes skew that way.

                                                                  As BigBabyYeezus says though-it's really just pizza.

                                                                    1. re: BlackMambaSommelier

                                                                      What I'm saying is that it's a matter of taste. I don't like the pizzas I've had at QMP, but I have friends who much prefer QMP to PLD. Are they wrong? Of course not. I haven't been to Pizza via Mercanti as of yet.

                                                                      afong wrote that afong thinks NYC doesn't do VPN any better than Toronto. That's not the same as writing Toronto does VPN better than NYC.

                                                                    2. re: prima

                                                                      This is great, 5 years ago Torontonians wouldn't fight back against NYC. We would shamefully stick our tail between our legs and keep quiet.

                                                                      Those days are done.

                                                                      Sometimes price, prestige, image and environment influence our perception, versus the reality of how something really tastes. IMO, BigBaby's pro-NYC stance is an instance of this.

                                                                      1. re: pakmode

                                                                        No, it's based on having eaten Neapolitan style pizzas extensively in both Toronto and NYC. It shouldn't come as a surprise that most (not all) people who've eaten in both cities find that NYC is superior. If you've eaten in both cities extensively and honestly find one of our two or three decent places better than in NYC, great, but it's a minority position. This shouldn't be surprising.

                                                                        That said, Toronto is better than NYC in a number of food areas - non-szechaun Chinese food, Portuguese food, brewpubs (which basically don't exist in NYC), the St. Lawrence Market is better than any covered market in NYC, Cumbrae's beef is better than any non-restaurant, non-wagyu I've bought retail in NYC, I could go on.

                                                                        But NYC is huge, diverse, rich and old. It attracts a lot of tourists (for better or worse). It's going to have us beat in most categories. It has everywhere beat in most categories. We've got good stuff too, and we've got some good Neapolitan pizza places, and that's okay.

                                                                        1. re: BigBabyYeezuS

                                                                          I just look for good food. I don't care what the consensus is. All this ranking, majority position vs minority position and superiority of other cities to Toronto talk are what have made this Board so boring, predictable and repetitive.

                                                                  1. re: afong56

                                                                    Yes of course. It was the joke that went over my head. I assumed jules wasn't aware.

                                                      2. must be a bad experience. maybe mid summer Friday blahs.

                                                        I went to Danforth Libretto this week for a 6pm dinner. seemed like pizza came about 5 minutes after the waitress took the orders (seemed surprisingly fast to me).

                                                        I happen to find the handheld credit card machines great. you don't have to get up to go to the counter and there's no carbon copies to deal with.

                                                        the default tip was 15%. I wish there was an option to calculate tip 15% before tax, but the difference woulda been maybe $ 0.80, I couldn't be bother to think so I just chose the default. I just calculated it right now, 13% after tax equals 15% before tax, regardless of the sub-total, so there you go.

                                                        atleast it wasn't a place that automatically charges 15% "service fee" and then taxes you on it.

                                                        13 Replies
                                                        1. re: filtered

                                                          Odd that the Danforth Libretto has 15% hardcoded in while Ossington has 17%. Maybe it's worse service there but I don't see how it could be worse than what I had. I just think it's arrogant for an establishment to feel that any % should be so strongly suggested in this way by them.

                                                          1. re: Flexitarian

                                                            Go to Marben. There was one default option of 20% on my last visit a month ago.

                                                            1. re: justsayn

                                                              Wow, so 22.6% on pre-tax. Ridiculous! All the government has to do is raise the HST and the tip will automatically go up even more!

                                                              1. re: Flexitarian

                                                                If the default tip rate on the credit card machines get your knickers in a knot, pay with cash. You can tip at whatever rate you feel is fair (with no pressure from the restaurant/server/machine), there's less chance a shady owner will skim the tips, and it's more likely more of the tip will go in your server's pocket, if that's what you want.

                                                                1. re: prima

                                                                  You're missing my point here. I see it as a slimy way to prompt people to pay a high tip. I know people who cannot easily figure out how to override those machines once they've selected an option. And to only have 20% makes it very clear to me that 20% is what management wants from you.

                                                                  1. re: justsayn

                                                                    I'm not missing your point. My point is that you don't need to look at what tip rate the management would like if you pay cash.

                                                                    1. re: prima

                                                                      That's true. I guess one could avoid it by eating at home too.

                                                                  2. re: prima

                                                                    Why would you need to pay with cash if you don't like the default tip rate? There is always the option of selecting a DOLLAR AMOUNT and entering anything you want.

                                                                    1. re: foodyDudey

                                                                      For people who are annoyed by the sight of a default tip rate, paying without using the machine avoids looking at the suggested tip rate. As does clicking the $ amount and entering any amount, as you suggest.

                                                                    2. re: prima

                                                                      Yes, or often we just put the exact amount on the credit and card and bring a few $$ in cash for the tip.

                                                                      1. re: prima

                                                                        There should be no default % rate on the terminal. That is arrogant on the part of the restaurant to think that if one wants to tip a percentage that they suggest what it should be. What if your service was not up to par and you want to tip a lower %? What if you want to tip a greater %? There should be two buttons - % and $ and that is it.

                                                                    3. re: justsayn

                                                                      Happened to me last winter at Marben. We were a group of 4 and given an automatic 20% (after tax) on the two machines when we asked to split the bill. We called for the manager (who showed up almost 20min later) because we were told by our server that it was "standard" because of our party size and the fact we asked to "split the bill" (what??). The manager apologized but "couldn't get the machines to work properly", so we payed whatever that was prompted.

                                                                      Too bad. I loved my first meal there since the new chef, but our last experience left a bitter aftertaste. Won't return any time soon.

                                                                      1. re: happycamper

                                                                        20% after tax (22.6% before) is automatically added to your bill because of the 'party size' of 4? Oh geez, like 4 is a big table of people. Sheesh.

                                                                        I am sure the manager's excuse was bull.

                                                                2. I always get great service at the Danforth location.

                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                  1. re: justxpete

                                                                    I don't!
                                                                    The ONLY time I went, the server spent much of the time socializing with the 'young and apparently eligible' two-top at the table adjacent to mine.
                                                                    Service was extremely slow. Food wasn't bad, but there are many places with acceptable food.
                                                                    My philosophy (in order) is:
                                                                    It's the food that brings me back.
                                                                    It's the service that keeps me away.
                                                                    Hence only 1 visit.

                                                                    1. re: estufarian

                                                                      Irrespective our varying experiences with PLD, to me, the food is more important than the service. I can tolerate bad service, but not poor food.

                                                                        1. re: justxpete

                                                                          I agree that food comes first, but bringing 3 items to a table (and one of them being a scoop of ice cream in a glass) to a table is not rocket science for an established restaurant that has a limited menu.

                                                                    2. While a lower tip may send a message, without some further communication; it's anyone's guess how that message may be interpreted.

                                                                      If you want to make a point (and perhaps prevent this happening to you or others in the future) as others have eluded to, you need to speak with management.

                                                                      If they have a clue how to run a business, they will ensure you are satisfied in one way or another.

                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                      1. re: Sadistick

                                                                        I have sent them a detailed email regarding the poor service. Let's see what happens. One thing I did tell them in the email was that a server apologizing or saying "I'm sorry for the long delay" can make ALL the difference in the world, especially when I made a point of letting the server know that the food was taking a long time. If I had been apologized to I likely would have just chocked it down to an off day there and not posted on here or sent an complaint email. After all, the greatest human need after food, shelter and sex is to matter. I did not feel like I mattered. Had I not talked to the server I don't know how they would know how delayed the service even was as 6 different people served my table (original server, separate servers delivering each of 3 plates, busboy taking plates and then server with credit card machine). I think it's better to have the same server bring out the drink, all the plates and coffee/tea/apertif for a particular patron (clearing, pouring water, etc can be done by someone else of course) as that way they would be more aware of what was happening, no?

                                                                        1. re: Flexitarian

                                                                          As with our abysmal experience at Ici Bistro, the only reason I did not walk out was our waitress who was sweet, open and communicative (though they did have a few individuals serving our table, I would expect a single server however at establishments such as Scaramouche, Auberge, Splendido, etc.).

                                                                          Small things that take such little effort can make all the difference.

                                                                          1. re: Flexitarian

                                                                            Have not been to Libretto but I know in some places they have servers who explain the menu and are very knowledgeable about wines etc and then they have "food runners" whos only job is to bring out the food and clear tables. In high volume places this tends to work more efficiently. This sounds like what you experienced.

                                                                        2. Jamie promptly phoned me today and told me that he appreciated my email. He said that they always try to get back to anyone who emails them within 24 hours. He spent quite a bit of time on the phone with me addressing my concerns and let me know that he took up all of my issues with the staff today at his regular Monday meeting. He also explained that food is delivered by different servers because that is the most efficient way of ensuring food gets to the table as soon as it is prepared rather than sit there if the server who took the initial order is not available right then and there. I agree. Obviously somehow my order(s) simply did not get prepared promptly. He was very pleasant, did not give me any feeble excuses, told me he wanted to make it right and that he would treat me to my next meal there.

                                                                          I now feel bad that I complained on social media vs informing the restaurant instead first (who are the only people who can make things right and change their practices) and then complain on social media if I was not taken care of. It's kind of like being upset with your wife or partner and talking to everyone about your problem with her except her. Anyway, this time I didn't and I don't know why especially since Pizzeria Libretto is one of my favourite restaurants in Toronto. Maybe because I was so shocked.

                                                                          Anyway, I was more than happy about how they dealt with my complaint and it is refreshing to hear back from a business so promptly and be taken care of so well.

                                                                          I had mentioned the 17% hard-coded into the credit care terminal in my email. He mentioned was that it is the credit card terminal company that decides the % that is hard-coded into the device and that it has changed when they have switched companies (from 20 to 15 to 17). The restaurant has no say in the matter. I did find that odd.

                                                                          I am amazed how my initial post topic has morphed into a much broader discussion!

                                                                          8 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Flexitarian

                                                                            I have set up those terminals from two major companies, while true that once they show up you can't change the tip option, they have always given me options for what it should be. I generally just prefer the % or $ options. I hate the idea of suggesting what someone would tip. To each his own though I suppose.

                                                                            1. re: LexiFirefly

                                                                              A colleague just recently got a new machine that was per-configured with tip percentages. They did not notice at first but started to realize that their tips seemed lower.. they looked at the machine and noticed that it was set to 15%. the old machine had no presets and they were averaging 20% after tax. They figured out how to turn it off as they feel if you give someone an easy option they will take it. If you do not you get a fairer reflection of what they thought (or just rely on their bad math and hope it is in your favour!)

                                                                              1. re: pourboi

                                                                                I think that is the better option. Most people just hit the hard-coded % button and if it's 15% that's what most people will tip. 20% of course would yield higher tips but would also anger a lot of people. It seems to me % and $ has the least chance of offending most people and the greatest chance of yielding the highest tips.

                                                                                1. re: Flexitarian

                                                                                  It's hard to understand how it is apparently so tricky for people to calculate a tip, when it's just a simple multiply and add. It should take about 10 seconds tops if you had a few drinks.

                                                                                  1. re: foodyDudey

                                                                                    Current state of our education system I guess... Just like saving a Billion dollars for taxpayers but still having to raise taxes..

                                                                            2. re: Flexitarian

                                                                              We had to remove some posts that moved into the area of negative personal remarks. Unfortunately, a lot of other posts also had to be removed, as they were responses to those posts. If anyone made a post here that was removed that they'd like to add to the discussion, please drop us a note at moderators@chowhound.com and we can send it back to you. We apologize for the inconvenience.

                                                                              1. re: The Chowhound Team

                                                                                Just close the discussion, nothing of any use is being said anymore, and it's obviously upsetting the OP. Please this is just one example of threads getting ridiculous.