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Aug 4, 2014 08:12 AM

Bad service (not horrible). Check adjusted. What to tip?

Ate at an upscale, if not quite fine dining restaurant with a party of four. There were a lot of small missteps that shouldn't happen at that price point (not knowing who ordered what, leaving the apps plates on the table til actually serving the entrees, handing food across the table, serving a beverage by reaching across another diner and almost putting a sleeve in their food, not clearing empty glasses....). Only the slow appearance of salads and oysters could have been at the kitchen end.
The manager came by to see how things were. I told her. Said they were all little things, but they added up since there were so many. She actually thanked us for bringing this to her attention so she could make sure it didn't happen again and then took a number of items off the bill. She was, perhaps, overly generous in the discounts as it took the bill from about 170 to 110.
Normally we tip in the 20% range. Service like this would generally get less from us. When we get a discount, we always tip on the full amount. But the discounts are usually either a coupon or an issue with the kitchen. My father-in-law paid the bill so I'm not sure where the tip actually ended up. But how do you tip if the discount is because of the less than optimal service?

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    1. re: hal2010

      I agree. I'd feel a bit guilty, with being given such a generous discount, but it's the right thing to do.
      You shouldn't reward sketchy service, but then again, maybe you'll return again and they'll get the chance to earn that 20%.

      1. re: hal2010

        I'd still leave 20% on the adjusted amount. Here's why:

        The bill was already reduced by 35% so, even with a 20% tip on the adjusted amount ($110) the server has already taken a 35% hit on what they would have received had they not made the errors (at 20% the server would get $22 vs $34).

        Going with 10% on the adjusted amount leaves the server with $11 on what should have been a $170 tab, or 6 1/2%. Quite the hit for a number of small missteps. So we should take it out on the server THREE times? 1st, reduce the tab to $110. 2nd, tip low (10%) on the new reduced tab and 3. possibly getting them in hot water with the manager (hopefully they used the feedback to improve the servers performance).

        I always try to cut servers some slack as I don't know if it's their first day or not (I'm sure most of us had some pretty bad "first days" in our time). I'm especially understanding if the server is friendly and appears to honestly be trying. As often as not, fault may lie with a training program that needs improvement. Hopefully, in this case, the server got 20% and management used the feedback to provide some remedial training for the server and maybe to look at themselves as well.

        1. re: hal2010

          hal, "actual bill" leaves a little open to interpretation. Is the actual bill the one they actually received or the pre-adjusted bill of what they actually ordered?

        2. 20% of the pre-discount bill. Less is tacky.

          2 Replies
          1. re: beevod

            Apparently you believe in rewarding sloppy service.

            1. re: beevod

              I agree - bad tipping is in very poor taste here (US) - Servers often have to share tips with other staff, etc & their hourly is often low. Even if the service wasn't great (like a bunch of little things) I wouldn't ever tip below 15% when things were Generously righted by the manager.

            2. Very good,excellent to exceptional service = 20-25%
              Just adequate service = 15%
              Poor sevice = 10% (usually with a comment to management)
              Rude service = no tip (this is admittedly quite rare in my experience, and will always be reported to management)

              I always tip on the full bill prior to any discount.

              1. I would give my usual tip for typical service on the discounted bill. You could argue that this sends the server the message that it's ok to give poor service, but given the facts provided, I'm guessing the server is going to get an earful from the manager about the service. Tipping on the full (pre-discounted) bill would, indeed, tell the server that shoddy service is ok with me, irrespective of the MOD yapping in his/her ear.

                I'm well aware that most servers either pool or tip out, but that's not my problem. If the bartender doesn't get as much from my crappy server as he otherwise could, that doesn't involve me. I'm not a party to that contract.

                1. None of these missteps would have really impacted my meal, so I'd tip my usual amount for standard service (18-20%) on the full cost of the meal.