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How guilty should I feel for leaving ZERO tip after truly terrible service, especially when there are literally 3 people in the whole restaurant. How do you judge when a server is just having a tough time, or when they just don't give a shit about you.

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just plain ignoring us when there was no way that she could have been under any pressure. The service was so slow my daughter cried because we had to cancel her dessert because we had to go home eventually.

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From someone in the biz, leaving a penny for a tip, tails up, is suposedly to say that service sucked, as opposed to the possibility that you might have forgotten.

I, of course, never learned this until after I stopped waiting tables.

So, it was just generally slow? Sometimes the kitchen is slow for whatever reason, although for it to happen in a near-empty place is inexcusable. The server should know and explain if there's a problem beyond her control though. Was she pleasant? Did she help explain things? What kind of restaurant? White tablecloth? Diner?

Just based on that slowness, I wouldn't leave my normal 15-20%, but I would probably leave something. A buck maybe. Or two.

The only time I've left nothing, I wrote my reasons why all over the credit card receipt.

Herb aka "herbacidal"

Tom is not my friend.

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The only time I can actually remember stiffing a server actually Christmas morning (yeah, I can be that much of a jerk) when the server at the restaurant at the airport made it abundently clear with her every action, word and look that she didn't want to be there, she didn't want to serve us, and if she had to do so, she was going to make breakfast as miserable as possible for all involved.

So, I would say, some degree of active malice -- as opposed to sloth, indifference, incompetence or snobbery -- is required to get the tip down to nothing.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Yeah, if you really feel justified in stiffing the waiter, leave them a note explaining why they didn't get an adequate tip. I'd still leave a buck or something, just to show that I'm not being cheap. Of Course, it all depends on the style of resto and expectations of service.

I'm guessing this wasn't super-fancy dining?

Drink maker, heart taker!

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From someone in the biz, leaving a penny for a tip, tails up, is suposedly to say that service sucked, as opposed to the possibility that you might have forgotten.

What does heads-up signify?

I've only stiffed a server once in my life (unless you count the one time I left without paying the bill), at a truck stop we used to frequent in school. All she had to do was keep our coffee filled, or at least refill it once every half-hour or so. She preferred to stand at the cash register and stare off into space. It's not like the coffee machine gets backed up! We left a quarter so she'd know we didn't just forget.

So what I'm saying is that your standard for not leaving a tip should probably be pretty high (or low, I guess), but once the service has gotten so bad to meet that standard, don't feel bad about it.

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How guilty should I feel for leaving ZERO tip after truly terrible service, especially when there are literally 3 people in the whole restaurant.  How do you judge when a server is just having a tough time, or when they just don't give a shit about you.

I wouldn't feel the least bit bad, and I worked as a busboy so now, overtipping is my policy. If there were slowness problems in the kitchen, she should have come over and explained. If I'm forwarned, I can take a lot, if I have a glass of water and some bread.

It sounds like she couldn't have given a tinker's damn about you so I wouldn't have have given stiffing her a second thought. Service has to be purposefully bad and it seems like this time it was.

Thanks,

Kevin

DarkSide Member #005-03-07-06

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I was dining with a group of friends when we got really bad service. To give the waiter some credit, it was busy that night, but he was extremely rude and made snarky comments to us all evening, then acted as if we were inconveniencing him for even the most simple of requests, such as asking to replacing a fork someone dropped on the floor. We did leave a tip, but my friend made it extremely clear to the maitre'd that the tip was to go to the busboys and not the waiter, and then outlined the reasons why. The maitre'd was very apologetic, and invited us to come back for free drinks at a later date. I don't think she took him up on the offer, but I thought it was a good idea to let management know why service was subpar.

Karen C.

"Oh, suddenly life’s fun, suddenly there’s a reason to get up in the morning – it’s called bacon!" - Sookie St. James

Travelogue: Ten days in Tuscany

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Sometimes I think that waitstaff fail to appreciate how much responsibility they have; people go to restaurants for special occasions and dates, not just to eat. Bad service and a bad attitude can be embarrassing, or worse, make (theoretically) once-in-a-lifetime events like engagement or rehersal dinners a disaster. I don't want to remember that the service sucked at my 40th birthday dinner, especially if my family made elaborate plans or paid a lot of money for it.

If I want to just eat, I can stay at home, or go to my favorite diner. If I'm going to a great restaurant, I want to be entertained as well as fed; I think the waitstaff should be "on" every night just like actors in theater. That said, accidents happen, plates get dropped, orders screwed up, food gets overcooked. It's how staff gracefully handle those issues that make them excellent, not just the easy nights when the kitchen is on top of things.

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Sometimes I think that waitstaff fail to appreciate how much responsibility they have; people go to restaurants for special occasions and dates, not just to eat.  Bad service and a bad attitude can be embarrassing, or worse, make (theoretically) once-in-a-lifetime events like engagement or rehersal dinners a disaster.  I don't want to remember that the service sucked at my 40th birthday dinner, especially if my family made elaborate plans or paid a lot of money for it.

If I want to just eat, I can stay at home, or go to my favorite diner.  If I'm going to a great restaurant, I want to be entertained as well as fed; I think the waitstaff should be "on" every night just like actors in theater.  That said, accidents happen, plates get dropped, orders screwed up, food gets overcooked. It's how staff gracefully handle those issues that make them excellent, not just the easy nights when the kitchen is on top of things.

I agree with your first paragraph wholeheartedly. My most vivid recollection from my mother's 75th birthday celebration dinner was the poor service we had from beginning to end. That is not what I would prefer to remember.

I don't agree with your second paragraph. I don't want to be entertained by the waitstaff. I want to be informed by the waitstaff, but I otherwise want them to be competent and unobtrusive. I want to focus on the food and the company with whom I am dining.

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I tip 10% for slow, slovenly or indifferent.

Rude, arrogant, haughty gets you a quarter.

But the last time I tipped absolutely nothing was on a cruise ship. I was escorting a group, and our dining-room waiter was openly scornful toward my (admittedly hopelessly unsophisticated) working-class clients, who had saved, literally, their entire lives to treat their parents (50th anniversary) and themselves to an Alaskan cruise on Princess.

And this jerk waiter made them feel stupid and cheap and ashamed of themselves. He rolled his eyes at their questions and sniggered at their mispronunciations. He "corrected" their orders by saying things such as, "If I may be so bold as to suggest... I'm sure Madame would prefer the well-done steak as is Madame's habit, instead of the seared tuna that Madame has ordered tonight and that, Madame probably does not realize, is raw."

And many more condescending, ridiculing comments just like that.

It was awful. I told my clients (who still wanted to do what was 'right' and tip the waiter) that I would collect the money. The waiter got nothing. (And I'll bet it hurt because we were a table of 12 on a 7-night cruise.) The maitre d' got the tips I had collected, along with a request that the money be distributed to the assistant waiter (who was very nice and clearly embarrassed) and busboys, and a lengthy letter from me explaining why I left the waiter nothing.

I hope they fired his ass.

Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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How guilty should I feel for leaving ZERO tip after truly terrible service, especially when there are literally 3 people in the whole restaurant.  How do you judge when a server is just having a tough time, or when they just don't give a shit about you.

I was actually thinking of starting this very thread. As you already have...

I have left a 2 cent tip once in my life for beyond dreadful service that I will detail later. Equally bad is my propensity for leaving my usual 20% tip for service that doesn't even come close to warranting it.

I think this is an uncomfortable area for most people. The older I get, the more I realize that there is a choice amoung waiters/waitresses. The choice is to show up and do the best job they can or not to. I realize that it is a very difficult job, often made worse by surly or demanding customers and internal issues among co-workers, chefs and owners. It gets back to choice, show up and try to excel or leave for other less demanding work.

Now to my story. About 12 years ago (maybe longer) we were at the Old Anchor Inn in Wrightstown. It was a place known at best for its consistancy. Food was good to unremarkable but is was close to our home and had nice surroundings.

This night, after a short 15 minute wait, we were seated in the dining room. The first big issue for me was that it took our waitress over 15 minutes to even greet us. They were not terribly busy but all I wanted was for her to say hi, I'll be with you as soon as I can. She was chatting it up with some people who seemed like friends, not working other tables. This is a big problem for me. When she got around to us, it was clear immediately that this was a woman who really could care less about how our dining experience played out.

We ordered ceaser salad which was something of a trademark thing. They prepare it tableside and it makes for a nice presentation. She began the salad absently never making eye contact with us. I counted 6 large whole garlic cloves that were made a part of a salad for 2 people. Of course after that, it was impossible to eat.

I ordered surf and turf and my wife ordered a chicken dish. After my dinner finally came, I bit into the steak and immediately tasted something foul. The made had turned..horrible taste. I got the attention of our server (no small task here) who asked what I wanted. I explained that the steak had spoiled and asked if she could please send it back for another. She stated that they only buy the freshest meat and would check with the chef. I was stunned at her response but waited for her return. She came back and said the chef tasted my steak and decided that there was nothing wrong with it. I was really pissed now and said to her that I have eaten steak all over the world and know when a steak has spoiled. I couldn't believe I had to justify my sending this dish back! Another fillet came to the table and it was fine. The server came by some time later and in a most sarcastic tone asked how was this steak.

I explained that now might be a really good time for my wife to see what the ladies room looked like. I didn't want her to have to hear what I was about to tell the server. I asked for the check and when she returned with it, making no attempt to appologize or try to make things right, I gave her my credit card. When she came back i took out two pennies and put them on the table. I explained that now it was time for my 2 cents.

I proceeded to tick off each example of how she went horribly wrong. She was close to tears so I stopped and left. I wrote a letter to the owners explaining that I too was a small business person but wanted them to know of our horrific experience. To this day have not heard from them.

Yeah, I believe in no tip when shit like this happens!

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From someone in the biz, leaving a penny for a tip, tails up, is suposedly to say that service sucked, as opposed to the possibility that you might have forgotten.

I, of course, never learned this until after I stopped waiting tables.

So, it was just generally slow?  Sometimes the kitchen is slow for whatever reason, although for it to happen in a near-empty place is inexcusable.  The server should know and explain if there's a problem beyond her control though. Was she pleasant?  Did she help explain things?  What kind of restaurant?  White tablecloth?  Diner?

Just based on that slowness, I wouldn't leave my normal 15-20%, but I would probably leave something.  A buck maybe.  Or two. 

The only time I've left nothing, I wrote my reasons why all over the credit card receipt.

So, how many pennies or did you lose count? :laugh:

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I wrote a letter to the owners explaining that I too was a small business person but wanted them to know of our horrific experience. To this day have not heard from them.

That may be because the place burned down about five years ago. :raz:

There's a difference between poor service and rude service. While there may be reasons for the former, there is no excuse for the latter.

As far as what a patron should expect from their server, it should never be entertainment, unless that's something they do. People should know what it means to be a good patron.

I, too, have left small, or no tip, on very few occassions in over 30 years. When there is a problem I don't address it until the meal is over, as I don't want the server to do something to the food if they're angry. The few times I've had a rude server, I've asked them if anyone at the table had offended him/her and then respectfully and factually shared the problem with the waiter and manager together. Once, we were offered a round of after-dinner drinks, which we politely declined, but once we were told by the manager they'd take care of us the next time.

Telling a restaurant patron they'll be compensated for a bad experience the next time they come in baffles me. First off, there is unlikely to be a next time. Secondly, even if there were, I'm not going to find the manager, remind him/her of a problem which might've taken place weeks before, and then hope I get something out of it. Restaurant managers should take care of the problem at the moment it's reported.

One exception was when I wrote a polite letter of complaint to a restaurant, and in response I received a gift certificate for another dinner. The problem occured at a restaurant wine tasting dinner, and they misjudged the number of people who were to attend. Our table was last served, and our food arrived well after others were done, and it was clear it had been cooked in a convection oven. The portions were smaller and some substitutions were made.

While that was the only complaint letter I've ever written, I have written several letters of praise and thanks. For some reason, when I go back, they seem to know my name and are very pleasant, indeed. Also, if I really enjoy a meal, I'll share some wine with the server and send a glass back to the chef. If they're not too busy, I'll ask if it's okay to bring it back myself and thank the chef. That gives me a chance to check out the kitchen, which for some reason I like to do.

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

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I wrote a letter to the owners explaining that I too was a small business person but wanted them to know of our horrific experience. To this day have not heard from them.

That may be because the place burned down about five years ago. :raz:

There's a difference between poor service and rude service. While there may be reasons for the former, there is no excuse for the latter.

As far as what a patron should expect from their server, it should never be entertainment, unless that's something they do. People should know what it means to be a good patron.

I, too, have left small, or no tip, on very few occassions in over 30 years. When there is a problem I don't address it until the meal is over, as I don't want the server to do something to the food if they're angry. The few times I've had a rude server, I've asked them if anyone at the table had offended him/her and then respectfully and factually shared the problem with the waiter and manager together. Once, we were offered a round of after-dinner drinks, which we politely declined, but once we were told by the manager they'd take care of us the next time.

Telling a restaurant patron they'll be compensated for a bad experience the next time they come in baffles me. First off, there is unlikely to be a next time. Secondly, even if there were, I'm not going to find the manager, remind him/her of a problem which might've taken place weeks before, and then hope I get something out of it. Restaurant managers should take care of the problem at the moment it's reported.

One exception was when I wrote a polite letter of complaint to a restaurant, and in response I received a gift certificate for another dinner. The problem occured at a restaurant wine tasting dinner, and they misjudged the number of people who were to attend. Our table was last served, and our food arrived well after others were done, and it was clear it had been cooked in a convection oven. The portions were smaller and some substitutions were made.

While that was the only complaint letter I've ever written, I have written several letters of praise and thanks. For some reason, when I go back, they seem to know my name and are very pleasant, indeed. Also, if I really enjoy a meal, I'll share some wine with the server and send a glass back to the chef. If they're not too busy, I'll ask if it's okay to bring it back myself and thank the chef. That gives me a chance to check out the kitchen, which for some reason I like to do.

Of course I know the place burned down and I was careful not to leave any clues as to my involvement.

My point was that this happened over 12 years ago and the owner never bothered to acknowledge my letter, which by the way, was nicely and factually worded...just like my explanation to our server was.

Believe me, I wasn't looking for a free drink, dinner, or any other reason to ever step foot in that place again. I just think it's really important to point out when things go horribly wrong, and to your point, I write much more often when things go really right.

Customer service should rule any business, be it a consultancy practice like mine or a top flight restaurant. I was simply stating that point to obviously deaf, uncaring ears.

By the way Mano, I often take the same approach of asking if there was something I did to cause this problem. It's quite an effective way to disarm people and to force introspection of a given situation. Works well when you get a really surly customer service person on the phone for example.

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what about complaining to the manager? I can't imagine that any business wants employees alienating the customers. I've once given the usual 15% tip in cash to the manager and said "here's the tip I would have given to my server, except he doesn't deserve it because ... etc. Divide it as you see fit among the waitstaff who deserve it." I don't know if he did, but I like to think that the other waiters got the message as well.

He who distinguishes the true savor of his food can never be a glutton; he who does not cannot be otherwise. --- Henry David Thoreau
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I usually have--knock on wood--anything from adequate to terrific service. However, as I get older I tend to feel the way Jeff L does when he stated:

I think this is an uncomfortable area for most people. The older I get, the more I realize that there is a choice amoung waiters/waitresses. The choice is to show up and do the best job they can or not to. I realize that it is a very difficult job, often made worse by surly or demanding customers and internal issues among co-workers, chefs and owners. It gets back to choice, show up and try to excel or leave for other less demanding work.

The following two instances of bad service are so bizarre I have to tell myself "yes, these events really did happen."

The first was back in my college days. A group of us (all female, about 4 or 5 of us) decided to go out to dinner. We entered a restaurant (this was in Massachusetts) that was really pretty empty. I can't remember if it was near closing time or not. I also can't remember if anyone actually seated us or if we just went ahead, after waiting a while and seated ourselves. Well the table we sat down at was clean but had no tableware, napkins etc. After a few minutes a waitress appeared with a fistfull of knives, forks and spoons and, without saying hello or good evening or anything THREW THE CUTLERY ON THE TABLE IN A PILE AND WALKED OFF. :shock: To say that we were stunned would most definitely be an understatement. I think she then brought out glasses of water. I can't remember if she asked to take our order or not at that point. I do distinctly remember that we were at first shocked, then pissed. We proceeded to get up and each of us dropped a penny in each of our water glasses and one us turned over the pitcher of water and left. She came running after us yelling something but we ignored her and kept walking. May I say that we were not foul-mouthed, disrespectful young people in anyway and did nothing to provoke this rudeness.

The second instance was years later when I went to lunch with several colleagues to a restaurant in Washington, DC. I really can't remember either the name or location of the restaurant. The place was pretty crowded. We numbered 5 or 6 people all dressed in business attire. When our waitress walked up to our table her demeanor pretty much said what I at least suspected: that she absolutely did not want to wait on our table. When she walked up one of us said hello; she did not return the greeting and kept her gaze on her order pad. She asked us something like "do you know what you want?" or "what do you want?" with an annoyed I'd rather be having a root canal tone of voice. I think I remember a couple of us having a couple of questions about certain menu items to which her response was to snap at us, suck her teeth, and so on. She then snatched the menus off the table and walked off. I believe at that point I turned to my lunchmates and said something in a discreet, ladylike manner such as "I am not putting up with that shit!" and called over a waiter to have the restaurant manager come to our table. The manager did, we explained that we did not want this woman near us or our food, that she was rude and would like another server. To his credit, he was apologetic and replaced her with another person who was just fine. Now, what made this really standout for everyone at our table, apart from her unbelievable behavior was that just a few feet away she was smiling, chatty, and quite sweet as though she had had a personality transplant or something. The only difference was at our table everyone was Black/African American (the same as with the previous scenario, but I have absolutely no evidence that was the reason for our poor treatment at the first restaurant mentioned so we just chalked it up to her being the grumpiest person ever and/or a nutcase) and at the other table everyone was White/Caucasian. There was no mistaking this, this was blatant and I'm not the kind of person that goes around looking for that sort of thing. On the contrary, I usually chalk up lousy service to the person being any combination of the following: tired, overworked, underpaid, poorly trained, even more poorly treated by management/co-workers, brand new, not too bright, an asshole or a gigundus, cavernous, first class asshole. We did leave a good tip for the replacement waitstaff, but we vowed to never go back since having someone like that on your payroll did not make any sense to us whatsoever. On top of the waitress' disgusting behavior, what definitely made me say that I would never dine there again was that later it dawned on me that the manager didn't skip a beat, as in this was not the first time this had happened, as in this was NORMAL behavior for this woman. Totally perpelexing and unacceptable. :blink:

BTW, as I said at the beginning of this post, I have had far more good/great experiences than the two I just cited. Thank goodness. :smile:

Inside me there is a thin woman screaming to get out, but I can usually keep the Bitch quiet: with CHOCOLATE!!!

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Last summer we went from NJ to Knoxville, TN with a couple of friends. Probabley the second thing we tell others about the trip is how uniformly bad the service was all the way down and while in Knoxville. From the hotel clerk in Roanoke VA to a hostess that wouldnt seat us at a table vs a booth( both 4 tops).

We just seemed to have the worst luck...arrive in time for a restaurant to open the upsatairs dining room, but with no server for it - to the completely and admittedly clueless waiter at a Mexican place, one of us actually walked around the place looking for him. I really cant fault the mentally challeged cashier at the Wendy's in NC. but it was just the way our week was going.

Good thing the last meal in TN was a self serve BBQ that was wonderful and when we sent the young'un to get 8 icecream pops the ladies obliged :laugh:

Actually all the food was damn good and the waitress at Aunt Sarahs pancake house on the way home was lovely.

tracey

I know my daughter doesnt tip the "creepy waiter" at our local diner she say he looks at her funny

tracey

The great thing about barbeque is that when you get hungry 3 hours later....you can lick your fingers

Maxine

Avoid cutting yourself while slicing vegetables by getting someone else to hold them while you chop away.

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I don't agree with your second paragraph.  I don't want to be entertained by the waitstaff.  I want to be informed by the waitstaff, but I otherwise want them to be competent and unobtrusive.  I want to focus on the food and the company with whom I am dining.

You're absolutely right - I didn't mean that the waiters should know how to juggle, but they should be prepared to interact with you if that's what you'd like; talk about wine, or how the fish is prepared, or what they would recommend that evening. Or just leave you alone; it's true that they can be too intrusive, thinking that whatever they have to say must be more important than any conversation you're having with your dinner companions.

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Eye-rolling, slamming down plates, glasses, etc., sighs of impatience, snippy comments, eye-brow raising or otherwise churlish behavior will result in no tip and no explanation. Now, if the waiter somehow upsets my usually calm and collected family or friends, I, the closeted hot-head, will discreetly speak with either the manager or, if I'm in a particularly confrontational mood, the boorish waiter in question.

Shelley: Would you like some pie?

Gordon: MASSIVE, MASSIVE QUANTITIES AND A GLASS OF WATER, SWEETHEART. MY SOCKS ARE ON FIRE.

Twin Peaks

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