How much should you tip a bad waiter or waitress?

how-much-should-you-tip-a-bad-waiter

A few weeks ago Linda and I went out to dinner at a fairly nice restaurant. It wasn’t a five-star restaurant, but you could expect to pay $25-$30 per meal. We like to go out to eat, but in an effort to minimize our expenses, it is more of a special occasion when we dine out.

Once we were seated we started looking at the menus, enjoying the nice atmosphere and were chatting about what looked good to us. Our waiter quickly ran up, introduced himself, and told us about the wine specials they were having that night offered us a glass. Linda and I both said no and asked for water with lemon. He immediately turned on his heels and quickly walked away without any response – as if we had caused some terrible offense to him.

That pretty much did it for me. The contempt that I saw on his face before he walked away – without even acknowledging our request – was pretty insulting.

I should step back and say that I don’t drink wine and I don’t drink soda. I drink water just about everywhere I go. It honestly isn’t even about saving money, it’s just my beverage of choice. So when this waiter all but asked me to leave because of my choice of beverage, I was a little offended.

When I was younger I waited tables, and I know full well that the tables that buy a lot of alcohol usually tip more, since their bills are so much higher – and some because of the alcohol’s influence itself. So, it makes sense to me why a waiter or waitress would not want their customers to order waters to drink. But this guy didn’t even seem to try to hide his frustration from his customers.

The night went on and pretty much just maintained that same attitude with us. He would fill our water glasses (which was a plus) but when we would thank him, he wouldn’t respond. Not that I was fishing for a “you’re welcome”, but even in my frustration, I was trying to reach out a little bit – to no avail. Every interaction we had with him that night was rushed as if he was so annoyed by our presence. Not the best thing to do to the one who pays your salary.

how-much-should-you-tip-a-bad-waiterSo how much should I tip someone like that?

Waiters and waitresses make the vast majority of their money from tips. When I waited tables, my paycheck from the restaurant was often $0, because after taxes came out, there was nothing left. So essentially my tips were my take-home pay.

Knowing this I always leave some kind of tip – even when it is a bad waiter. But how much should you tip a waiter who clearly has no interest in making your experience pleasant? And to his benefit, he did refill my glass of water.

For good service I always tip over 20% and often a bit more to offset the fact that we didn’t order alcohol. But what is appropriate for bad service?

How much did I tip him?

Well I am not sure if I did the right thing or not, but I think I gave him right around 20%. On one hand it might have been better to “send a message” by giving him less. But I couldn’t help but give him the benefit of the doubt. He could have just been having a terrible day at work. Or what if he was broke and trying to scrape together enough to pay the bills? I will never really know.

What do you think? How should you tip for bad service?













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68 Comments
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  1. You know, I was just wondering about that question the other day. Very timely post for me. Thanks.

  2. Mike D.

    I ran into a situation once where I didn’t tip, we were pretty much ignored from the second we walked in the door. That’s the only time I’ve run into service bad enough to not leave a tip but I had no problem with it, and would have no problem doing it again. It would have to be bad the whole night though, if someone had one bad moment during our time at the restaurant it wouldn’t totally kill his tip.

  3. Former Waitress

    As with every relationship you will have in your life, there are good matches and bad matches, even if it’s only for a couple of hours and that person is serving you food. Sounds like you got a bad match that time, but it’s easy to fix.

    Usually if I sense attitude from my waiter when I sit down–for whatever reason–I return to the hostess and ask to sit in a different section. A good manager will likely notice that you switched and ask the hostess about it or ask you directly. Be honest so the manager can address the situation before that waiter costs them some business. If the situation doesn’t catch the manager’s attention, that’s okay. You’ll have a better dining experience regardless.

    If you do decide to tough it out with the surly waiter, don’t tip them well. And please don’t make excuses for them. There is no excuse for making someone feel like a second-class citizen just because they order water or want to split a meal. The rule is that waiters work for tips and those tips are tied to the customer’s satisfaction. It’s not your fault if the waiter ignores that rule, and it’s perfectly okay to leave 10% or even nothing.

  4. I agree with @Former Waitress’s assessment: they come to work with the knowledge that their attitude affects their bottom line. If I worked at a help desk, I would be aware of how easily ‘poor attitude’ can be reported and reflect negatively on my continued employment.
    I typically stick near or slightly above 15% when I go out to eat. For poor presence (not walking by to check refills and the like), I’ll consider dropping it to 10% unless it’s a very busy time. So far I have not had the purposeful intent to drop it to 0 as some above did. Let’s hope my good luck continues.

  5. Pochax

    Two potential ways of biblically interpreting this situation both off the premise of “Love your neighbor as yourself”:
    1) Tip him the same you would otherwise since if you were in his position, you would not want to be slighted on your only source of income. However, you may still want to address the service with the manager in a polite, fact-based manner.

    2) Don’t tip him according to standard to “send a message” and hope that points out that he is not performing his job adequately (not sure he will take it that way unless you specifically address it with him). In this sense, you are loving your neighbor because you know that if he goes on treating customers this way, he is not doing himself any favors, and that he will need a change of heart.

    My own bent is option #1 because, like you Bob, i don’t presume to know why he is acting that way. Perhaps he worked his butt off for a big-bill table only to get jipped on the tip despite all the effort he put into it. Perhaps a family member passed away…or his girlfriend broke up with him….again, not an excuse for bad service, but may make his attitude at least more understandable.

    • Good comments everyone, looking back, I should have spoke to the manager about it – I will keep that in mind for next time. Former waitress, your suggestion is good as well.

      As far as the “sending a message” by lowering my tip % – I remember from working at the restaurant that most of the servers didn’t really view a low tip as their performance being below par – they just assumed the customer was a cheap-skate.

  6. I worked as a front desk/bellhop through college and I know how important those tips can be. I tend to tip very highly (20 to 50% sometimes). I usually tip well because I always pray over my meal and on the outside chance that the waiter or waitress saw me praying I don’t want to be a bad witness to them. On the outside chance that I got a really bad waiter/waitress I might leave a tip of 15% or at least 10% but irregardless I would never not tip them. If it was so bad that I couldn’t stand it I might feel the need to talk with the manager, but it hasn’t happened yet and I would probably still tip them even though I spoke with the manager.

    Side note: Once in a restaurant I prayed over a meal and the manager of the restaurant saw me. She “comp-ed” my meal for me. When I was finished eating, I asked the waiter for the check and he told me it was on the house and why. I was going to pay for the meal with a checkcard and didn’t have any cash on me for the tip. I left the restaurant and went down the street to a bank and got cash and came back and gave the waiter a hefty tip since I didn’t have to pay for the meal ($20 the smallest denomination available through the ATM). It was a cool experience, but now I have a hard time of praying over my meals and keeping from hoping that someone will see me. Aren’t we funny sometimes. :)

  7. you’re enabling his poor behavior. i would have left $1 and spoke to the manager on the way out.

    • some waiters/waitresses may not realize how rude they may be coming off to their tables.

      I have waited tables for over 5 years, and it took me years to realize that when I was busy and feeling overwhelmed, I would sometimes come accross as rude or inconsiderate.

      Now that I am older, I make sure to be accomodating. Always apologetic if I make a mistake or overlook an empty drink.

      Waiting tables is an art, and it takes years to master.

      The best thing anyone can do is be honest with the waiter/waitress and tell them what they’ve done wrong (in a nice way).

      If they reject it or continue to be rude/inconsiderate, consult a manager. Serving may just not be their specialty…. everyone needs to do something to get by.

      So dont be part ofthe problem, be part of the solution :]

  8. anonymouse

    One of my friend’s solutions to this problem is to leave a very small $1 or less cash tip, but then pay with her debit/credit card and leave a “normal” tip on the receipt, this way the server gets the message that the service was unacceptable, but still get’s their income.

    • How is that a solution? That would tell me that I did such a fine job that you wanted to give me a little more than usual. That seems to be a mistake.

      I have no hesitation giving low tips if they’re earned. I also don’t subscribe to the 15% average. 10% is my average. 10% was what my father tipped, so 10% is what I tip, because percentages do not get hit by inflation. When I enter a restaurant, the waiter is sitting on 10% if things go in an average fashion.

      He or she can adjust that upward if he or she does things well, or downward if things are done poorly. If you make me feel welcome, your tip rises. If I feel like an unwanted guest, it decreases. The better you do, the better your tip. I’ve been known to tip 35% if the waiter does a fantastic job. I’ve been known to tip nothing if the waiter is horrid.

  9. Adam H

    I agree with you Bob that servers would probably not see a low tip as a message but more as a reflection of you.

    My pastor actually did a sermon on issues of giving and giving to servers came up. His message was that you never know what is going on in that server’s life that may have caused the bad service. He believed that giving that person the benefit of the doubt and still giving them the full tip would mean so much more for them then it would hurt your wallet

    In the end, even if the server is bad, rude, and in general not a nice person, what better way to show them how to change that behavior by being the person they should be?

  10. To me, its a simple process outside of faith or anything else. They are in the service business. They make their money based upon this service so, it behooves them to provide the best service possible to make the most money possible. If they don’t like it, or cant do it, then they need to get out and find another job. Garbage collection agencies, lawn mowing companies and the like are always hiring…

    Having said that, with a good server I’ll typically tip in the 20-35% range (just simply cant afford more in most cases; we eat out on a budget) but with a bad server I might tip as little as $1. This often is followed by speaking with the manager but *rarely* has it ever been that bad.

  11. Ideally, resturants should pay a decent wage, and the customer’s tip should be marginal if not optional based on excellent service, and the difference can be made up in the price of the food. Yet, the dining industry has insisted that the customers determine the wage of the server through the tips.

    There are plenty of people out there wanting to be waiters and waitresses that have to play politics to get out of bussing and dishwashing to get to the opportunity to wait tables for tips. So sympathy for a bad server can only go so far.

    When it comes to economics, impartiality is almost always the best way to go. This goes for the resturant as well as a business. A company that lets a continually poor performer continue to work there without correction or instruction hurts everyone, including the bad employee, who feels entitled to money that he has not earned.

    It is harmful to reward poor performance. This should be reflected in a low tip. Chances are, if they are a bad server, there will be many other people leaving them low tips. When they start complaining, their co-workers will say, “my tips aren’t that low,” and they will realize that they are doing something wrong, and eventually they will either quit, or become a better server.

    Tips exist because they are supposed to reflect performance. Since part of the wage is involved, you should tip some if the server has actually done his job, but anything above that should be performance based.

    10% for bad service
    20% for almost all service
    20+% for noticably exceptional service, based on what you can afford and what the server earned.

  12. One more thing, if you are going somewhere where you are visibly representing Christ (reading the bible, etc.) you need to tip at least 20%, because people naturally are dying for a reason to say that Christians are stingy (which is what some servers will naturally think).

  13. Matt Nicolls

    I prefer a super-busy waiter who is not as attentive but has a good attitude, over one who actually gets the job done but makes you feel like a jerk for sitting at their table. Either way – they get at least 20% (even if they are jerks — we are called to walk in love), the rest is based on attitude and performance.

    In addition, I realize that there is as much legwork involved in bringing me a burger and a glass of iced tea as there is a filet and a bottle of cabernet – so I tend to over-tip when the bill is low. I’ll tip $4 on a $10 bill, what’s the big deal, it’s $4?

    Question: With the threat of someone spitting in your food – would you ask to be moved to another waiter’s section?

  14. Interesting discussion. I live in a country where we rarely tip, I cannot right now think of the last occurance. Visiting family stateside (or your northern neighbours) tipping is a stressful experience. Seems I am not alone either.

  15. Waitress for 9 years now...

    I have been in the service industry, in one way or another, since I was in highschool. In the beginning it was my afterschool job and has since evolved into just a 2nd job for the extra money… Every night I go into work after putting in my 8+ hours at my full time, stress filled position and I do my best to have a smile on my face and a song in my heart. But sometimes there are just those days… It is so disheartening to read that some people go into restaurants prepared to leave 15% or less, especially everything that Former Waitress said…
    I agree with Adam H and Bob, 99.999999999% of the time servers do not interpret a bad tip for bad service, the customer is just about always a cheapskate in a servers mind. And Matt Nichols too… I always leave a minimum of $5, even if my bill was $14!! Go Matt!
    Personally, if I had a customer who I feared would leave a bad tip, but actually left 20% I would be floored… Overjoyed… shocked into a better attitude which would then inspire me to give the next table better service. So leaving a bad tip is actually having the opposite effect you are looking for.

  16. Once in my life, I left only a quarter for a tip because it was an absolutely horrible experience and I really wanted to make sure that my displeasure was communicated.

    Like I said, that only happened once. Generally, I try to give people the benefit of the doubt and figure they are just having a rough day and maybe leaving a good tip will brighten their spirits. I wouldn’t leave a large tip for poor service (say over 20%), but I wouldn’t likely go below 15% either.

  17. Gholmes

    When going out to eat I budget that the cost of the meal is 20% more than what is on the menu. If we get good service we give more. Tipping has evolved to now it is computed into a person wage not reward.

  18. I would tip to the waietr generally and only if he has given me “Bad Service” will I not pay him any tip. Tip as is rightly mentioned in the article is mostly the pay a waiter gets from his job and as such it would not be nice to take his service and not pay for it . For bad ones pay them a handsome amount of $0.

  19. What a timely topic. My son and I had this conversation while we were traveling this week. He was of the opinion to leave no tip. I am of the opinion to leave a lesser tip. I usually tip about 20%; higher if I think the service was great or if I’m out with friends to cover if their tips might be lower.

  20. To the people who normally give a tip of above 10%:

    Do you tithe? Do you tithe more than 10%? My brother-in-law an associate pastor has this philosophy that he doesn’t tip more than 10%. His explanation, why should I tip more than I give God.

    I’m curious to hear others thoughts on this.

  21. Gholmes

    @ Travis. No wonder wait staff hate to work on Sundays because Christians are so cheap. Your brother-in-law does not understand %. Comparing a 10% tithe to ones income and a 20% “tip” (cost of a meal) is comparing apples to oranges.

    Also if a Christian agrees with the doctrine of tithing I hate to be in front of God comparing my tithe to tipping for a service.

  22. I think as Christians we should be giving even more in general with our tips. In the case of a bad waiter, it is so hard, but especially if it is a restaurant you frequent regularly, I would give a bigger tip and hope the next time you get the same guy to continue to show grace and generosity towards him.

    Anyone can stiff a waiter, it takes a gracious and kind heart to give generously to those who don’t deserve it….wait a minute, that sounds like something God did for us!

    I often wish I could be on the other side of the story. We might find out the waiter just got an eviction notice, lost his other job or his electric just got turned off and needs more money. Certainly, he could try to hide his frustration, but I know all too well that sometimes that is difficult.

  23. Mike D.

    Now that I’ve read some of these comments I kinda want to clarify why I would not tip, or tip poorly. It’s not that I would do it to send a message, sure that’s part of it, but why do I want to pay for an inferior product. If I would pay x% to a good waiter, why should I feel obligated to pay x% to a bad waitor. You wouldn’t pay as much for a Ford as you would a Lexus, and wouldn’t pay as much for a Lexus as an Aston Martin. Why would I pay for an Aston Martin if I got a Ford? Why should I pay for good service if I got bad service?

    @Travis, I believe that’s an apples and oranges comparison.

  24. If an experience is that bad, why sit through it? Get up and leave. On the way out, ask the manager or maitre d’ to bill you for what has been served; then clear out in favor of the next guest.

    Personally, I object to the tipping system: people should be paid a fair wage, and not expected to depend on the largesse and whim of the public. This is one of several reasons I rarely eat out: it’s exploitive.

  25. Washington

    My way of thinking is that 15% is the base, so good service gets 20% and poor service gets 10%. Exemplary service sometimes nets 25%-30%.

  26. Cindy

    I was a waitress for many years and true you sometimes have bad day,
    You do not take it out on your custmers, I always maked great tips because I gave the custmers what they asked for, I got stiffed many times and I worked hard to make the custmer happy so when they came back I would get a good tip..( sometimes people are short on money and came to eat and order what they wanted, my pay was 2.14 an hour…
    They wanted water…. Smile go get there water with the lemon
    (extra small bowl on the side is always nice) and saves you extra trips and the custmer is happy and will give you what they can afford, I once worked at a place where there were regulars that left only a 25 cent tip, for all the coffee you can drink..sometimes they wanted and a piece of cake,fruit.. But I did take extra time to see how there day was going and always told them to have a good day and see them next time, and I would get a 50 cent tips made other waitresses mad., Some are just lonely and that extra few minutes and a friendly smile always helped, No matter what # 1 rule is the custmer is always right and sevice with a smile, even if they were non-tippers, True you should of talked to the manger, bet they would of made more money the rest of the day so so forth, I had other waitress always mad because I had regular custmers that would wait just for my table to be open,
    Servive with a smile and give the custmer what they want Don’t judge what they want, I sure do miss waitressing I got hurt on the job and I am un able to work 18 years now and always pre bus the table, you would get better tips also (helpful hint)” Have A Nice Day” and “Please Come Back :)
    Bad attidue I would of spoke to the manger first thing move to another table or diffrent waitress/waiter, and gave what the person deserved good tip..
    I also worked for George Stinefield~ he sure let you know if you had a attided ~ I always got a great tip and he would always ask for my section.
    i once got a $20.0 tip for a 54cent tip just because of a friendly smile and had time to talk for a minute or 2 if time permitted..
    That was a small business, I have worked at Nice Golf Resorts, 5 star resturants, I even work on the resturants right on the ocean, very nice resturants, I worked banqets served 2,000 people (14 people working) served them all in less than 7 minutes got extra bonus all the time…Plus 20 % of each plate served even if only 1 person showed up you got paid 20% for 2,000 people, Smile and give them what they ask for that is why they are there..Bad attuide too me NO TIP….Sometimes mangers didn’t even care, so no returning back and NO TIP evn though they get charged for how much they sell,

  27. Brenda

    If a waiter or waitress treated me like that I would not leave a tip at all. I do not tip because its customary, I tip if I get quality service. I feel waiters and waitresses take tips for granted.

  28. One thing I think that people need to consider when thinking about leaving a very low or no tip at all, is that they are not only punishing the server, but also the restaurant as well. Because of the way the tip-wage laws are set up, the employer is required to pay them the difference between the tips they claim to earn and minimum wage for the hours worked , so if they consistently get low tips, the employer is going to have to pay more on the check at the end of the week. In my opinion if the service is that bad, I would ask to see a manager. And let the manager know what was going on.

    All that being said, the type of restaurant determines the base percentage of tip for me…

    True sit down, full-service places I will start at 20% and go up or down from there depending on the quality of service.

    If it is a buffet, it’s usually lower because the server has much less work to do at my table.

  29. Margaret

    I agree with the one who used to be a waitress. I was one myself. Back when I was waitressing if you were left 1 cent for a tip, it meant you weren’t worth 2 cents as a waitress. It never happened to me, I loved my job! But it does get the point across!

  30. whitetiger97

    First what is the difference if you go to a restaurant and the meal is $10 a plate or $50 a plate, the size of tip because food is food. If you disagree then you should be tipping the chef. You are there to enjoy the meal and be served with courtesy. Courtesy is something we have lost in this society.

    Former Waitress has the right answer (and one as a former waiter) get up and ask for a different area. Thanks for the advise.
    I always talk with the manager whether it was fast food or 5 star. If they want a tip they are there to work for it. If they are having a bad day stay home or leave the attitude at the back door.
    Leaving a dollar does make the person look cheap. Leaving change (coin) is an insult to them.

    I can say I am also annoyed by staff that is constantly at the table trying to make conversation and interrupting the table. This happened at a Las Vegas 5 star that for one person cost me 82.00. If I wasn’t alone, I could be conducting and interview or have been away and want to talk to my wife instead. No offense but I’m not there to talk to the staff, I will though be cordial to them, listen to the suggestions and thank them for bring something.

    If you are a person that works for tips then I suggest you earn that tip don’t EXPECT it.
    If you are good you will be tipped if you are full of attitude you will need to go home with a few less dollars.

  31. Twinsand2more

    One time I recall eating at a nicer restaurant in Florida….the waiter was just being a show-off – flipping bottles of beer around his leg and neck – like we were at a circus or talent show, we thought it was very rude and not the place for showing off….at the end we tipped him $7.00 on a $65.00 bill….while we were leaving, just a few feet from the door, he hastly came running towards us a asked us if he did something wrong because his tip was so low….oh, the nerve of him to ask that….he was still yelling at us even as we proceeded down the sidewalk! WOW….never had that happen before….

  32. Monica

    I don’t think that people should expect a tip. It is a nice bonus for good work, and if you a good at your work most people will leave a tip.
    I will usually a very small tip if the service isn’t good. that way they know that they were giving bad service and not that I am just cheap.

  33. Cyndy

    Most waiters are wonderful, but for the ones who truly have an attitude I drop the percentage down to 10%. Only rarely do I ever give less than that. However if someone is just horrible, I usually leave a note suggesting a new career choice and wish them well with a $1.00.

  34. Cyndy

    I would of told him that I handed him the wrong amount and asked for it back. Then I would of told him that a professional waiter would of received say $12-$15 but in his case $0 and walked away. I think when people are rude they deserve nothing. It would be easier if people would just pay waiters $7.00 an hour and let customers tip $10 if they want or not. Everyone would be happier!

  35. Cyndy

    Wouldn’t it be nice if we all received a tip for doing a good job. We go to hairdresser and tip them, yet I clean someone’s toilet and dont’ get a tip! Personally it would be nice if people gave you alittle extra for doing an exceptional job. Do an average job and only get paid hourly…simple as that! By the way has anyone ever tips the garbage man, mail man, office, soidier, etc…I doubt it! They and many more deserve MAJOR TIPS! Other counties do not leave tips so why do we knuckleheads do it here in America? We need to wake up!

  36. Do not tip at all, he might get the message and be a better host. Otherwise he could find a more suitable job.

  37. Tom Terrific

    Angie…
    You had to wonder?? You had to wonder??
    Listen, part of life is having a bad day!! Get over it! There is no excuse for bad service anywhere or from anyone! The only difference is that the customer is able to ‘vote’ with his/her cash instantaneously!! Good service, good tip. No service no tip! Now, just because you aren’t the center of attention to this wait-person isn’t cause for you interpreting it as bad service… You may just be a bad customer!

  38. ChristinaL30

    Wow, what a conundrum! I appreciate hearing from all the current & former servers; it gives a good perspective. Back when we used to go out we would try to tip 10-15% (depending on who left the tip, hubby or me!) as a standard. As broke college students, my roomie & I would leave “creative” tips — as much $ as we could scrounge, plus anything that would show our appreciation. (Midnight coffee @ Denny’s, we knew the staff and they understood.) But this situation …
    Wanting to leave a good witness, I would leave at least 10%, maybe 15%, with a note (since he wouldn’t respond to verbal interaction) saying that I would be praying for whatever his situation was that made him have such a bad evening. I would also say the same thing to the manager, expressing my concern that Mr. Surly Waiter must be having a really hard time, and hoping that his circumstances would turn soon.

  39. Robert

    I have worked in food service for more than 15 years and held every job from dishwasher to manager. Tips stands for “To Insure Proper Service”. It began as an Irish tradition and was paid before the meal was served. today we tip after the meal as an expression of gratitute for having our meal served to us in a timely fashion. Ok, enough of the history lesson…
    Restaurants depend on customers tipping in order to reduce the labor costs of the restuarants. Often times the tips we leave our waitrons are split among all the service staff (bartenders, busboys, floor supervisiors, and even the kitchen staff), so you cannot be clear on who is profiting from your generosity. I believe that restaurants should have to pay a real salary to the waitstaff. When my wife and I go out for a nice meal, and spend a nice chuck of change, I should not have to figure out how much more dinner is going to cost by including a tip. Tipping is my OPTION, not my RESPONSIBILITY. It is not fair to put me and and the waiter at odds with each other over how much I am EXPECTED to tip.
    Just as a waitron can have a bad day, so can the customer. If we don’t want the waitron to have a feeling about the customer who does not leave a tip, then the waitron should not have a feeling about the customer who does not tip.
    Now, all that being said, I tip according to performance. If the waitron treats me well, they will be richly rewarded (it’s not unusual for me to leave a $50-60), I have left nothing for poor service. I expect to be served in a polite manner, the tipping starts from this baseline. If they are not polite, they get nothing and I simply don’t care what the server thinks.

  40. @ Travis.
    Instead of not leaving a tip of more than 10% because that is all that is given to God, how about increasing the amount you give to God? My husband and I aren’t anywhere close to rich but we try to give 20% of our income (I guess it could be looked at as 10%-tithe, 10%-offering) to the Church because we believe the more we give the more we reap and instead of buying a new “toy” put it toward advancing the Kingdom.

  41. Mary Mclarry

    What a horrible comment, and yet…Do you not realize that you are demeaning the very people who do the work you will not do? Why do garbage collectors and landscapers and waiters do what they do? Good money, flexible hours, and mostly good benefits. And you depend upon them every day, in some form or another.
    Shame, sir or madam. You call yourself a Christian.

    >>>>To me, its a simple process outside of faith or anything else. They are in the service business. They make their money based upon this service so, it behooves them to provide the best service possible to make the most money possible. If they don’t like it, or cant do it, then they need to get out and find another job. Garbage collection agencies, lawn mowing companies and the like are always hiring…<<<<

  42. VICTORIA

    THERE ARE SO MANY THINGS THAT GO INTO BEING A SERVER. AT THE PLACE I WORK I AM ANSWERING THE PHONE AND TAKING THE TOGO ORDERS. WHICH CAN TAKE A COUPLE OF MIN. IM RUNNING MY FOOD AND EVERYONE ELSES, IM TRYING TO GET TO ALL THE TABLES THAT JUST SAT AT THE SAME TIME AND THE TABLE THAT THE SERVER SAT ACROSS THE RESTURANT OUT OF MY SECTION BUT THE CUSTOMER REFUSED TO SIT ANY WHERE ELSE. NOW I HAVE THE KIDS THAT WANT EXTRA CRAYONS AND THE TABLE THAT NEED REFILLS AND THE TABLE THAT NEEDS EXTRA RANCH EVEN THOUGH I JUST ASKED THEM THE LAST TIME I BROUGT THEM NAPKIN IF THEY NEEDED ANYTHING ELSE. NOW i HAVE THE TABLE THAT I ASK THEM ARE THEY READY TO ORDER AND THEY SAY YES BUT THEY SIT THER IN SILENCE WHILE THEY READ THE MENU STILL MAKING THEIR CHOICE AND I FEEL THE EYES ON ME OF THE POEPLE THAT HAVE BEEN SITTING THERE FOR 10 MIN. NOW I HAVE MADE IT TO THERE TABLE THEY ARE ALREADY FRUSTRATED AND SO AM I NOW THEY FIND OUT THAT WE HAVE STOPPED CARRYING THE FAV MEAL SO THEY GIVE ME CARP ABOUT IT LIKE i CAN CHANGE IT. jUST SO POEPLE KNOW I THE SERVER DID NOT PERSONALLY TAKE IT OFF THE MENU. WELL THEIR FOOD COMES OUT. i ASK THEM IF THEY WANT DESSERT AND THEY SAY NO WE WILL TAKE THE CHECK. SO I BRING OUT THERE CHECK. GO BACK AND CHARGE THE CARD. TELL THEM TO HAVE A GREAT NIGHT AND WALK AWAY. CAME BACK TO CLEAN OFF THERE NASTY NAPKINS AND PLATES AND NOT TO MENTION THE PUT BACK ALL THE SUGAR AND SWEETNERS THAT THEY JUST LET THERE KID DUMP ALL OVER THE TABLE. PICKUP THE CREDIT CARD SLIP TO SEE THAT THEY STIFF ME. NO TIP! ON TOP OF ALL THAT I HAVE TO PAY THE BARTENDER , QA AND HOSTESS A TIP OUT ON YOUR CHECK OF 3%. SO I HAVE PAID TO SERVE THEM.

  43. If the waiter/waitress is really bad, and I don’t mean bad like inexperienced or new, but rather rude and full of attitude, I’ll let them know by placing a single shiny quarter on the table when I leave. I very rarely tip by percentage or price scale of the restaurant, but instead go by what the server themselves are worth. Excellent service could earn them a 50 dollar bill or even more, poor- the dreaded quarter.

  44. We almost always tip 20% unless it was great service.

    My Dad however, would rather leave 50 cents and comment that the waiter didn’t help him chew his food.

    Very imbarassing and I often try to slip the waiter a ten before leaving.

  45. I ma personally a server I give great service on a normal basis, if I am busy I sometimes give bad service because I can not keep up with what is going on around me. Also at all restraunts they want you to sell anything at all besides water, and you are supposed to stay completley away from giving lemons with water. If your managers see that all your tables have water they automatically assume that you are not doing your job and suggestive selling, so yeah when I get a table and they order with water and lemon 9 time out of 10 they tip bad, and by you thinking about not tipping, you still prove the point. If you are a guest that won’t let your waiter upsell to what they are trying to get you to at least listen to, consider or say ‘well I can’t drink wine, but ill take a water please and if you wouldn’t mind can I have a lemon to go with it as well’ that puts me in a better mood than just ‘no I want water and lemon.’ And plus regardless of service I still tip at least 5 dollars under any situation do I leave less than 5, its called respect, and plus servers will remember almost every person that does not tip, if you leave a bad tip, the next time you come in you will see what it is to get really bad service.

  46. In my experience, there are some customers that no matter how good the service, they are lousy tippers. I work the lunch shift in a regional chain. Although getting “stiffed” does not happen very often, it is not rare. Since our chain is more expensive than the adjacent fast food places, I understand that money is tight. However, I have a motto that I dearly wish I could proclaim to all my customers: if you cannot afford a tip, do not eat in expensive restaurants. While I am more tolerant of families with kids, I have little patience with the corporation employees that come in and leave less than 15%, or even no tip at all.

    When I go out and plan to go to an expensive restaurant, I make sure that I can cover the food I order with a minimum 15%. However, we usually tip at least 20%.

  47. Servers have bad days sometimes. If you work in an office and are having a bad day you can, at best, close your door and let people not bother you. At worst, you still have a bad day but people don’t pay you less for that. I once had to go into work shortly after finding out a close friend had just died. As a server, I buried all my emotion and still tried to be friendly and do my best. NOBODY who has an office job would ever have to go to that extreme. So I was probably a little off my game, and had a table not only not tip me, but also complain to the manager about how bad I was. The only issue was that they were ready to go, but I wasn’t quick enough with the check. Normally I’m good at that timing, but it was a bad day and I made one mistake. But for some reason they dicided to lie to the managers about the extent of my service, telling them I was only at the table to take the order and never saw me again (among other things), which was far from true. So they decided to try to get me fired over one mistake I made while having an absolutely terrible day. I think it is good to give the benefit of the doubt that a server might be having a bad day, or the kitchen might have made a mistake. It is usually pretty obvious when you just have a bad/indifferent server. Just keep in mind that at your job if you have a bad day or make a small mistake, nobody deducts money from your paycheck.

  48. The customer is not the one punishing the rest resturaunt who splits the tips by not tipping- the waiter is punishing his fellow employees by being a weak link in whatever way, usually with some attitude or chip on shoulder.

    So he/she’s had their bad day and not emotionally stable enough to handle it but expects or demands to be tipped, taking all their customers for granted, with his/her us versus the customer attitude and its the customers fault that this weak link is screwing up the tip pool?

    You want the customers to put themselves in your shoes? Try putting your weak link feet in the customers shoes. Maybe they just came from a funeral, maybe its someones mothers birthday. How would you feel on one of these occasions to be the unlucky table to have to deal with the weak link out of all the other good servers?

    The server basicly has the power to make the dinner a great one or make it really bad. And that power sometimes goes to their head. Waiters should not be tipped when there obviously a weak link and if other employees are suffering from their inability to act right, then its the managers fault for not counseling the waiter on how to act properly- most F&B managers like to turn a blind eye to real problems anyway and just wait it out til the next paycheck.

  49. E Andersen

    It is certainly telling that on a “Christian” website the majority of folks who commented have a negative attitude towards the people that serve their food to them. There is such a sense of entitlement as if instead of employees who work for a wage that comes from tips, they’re talking about slaves. By law a restaurant may play an employee that receives tips one half of minimum wage per hour. By custom the guests are expected to make up for that half standard wage with tips. Food servers are taxed on the basis of their sales. Whether the guest tips or not the server is taxed. Regardless of any of this I don’t see the attraction to a “Christian” faith which seems to be so selfish and mean spirited.
    Thanks for the prayer but I will remain an agnostic, I can’t imagine spending eternity with (Not All) but way too many of you folks would be a good thing

    • E Anderson,

      This is a bit off topic, but since there is a little bit of confusion that needs to be cleared up, I will address this. Yes this is a Christian site, as I am a Christian and the author of the article, but just like yourself, many readers are not Christians. In fact, from my analytics data, I would estimate that well over half of the readers are not Christians.

      So, I can’t speak for each of the previous 55 commenters and their responses, but regardless of whether they are Christians or not – you are going to meet nice and mean Christians – becoming a Christian doesn’t instantly turn you into a perfect person, in fact it will never turn anyone into a perfect person – it is just that we are striving to be like Jesus – and oftentimes failing to meet the mark.

      To be honest, I have found that many Christians become Christians because they were pretty mean jerks, and realized that as much as they wanted to change, they couldn’t do it on their own. So they cried out to God and asked for help – that was the case with me. I was disgusted with myself and realized that I needed help. I have been doing this Christian thing for almost 20 years and have watched God slowly turn me into a better person, but as much as I want to be a perfect person, I still don’t know if I would qualify to be someone your would want to spend eternity with.

      Shortly after I became a Christian (and realized that there are just as many jerk Christians as there are non-christians) someone helped me by reminding me that just because you are following something, doesn’t mean that you have to be like the followers. Politics is a great example. We vote for the leader we want in office, not for the followers of that leader. So in my case, Jesus has forever changed my life and I follow Him, because He is someone that I want to spend eternity with – and I think you would too.

  50. Okay, question.
    What about buffets? Say you go to a buffet that is 20 dollars per person and the only thing your waitress does is bring your drinks and clear plates..I’m never really sure what kind of tip to leave. Anybody?

  51. KATIE

    AS A SERVER I COMPLETELY AGREE VICTORIA!!!!
    She just listed out a day at work for me. i say to be safe always double the tax! Always leave a tip…its our income!!! Everytime you leave a tip you just wrote that server a check…you just paid them!!! And we are not always the ones at fault because we have those people that come in and are rude to us right off the bat even if we came up to them with our most genuine hospitality. Think about it what if you were having a bad day at your 9-5 job and your boss came into your office and said “You know what Joe, you sucked today…I think I’ll dock you $50.” And I know what you are thinking, well if you dont like your job get a new one….well some of us can’t or are in the process of doing so. And before you say anything to that you dont give that bum on the side of the street the $1.97 in your car ashtry…you just shake your head and say get a job….well guess what, thats you server….so be nice tip us…and dont make the people that handle your food angry….

  52. @Katie
    “dont make the people that handle your food angry….”
    Why? Because they’ll spit in it? I don’t care if you have the rudest customer in the world, if you intentionally screw up someone’s food, you should be fired immediately. Furthermore, that customer paid for that food so to ruin it is a form of theft.

    That being said, if you’re having a bad day in terms of making mistakes, an apology should be enough. If you’re having a bad day in terms of being impatient, short, inconsiderate, negligent or rude, you should feel it in the tip.

    There is a reason that restaurants are considered to be in the service industry. The food is almost always easy to make and cheaper to eat at home. People think they go out for the food, but really they go for the experience. That means that restaurants sink or sail based on the experiences they create. If a customer has a bad experience, they don’t usually think “crappy server” they think “crappy restaurant,” and they never come back. The restaurant has to ensure that their servers don’t ruin peoples’ experiences because their longevity depends on it. Hence they have you make the bulk of your money in tips.

  53. Veryoldman

    I’m in the service industry and have been all my working years. I am particularly interested in the attitude of all service people–at wal-mart, auto-parts store, but most specially waiters/waitresses. I tip accordingly. 15% for adequate service, 20% plus for good service, and 0% to the waiter that is offended that I was assigned to his area. I’ve been moved to have my wife give a waitress a $100 bill a few times (no misunderstandings that way.) I’ve also been known to ask why a poor waiter was so unhappy with his job and offer some well intended advice, though not always accepted as such.

    “our job is to satisfy our customer. Nothing more can be expected, Nothing less can be accepted”

  54. Wendy

    Well here’s my take. The waiter or waitress gets paid to do a good job, and tips are part of that pay. While we certainly don’t know if there is something going on in that waiter or waitresses life that might contribute to their attitude, it is still no excuse. In any other customer service job, you would not be paid for giving customers an attitude, making them not want to come back, or otherwise causing them the discomfort a bad waiter or waitress gives. (What I mean by not be paid is you would be fired) I just flat out don’t believe in paying someone what they have not earned. To earn my tip, you have to give me the good service that a tip is supposed to be for. I will not give a bad waiter or waitress the same tip I give to an excellent one, that is just not right to the good one, what kind of message is that sending? That’s like giving candy to a child who is behaving very well, and then giving candy to the one who is screaming at you and kicking you in the shins. Bottom line, if I get bad service, you get a bad tip, or none at all, that’s how tips are supposed to work. It might hurt the server’s pocketbook, but isn’t that one of the fears that keeps us all doing good jobs at all our jobs? A tip is earned as a thank you for good service. No good service-then all you have earned is however much the restaurant agreed to pay you per hour. I’d expect the same if I worked as waitstaff.

  55. As I can say Bob, may be you are right. There are many service crew that do give the “not that good service” but we must learn on how to understand or just look at the side that what they are doing is tiring and stressing. Let us remember that we are only humans that are subject to feel tiredness and any negative feeling. Also, we can try to talk to them about what they are facing, maybe they need advices, let us pray for them.

    Let us be a blessing.
    Great article Bob and great insights. More power!

  56. Alex G.

    Having worked in the service industry as a waiter and bartender for several years, there are a few things I hope everyone takes into account:

    1. Many of the things affecting the guest’s opinion of “service” are out of the control of the server. This crosses all lines in the restaurants; a slow bartender will back up service and negatively affect timing standards for the restaurant. If you’re ever wondering why it’s taking your waiter so long to bring your drinks, try sneaking a peak at the service bar. Often you’ll see them in a state of distress, straw and garnish in hand, waiting for a slow bartender to complete your table’s order. The same goes for the kitchen. There is huge room for human error in every part of the restaurant. The way you’ve communicated you want your food prepared may be EXACTLY how the server communicates it to the kitchen. From there, the chef, expo, or line cook may misinterpret it in some way or become forgetful. If the server isn’t present when the food is dropped at the table, it suddenly becomes their fault. This isn’t always the case, but it goes hand in hand with giving people the benefit of the doubt. If you ordered your salad without tomatoes and it arrives WITH tomatoes and you recall your server acknowledging your request, chances are it was a breakdown in the kitchen. Having the patience to allow your server to correct the problem in a timely fashion or being understanding when they apologize for a drink that took too long …these are great virtues and are ALWAYS appreciated by the waitstaff.

    2. Just as your meal is not the only thing going on in your day, your meal is certainly not the only thing on your waiter’s mind. I can’t tell you how many people truly believe they are their waiter’s first and only priority. On a typical night, I have 6 tables at once with that same mindset. A little patience goes a long way. You may have asked for something simple; “may I have some salt, please”. Keep in mind that bringing you salt is one of several things they are juggling. When a waiter is extremely busy and is able to complete all requests quickly, you know you’ve got a great waiter on your hands.

    3. It’s true what others are saying. If you tip exceptionally poorly or not at all you are not sending the waiter any message other than, “I’m cheap.” Listen, we’re human beings. We know when we’ve done an excellent job and we know when we could have done better. When I get a mediocre tip on a table I KNEW I could have done better with, I accept it and move on and try to do better by the next table. When I get a horrible tip from ANY table, particularly if I’ve done my job well, it just makes me upset. “Do those people really think this is how much my time is worth?” I agree with the poster that said that a good or average tip when you feel you’ve only had “middle of the road” service is actually greater inspiration for that server to continue to improve. Pay it forward.

    Just a few things to keep in mind! :)

  57. Courtney

    To the contrary of people who claim they are and have been servers I believe in very rare situations you SHOULD NOT TIP. I am a server and I will never forget the day I didn’t tip. My service was horrible. I mean horrible. It wasn’t busy. They weren’t understaffed. Their was NO reasonable excuse I could make for such crap service. I saw my waiter twice.. 15 minutes after we sat down. He took our drink and order at the same time. About 15 min later she returned with food. Didn’t see her again. The rebellious angry part of me was going to walk out ( I had not received a ticket and had been waiting for one for about 20 min) but instead I went retrieved my bill. Took my change and walked out the door. Tipping never even crossed my mind.

  58. Went with family to a restaurant and had the worst service ever . Let me break it down for you. There were five in our party. One person got his order first. Second person got her order 20 min after the first. Three of us sat there and watched them eat their dinners. Waitress forgot to bring our drinks. Then after i finally asked where our food was she actually asked me what exactly did i order? I was like, youve got to be kidding…People around us that came in after we did were all eating. Finally our order came out. Got an order of fries we didnt order. My husbands burger had two different buns on it, wheat and white. Finally , manager came around and offered us free desserts and paid for two of the burgers. Unbelievable….. overall worst experience ever in restaurant. Paid the bill , left no tip…. will never return.

  59. I was just fired tonight because I’m “not what they’re looking for.” I had not waited tables for about 10 years up until a week and a half ago. On my first day serving alone I made 15%. Tonight I was up to 23% because I was getting more familiar with the POS and menu. I was very surprised because I am always friendly and attentive to the guests, helpful to the other servers, picking up slack of ones who did not clean their tables and floors well, and who did not set up their tables neatly and in a uniform fashion, etc. I really think the cooks complained, because if a guest was disatisfied with a part of their meal I would inform the cooks, request a replacement or substitution depending on what the guest preferred, and then have the manager go over so they tcould handle (hopefully OFFER, if they take the business seriously) some form of compensation to

  60. …show the guests that we took their issue seriously. For example, the one time I did order the wrong appetizer because I misunderstood what he said AND his buddy had to remind me that he wanted a side salad with his entree, I bought them each a beer, because it was my mistake and I felt bad and wanted to make it up to them and shine a favorable light on the establishment. Guest satisfaction is the priority right? Servers are on the front line of that right? I just don’t see how I was doing a bad job making $10-$14 an hour and above standard percentages.

  61. we all want to have an enjoyable and pleasant time when dining out. I look for appearance with my waitress /waiter, attitude and attentiveness. I do not want a waiter/waitress that i have to wait on, look for , for what i need i want them to anticipate my needs by asking what i can get for u do u need anything else etc…tthis type of service will always get u a tip…i do not want a waitress/waiter that is missing in action for long periods of time, i do not want a waiter/waitress that is fishing for a tip ……u can tell falseness vs genuine ….

  62. and i must say good service will get u a tip and bad service will absolutley NOT……

  63. If you can have 95% of your guests love you, you are doing well. I am a professional server and have to say that there is always 5% out there who think they have the right to dehumanize you just because they sat in your section. Some people are just controlling and rude and use the opportunity to have someone at the disadvantage to show how little class they have. Just because their server has a backbone, not only do they want to leave a bad tip but get them in trouble with the management (that they likely turned down accepting management position to stay a server) but alsoattempt to get them fired. All because they didn’t get their seventh soda fast enough or because they came in with an attitude and the waiter is only guilty for noticing, for not allowing themselves too be treated like a door mat.

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