Friday, March 20, 2015

Bad Service in Restaurants

As a former restaurant worker, I always tip at least 20 percent. I've even been accused of over-tipping. I've found if you regularly dine at the same place, this is a good idea because they'll be happy to see you.



Servers remember those who didn't tip well. They respond accordingly. They especially remember customers who tipped poorly and were pains-in-the-butt.



But what happens when you have really, really bad service? Should you tip then?



I'm not talking about bad food. I'm talking about an experience that is bad due to the behavior of a server. Say you're seated and the entire wait staff ignores you for an extraordinary amount of time.



Or what if your glass remains empty for the entirety of your meal?



Or your entire party receives their meals and there you sit, waiting for your food while they eat.



Or you wait for an eternity for your check...and it's your lunch hour...or you're trying to get to a seven o'clock movie. Or your server was really really really rude.



Do you still tip 20 percent? Less? Nothing at all? Or should you leave a good tip and complain to the manager? This dog has another idea...



How do you handle bad service in a restaurant?

73 comments:

  1. If the service is good to great, I tip twenty percent. I've gone as high as twenty-five percent. If it's poor, it drops to fifteen percent. I couldn't ever leave nothing.
    Halfway to your next beer - now that's funny.

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    1. I believe you're supposed to leave a penny if it's really bad? Who has a penny on them these days, though?!

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  2. I think the times we've had poor service, it's not usually the wait staff's fault . . . Poorly cooked food and understaffing issues.

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    1. I think that's one thing people should keep in mind. If the food is bad, don't punish the server. If the food is bad, we just don't go back. I'm not one to complain anymore. I used to but it's just too much trouble and I've found most restaurants don't really care.

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  3. I'm with Alex on this one. Our daughter put herself through college as a server at Dee's and I heard the stories. Some restaurants give servers too many tables for them to provide for, others are new with insufficient training. If I get bad service it's a lower tip, maybe 15% but never lower than that.

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    1. We were at a restaurant when it snowed and everything was closed nearby. That one restaurant was packed...but only two servers had shown up. Our waiter was obviously new--he'd go back to the back, get one glass of tea, bring it to a table, go to another, take an order for 10 minutes... If you watch professional waiters, the really good ones can handle being quadruple seated with ease. We had one of those when I worked as a hostess in college--you tried not to double seat him but you knew if you really had to, you could because he could handle anything. He was amazing! I honestly don't know how the good servers do it. They don't get enough credit for the talent it takes to juggle multiple tables at once.

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  4. I tip 20% but round it up to the nearest whole dollar. So if the total bill is $24.42, I tip $5.58. For bad service, I tip 10%. There is no in between for me. You either do well or you do poorly, and much of the time it's not the server's fault, but when it is the server, they get 10%. I never withhold tips though. I used to serve and tend bar, so I'm a little sensitive to the woes.

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    1. I round up all the time. I figure 20 percent and then I just get lazy and round up! We go to the same restaurants a lot and my theory is that if you over tip, they remember you. I'm not sure if that theory is true or not. You're right--you can tell when it's the server's fault. But it's honestly been a long time since I've had blatantly bad service. There's a mean waiter at one restaurant we go to--we started asking not to be seated in his section. I think me may have some disorder/condition...he doesn't make eye contact and if you don't stick to the program, he gets really impatient with you. Kind of like the soup nazi! I'm a people pleaser so, for some reason, I end up getting really nervous around him...which is why we just ask not to be seated in his section. I've gotten to the point where I don't even want to go there nights and weekends because that's when he works.

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    2. A trick I use when I walk into a place and it's really crowded, I say to the hostess, "I'll just have a seat at the bar, thanks." It's faster service.

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  5. I usually over tip if the service is good and the opposite if it's bad but only if I get a waiter or waitress that I see goofing off...I don't blame them if the problem is with the food.

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    1. I'm not picky but if I'm in a hurry (which is rare!), I get annoyed if it takes for-freakin'-EVER to get your check. I love that Chili's just lets you pay at the table. That's the easiest way. I don't know if people will ever want to be able to order on a smartscreen (at least not at a sit-down restaurant)--we'll always want the human touch there. But to be able to scan our cards and leave when we're done? That's best for everyone.

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  6. A great discussion Stephanie....
    I always tip 15 % for good service. It's been like that ever since I can remember. I didn't know someone had changed the rules.

    I just checked it out on line for Canada : Tipping Etiquette and they say 15%....

    I always got excellent service even with 15%. I don't tip if the service is bad as I don't reward poor service, and I wouldn't go back either.

    Maybe our meals are more expensive here in Canada and the waiters are paid a minimum wage of $10.30 an hour.

    Going out for a meal is expensive enough and I go out once a week to the same restaurant with a whole group of friends for breakfast.

    HAPPY SPRING
    Hugs
    JB

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    1. I wouldn't say it's changed...15 percent is standard. However, I think many customers like idea of a 15-20 percent range because if the service is really good, you have the option to give more. If you're rating based on your own sliding scale, then you'd judge the service between 15-20 percent and tip accordingly. The argument that they should raise the standard tip to 18 or 25 percent or whatever is ridiculous. Yes, I've seen that argument--they say it's because it hasn't been raised ever and should be higher because of the cost of living. It's a percentage!!! It goes up when the cost of living goes up. What's wrong with people? Now the fact that waiters still make less than $3 an hour and have to rely completely on tips is definitely ridiculous.

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  7. I've never understood tipping... if you don't tip doctors, teachers, firemen and those who are really important, why would you tip a waiter? But in my country we all have low salaries so we're poor as church mice :) I don't even go to restaurants....

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    1. Are you in England? I thought you were in America but I know you write about British movies and TV shows a lot. In America the minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, which is still WAY below what someone with a college degree makes ($15-$40 or more, depending on the field). Servers make $2.13 an hour, which adds up to not much of anything in a given week. Tips are what they make, basically. If you're in a restaurant that serves alcohol, you can make big bucks on a busy night when people are getting their drink on. :-) However, I've personally known (and argued heatedly with) Americans who refuse to tip. They go back to the same restaurants over and over...no doubt this perpetuates it because they say, "I always get bad service." Well, you always get bad service because you don't tip. They do remember this stuff! When my mom and I went to lunch every day (we worked together), we'd go to the same restaurants each week. We established friendships with a couple of the servers and we'd always sit in their sections and get the best service. I'd often tip more than 20 percent...you knew you'd get in and out on time and they'd treat you like a VIP because you were a guaranteed 20+ percent.

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    2. oh, sweet sister, the spy's secret headquarters are in Vojvodina, Central Europe :) As teachers, we earn $300 a month! :)

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    3. You're a secret spy? LOL. You couldn't even get a one-bedroom apartment for that. Even a dump around these parts is $800 a month...and the cost of living where I live (Nashville) is considered very low. I see tiny, old houses for rent in my area of town for $1000+ a month.

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  8. I'm an over tipper, but I've also had awful service before, in which case I still tip, just less. I have gone to restaurants with friends who are SO RUDE and I just want to hide under the table. I usually just signal to the waiter/tress that I'm a nice person lol

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    1. The only thing that worries me about undertipping for bad service is that I'm not sure it sends the message. There are so many cheap people out there, the server may not think their service is bad--they may just think you undertip everyone.

      And OMG on the friends--that is definitely embarrassing. I worked for a woman who was horrible in restaurants. Every time the server came back, she needed something else. Extra napkins. Lemons. A straw. A side of pickles. It went on and on. Then she'd leave no tip. Nothing. So I'd always tip twice as much to make up for her, especially if it was somewhere I might come back. She was my boss, though, so what could I do. (Find another job? Yeah--I only worked for her for a year because it took me that long to find something else because I was young at the time and it was my first job out of college!)

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  9. When we lived in Montana, we would go to Applebee's a lot. One time we had a waitress who gave good service but she was a bit rude. At the end of the night when we went to pay, we saw she had forgotten to add the coffee hubby had got with his dessert. We were terrified to tell her about it, but we did and she added it on. We decided to tip her really well that night. A few weeks later we went back to Applebee's and lo and behold we got the same waitress. We were dreading it but when she walked over to our table I said "you served us a few weeks ago" and she had the biggest smile on her face and said "yep, you reminded me to put the coffee on your bill" and she gave us the best service we ever had there. Of course we generously tipped again. I learned from that experience we all have bad days, she was doing the best she could for that first day, who knows what had happened before she came to work. I try to forgive that and compensate accordingly.

    betty

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    1. That is true--I went to a manicurist for a while who was really friendly. The last time I went to her she was distracted and rude and hardly talked at all. Finally it came out she was going through a divorce. You just never know...

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  10. I leave without a tip. I'll leave before things gets worse too. There's always another place to go.

    I too worked in restaurants for years in my youth. It's hard work and there are a lot of rude diners too. It was good money back in the day and I enjoyed the work, but sometimes...

    We usually tip 25% for great service. 20% for good service and 15% for fair service.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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    1. That is true. My stepdad had a boss once whose theory was that it's all about the first 10 minutes. If the first ten minutes don't go well, leave, because it's not going to get better. Although I have to say I've had a few experiences where you sat down, nobody came over for 10+ minutes, and it was just that there was confusion about whose section it was and the rest of the experience went well. You hate to do it but sometimes if you go over to the hostess and let him/her know that nobody's been over, sometimes that will fix the snafu. If the place has its ducks in a row, the fact that you're sitting there with your menus closed, looking around, should send a signal to SOMEONE!

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  11. Eating out, What's that? lol I try and do 15 every time at least, if they really tick me off I'll go to 10 though. Considering I haven't ate out in umm err 3 years come may. I may be rusty though haha

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    1. I leave the house to eat, grocery shop, and go to the post office to mail books. That's about it! Working from home, I HAVE to leave the house or I'd never get dressed and see other human beings!

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  12. i tend to tip about 15% then and just probably not eat there again.

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    1. Yeah, most customers never complain--we just don't go back. And we warn others. Often on social media!!! And then eventually a place just goes out of business. My husband used to have me pick up pretzels at Auntie Anne's when I was at the mall but they were always out of pretzels. That's all they sell! Plus all the employees are just all kinds of rude and out of it. Like they don't really know where they are. So I complained...both through email and Yelp. No response and it's still the same over there. We just stopped buying pretzels...but the whole thing reminded me that businesses don't really care so why should I bother complaining?

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    2. How are they out of pretzels? That is crazy!

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    3. They're always "in the oven, so it'll be 15 minutes." We were stopping by about 12-12:30 on a weekday...so it wasn't even an off time like 2pm. From what I gathered, they didn't have the sense to know that when a batch came out, they needed to put a new batch immediately into the oven? Or maybe they don't have enough ovens? I'm not an Auntie Anne's fan but my husband is and every other one we've visited has always had pretzels and great service. This is the one at Opry Mills mall, near the Grand Ole Opry--so it's a very high-traffic one. Corporate really should do something about it. You do one thing and you can't even handle that? :-)

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  13. I routinely tip 20% as well (my daughter works as a server to make money while in college) and if I encounter bad service (which is rare), it is reflected in my tip. You reap what you sow as far as I'm concerned. :)

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    1. A friend once pointed out that servers tend to "profile" customers and judge college students as not good tippers. She said that was stupid because college students actually are MORE empathetic to servers since they're either currently working in that field or have recently worked in it. Most of the bad tippers I've known have been people who have never waited tables at all.

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  14. Well, follow the local tipping etiquette.
    If the service was poor and you were 100 % sure you will never return then it is upto you to leave without a tip. If the waiters have very sharp memory of non-tippers then it would be wise not to go back there again; after all we are going there for some cool time. We surely do not want to get a taste of bad experience like the last time and it will be worse this time too because they 'remember' you very well :)
    But what about the business owners ? Is there a tipping policy in place ? A restaurant owner I know of had told me he always make it a point to tell the staff not to become influenced positively or negatively by the tip thing. There, the diners are requested to drop their tip money into a box kept there if they would like to tip. This will be divided equally between the staff, the kitchen staff included. Owner will not take anything from this.
    Well, why tipping the waiters only? What about the chef, other staff members? Well, at least, make it a point to write something good about those people too in the visitor's book.
    Cool post, very thought provoking indeed :)
    Great blog !

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    1. I believe servers are required to "tip out" at the end of the night. A portion of what they earn goes to bartenders and busboys. Not hostesses or cooks, though--but those employees get at least minimum wage. I think the logic is that the bartender has to stop waiting on customers at the bar to make drinks for the servers. I'm not sure what the logic is in giving the busboys a portion but not the cooks. What I don't understand is in "fast casual" restaurants like Subway, they now put tip jars out. If you're supposed to tip there, then you should tip at fast food restaurants, too...and then where does it end. Are we then supposed to tip our dry cleaner for handing us our clothes? Our bank teller for depositing our money? There has to be a line!

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    2. Yes, there has to be a line.
      Tipping is confusing :)

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  15. A good lesson on tipping, and I thought 15% was still the standard.....Good post!

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    1. 15 is standard but most people I've known in the restaurant industry advise between 15-20 percent, increasing depending on service quality. Really good service should be 20 percent...good service 15. Bad service? I don't know what the rule is...maybe 15 percent and then tell the manager! I always tip 20 percent unless it's bad because a) it's easier to calculate and b) good tipping is remembered when you visit the same place frequently.

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  16. Yes, tips should be based on the service we received.

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  17. Tipping is not part of our culture. I do tip at restaurants and it is definitely service based. Bad service? No tip, and no return visit. And perhaps a telephone call to the restaurant the following day.

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    1. That's interesting...is it largely an American thing? Someone above said Canada, too...

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    2. It is, I think, part of the reason Orstrayans are so bad at tipping. Wages here should give people enough to survive on. Tips are an extra, not a part of the base.

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  18. I tip the correct amount but then I don't go back ... I might complain to the manager later but I would not return... I understand we all have bad days but there is no need to be that rude...

    I actually tip better than the 15% too... my sister worked in the business forever and this is where she made her money... I am that way with tipping taxi's too... my dad drove cab for years... xox

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    1. That reminds me of the last time I took a cab--in New Jersey--when the sign at the airport said, "If the driver tries to charge you more than $50, let us know." (Yes, $50 to go 3 miles...there was some fight between the city and the cab drivers that passengers were being punished for.) I handed him $60 when we arrived and he yelled at me for giving him a $4 tip. I said $50 plus $10 is $60. He said, "There were tolls! It's $56!" I mentioned the sign and he threw a fit and got in his car and sped off. He'd spent the entire drive there on his cell phone, by the way. I'm SOOOOOO glad there's Uber now. I may not even visit a city ever again where I have to rely on taxicabs to get around.

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  19. I tip at least 20% when the service is great if not more. If I notice the waitress is all by herself and overworked, I do not fault her but the super or mgr or owner and let the owner know and I still will tip the waitress 20% but when I have had bad service where they ignored me-they go a penny..yup a penny. When they have been downright rude and treated me horribly, I have gone to the mgr and owner and have even written a letter to them. It all depends on the situation. I survery the room first because sometimes the waitress might be short or frazzled but that is due to her job which is most difficult. I had to write here before I go back and lie down (sick)

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    1. So sorry to hear that. I hope you're feeling better soon! I haven't had bad service in a while except for the really mean waiter I keep getting at that one restaurant. He has a personality disorder. I didn't complain, though. We just request not to be seated in his section. We don't want him to be fired--we just don't want to have to ever have him as our waiter again!

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  20. I, too, was a former waitress at three restaurants during and after college. So I always tip at least 20 percent, especially if the service is good.
    BUT, there are so many variations in "bad" or "slow" service. If I was seated and had to wait more than 20 minutes to be waited on, the tip moves to 15 percent. But if the waiter ends up feeding me with a silver spoon, it would go back to 20. It's so hard!
    But if the waiter is a complete jerk, I the tip wouldn't be 15 percent! Servers should know better. They are in this business to make their customers happy. We all have bad days. I am a nanny and if I have a bad day, does that mean I get to flip out on the kids I care for? No way.

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    1. I asked someone once why they make customers wait while half the tables in the restaurant are empty. The person said that people don't mind waiting in the wait area...they understand that. The second they sit at the table, though, they expect to be acknowledged, have their orders taken, and have drinks within minutes. So restaurants leave everyone packed into tiny lobby areas while tables sit empty. It makes sense, though. if you're told there's a 30-minute wait, you have the option of leaving. Once you're at the table, it's a lot harder to leave, especially if you have your drinks and no cash and your waiter has vanished!

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  21. I waitressed through nursing school and the work was tough, so I feel for the server. I usually tip 20%; even if I have trouble with the food, I tip. But there is a line that a server crosses sometimes where I go for the 15% for truly bad, bad service. They know how this biz works. I've seen waiters that are swamped and still give a decent minimum amount of service.

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    1. It's interesting how many people have commented that my mentioning 20 percent was odd because they thought 15 percent was standard. This is what I found: "15% of bill (excl. tax) for adequate service; 20% for very good service; no less than 10% for poor service." Another interesting thing--do you include tax? I always tip on the full amount AFTER tax but I've heard many times that you don't tip on the tax, just on the subtotal. SO I'm way overtipping, I guess, since tax is 9.25% here!

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  22. I hate buffet restaurants that have waiters. So I get my own food, yet they get my soda? Do I leave a half-tip?

    I typically hate dining in regardless. I'd rather take my food home and watch something.

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    1. I hear that a lot--but in most of the restaurants we go to, the servers do little else. They take your order and bring your drinks and bring refills. Some runner brings the food. It's an interesting argument because I know a LOT of people who tip less on buffets. Most people I know. I always ask that question because it's actually an interesting discussion point...just how much less do buffet workers do than workers at a restaurant like Chili's? Some of the Chinese buffets I've been to, the waitresses have been more attentive than the ones at a place like Ruth's Chris Steakhouse. Your plate is empty and they're there, whisking it out from under you!

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  23. I seldom eat out, but when I do I give 20 percent, unless the service is horrible. I like the dog's attitude. :)

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  24. We always tip 20% except when the service is extraordinary bad. We've been lucky where this happened often.

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  25. I always tip. Usually around 20%. Can't say I've gotten terrible service that was the server's fault, so I tip no matter what. If things are awful, I just don't return to that restaurant.

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  26. I always tip, and usually very well. We have a lot of non-tipping tourists in the town where I live, so I always try to make up for that hassle just a bit. Plus I have a lot of friends who wait tables, and I know they appreciate good tippers. :-)

    If I have truly terrible service due to a server, though, I don't tip as much. It probably doesn't make much of an impression, though, since my idea of under-tipping is fifteen percent, which is what a lot of people choose as their default.

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  27. I always tip 20%. If I'm unhappy with service, I don't let it affect tip. Instead, only if it's worth mentioning, I'll (kindly) talk to the manager about whatever it was that went wrong. But most times, it's not even the server's fault. I've had more problems with the kitchen than with a server.

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  28. If I have a particularly grouchy server, I'll leave a big tip, and write, "Hope your day gets better!"

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  29. If I have a particularly grouchy server, I'll leave a big tip, and write, "Hope your day gets better!"

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  30. Having been a server at multiple places in my life I always try to leave at least a 20% tip if the service is good. I totally agree with you that it is important to tip well at places you regularly visit. Servers definitely remember. If I am unhappy with service I first try to figure out why (did the server seem new, was it super busy). I have only had bad service a couple of times (server never came back after we got our meal and one server was downright mean and never got us our drinks and never asked how our meal was- both were very expensive restaurants and special occassions). I still left a tip, but it was lower than what I usually give.

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  31. Thankfully I've never had rally bad service. But I really dont eat out much. I always tip well.

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  32. I don't tip 20% as I find that to be a just a tad obscene. 15% is the norm for me when it comes to decent/good service. I know some wait staff will throw hissy fits if you don't tip 20% (this seems to be the norm for those who comment on a blog called "The Bitchy Waiter" as well as the FB page).

    Personally, the lowest tip I left for bad service was 3% (that's roughly one dollar on a $30+ meal), and unsurprisingly, my wife heard the waitress complaining to her co-worker about my tip.

    Father Nature's Corner

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  33. So my sister was a server at a chain restaurant and she would always post on her FB page about bad tippers. Then she got fired for being a bad server...hmmmm.

    We tip nicely, between 15-20%. I feel bad for people older than I am who are serving, or really young kids starting their first jobs in the restaurant business, so they usually get a little more from me :)

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  34. I normally tip 20% and more if at a diner where I am eating alone or if I stay longer while talking to someone... There have been a few times I had really bad service nd left a nominal tip (or waiting and waiting and the walking out).

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  35. I'm a generous tipper. If the service is bad, then I'll stick with 15%, but never go there again.

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  36. So sorry for that hostile incident. You should have also tried to lesson with the tipping service: Give it when the service is extraordinary and vice versa. But now you got the lesson, hope things will change hereafter.

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  37. I shoot for 20 percent unless service really sucks, which seldom happens, then I'll drop down.
    I left you a blogger award Thursday. If you don't have the time to deal with it, just consider it an honorary:)
    Hugs

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  38. My standard is 20-25% but don't never give me terrible service. I will leave the change in my pocket so you know I didn't just forget AND I'll be chatting with your host/hostess and maybe even writing the owner. It's good to be on my good side ... ;)

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  39. I normally just leave a smaller tip for bad service. I'd feel too bad leaving nothing.

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  40. I worked food service for way too many years and I don't tip for poor service and I DO talk to managers. I also talk to them when service is over the top good! The one exception to your post that I have is about being the one lonely person in a large party not to get their food. All those years ago that was usually the fault of a cook having forgotten to start/finish something and not the servers fault. The only other choice is to have all of those other meals get cold while you wait. But I do think this situation deserves a manager coming to the table and apologizing without someone asking to see the manager!

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  41. I've only had incredibly poor service once. The the point where it was just ridiculous. And I'll admit I left a tip that was lower than what I normally do, and I still kind of feel bad about that. I know how some days can be off in terms of getting it all done. But, still, I think I'd rather reward those people who really are amazing servers with a bigger tip than those who make the whole experience lousy. But, that's just me :)

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  42. My family and I had some bad service at a restaurant we really liked. The waitress forgot to bring out appetizer, made no attempt at apology, and ignored us while falling over two women at another table. When the check came, I made sure the tip was lousy.

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  43. I used to waitress too, and it is one job I do not miss! It also gave me spider veins on my leg. Sorry, TMI, I know. =D

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  44. I tend to overtip too, because I had a short-lived stint as a waitress in my teens and will never forget how difficult and brutal that job can be.

    Thankfully, I haven't experienced truly bad service very often, but the few times I have, I don't tip. I may also complain to the manager, but I think it's happened once in the past five to seven years. My city has great restaurants!

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