Friday, April 20, 2012

Bad Service Tipping?

Mayor Gia recently blogged about bad service here.  It reminded me of a  conversation with a friend of mine for what the tip is for bad service...

Yeah, you can see where it got off track.

My norm is $0.02, as in I'm giving them my two cents.  And by tipping, I indicate that I didn't simply forget.

My friend says that 10% is his norm for bad service.  His rationale is that "they get paid horribly low wages and they have to make a living."  I respond with "perhaps they should pick a different career" or "I'd probably give them more money if they were pan-handling."

You see, I'm one of those weird people who work hard.  I lose sleep over not doing a good job.  I make fairly decent money even though my existence and work ethic are not predicated upon how much money I am or am not making.

I'm not an awful customer.  I don't send plates back because the gravy has invaded the corn.  I don't look for hair in my soup.  I don't question the temperature of food.  The only thing I am picky about is how you cook my steak.

Here is the implicit contract we sign when you walk up to my table and ask if you can take my order:

I, WilyGuy, being of sound mind and body... oh wait, wrong contract.

I Will:
  • Come to a decision about what I would like to appetize, drink, eat, and dessert upon in a timely fashion.
  • Convey said choices to you in a voice that allows for you to hear and understand me.
  • Accept that I have chosen this restaurant and am not being forced to eat there, so my choices will come from my free will
  • Accept that I have chosen to eat at this time on this day and if it is Mother's Day and I am with a party of 12, I cannot be frustrated by my wait prior to arriving at your table.

You Will:
  • Understand that it is my choice to dine here, but not my choice as to the table where I was placed.
  • Take my order without bias or scoff or sigh, if there is pertinent information such as that I must wait for the next cow to be slaughtered to enjoy said steak, you should convey that information.
  • Take down my order on some sort of writing tablet in a legible fashion, or don't while understanding that your memory may be taxed prior to you reaching that magic ordering machine in the corner.
  • Bring my drink almost immediately upon my ordering it.
  • Bring my appetizer shortly after and prior to my food, unless otherwise explicitly instructed.
  • Make sure my Ketchup, A-1, Salt, Pepper, and for the love of all that is good... SUGAR is full, I don't care that I have 17 bazillion yellow packets or 13 brain tumor growing pink packets.
  • Walk the fine line between giving me nothing with which to clean my mouth and making me think I am the world's sloppiest person by giving me more napkins than one tree can produce.
  • Check back for drink refills and to make sure my steak is correct.
  • NOT flirt with the bar back at the expense of the paying customer. He's less likely to tip you, but barely.
  • NOT lean into my personal space.
  • NOT sit at my table while taking my order.

I recall back in the day getting the lousiest service at a Bob's Big Boy restaurant. I got such lousy service that only after placing my empty coffee cup on the top of my head and balancing it there (receiving the adoring stares of the other patrons in the joint, of course) did my waitress decide that I might want a refill.  She tried to play it off by asking if I wanted her to fill it up there.

She thought I was being unreasonable.  I disagreed.  The manager thought I was being slightly unreasonable.  I disagreed.  I thought 20 minutes with an empty coffee cup on my head was unreasonable.  They thought I was trying for the Guinness Book of World Records. (Why does that book have nothing to do with drinking Guinness? (not)Brilliant)

The friend I was with at the time decided that my normal two cents was not enough of a statement and took my two pennies and dropped them into the water glass, then managed to flip the water glass over trapping the pennies and the water inside the glass while creating a seal with the table...far more cruel than clever.

I took a taxi in Chicago two years ago and the driver took the address I gave him and put it in the GPS, but neglected to put in the city and as a result I went for a 2 hour drive, NOT to my destination.  At first he wanted to argue about it, but realized that he was wrong and that a suburb that was mere minutes from my starting point was not the same as an address that was mere miles INTO the city.  Upon reaching my correct destination, he cut the fare and I being the decent guy gave him a big tip.

One mistake shouldn't cause you to lose your job or your tip, but how you react to that mistake makes ALL the difference.

So, what's the lousiest service you have ever received?


  1. Ha thanks for the shoutout! I am someone who will tip 10% or something for bad service. Because I figure, yes I work hard but some of my coworkers do absolutely nothing and still get paid. So, even if someone is terrible at their job, they should get something. I  mean ideally, their manager would pick up on it and fire them or retrain them or something. But I feel like it's not my job to garnish someone's wages, when they aren't making enough per hour without tips to qualify for min wage. 

    I totally understand your 2 cents thing though..

  2. Bad service can be infuriating. But I gather, you've had a bad day once or twice in your hard-working life?  Maybe someone treated you with disrespect by belittling in leaving two cents or sitting with a cup of coffee on your head?  Sometimes we receive bad service because the server hasn't yet recovered from the lack of humility displayed by their previous customer. Karma.

  3. The worst service I ever received was at Chi-Chis about fifteen years ago.  I was treating my parents, and we were seated very quickly.  Our waiter quickly came to drop off the chips and salsa and take our drink order.  BUT, we didn't see him again for over forty minutes.  The place was pretty empty, and we were the only people in the section we were in.  He just didn't come over for seemingly ever.  When he finally came over, he forgot the drinks, but took our order.  As you can imagine, the service didn't improve.  Shockingly, the food came before the drinks (and it took the food another 30+ minutes).  Finally, a manager walked by, and I complained.  She apologized, and quickly brought out the drinks.

    The next time we saw the waiter was when he came by to drop off the check.  He did not come by to refill the drinks that took over an hour to come, nor did he check to make sure the meal was to our liking.  The bill was something like $29.76, and I dropped on the table a twenty and a ten, to illustrate my frustration with the lack of service, let alone good service.  Alas, my parents where more forgiving than I, and I saw my father drop a five on the table, which ticked me off as I wasn't happy that he rewarded that. 

  4. NO WAY should some other patrons treatment of a server excuse poor service.  The Karma that you speak of will be the coffee cup as a fez customer leaving a two cent tip for service that is totally and completely unacceptable.

    Think of it this way, waiters/waitresses are working for the customer.  The customer is the one directly paying them.  If the service is bad, then it is within the customer's right to tip bad.  If the service is good, then it is within the customer's right to tip well.

  5.  I agree that there is no excuse for bad service, but there is also no excuse for treating someone with lack of dignity.  I am attempting to articulate (and my attempts may be unclear and/or futile at times) that servers are human, not robots programmed to be perfect.  You are correct that a customer has a right to choose what type of tip they leave, if any.  Mine is a quest for empathy, for humans to attempt to put themselves in the shoes of others every once in a while instead of having steadfast rules of how we are going to treat people simply because they are in a specific role. "You're a server, now serve me."  "You're my man, now take care of me."  "You're my child, now obey me." Contrarily, if I were in a place of fine dining I would expect exceptional service.  Big boy?  You pay for what you get.  Additionally, or the other side of the coin is that servers, too, need to be empathetic to customers.  The less than perfect attitude of a customer usually has nothing to do with the server personally, and if a server can realize it, brush it off, they may be able to offer a smile, a prompt refill on coffee....something to turn the day around for the customer...and be rewarded with a tip.  Win-win.  I guess the conclusion is that everything is not black and white. It's life with human beings. Thanks for the feedback.

  6. Of course we are all human, and are all deserving of empathic treatment.  But, that, in no way, supersedes the quality of the job that you are paying for. 

    If your toilet isn't flushing, and you call a plumber, you aren't going to pay them if they smash the toilet.  If your computer has a persistent virus, and you take it to an IT person, you aren't going to pay them if they delete your personal photos.  It is the same with waiters/waitresses.  If they provide terrible service, they shouldn't be rewarded.  It doesn't matter how expensive the establishment is, what you ordered from the kitchen, or how long you are there, you are, for the lack of a better word, their contractor, and if their service is lackluster, so is their wage, if their service is extraordinary, so is their wage.

  7. I respect your opinion, however wrong I feel it to be. 

    BUT, there isn't anything passive-aggressive about rewarding inferior service with an inferior wage.  It isn't my fault, or any paying customer's for that matter, that the waiter/waitress/handyman/IT person's service was lacking.  And rewarding lacking service perpetuates the ideal that blah is acceptable.  Inferior service, regardless of the reason why, doesn't deserve to be rewarded. 

    It is also not my, or any paying customer's, responsibility to train or reprimand the person providing the service, the customer's sole responsibility is to pay what is required by law.  Tipping *is not* required by law, but is a customary 'Thank You' for acceptable or better service.  And if the server can't figure out why they didn't receive what they think is a good tip for terrible service, then being bad at their job is the least of their problems.

    Since poor service *is not* the same as poor product, expecting a free meal for poor service is not relevant to the discussion at hand.  And it should not matter what the establishment is, good service isn't beyond the realm of expectations when dining out.  Some of the best service I've ever received was at a Bob Evans, some of the worst was at a very expensive establishment.

  8. One summer we pulled into an empty Blimpie's parking lot in Florida. It was empty, as in, a huge ass parking lot with no cars. None. Zero. Zilch. My mother, sunburned, tired and hungry, pulled into the nearest handicapped space. There were no bus loads arriving from the Shady Pines Nursing Home. There was absolutely no harm in parking there. When we walked in, Douche Bag Blimpie worker stated, "I cannot serve you if you have parked in the handicapped space without a handicap tag." I was 16 and in the biggest flipping off stage of my life. I flipped him off and we left, sans sandwich. I don't technically know if that falls into the category of bad service, but it was pretty shitty.
    Great post. 

  9. Working a job that receives tips, I pretty much always overtip, regardless of the service.

    If it is particularly horrendous service, I might give 10%, but I really haven't had any really bad experiences, or at least not bad enough to make me notice.

    That water-in-the-glass thing is as cruel as it is impressive.

  10. Long overdue shout out. I think based on the next series of comments that some were offended.
    Not looking forward to being contentious. I like my snark level.

  11. I can't imagine your service being bad. What exactly is a good or bad tip in your line of work? Pretty sure I know what you do, but figure you could explain.

  12. Thanks Susannah. Your shout out is coming...

  13. Well, I'm not sure what you're alluding to, but those who know me understand me to be over-tolerant of someone having a bad day.
    Karma runs over the Dogma far more often than we like, but frankly I'm not paid to make someone's day better after someone else ruins it.
    I, and I alone, am in charge of my happiness. Someone cuts me off in traffic, I don't have to be mad, I can choose to not let it bother me.

  14. Well, your dad probably thinks that if he gets a clean fork and knife and isn't forced to eat with his hands...that is good service. Lol.

  15. I certainly hope you are being unclear.

  16. Wow, when humorous posts go wrong, next on Jerry Springer.

    I get the whole Rodney King "can't we all just get along." but frankly the world doesn't work that way. If it did:
    Teachers would make more
    Pro-Athletes would make less
    Politicians would look to help the people, not help themselves to what belongs to the people.

    I want to give you the benefit of the doubt, but you keep saying things that allude to my and other readers callous passive-aggressive behaviors. I'm tired of it. You've taken a post that was intended to be funny and read the exact opposite intent.

    Did I say how often I have given $0.02? Normally I am generous with my tips. I am far often more generous than my wife would like me to be. I am normally the nice guy. I don't like conflict, so if I was going to leave a bad tip, the service would have to be the opposite of stellar. I would probably complain to management exactly why I wasn't tipping the server. I would also probably leave a tip with the manager to make sure the busboy didn't get hosed, but only if I could be assured that tips weren't pooled amongst the entire staff.

    Thanks for making me be the real me and not the funny mask I hide so well behind.


  17. Well, a knife and fork ARE major requirements for my father... 

  18. I am alluding to the fact that leaving two cents is insulting. No one has the right to insult another person, for any reason. If you have bad service, take care of the problem with some dignity and respect.

  19. Apparently very unclear. ;) I will waste my breath no more on those who find humor in treating others w/ disrespect. So, apparently futile, too.

  20. I don't like conflict either and am sorry I caused such a stir. I don't think poorly of your readers or anyone else who expresses themselves honestly. I understood you were meaning to be funny. I am tired of disrespect being viewed as funny. In the future, I will keep it to a low roar or quietly click away. Have a great weekend.

  21. I feel the need to clarify. Perhaps it was not understood that there was no server with which to discuss my unhappiness. I would quite happily have elaborated with many details why I felt we should not leave a tip. I also disagree with the point that it is better to leave no tip or a small one. I think that is passive aggressive. If I don't leave one then maybe I forgot or didn't get any service. If I leave a small one than I could just be cheap. Two cents clearly indicates a choice on my part which was a response to a choice on the servers part to not do their job. I am in a service oriented job. I understand that we don't always have a good day and exceptional service is just not possible, there is no excuse for bad service. Call in sick, find another job, yell at your boss, husband or friend. But do your job or find another don't make me pay for your unhappiness with my hard earned money.

  22. This blog is insane, has no rational thought and proves why certain people make my comments so valid. Good luck to you kind sir, and here's to having that next cup you put on your head fall and splinter into shards of truth that will pierce your 2 cent soul. Keep rocking big boy;-)

  23. Very poetic... Shards and all. I have to think my clowning around would be funny if the cup fell and broke. As I have not read any of your prior comments that I am aware of...I will assume this is the best that you have to offer to your fellow man.

  24. Here in Australia tipping isn't the norm so I have no knowledge about tipping.....that said I do know something about bad service many years ago hubby and I along with other family members went to a local chinese restaurant and the service was so slow that we swore we would never go back there and we haven'

  25. I hate it when they have to slaughter a cow before they can bring me my order.

  26. Interesting. They don't tip in Australia? It had never occurred to me that the phenomenon wasn't worldwide.

  27. It's faster than waiting for the vegetable of the day to grow...

  28. I needed to read this tonight. God directed me to this post. To show my gratitude, I will not use profanity for the next five minutes. I was a waitress for many years, and I did the best I could. I earned my tips. Tonight, I went to a coffee shop where a barista earned a knew to the groin, but I was too tired. She decided to be an ass after I tipped her. I really wanted to reach into the jar and take my tip back.

  29. You bring a great perspective, thanks Nellie!

  30. I am a VERY good tipper when I am provided with EXCELLENT service. I will give the standard 15% for doing what is expected, but I have no problem at all with not tipping someone who hasn't earned it.

    My glass should never stay empty for more than a few minutes (ideally, not at all). My order should be correct, and people that ordered 15 minutes after me should not be receiving their food before I do.

  31. That is generally how I do it as well. (IRL)

  32. When I was younger, I was a waiter.  But now I deal poker.  It is customary to throw the dealer at least a dollar chip after winning a hand.  But I have been stiffed often.  Sometimes the players forget and sometimes they just don't tip, even for pots as large as $10,000.

  33. That's what I thought you were doing. OK, so what should a tip on $10000 hand be?

  34. One dollar.  The high-limit players usually just tip a dollar a hand.  Strange as it may seem, dealers usually make more money at lower limits where pots are anywhere from $10-$1000, because that is the limits where recreational players are playing for fun and not for a living and are willing to throw the dealer $5, $10, $15 bucks after scooping a pot.

  35. Good to know should I ever find myself at a table.




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