Living the Groupon Dream

June 30, 2012

in Diner Stories

My night starts with a deuce on Table 24.

I walk up, introduce myself and thank them for joining us this evening. Before I can ask them if they’d like to begin their dinner with a cocktail, the woman reaches into her purse and slaps a Groupon down on the table, essentially broadcasting their intention to eat on the cheap.

Fuck me. It’s the last day of the month, I’m two hundred fifty short of making rent, and was hoping for a section full of twenty percenters tonight to help me get over the hump. Hopefully these couponers aren’t an omen of things to come.

She starts in. “Here, we have a Groupon. It says we get a free appetizer and a free entrée. And we only want water to drink.”

Awesome. While you’re at it, why don’t you rummage through that handbag of yours and see if there’s a pitchfork in there you can use to ram up my ass while you’re at it.

I go into fake smile mode and choke down the urge to recommend –  along with the chef’s daily special – which of her orifices she can insert her Groupon into. “Very well, Madam. Nice to have the both of you with us this evening. I’ll have your waters for you right away. In the meantime, let me inform you about a few specials you won’t find on your menu which the chef is featuring this evening.”

Without looking up from her menu she gives me the hand while her pussy-whipped husband sits there letting her do her thing. I’m sure he’s seen this act a thousand times before, the poor wretched slob. “We’re not interested in any of that. Just get our appetizer started and come back for the rest of our order. We don’t want to be rushed or have our food sitting in front of us all at once like you waiters do sometimes.”

And so it goes with the majority of these coupon-clipping fartweeds. If it isn’t Groupon, it’s LivingSocial or Restaurant.com or some other online Ponzi scheme promising restaurant owners unprecedented exposure to new customers in exchange for a substantial discount. Though sounding good in theory, most novice restaurant owners get seduced into participating in these promotions without really knowing what they’re actually signing up for. What ends up really happening is that the type of customers these sites attract are the one-and-doners who are more drawn to the deal than to the restaurant itself. They show up to get the most food for the least amount of money, only tip on what they pay for rather than the value of everything they were served, and are often rude and defensive because they assume they’re going to be getting second-rate service due to their eating on the cheap. They’re also often the first ones to run home to their computers and tell everyone on Yelp what a shitty meal they just had for damn near free. Instead of building a new base of long-term repeat loyal clientele, the restaurant ends up giving food away, the staff gets screwed on tips, and the cheap-ass customers move on to the next coupon never to be seen again.

Some fucking deal.

I return with their water. They’ve both closed their menus and are looking around, checking the place out. I ask them if they have any questions about the menu and if they’re ready to order.

The woman looks at me like I’ve just taken a dump on top of their table. “How much longer till our appetizer shows up? I don’t want you rushing us.”

What I really want to tell her is, “Your appetizer will be right out just as soon as the chef gets through pissing in it like I instructed him to.” Instead, I inform her that the stuffed mushrooms take a few extra minutes to bake but assure her it will be well worth the wait to make sure they arrive at the table piping hot and golden brown.

“Well I certainly hope so,” she gurgles. “The service around here is a little slower than I expected.”

I apologize and excuse myself from the table, assuring her I’ll go check on the status of her starter.

On the way to the kitchen I pass the hostess who is in the process of seating me a four top, and I can see that one of the women in the party is tightly clenching what looks like a piece of paper that was regurgitated from her home computer hours earlier. It is then that I seriously consider whether slitting my wrists with one of the chef’s knives might be a better way to end the night than the direction I’m currently headed.

– Terry Everton

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

GrouponCanSuckIt July 1, 2012 at 8:29 pm

This is awesome, and very well written! May I have your permission to print this out and slip it under the office door for my boss? (anonymously, of course) We have about 5 of these stupid things going around now – it is hell. These coupon people are ridiculous and must be stopped! Is "Gaggle-up" a slang term for "act like an entitled asshole"?

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Terry Everton July 2, 2012 at 3:21 am

Yes, feel free to share this with your boss. And thanks for the kind words. Yes, these ridiculous coupon scams do more to damage businesses than promote them. Not to mention decrease the standard of living – through decreased tips – for the service staff. Fuck Groupon and their ilk.

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Jen July 2, 2012 at 2:12 am

It's unfair to paint such a broad brush. I use Groupons and other certificates and always tip on the total value.

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Terry Everton July 2, 2012 at 3:25 am

Sorry, Jen, but if you're tipping on the total value then I assure you you're in the minority. Any server worth a shit will tell you that coupon users are the bane of our existence, lowering our wages and standards of living through reduced tips. Most restaurants who resort to these coupon Ponzi schemes are usually on their way down or desperate to drive sales regardless of the consequences to their staff.

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Ralph September 21, 2012 at 4:35 pm

Many diners wouldn't go out as much if it wasn't for Groupons and the like, so be happy about those offers. I presented a dining certificate the other day prior to ordering and I could sense a change in the server's demeanor. I think that he had a chip on his shoulder about it, and that he gave us less attentive service because of it. He actually hurt himself by making such a false assumption. I would have given him at least a 20% tip – on the total value – if it wasn't for his substandard service.

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yudelnoodle July 2, 2012 at 5:41 pm

I worked in a place that had restaurant.com coupons and they would complain and complain even though they were eating pretty much for free. I had one group try to use three at once so their $200 tab would only be like $25. They give gratuity on restaurant.com but that doesnt stop people from complaining. hate all those coupons.

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Jodi July 3, 2012 at 2:22 pm

That is so rude! I always tip more when I have coupon. I mean I'm saving that money the least I can do is spread the wealth to someone who works VERY hard for their money.

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Amber May 10, 2016 at 3:09 pm

What is rude? The OP's assumption at the coupon user instantly being poor tippers? Then yes I agree it is rude.

I agree with you on tipping more when I use a coupon, I often tip the amount the coupon saves me more then I normally would. For instance a $5 off coupon gets an instant $5 added to the tip, I figure either way I'm saving a little bit of money and the server gets the most benefit of the coupon.

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Aaron July 3, 2012 at 2:29 pm

Very well said. It must be frustrating.

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sss July 4, 2012 at 10:53 pm

I use groupons in order to try a new restaurant that I might not have thought of or heard of prior to seeing the advertisement. By using the coupon, I can spend what I normally would on a meal, and add on several extras to try from the menu that I wouldn't have normally added so that I can find out if I like the place in order to come back again. Then I do tip for the full rate plus normally an extra 5 or 10 dollars if the server still treats me like a full-paying client.

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Tina July 13, 2012 at 9:23 am

I use them occasionally to try a new Restaurant. IF the Restaurants do not want to take them, they shouldn't enroll in the program. It is not mandatory it is a choice. I wonder if the Restaurant owners know their servers are so hateful of the program. Also if you don't like the Restaurant business or the money earned, once again it is all about choices, find something else that you like to do. Remember if you hate your job, you go to WORK each day. If you LOVE your job, it is somewhere pleasant to do each day. Make yourself happy, don't let it depress you where you need to complain.

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delbert August 28, 2012 at 10:09 pm

I have never been a server but live in a high minimum wage state which luckily has not allowed exemptions for restaurants.
Is it fair to expect a customer to tip on the regular price of the food and still expect the same percentage on a $300 dollar bottle of wine as a $30 bottle?

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Lea McFalls Zeqiri August 29, 2012 at 6:28 pm

You tip on the total amount, wine or not, only cheapos do not. And what state is that, Utopia?

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Anymous November 25, 2012 at 2:34 am

I read posts like this an I can only laugh at the nonsense that is spouted. I don't understand how waiters who are struggling financially themselves can be so angry when other people who are struggling JUST AS MUCH AS THEY ARE use their common sense and eat using a groupon. Let me ask you whiny self centered waiters this….why would I pay your establishment (aka, your boss, aka the same fucktard who pays you 2.90 an hour) 50 of my hard earned dollars, when I can get the same thing for 20?

Now understand me….I think the people who don't tip you guys on the TOTAL amount of the bill are assholes from hell who deserve a pitchfork in the ass. My husband an I NEVER tip less than 20% on the TOTAL bill….ever….ever…ever. But let me ask you this, do you think your crappy tips may have something to do with your crappy attitude? Maybe you see me coming with a groupon, and automatically give me shit service because you think I'm gonna stiff you? Of course, if that's what you do, then you deserve nothing….and maybe that's whats been happening? Just a thought.

Don't hate on me because I'm smart enough to not pay full price.

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aaa December 1, 2014 at 11:37 pm

Don't look now but your self entitlement is showing

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Michael Fung January 4, 2015 at 3:24 pm

At our restaurant, we accepted groupon and livingsocial, but the tip of 18% is added to the bill before the discount, so our waitstaff would not get screwed from the customers tipping on the discounted bill. We do have our few share of complain for this policy, but we nicely tell the customers that we do it to protected our waitstaff and quality of services regardless if the customers is coming in with a coupon. The restaurant should bite the bullet for the freebie, promotion to generated higher traffic, but not at the cost of the waitstaff. And I wish in the future, more restaurant would do the same to protected the waitstaff that is depending on the tips for a living, and making sales for the restaurant.

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Bob January 25, 2015 at 5:58 pm

I use Groupn sometimes and ALWAYS tip on the total. If you get a shitty tip from me it's cuz I got shitty service from you and you'll still get at least 10% , which is 10% more than you deserve. I used to work as a busboy at an upscale restaurant during high school and all the wait staff that didn't get the best tips would complain and those that got good tips didn't. However, the ones that got poor tips were always the shitty wait staff. And now, why is it that wait staff EXPECTS 20% on a bill? When I bussed 15% was a good tip and anything more was a bonus. Even shitty servers expect 20% for what? I've pretty much stopped eating out except for a few places I really like with good food and value because I'm tired of bad service on top of bad food that I can make much better for 1/4 the cost. Another thing, get off your smart phones and actually work. I was at one of the places I regularly eat and waited a LONG time to be seated when several tables were available because the second host/ess (one was dealing with a customer for a long time) was texting behind the counter and didn't give a rats ass that a customer was present. I sent an email to the managers who apologized, but that Phucktard should've been fired.

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Amber May 10, 2016 at 3:06 pm

Sounds like their expectation of getting bad service is justified, you right off the bat started assuming this table would tip poorly and be a pain simply because they're using a coupon. I use coupons, saving money is always nice, I tip more then I normally would when I use a coupon because I'm already saving money on the meal, as long as the service warrants the tip increases. So maybe you simply suffered a prediction becoming reality simply because of your initial assumption.

Maybe if servers stopped making assumptions based on appearances or coupon use, they wouldn't screw themselves out of a good tip. It's clear in your story you instantly wanted to serve this table less by their use of a coupon, they picked up on it I guarantee it.

The schools in my city put out coupon books to fund raise for the sports teams, school trips, etc. We buy these to support the local schools, I'm spending money on these coupon books and I'm going to make use of them. If the service doesn't suffer by my presenting a coupon then the tip will reflect that and be generous. If the service suffers, that will also be reflected in the tip, which could end up resulting in no tip.

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