Waiter Chides Cheapskate Customer

January 3, 2016

in Server Stories

When I was in grad school, another student and I from the same lab group went out to a local Chinese restaurant for lunch. It was a nice place – a bit higher end than your typical takeout joint. At the end of the meal, I was paying cash and he was using a credit card. To make it easier and quicker, I just give him my cash (including a tip – $25 for a $20 meal).

The waiter brings over the bill and the guy I am with puts his credit card in the little folder, but takes the time to write a tip on the bill. This seemed weird to me, as you usually just write the tip on the receipt they bring you back to sign – but that in and of itself wasn’t a problem.

The first problem was he wrote down a $3 tip for a meal that cost about $40. This is after I gave him $5 cash for my portion of the tip – so he was taking from the waiter and from me all at once. I didn’t want to make a scene, so my plan was to just drop some cash on the table to make up for it as we left and avoid going out to eat with this jerk again.

The second problem was the waiter saw the $3 tip and started arguing with him about it being too low. I don’t really blame him for this – I mean, it isn’t good form to argue with customers – but I get why he would be pissed off. I was pissed because I was just going to quietly fix things, but now there is a big scene going on – and I don’t want to look like a jerk too.

We leave (I leave cash on the table to make it a proper tip), but now everyone is pissed. But whatever, it’s over and the waiter wasn’t stiffed.

But then problem three. Later that week, the jerk orders delivery from the same restaurant to our lab. Guess who delivers it? Yep – the same waiter from earlier. The bill was $19.93 and the jerk gives him $20 and tells him to keep the change. The waiter/delivery guy says, “I think you need it more than me,” and counts out the seven cents and hands it to him.

To top things off, we only had one phone line in the lab (this was years ago before everyone had cell phones), so everyone was now afraid to order food from this place because we were afraid we were blacklisted by the staff at that place now.

{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

Anon January 3, 2016 at 9:34 pm

I find it amusing how wait staff expect tips, like it's something that people are required to pay by law. I don't give a damn what your manager pays you. I don't give a damn if you've been having a crappy day. I don't give a damn if your required to split your tips with the other staff. These are not my problems. When I go to a restaurant, I see the price listed on the menu, and am expected to pay that. If the service is good, I'll tip, and you should be thankful that I've decided to pay you more than what I'm required to. I'm giving you money I don't have to. If you're not happy about the fact that you get $3.00 an hour, then find another job. I don't want to be dependent on peoples gratuity, so I chose not to work in the restaurant business. Wait staff need to understand that without the customer, they wouldn't have a job.

And before you say: "well, I don't want you coming to my restaurant."…if you're that self-entitled to think you should get a tip regardless of your service, then please let me know where you work so I know not to go to that restaurant. There's no shortage of restaurants out there that I can go to.

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ASP0124 January 5, 2016 at 8:34 am

I don't work in a restaurant but I wouldn't want you within fifty feet of me regardless of where we are. I'm assuming you eat alone a lot, since you're a completely repulsive person.

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Anon January 5, 2016 at 8:24 pm

Awwww. Please stop making fun of me, that hurt my feelings. Oh yeah, that's right; I don't care what you think of me. And as I said before, if you worked in a restaurant and thought you should be tipped regardless of whether I have a shitty experience, then I don't want to come to your restaurant. I have to earn my money, so you should have to earn yours too.

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ASP0124 January 8, 2016 at 8:22 am

I'm not making fun of you. I'm telling you that you have a lot to learn about empathy. They do earn their money. And tips. And by having to serve a person like you, I submit they work a lot harder at their jobs than you do.

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Bryan January 6, 2016 at 4:30 am

Do you tell your server that at the beginning of the meal? We live in a world of social contracts, the server gives you service expecting that you will compensate them justly (the owners expect this as well which is why the menu prices are so low). If waiters all made $10.00 an hour you would be paying FAR more for your entrees! If you tell your server your opinions on tipping at the beginning, you are opting out of this social norm, which is fine, and your service will be distributed accordingly. If you choose, however, to take advantage of the lower menu prices and still be a cheapskate when it comes to tipping, you are simply free loading on the established system. 10% is standard for bad service, anything below 10% and you should have spoken to a manager to correct the problem!

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Anon January 6, 2016 at 11:14 pm

There is no "standard" for bad service in my opinion. Also, there is no established tip amount. Only a "rule of thumb" of 10/15/20% based on how people see fit to tip. I'm not taking advantage of the system, and IF the owners expect people to tip, then that's their problem as well. If they want to raise the price of the menu, to compensate for their employees wages, I'm more than okay with that. I want to know what I'm expected to pay before I sit down. As I said before, if the service is good, I have no problem with tipping. If they are engaging, prompt, and attentive to my needs, then they should be rewarded (even if that is their job description that they agree to @ the wage the restaurant manager proposes). And whats more, I typically operate on an internal "three strike" system. I allow three screw-ups before I decide whether or not to leave a tip, which is more than fair.

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Rick January 7, 2016 at 11:45 am

Being a career restaurant person, and a damn good server I usually get 20%. Restaurants only make between 5-10% profit, subtract credit card processing of 2% -3%. If you want to not tip waitstaff go to McDonald's. There are some restaurants that are starting a no tip policy, and increasing their prices. What happens when the service staff doesn't get paid properly then.

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Amber May 6, 2016 at 4:09 pm

That's not true, Canadian servers earn minimum wage, $14.40/hour or more depending on province, the menu prices for the American chain restaurants are the same price, employers are simply using it as an excuse to increase their profit margin in the State they do business in.

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Melanie July 29, 2016 at 12:08 am

I am a server in Canada and this is incorrect. In Ontario the minimum wage is currently $11.25/hour and a servers minimum wage is $9.80/hour. This is on the high end of the scale compared to other provinces. It's definitely a step up from wages in the States, but it's definitely no $14.40 😉

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Sean T February 9, 2017 at 9:21 pm

Gotta love liars, don't you? 🙂

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Chris January 7, 2016 at 2:31 pm

There is always some yahoo who writes these kind of I'll be damned if I have to tip with a superior attitude. We all refer to them as the Dick on table 4. But it is okay this is the same kind of person who disappears when its their turn to buy a round of drinks, Or thinks its okay not to chip in for gas because the driver was already going there. Remember when you go back to a restaurant for a second time and see the severs looking your way and laughing, yes it is you they are laughing at.

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Anon January 10, 2016 at 8:31 pm

So, you're telling me that people laugh at me when I don't tip? How will I ever go on with my life. I never said I didn't tip, just that it shouldn't be expected.

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theblonde June 26, 2016 at 12:01 am

yep, and you'll also be the last to get refills and checkbacks because why should we bother if we know you're not making it worth our while? grab the manager and tell them you'd rather pay more for your chicken alfredo and receive subpar service for our paychecks because if I know you're not tipping, I'm chatting with my tables that could pay my rent.

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Waiter who hates you January 8, 2016 at 2:20 am

I hope you enjoy spit!! I love how the world has it's own system of checks and balances, enjoy your free side of hepatitis

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Anon January 10, 2016 at 8:21 pm

As I said in my first post: please tell me what restaurant you work at, and I'll make sure not to go to it. That' way we can avoid one another and your job will have one less paying customer to make sure you have a job.

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Amber May 6, 2016 at 4:11 pm

I hope you enjoy fines, being fired and criminal charges. Food tampering is illegal.

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David March 24, 2016 at 3:49 pm

You’re a moron. Do you realize that restaurants pay servers less as an incentive to work for tips? Do you realize that if they didn’t expect customers such as yourself to tip, they would increase the prices of food and pay servers more?

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mensa58 January 4, 2016 at 9:36 am

A bigger problem is that the other student essentially took your money — whether to pocket it or use it towards his own meal doesn't matter, he took your money.

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Whopis January 6, 2016 at 3:48 pm

Oh that was definitely a problem. The solution to that was simple enough – that was the last time I went anywhere with him.

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patsytp January 6, 2016 at 5:25 am

We don't tip as a general rule in Australia, but always do if service is good- which I think is fair?!? Yet in England (where I grew up) I was always taught to tip if I could, unless the service was really awful, even when I was a student and had little myself. But I hate the thought of being "expected" to tip- or people "hanging around" for a tip, like a waiter for example… that just annoys me and would prompt me not to. And if I ever had the suspicion that tips weren't going straight to the person I was tipping, then I wouldn't tip at all.

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Whopis January 6, 2016 at 3:59 pm

I don't like the system here in the US. I think wait staff should get paid appropriate wages and not need to rely on tips. Not because I don't want to tip – just because it would simplify things.

To me it always feels like the business is essentially getting to falsely advertise lower prices for their food than what it actually will cost the customer. And then if the customer doesn't hold up their end of this unenforceable agreement, it is the wait staff who get screwed.

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Anon January 6, 2016 at 11:19 pm

The problem with payiing appropriate wages is that it may cause the service to suffer. If the waiter or waitress knows they will get the same amount regardless of how they treat the customer, then they won't care whether they put in the effort or not. Which will then impact the customer experience, etc. I agree they should be raised a little, for d-bags that don't ever tip, regardless of service, but not to the same wages as all other jobs. If they are good at their job, they shouldn't have a problem making a living.

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Whopis January 7, 2016 at 2:04 am

So why do people seem to think that wait staff are a special breed of people who aren't going to do a good job unless we tie their pay to tips?

Or do you think that all jobs should be handled this way? We don't do this with doctors or engineers or construction workers. Does their quality of work suffer because they are paid wages and don't have to rely on tips?

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Anon January 7, 2016 at 2:34 pm

Yes it does Whopis. If you go to a clinic, you'll notice that the quality of service isn't as good vs a top 5 hospital. Wages drive work ethic. For servers, if you cap the wage at a set amount, you potentially cap the effort put forth in service. That doesn't happen with those other jobs. You either do the work required, or get fired. It's not subject to interpretation.

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FoodFight January 7, 2016 at 5:08 pm

The benefit of tipping, is also that wait staff can receive an almost instant response to their actions. Personally, I think the more rapid the response, the better checksum you have to evaluate your own performance. How well do people improve themselves based on a yearly review? If I did a bad job 8 months ago, am I really supposed to effectively fine tune something I barely remember IF I remember it at all? But yes, I agree, with the clinic vs hospital scenario most of the time.

Whopis January 11, 2016 at 6:17 pm

You are proving my point. No one tips at the top 5 hospital, yet the service is better than the clinic. Why is that? Better wages and more competition for jobs. There is no reason that the same model couldn't be applied to the restaurant industry. It is as simple as that.

FoodFight January 7, 2016 at 5:21 pm

Actually, we do with construction workers. It's not called a tip, but penalties and rewards are usually built into the agreement when committing to a construction company or general contractor.

– Here's the quote. Do the job, this is what you get paid. On their schedule.
– Get it done early and we offer this bonus or bonus times weeks early.
– Change orders based on their error is fixed / installed at their cost, on our schedule. Change orders based on our error, are documented and are at our cost, often including time compensation in addition to monetary. (Nothing more frustrating for the business that to make a change at our request, have construction run longer than our agreed upon open date and still pay out the bonus because our change ate their "early" time and they still did their part. We do however usually end up using that company for more business because of their work ethic and attitude, because they become our enabler and enforce their position as a resource rather than just a place we hired.

As for doctors, I think we should affect their pay based on their performance. Thus far, getting a different doctor is the closest we have to this. Ever see how much the bill for strep throat is without insurance when it's a quick shine of the flashlight, a scribble on the pad and literally less than 30 seconds of interaction with the doctor – if you even got the actual doctor? At least include the basic checkup along with the peek at the tonsils?

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FoodFight January 7, 2016 at 5:30 pm

I think we need a compromise. While I think there is still a place for tips, I certainly think we as a business have an obligation to at least voluntarily pay our wait staff better than the "legal" tipped minimum wage. Of course, I also think the concept of "living wage" is a crock. It's not reasonable to expect the burger boy to afford a house, car, etc. based on their after-school part-time job.

– As an employer, if you value your staff, show them value in the wage you offer.
– As a customer, if you value your wait staff, find a way to encourage them. Tips (as long as they aren't shared tips) are a universal way.
– As a customer, bad staff will treat you poorly anyway. Good staff will treat you respectfully anyway. It's the 80% in between that you're speaking to. Which team does your behavior as a customer root for? Good of Bad service?

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FoodFight January 7, 2016 at 5:03 pm

I work in the restaurant industry and have for many years. I also have business degrees. Tipping isn't black and white nor is it purely "nice guy vs asshole" when it comes to the customers choice of what to -GIVE- the wait staff.

The rules I live by, and which have demonstrated the most consistent results for me…

1) A Tip is called "Gratuity" because it is a GIFT, WITHOUT OBLIGATION. Tip (money) wise, the wait staff should be grateful for anything and complain about nothing. A tip is above and beyond.

2) From the customer side, a tip should be associated to the service. Good wait staff deserve a better tip than the losers. It sends the wrong message if the one who works their ass off to do a good job makes the same as the slacker that barely keeps their job.

3) The business suffers if the wait staff is anything less that excellent. Crappy service means crappy sales, bad reputation, and tends to either empty out the dining room or undesirably fill it with questionable characters rather than more respectable customers – this brings the business down even further.

4) Wait staff often comment that if you don't have money to tip, you don't have money to go out. They fail to realize that business revenue still generates the need for wait staff. If 20% of my customers stop coming in because they already stretch further than fast food to eat here and don't really have enough for the arbitrarily customary "15%" then I'm probably cutting wait staff by 20%. Sometimes this means cutting hours and sometimes it means fewer employees.

5) Happy wait staff means -happier- customers. You can't always make customers happy, but we can make their day suck less if it's not going well for them.

6) Sometimes the unhappy customer really has earned the right to be unhappy. As long as they aren't abusive, it's part of hospitality to suck it up and be nice anyway. Would you be rude to your own grandma? Age doesn't matter. It's still the same concept. Sometimes the best friends are met during a low time in their life. When we're open for business, our lights are on and it needs to be our own personal light that shines.

7) As a customer, sometimes I forget the extra cash when I leave. I always check the funds before ordering, but I often don't get a chance before leaving the house. Life is busy and having multiple children is as bad as having ADD / ADHD. (I wonder if parents with ADD / ADHD have an easier or harder time as parents?) Anyway, if it's a choice between people still being hungry after dinner and not leaving a tip, we'll skip the tip and seek out our wait staff on our next visit. (Sometimes my wife even stops in on her way to work to hand deliver the tip deserved the night before.)

8) Related to #7, sometimes I intentionally do an attitude check on wait staff. Sometimes we leave the dining room and walk back after the restroom to drop the tip. Sometimes we compensate the next tip for the previous – if the attitude was good.

9) Everyone deserves to be treated well, regardless of race, creed, religion, or income. Income includes how good or bad they tip. If you judge people on their tip, have you realistically evaluated yourself first? Wait staff that already have this under control are usually the ones making bank.

10) It's easy to read who is wait staff because they enjoy people or enjoy serving others versus those who "took some job" for the paycheck. We request specific wait staff when possible. The good ones recognize us and offer to be our servers if we're willing to wait a few minutes for one of their tables. Those are the restaurants we go to most often. And those are the wait staff who usually get well beyond the customary percentage.

11) Our business is not one of them, but when we go out (family or business functions) and we encounter a business that adds a tip based on 8 or more people (or whatever rule that forces a tip) we call them on it before ordering to ensure it's not forced, then leave our tip based on -our- calculations, go elsewhere and ban them from future patronage if they refuse that accommodation, or challenge the bill and zero the tip and leave nothing. You cannot legally enforce anything called "Gratuity."

12) I've found that many of those businesses who force gratuity are also the ones who do not voluntarily pay more than tipped minimum wage. How you pay your staff says a lot about you, especially when you ARE a large chain.

13) Unlucky 13? Not really. I expect to live by the same rules and expectations as I have of others.

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Jack January 7, 2016 at 8:00 pm

The issue at hand here is that some people feel as though they are better than those who work in the service industry and should be treated as though they eat coal and shit diamonds and that those in the food service industry should feel honored to take care of them and if they receive a tip they should do a flip no matter the percentage. Gratuity isn't a gift or a handout it is expected at a rate of 15 to 20 percent. The reason a restaurant is able to pay a lower hourly rate is because tips are part of the taxable income food service workers receive. Now to back this up with fact if a server gets audited on his or her taxes they undoubtedly end up owning the government money because those with this attitude of I don't have to tip and don't screws the worker. What happens is the government takes the paper records i.e. credit card receipts with a tip and figures mathematically the servers average percentage of tip and then applies that percentage to the total dollar amount the server sold for the year to compensate for tickets paid in cash and provable receipts that don't have a tip on them. So to sum up it is not a gift or hand out it is expected and if you don't have the means to tip go to an establishment where there isn't an option to tip on your credit card receipt. You do have a choice to tip or not if the answer is not go elsewhere.

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Anon January 7, 2016 at 8:50 pm

Then that's the issue. You expect something that was never offered by the customer. When I go to a restaurant, I don't say: "now I'm going to give you X.XX amount because you're my waiter." I go there EXPECTED to pay the price on the menu. I then make a decision based on how my service was as to whether I feel you deserve a tip. I don't go to work expecting to be tipped, I go there knowing that I'll be paid what was agreed upon when I accepted the position. If I get money in addition to that, then that's great.

My question is, why do you expect it? Because people have tipped in the past? Because it's unfair to you that you only get $2-3/hr wages and so the customer should make up the difference?

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Bryan January 8, 2016 at 4:15 am

It's not "unfair", it is our legal wage. There is a reason why the U.S has two different minimums, one for servers and one for hourly employees, being that servers make their wages in tips. The "rule of thumb" (which btw is the same thing as a standard) of 10% – 20+% keeps our wages above minimum. It is expected because EVERYONE in our country knows this policy (as I stated before it is a social contract). There are lots of different social contracts that we abide by each day. For example, the "rule of thumb" is set so that it would be frowned upon for me to fart on your shoes (or you mine). I can if I would like to, so why do you expect such things to not happen? Because we have an understanding (and agreement) that such things are mutually unacceptable. Aside from your 3 strike rule (which is asinine) , you never really have said that you are a bad tipper, but I just have a feeling that you are a dick customer :p You can tell yourself all you want that you are not taking advantage of the system, but deep down both you and I know that you are just a cheapskate on a power trip! Be warned: Servers remember people who burn them, one day you may just find yourself without quality service in your town, but hey, you get what you pay for 😉

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LFCbartendert March 20, 2016 at 9:17 pm

If you have a problem with the standard practice of tipping, then write a letter to your congressmen. Don't take it out on the people who depend on those tips to make a decent living wage.

It begins and ends there.

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Anon January 10, 2016 at 8:27 pm

So long as i get decent service, I have no problem with tipping. It's waiters that think that they still deserve a 15%+ tip, when I've had to wait 10 minutes to get a drink refill, or take an ungodly amount of type to bring something back to the table after asking multiple times, or just wait staff that have a crummy attitude all around. I don't expect to be waited on hand and foot, but a tip shouldn't ever be expected just because you're a waiter/waitress making below minimum wage.

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Sean T February 9, 2017 at 9:26 pm

Actually, you're wrong about the "below minimum wage." The law sets a minimum wage for workers in several job categories and they're all different. A server in a restaurant is making the minimum wage that legally is required for their position by their local government. It's usually around $2.13/hr although some states have higher minimums for servers that receive tips. And please, understand that the IRS assumes that you're tipping even when you don't, which results in higher withholding for money they were never paid. In addition, when you fail to tip, your server, who has to tip out busboys, bartenders, etc., is basically paying for you to eat on their dime. Not cool.
You pull a stunt like that in my restaurant, I'll toss you out and take your picture to go on my wall of shame. 🙂 You know full well when you go into a sit-down establishment like mine that tipping is expected. You're just a well-spoken cheapskate.

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RedHead0186 January 11, 2016 at 3:11 pm

I don't agree with the server arguing with the customer, but I think for low tip like that it might be appropriate to address it. Merely saying, "was there something I could have done to make your meal better?" would be a way for the server to see if indeed maybe he/she did something to upset the customer and get that instant feedback, as well as call attention to the customer about the lower tip. Of course, tips are optional so the customer is free to just let it be, but I think the server should be allowed to get feedback on why the customer thought service was poor. Starting an argument, however, is not the way to go about it.

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Detecting leaks March 30, 2016 at 10:16 pm

I don't agree with the server arguing with the customer, but I think for low tip like that it might be appropriate to address it. Merely saying, "was there something I could have done to make your meal better?" would be a way for the server to see if indeed maybe he/she did something to upset the customer and get that instant feedback, as well as call attention to the customer about the lower tip. Of course, tips are optional so the customer is free to just let it be, but I think the server should be allowed to get feedback on why the customer thought service was poor. Starting an argument, however, is not the way to go about it.

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Rosie April 12, 2016 at 3:59 am

What a great convo going on here. Many have made excellent points on both sides of this discussion. As a server myself, of 17 years, I greatly appreciate the pointing out of the "social contract" aspect of the issue at hand, as well as the thing about how servers could be paid more by the restaurant and we could all pay more for food if everyone wanted it that way. I have one more aspect to add to the conversation, and that's some insight into the job itself. When I first started serving I always had time to take excellent care of my customers, and the service they received was entirely up to me. That made it easy to go along with the people who say that the server should only be tipped if they provided excellent service. I always could. Now, however, these days….in what I guess is part of the same effort companies make to bring in more and more money for themselves by filling a bag of chips up LESS while raising the price of it, There are NEVER enough of us. Almost always 2 of us doing what 3, 4, or 5 used to do. Most people tip and I make a decent living. I work in a casino and have benefits so I'm better off than most servers, but I've worked other places, too and know that it's everywhere this happens. Never enough of us. We have stuff we do in the back like stocking and cleaning. We clean the booths and the chair legs and such and do many jobs that should dictate we get a basic wage at least that of a housekeeper, all WHILE taking care of the customers the best we can while the hostess (who makes 3-5/hr more than us) seats us 4 tables of customers at the SAME time, and then does it again 2 minutes later. Sometimes I have 15 tables seated in my section! This in consideration, I unfortunately can't always give the level of service I'd like to. I can get the motions knocked out…drink order out, food order entered/delivered…etc., but I have no time to chat. If someone takes a lot of time asking questions, someone else's service is going to suffer while I spend that time, as there is no one to help. I rarely get breaks- never one longer than 5 minutes. Can never order a sandwich and actually get to EAT it, and while I might know if you left me a fiver on the table and I happened to see it on my way past with someone else's food, I have no time to check or know if you left me anything on credit card, cuz I don't have any TIME to think about my tips until it's time to leave. Sometimes I am absolutely slammed with 4 difficult tables and a backed up kitchen that isn't getting me my food, and other times things are totally fine and I'm managing 15 tables smoothly. You just never know how the seating/orders/people equation is going to add up- except that you are gonna run ur rear off for many hours. So…all I can say is that, if not for my tips- there's no way in the universe I'd consider doing the job for less than $15/hour. It is emotionally difficult, physically strenuous, stressful, and break-less. I would love to work with animals and get to eat dinner, but I can make more money serving (for tips) than I could if I went to school to be a vet tech. But- if I get to work one day and they say "surprise! we're paying you $13/ hour…I'd be off to school in an instant to get a less stressful and more personally rewarding job. Also, I just have to state that the original poster never said that the service was poor, so to the gentleman who posted the response- I don't understand why you felt the need to comment on not tipping for POOR service…maybe I missed something there:)

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Jacob July 20, 2018 at 12:17 am

Anon, go play in traffic or something. You don't belong eating at a restaurant. Restaurants are for people with more class. People with class tip and don't complain about it. Its only the trashy people that don't tip. You also must not have any self awareness or just simply don't care how people view you because the fact that you're on here complaining about tipping makes you seem very trashy and pathetic.

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RedHead0186 January 11, 2016 at 3:07 pm

That's a good point. Also, the customer is the 'best' point of feedback for a server-it would be very hard for a manager to observe a server's interaction with a table from start-to-finish in order to give them good feedback. The customer is in a better position to give honest and (like you said) more timely feedback.

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