Waiters even the score
June 21st, 2010
12:00 PM ET
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Last week, Eatocracy shared a compilation of restaurant pet peeves from friends and colleagues. In turn, we asked “What should we add to the menu of complaints?”

Over 1,500 responses later, and there are clearly two sides to every story. For every customer complaint, there wasn’t a waitstaff counterpoint far behind.

So, we decided to turn the tables: diners, you’re about to get served. Turns out industry folks have just as many grievances as customers do.

And in this corner, the waiters:

May I offer you a seat?

“As a server, I'm tall. If I have to repeat everything a dozen times because you're hard of hearing and my boss refuses to turn down the music, I'm going to sit or bend down so you can hear me better.”

“When I was a server, I squatted [next to] tables, not because I wanted to be friends, but because it made it MUCH easier to hear someone’s order and get it correct. You want your order correct, don’t you?"

“Having worked in a restaurant, I know that we were trained to crouch by your table … we get demerits from our managers if we are caught not doing so. It is so as to appear not to be talking down to customers. Trust me, it is as awkward for us as it is for you!”

Thanks for the tip…or lack there of

““If you go into a bar that’s four deep and I even look up to take your order, you better be kind and generous. I have 25 to 35 things that need to be done RIGHT NOW, and if you cop an attitude, waste my time over stupid questions and stiff me...well, I have better things to do.”

“‘Can we transfer our bar tab to our table?’ Um ... bartenders work for tips too, people! If I transfer your tab to your table, the waiter's check gets padded with my sales and I get nothing. Next time, try saying it with a ten or twenty spot and I'll be glad to transfer your tab!"

“Wait on someone in a bad mood and most likely they are going to recall their dining experience as horrible, unjust and not worth tipping.”

Are you still working on that? The reason we ask is because we can’t tell

“It sucks that we have to ask you if you're finished with your plate. It would make our jobs incredibly easier if more people understood basic dining etiquette. If you're finished with your meal, either of three universally accepted signals will be read by your server: push [your plate] to the side, place your napkin over it, or cross your fork and knife over the center of the plate. You'd be surprised how many people don’t know to do this.”

Closing arguments

“You don't like your server, eh? Let me tell you this: for every annoying trait you all have listed for servers, we can think of ten more for why we hate customers.”

“I'm a server and just when I'm reading all these ignorant, pompous complaints, I was thinking how much I hate people in general. Stay home if you get that offended by your server's behavior.”

“Something one server does might annoy one guest, but please the other. Like any other job, each server is different in the way that they provide service to each guest. … In general, servers don’t intentionally do things to annoy their guests.”

“It works both ways, there are things our guests do that drive us up the wall but we understand that its part of the nature of our jobs and we move forward and so should you.”

Geez! We know there’s more where that came from. Do we sense a diner rebuttal coming on? The comment ring is open.

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Filed under: Bite • Restaurants

soundoff (2,098 Responses)
  1. wenwens

    Well i'm from Ireland, and throughout Ireland bono and the lads are unquestionably liked and also could certainly not do truly much incorrect, we all love them.

    September 6, 2011 at 5:41 am | Reply
  2. Prior FoodServer

    I think VetranServer said it well...

    "Tipping is not required, but it will get you a warm welcome back and even better service the next time. If you want to be treated like a king when you visit your favorite restuarant all you have to do is be a pleasant human being and tip well. If you can't tip well, be courteous and don't run our butts all over the restuarant with special requests, because you won't be paying for our service. I never mind not getting tipped out well by someone who didn't ask for more than their drinks to be refilled once and their food to be delivered to their table, but don't waste the time I can be spending on guests that tip well by making me run to get you extra sides of ranch dressing for your 6 oz. salad or 5-10 refills of coca-cola for your kid before your meal even comes out. Whether you run my butt off for a good tip or not, I'm never rude, but have SOME consideration."

    I myself have been in the food industry as a waitress and nothing says running your butt around like waiting on elderly people. They expect steller service for little to no tip. I have always acknowleged that if I didn't give good service it would be reflected in the money I received. So that should ensure that our servers strive to give that great service. I don't demand much but my food be warm, my drink refilled, and if the food didn't come as ordered it be corrected. I will tip well if my server is excellent and maybe they can't controll all aspects, but at least give me a good understanding why it isn't what I expected.

    I have also not left a tip. When I order a pancake I expect syrup to come with it as it is the servers job to get the extras that come with the food. Not for you to bring the pancake and then ask if I wanted syrup and then never return with it. Or if my meal includes a side with it make me aware of it and ask what I want. Do not let me make my order and just skip out of what is due. It is part of your responsibility to know your menu.

    I do not agree that it should be standard to leave a 20% or more tip. Maybe I am a bit old fashoned for this idea, however if we are all required to leave a 20% tip standard where does that leave the customer service aspect? If my server is rude or has no interest in their job, why should I be required to leave them what they think is owed? If you are worth it great, yes you should get a fair tip. Otherwise stop expecting.

    December 31, 2010 at 4:18 pm | Reply
  3. Benedikt MORAK

    well reading to the posts i am glad i am not working in the states but in good old europe. where eating out is civilized and nothing is a 'must'.i am a Chef since 45 years and Executive Chef since some 30..I have worked in little restaurants and big hotels. And as we all know, kitchen very seldom sees any tips.BUT every good server knows, when/if he or she hs a good or big table or wants something special or extra, a share of the tips is appreciated. because Chefs have a LONG memory and a little co operation goes a long way. Also WE work long hours, on top of it in the heat and noise. at least we don't have to smile if we do not feel like. a good server also will always give a little something to the dishwashers. and they always will have clean coffee spoons on the side ready.
    do I tip when i go out. YES i do,but both the server and i will ask them to make sure that the kitchen gets a beer or some soft drinks if they feel like. and believe me, this is appreciated. but if the server is a skunk and has an attitude, i even walk out without ordering. He does not do me FAVOR to serve me. i come here to eat and also have the right to be treated correctly and PROFESSIONALLY. If the server has first to ask the kitchen, what is the soup of the day, does not know the items on the stop list and does not know the basic drink service, he or she is in the wrong place indeed. and for that can not expect a tip.
    i do not make the law about low hourly wages, you guys have labor unions, are THEY doing something about it, besides sitting on their fat bums all day long.(i never belonged to any union my whole life).
    so, as the old saying goes, you get what you give...

    December 8, 2010 at 4:20 pm | Reply
  4. Danni

    The amount of ignorance present on this comment board is astounding. Both sides of the argument have valid points and there is no right answer!

    To all those who dont like tipping: what do you do for your job? Im sure you experience your own level of stress, but do you ever have up to 15 tables of hungry or thirsty people asking you for something at the same time? Your server deals with a section of tables... NOT just yours. That is reality, and you are aware of it. If you want different, go to a restaurant expensive enough to provide one server per table.
    Also, did you know that the average server walks (or runs) approximately 12miles for every 6 hour shift he/she works? No, the job does not require a high level of education and you may think these people are "lesser", but having worked in over half a dozen industries, I can say with complete honesty that servers are among the nicest and most beautiful people I have ever encountered.
    I have worked as a server and a telemarketer... but also as a currency trader and a CMA for a huge accounting firm. And I must be honest; it takes a special type of person to work nights and weekends with no benefits, and still smile at every testy CEO who walks in thinking theyre better than you.
    Also, did you know that servers must tip-out to kitchen staff and hosts based on their DOLLARS OF FOOD CONSUMED? If everyone for a single night did not tip a penny, the waiter would actually lose money, having gone to work!

    However, to servers: you knew when you took your job what you were getting into. If you are rude to someone WITHOUT cause, you deserve not to be tipped. Just like in any other business, if you are rude to a client, they will not patronize your establishment!
    They call it the Hospitality industry for a reason... try to be hospitable! There are benefits to your job too... you can often drink on the job, you can laugh and be social, you dont have to sit in one spot at a desk, and if you hustle, it pays off!!

    NO, tipping is not required and it is not the law, but it IS socially acceptable. You tip for the same reason you thank someone for holding a door open for you... because it shows appreciation. And because in our society, it is the accepted norm!

    November 6, 2010 at 8:42 pm | Reply
  5. Chef in Tucson

    Two things: 1) I can understand if you feel you have to sit at my table if the management asks you to do so, but I hate hate hate it! If a server does that when I am eating out, I politely ask them to get up. You say you don't know if something one customer likes another one hates. If I've nicely asked to not to do something, you now know that I am one of the customeres who do not like it. Please don't get pissy with me. 2) On th whole tipping thing, I think America is really screwed up in not sharing tips with the chefs/cooks in the kitchen. In Europe, most restaurants have a trunk for all tips and they are shared by all staff. I know servers and back waiters get paid below minimum wage and on slow nights sometimes don't make enough for gas money, but as a chef de partie in a fairly nice rstaurant where the typical cost per diner was $100-$150, I could never make more than my 10.25 per hour for a 10 hour shift no matter how slammed the kitchen got and how hard we worked back there. Meanwhile, on good nights, a good server could make over a thousand and still come out way better than me even after tipping out. How happy and satisfied the diner is and how much they are willing to tip for a good meal (always assuming they are not non-tipping jerks), is a result of both front of house and back of house together. The tipping situation should reflect that. Either even out the base wage for all employees and split the trunck equally, or share the trunk proportionally with more going to the front of house staff that are paid below miniumn. Reward the kitchen staff for a job well done!!

    November 1, 2010 at 11:51 am | Reply
  6. Tucker in Texas

    Question: On more than one occasion, I have hosted a luncheon/dinner with an open bar. My contract states that 20% gratuity will be added to the total cost of food and beverages which are on separate lines on the bill so I know how much was spent on food, how much on drinks. In some cases, I have even had to pay a fee for a bar set-up and bartender. Then, I turn around and there is a tip jar sitting on the bar which brings me to my question: Who is getting the 20%. Was I out of line to tell them to please remove the tip jar. I felt these people are my guests and should be treated as such. It just happens that I am entertaining them at a venue outside my home. I wouldn't expect them to tip if it was in my home so why should they feel they need to tip outside my home?

    October 31, 2010 at 12:31 pm | Reply
  7. Bill

    Wow, lots of hate going on here. I take meds that require I drink TONS of whatever I'm drinking, usually diet soda. A waitress/waiter who brings me a new glass w/o asking with just make my day. That = good tips. Then I've had to ask other servers where my waiter is, track them down, etc just to pay the bill. I do understand I'm not the only person he/she is serving, but we shouldn't have to look for you.

    But in regards to a lot of the complaints from servers, if you hate your jobs so much why stay working as a server? I'm in the medical field with a masters degree and probably make less than you could ever imagine, but I do it because I love to help people regardless of whether I'm compensated what I think I should be or even thanked by a client/patient.

    October 22, 2010 at 7:00 pm | Reply
  8. Troy

    I have enjoyed (not really) reading both sides of this argument....
    So I have decided to leave an excerpt from my FB page...
    Coincidentally...I have been as high as a General Manager in the service industry and as low as a dishwasher...
    So here goes...
    NOT only do i recommend this site to my fellow servers...(note the comments about poor service)...but I recommend this site to all of Galax, and other cities (hint hint FB friends, pass this on)! However, taxes aside (consuming that massive... $2.13 an hr) and people who are too inept to cook that need to be educated in the art of the tip, we as servers deserve some respect, which we gladly accept in a monetary form! We don't come to your job at 5 minutes until close and order a well done steak...we don't consume a gallon of our beverage of choice causing you to run a marathon...and we certainly are not members of the kitchen staff that incorrectly prepares your food. We are in fact the friendly smile that says hello and asks how your day is going. We entertain your children (no matter what mess they are making that we have to clean up later). We do our best to ensure your experience is going smoothly even if you are having a bad day...wife problems, dog crapped on the rug, kid failing basic math....and most times our management staff (which are paid handsomely) just take a back seat to watch us bust our a%$! So if you can't tip the 20+% we are worth, save yourself some of that hard earned money, which we don't come abuse you at your job for, and buy a frozen pizza/pre-made meal at wally world and eat it in the comfort of your own home! That way you can beat your dog, yell at your kid and not talk to your spouse in peace! THANKS.....fellow servers please feel free to forward this, I didn't copyright it!

    October 22, 2010 at 5:07 am | Reply
  9. Watron

    Where do I begin? There are so many uninformed people making comments in ignorance on this board.
    1. Wherever you shop you are subsidizing the employees even in industries that don't use tipping.
    2. Basing your tip on the amount of tax is just … well, stupid. The amount of tax varies from city to city.
    3. @Mike- Your ignorance is palpable. The biggest reason service is so bad in America is because, unlike Europe, it's not seen as a profession. It's something you do until you get a "real job". We are SERVERS not SERVANTS. Your attitude is the problem.
    4. @Brian- You want to know why you should tip according to the bill? A $10 meal will get you $10 service- i.e. a quick salad or appetizer= Minimum effort, lower tip. A $60 bill suggests a full meal- more effort therefore more tip. I'm assuming, of course, you want to tip the $60 meal at the $10 rate. Cheapskate.
    5. Hey Canadians! I hear it all the time, "We don't tip where we're from." YOUR NOT "WHERE YOU'RE FROM." As they say, "when in Rome" Maple Leaf.

    October 18, 2010 at 11:23 am | Reply
    • Kris

      What's the difference between a canoe and a Canadien?
      At least the canoe will tip every once in a while!

      November 18, 2013 at 9:54 pm | Reply
  10. Danj464

    I have worked in the restaurant business before, and I try to be generous with my tips. I realize that it's a tough job. My tip runs usually between 20-30%. However, as long as I am living and working in this country, I am allowed to decide how I spend my money. So, after hearing the tone of the remarks from the people I have, up until now, helped to support with my patronage, I am going to take their advice (especially the disgusting one who handles my food last, wink, wink) I am giving up restaurants. It's no longer worth the chance of offending someone who has a lousy opinion of their customer base anyhow. I think of a once a month trip out to eat as a special occasion for my wife and I, who both work for low wages, where we can be waited on in addition to getting a nice meal. Obviously, I am mistaken. I will return to a fast food restaurant where some mature people (those who can't get a livable wage because of their age) will be happy to have my patronage. To those single mothers and fathers who are waiting tables and serving drinks and busing tables, thanks for the memories. You will not be getting my business any more.

    October 16, 2010 at 2:37 am | Reply
  11. Doug

    I generally tip 20% on the pre-tax amount of the bill.

    October 15, 2010 at 1:55 pm | Reply
  12. BC

    "...remember, they're the last people to touch your food. ;-)"

    See, this why I don't like to (and try not to) eat out any more. You want a good tip? Give good service first – don't complain and say if you give me a good tip I'll be nice to you next time. If you screw up my order or give bad service, I will NEVER go to your restaurant again. You lose money, your boss loses money and you're out of a job in short order.

    October 15, 2010 at 12:07 pm | Reply
  13. Warren

    I'm just trying to work out the math when people say "if the servers were properly paid, the meal would be twice as expensive" and then declare that the tip should be 20%. Perhaps it's just a statement that, for all their complaints, servers would much rather have their compensation determined by their customers than by their bosses, a very reasonable sentiment in the restaurant industry.

    October 14, 2010 at 11:42 am | Reply
  14. Ed in Dallas

    Ya know, I have read some of these comments and I am amazed at the emotion(s). I can tell you this; in all my years of dining (53 years), I have had maybe two occurrences of substandard service, and those weren’t really all that bad. This is over HUNDREDS of experiences in all kinds of restaurants from five stars to greasy spoons serving budget breakfasts. Do I tip well? Heck yeah, I’m getting GREAT service! Except, that the server does not know that I tip well ahead of time, remember? What is the secret? Well, I like to think that it is respect, a mutual respect. Admittedly, I’m different though, I actually make eye contact with flight attendants giving the safety speeches before takeoff because I feel that they are doing it for my own good and I respect them for that. Even though I have heard the story hundreds of times, it just feels respectful to stop what I am doing for 45 seconds or so and pay attention, and smile at the conclusion. It is the same with servers; I do not interrupt when they are explaining something or obviously busy elsewhere. I ALWAYS ask for their names, if they do not offer it, and I remember and use the name when addressing them, yes even in the greasy spoon diners. It does not take long in any type of restaurant for the server to realize that I am not demanding nor conceited. I have fun with them, for they really are fun people, else they wouldn’t enter into that line of employment in the first place. After all, there is always an auto parts counter somewhere where you can be grouchy to the customer, hell, it’s just about expected. Wait staff are inherently people folks and it is part of the dining experience for me to engage them both politely and playfully. The two are not mutually exclusive! It seems that especially in the high-class establishments where the customers tend towards “needy and bitchy” that the staff find me rather refreshing, as I do them. I let them know what to expect. For instance, I do not drink alcohol. Often I say, “(insert name here) it would be a good idea to bring me the biggest glass of Coca Cola that y’all have back in the kitchen so that I don’t have to run your legs off with refills”. I’m smiling, they are smiling. Most often I get a pitcher of Coke set before me, or two Cokes to get me started, or they simply watch out for me because I explained that I have a powerful thirst. It isn’t really that hard to communicate. Let your needs be known, let your expectations be realistic, let your heart be glad that you can afford to dine out, and don’t take yourself so seriously, after all, we both know that you, nor I, are all that. If you think you are then you are a butt by definition. Finally, on countless occasions after dining I have asked to speak with the manager on duty just before leaving. I can see it in their faces when they approach me that they expect some sort of butt chewing; sad really. When I tell them quietly and privately what a fantastic experience I had and how (insert name here) enhanced the evening/morning/afternoon with his/her level of attention, professionalism, and fantastic sense of humor it never ceases to amaze me how surprised they are. Most of them tell me that they almost never get that kind of feedback, and ALL of them thank me profoundly for taking the time to let them know that their staff is first rate. Really folks, isn’t life somewhat short to act like doo-doo heads? Is it not more pleasurable to be happy? I have never been a waiter but I can imagine it to be very demanding, and to those that serve me I say we will get along just fine, for you know intuitively that you don’t have to act a certain way with me; just be you and I will be me. We both know that we are not better than the other; we breathe the same air after all.

    October 13, 2010 at 6:35 pm | Reply
  15. Tony

    A tip is gratitude for a job well done and when I was younger I learned that even when a job is well done, some people just won't tip. I delivered news papers at the age of 10 and then right out of high school delivered pizza's for a large national delivery company and I learned from those experiences to not rely on the kindness of others to make my ends meet.

    I've worked in Customer Service for 20 years and the only thing I can say is this... If you don't like what you're doing, or the money isn't there... Do something else and don't complain about it. One server in an earlier post mentioned that I should think about her two dollars an hour while I eat my 30 dollar steak. Why? Why should I have to worry about you and your financial situation?

    I've worked hard to get where I am in my career and to be making the money that I make and I did by working in the ditches without a college education. I have defied many odds in my career to make the money I make today and I am certainly not going to worry about the two dollars you make while I eat a steak that I worked very hard for.

    Given that I know how customers can be, I tend to tip on the heavy side. Heck, there have been nights where I can see the wait staff is short handed and doing their best to stay above water and those are the nights I will tip even heavier because it's hard to keep up with people call out sick or just don't show up.

    So don't tell me that I have to worry about your financial situation... Do a good job for me and my family and I will do my best to put a few bucks in your pocket. (Too many things these days have become rights versus privileges)

    October 13, 2010 at 4:53 pm | Reply
  16. Thomas

    How many times will a person working in the food service industry threaten "doing something" with the customer's food on this blog? It that really the attitude of a professional?

    If you want to be treated as a professional, then act like a professional both on the job and on the Internets Tubes.

    In reading this tripe, it appears that wait staff have poor attitudes because of crappy customers and the customers have poor attitudes because of crappy wait staff. Can anyone see a circular pattern here.

    So who is gonna put on their big kid pants and stop this cycle?

    October 13, 2010 at 4:32 pm | Reply
  17. CJ

    Dear self-righteous waitstaff...who do you think you are? You are employed by a business and it is your JOB to wait on customers in an effecient and courteous manner. I have worked in this industry for over 20 years in all different kinds of places..greasy spoon breakfast joints to fine dining. At my peak, I made $30,000-$35,000 a year and worked about 35 hours a week. That, by the way, was at a casual family style restaraunt, nothing fancy. I approach every table thinking about providing good service and doing my job. It is not always easy. I may get a lousy tip for whatever reason... maybe the cook screwed up, maybe I screwed up, maybe some people are just cheap, ignorant jerks who don't believe in tipping or are impossible to please. It is a thankless job. But it (usually) works out in the end. You take the bad with the good. And keeping that attitude is way less stressful than obsessing over who tips what.

    Dear Pompous Ass Customer....servers are not mind-readers, we don't know who made the reservation, or who expects to pay the bill. (And whats with fighting over the check right in front of me? Oh so NOW tipping suddenly becomes an important issue to you, now I get threatened with "If you want a tip, you'll give it to me.") We don't know if you are done with the plate in front of you or you're just taking your time. And we are not trying to be pushy when we suggest a drink or dessert. Many restaraunts require their staff to make certain suggestions or upsell. Most of us hate it. And believe me, I don't want to sit down next to you either, but if my boss says I have to, well, sorry dude...scoot over.
    I feel better now.

    October 13, 2010 at 12:05 pm | Reply
  18. Wow

    there's a bunch of holier-than-thou waitstaff patrolling this article..

    To the people who say paying min. wage to waiters would increase food costs:
    Obviously. Food costs are already increased by the expected tip. The only difference is that you would have the "tip" built in, in the form of the min. wage. The way you could argue for a system based on tipping is if you are looking to short your workers; looking to shift the burden to your customers because you don't care enough to properly look out for your workers. Food service workers are constantly being exploited by owners, whether it's through shift work or working for tips. It's a farce.

    To the self-entitled waitstaff:
    You may work a long grueling shift at $2.03/hr or whatever it is you work for, but even if you only served one customer per hour and that person tipped you 20% on a $10+ order... you would make around, with an 8 hour shift, let's say $32. But obviously you're not only waiting on one customer per hour. Increase it to two and you make $48. But obviously you're not only serving two people. If you serve three people per hour who all tip 20%, you're now making more than minimum wage. So if you think that just because you only make "$2.03/hr", you're somehow entitled to a 30% tip from the six person table you just waited, as well as the 6 or 7 other couples or groups of three you waited on during your shift... you're crazy. I mean let's say a 6 person table spends $70 (on the low, low end). At 20%, that's $14 just for that one table. Add that to your 2.03/hr and the 4 or 5 other tables covered during your shift (again a low estimate) and you're bringing in, very roughly, around $77.

    Anyway, everyone I know who works for tips makes a killing so.. I don't get all the "our livelihood is at stake" if you tip less than 25%.

    October 13, 2010 at 12:16 am | Reply
    • btchplz

      @Wow- regarding the waiters' livelihood thing-
      Currently I'm writing a master's thesis on the service industry, not that that entitles me to anything like expertise, but I feel I can shed some light. My info is obtained through waitstaff interviews at multiple establishments. Here are some of my findings, casually presented:

      Waiters at all types of restaurants I've studied have 'good nights', where they have higher sales, say anywhere from $500 to $800+, and therefore (hopefully) on those nights make at least 20%, $100-$200+.
      Then there's the 'bad nights', when they sell $200 or even less, and make 20% on that. Why so little sales? Many possible factors: Maybe the restaurant is just slow, or maybe it's a Tuesday, or maybe there's more waiters that needed working on the floor, or maybe it's raining...maybe any combination or all of those. Whatever the cause, bad nights happen, and in my research area (city), they seem to happen frequently, at least once a week.

      So far most of the people I've interviewed have worked, on average, four shifts a week. (By the way- they are students 66%, supplementing primary job income 21%, only waiting tables 11%.) Just hypothetically now, let's do the weekly take-home-tips math: one bad night at $20, one ok night, such as you suggest, at $80, one good night at $100, and one great night at oh, $180. (One server's actual numbers from a week in mid-September). That total number is $380, for 32 total hours of work. If the server is making 2.13/hr, and 'claims' all of his/her tips per shift, the $2.13/hr is negated, resulting in that blank paycheck servers are talking about. Also bear in mind the 10% tipout per shift which goes to the bartender and busboys. We're now down to around $340 per week.
      $340/week= $1360/month = $16,320. That's only about $5,000 over the 2009 poverty line. And in cities like mine, where cost of living is higher than the US average, these servers are only $1500 off the city poverty line.

      Economically speaking, livelihood indeed.

      October 13, 2010 at 2:59 am | Reply
  19. Edward

    I've stopped hiring ex-servers at my business, I've learned too many times that they are some of the most entitled and untrustworthy employees in the world, they have no respect for anything.

    October 12, 2010 at 6:13 pm | Reply
    • Sunday

      Maybe your just not a good judge of character. I've known most servers to be some of the most hard-working, trustworthy, and diligent people.

      January 21, 2013 at 4:34 pm | Reply
  20. Debs

    I used to be a server in a high class restaurant while in college. I always tip well , at least 20% standard. What really pisses me off is the servier asking "you still working on that?". I am eating my meal, not "working on it". I am dining, not working on anything.
    I was raised with manners, and whenI'm finished eating I put my fork and knife together on the plate. Its very telling when a waitstaff says that, I'm done with that restaurant as it means they train their staff poorly and have bad standards of service..

    October 12, 2010 at 5:38 pm | Reply
  21. Annie

    allow the ignorant fool to join the conversation. @Mike, Why do you expect so highly of your servers? (I am terribly sorry if I offended anybody..) anybody serving you would be in a bad mood by the end of the meal, and please remember nobody is perfect. I say tip everybody. Tip the excellent servers highly and the medicore servers the lowest possible.

    October 12, 2010 at 4:19 pm | Reply
  22. PC

    1. I would prefer to have the cost of my food increase 10-20% if that meant I would no longer have to tip.
    2. I do not understand the argument of those like "owner/chef" that believe that getting rid of the tipping system would make a $25 meal cost $75.
    3. "Paul" was very wise in saying that the tipping system is degrading for both customer and server.

    October 12, 2010 at 3:23 pm | Reply
  23. Been there, done that

    I waitressed for 13 years. I got a huge kick out of it because of the kind of restaurant it was, but it was definitely hard work. It's not easy being "on" all the time, running around, keeping things straight, cleaning things up–it's very physically draining. I was lucky; I had a full-time job very different from the restaurant work I was doing. Most everyone else was working two or three jobs just to make ends meet. I was an AMAZING server, and I consistently scored 100 on my mystery guest assessments. Even then I had my share of cheap people and people who thought they were better than me simply because I was a server. I would NEVER, EVER do anything to someone's food, but I occasionally would call someone out if he or she was truly an ass. I am lucky I had the luxury. My friends/fellow servers didn't. I also had the support of the restaurant. I do not tip less than 20%. People work in the service industry because they need the money. While it's only $1 or $5 for you, sometimes that's the only way your server is going to be able to pay for food that month or keep a roof over his or he own head. Cheap people SUCK.

    October 12, 2010 at 3:20 pm | Reply
  24. Shooting Star

    Most of this forum is giving customers a bad taste in their mouths about servers and I just want to clarify a few things. I've been waiting tables for the past 10 years and I now do it as my 2nd job, not that I have to, but because I want to. When I put on my uniform and strap on my apron, I am excited to go into work. Not only am I working with people I consider to be my friends, but I'm waiting on great people who actually come back to see ME. I take pride in making my guests happy and have a great feeling if they leave with full tummy's and smiles on their faces. The matter of tipping seems to be a huge issue on here and it is! I feel that, if you get crappy service, then tip accordingly. I understand if you feel that leaving 10-15% seems sufficient to you because of whatever reason, that's okay. Because for every one of your 10-15% tips, I'm getting 20% or higher from someone else. You win some, you lose some and that's all a part of life. All of this "they should make your pay minimum wage and cut out tipping" would only make finding good help impossible and your dining experience go even further down the tube. Yes, it's not a hard job, but we put up with a lot. Don't believe that all servers hate their jobs and hate people. Some of us actually take pleasure in making your experience memorable.

    October 12, 2010 at 3:12 pm | Reply
  25. elmo

    I remember I waited tables along with working retail and being a full time high school student and athlete. One incident sticks out in my mind. On a very slow night I had a table of six. They had my full attention since there were no other tables. I had to fill up ketchup bottles and dishes of ranch along with getting dinner roll after dinner roll, extra napkins, my salad doesn't have enough cheese, my fries don't have enough salt, i don't like this wine lets try another one, even more ketchup bottles, and so on. I was completely pleasant the whole time and got what they wanted seconds after they asked for it. The total bill ended up being over $100 and I got a $2 tip, In most cases gratuity is automatically added for parties of six or more, unfortunately this wasn't one of those cases.

    I worked hard, and with a smile on my face every single second I served at this restaraunt. I even came in with food poisoning one day and still was completely pleasant considering the intense amounts of pain I was in all night. I agree that servers are not automatically entitled to their tips, they should earn them. But that's just it, if they earn them give it to them. I alway judge a server before I tip and I think that's exactly how it should be ever time.

    October 12, 2010 at 12:28 pm | Reply
  26. btchplz

    To all the waiters out there, working hard at what is surely one of THE most trying jobs ever, Thank You! You are appreciated.

    Worth a look: http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20428990_3,00.html

    October 12, 2010 at 11:53 am | Reply
  27. Brandi Pants

    If some of the restaurants would start charging less for the meals we now get less of...I would gladly leave larger tips!

    October 12, 2010 at 11:46 am | Reply
  28. Schalell

    People are downright rude at restaurants.. Seriously if your waitress walks up to you and says Hi how are you today and if you dont respond back your gonna have a waitress who treats you like crap right back. If you clearly see that your waitress is busy do not suck down your drink and expect a refill immediately.. your not her only table!!! When you see your waitress taking care of another table do not interrupt her wait until she walks away from the table. Your gonna get treated right back how you treat people.. If your just gonna leave a penny as a tip after your waitress has busted her butt for you don't bother it just makes us more mad. If your waitress was downright rude and deserved not to get a tip thats fine but if your waitress kept a smile on her face and got you what you wanted as fast as they could they deserve a tip. some of us are working 2 and 3 jobs just to support their kids. wouldn't it make you mad if your child was busting their butt for someone and they weren't getting paid for it?? Hey at least we are working and aren't just sitting on our bums collecting your tax dollars

    October 12, 2010 at 11:42 am | Reply
  29. Jules Archer

    I always tip 20%. Even if the person does not deserve it. I do it because it's just the right thing to do.

    I expect servers to be polite and do their best. Not because I deserve it but because it's the right thing to do.

    If a server gives bad service because they don't get tipped well, then their priorities are not right. To give only good service because you're expecting a good tip shows your motivations are wrong. There are other ways to grab cash.

    If a customer does not tip properly then he or she should not be eating out. It's how the system works.

    October 12, 2010 at 8:48 am | Reply
  30. Robert

    Everyone who complains about tipping should learn about the methods employed in the cost controlling of restaurants. If you were to stop the tipping habit, most outstanding "mom and pop" style restaurants would go out. Only the flavorless corporate giants would be able to ride that one out. Also, YOUR cost would increase quite a bit to supplement the increase of labor costs. Most restaurants (try to) run a labor cost percentage of around 30%. Considering that wait/bar staff are sometimes 1/2 the staff, an increase in their salaries would be hard hitting to the restaurant and would most likely raise the price of food at least 30 more percent (kinda makes 20% a deal, doesnt it?). At least in this incentive based tip system, your waitstaff (should) work harder to please knowing that their livelihood depends on your generosity. In a system where incentive is removed and the waitstaff has no incentive to work hard... hehe, you complain now, just wait.

    October 12, 2010 at 4:43 am | Reply
  31. D in Cali

    For you servers that think you automatically deserve a tip whatever it is....lose the entitlement. Yes I know your base salary is $2 an hour and you depend on the tips, but no one is forcing you to work such a lousy arrangement.

    October 12, 2010 at 12:33 am | Reply
  32. siara

    hahahahahhaha YESS I LOVE THIS!! I used to be a waitress and honestly .. you learn some people reallyyy suckkk and for every complaint they have about their waitor we have about 1000000 worse things to say to the customer! LOL ON POINT!

    August 5, 2010 at 5:09 pm | Reply
  33. Steve

    i always have to laugh.... people who have been waiters are MUCH more likely to treat their servers respectfully... they also are much more generous with tips. People who have waited tables before are not inherently better people, they just know how hard the job is, and are more able to appreciate good/excellent/outstanding service.

    in my job now, i try to never ask or expect anyone to do something i have not already done myself at some point. you can't reasonably gauge someone's quality of work if you haven't done it yourself. its a shame the same cannot be true for restaurant servers... anyone getting waited on should have been a waiter themselves, it would change many a perspective. of course that's not possible, so we'll always have creeps who think waiters are their personal slaves and that leaving no tip is ever appropriate.

    August 4, 2010 at 5:12 pm | Reply
  34. LaLa

    Will not tip if a server calls me hun. End of story. it's childish, presumtive, and plain bad manners. Shows a lack of Intelligence on the servers part. Don't know how to address me? Look it up. U DON"T KNOW ME well enough to call me hun.
    Will stiff a server for it everytime. USUALLY I ask to be addressed in a different manner before I lose it. If you continue, I will ask for another server. I'm not a hooker/bartender so don't try and butter me up with calling me hun.........My job? I'M A SERVER!

    August 4, 2010 at 12:34 pm | Reply
    • Steve

      stop going to diners.... that's the only place they call you hun... and that's because its expected as part of the diner experience. it's a term of endearment, before you i've never heard of anyone being offended having been called hun.

      frankly... its a little bizarre that the word hun would cause you to not leave a tip, you should see a therapist about that, hun.

      August 4, 2010 at 4:49 pm | Reply
  35. LaLa

    Will not tip if a server calls me hun. End of story. it's childish, presumtive, and plain bad manners. Show a lack of Intelligence on teh servers part. Don't know how to address me? Look it up. U DON"T KNOW ME well enough to call me hun.

    August 4, 2010 at 12:32 pm | Reply
  36. darkk

    If you only make .18 cents on a $25 steak/meal...you are definitely in the wrong business. My brother own a small shop and if he isn't making at least 70% above cost he would close up. I think you should stop whining and learn how to run your business properly and pay your staff a little more. If I get poor service, you get poor or no tip...

    July 21, 2010 at 7:13 am | Reply
  37. Laydopotato

    For those of you that complain about 15% versus the preferred 20%, one thing I would like to point out is that some of us are government employees eating on the government dime while travelling very far away on government business. We are only allowed to be reimbursed for 15% gratuity and although I may desire to tip more, as a lowly state employee I really can't afford to. I also do not have the option of eating at home. Please, at least try to be grateful that you get the full 15% because although I will be reimbursed, sometimes I don't think the server is worth that much of my tax money.

    July 13, 2010 at 3:25 pm | Reply
  38. Lola

    The whole "if there wasn't tipping the price of the food would be exorbitantly high" thing is specious at best. Not every place only pays 2.00 an hour. Here in Washington state, servers are paid at least state minimum wage (which is higher than federal minimum) plus tips. I think it's currently like 8.50 or 9.00per hour. The price of restaurant food here is pretty much the same as restaurant food everywhere (I travel a lot, I know) and I have never, ever, ever been charged $75.00 for a hamburger or a steak or whatever it was.

    I had dinner at the Space Needle restaurant recently and I think our dinners were about 45.00 each. That particular restaurant is a little on the pricey side. I'm sure there are more expensive places in town, though I haven't been to them. Nevertheless, even with the prices @ the space needle the servers average 9-15 per hour (PLUS tips). I know this because I had a conversation about it with the server who was by the way given a 26% tip. I rounded up.

    My point though is that the prices at the average "family" restaurant are congruent with the prices at the same type places throughout the country even though backwater places like Kansas pay only 2.00 per hour. The higher wages that are paid here do not cause the cost of restaurant meals to go through the roof. It's a BS argument with no merit in fact.

    July 3, 2010 at 10:43 pm | Reply
  39. Really

    @Customer Advocate.. I guess economics is really an issue here. In the restaurant business as in grocery stores, as well as businesses there are many expenses, consider a mortgage or rent, taxes (including property, sales and employment), utilities, which are all truly astronomical. Although I do see your point, however in order for an establishment to receive that price for all of those items they must maintain good quality food, a clean establishment and good consistent service. Good service is indeed something that you will always pay for through tipping. If you stiff your mechanic, attorney, or doctor, they turn it over to collections. I claim all of the money that I make, otherwise that is stealing, not only from the government, but from the establishment. I have been in the restaurant business for almost 25 years. I am lucky, I put myself through college and after I graduated, I found a good job, however the restaurant that I worked at asked me if I would consider staying on after I found my career path. I love what I do as a server; I like the people that I get interact with. I have a clientele; I know who will be good to me and who will just be mediocre. No matter how badly a guest treats me, I would never ruin their food, but have seen many servers not be so caring. Karma has a way of working those things out. I will admit that I am also grateful that I do not have to provide service to any of the customers that have complained about having to tip on this board. Really if you don’t want to tip, consider ordering take out, allow these people to make an honest living and raise their families. Most people consider tipping a gratuitous issue, but my mother who worked her fingers to the bone raising four children alone on tips would disagree, so honestly most have no real idea what it means to basically have to beg for money. This is really what tipping is all about, and instead of standing on a corner holding a sign they are politely smiling, tolerating your humorless jokes and how badly the children of bad patrons treat them. I do agree that unfortunately, African American patrons on the whole (NOT ALL) do not tip well, and tend to abuse their servers. I am not stereo typing, I am telling you the way things really are. I treat everyone the same, with respect. It would be great if guests in a restaurant treated their servers the same way, however we will always be the help.

    June 24, 2010 at 1:36 pm | Reply
  40. kyle

    Customer Advocate,
    Your logic is sound, but you are not exposed to the real economics of the food service business.
    Please learn more about it.

    “Those with all of the answers seldom understand the questions”

    It helped pay my way through grad school and prided myself on my performance as a server; I was compensated accordingly on a weighted average basis. ( by tips)
    I was very happy to reach my goal. (My current career)
    Always complain about poor service! Understand what you server can control. (This helps every other customer, good servers and owners)

    June 24, 2010 at 12:16 am | Reply
  41. Customer Advocate

    I tip - but I just don't understand why we as a society single out one specific group of people to treat differently. If I am paying $10-20 per plate, and $5-7 per drink, $30-50 on a bottle of wine (this is in a cheap city!) - why is there simply not enough money to pay the staff a fair wage ??? - and why must the customer be forced to pay and extra 20% surcharge ???? And why does this surcharge scale with the cost? Is it 5 times harder to bring a $50 steak to my table than a $10 burger? It weighs about the same.

    what about the checkout person at the grocery store? they have kids, rent, living expenses? why con't we give them an extra few percent?

    what about the guy that comes to fix our cable? or internet?? would it really hurt us to pay them a $5 for showing up on time?

    Or our flight attendants and airline captains - they risk their lives every day to make our travel safe. go beyond that to the luggage carriers, schedulers, gate agents, and air traffic controllers. should't an on -time flight arrival justify a few hundred dollars to spread around the they guys that make it happen??

    What's even more interesting is the vilification of the customers, by the servers. The waitpeople are kings and the customers (people who pay the bills) are monsters. The waitpeople can't be bothered to transfer a check from the bar to the restaurant - no, the customer must go OUT OF HIS WAY to make the servers happy. wow - if i treated my customers like that I would be fired within months, if not weeks.

    And all of these servers that chastise older people for using tip cards are now economics experts. As if they would be waiting tables if they had the capability to do a thinking job successfully. For some reason if the restaurant had to pay its employees, the customers would end up paying MORE that the current price+current tip? That's just simply not the case.

    I know things won't change in the US, at least until after the financial meltdown that is going to occur. Until then, I will tip - but I just won't understand it. And I do realize I have little choice than to tip - and even an fair complaint is likely to get something disgusting on my plate.

    June 23, 2010 at 3:16 pm | Reply
  42. Barbara

    I think we all know that servers are paid below minimum wage and that their salary depends on tips from customers and I've often wondered why. I don't buy that a restaurant would have to TRIPLE prices if paying staff an extra $8-10/hr. But that aside, this has been a difficult read. It would be much easier to cite our need as clients to do the right thing by servers if not also reading about how vindictive many are. So, you don't forget bad tippers and treat people accordingly?

    Outsider hit the nail on the head. If your job requires that you provide service to paying clients of an establishment and you keep a hit list of those you think have mistreated you...it seems you are in the wrong profession. Because your bad behavior will be just as remembered but it's your bottom line that's being affected.

    I may not like the whole idea of tipping but I always tip. Contrary to popular notion that women are bad tippers, I and my friends use a standard of 20% but I have no problem making a statement to poor service with a lower tip. And really...poor service in my book is less about some detailed particulars or a wait as it is about attitude. You bring a nasty, rude demeanor to our table...and I can guarantee you it will be reflected in your tip; sort of like the chicken and egg...which came first? Bad attitude or bad tipping?

    June 23, 2010 at 10:38 am | Reply
  43. real talk

    I think the stupidity from Palin2012 and the uptight racism from dc big mac or w/e killed this thread.

    Sleep well, sweet prince.

    June 23, 2010 at 2:45 am | Reply
  44. meg

    I have served for two years to pay for school, and it has been an overall enjoyable experience. I am a friendly person and definitely go above and beyond for my customers; my comment cards always reflect that fact. Most servers will always go the extra mile, and most customers will always show their appreciation. One person on either side who does not shouldn't put a bad taste in your mouth.
    One thing that many people have addressed is that the official government policy is that when a server doesn't make minimum wage, the restaurant must make that up. Although that is the official policy, it is DEFINITELY NOT enforced. Because there is no way for you to prove you're not squirreling away cash tips, they will NOT make up the difference.

    June 23, 2010 at 12:22 am | Reply
  45. flyersfan

    The use of the world 'entitlement' makes me laugh. The restaurant industry has been this way for as long as I can remember...the customer expects good service and the server does their best to see that they receive it. And then the customer is expected to tip as compensation for that service. That's how the industry works. It's not as if this is something new. And quite honestly, isn't that essentially how all business works? Admit it...you go to your job, whatever that job is, and expect to be paid for doing it well. But just think if you had to depend on how your boss was feeling that day as to how much you'd be compensated. You could still do the best job possible, and if he was in a bad mood or blamed you for something that is beyond your control, you'd get little or nothing. So now you're the one complaining that you don't make enough money....shall we accuse you of being 'entitled' now? Look, no one is saying that you should tip for poor service, but you should at least go to the restaurant with the expectation that if your waiter/waitress gives you good service, you should compensate them.

    Whether you agree with how the restaurant industry works or not isn't even the issue; if you decide to go out to eat at a restaurant and let someone else serve you, you've agreed with their practice. You are essentially the 'boss' in this situation. You determine whether your 'employee' gets compensated well, poor, or not at all. Maybe you could think about that the next time you go out, and also, try to take into consideration everything that's going on. 90% of the time, your food taking a long time or it not being cooked to your liking isn't the server's fault. There are a lot of things that go on behind the scenes that are out of their control. If they're sincere and apologize, and try to fix any issue, then you can rest assured that they are doing the best they can.

    btw, I do have to agree that there are a lot of negative service workers on here, but please don't think that all servers feel the same way...I'm sure the negative ones on here only represent a small percentage of waitstaff in the US.

    June 22, 2010 at 11:12 pm | Reply
  46. Rachel

    I have been a waitress for 4 years. The first three were at a job where I did not make tips because we served the same people every day. I made a little over minimum wage. Now I make half of minimum wage plus tips. If someone comes in that I know is not going to tip I ring them up under carry out so I don't have to pay any of my hard earned taxes towards their sale. We all know who you are who don't tip. It's easy to tell, that's probably why you get sh*tty service! If you walk in with an attitude why would you expect good service? That doesn't make any sense. I work in a fast paced environment and frequently remind my rude customers that they are not my only table. I can't hover because I would never have time to get to all my tables if I did that!

    June 22, 2010 at 10:25 pm | Reply
  47. flyersfan

    In all the articles and all the comments that I have ever read, I've never been inclined to comment myself...until now. I usually read the comments to amuse myself, considering that a good majority of those people that do comment just make themselves look stupid, but I felt that I had to put in my two cents, if only to respond to all those people who feel that waitstaff should find another job if they can't live on $2 – $3 an hour. You do realize that if they all did that, there would be no one left to serve your food, don't you? If your argument is that if those that wait tables should get a different job if they can't get by on their paid wage, then what happens to the restaurants? All that would be left would be fast food, because the nice restaurants would have no one to work for them. All those waiters/waitresses would be out getting a 'real' job.

    Quite honestly, I'm really not sure what the issue is here. If you go out to a restaurant and want to receive good service, you should expect to pay for it. Obviously if the service is bad, they don't deserve a tip, but in reading a lot of these comments, I get the feeling that most of you don't feel you should have to tip at all. If you have that attitude, perhaps you should petition the government to raise the minimum wage for waitstaff, but don't take it out on the people that are trying to make a living. It's not their fault that they don't get paid much. The bottom line is, in the US restaurant industry, waitstaff get paid a pittance, and a tip is expected to insure good service. If you don't like it, like I said, write to your congressman or stay home. If you want to eat out, expect to tip. At least for good service...I don't expect anyone to tip for bad service. Or perhaps restaurants could just add on 15% to every patron's bill and then pass that along to the staff. Then you don't actually have to think of it as 'tipping'. I can only imagine the kind of service you'd get then. I'm not sure you realize that if a server depends on a tip from you, they will do everything they can to make sure your dinner is a pleasant one. What would happen if they already made their money just by being there? I can't imagine you'd find really good service anywhere then.

    And yes, I was a waitress for 10 years, and I was a darn good one. I gave great service, endured many jerks, and never once did anything to anyone's food. And quite honestly, I loved the job most of the time. I CHOSE to do it, I didn't HAVE to do it. It takes a special kind of person to work in the service industry and I can honestly say that a lot of you on here, (at least by your ignorant comments) would never make it more than a month, if that. I totally respect anyone who's ever worked as a waiter/waitress and stuck it out. I know it's been said many times here, but it is totally true...if you've never done it, you can't appreciate it.

    June 22, 2010 at 9:27 pm | Reply
  48. This is sick

    Where is our government during all of this? Why wont Obama help these people?

    June 22, 2010 at 8:02 pm | Reply
  49. WaitingInLa

    I've been waiting at tables for years, and I've noticed soem striking things:

    1) Blacks always order water and stiff people on the tip.

    2) Jews dont tip at all.

    3) Whites always bitch and complain about the food and are REAL picky with their tip leavings.

    4) Hispanics always bring groups of like 25 and leave only $5 at most.

    Sorry for the breakdown bros but I'm justs aying what I notice. I'm not racist.

    June 22, 2010 at 7:54 pm | Reply
  50. Gina

    I waited tables for over 8 years. Generally I really enjoyed it and thought it a very rewarding profession. But it astounds me that some people can be so mean to waiters. These people don't seem to realize that waiters have an incredible amount of power over what people injest. I've seen some things that would make you cringe. To those that think it is okay to be rude, disrespectful and not tip, be especially aware of the same waiter should you go back to the restaurant. Especially if they are being extra sweet. There is probably something in your food you would rather not be there. And the visine bottle that some waiters carry, is not for their eyes. Think about it.

    June 22, 2010 at 5:36 pm | Reply
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