To Tip or Not to Tip—The Crappy Waitress

To Tip or Not To Tip---The Crappy WaitressI should probably start off by saying that I have been a waitress before (for a few years), so I know how it is. Also, the state this waitress worked in isn’t one of the states where the waitress gets a buck or two an hour and depends on their tips to pay the bills. The starting pay for waiters and waitress at least in my city, is minimum wage plus any raises they get—in addition to their tips.

The waitress herself was very nice and friendly but she SUCKED. She only had about 10 standard sized tables in her section, no large groups or anything, and wasn’t busy. We had to ask for various things about 4 times (drinks and such), and each item took asking twice to actually get it. I hate having to ask for things twice, it drives me nuts. I understand that it’s possible to get sidetracked and completely forget something, but 4 times…for the same table. Not cool.

We were nice the whole time, used our manners and all that—I always do unless somebody is yelling in my face. Thankfully that doesn’t happen. We never even received one of our items, so I guess that makes it 5 things we had to ask for more than once. She brought us our check and started bussing the table without even asking if we were done or needed anything else (she never asked us the whole time if we ever needed anything).

It’s not a fancy restaurant, but it’s still a nice one. We’ve been there numerous times before and never had a waitress this awful. The only thing that wasn’t her fault was how long the kitchen took to make our food. She apologized to us anyways that it was taking so long; we told her that it was okay and we knew that it wasn’t her fault.

If I had been paying for dinner, I’d have no problem at all not leaving a tip. I know that some people ALWAYS leave a 10-25% tip, but not me. It’s not about being cheap; it’s about tipping based on the server’s performance. When I was a waitress, I worked hard to make sure that each and every one of my customers was happy. If somebody wasn’t happy, I did my best to change that.

Once you pay for your meal, that’s all you’re obligated to do. You don’t have to tip servers, it might be the standard thing to do, but it’s not required. So that’s how I decide on how much to tip servers, but it wasn’t up to me this time. Since I was being treated to dinner, I didn’t feel that it was my right to tell them not to tip her. They knew what a hard time we had, but still left a very generous tip anyways. The first thing that popped into my head was, “great, now she’s going to think she’s doing an awesome job.” I know it sounds bad, but if somebody didn’t leave me a tip—it would get me thinking about what I was doing wrong.


Do you have a certain tipping style or rule?
Have you ever not tipped a server?


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About Jen Perkins

Likes: saving money, being debt free (aside from our house), zombies, travel, getting money, blogging and dogs. Dislikes: debt, being broke, bunnies, wasting money, not having enough money to travel the world and paying interest. Facebook  ♥  Twitter  ♥  Google+  ♥  RSS


To Tip or Not to Tip—The Crappy Waitress — 35 Comments

  1. That gets all over me too. It helps if wait staff are friendly, but what we want them to be is on-the-spot, to be observant and get what we need before we need it, and certainly not to delay getting things to us when we ask.

    I don’t always get great service, but I always recognize it and tip accordingly.

  2. I never punish a server for something that isn’t his/her fault. For example, if the food isn’t prepared properly (like the time I got chicken that was raw in the middle), I’m aware that the server had no control. If the restaurant is crowded and there are multiple groups of 8+ people, I can understand forgetting something. But when it’s something s/he CAN control, especially when it’s a small thing like drink refills? You better believe my tip will reflect it.

    I have been known to leave notes explaining why the tip was so bad. People think it’s funny but I feel the person deserves to know. I HATE when I get the check without being asked if I want anything else, or (worse yet) getting the check 3 minutes after my food arrives. Usually I’ll order something else just to make the server run the ticket again. I expect people to understand the basics of working in a restaurant, and if they don’t, I don’t feel obligated to leave a large tip. I don’t care if the person is working for $2 an hour or not – they need to perform their job duties. If I know they’re trying, I will tip well. But the ones who obviously don’t care? Sorry about your luck!

    • I can understand new people trying to get into the hang of things, but servers that have been working there for a while should know how to do their job. I thought you would be the note leaving type. :-)

  3. I have only not tipped once, and I had a very good reason.

    I was at a restaurant less than a year ago with a bunch of friends. We all ordered and when the food came out, everyone got their food besides me. After trying to flag down my waiter for around 20 minutes, I walked over to the manager. I told the manager that I didn’t have my food, whereas everyone else at my table was ALREADY FINISHED eating. The manager then talked to our waiter and the waiter brought out my food eventually, but it was all wrong. Nothing that I ordered was even in front of me, I don’t even know what he was thinking.

    Then I told the waiter (after trying to flag him down for another 5 minutes) that this wasn’t my food. He then said I could just have that food and that he will request that my food be made. After my semi-correct food came out (after about an hour and there were still things wrong), I asked for my check because I just wanted to leave. Turns out he charged me around $42 for my meal. He charged me for ALL the incorrect food that he gave me as well as the food that I actually ordered.

    I then got really mad and just wanted to leave so I gave the guy my credit card and just paid it because he was obviously an idiot and I just wanted to leave. I left a note on the receipt explaining why he wasn’t going to get a tip.

    Fast forward a couple of days later, I check my bank account and he gave himself a $10 tip on my credit card. I tried calling the restaurant multiple times and even emailed the headquarters, and I was IGNORED every time.

    By the way, this was all at Buffalo Wild Wings, so $42 is a LOT there.

    • OMG! That is just crazy. You really shouldn’t have had to pay for anything, what an awful waiter. I hope you don’t go there anymore.

    • Well, you must have been really hungry if you ate $42 worth of food. I can’t believe your friends stayed to watch you eat it all.

  4. It’s been a while since I left no tip, but I will occasionally leave a ‘crappy’ tip for ‘crappy’ service, haha. My tip matches the effort…

  5. First, @Michelle, that is amazingly bad service. I would probably be physically and visibly angry at that point.

    In general, I have a hard time leaving no tip, even if the service is amazingly bad. I generally leave about 15% (up to 20%-ish if service is really good), but I may start re-thinking this strategy. If I consistently leave 10-15% for bad service, then I’m effectively subsidizing bad service, and not rewarding good service enough.* I agree that $0 in tip sends a strong message.

    *I think part of the reason I tend to default to 15% is that I feel uncomfortable effectively evaluating/judging the worth of another person whom I am only getting one perspective on (their service). While I understand that tipping is not really a moral issue, it is difficult for me to separate the practicality of tipping from the morality of judging that person’s worth (which is how it sometimes feels to me).

    • I’ve always felt that the tip I leave lets the server know how their performance was, that could be because I used to be a waitress and that’s how it was for me.

  6. Hmmm. I would not have tipped her, if I had received service like that. I wrote an article about this a little while back. Bad service should not be rewarded. If it was not her fault, then I would still tip.

  7. It’s incredible how poor service can impact the enjoyment of a meal. In this case it seems like the wait person was not trained properly. If a restaurant is honestly concerned about the quality of experience for the diner they should take the time to ensure everyone is trained properly, then evaluated to meet minimum performance levels, and then let loose on real live customers. Maybe that just happens in my utopian dreamworld?

  8. I am crazy about having a drink when I eat. If my cup is empty for long the tip matches the tax. If I am satisfied, 15% is my limit. I admit I’m cheap, but I would feel bad not tipping at all. If it was an establishment I wouldn’t be returning to, I may think about it!!

  9. TIPS actually stands for: To Insure Proper Service. “Tips” didn’t used to be standard practice. You only left a tip if the service was above and beyond phenomenal. Nowadays it has become standard practice.

    I worked in the service industry for a long time – as a hostess, bus girl, server, etc. so I also know how it is. There have been times when I haven’t left a tip, but in most cases, even if service was really bad, I’ll leave something. I don’t think leaving a tip if your server was bad will reinforce bad behavior (at least, in most cases). 99% of the time if you have bad service it’s because there’s something else going on – the server is brand new but doesn’t tell you, the server is having a really shitty day and is having a hard time leaving it at the door when they get to work, they’re not feeling well, etc. I usually like to give them the benefit of the doubt.

    BUT, I have been to restaurants where I’ve had the same server, and the same shitty service from that server every time. In that case, they lose my tip. And usually my patronage. Most of the time, bad servers just don’t last. But if they do, it’s usually a sign of a poorly managed restaurant.

  10. I worked as a server for 3 years when I was in college. I’ve never not left a tip because I know what it’s like to be on the other side of the table. The only was I would ever not tip is if the server was intentionally rude to me.

    I tend to be a pretty generous tipper though – 20% – 30%. If I get bad service I will drop to 15% or maybe 10% if the service is especially bad.

  11. I can’t believe how many people leave NO tip. Waiting tables is hard work! I have moonlighted as a waitress off and on since I was 16, and I am very good at what I do. I know that there are people who are bad– but show some empathy! In most states, these people are NOT getting minimum wage– They’re only getting enough per hour to cover taxes. These people have no healthcare and real world problems that some of you may never understand– not having reliable childcare, not having an adequate support system outside of work, stresses you may never have to experience. Most of these restaurants require people to “tip share” as well, meaning that they have to pay the hosts, bussers, expo (people who put the plates together on the tray), silverware rollers, etc a percentage of each sale. Let’s say for example that a server has to pay 10% of their sales to tip share. If your bill was $10, and you left no tip, that means they still have to pay $1…They just PAID $1 to wait on your table. The restaurant where I worked (a high-end chain restaurant) required us to tip a minimum of 5% of our sales. Tipping out 10% is not unheard of because you need the support staff to help you make the guest’s experience a good one.

    I agree that some people are just BAD. But, I think not leaving something is rude, and karma will come back to you.

  12. I’m a firm believer in tipping, especially if the service has been up to standard. On the other hand if the service has been poor, having to request something several times over, or it has been very slow, I’m reluctant to tip. Bottom line in my view is a tip is for reasonable to good service, nothing less.

  13. My philosophy on tipping is that if the service is bad enough to not tip, or consider a seriously reduced tip, then it’s bad enough to talk to the manager about it. If you leave a bad tip because of the service, the server will almost certainly think it’s just because you’re cheap, not that there’s something wrong with his or her serving ability.

    • I guess you’re right, if the service was so bad that you’re not leaving a tip, the manager should be clued in. :-)

  14. I have noticed that service keeps getting worse and worse. My wife still likes to eat out often, but I absolutely do not like to. I almost always tip. I can probably count on one hand the number of times I haven’t left a tip. Service has to be absolutely horrible for me not to.

    • My husband and I have been noticing a decline in good service too. We actually stopped going to one of our favorite restaurants because it was awful the last 6 times we went. :-(

      My guess as to why…which might be totally wrong, is the lack of jobs out there. People who can’t get jobs in their fields are having to settle for other jobs and are very unhappy about it. I can understand why they would be, but it’s still good ethics to do a good job at whatever job you might have. Some people would kill to get a job, even as a server.

  15. So, what about the next time you forget something at your job and it affects someone, a customer perhaps? Will you take your whole paycheck or give up a percentage because you didn’t do you job 100%? Emily Post etiquette says to tip well and always. But I suppose we don’t have to do our part of etiquette but the server should ALWAYS be attentive, mindful, anticipatory and fabulous. Hmm.