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stiffed a waitress today

post #1 of 120
Thread Starter 
I went last night to a nice steakhouse, for some really excellent food, but piss poor service, and I ended up stiffing the waitress.

My wife and son have come out to Chicago to visit me and find an apartment (which we did) and my wife really wanted a steak. so we went to a place I have been to with people from work, which honestly has the best beef I have had in the states. I have enjoyed the experience on the previous occasions I have been there.

when we got there, the three of us, we were shunned off to the very fartherst corner, next to the kitchen. This was acceptable to me, even though my son is very well behaved in resteraunts, I can understand why a steak house will not want a 4 year old in a visable part of the resteraunt.

then I started to get pissed off. we waited for maybe 15 minutes without seeing a server, while the 3 nearest tables to us, 2 of which arrived after us, had servers come to them. At that point, for the sake of proactivly trying to get things moving, I went to the hostess and said, in a very pleasant and friendly manner, that if the server didn't show up quickly, there was an excellent chance they would be stiffed, because it would be difficult to get the annoyance out of me.

a few minutes later, a sort of bored and annoyed waitress shows up at our table. not to really un-PC - but this is a place where all the waiters are middle aged men, to be specific, middle aged white men. and our waitress is a dumpy woman in her 20's. honestly, my first impression was that we had been given the low person on the server totem pole. to add to that, she was really sullen and not very pleasant.

now, while I happen to agree with KP about the whole specials thing, and I have a pretty good idea of what pieces of meat look like, my wife has never been to a chicago steak house. I knew that she would enjoy the whole thing with the meat tray, and the speil and all of that, which this server totally bypassed. she basically came out and said "are you ready to order?" all around us, the servers are showing peices of meat and live lobsters, standing up straight, smiling, and acting very proffetional and energetic, and ours looks like a grounded teenager.

so, again, in the name of trying to salvage things, I went to talk to the manager, and I said - "look, give me a bit of guidance here, I am spending maybe $150 on a meal, and I don't want to be pissed off through the whole meal. would you prefer not to have families here? is this type of thing going to go on all night? would it be better to cut my losses and go someplace else or trust that the service will get better?" so he was really appologetic, and promised that he would make sure that the service got better and more attentive.

anyway, the food was great, the service never got better. I left a $2 tip on a $120 bill. no regrets.
post #2 of 120
I completely agree with what you did. To many times we do not express our displeasure with the service that is provided us. I probably would have left a penny which is what I was taught to leave when the service is bad.
I only reward excellence or to those who are at least trying to do their job with some degree of professionalism.

Best Regards,

Gary

"VOTE" www.cbs4boston.com/alist Please! Six more days.
post #3 of 120
Sounds justified to me. Sorry you had to go through that, especially with such a high tab and all. I notice you didn't mention the name of the restaurant; would you be willing to?
post #4 of 120
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by drink8648
I completely agree with what you did. To many times we do not express our displeasure with the service that is provided us. I probably would have left a penny which is what I was taught to leave when the service is bad.
I only reward excellence or to those who are at least trying to do their job with some degree of professionalism.

Best Regards,

Gary

"VOTE" www.cbs4boston.com/alist Please! Six more days.


yeah, my father tought me two cents, but I figured with inflation $2 gave the same message.
post #5 of 120
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by aybojs
Sounds justified to me. Sorry you had to go through that, especially with such a high tab and all. I notice you didn't mention the name of the restaurant; would you be willing to?


pete miller in Evanston. and again, the food was great, and every time I have been there, with men in suits, the service was great.
post #6 of 120
I, the Protector of Waiter's Rights support your position. Putting you off to the side if you had a four-year-old is understandable but sullen, nasty, inattentive service is not. I would write a letter to the owner of the restaurant.
post #7 of 120
I don't normally agree with stiffing the waitress, but in this case, I think you were exactly right. The fact that you had already spoken with the management twice prior to doing so is the key. I would agree with following up with a letter as well, because that will insure that the issue is dealt with and, for your benefit, is quite likely to get you a gift certificate or voucher for another meal.

Had you not said anything, the waitress could have either made it out that it was all your fault or just pocketed the $2 and gone on her way without saying anything.
post #8 of 120
I'm more offended by the manager's failure to make things right than by the incompetent and inappropriate behaviour of the waitress. Obviously, he didn't do what was necessary to make sure you had a good experience. he could have pulled the waitress and sent you a real server.
post #9 of 120
I think everyone's gonna be behind you on this one, GT. No reason to reward poor service, especially when you're spending that much on a meal in the first place, and have twice complained to the management.
post #10 of 120
Sorry to hear about the poor service. It is unacceptable. I would have handled it differently, however.

First, I wouldn't have made the "no tip" threat when you initially went to speak to the hostess. Having done my time as an expediter, server and bartender at fine dining establishments when I was a student, I know that word gets around fast when a customer is making threats to staff. I am willing bet that your threat shut down service for the rest of the night, as unacceptable as that might be (and it is). Moreover, to ensure quality control, I try to avoid all threats before the food is on the table. Some kitchen staffs can be vindictive and you may not want to eat what they are serving after you have indicated that "no tip" is a possibility.

I would have gone to the manager first, gently indicated that I realized that staff is "in the weeds," but also note that the night was a special occasion and I had not been attended to. I would have told the manager that if the server takes care of me, I will take care of the server. If, after that, the service remained poor, I would reduce the tip by half.

I never stiff staff at a fine dining establishment because at such places tips are often shared between servers, bussers, expediters and, sometimes, bar staff and dishwashers. I think it is unfair to stiff everyone because one person is slacking.

I would absolutely cut a tip in half, however, and I will follow up with the manager and let him/her know (i) that they will not be getting my business in the future, and (ii) that I will be spreading the word about the poor service.

I don't think your approach was unwarranted, but it's not my style.
post #11 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stax
Sorry to hear about the poor service. It is unacceptable. I would have handled it differently, however.

First, I wouldn't have made the "no tip" threat when you initially went to speak to the hostess. Having done my time as an expediter, server and bartender at fine dining establishments when I was a student, I know that word gets around fast when a customer is making threats to staff. I am willing bet that your threat shut down service for the rest of the night, as unacceptable as that might be (and it is). Moreover, to ensure quality control, I try to avoid all threats before the food is on the table. Some kitchen staffs can be vindictive and you may not want to eat what they are serving after you have indicated that "no tip" is a possibility.

I would have gone to the manager first, gently indicated that I realized that staff is "in the weeds," but also note that the night was a special occasion and I had not been attended to. I would have told the manager that if the server takes care of me, I will take care of the server. If, after that, the service remained poor, I would reduce the tip by half.

I never stiff staff at a fine dining establishment because at such places tips are often shared between servers, bussers, expediters and, sometimes, bar staff and dishwashers. I think it is unfair to stiff everyone because one person is slacking.

I would absolutely cut a tip in half, however, and I will follow up with the manager and let him/her know (i) that they will not be getting my business in the future, and (ii) that I will be spreading the word about the poor service.

I don't think your approach was unwarranted, but it's not my style.

Speaking as a hospitality employee (I wish I didn't to preface my posts on these topics that way, but apparently being "industry" makes people pay more attention), I'd say you're expecting the customer to jump through an unrealistic amount of hoops before being able to protest poor service with a subpar tip.

You're right in that tip comments can backfire easily, but at the same time, most employees should be able to tell whether or not a customer's anger is reasonable, especially at a high-end restaurant. Someone who hasn't been acknowledged at all in 15 minutes is a concern people take seriously, whereas someone just complaining that his ice wasn't cold enough or that the waitress referred to him as a commoner (sorry, couldn't resist) is the kind of concern that's going to get the rolled eyes and passive aggressive retaliation. I can see the instant spite thing happening at a Friday's type place where the maturity level of the staff is lower, but I'd be surprised if it happened at a high end place.

Finally, I think even half a tip is still a good deal of money, considering the high tab and the poor service rendered. The support staff argument doesn't win much sympathy from me, since it seems from globetrotter's post that while the chief objection was the server, the other employees didn't pull their weight either. When I waited, I salvaged many a co-worker's neglected table (even when weeded in a full section), and our better hostesses and bussers pitched in on such occasions too. I've read many a story about a bad dining experience being saved by a busboy or hostess who took the initiative when the server dropped the ball; that doesn't seem to have happened here, so why should he be beholden to the rest of the staff, since they didn't seem to do anything to improve his situation?

I don't mean to give you a hard time or anything, I just want to discourage the trend of customers' walking on eggshells and being afraid to leave a bad tip when poor service merits it, because, after all, the whole point is for the restaurant staff to take care of the customer; the tip just exists to motivate them into providing quality service.
post #12 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by aybojs
Speaking as a hospitality employee (I wish I didn't to preface my posts on these topics that way, but apparently being "industry" makes people pay more attention), I'd say you're expecting the customer to jump through an unrealistic amount of hoops before being able to protest poor service with a subpar tip. You're right in that tip comments can backfire easily, but at the same time, most employees should be able to tell whether or not a customer's anger is reasonable, especially at a high-end restaurant. Someone who hasn't been acknowledged at all in 15 minutes is a concern people take seriously, whereas someone just complaining that his ice wasn't cold enough or that the waitress referred to him as a commoner (sorry, couldn't resist) is the kind of concern that's going to get the rolled eyes and passive aggressive retaliation. I can see the instant spite thing happening at a Friday's type place where the maturity level of the staff is lower, but I'd be surprised if it happened at a high end place. Finally, I think even half a tip is still a good deal of money, considering the high tab and the poor service rendered. The support staff argument doesn't win much sympathy from me, since it seems from globetrotter's post that while the chief objection was the server, the other employees didn't pull their weight either. When I waited, I salvaged many a co-worker's neglected table (even when weeded in a full section), and our better hostesses and bussers pitched in on such occasions too. I've read many a story about a bad dining experience being saved by a busboy or hostess who took the initiative when the server dropped the ball; that doesn't seem to have happened here, so why should he be beholden to the rest of the staff, since they didn't seem to do anything to improve his situation? I don't mean to give you a hard time or anything, I just want to discourage the trend of customers' walking on eggshells and being afraid to leave a bad tip when poor service merits it, because, after all, the whole point is for the restaurant staff to take care of the customer; the tip just exists to motivate them into providing quality service.
As I said, I don't think globetrotter's approach was unwarranted, but it's not my style. I appreciate your informed point of view, however. As noted above, the most egregious fault of globetrotter's night was the manager's failure to make things right. Nine times out of ten, a sidebar with the manager turns the night around and, if the manager is a pro, gets you free dessert.
post #13 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by globetrotter
yeah, my father tought me two cents, but I figured with inflation $2 gave the same message.

I once tipped two cents. The asshole was hovering over me when I was signing the bill, and I just stared at him as I wrote the 0.02.
post #14 of 120
Funny but somewhat unrelated story.
When I was in my late teens, my father took me to lunch at a restaurant that he often frequented for his power lunches. The restaurant is Durgin Park and it is one of those old Boston establishments that has sustained the gentrification of our Fanuiel Hall Markplace. The place has over the years undergone somewhat of a face lift but at this time it was a musty old haunt with long tables were everybody ate family style. God only knows who was sitting beside you.
So we get our seats and this crusty old women (our waitress) comes over and gives us (really, I remember her throwing them at us) our menus and walks away. Now I should also say that the wait staff had a reputation for being alittle rough around the edges, almost kind of mean, like they didn't want to be there.
Now, after we looked over the selections, and my father was trying to impress me, because this was his place, she was motioned to come back to the table by him to take our orders. "So, whata ya have, son" she says, and I give her my selection. My father then speaks up and says he is going to try something different, again, trying to impress me. Much to disbelief, she abruptly states to him that he getting the same GOD DAMN thing he always gets because she ordered it up when she saw him walk through the door.
I was speachless at the BALLS this women had, this was turning out to be a real comming of age experience for me.
Now the icing on the cake. We were half way through our meals and this gentleman who was sitting a few chairs away got up from his seat and was heading for the door. I can only assume that it was his first experience there because before he got to the door our waitress had come over to find a dime tip. Well at a terrific velocity she strikes the man with his gratuity and states to him that she doesn't need his GOD DAMN money. I was again shocked and at this point wondered where I was and why did he bring me here. I can only say that this experience has stayed with me for thirty odd years and I reflect upon it in full technicolor.
I'm sure it won't surprize you that when I get bad treatment at a restaurant and leave a small tip that I don't look back when exiting in fear of incomming.......

Hope I didn' bore you with this but in retrospect it was pretty funny.

Best Regards,

Gary

"VOTE" www.cbs4boston.com/alist Please!
post #15 of 120
Stax is right, up to a point. Never, ever piss off the waitstaff until you're done with your meal. Threatening no tip early on may get you grudgingly good service, but you risk food being "tampered with" (a euphamism for things I won't mention.)

Being pleasant and clear about the problems may result in better service, but if you're that bothered, go somewhere else. If you decide to stay, remain pleasant but leave no or little tip.

After all, they certainly earned it.
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