Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Eating out tips?

When you go out to eat how much do you tip? We went out to lunch today, and had a pretty bad experience at a Korean restaurant. The place had great food, decent price, and a nice atmosphere. But the service left a lot to be desired. The server took about 15 minutes to take our order. And the restaurant wasn't busy and there more than enough servers.

I can say this having worked as a waitress during college and afterwards too. So I know how tough it can be to wait on people in a bad mood. But this restuarant everyone just seemed nice. No kids, no yelling. When you have a kid-friendly restaurant often parents are frustrated with their children and trying to have a conversation while eating out. That makes for bad atmosphere.

Anyway back to the topic, the meal came out fast and was hot and good. The server got my DH's meal a little wrong, but we weren't about to complain. He's a super easy going guy, myself personally I would have been irritated but not him. So then the hour was close to being up and we couldn't get the bill. We asked three different servers for the bill, and then finally someone brought it by. Actually the server brought 4 tables as once, and we weren't the only ones who just slapped down a CC and rushed to pay. Every one of the other tables did the same, I guess because they were waiting as well.

Even though this happened we still left a 15% tip, which I still felt GUILTY for. I usually leave 20-25% so I felt really cheap leaving so little. BUT DH felt we should have said something about the service because I felt so cheap. I am not sure who was right. He thought it was explanation enough that we left a 15% tip. I pointed out that's typical. He said it's expected and anything above that is the "real" tip.

Is this right? Is the 15% expected by everyone now? Should you reward bad service? Do you ever mention it? We've only left 1 restaurant for terrible service. But that particular time I talked with a manager because it took 1 hour for our food to come, which it didn't. Thus why we walked out and talked with a manager before we left. We got a gift certificate because of it, sitting there with a server who forgot to put in the order. Thus the sitting. But usually because I've waited tables, I'm more patient.

The one thing I do is the "water" test. Where I determine how much to tip by how often they come back to check on my water. And if they keep the glass full it means they are paying attention.

So should we have tipped 15%? More? Less?


Tavo said...

I've gone as low as 10%, but have never stiffed the wait staff. If you are asking if 15% sent a message, I'd say no. If your asking if it was OK, I'd say, 'you bet.'

We tip 20-25% as you do, but we're almost always with nippers.

Living Almost Large said...

I went to CPKs yesterday and had terrible service and it wasn't busy. I left a $2 tip and a note for the manager. It really pissed me off. FWIW our bill was $24.

The night before we ate at a bar $17 and we left a $5 tip. So I love good service and I have regrets about tipping well.

What the heck are some of these waitstaff thinking? I used to bust my behind working because of tips. I know I made more than average because of it, but still it's money. And easy money just for being nice, checking on the table, keeping waters filled, etc.