Thursday, November 5, 2009

What Should DINERS Never Do?

The obvious needed accompaniment to the New York Times' story on "100 Things Servers Should Never Do" (second 50 should be out soon; the first 50 are here) is a parallel list for the customers. A few have had a stab at it -- I'm a fan of Waiter Rant's here (be aware it's predictably off-color in spots) -- but I think we can do better.


I'll start:

1. Never complain about anything more subtle than a wrong order unless and until you have waited on tables for a minimum 30 days yourself. (I'm not kidding: My plan for America includes mandatory 1-month stints waiting tables, selling retail and bus-driving before the age of 25. Schwab in 2016.)

2. Don't call your server by any dimunitive -- not dear, honey, sweetie, son: Nothing.

3. Never say you're allergic to anything if you're not. Raising the specter of anaphylactic shock and its accompanying degree of care is not something you do if you just don't like peanuts.

4. Beckon a server with a nod of the head, a raise of the eyebrow, an "excuse me?" Yells, whistles, claps and especially finger snaps are not acceptable.

5. If you intend to give a server the change, make a point of saying, "Keep the change" when you hand them the money. That saves them a trip back to the table; if it's busy, every trip matters.

Now you take a turn. I'll add more...

93 comments:

Anonymous said...

Remember that gratuity is not a sliding scale building up to 15%. Servers are generally not paid (the pay from the restaurant is usually eaten by taxes) except for tips. 15% is the MINIMUM acceptable gratuity. If the server has done a poor enough job that you feel less than that is appropriate, you should ask to speak to the manager. "I'm only leaving 10% cause I had to wait for my drink" makes you CHEAP, not justified.

MJW said...

I'll have 1/2 unsweet tea and 1/2 sweet tea. Umm, no you won't. You'll have unsweet tea and there is PLENTY of Sweet'n Low, Splenda and sugar on the table for your lazy butt to sweeten your tea just the way you like it!!

Anonymous said...

Regardless of what your ego tells you, servers are PEOPLE, so the Golden Rule still applies! How would you feel if your boss called you "Sweetie", snapped their fingers when they wanted you" and decided at the end of the day how much to pay you?

Anonymous said...

If your kids are fussy, bratty, run around unsupervised, or scream, then either take them home immediately or don't bring them to the restaurant at all. Common sense is sadly lacking in many parents.

the_new_mrs said...

Don't stiff a server for something the kitchen has done, if the server has attempted to rectify the problem. It's not the server's fault if your steak is not perfect.

Anonymous said...

But what about when the servers call me darlin or honey?

Anonymous said...

. Never complain about anything more subtle than a wrong order unless and until you have waited on tables for a minimum 30 days yourself. (I'm not kidding: My plan for America includes mandatory 1-month stints waiting tables, selling retail and bus-driving before the age of 25. Schwab in 2016.)


I have said the same about waiting tables for years. I have a buddy that is at best a 10% tipper. Everytime i feel the need to make up the difference

Anonymous said...

Remember just because you have children and love them doesn't mean everyone else does! Take them to Chuck E Cheese or CiCi's where it's a living zoo/nightmare. Don't let your children RUN WILD! They ruin peaceful dinners and evenings out for those who want to get away from such mess.

Anonymous said...

I agree with #2 and I never call servers sweetie or honey...but I expect the same from them. It doesn't make them more personable to me...it invades my comfort level.

Anonymous said...

Here are a few from my time in the trenches:

Friendly flirting is perfectly okay, and almost expected. Sexual harassment is not. Your server has a job to do, and being your date for the evening is not it.

If you don't like what you ordered or the way it was prepared, let the server know before you finish two-thirds of it.

If you want lemonade, pony up and order it -- don't ask me for a glass of water and a bowl of lemons.

Unless the power company starts accepting Chick tracts as legal tender to pay my light bill, spare me the sermon and leave me a TIP.

Anonymous said...

Boy, you can surely tell the cheap, teenage-brained servers that are on here whining about how to make someone's tea! Get this straight: IT IS YOUR JOB TO DO THAT. We WILL NOT TIP you unless you the entire experience is what it is SUPPOSED TO BE! You are not doing the diners a favor you idiots! Your managers need to expect more from you or be fired themselves. As a server you could care less about the longevitiy of the restaurant or how it's name is slaughtered because of your college attitude. You should be fired and then you can sit at home and play your video games all day! You are there because we are showing up and paying.

Anonymous said...

Attention waiters and waitresses: You are paid by the restaurant you work at. You are not guaranteed a tip. We do not have to give you anything. What do you not understand about that. Percentages are completely fictitious and were dreamed up by people who want tips. The public is not bound by any such rules or expectations. PERIOD.

Anonymous said...

If you know you're going to want a full compliment of condiments for your meal (butter, extra salad dressing, ketchup, steak sauce, AND hot sauce) please try to ask for it up front so that the waiter/waitress doesn't have to bring you something different every 3 minutes.

Anonymous said...

To the waitress you commented above 'don't stiff the server because of something the kitchen did', is foolish. We tip on the overall experience. It is not our job nor do we care WHO is responsible when things go wrong. We will tip only based on how good the overall experience was. Thinking anything else only displays a greedy and teenage mentality.

Anonymous said...

Have any local restaurants tried paying their wait staff a decent wage and eliminating tipping? Build the additional labor costs into the menu and be done with it. Seems like a possible solution that might reduce a lot of irritation on both sides of the transaction.

Anonymous said...

Mrs. Schwaab, why are you deleting posts that comment negatively about your article and statements. Obviously, you are not a true journalist. Pitiful.

Anonymous said...

Why is this confusing? As customers we DO NOT CARE how you get paid by the restaurant. It is not or concern or responsibility. We only tip based on the experience and are not even required to tip at all.

Helen Schwab said...

For the poster asking about comments: I'm happy to post ones that complain about me, but I don't allow cursing or inappropriate language. For example, the person who suggested I might have the tastebuds of a horse (I love that!) also included a slur on another group of people that rendered it unpostable. Keep it clean and I'm happy to pass it on!

Anonymous said...

"To the waitress you commented above 'don't stiff the server because of something the kitchen did', is foolish. We tip on the overall experience. It is not our job nor do we care WHO is responsible when things go wrong. We will tip only based on how good the overall experience was. Thinking anything else only displays a greedy and teenage mentality."

Wow. The tip is designed to compensate a server for his/her level of service. The kitchen/restaurant's mistakes should never be realized in the form of a diminished tip. If a customer has a problem with their food, it should be handled with a manager who can compensate in the form of a comp, remade meal, etc.
If, as one reply has insinuated, you believe the servers are paid by the restaurant, you should get your numbers straight. $3.15/hr is not considered, by any American standard, sufficient pay.
If you have never worked as a server for any length of time, you likely are clueless as to the level some customers will go to ruin your day.

Anonymous said...

Really? Tastebuds of a horse? I must have missed that colume. What is your take on the best oates in town?

Anonymous said...

I've done the job, I've been a waiter, a cook, a delivery driver, and retail. I can certainly talk to both sides of this.

1. A TIP is EXTRA!!! Wait staff does get paid (at most places) and I will admit THE PAY SUCKS! If you want to make better money - do a better job. I tip well for reasonable service, great for great service and poorly for poor service - I also do the same to management. I am not going to tip 15% and then complain to management - I will not REWARD a bad waiter with money, and then complain. I will tip you NOTHING and then complain.

2. half sweet / half unsweet? Yes you will do that. It is your JOB to provide me the food we request. You don't do it, or complain about doing it - you will not get extra money from me, and I will complain to the management.

3. If my food is wrong, take it back. If it is still wrong - it is your fault. The kitchen staff (usually) gets a tip out from the waiter. So not tipping you - has an effect. You want more money - make sure the kitchen does it right. In addition, I've been a cook, MANY MANY MANY of the problems with the order were due to it being put in the system wrong by (wait for it) THE SERVER!!!

Anonymous said...

I've waited tables before and I know what the job entails. No one has mentioned all the prep work involved that is the responsibility of the wait staff. Lemons have to be cut, silverware rolled, tea/coffee made, cups stocked, napkins stocked, etc. And did you know they're expected to tip the hostess and cooks who are making at least twice what the waitstaff is making? Why don't the managers cut that out to help out the wait staff? Or have the hostess do the prep?

With that said, I still tip based on the whole experience and believe that 15% on food an 50 cents per alcoholic beverage (alcohol is over priced and a 15% tip on it is ridiculous) is fair for the service provided. If the server goes above and beyond I will tip 20%.

Anonymous said...

I disagree with posters who say they base their tip on the overall experience. If the food is bad, that's not the server's fault. Why punish them for it? I would only leave less of a tip if the food was bad and I told the server so and their response was a simple, "sorry." Yeah, servers should be paid better, but they're not. I tip 20% minimum for their efforts.

Anonymous said...

A 20% tip is the cost of going out to dinner. If you can't afford it, stay home and complain to your wife that the meatloaf is too dry.

Anonymous said...

First, I did wait tables for over a year so I can make this comment. No people! Tips are not manditory and 15% is not a slight...seems a lot of wait staff think it is. Who ever came up with 15% is minimum but 20-25% is expected is out of touch. For one thing, no one should tip on tax. So if you got 15% on the total you got more than 15% on what was truly purchased. And for the poster who made the comment on 1/2 sweet and unsweetened tea.....is it not your job to give the customer what they want? I'm in sales and that is what I've always strived to do...maybe that is why as a commission only sales person (get it,I make no hourly wage either) I make over 110K per year.

Someone with Class said...

Wow, I'm very disappointed at the point of view of some people here. A tip is NOT reflective of the "overall experience." Your willingness to come back to the restaurant should reflect that.

"Teenage Mentality?" Where are you guys eating- Applebees? If you go to generic bar/grills, expect what you get, rookies. Then go to Mortons or a place where kids don't eat free on Mondays, and you'll get a career server.

And if you go out to eat- you tip, no matter what happens short of finding a band-aid in your sliders. Nothing is more pathetic looking than a poser who wants to be perceived as a gracious, big-spender, but then pulls out the tip card at the end of the meal.

If you cannot afford to tip, you cannot afford to eat out. Go to McDonalds, because the kid taking your oder there makes 5 times what a server gets paid before tips.

Anonymous said...

Massive tips in the 20%-plus range were started by the bankers, stock brokers, people who made a lot in the stock market and other big shots who were on expense accounts. News flash.....those days are over for now!!!!

Erin Cofield said...

I'm not scared- I'm commenting WITH MY NAME. Erin says:
for those of you being so rude on this forum (I'm talking to you Anonymous who thinks we don't have to tip and the other one who said we don't CARE how servers are paid), I can only assume that you are rude in restaurants to your servers. Please don't be surprised when your service less than impeccable. Your manners were less than impeccable, too.
Servers, serving sweet tea the way a customer likes it or water with lemons isn't unreasonable, and it is part of the job. Do it with a smile- that's what I have to do at my job when my employer requests something I don't like to do (cold-calling prospective customers, anyone???).

Anonymous said...

Actually restaurants DO NOT pay the servers. Servers make their money from tips. So when you don't tip - they don't make money. Hence they are working for free. So for the people that said it's the job of the server to serve and the tip is optional - YOU ARE WRONG. What would happen if all servers decided not to be a server any more because of all the cheap, rude people that don't tip, and you had no one to serve your food? You'd just have to eat at home. So why don't you do us all a favor and cook your meals at home. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I am absolutely enraged by some of these 'diners' comments. I waited tables in college and it is a HARD job, both mentally and physically. Everyone else in the restaurant gets paid, regardless of their performance, so it is impossible for a server to control every aspect of your experience. Arrogant people like you all make the job absolutely unbearable! I am always kind and courteous when I dine out and I rarely get bad service. The wait staff can probably sum you up from the first words out of your mouth, and then figure what's the point? Nothing will make you happy!

Anonymous said...

Fine!Dont tip!Just dont expect me to be running my tail off for you when i have other guests who arent complete cheapos.I will not jeopordize my tip from the people who tip right.Us servers remember all tippers and non-tippers.Its very simple,like karma...by the way you shouldnt be ordering lemonade if your a bad tipper :)

Andrew said...

Agreed - servers are paid by the restaurant. The law states that if the server's salary (typically the server minimum wage) plus tips doesn't equal the normal minimum wage, then the restaurant owner has to make up the difference. If you work an 8 hour shift at $2.13/hr and get one table, which leaves you a $3 tip (after you tip out), your manager owes you an extra $37.96.

Is that still a crappy wage? Sure, but don't pretend like tips are all you have going for you.

Anonymous said...

I agree with those that remind servers they chose their role. The problem with businesses and their employee's today is that they believe the customer should be grateful they are there to provide the service. Sure they work hard, but what happened to the days when businesses were grateful for their customers and the business they brought? We are were we are because of these skewed work ethics. And yes, I started as a dishwasher in a busy restaurant chain and bussed tables before moving up the ladder in my chosen profession. Never heard the complaints or thought to voice them back then...

Anonymous said...

I have a problem with tipping 15% because the Bible requires a 10% tithe. Why should I tip a waiter more than the Lord requires?

Anonymous said...

"Attention waiters and waitresses: You are paid by the restaurant you work at. You are not guaranteed a tip. We do not have to give you anything. What do you not understand about that. Percentages are completely fictitious and were dreamed up by people who want tips. The public is not bound by any such rules or expectations. PERIOD."

WHAT?? Who are you - you idiot? We make $2.13 an hour so most of the time our checks are zero due to taxes or maybe $10 or $20. If you don't tip DO NOT eat out at a restaurant with servers. Stupidity should be taxed!

Anonymous said...

The people saying that tipping is not a requirement etc have obviously never worked in the service industry. I've worked in the industry for many years- if you feel you don't need to tip or believe that restaurants pay us enough then PLEASE STAY OUT OF MY RESTAURANT! Morons!

Will said...

I'm not a server but I worked in retail for quite a few years so my list would include:

1. Don't ask me why an item costs so much. First off, I don't make the prices. Second, take a look around. There's rent, employees, and all sorts of other overhead.

2. Don't tell me about how hard your day has been if you've been out shopping and running errands. I've been at work.

3. Don't tell me, "At this other place they do this/it costs this." Yes, but you're here right now? Why did you not go there instead then?

4. Don't be cheap. Don't beg for discounts or freebies. The specials are what they are. I didn't make them. This is especially true if you're carrying a $400 handbag or wearing $300 loafers.

5. Don't complain if we're out of something and don't ask why we're out of it. The world doesn't revolve around you and we're out of it because other people wanted it too. It's that simple.

6. Please have a clue. Not sure what you want? Neither am I. Not sure you'll like something? Either don't buy it, do your homework on it to see if you will, or be willing cope with losing a few bucks in the name of experimentation.

7. Don't be oblivious. Notice all the people cleaning up, mopping the floors, shutting off the lights, and the empty parking lot? That's because we're closing and we want to go home. That means you should leave.

8. Learn to use the bathroom properly and neatly. Practice at home if you like.

9. Go to a bank to do your banking. Don't ask me to break your hundred on a $2 purchase or ask for a quarter roll as change so you can have money for the vending machine.

10. Expect to wait if it's busy. Common sense. Also, don't complain about waiting while you're waiting. If you can't take waiting just leave. Then there will be less of a wait for someone else.

11. If your children can not behave or if you refuse to control them then do not bring them with you.

12. Hang up your cell phone. Take off that stupid looking blue tooth. I'm not competing with your conversation.

13. Your lack if planning does not constitute my emergency.

Oh how I could go on. That's enough for now though.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous posters above who obviously have no idea how the restaurant (or likely any other) business works...

Servers are paid $2.14/hr. That allows your food to be cheaper. Pay them minimum wage you say? Your bill goes up and now the guy bringing your $25 steak is the same guy that asks if "you want fries with that" at the drive through. Pay them what they're worth, and you cheapskates cant afford to go out!

You're cheating the system! The server didn't cook your food, and the cook doesn't care what you tip. Next time your in a restaurant, look around at the other folks at the other tables. They're subsidizing your "complete experience" by tipping appropriately you ungrateful pricks.

Also, you know all of those horror stories about disgusting things that happen to your food before its set in front of you? Well, they're true, but reserved for consistently bad tippers. Email me, and I can tell you exactly what you don't know you ate the last time you stiffed your server.

Claire Voyance said...

To the servers: I find it funny that YOU took a job that pays nothing, yet you expect me to make up the difference. If you don't like the pay scale, ask for a raise or get a better paying job.

Anonymous said...

To the "I can't afford to tip" crowd:

Have you noticed that the quality of service that you get at a fine dining restaurant is a bit of a step above, say, McDonald's? Did you know that a McDonald's employee is paid at least twice what your favorite steakhouse server receives? How do they get such friendly, pride-swallowing, polite, and well spoken employees to kiss your butt???

Because the people sitting around you (the ones that understand how the world works) are paying your tab.

Anonymous said...

"WHAT?? Who are you - you idiot? We make $2.13 an hour so most of the time our checks are zero due to taxes or maybe $10 or $20. If you don't tip DO NOT eat out at a restaurant with servers. Stupidity should be taxed!"

You child-like fools. There is no law in NC or anywhere else that says a customer must tip. You are just an hourly employee with no authority. You can't tell us not to go out if we don't want to give you 20%. We will go where we want, when we want, tip IF we want, and as little or as much as we feel like! Get that through your college minds! You do get paid by the restaurant. If you feel you are not getting enough, ask for more hourly from your managers or QUIT. Do not look for it from the guests. You will always be disappointed because we do not care about your employment agreement or pay. That is not our care nor responsibility. Grow up and know you're working for a reason. You are not doing us a favor, we are doing you one or there would be no bloody restaurant or job for you there in the first place.

Josh said...

Claire Voyance...

I find it funny that YOU enjoy a meal which is artificially affordable based on the reduced labor expense created by the tipping system, and still you expect ME to "serve" you for free! If you don't like the system perhaps Wendy's would fit a little nicer in your budget.

Josh said...

"You can't tell us not to go out if we don't want to give you 20%. We will go where we want, when we want, tip IF we want, and as little or as much as we feel like!"

And your calling them "child-like fools"...wow! Galactically stupid. You sound like an 8 year old "Your not the boss of me." haha

Anonymous said...

To everyone who blames servers for their choice of job:

For a very, very long time, it has been the cultural norm in this country to tip 15%. You don't haggle with the clerk at Dillard's because it's not our cultural norm to haggle when we shop. Customers who live in American society are expected to be aware of the cultural norm of tipping 15%. By the same token, servers go into the job expecting to be tipped 15%.

Most servers who work at restaurants frequented by stiffers (and I won't name names) don't stay in the biz very long, for precisely the reason all of you state -- they don't get paid, either by the restaurant or the consistently cheap clientele. Professional, career servers work at high-end restaurants, where the customers are generally classier and understand the American cultural norm of tipping.

Anonymous said...

"..by the way you shouldnt be ordering lemonade if your a bad tipper :)"

"Email me, and I can tell you exactly what you don't know you ate the last time you stiffed your server."

The above pretty much sums it up. This is the attitude some waiters have and what leaves even more desire to tip crappy AND not come back to a restaurant. I always tip, but you can't blame the enfuriated patrons on this thread when you basically confess to pee on somebody's drink. You minority of bad waiters ARE pigs.

Anonymous said...

We WILL tip based on the ENITRE, FULL EXPERIENCE, not whether you bring us a napkin or steak sauce! You are not going to change this fact. Stop crying about it and do your jobs. You should be angry with the cook if the order is wrong. It affects YOUR TIP! So, you should be angry - with them. If it is too cold in the restaurant, it does reflect on you. YOU are the point of contact. "My name is Margaret and I'll be taking care of you tonight". Guess what that means, it means you are going to be taking care of the total dining expreience and you just said it in your own words. Own up to it or stay at home.

Anonymous said...

What should diners never do?

Expect any service at all in France with a mandatory tip for being rude and snotty included in your bill. Don't expect much more in England either.

Anonymous said...

There is nothing wrong with ordering tea half and half. Some of us don't like pure unsweet but we also don't like artificial sweetners or when real sugar doesn't dissolve. How hard is it for a waiter/waitress to pull tea from two tabs? They are right next to each other.

Mary said...

1.) Don't be rude.

2.) Don't complain that it's cold. Bring a sweater and know that restaurants are cool because the wait staff, the busboys, the dishwashers, the cooks, the hosts and the bartenders are running around WORKING! Do you want a sweaty server to bring your food? BRING A SWEATER!

3.) Don't bring your sick child, who stayed home from school, out to lunch. I once waited on a group of women on a Tuesday afternoon and one brought her 9 yr-old daughter. While they were sitting at the table the mom was picking lice out of her hair! We had to stop seating in that section and then Lysol-ed the crap out of it after they left.

And I want to say that the arguement about "good" tips and "bad" tips will go on as long as there are restaurants, servers and diners. As long as you, the server, do your job to the best of your abilities then you will make the money you need or you will find another job. Some people are good tippers, some people are bad tippers but as a server you can't know until the end of the meal so why not treat them like they are the best? And there may be some servers who remember (good/bad tips) but most don't, what they remember is if the diner ran them ragged and took time away from their other tables.

Anonymous said...

Remind me not to sit at MJW's table. Her comment was scary. If you offer sweet tea and unsweet tea, what's the problem with mixing it half & half? As for the comment about the water/bowl of lemons: As soon as you carry lemonade not loaded with regular sugar, I'll order it.

Anonymous said...

That's the problem now, missy. You need a boss to set you straight and make you do your job. When I am the customer, I am your boss. Don't like it? Quit. That's how it works. Plain and simple. No use stomping your teenage feet about it. We as customers are not bound by any law of tipping. It is you who needs to graduate from this infantile thought process.

Will said...

"If it is too cold in the restaurant, it does reflect on you."

Whoever said this is a complete moron. Seriously? YOU ARE NOT THE ONLY CUSTOMER IN THE RESTAURANT! How can you fault the server for the temperature of the room? This makes no sense. And what is all this talk about "the entire experience of the meal" You idiots act as though every meal should be a masterpiece and you use the fact that no meal can be a masterpiece as an excuse to be a cheap loser.

Anonymous said...

Hey, be a cheapskate! Just have the cohones to be honest about it. Next time you go out to eat, when your server greets you, say: "No matter what, I'm not tipping you."

Why leave the false impression that you will be paying for a service? Admit you're there to steal. You won't get poisoned or anything, just exactly what you paid for.

Bev said...

May I just give a great big thank you to all of the competent, friendly servers out there? You make my dining experience a pleasure. You've got my 20% every time!

Anonymous said...

I haven't waited tables in years (not since college), and in truth most people tip well and are polite and respectful. But here's one "don't-do" that I remember:

In restaurant lingo its called "camping". Usually, stay at home moms out for a lunch. They'll get there before the lunch rush, sit, order waters, split a salad, run up a tab of around $12 and keep your table occupied while they gab and gab, pausing only to request more lemmons (which they devour for some odd reason). Hey, its great you guys are catching up and all, you were polite, but your sitting on valuable real estate. I've got 3 maybe 4 tables that I have to make my money off, and now I'm down 1. Either overtip for the "rental fee", or move it on to Nordstrom's or the tennis club, or whatevers next.

Thanks! That venting felt good!

Anonymous said...

I'll turn the tables. I hate it when servers [and they all do this] refer to me and my guest as "guys". Also, never, ever say "no problem". Those two current-speak phrases really bug me.

Anonymous said...

My favorite diners are the ones that bring their children in, who proceed to run around and bump into me while I am carrying a tray full of heavy glassware filled with drinks, or a large tray of food that just came out of a 600 degree oven. I'm sure if I dropped it on a child that was running recklessly through the restaurant, it would be my fault. Oh, I also love it when kids absolutely destroy the table, spill drinks... and I then have to take time out of helping other customers to clean up the mess, and don't get anything extra for the extra trouble. Classy.

kyle said...

I give a 20% tip regardless. I mean, how much money are we talking about here folks? Give people who work hard for their money the benefit of the doubt. Tip 20% and you will have servers falling over each other to have you at their table every time you walk into a restaurant. Then, believe me, your service will be great.

JW said...

The battle that never ends! Bottom line is if you're a good server, you'll make your money. I supported myself comfortably for 7 yrs. serving/bartending. All that we ask is for you to treat us the way you would like to be treated. It's a pretty simple/common rule in society. Now of course there are things that will irritate a server, but that's just human nature. Bottom line is that some people just think they're better and above everyone else. Kinda sad actually.

1.) If you change an item on the menu, don't be upset if it's not up to par. The cooks are trained to cook what's on the MENU. If you like the way Bob cooks his fish, go to Bob's!

2.)Please control your animal of a child. I do not need to be dancing around him/her while carrying three plates of YOUR food to YOUR table! Be a parent!!!

3.)Friday/Saturday nights are ALWAYS busy no matter where you go. If you choose to complain about a wait, I will laugh in your face and won't care if you come back!

4.)If you say you are ready to order, please be telling the truth. There are 20 other people needing my service and they shouldn't have to wait for you to decide between a baked potato or french fries! Common courtesy!

5.)Please do not get upset when you eat 20 loaves of bread and find out that I'm charging you .50 for the 21st! IT'S NOT FREE!!

6.)There is no excuse to sit at a table for more than 30 minutes after you have paid to "catch up". There are a hundred other places to go and do this without costing somebody their rent money!

7.)Please DO NOT talk down to me. PERIOD! I don't care who you are or what you do, you are not better than me and we both deserve the same respect.

8.)I'm sorry if the music is too loud or the rest. is too cold. I did not set the volume or A/C! These are usually decisions made by the manager or corporate office. Please take it out on them! There ARE other people in the rest.

9.)If there is a sign at the front door that says, "Please Wait To Be Seated", it's there for a reason so please do wait. If there is a table open, there is probably a great reason why it is open. And please do not sit at a dirty table that has yet to be bussed!

10.)If you are sat at a certain table, SIT DOWN! Nobody is at work to play musical chairs and swith tables 15 times! And please do not just get up and move on your own! Servers are designated tables at the beginning of the night and you just either stole a table (money) from another server.

I know dining out is complicated for some people (few and far between) but, unless you've worked in the industry, you really have no idea how tough the job really is.

Cat said...

When you order, try to not act like an animal about it. Instead of starting off with "Gimme", "I want" or "I'll have" try using a more respectful tone.

"I'd like," or "Could I get," are much more pleasant. No customer should ever begin a request with "Gimme"...

Anonymous said...

To Anon 12:03 - Mentally hard? Mentally? Really?

To Anon 12:18 - Right on!!

To Anon 12:41 - Often the service isn't better than at McDonalds.

a 15% tip or a tip based on the service provided isn't being cheap. Be grateful for what you get. You don't know the diner's circumstances. Servers should know you're not ever paid what your worth and your diner may be in the same boat as you.

Anonymous said...

This is a great thing to vent about since we all have our pet dislikes. Mine is folks who say "your" when they mean "you're". What are English teachers teaching today? Oh, maybe saying "English" isn't P.C. Sorry.

JuanitaH said...

Having worked in restaurants for over 15 years, in all capacities i.e. cook, busser, hostess, bartender, server, manager, etc., I too have felt that if others spent a brief time doing just the same, the world would be a more understanding place. It is true that I chose to work in restaurants, as I enjoy talking with people, keeping busy, and understand well the inner workings of the food & bev industry. That said, I do not enjoy abuse, disdain, rudeness, and non-payment for my services rendered. I endeavored always to provide an enjoyable experience to my customers, but some folks are simply too self-absorbed, oblivious and generally bad-tempered to experience true joy, such as the service I provided to them. Some of my clients however were a true pleasure to serve; bien sur, all of them tipped well.

Anonymous said...

Don't get so worked up if something isn't going exactly your way. It's just food and will all turn to poop in a few hours. It's certainly not worth ruining your night or anyone else's.

Anonymous said...

I am a manager who had important things to say, but the Schwab person who is monitoring for the observer has censored me and witheld everthing. This is what is so biased and wrong with the Charlotte Observer. At least the other columnists are not corrupt.

mj said...

Why comment on how hard you think the job is if you have obviously never done it?

Yes, serving in a fast-paced restaurant is very challenging mentally (as well as physically). Servers are expected to remember what everyone ordered, is drinking, and needs. Not to mention has to be able to enter orders for the cooks, explain changes that the diner has made to a dish, be a cashier and keep up with the pace of a new set of diners every 30-45 minutes for 5 hours straight.

You are NOT my boss; my boss is that sweaty guy wearing a tie and dress shoes running around like a chicken with his head cut off trying to ensure that you have a pleasant dining experience.

I really don't care what you choose to tip, I've already moved on to the next table but please, please do not act like my job is so easy a monkey could do it.

Walk a mile in another man's shoes before you decide you are better than him.

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:47 - "You don't know the diner's circumstances..."

You're right I don't. But what I do know is that you should keep your butt at home if you have "circumstances" and can't afford to go out to eat. It's a pretty simple theory actually. But I guess that would explain why you would go out to eat and not leave a tip!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous Nov 5, 2009 11:20 AM:
"You are not guaranteed a tip. We do not have to give you anything."

YOU ARE STINGY!!! I think that restaurants should make 15% tip mandatory because of people like you!

Anonymous said...

Tipping is part of the cost of being served. If you don't want to tip well, go somewhere you don't need someone serving you. There are some nice ones out there.

One thing I do is I'm picking up the bill for the table, I tell everyone what I'm considering as the tip. I hate it when people tip for me and don't tell me what it is. I want to make sure it's adequate, some people can be cheap.

Also, as a general rule, I am never rude to someone who is going to be bringing me food. If there's a problem - be nice about it and give the server a chance to fix it. It's nice to establish a little trust with the server... As long as they do a good job of fixing it - doesn't affect tip amount at all.

Have you ever seen the movie Waiting?? :)

Murf said...

To the anonymous person who doesn't care about how the server is paid. I think that a lot of servers always want more. Like most of America. However it the tip is built into the price of food and no longer based on performance you will get the same service you get at the DMV, great plan! By the way you will always be the jerk that servers complain about because you are not understanding, life is about reciprocity. The overall experience is not a good argument, it's a scapegoat for your stinginess in my opinion. A good server will adapt to a situation where there has been an issue with the timing of the food or an improperly cooked piece of meat by first correcting the problem, raising the issue to the appropriate manager, and ensuring that you are comfortable and satisfied until the problem is corrected. If you tip less than 18-20% after this has been accomplished I have to say I would love to go to your workplace and see how many mistakes you make in a day.

Enjoy your meal, if you can.

Murf said...

I'd also like to say on the list of 50 things that diners shouldn't do. If you have kids and want to bring them into a nice restaurant that's fine with me. However, make sure that you appropriately watch and mind your children. You don't let your children act like cowboys and indians at home so don't let that happen out to eat either. Last, you wouldn't let your children demolish their eating space, carpet, and furnishings at home so why would you allow it at a restaurant? You're the parent, take ownership of your children.

Live, Love, and Eat Well.

Anonymous said...

We can nip this right now. How about we list restaraunts represented that believe the customer has no say and should go elsewhere if they don't care to give a gracious tip despite the service. List those restaurants that would prefer to customers to go elsewhere or risk having their food tampered with. I'll be more than happy to avoid spending my hard earned dollar from a middle class working salary elsewhere. We'll see who's appreciative of whom when it's all said and done...

John said...

How about what wait staff should not do:
1. Don't make assumptions on who is paying-male/female, black/white, etc. Put the bill in the middle please!!!!!!

2. Don't get overly friendly and chatty if it's obviously not wanted.

3. When speaking to a guest sitting at a table don't turn your back on the others.

Yes, all of these things have happened to me at nicer restaurants on different occassions. Yes, I tip well and I'm always curteous. Go figure.

Anonymous said...

The best service I ever have is in places where tipping are not permitted. ie The City Club, The Greenbrier and many cruise lines.

Helen Schwab said...

To the manager: Please try to send again. I have deleted no posts, and only a few were not used -- a few that clearly repeated only what others had already said. If you have an additional point, your comment must not have come through, electronically. Please resend. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Personally I think that tipping IS a sliding scale. If my server does an extraordinary job, they get 25%. By the same token, if you provide me with less than acceptable service, you will get less than 15%. If you are a server and you think a tip should be guaranteed, you need to change jobs. I'm the first to admit its a difficult job and I can't do it. I expect my server to at least be polite. I don't mistreat my servers and they should treat me like they want me to come back.

Anonymous said...

Just a few comments of my own: TO the person who mentioned how the bible only requires 10% so why should you tip more? Well, guess you need to go back and read your bible- NO WHERE in the bible does it say to tithe 10%. That woul dbe your religion's request. And really if you want to bring Jesus into this, just think, what would Jesus tip?

TO the person who said to order in a more respectful manner- I agree with you mostly. However saying "I'll have" is actually proper and respectful. If its offered on the menu then "I'll have..." is actually the correct way to order.

I have asked in the past if my server has to tip out at the end of the night and if they do I will take that into consideration for the whole expereince to leave a tip.

Also, I tip on the over-all service; however if my order is wrong or bad and the server corrects it without being rude or hateful I will add to the tip, not take away as long as the server was polite.

And lastly, if there will be a gratuity automatically tallied on my bill (like 18% is usual)- that's all you get (unless something extraordinary happens, which is extremely rare). if I am forced to tip then so be it but that's all. And typically, whenever that 18% grat. is usually charge I would have normally left 25-30% to start with (groups, etc.)

Anonymous said...

Here are some things diner should not do.
1. Don't talk while your server is trying to explain the menu or menu specials and then turn around and ask questions about the menu right after the server just finished going over it. It is a waste of the server's time.
2.Leave the table and go to the bathroom for 20 minutes right before the server comes by to take the table's order. It holds up the entire party that is waiting to order and eat.
3. Ask to sample various different wines and then after sampling several, decide to buy none of them. Again, that's a waste of time and cheap way to get your buzz on.
4. Don't take out your frustrations on your server. At least try to be positive and pleasant.

Anonymous said...

Servers,
The customer has the power. Remember that. We don't tip until we're about to leave, so you can't threaten us with tampering with our food if we don't tip. We can threaten not to tip if you don't provide decent service. If someone is so disgusted with your service that they don't tip you, they aren't going to come back to your restaurant, so your dreams of revenge just aren't going to come true.

Waiting tables is hard work, but so is my job. If you want my money, earn it. If you aren't willing to make my meal pleasant and have a good attitude about it, you are in the wrong line of work.

Bottom line, if you think that simply being an order-taker and tray-carrier entitles you to 20% of the bill, go back to flipping burgers.

Anonymous said...

I'll bet the waiters who kvetch about making a separate trip to bring condiments to the table are the same waiters who interrupt the conversation every five minutes to ask whether everything is okay. Please, waiters: if we want something, we'll ask you for it. In case you haven't heard, it's rude to interrupt a conversation.

Anonymous said...

1)Be nice to your waitperson and they will likely be nice to you.
2)Say please and thank you.
3) Smile at them, but don't start a long-winded conversation like you're on the front porch sipping lemonade.
4) I tip 20% for very good to excellent service. Sometimes a bit more if it's spectacular. I have no problem tipping 15 or even 10% if the service sucks. There is no such thing as an automatic 15 or 20% tip.

Waiters, please never, EVER let "no problem" escape your lips. Those words are crass and rude, ill-mannered and convey surliness. Please say "you're welcome" or "my pleasure" instead. I will be thrilled and increase your tip, I promise.

Anonymous said...

I don't know where the current trend of clearing the table while people are still eating started, but it is rude. (If you don't believe me, check an etiquette book!) Also, please stop saying "are you still working on that?" Gross! If your food is so bad that you feel I have to work to get it down, you should be doing something about that!

Tips are rewards for good service. If you refuse to split a check, ignore me the entire meal, or behave as rudely as some of these posters, you get what you deserve.

The 15-20% rule is absurd. Coffee shop waitresses that keep your cup filled and attend to your every need deserve much more than the snooty waiter at a high end restaurant that acts condescending and

Anonymous said...

When the server pours a little wine in the glass for a taste and the diner responds with, "I'm sure if it meets your expectations it will exceed mine." the diner is not some ignorant boob from the sticks. The diner is actually paying the server a compliment by assuming that the server knows when wine is bad by how the cork looks and the diner doesn't particularly want to start his meal off with a mouth full of vinegar. So the proper response for the server to make is to smile, reinspect the cork and continue pouring the wine.

Damon Nichols said...

I have worked in the restaurant industry for 15 years. Busser, cook, server, bartender, manager, and back to bartender.

1. I have never seen any food intentionally tampered with. For any reason. The only thing would be filling your wild and crazy kids soda cup with as much as we can get them to drink so you can deal with it when you get home.

2. The vast majority of us are appreciative that you decide to dine with us and will do absolutely anything to get you to return. Tip or no tip. We aren't all "teenagers". We don't blame you for being upset about poor service. You are appreciated. The non-tippers are averaged out by the good tippers and people who empathize with, and appreciate us.

3. If you feel like sub-par service is the norm.....you need to find some new restaurants. Please come to mine. You get what you pay for. Some of us are in the business of pleasing our customers. It all starts with the ownership, and a good owner will not allow bad service and dissatisfied customers. I know you are helping me feed my kids. Thank You.

4. A little FYI.... Just to clear up an issue. If you don't tip, your server has to PAY MONEY TO WAIT ON YOU. Servers pay into a tip pool at the end of the night. (Usually 1% of their total sales) Also, the Federal government REQUIRES that servers pay taxes on 8% of their total sales. They have determined that this is was most servers net. So if your bill is $100, the server will pay around $1 out of their own pocket into the tip pool, and then declare to the IRS that you gave them $8. Then these taxes will be deducted from their paycheck.

What if your employer paid you $45,000 this year and the IRS taxed you on $60,000.

We understand this and we accept it. This is for your information only.

5. If you read this, Thank you, and feel free to email me at damoninfo@yahoo.com . I will give you directions to my restaurant and show you what a great dining experience is all about.

Patrick Tucker said...

To...

Anonymous said...
Actually restaurants DO NOT pay the servers. Servers make their money from tips. So when you don't tip - they don't make money. Hence they are working for free. So for the people that said it's the job of the server to serve and the tip is optional - YOU ARE WRONG. What would happen if all servers decided not to be a server any more because of all the cheap, rude people that don't tip, and you had no one to serve your food? You'd just have to eat at home. So why don't you do us all a favor and cook your meals at home. Thanks!
**************
Okay, so if we don't show up, how do you get paid?

Okay servers...yes, we can be a pain, but guess what...I'm the customer. I don't like everything about my job and I'm in sales. I have many clients I don't like, but they give me business and since I make commission, I deal with it. We have choices where we go out to eat...so deal with it. I don't care if you had to roll napkins or cut lemons...it's called a restaurant and a job.

Pok said...

Yes we make $2.13 an hour, so we appreciate your tip if we did our job. I dont mind making teas or bringing condiments, part of the job. The most irritating thing for me is when I greet a guest and ask you how you are, please do not bark a food or drink order at me. I may be "just" a bartender, but still a person. People think we are stupid and lazy as a whole but most of the career servers can make 100K a year working 30hrs a week going to work at 11am. Who is stupid now...

Anonymous said...

The previous posts from certain customers makes me sad. As a manager in a restaurant, i see the myriad of guests in my day.

The one thing diners should never do is forget that there is a difference between being served and being a servant.

I feel the majority of people that think "restaurants pay their employees" and "I don't have to tip" don't treat other humans with respect.

Now, this isn't to say that some servers don't deserved little to know tip. Serving isn't for everyone. However, i think the people who take their jobs seriously deserve to be compensated.

I try my best to make people feel comfortable and have a good experience, and i teach that to my staff.

Differences aside, this is their livelihood. It isn't a "Us vs. Them" debate. Servers provide a service. The debate gets heated because some patrons view waiters as "under" them.

Anonymous said...

I am a restaurant manager and have been for most of my career. I can assure the customers who are outraged that you have every right to be. We have to deal with multiple issues with servers and their attitudes on a constant basis. I have fired and banned many of them for making these type of outlandish statements in the past. They are hourly employees who sometimes suffer from extreme delusions of grandeur.

As you can tell here, the wait staff somehow think they can speak on behalf of the restaurant, or the company. This is a lie on it's face and servers should be reprimanded and actions taken against them for these type of infractions. As someone who has to speak on behalf of the company, and the restaurant, here are a few things that I can assure you of and put to rest once and for all:

1. Servers have no authority to demand any tip or a percentage for gratuity, in any way. It is against the law.
2. If you are cold, or warm, and request that the temperature be adjusted, let the server know. Their opinion on how they want the thermostat is irrelevant. The customer's comfort is of utmost importance, not the wait staff or kitchen personnel.
3. Servers have no right to rush you or complain if you are taking too long. As a company, we make the rules, we want you here, and it is not up to them. If you feel rushed, ask for a manager and we can go ahead and see how the server feels being rushed home before their shift ends. That should resolve their problem.
4. We are concerned about your enjoyment of the full dining experience. It is the job of the server to ensure that takes place successfully and without issue. If they complain that it's not, then I would terminate them and they could go somewhere else that allows them to dictate what they can do.
5. Servers are paid by their employer. It is not the concern of any customer what they get paid, nor should it be up to the guests to compensate the difference. If they don't like the pay, they can resign and go to work in fast food.

Don't be misled by comments here from servers posing as people who actually have a say in the restaurant they work for. We are the management, we want you happy, and we want your business. The servers are there for their shift and have a job to do. If they don't, then let us know and we will make sure they never make the same mistake again. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

To Anon who posted November 6, 2009 at 9:43 AM your post mirrors my thoughts exactly.
My part time job is a restaurant hostess. I love the restaurant where I work! We desire that our guests return again and again and the whole team (staff) strives to provide the best possible experience for ALL guests! We know we would not have a job if it was not for our customers.
As far as tipping goes. Because I have worked in retail and restuarants I do understand and appreciate good service.
I had a date one time and he only ordered a salad and I had a glass of wine and I guess he thought he didn't need to tip. I watched him drive away, went to the atm, and walked back to hand the server his tip. It's indicative of who you are by how you treat those that you come into contact with. This means the cashier at the grocery store, to the bus boy at the restaurant to your own family. I politely declined to go out with the guy again.

charlotte waiter! said...

First off to the last restaurant manager, don't be anonymous. Post your name perhaps the company you work for! I doubt that your real. If you are real I would love to know your turnover, very high I suspect!

Let it be known that I am a server. Been doing it for ten years. I've worked in every type of restaurant along the way, and now reside in one of Charlotte's finest restaurants.

To be a successful server the number one rule you have to follow is the guest has to perceive that they are always right. What does that mean? Make em happy. They want a plate of lemons, let them have it, they want half and half tea give it to them, or work in a place that doesnt serve sweet tea! You get the idea. We are there to make them happy.

There's alot of complaining going on in these comments, and its mostly between servers who work at casual low priced places, and the patrons who frequent these places.

Understand this. Most server's in this city make 2.13 an hour! They have to tip out on their sales that they have! That means for those of you that have never waited tables. They have to give the house money to give to other employees. How much do they give well it depends. On average at a normal middle of the road restaurant its 3 percent of sales. That means if you stiff a server on a 100 dollar tab they have to give 3 dollars out of their pocket. So if you tip them 10 dollars they made 7 dollars. tip them 20 and they walk with 17.
For all of the people that stiff servers realize you are basically stealing from that server! I feel the only time a person should stiff a server is for rude service!

There is a bad cycle that goes on in low priced restaurants. The servers dont make great money so they have a bad attitude alot of the times. The restaurant has low prices so it attracts alot of scum to the restaurant that also has bad attitudes. When you mix the two, you can see just from the comments on here what you get! It gets nasty!

I for one am thankful for where I work! To steal the Ritz's line. I'm a gentleman waiting on ladie's and gentlemen! I love my job, I love my restaurant, I love my managers, I love my guests I get to wait on, but most of all I love our extremely high prices that keeps the cheapo's on the outside looking in!

Anonymous said...

To the server who seems to demand my name yet goes under an unidentifiable title himself, let me inform you that I have managed restaurants for 23 years and I am posting because of the nonsense that most, not all, servers seem to spout on this forum. I don't have to prove who I am and certainly am not going to divulge my current place of employment, but I can assure you we are very proud of our staff and we absolutely weed out those who can't grasp the true purpose in what we do. Most of what you had to say was sensible, but unfortunately it all fell apart and your credibility with it when you started the repititous rant about how much servers get paid an hour, on and on and on.

That has already been posted here several times, yet apparently you - as with your coworkers - can't seem to understand that all of that, while it may be true in some circumstances, is not the case with every restaurant. More importantly, what you still don't seem to comprehend is......why tell the cusomter this? They do not care how much or how little you are making, nor should they. Why do you servers feel that guests are there to understand some charity case evaluation about how you can't make ends meet or you feel slighted in your job? Of course, customers have already addressed that here as well by saying that you chose this job, and chose this position. You know very well what the job entails and what the pay is.

It should be clear: If you do not like the job and what it pays, or what you have to do, then quit. I certainly don't want anyone like that within 100 yards of our restaurant because it's poisonous and contaminated griping that kills morale and future business. Not everyone is a 'cheapo' and you don't have to charge outrageous prices to ask for good service out of your wait staff. Pure nonsense.

Finally, to tell customers they are basically stealing is a disgustingly trashy comment and proves that the server mentality is toxic to most restaurants who are trying to make money, keep business coming in the door, and have longevity.

Customers: Again, good service should warrant a return, in good faith. Please know that the servers do not speak for the ownership or management of the restaurant. Servers do not run the show and are in a position to demand nothing. Complain if things are not right, ask for the best service you can't, and expect nothing less. If you don't get it, then make sure you ask for a supervisor immediately. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Now that both Part 1 & 2 are published, I'm disappointed the following isn't included: "Never remove a plate until all diners are finished eating." When a server removes plates from some but not all diners, it's rude to the people still eating and suggests servers (and management) want the party to leave so another party can be seated and more money can be made. Please let us finish our meal as a group.

another former server said...

Apparently, some of these "servers" do not realize their pay structure. NONE of you work for free. Thats called slavery and it is illegal.

You work for minimum wage. Because you are classified as a "tipped" employee, your minimum wage is $2.13/hour. IF your wages plus your tips do not equal a sum of $7.25/hour your employer must make up the difference. Therefore you are guaranteed minimum wage like every other hourly employee in the state. You are required by NC law to be notified of this wage law in advance (read: upon hiring). Your employer must permit you to retain all tips. If "tip pooling" is in place, your employer must ensure you retain at least 85% of your tips. Here is a nice quote for you to remember, directly from the NC Dept. of Labor:

"Employers must pay more than the hourly cash wage if the tipped employee earns less than the credit in tips per hour, as it is the employer’s responsibility to make sure that all tipped employees earn at least the minimum wage in cash wages and tips."

How that pay structure affects your taxes is between you and the government. We're all screwed on that front.

For the record, I automatically tip 20% because it is mathematically easy and the difference is usually small enough for me not to care. However if I feel something is wrong with the service I will tip less. If something is very wrong I will find a manager. I can count on one hand the number of times I have left no tip, and I can assure you I have no regrets.