To Tip or Not to Tip the Nutty Waiter?

This question has been on my mind for a few days.

HotPepper

I went to a restaurant the other day with a few of my colleagues from work.  It was lunch time and this restaurant offers buffet for lunch. We have gone to this place many times before but recently there seems to be a new management and new crew.

At buffets, as you know, everyone gets their own servings and we all did.  The waiter came and filled our glasses with water but then after his first appearance, the waiter couldn’t be seen anywhere the entire time.  At one point we ran out of water and the food being very spicy and hot, we really needed it, the only thing that was not on the buffet table otherwise we would have gotten the refills ourselves.  This particular restaurant is quite famous in my town and gets filled beyond capacity during lunch so I understand that the staff usually gets busy (with what? I’m not sure) and cannot attend every customer individually.

The hot and spicy food was getting to us and in the absence of water,  we decided we were not going to tip them. (blame it on dehydration).

We finished our meal somehow and after paying at the front desk, headed to our cars while talking about how once this place used to be a very nice but the service was going downhill lately.   All of a sudden we heard someone calling us from behind: “Miss… excuse me ma’am..”  All four of us turned around and found that one of the waiters was walking towards us, with a smirk on his face.   Not understanding what his problem was, we stood there waiting to hear what was his problem. The guy walked up to us and told us that we had forgotten to pay him the tip.

Huh?  We were stunned and furious at his audacity.  How could he follow us in the parking lot asking for money?   All he did was fill our glasses with water one time at the beginning.   We wondered what that smirk was for… did he really think we were going to feel embarrassed and end up paying the tips in the parking lot?   Not to mention how suspiciously stupid the scene would have looked to someone – each of us handing over some money to a strange guy!

This is the first time in my life I’ve come across such behavior. No waiter in the world should be chasing customers in the parking lots to demand tips! We of course refused politely and said we didn’t think a gratuity was warranted as no service was provided, the guy insisted a couple of times but we just walked away!  Phew!   What has the world come to?

As ridiculous as it sounds, we recently also started noticing that this place has started to include the tip in the check when it’s first given to you so if you do not notice it, and end up giving 15% to 20% on top of that, it’s your fault and they will gladly take the money, knowing fully well that you didn’t notice the tip had already been added.  Not to mention, some restaurants charge you tip on the take-outs too!

So, here are my questions:

Do you always pay tips even when they don’t provide any service?

I mostly do but this one time we collectively decided not to and the waiter came after us!

How would you have handled this?  If you are not from United States, I’d love to know the custom and expectations in your country.

photo: Digital Plus Art & Photo

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48 Responses to “ To Tip or Not to Tip the Nutty Waiter? ”

  1. Funny— I have about the same scale in my head as you do, it sounds like: 15% is his/hers to lose, and I will go to 20% if they make an effort, as is often the case in the US (side contention: I think that the US has waitstaff whose friendliness/competence rivals anywhere in the world, that I’ve seen, but that’s another post).
    In this case, I’m sorry, it sounds like he’s on the way out anyway, and I’d give him nothing at all, not even another thought.

  2. I always leave the waiter a 15% if I am satisfied with their service. Otherwise I do not leave money and I make sure to change the restaurant. In this way, I do not have the tension and it is ok.

  3. Here in The Netherlands there is service included in the bill, and we do not have to pay 15% or 20% on top like in the US. Most people do add a tip when the service etc have been exceptionally good. I would have acted the same way like you and your friends did however, and the waiter was definitely insane to chase you in the parking lot asking for the tip… :)

  4. I can’t tolerate such type of things. A waiter deserve tip when he/she provide the best service to their customer, otherwise no one can want to visit again a such type of place where you not satisfied..

  5. This post is a good one. What i feel is that we should not encourage tips.

  6. I usually tip waiters, bartenders, all the grunt workers. One time, a certain customer who complains a lot about the service in the restaurant he was, the bummed up waiter knows a wicked move to retaliate that irate customer. What do you know, the customer enjoyed his dinner and leaves, only to find out that the waited spat on that customer’s food. So we should be nice and generous to waiters. :)

  7. “The hot and spicy food was getting to us and in the absence of water, we decided we were not going to tip them.”

    Tips are customer’s prerogatives. And of course, customers would only grant tips if the waiters are worthy of that. You got bad service, so definitely, you shouldn’t give tips.

    “As ridiculous as it sounds, we recently also started noticing that this place has started to include the tip in the check when it’s first given to you so if you do not notice it, and end up giving 15% to 20% on top of that.”

    Honestly, what kind of restaurant is that? It should have been closed down.

  8. “The guy walked up to us and told us that we had forgotten to pay him the tip.”

    You and your friends must have been really pissed and surprised. What did you told the waiter? Have you considered talking to the manager?