Every couple of months, a server will post a picture online of some terrible tip a customer left (or more accurately, didn’t leave). Most recently, a server shared a picture where a customer wrote “LOL” on the tip line instead of leaving a tip.
She not only received zero dollars for her work, the customers also rubbed it in her face.
As someone who worked as a server at a few different restaurants, this isn’t surprising. It’s upsetting, but it’s not surprising. There are people out there who look for reasons not to tip. Any reason at all.
They look at the tip as a bonus, even though we all know that it’s actually how the server gets paid. No tip means that the server doesn’t get paid for their work
It’s awful not to leave. It doesn’t matter what happened beforehand; leaving no tip makes you the bad guy. Leaving a rude message is even worse.
The person who did that is the worst kinds of customer — the sort of customer we all hope not to be. If you want to avoid being this sort of customer, here are 10 things you can do:
1. Seriously, stay calm.
In all honesty, it’s just dinner. Nothing that happens is that important. If you have to wait too long, then you can always go somewhere else, or just eat at home.
Getting fired up over your experience at a restaurant just comes across as kind of bratty. Just because it took a while for the drinks to come out doesn’t mean you need to blow your lid.
2. Understand who’s responsible for what.
People often blame everything in the restaurant on their server. I’ve seen people not tip because they had to wait so long to get a table. That’s punishing the server for something they can’t even control.
If the food comes out cooked wrong, guess what? Your server isn’t the cook. The cook is the cook. You don’t tip the cook; you tip the server for their service.
3. Don’t ask to speak to the manager.
There’s nothing worse than having a customer ask to “see the manager.” The only reason they’re doing that is because they want to get some sort of discount.
They’ll pretend it’s because they’re upset, but it’s really because they want to pay less money. Either leave or deal with it; don’t ask for a manager.
4. Don’t expect perfection.
Servers have to handle multiple tables at the same time. They have to juggle a lot of different orders in their hand. If something comes out wrong or is a little delayed, that’s why. They may have just gotten overwhelmed for a minute.
5. Understand that people have off days.
Even if your server sucks, guess what? We all have off days. Can you really say that every time you went to work you gave it 100 percent? Your server isn’t working their dream job, so cut them some slack. Getting upset isn’t going to make them want to do a better job for you.
6. Give people a chance to fix problems.
Things go wrong, it happens. Orders get screwed up, people get confused. Don’t judge someone by whether or not they get everything correct. Judge them on how they handle it.
If something goes wrong, always give your server a chance to fix it. The majority of the time, they’ll handle it and bend over backwards to keep you happy. They’ll often take a charge off the bill without you even asking for it.
In fact, if something goes wrong and you act like a civilized person about it, your server will work harder to fix it. If you act like a maniac, they’ll do the bare minimum. and probably worse.
7. Always leave a tip.
No matter how the service was, you should probably leave something. Did the food end up at your table? That’s at least a couple of bucks right there. You don’t have to leave a big tip every single time, and it’s OK to leave a lower than average tip when the service was bad.
Leaving nothing, on the other hand, is just awful. Unless the waiter spit in your food, you owe them a tip. If you’re willing to pay full price for the food, then don’t skimp on the tip.
8. Remember where you are.
If you’re having dinner at a cheap chain restaurant, don’t expect five star service. Your server is expecting to make 5 to 10 dollars off of your table, so act accordingly.
If you’re at Applebee’s, and the steak comes out a little overcooked, it’s fine. You went to Applebee’s. There’s a reason why the food there is cheap. Don’t act like you were expecting fine dining when your server is wearing shiny flair all over their brightly colored uniform.
9. It’s OK to be unhappy — but don’t get angry.
Whatever happened, it really doesn’t matter. Unless the restaurant is actively stealing from you or hurting someone at your table, stay calm. Nothing else is worth getting angry over. It’s fine that you’re not happy with the service or the food, but keep your cool.
I once saw a guy slam down a dish of mashed potatoes because he had actually ordered a baked potato. Even though he’d gotten the wrong item, nobody in the restaurant was on his side after that little outburst.
10. Remember: You don’t have to come back.
This is the biggest one. If you don’t like the service at a restaurant, then you never have to go back. You can’t demand that they have to change the way they do business. But also, no one is forcing you to eat there.
Just calmly accept that you gave the place a shot and you didn’t like it. You don’t have to announce that you’re never coming back, because only jerks do that. It’s fine to not go to a place you don’t like.