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Author Topic: If they fix the problem, is the 'full tip' still warranted?  (Read 11829 times)

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I know, I know... ANOTHER tipping thread.

I went to dinner with my SO last night, his mom, and his uncle who was visiting from out of town.  Our waitress was not very attentive and there was a 15 minute lag on getting drink refils (2 bottled beers, 1 frozen drink that comes out of a dispenser and is not made my hand.)  Before she could bring the drinks, busboys delivered the entrees and we had some problems.  Missing food on seafood combo plates, lack of utensils, no ketchup or grated cheese on the table.  We asked the busboys for the missing items, they never brought them. When the waitress came with the drinks (the frozen drink was wrong!) we told her the same things and she took off but never came back.  My SO got the manager and explained the problems.  Manager came over with 2 busboys and attended to us, got us everything we needed, and then served us the rest of the evening, checking in with us, etc.  Manager also brought us all free desserts, free cordials, a plate of fresh fruit and THEN brought out a wrapped tray (about 2 pounds) of fresh, italian bakery cookies.  In other words, IMO, he was bending over backwards to make up for the earlier problems.

Now here's my dilemma.  My boyfriend paid the bill but his uncle wanted to leave the tip.  No food discounts were applied, though they didn't charge us for 2 of the alcoholic drinks.  Uncle and SO's mom felt that the tip needed to be cut severely to "send a message" that the earlier service was unacceptable and sub par.  My POV was that the matter was addressed and the manager over extended himself to fix the problem AND compensate us by giving us all the free desserts and after dinner drinks.  So for that reason, the tip should be at least the "standard".  I'm not going to debate what the standard percentage is here, my point is just that I felt that we should have tipped the standard because all in all, the dinner was saved and the "extras" made up for what was lacking?

My question is:  Do you agree that if poor service is rectified, and staff then go above and beyond to make up for the problem, that the tip should NOT be cut below what you consider standard?

(FWIW, I put additional money of my own and hid it under my dessert plate because it was the only way I saw the make up for the low tip that uncle left.  BF paid the dinner check but uncle insisted on leaving the tip in cash, and insisted it be below standard to "send a message" and future MIL supported this.  BF seemed to go along, but I think it was more about not arguing with them because there was no changing their minds.  When he and I dine out we are usually on the same page about these things.)


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Re: If they fix the problem, is the 'full tip' still warranted?
« Reply #1 on: July 18, 2013, 02:13:59 PM »
I guess it depends on who would be receiving the tip.  The waitress honestly didn't earn a tip.  The manager is most likely on salary, and was the one who really fixed the issues.  The busboys did eventually step up, but really messed up in the beginning.  I don't think there's any way of doing this that makes sure the waitress wasn't compensated for her substandard service.  Perhaps telling the manager that the tip was for the busboys only?


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Re: If they fix the problem, is the 'full tip' still warranted?
« Reply #2 on: July 18, 2013, 02:14:54 PM »
Do you agree that if poor service is rectified, and staff then go above and beyond to make up for the problem, that the tip should NOT be cut below what you consider standard?

I'm with you. I'd overcompensate but I would hand it directly to the manager and thank him specifically for his kindness and attentiveness.


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Re: If they fix the problem, is the 'full tip' still warranted?
« Reply #3 on: July 18, 2013, 02:15:59 PM »
That's a tough one, and I'm not sure what I would do in that situation.  Yes, the manager made good for the lack of service at the start, but it's been my experience that the tips usually go to the waitstaff and maybe the bussers who served you.  They were the ones who dropped the ball in the first place. 

If the manager got a cut of the tips, then I think I would agree with you 100%.  But that's not something customers usually know about how a restaurant operates. 

Maybe I'd leave a smaller tip for the less-than-stellar waitstaff, but then call/write/email corporate or the owner praising the outstanding actions of the manager.


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Re: If they fix the problem, is the 'full tip' still warranted?
« Reply #4 on: July 18, 2013, 02:18:38 PM »
I would probably have left an average tip (~15%) and been done with it.
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Re: If they fix the problem, is the 'full tip' still warranted?
« Reply #5 on: July 18, 2013, 02:22:20 PM »
who would be getting this tip?  The people who caused the problem? or the person who fixed them?  My answer would depend on that


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Re: If they fix the problem, is the 'full tip' still warranted?
« Reply #6 on: July 18, 2013, 02:25:31 PM »
I think you handled things absolutely right. Your future ILs's behavior was niggardly, and I would suggest having a conversation with your fiance about how to handle things like this in the future. I would have been embarrassed in your shoes to have them go above and beyond to make up for a mistake like that only to be rewarded by a crappy tip. No "message" needed to have been sent, since they already "got the message" when the busboys and manager sprang into action to correct the waitress' mistake. Your ILs were just being punitive, or taking advantage of the fact that they could justify to themselves a lesser tip.

And I do NOT think it is necessary to attempt to direct the tip. The waitress is obviously not going to get it. (I highly doubt she's still working there.) Either the manager would take it for himself, or he would have split it amongst the busboys. It really doesn't matter, because the tip signifies your appreciation for the service, including everything they did to make up for their mistake.

I think the idea of giving an official complement about the manager to corporate or the owner is a great one. In future, your fiance would have every right to say "Thanks Dad, but this one is on me, and that includes the tip. I will "send the appropriate message." I've got it handled." If he can't disagree with his parents about something like this, or just take control of the situation, I would be potentially concerned when bigger issues come down the line.


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Re: If they fix the problem, is the 'full tip' still warranted?
« Reply #7 on: July 18, 2013, 02:49:02 PM »
In order to ward off any further mod reports. the word "niggardly" does not mean what people believe it to mean, and in fact it's a perfectly inoffensive word. Here's the Merriam-Webster definition:


Not generous; stingy: "the company was particularly niggardly with salaries"; "serving out the rations with a niggardly hand".

In a stingy or meager manner.
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Re: If they fix the problem, is the 'full tip' still warranted?
« Reply #8 on: July 18, 2013, 02:49:41 PM »
We-elllll..... I tend to overtip so I probably would have tipped based on the fact that they bent over backwards to make things right in the end. I'm not sure it would have occurred to me at the time to work out who was getting the tip and if the manager was on salary, etc.

On the other hand, when I'm with other people and they are picking up the tab, I try to distance myself from getting involved in how much is being tipped. I don't want to be in the habit of noticing how much is being left and putting myself in the place of feeling I need to make up the difference.

In this case, since they were having this conversation right then where you obviously had to hear it, I know it's hard to stay out. I probably would have excused myself and gone to the restroom as soon as the discussion started just so I wouldn't have to be in on it. (That's just me.)

I think you were fine to add the extra tip since you felt it was warranted. If I were in the place of your SO, I'd leave the tip I want regardless of what Mom & Uncle said. I'm paying the bill, I'm leaving the tip. And I always pay with a credit card so it's really my business and only my business what I fill in in the tip line. If Uncle wants to leave additional tip or pay me back or whatever, fine. But as much as I don't want to get involved how much other people are leaving for a tip, I don't want anyone policing me either.

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Re: If they fix the problem, is the 'full tip' still warranted?
« Reply #9 on: July 18, 2013, 02:52:05 PM »
I would not tip the waitress very much.  But I would seek out the manager and give the rest of my normal tip to him to distribute to the two busboys who eventually helped get it sorted out.

That waitress did not deserve the tip, IMO.
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Re: If they fix the problem, is the 'full tip' still warranted?
« Reply #10 on: July 18, 2013, 02:53:48 PM »
I think what to leave for a tip in this type of situation depends very much upon the specific circumstances.

It's possible and perhaps even common for an otherwise fine server to provide poor service because of things going on in the restaurant that are out of his/her control. For example, if a bunch of large parties come in, or the kitchen is messing up orders, or the bar staff is being slow about drinks, or they're short-staffed--any of those things could cause a server to give poor service when, under other circumstances, the service would have been fine. Sometimes the customer can see stuff like that going on, and sometimes the customer is totally unaware of it.

The other thing to note is that comped items and extra attention from the manager shouldn't really be related to the tip to the server. The manager is just as motivated to comp things if the poor service is caused by restaurant-wide factors as he/she would be if the poor service is caused by the server alone. The goal for the manager is to get you to come back, and the free stuff is meant not to compensate you for the poor service (not exactly), but to leave you with a favorable impression of the restaurant as a whole. It's meant more to offset poor service than actually address it.

So I think the logic behind your BF's uncle's decision is not actually flawed (though I don't necessarily agree with his decision). The stuff provided by the manager is a separate issue than the tip, and shouldn't factor in. Where I would differ in his decision is that I try to give waitstaff the benefit of the doubt. Barring clear evidence that the server could have provided better service and just chose not to, and especially when there is clear evidence that the server was working against long odds, I generally assume the service they provided would have been acceptable under other circumstances, and leave at least my usual tip. I'm not going to punish the server for, essentially, fighting an losing battle they didn't create.

Even if the quality of service is within the control of the server, the comped stuff from the manager wouldn't matter. In that case, since the manager was showering me with free goods anyway, I would tell them that I thought the service was abysmal, and that I was not going to be leaving a tip because of it. The fact that they gave me some freebies might convince me to return to the restaurant in the future, but it wouldn't induce me to leave a tip that I thought was unwarranted. As a general rule, though, if I think the service is bad enough that I'm not inclined to leave at least my standard tip, then I need to make sure the manager knows about it. I don't leave less than 15% without saying something, because I can't guarantee otherwise that the message will be "the service stinks" and not "Dindrane is a stupid cheapskate."

I was actually in a somewhat similar situation recently, and I tipped what I normally would. We ended up with worse-than-usual service at a restaurant we go to regularly, but it was the end of the day and there was waitstaff clearly getting ready to end their shifts. Thus, the restaurant was somewhat short-staffed, and there was some pretty obvious confusion created by some people continuing to wait on customers while others were leaving.

So even though we had a hard time getting our server's attention, it was mostly because she was busy. We ordered drinks that we had to ask for again (because they forgot), and our food took forever, but it seemed to be a result of the general confusion. Someone who I think is the manager ended up helping to serve us, and he apologized for the service without us actually complaining about it. He also comped our drinks and gave us a coupon for a free appetizer the next time we went. I wouldn't always count the coupon as an acceptable response, but since we weren't actually planning to complain and were definitely planning on continuing to eat at the restaurant, we appreciated it. The overall experience ended up being a net positive, even though it did not start off all that well. The service provided by our actual waitress wasn't great, but it wasn't terrible and there were extenuating circumstances. So I gave her the benefit of the doubt and left my usual tip.

Plus, we like that restaurant and eat there a lot. I tip better at restaurants where I'm a regular, because if the waitstaff remembers me at all, I want it to be because I leave decent-to-good tips, not because I'm stingy.


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Re: If they fix the problem, is the 'full tip' still warranted?
« Reply #11 on: July 18, 2013, 03:02:00 PM »
Managers do not ( or at least, SHOULD not) share in the tips. The Manager stepped up and made things right , took care of your table himself, and offered extra compensation and because of that, you paid full price for your meals. That made things equal, in my opinion, and the tip to the waitress and busser would have reflected the previous bad service.

If the Manager had corrected the immediate problems (missing and incorrect items) and then assigned a different waitress to my table for the remainder of the meal, then I would have tipped at my normal percentage.

 I commend the Manager for handling your table himself, (The bussers he brought along to help would have been doing things at his direction, not of their own accord) but at the end of the day, the tip is a reward for good service from the waitress..not the management.


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Re: If they fix the problem, is the 'full tip' still warranted?
« Reply #12 on: July 18, 2013, 03:13:06 PM »
If this was a restaurant I go to a lot, then I would tip my normal amount.  If not, I would tip about 5% below my normal amount.


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Re: If they fix the problem, is the 'full tip' still warranted?
« Reply #13 on: July 18, 2013, 03:15:37 PM »
Interesting question. To start with a tangent: I think Uncle was rude for insisting that he be the one to leave a tip, so he could leave a small amount as a message. If BF is paying the table's bill, BF gets to decide what the tip is and pay it, OR he can agree to someone else's offer to leave a tip if he wants. But, it sounded like Uncle wasn't asking BF, "Can I get the tip?" It sounds like he was telling him, "I am getting the tip, and I'm going to make it low!" Basically undercutting BF's authority as the bill-payer, and for a stated negative reason that BF might not have agreed with. I could see BF not wanting to make a scene, though, and I think it was okay for you (the OP) to leave extra tip money if you genuinely thought that's what your BF would have done if he'd had the chance.

As to the main question: I think I would have left my standard tip. I wouldn't want to worry so much about the restaurant policies and who's going to get what. If the meal ended as a net positive experience for me (as Dindrane said), I would leave the tip I usually leave in such circumstances, and let the employees sort it out. (I do usually pay with a credit card and write the tips directly on the receipt, as opposed to leaving cash on the table that anyone could pick up.) I feel like, the business already got the message, that's why the manager came over and attended to you and tried to improve things. And, I suspect that changes in tip amounts do not send as clear a message to the servers/restaurants as some people might think--"Oh, only 11.73% tip! I knew I should have brought him one more refill before he left!" This is what my dad seems to think, anyway...  ::)


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Re: If they fix the problem, is the 'full tip' still warranted?
« Reply #14 on: July 18, 2013, 03:17:53 PM »
When it is a kitchen mistake the waitress can't help then I tip like I normally would afyer the problem is fixed. That beinng said, I wouldn't really see cookies as.a fix.for a messed up entree as "fixed" for example. Cookies are nice and might be a bit of a help but if the enyree is wrong I.want a brand new entree that is correct. Same with.apps, drinks, whatever they got wrong. The cookies can make up for the delay in time.