This week there was a Food Lush post on tipping and I found it fascinating. Most people said they leave 15% even if the service is horrible, which made me think of the one time we left no tip. Last month, when we went to St. Louis, we ate breakfast at the hotel one morning (there was no free breakfast). We walked into the restaurant around 9 and it was pretty dead. After a second, a waitress came over and started to seat us. While she was grabbing a high chair for Paul, another waitress came over and – right in front of us – said “It’s MY turn!” The first said “No, you got the last table!” “But you have that big table over there!” “You have the two tables over there!” They argued (in quiet-ish whispers) until the first waitress gave up.
The second waitress lead us to a table, took our order, and proceeded to ignore us for the rest of the meal. Thomas got the buffet, so all she had to bring to the table was my omelet. She never refilled our water, even though my glass was empty by the time the omelet came. She didn’t mention the buffet came with a free drink (we overheard the other waitress tell a different table when we were almost done). She spent almost every second with her eyes on the door, trying to grab more tables. The first waitress got the table after us, but the stealer took the two after that. I spent most of the meal with absolutely astonished at her unprofessionality.
I did try to rationalize her behavior in my mind: what if she’s a single mom trying to support her family on the tips from this almost-empty restaurant? (Though it hadn’t been empty earlier in the morning.) Still, would that justify stealing from the other waitress? Maybe SHE needed the money, too.
It took a while to flag her down to get the check. At that point we saw no reason to tip her – she’d given us horrible service and the other waitress should have been the one getting the tip anyway. Also, whether she desperately needs the income or not, why should she get a tip for being so unprofessional? I still feel rather guilty, though. Plus, we swore we’d go straight to the manager, but chickened out.
Should we have tipped her regardless? Is it only OK to not tip if you do go to the manager and explain why? Should we have gone to someone and asked how to tip the buffet restocker only? It's not fair whomever that was didn't get a tip because the waitress was so bad. We were just so stunned by her behavior we weren't thinking of things like that.