In most places, tipping a server is standard practice while visiting a restaurant. After all, a career in the restaurant industry isn’t easy work, and most servers’ tips are well-deserved. However, sometimes a sever’s service can be subpar, leaving the customer with a tricky choice; to tip or not to tip? Well, these folks found out that not tipping isn’t such a great idea. Get ready, because these stories will make you reconsider not leaving your server a tip! Content has been edited for clarity.
“We Left A Zero On The Tip Line”
“I have only once had a sever tell me my tip wasn’t big enough. Most of the time, I leave a generous tip at restaurants. However, I left a tip of zero bucks one time, intentionally. It happened years ago at a restaurant in Rowayton, Connecticut. My wife and I’s server was inattentive, rude, and extremely loud.
The server took away an unfinished bowl of onion rings from our table and broke several bottles in a garbage can behind my seat near the server’s station. She also practically ignored us during our entire restaurant visit. The only time the server talked to my wife and me was to take our orders.
My wife and I left after leaving a pronounced, ‘zero,’ on the check tip line. I wanted to make certain the server knew my intention. When the server noticed, she sprinted into the parking lot and began screaming at me. I turned around to face her, and I explained why I didn’t leave her a tip.
The server was furious.
I explained, ‘A tip is based on service and quality. Your service was terrible!’
She continued to berate my wife and me as we walked away. We never went back to the restaurant again.”
Another time, I went to my favorite restaurant with my neighbor, ‘Tom.’ Tom and I were sitting at a high-top table, and we already indulged in a few beverages. I didn’t know our waitress, but I was familiar with many other waitresses in the restaurant.
Another one of my neighbors and I’s friends, ‘James,’ joined us at the table, and he was very tired from moving his daughter into her new apartment. James wasn’t particularly friendly or smiley as it was, and this day he was not in the mood for bad service.
As James ordered his drink, he said, ‘And hurry it up, I’m dying of thirst over here.’
My neighbor and I noticed our waitress started acting very rude toward us after James said this.
She pointed at James and commented, ‘Why are you being so rude?’
My neighbor and I quickly apologized on behalf of my friend, but the waitress wouldn’t accept it. Now, she was just being stubborn.
I asked the waitress, ‘Can you give us our check? We can move to a different area of the restaurant if you would like.’
We left a fifteen percent tip for the waitress, and I typically always left waitresses twenty percent.
Tom, James, and I then moved to a new table for more drinks and food. The new waitress, who I was familiar with already, received a generous tip from my group.
Our original waitress didn’t last very long working at the restaurant.”
“They Didn’t Leave Him Anything For A Tip”
“A couple of years ago, I worked at a regular chain sit-down type of restaurant. One of the guys hired at the same time as I, ‘Brad,’ was kind of rough around the edges. He lived on a dangerous side of town where it was well-known to not go after dark.
Brad and I hung out a couple of times, but I quickly realized he was a bit faster and more hardcore than me. Usually, I was the ‘hardcore,’ person in my friend group.
One day, we were both working a dinner shift. Brad and I watched a group of teenagers get out of an expensive sports car and sit in his section. He paid a lot of attention to the teens and chatted them up their entire stay. Brad figured they were rich, and he would subsequently get a bigger tip.
When he picked up the check from their table, Brad figured out the teens paid their check with a parent’s credit card. They didn’t leave him anything for a tip. He was upset, and rightfully so.
Brad turned to me and said, ‘Watch my tables for a minute,’ and stormed out of the restaurant to catch the teens.
Brad managed to catch the group right as they were getting into their car. He got up into the teens’ faces, and they were all scared. Brad stomped back into the restaurant muttering something under his breath about wanting to fight the teens.
I talked to him at the end of our shift, and Brad told me, ‘The group of teenagers said something about the maximum amount of money they were allowed to spend. They claimed they didn’t have enough money for a tip. After I confronted them, they told me they would come back and give me a tip later. I knew they were full of it, and I told them not to waste a trip. I told them I needed my tip right now, and one of the girls gave me twenty bucks from their purse.’
I couldn’t believe it. I would have never confronted a customer like this!
Brad also told the group that he had their license plate numbers in case they tried to call the police or have him fired. He had the group scared as could be, but for a good reason.
Brad worked at the restaurant for another three or four months before he completely disappeared.
Having been a waiter for years, I am a consistent twenty percent tipper. However, if the service was below average, I will leave the server a little note with some recommendations on how to improve. In over twenty-eight years, I hadn’t been approached by a waiter or waitress to tell me my tip was too small.
Most good waitstaff knew when they provided subpar service. They didn’t normally last for long.”
The Smug Server
“Yesterday, my partner took me out for my birthday.
We were not able to get a seat in the section with our favorite waitress. However, the food and service were usually great, so we were not worried about how well we would be served.
We waited for a while, but the server never came to us. It wasn’t because he was busy, as I could see him just looking around from the kitchen from where I was sitting. It took him longer than usual to bring us our drinks.
In the restaurant, there is a salad bar and a buffet. My partner and I had time to pile up two plates before the server came to collect them.
My partner finished his drink, and the waiter never came to offer a refill. At this particular restaurant, they were usually generous with refills.
Our favorite waitress brought our main meals out. She noticed the server was just standing around, so she brought our plates over instead. The food was colder than we were used to, which indicated it was sitting there for some time. Our favorite waitress noticed my partner’s drink was empty, so she offered to have our waiter refill it.
I didn’t have enough sauce with my meal, and my partner had to ask another waitress to bring more to our table. At this time, our waiter was still standing around in the back. He wasn’t doing anything, and he was just looking blankly in front of him or chatting with the cooks. He finally came after we were done eating with my partner’s refill.
My partner asked for the machine to pay, and our waiter disappeared again for some time.
My partner left the male server a five-dollar tip, and also gave a five-dollar tip to our favorite waitress.
Our waiter rudely exclaimed, ‘Are you serious? Only five dollars!’
I turned around and loudly said, ‘If you want more than a minimum tip, you should offer more than minimum service,’ with a bright smile.
We didn’t completely stop going to the restaurant, however, we refused to sit in the rude waiters’ section again.”
“The Server Was Terrible”
“A couple of years ago, a friend of mine and I went to an upscale restaurant to eat dinner.
When we arrived at the restaurant, we had to wait more than twenty minutes for a menu. Mind you, at this point, we had already waited an hour to be seated. After getting our menus, my friend and I waited another thirty minutes to have a server bring over our waters. Our server disappeared again. They didn’t come back to our table for another twenty minutes to take our orders. Our server took our orders and disappeared into the kitchen once more.
By this time, my friend and I already needed refills on our drinks. As I got up to use the restroom, I glanced over and spotted our waitress standing around on her phone.
I waved her down and said, ‘We could really use some more drinks at our table, and some more bread too.’
Many minutes later, our server finally showed up with our refills and bread. I think she was finally starting to realize my friend and I weren’t happy with our service, so she immediately started making small talk with us. It wasn’t going to work, as I had already made up my mind about the type of service she provided.
The server brought our check to the table, and I noticed they had added the tip into the bill for me. This absolutely wasn’t going to work. The tip was thirty-two bucks!
I told the server, ‘I need to speak to your manager as soon as possible.’
The manager walked over, and I explained, ‘I am not paying the tip determined by the restaurant. I need to pay my own tip, or I won’t leave any tip at all. Our service was terrible, and it certainly wasn’t thirty-two bucks worth!’
The manager retorted, ‘Well, sir, the predetermined tip is how we do things here.’
‘I don’t give a darn how you do things here,’ I explained, ‘the waitress was terrible, and I am not leaving her a big tip!’
My friend and I ended up leaving a ten-buck tip for the waitress. On our way out of the door, the waitress flagged us down.
She angrily screamed, ‘You are so cheap! You really aren’t going to leave me a bigger tip?’
I was livid. I couldn’t believe she had the nerve to yell at me after the crummy service she gave us!
I aggressively turned around, but I didn’t say anything to her. I simply glared at her. Apparently, it was enough to scare her into running back into the restaurant. She ran inside and immediately pulled the door shut behind her.
I understood waitresses primarily lived off of their tips. My mother was a waitress for over eighteen years, so I knew what the restaurant industry was like. However, I refused to give a waitress an extra reward when they weren’t even trying to go through the motions.”
“She Was Unattentive The Entire Night”
“Back in my twenties, I used to go out a lot. For the most part, I was always a good tipper. Most of my friends and I worked in a restaurant ourselves, so we knew how rough of a job it was. Even my non-restaurant working friends were good tippers.
One night, I and a group of six friends were at a popular Mexican restaurant. When we arrived, it didn’t seem like it was too busy. Despite the restaurant being quiet, it took us ten minutes to receive our drinks. The server wasn’t back for another fifteen minutes or so to take our orders. My friend and I both went through our iced tea and water, and we never saw our waitress for a refill. Granted, it did start getting busy, but she had been unattentive the entire night. One friend was livid, and I wasn’t too happy about the poor service, either.
My group was even nice and didn’t ask for separate checks. Back in this time, it wasn’t normal to ask, and we simply figured up our portions of the check and gave the server cash for a tip. Also, back at this time, paying with a card wasn’t common, and none of us had one.
As we were figuring up our portions and passing cash between ourselves, a coin dropped into the mostly empty salsa dish. One of my friends insisted the server didn’t deserve a tip, but the rest of us thought we should give the server something. After all, she might have just been having a bad night.
My friend pointed at the coin in the salsa dish and countered, ‘Well, the coin is her tip, then.’
This is the only time I recall stiffing on a tip, but that waitress deserved it for the poor service.”
“The Restaurant Owner Came Running After Us”
“About ten years ago, I went to New York with my ex-girlfriend. I was from England and my ex-girlfriend, ‘Claire,’ was from France, so traveling to the United States was a big deal for us.
It was New Year’s Eve, so we decided to go to a posh restaurant to eat. Claire and I talked to the man who owned the restaurant the entire night. He was an Englishman, like myself. The owner served Claire and me all night long, and we never saw another waiter or waitress our entire visit.
Since it was a holiday, I decided to splurge on an array of food. It was great. Expensive, but absolutely delicious.
When the owner came to our table again, I asked, ‘Are tips shared between the staff?’
He replied, ‘No, everyone keeps their own.’
The owner walked away, and I turned to Claire.
Claire explained, ‘I don’t think we should leave the man a tip. He was a good server, but he already has enough money. He’s the owner of the restaurant, he has to be rich already.’
This was commonplace in France, so I understood Claire’s motive behind her thinking. However, I refused to leave no tips behind for our service. I sat down ten bucks on the table, and Claire and I booked it out of the restaurant.
We only got so far before the owner ran after us screaming and waving the ten bucks in the air.
He yelled, ‘Wait, stop! Ten bucks is an absolute insult in the United States! It’s normal to tip twenty percent or more!’
I could tell Claire didn’t like the man’s attitude, and she began tearing into him.
Claire countered, ‘You are so greedy! You already own the place, and I bet you have more money than you know what to do with!’
I thought it was funny. I just stood back at let her continue to yell at the man.
Eventually, the restaurant owner realized she was right in this situation. No matter how long he argued, he wouldn’t be getting a bigger tip from us.
I was very proud of her. To this day, I had always been glad we remained friends.”
“My Son Was Completely Terrified”
“I have never had a wait staff member tell me my tip wasn’t big enough. I usually tried to follow the standard fifteen percent tip, and round up to the nearest buck. If the server was particularly excellent, then I went with a twenty percent tip. Again, rounding to the nearest buck.
However, my friend has left a server a small tip before. We had a particularly bad experience with a server who scared and mistreated my then two-year-old son. My friend, my child, and I went to our favorite Chinese restaurant in Los Angeles for lunch. My friend happened to be a chef, so he knew how a restaurant should and should not be run.
We were all quietly sitting at a table, and my son was sorting the sugar packets on the table.
The waitress walked up to my child and exclaimed, ‘Stop it! You are not allowed to be touching those!’
My son was completely terrified, so he hid underneath the table which brought even more screaming disapproval from the server.
My son sorted the sugar packets at restaurants all of the time. He put them in order nicely by brand, and then put them neatly into the container. Most of the time, the servers were grateful for the extra help.
Unfortunately, we had all already ordered our food, so we had to stay at the restaurant. My son sat protectively on my lap for the remainder of the visit.
My friend, the chef, left a singular coin as a tip.
He told me, ‘All of the wait staff will understand exactly what this means.’
Not long after this incident, the restaurant closed. We didn’t miss it.”
“We Couldn’t Do Anything To Change His Mind”
“I, my wife, and both of my daughters have all worked in the restaurant industry. We were notoriously good tippers, as we understood the struggles of working in a restaurant. Undertipping has never been an issue for any of us. In fact, I think we overtip, even for subpar service. My family is extremely understanding of the pressures put on servers which may have led to them giving poor service.
However, my dad is from a different generation. He always would leave under a ten percent tip, even if the service was great.
My father always added a sincere, ‘Thank you,’ which he believed was more important to the server than the tip amount. Sadly, servers are all too aware of ‘verbal tips,’ being a poor substitute for money. At times, my wife and I would go back to the restaurant and add to his tip. My father’s attitude was driven solely by how he felt. A sincere ‘thank you,’ and appreciation for the work he did meant a lot to him.
As you could imagine, at times he was confronted about his small tip.
He always told the server, ‘If you don’t want the money I have left you, I’ll be glad to take it back.’
Nothing my wife and I told my father would get him to change his mind. He just didn’t realize tips have become not additional money on top of a fair wage, but necessary simply for a server to reach minimum wage.
I believed servers needed to be paid more. Actually, everyone in the restaurant industry needed to be paid more. Most of the time, servers were required to distribute their tips to other employees, which didn’t leave them much pay behind. Tips really should have been something added above and beyond service.”
“The Situation Could Have Been Handled More Professionally”
“One time, I had a server who was obviously very sick. They were coughing, sneezing, sweating, and looked flushed. Due to having a couple of autoimmune conditions, I asked if my friend and I could be seated in a different section. I couldn’t afford to be served by someone who was sick.
The server then proceeded to cause a major scene and began yelling, ‘I am not sick! You are not moving sections!’
Since my friend and I already had the tab for our tea and lemonade, we left the exact change for the drinks. We weren’t going to stay at the restaurant any longer than we had to. We tipped the server who made our drinks and didn’t leave a tip for the server who yelled at us. Then, we asked if we could speak to the restaurant manager.
The manager had witnessed the scene happening at our table, so he rushed over to my friend and me to attempt to soothe our ‘ruffled feathers.’ The server who yelled at us came rushing over and interrupted the manager and I’s conversation.
‘Why didn’t you tip me in front of him,’ he said while pointing at the manager, ‘I did nothing wrong!’
The manager ordered the rude server back to the office and explained how it was his job to serve customers and their whims. And, if a customer thought you were sick, you granted them their request of moving tables.
Months later, through the grapevine, I heard the server actually was very sick. In fact, he spent weeks in the hospital. The manager didn’t fire the server so they could cover their hospital bills.
After being a server for so long, I appreciated how the server was able to retain their health benefits and their job. However, the situation could have been handled more professionally.’
“We Couldn’t Believe The Nerve The Waiter Had”
“A waiter or waitress who chased you down for a bigger tip didn’t deserve anything. In my eyes, the tip was a gratuity, and the amount was subjective. It had become expected in the United States to leave a twenty percent or more tip, but this isn’t mandatory.
In my case, the small tip I left on my server’s check was simply an error. Oftentimes, a smaller tip is left for other reasons. In the eighties, I once left a tip of a single coin on purpose.
A friend and I went out for lunch, and we told the hostess we were on our lunch break during work hours. We didn’t expect the quickest service ever, but we at least expected to be able to eat and leave within an hour. This wasn’t a fancy restaurant, but a burger and sandwich place with table service.
The waiter didn’t come to our table for a full fifteen minutes to take our drink order. The food was running late, and the server never came back to our table to check if everything was okay. To top it all off, he didn’t bring our check until about forty-five minutes after he brought our food out. My friend and I waited for the server to come to pick up his tip, but we finally became fed up and simply left it on the table. Needless to say, the tip wasn’t very big.
To our surprise, the waiter came chasing us down the block. We couldn’t believe his nerve, and we just continued walking. I didn’t usually skimp on tips, but this was ridiculous.”