Waiting tables isn't exactly the easiest job in the world, but most servers are good at their job. Some, however, aren't so good. In order to let their servers know just how unsatisfied they were, diners sometimes leave lousy tips to inform bad servers of their need for improvement.
Stories have been edited for clarity.
"My husband and I were out to dinner. He enjoys a Dr. Pepper every so often. He took a sip of it, grimaced, then handed it to me. It tasted off. So the waitress came back around again and my husband asked politely for a different type of soda. The waitress then proceeded to tell us that Dr. Pepper was her favorite type of soda and she would try my husband's soda to prove to us that nothing was wrong with it. Who drinks out of a customer's drink and expects them to continue to drink it? She also proceeded to give us our check WITH THE TIP FILLED OUT. We tend to be generous with tips, but we didn't tip at all after a word with the hostess and haven't been back since."
"There's this Japanese restaurant and sushi bar right across the street from my school's campus.
I went there for lunch because they had these spiffy meals, Columbia Lunch Boxes, named after the proximity to the school and students ordering it, I guess.
I got my usual. The bill was $8.25, $8.97 after sales tax.
The waiter brought me the check, the first thing he's brought me quickly the whole time. It's important to note that I was alone, and they sat me at a two-person table in the corner.
So the waiter brought the check and dropped it on my table before going back to talking with the dudes at the sushi bar.
I figured I'd leave $12, which was more than enough for the tip, and started to get up.
The waiter ran over, blocked my way as he picked up the check, and counted the money. The table, being in a corner against one of the walls, had only one way out of it, which meant I was trapped.
Angry, he told me that I hadn't left the tip. I told him I'd left plenty and that I'd be grateful if he got out of the way.
He didn't budge and demanded that I pay the proper 15 percent tip or else he would call the police.
So I just smiled, took out my phone as I told him I'd gladly leave the 15 percent tip. After verifying with him that it was 15 percent of the $8.97, I did the math out on my phone in plain view of him. It came to $10.31.
After which I apologized for my mistake of leaving more than 15 percent tip and that I'd patiently wait for him to bring back $1.69 in change.
Oh, the look of unbridled fury on his face. It was priceless!"
"We went to a Mexican restaurant recently and had an overall good experience. The food was good, service was prompt, and the server was friendly. We normally are generous tippers (I'm a former server myself) and we don't go out often, so it's usually 20 percent or higher. We were fixing to leave and our waitress said to another waitress in Spanish, 'Glad these white people are leaving, it's making our restaurant look bad.' Too bad for her, Spanish was my husband's first language."
"I was at a Red Lobster with my girlfriend once.
This place closes at 11 p.m. during the week, but they lock the door at 10 p.m. A cop chills by the door to make sure no one enters, but everyone can leave.
I was unaware of the early lockup time.
So I got an important phone call at about 10:15 p.m., JUST as our food came to the table. Me, without a coat in the cold New York winter, got up from the table and took it outside. There were a lot of people leaving as I was doing this.
I was unable to see the sign that said 'No re-entry past 10' because people were chatting with the cop, blocking the sign as I walked out, coatless, on my phone.
After I was done with the call, I went back in. Oh wait - no, I didn't. The door was locked and the cop explained to me that there was no re-entry. I told him that I had a full plate of food and that his friends were blocking the sign. He was a total prick and I hope his fate is like that of the Cop in 'Reservoir Dogs.'
So I called my girlfriend, slipped her my card through the crack in the door to pay for the food and I told her I'd break up with her if she left any tip. The server was unwilling to try to get me back inside after she knew what happened. She told my girlfriend that I shouldn't have gone outside to take the call.
I called Red Lobster that night and demanded a refund, and of course, due to the service and the night being ruined, I demanded about $20 over my bill.
About three weeks later, I got a bunch of gift certificates in the mail. I will never return to that Red Lobster. I spent them at a MUCH better Red Lobster, where our service was exquisite. I tipped 20%."
"Even though we weren't well off, my family only went out when we could pay for the food and afford a 15 percent minimum tip (20 percent if it was a decent or better server). We were at a Mexican restaurant and, as we were eating chips and salsa, we had a personal discussion in which Taco Bell was brought up as an example of garbage Mexican food in comparison to this awesome restaurant.
Our server was horrible all evening. We waited 10 minutes to be greeted by the server, another 10 minutes to get our drinks and take our order. The food came out lukewarm, and we got the wrong sides for two out of three of us. Regardless, the bill came after a 20-minute wait for our waitress to show up and my parents tipped 15 percent. The thing is, they always put it UNDER the receipt bi-fold. Apparently the waitress saw what she assumed to be a 'stiff' on the tip, and she came jogging up to my mother as we walked out and said, 'Next time, just go to Taco Bell.' My mom instantly went back to the table, grabbed the tip and left her some pennies.
To make it evident that the waitress messed up, my mom walked out and said, 'It's obvious you don't want a tip. I think the best thing for you is change. Maybe talking to your manager will give you the change you need.'
She was fired on the spot. I kind of felt bad, but in hindsight, that was ultra unprofessional. Her co-worker who saw it all had our backs with the manager. It apparently wasn't her first time being a prick to a customer."
"I was at Denny's a while back with a group of friends, one being a girl I was dating, and we were the only ones in the section. Well, my waitress apparently knew her from school and hated her guts. She spilled my milkshake on me by accident, no big deal, stuff happens. She then proceeded to give me the best service I have ever had at any chain restaurant. I was completely ready to leave her a $15 tip for a $25 meal. But as we were walking up to pay, she walked by my girlfriend and proceeded to call her a stupid bimbo. Upon hearing this, I promptly walked back to the table as she was clearing it and picked the tip right up off the table as she was reaching for it and walked away. The look on her face after busting her butt for over an hour and getting nothing because SHE messed up. Priceless."
"One evening, I took my wife, my mother, my brother and his girlfriend, and my mother-in-law to a local Japanese hibachi restaurant. It had recently opened and it was the first of its kind in town. I wanted to share the experience of Japanese hibachi with my family, complete with the good food and showmanship expected in such places. However, this place was no Benihana. The cook did a respectable job actually cooking the food, but was rather desultory and made little effort to engage us or the other patrons. He just ran through a checklist of perfunctory tricks with no effort to entertain, as if it was just something he had to do to get through the moment. Still, I was prepared to tip the guy because the food was good and the guy might have just been new. We went to leave and the waitress ran up with our bills and told us that we 'didn't tip enough. You should tip more. A lot more.'
I took one look at her while my wife looked at me and said, 'Did she just really say that?' I said yep, and took the bill back. I scratched out the tip (I hadn't tipped on the card thankfully) while keeping eye contact with the waitress. I then instructed my brother, who witnessed this, to do the same. He reached over and removed his cash from his bill as well. We placed the no-tip-having bills back on the bar and left, never to return."
"I had a waitress take our order, but she was not the one that brought us our drinks, or brought us our food. I saw her walk around, but she never once checked up on us and never once refilled our drinks. She chatted with the staff but never did anything for us. All she did was take our order.
My ex and I sat at the table for nearly 30 minutes after we finished our meal, waiting for her to take our plates or bring us our bill. The restaurant wasn't busy; it was like 3 or 4 p.m. on a weekday afternoon. My ex and I walked up to the entrance counter where my friend was a hostess. I told her I wanted my bill, paid for my food, and did not tip at all. I told her what had happened and I spoke to the manager about it, too. I told them I was still going to frequent the restaurant, but would now refuse service from that waitress.
That's the only circumstance where I don't tip. The food was good, so I feel sorry for the other staff members that did not get tipped out."
"Flirting for tips in front of husbands/wives is my biggest peeve about servers. While at university, my husband (then fiancé) and I were out at Cheddars and had a waitress who was obviously under the impression that only men pick up the check. The entire meal, she was flirty with my husband. It was just a little too much talking to him and not to me, touching his arm while talking about the menu, etc. At one point, she had to pick up some extra glasses and instead of asking us to hand them to her (they were on the inside of the booth), she reached over my husband - chest to face - to grab them. She brushed his face with her sweater kittens in the process. Then, when the check came, she proudly dropped it in front of him like a dog who expects a treat for doing an awesome trick. I immediately, over-dramatically to prove the point, snatched it up and pulled out my credit card. Needless to say, she shot herself in the foot and quickly realized her mistake. Even if my husband was paying, why would flirting with him in front of me be a good idea? She must have mistaken the restaurant for Hooters because no other server there ever pulled that garbage."
"This was at an Irish bar/restaurant near my folks' house.
When I went there, the waitress convinced us to get Irish Car-Bombs because they were cheap, just $4 each. I said what the heck, why not, and bought a round of car-bombs for my group. Otherwise, we didn't drink much. I'm not a drinker and I was a poor college student at the time.
I got the check, and it turns out on top of the ONE other drink I ordered for myself, the car-bombs were $7 apiece, which meant I just spent $12 more than I intended.
I asked the waitress to take it off my check. She said she didn't know how, she was sorry, but she couldn't. She suggested that she could bring us a couple more drinks to make up for that price difference.
No, I said, we're done drinking. We're heading home. I asked if I could send a couple drinks to random strangers at the bar. I pointed to a cute guy and said, 'Bring him a drink and tell him it's from me.'
She said, 'Actually, I have a regular here who always tips me like 50%. He's a good guy and a good customer. Do you mind if I just send the extra drinks to him?'
At which point, I was a little astonished at her gall and I said, 'Yeah, sure, whatever.'
I walked out without leaving a tip because apparently her regular will do it for me.
To make it worse: I left, but my friends were still there, and she went and asked my friends whether I had 'forgotten' to tip her and whether they could text me and see."
"I went out with my family once a few years ago to a local burger joint. We had never had a problem, until this time. The hostess seated us and brought out the menus. The waiter didn't show up for about 15 minutes. When he did, he took our food and drink orders. We ordered three burgers, and for drinks, two iced teas and a Sprite.
Well, 15 minutes went by, and our food came out. No drinks. The waiter finally brought the drinks, set them down in the middle of the table, then walked off and talked to a table near us.
We finished up, got his attention, and got the bill. It came to $21.94. My stepdad threw down $22 and started to get up. The waiter came by and told us to have a nice day. We left without saying anything. In the parking lot, we heard the door to the pub open and heard the waiter yelling, calling my stepdad a 'cheap, no-good sucker.'
It was all my mom could do to hold my stepdad back."
"I usually trust the waiters to have their stuff straight, so I rarely look at the bill when I get it and am paying with my card. But last summer, I was out to lunch with my brothers and decided just to pay for the whole thing and square up with them later. Food and service wasn't anything special, but what I expected at this particular restaurant. On a whim, I looked at the check and everything looked good, so I gave the teenage waitress the bill back with my card. She came back after she ran it, and apparently, in that five minutes, she'd decided she'd like to add two more drinks to our bill. Normally, I'm a calm, level-headed guy, but I was furious about this. I didn't sign the bill and we just waited for her to come back, then I told her I wanted to see the manager. I wasn't going to yell or anything, but I put on my best ticked off cop interrogation voice and told him exactly what happened, that I'd been loyal to this place for years, and never felt so much like someone was trying to take advantage of me over a few bucks. I got a gift card and a free round of drinks. The teenage girl came back and apologized, looking like she was just crying. She got $5 as opposed to the $15 I would have given her otherwise."
"I went to a place called The Onion in Killington, Vermont. The food was great. Service sufficed, but it wasn't anything spectacular. They brought out the wrong meal for my dad's girlfriend, who complained and asked for her actual meal like anyone else would do. The waitress argued and stated that we ordered that when no one did. She was foreign which made everything more difficult. After arguing, my dad, who is stubborn, noted to the manager that the service wasn't what he would've liked and explained the situation. So finally, she got her correct meal. My dad let it go and decided he'd still give a decent tip, for it was an expensive meal and we had at least six people. The check came and the waitress had circled the gratuity on the receipt, obviously to be obnoxious. My dad lost it and gave a terrible tip. They followed us out of the restaurant and asked my dad to give a proper tip, for which another argument began. In conclusion, the tip remained terrible, and we left."
"I've only done it one time. The waiter disappeared for a 1/2 hour and came in smelling like some dank grass. No problem at all from me, you just have to be able to carry yourself. Our food took over an hour to get to us and it was room-temp, we never got a drink refill when we asked for it and when we ordered dessert it hadn't arrived when we left (which was about 30 minutes after ordering), we just asked for the bill. I'm not going to complain to management and get the guy fired, but I'm also not going to give the guy money for his service. It was a $100 meal, I ain't giving you even 2% of that."
"I was in New York last month. I had been staying at a hotel that had a nice bar that overlooked Times Square, so it was a good place to get a drink at the end of the night.
Anyway, we were drinking in there one night, talking to some other couples at the table, and I asked the waiter for the bill.
When the guy brought it over, he said, 'Just to remind you, service is NOT included as you left NOTHING last time.' Then he spun on his heels and walked off. I called him back over and explained that I always tip 20%. He stood there and said, loudly, 'No, last time you left NOTHING.' I told him to go fetch the bill from our earlier drinks at about 7 p.m., it was now about 10 p.m. He was angry at this point. I was embarrassed, as it was said loud enough that other tables heard.
He came back after five minutes and said sorry, it was another English couple. I told him he has ruined his tip for this time and I would expect better in a five-star hotel."
"Just last night, a bunch of friends and I went to a relatively fancy dinner ($100/person) before going to see 'Skyfall.' About 45 minutes before the showtime, we asked for our checks, thinking we had plenty of time. Granted, there were nine of us and the tab was split seven ways, so it wasn't an open-and-shut case, but still. Half an hour after we originally asked, he still hadn't given us our checks. When he just happened to waltz past our table (still with no checks), we kindly pointed out that we were running a little bit late and politely asked if we could get the checks soon.
It took another 20 minutes past that, or almost an hour total, just to pay our bill. He was a good server, but I would've tipped less than the 18 percent gratuity had it not been auto-included in the tab. I normally tip over 30 percent for good service."
"I was out with some friends at Buffalo Wild Wings earlier this year and everything seemed normal. The food was good as usual, we were enjoying our favorite Buzztime game, and all of our food/drinks was on time. Our service was great until my friend asked for a refill on his berry lemonade. When the waitress came back after what felt like half an hour, she explained to him that she had to go upstairs to the bar to get it and that he should tip her extra for getting it. We decided that we would barely tip her after that.
Later, when we went to pay for our meals and leave, the waitress took our money and didn't return with change, assuming it was her tip. At this point, we were mad, especially my friend who paid for his $7 meal with a $20 bill. We found the manager and demanded our change back, but not before leaving one penny on the table as a tip."
"I was out at a nice little dessert bar, popular late night place. We had good service throughout the night until I asked for the check because it was getting close to closing time. The server took 20 minutes to bring it to us and, as he handed it to me, said, 'We're closing up, so I'll have to ask you to leave when you finish filling this out.'
Yeah, dude, that's what I was trying to do 20 minutes ago. I think I left less than 10 percent. I've never had service so horrible that I've stiffed someone, although that came close."
"I was eating at a local restaurant after a game of basketball with some friends. We were all hungry and ordered a large amount of food. Well, we overheard the waitress complaining to another waitress that our table was loud and obnoxious and how she was surprised we aren't all 'fat slobs' because we ordered a lot of food. Guess she forgot we were sitting only a few tables down. Needless to say, we didn't tip her well."