May 02, 2013

To tip or not to tip

Today we had a team lunch at Gabby's, the one at 309 King Street West.

We ordered at 12:20pm, and at 12:56, I saw our waitress with her back facing us, wiping tears from her eyes as an older woman rubbed her back.  I could only assume (given the way she took our orders) that she was relatively new at her job and had screwed up the orders and was now sorry for her mistake.  The older lady calmed her down and then came over to our table to explain (lie) about why are food hadn't arrived yet.

She told us it was because there a huge influx of people who had arrived at once and so the kitchen was backed up.  This of course was a blatant lie because we'd seen other people arrive 20 minutes after we ordered, who were already eating and getting ready to pay their bills.  But I mean, what else are you going to say.. you're not going to throw your employee under the bus.  I think that kind of lie is acceptable -- assuming that you're going to make up for the mistake. Free appetizers or coupons usually work when 11 people are sitting around for 45 minutes waiting for their food.  But we got nothing.  The food came 2 minutes after the manager walked away.

So I guess here's the debate:

When you get bad service, do you tip anyway or do you not tip?

Tip no matter what

Some people tip no matter what, they believe there is a minimum tip they should give regardless of service, and if the service was really good, then you give them a little extra.

Tip is a reward

Others believe the tip is the reward.  A waiter's job description is to take your order, enter it into the computer or give the order to the kitchen, and then when the time comes bring the food back out and serve it to you.  Later on, you might bring out the bills and take payments.  That's the job.  Failing to do this means you failed to do your job.  Successfully completing these tasks means you get paid, and anything above and beyond that job description earns potential rewards (ie: tips).  Therefore, only tip when such rewards are deserved.


Personally I fall in the former category where I feel the need to tip no matter what.  If I had really bad service I give them 10-15% (depending on the establishment), and bring that up to 15-20% if deserved.  The only places I've given lower than 10% is buffet's (where I did half of their job for them) or restaurants that I frequent often and some days I give more and other days I give less.  The amount often depends on how much I have in my pocket, and whether or not I need to keep some reserve for future purchase (bubble tea after lunch anyone?)

But I do think that tipping as a reward does make quite a bit of sense.  Tipping someone who has provided half-assed service only enables poor performance on the job.  What's their incentive to go above and beyond if they're going to get paid either way? 

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