Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Double Tip

As some of you might know, I used to be in the service industry. I was a busser, then a hostess, then a server with a short stint being a bartender throughout college and beyond. So, I often evaluate the service I receive on many levels but usually Mr. Lush and I are low maintenance people who drink, so our checks are high and we tip well. However, I realized with horror last night, that I’m not the tipper I hoped I’d be.

I mean, I tip fine, its just there’s a difference between tipping fine and being the tipper that your server self wanted to you to be. When I was a server I expected 20% for meeting their needs and expected more when I exceeded them or when the table required more attention than others. Particularly tables with children. Do you know why servers typically dislike tables with children? I won’t speak for all, but why I was less than thrilled when my party of 13 ended up being 8 adults and 5 children, versus 13 adults:
· Kids eat cheap and obviously don’t drink. This lowers the check, which since we tip off of the total check, lowers the tip.
· Parents often drink less, if anything, when they are with their kids. What might have been 2-3 cocktails per person turns into 1 or 2 beers for the whole party. Once again, lowers check, lowers tip.
· Kids make a mess. Even the most conscientious parent, who doesn’t let them empty sugar packets and tries to keep the food on the plate, can’t keep their 4 year old’s eating area as neat as an adult.

So, when I waited tables, I swore that I would over tip when I got great service and especially when I got great service when I had kids.

Well, back to present day. Last night we had family photos, with Mr. Lush’s whole family at a park. Afterwards, we decided to go to Red Lobster. Of course, our party was 8 adults, 5 kids. As I said before, not much drinking was happening. Since only one person had a beer and Mr. Lush and I had a solid weekend of drinking, we decided to opt for ice tea and a coke. We had two servers, who did a great job. Despite the fact the kids weren’t next to the parents, the servers kept who was on who’s check straight, they kept the refills coming (Mr. Lush goes through about 4 glasses of iced tea), ensured there were plenty of paper napkins, plenty of those biscuits, all the things that attentive servers do. Well, when Mr. Lush and I got our check, I tipped about 25%. As I drove home, I realized that wait a minute, our check was more than it should’ve been. Of course, I didn’t think twice to look at the check in great detail, because typically we’d have a cocktail or two so it was less than it would’ve been. So I pull out the receipt and see that the group gratuity of 15% was added in. So, I actually tipped our server about 40% on our check. I got upset. I mean, why didn’t he tell us? I was all ready to go home and call then I realized….

Oh my god. Who have I become?

Its my fault I didn’t look. And more importantly so what if I tipped him 40%. That might sound like a lot, but really, come on, it was Red Lobster and we didn’t drink, so it was only 5 or 6 bucks extra. I’m sure some in our party didn’t give any extra and their service certainly warranted more than 15%, so in the grand scheme of things, perhaps we helped them out a bit, made up for the fact they worked hard for a small check.

Even if everyone double tipped, who cares? Didn’t I love the double top when I waited tables???

Yes, yes I most certainly did.
So, go forth and grossly over tip this week. Do it now, before you get to the belt tightening holidays. Why not?


LucyinStLou said...

I always find that when I do overtip for some reason (usually the one you just mentioned) something good happens to me. It's like putting good karma out in the universe or something. And good for you, overtipping, with a party with lots of small ones. I'm sure it was appreciated!

Savvy Mode SG said...

i don't mind tipping well for great services but what do you do when service is just lacking. i have had food practically throw at me?

WineLush said...

Thanks for stopping by!

Honestly, I write letters when I have really bad service. I wait until I'm calmer, and I write a letter to the manager explaining all the ways the meal and / or service fell below my expectations. I find it easier to do in writing, and plus as a former service industry, its important to know what specifically is wrong, so it can be fixed. Was it that the food took a long time? Ok, so in those times, maybe managers should come by. If a certain server was rude and that's a common theme, then perhaps that person needs to find another job. Some people aren't cut out for the service industry and its best that customers let managers know.

As far as how much I tip when I have bad service....I take into account how busy the place was. If it was busy and the server just didn't quite get caught up but still didn't try that hard, then I'll still tip a bit less than 15%. If they were somewhat aloof/slightly rude and slow, then around 10%. I can't bring myself to tip less than 10% very often unless I am offended and appalled and can come up with no other excuse I could give them. (busy, new, etc)

But where on earth are you dining that you have food thrown at you????

Mrs. STL Sarah said...

Once, when I used to wait tables in college, someone accidentally double-tipped me, too. I honestly didn't notice until after they left (they left the second tip as cash on the table and were gone when I got it). Sure enough, about a 1/2 hour later the guy comes back and asks for the cash back! I couldn't believe it. One of my co-workers said I should have told him "Sure, but I keep my tip money in my underwear so hold on just a minute..."

WineLush said...

Mrs. S-
Thanks again for stopping by!!
He came back???!????!!!???

What a jerk!! How much was the extra tip? It'd have to be $50 extra for me to even consider coming back. Really!!!!