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Restaurant Etiquette

post #1 of 68
Thread Starter 
A few things you should know or do:

Seating

If you can help it, sit where the hosts seat you. Servers usually have "sections" of assigned tables that are filled in a particular order. If you want to sit elsewhere, most restaurants will accommodate you, but understand you will be screwing up the order. Either another server will have to take your table out of turn, or someone else will take that server's table, leaving him or her with one less table and forcing him or her to either take tables outside their section or temporarily swap tables with the other server. That is not always possible, so at best you are screwing things up and at worst taking away earnings from another server. Instead, first ask if your server has another table in his or her section that you can sit at.

Also, upon seating, if you tell your server you need to make a movie or some other engagement by a certain time, there is nothing a server can do to expedite your service besides recommending faster-cooking menu items, and be ready to take your order and give you your check as soon as possible. Generally appetizers and sandwiches cook fastest. Steaks, burgers, and things of that sort do not.

Kids

Kids are a server's and busser's worst nightmare. They take up valuable seating space, their dinners are cheap, and they make a horrible mess. Do not let your kids make a mess. If they do, either clean it up or compensate your server.

Large Groups

Expect to wait longer for seating, service, your food, and your check. Go in the order that your server prefers. Check-splitting is an issue with larger groups. If multiple people will pay, be sure to tell your server before ordering. Also, if you're going to split the check, please sit in some sort of arrangement that your server can follow. "He's with me" and "the one second on the left is mine" are not easy to follow arrangements when 2-3 groups are doing the same thing as you.

Tipping.

20% should be a standard tip, not something awarded only for exceptional service. It also should not be given on a merit basis because good service in a busy restaurant is more dependent on luck than merit. Many people have at least some ethical tipping standard, but in the end they're all arbitrary no matter how consistent you think you're being. The only time you should deviate from a 20% tip is if a server willfully goes out of his or her way to make your experience bad. Server mistakes happen from time to time.

Closing Times

Respect them. Do not come 5 minutes before closing and demand to be seated, or argue with the host that your watch is slower than the restaurant's. Restaurant staff have worked a very long day and should not have to stay longer to work around your schedule. If the restaurant is fairly empty, it's not economical for it to remain open past closing either. There are 24 hour restaurants in your area most likely. Go to one of them. However, if you do manage to get seated, then order something quick like an appetizer or a sandwich. Understand that nothing will be all that good at that time of the night. Eat and leave. Do not linger afterwards as people must stay longer to clean up after you.

Complaints

The customer is not always right. If you demand a full refund after eating most of whatever you ordered, you will not get a refund. Restaurants exist to make a profit, not to feed the needy. If you do not want a refund, then by all means tell your manager about any aspect of your experience that you found sub-par. They need to know this.

Payment

When paying your server, credit cards are faster. For me it never mattered whether customers gave me a cash tip or a credit card tip, but some like cash because then they can underreport their tips at the end of the night. But if you pay for your meal in cash, don't ask for change if possible. If not, then expect to wait longer because servers only have a limited amount of change on them.
post #2 of 68
As someone who waited table many a summer, I agree with your sentiments.

For me, I always try to pay with credit, and tip with cash. It's the best of both worlds.
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post #3 of 68
This is very slanted toward the benefit of the wait staff. I don't want to be the customer from hell, but going to a restaurant isn't all about making the wait staff as happy with my visit as possible.The customer is paying for a service, and this should be mostly about good food and a pleasant experience for the customer.

If I'm offered a table, but I see a nice, comfy booth open, I'm going to ask for the booth instead. Or if someone offers me a non-smoking section seat that's so close to smoking that it's going to smell like being in smoking anyway, I'm going to ask for a place farther away.

I consider a 15% tip, rounded up, and based on the whole bill including tax, reasonable. I seldom under-tip because of bad service, but if my waiter isn't even anywhere in view for a long time, or worse, is in view but strenuously avoiding eye contact with me, my tipping may indeed reflect my dissatisfaction. If the waiter is in view, being very chatty with people at another table and I'm getting ignored because of that, that's even worse.
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post #4 of 68
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by shetline View Post

This is very slanted toward the benefit of the wait staff. I don't want to be the customer from hell, but going to a restaurant isn't all about making the wait staff as happy with my visit as possible.The customer is paying for a service, and this should be mostly about good food and a pleasant experience for the customer.

Yes, I think so too.

I'm mostly just trying to raise awareness that, you know, your actions in a restaurant will affect your service. If you do things a certain way, you're more likely to have less or more mistake-prone service, faster or slower service, etc. Customers' expectations need to account for the customers themselves in part. But otherwise, I agree with you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by shetline View Post

If I'm offered a table, but I see a nice, comfy booth open, I'm going to ask for the booth instead. Or if someone offers me a non-smoking section seat that's so close to smoking that it's going to smell like being in smoking anyway, I'm going to ask for a place farther away.

Rightly so.

Quote:
Originally Posted by shetline View Post

I consider a 15% tip, rounded up, and based on the whole bill including tax, reasonable. I seldom under-tip because of bad service, but if my waiter isn't even anywhere in view for a long time, or worse, is in view but strenuously avoiding eye contact with me, my tipping may indeed reflect my dissatisfaction. If the waiter is in view, being very chatty with people at another table and I'm getting ignored because of that, that's even worse.

It depends on if it's busy. If it's busy, your server not being in view probably reflects his or her being busy doing something else. Should you punish him or her for getting swamped at that moment, scheduling mistakes that left too few servers on the floor, or an over-zealous front-of-the-house manager who seats tables the moment they are available? If it's not busy though, I can sympathize a lot more with the customer.
post #5 of 68
I'd add one more thing. Snapping your fingers to get the attention of your server is just plain rude. Please do not do it.
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post #6 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by ShawnJ View Post

A few things you should know or do:

Seating

If you can help it, sit where the hosts seat you. Servers usually have "sections" of assigned tables that are filled in a particular order. If you want to sit elsewhere, most restaurants will accommodate you, but understand you will be screwing up the order.

Um... yeah I don't give a crud about the order. Put me where I want, which is in a booth and if your state is stupid enough to still have smoking sections, put me as far away from that as possible or don't take my money.

Quote:
Kids

Kids are a server's and busser's worst nightmare. They take up valuable seating space, their dinners are cheap, and they make a horrible mess. Do not let your kids make a mess. If they do, either clean it up or compensate your server.

If your restaurant offers certain concessions for kids, it is probably because they desire the expensive patronage of their parents. If you don't desire the kids and parents that is fine, but 15-20% of broke college kids and singles is much worse than handing out some crayons.

Quote:
Large Groups

Expect to wait longer for seating, service, your food, and your check. Go in the order that your server prefers. Check-splitting is an issue with larger groups. If multiple people will pay, be sure to tell your server before ordering. Also, if you're going to split the check, please sit in some sort of arrangement that your server can follow. "He's with me" and "the one second on the left is mine" are not easy to follow arrangements when 2-3 groups are doing the same thing as you.

Tough, if you can't do the job, give it to someone who can.

Quote:
Tipping.

20% should be a standard tip, not something awarded only for exceptional service. It also should not be given on a merit basis because good service in a busy restaurant is more dependent on luck than merit. Many people have at least some ethical tipping standard, but in the end they're all arbitrary no matter how consistent you think you're being. The only time you should deviate from a 20% tip is if a server willfully goes out of his or her way to make your experience bad. Server mistakes happen from time to time.

Every etiquette page mentions 15-20% with 20% being the high end, not the minimum. If a restaurant does not desire to hire enough staff to serve customers, then they should lose their staff to places that do and thus have their servers earn higher tips. 15% is the minimum, I give 10% for willfully bad and 20%+ for exceptional service.

Quote:
Closing Times

Respect them. Do not come 5 minutes before closing and demand to be seated, or argue with the host that your watch is slower than the restaurant's. Restaurant staff have worked a very long day and should not have to stay longer to work around your schedule. If the restaurant is fairly empty, it's not economical for it to remain open past closing either. There are 24 hour restaurants in your area most likely. Go to one of them. However, if you do manage to get seated, then order something quick like an appetizer or a sandwich. Understand that nothing will be all that good at that time of the night. Eat and leave. Do not linger afterwards as people must stay longer to clean up after you.

If you don't want the business then simply direct this sentiment at the customer. If you take the business, be prepared to do whatever the customer desires. The choice to serve or not is that of the business. Do not attempt to shortchange the customer by desiring his business and money, but denying full service. If full service cannot be provided, simply say so and let the customer choose.

Quote:
Complaints

The customer is not always right. If you demand a full refund after eating most of whatever you ordered, you will not get a refund. Restaurants exist to make a profit, not to feed the needy. If you do not want a refund, then by all means tell your manager about any aspect of your experience that you found sub-par. They need to know this.

I agree, however this includes coming along a few minutes within food being delivered and asking if everything is okay with the meal. If you stop by twenty minutes into the meal, you take your chances and assume your costs.

Quote:
Payment

When paying your server, credit cards are faster. For me it never mattered whether customers gave me a cash tip or a credit card tip, but some like cash because then they can underreport their tips at the end of the night. But if you pay for your meal in cash, don't ask for change if possible. If not, then expect to wait longer because servers only have a limited amount of change on them.

Wah! Too bad.

Here is a few more to add to your list.

Wait Times

People are told the wait time for seating, but not for food service. No restaurant should seat a person, take their drink order, deliver the drinks and then express astonishment if food is refused or the drinks demanded as comped when leaving because meals fails to arrive within 30 minutes of being ordered. I enjoyed the ambiance for the 30 minute wait for a seat. If the wait for food is exceptional, state so at the beginning and let me choose.

Orders

The purpose of the server is to take the order and insure what was ordered can be prepared and was delivered. Any deviation from this has a cost be it from the final bill or the tip. Mark ups for food preparation have profit margins that make Apple jealous (200-300%+) so if you cannot get the order right, be prepared to have it cost you. This includes knowing what phrases mean and common requests regarding side dishes, sauces, etc.

Temperature/Environment

If you cannot keep your restaurant at a reasonable temperature or refuse to do so as a cost saving measure, be prepared to eat any and all associated costs once the parties inside have acclimated and realized that it isn't just them but your refusal to move your thermostat.

Customer Requests vs. Service

If you were yakking to your friends about taking extra shifts to pay off your boob job, about how your latest piercing rejected or about the tattoo you are saving up for, and I need to remind you about condiments, refilling my beverage, my bill, you name it then the service is automatically considered suboptimal and the bill or tip will reflect this point. Everyone can understand you rushing around as quick as you can when things are busy. What cannot be understood is when service is normal or slow and you decide we don't mind waiting as if it were busy.

Nick

"During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

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post #7 of 68
Thread Starter 
Also, if you are an asshole customer, understand that your food may be "altered."

post #8 of 68
Nick, I want to have your child.



That was precisely spot on.

Food service establishments are started to serve the customers and they exist at the pleasure of said customers. This (allegedly from Mahatma Gandhi) seems appropriate:

"A customer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not an outsider to our business. He is a definite part of it. He is not a cold statistic; he is a flesh and blood human being with feelings and emotions like our own. He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not someone to argue or match wits with. He deserves courteous and attentive treatment. He is not an outsider in our business. He is a part of it. He brings us his wants. It is our job to handle them properly and profitably - both to him and us. We are not doing him a favor by serving him. He is doing us a favor by giving us the opportunity to do so."
post #9 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by ShawnJ View Post

Also, if you are an asshole customer, understand that your food may be "altered."


Yeah if the staff is quoting Chuck Palahniuk at all, just get the hell out of there.

Nick

"During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

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post #10 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by ShawnJ View Post

Also, if you are an asshole customer, understand that your food may be "altered."


Ehh, I never saw that happen, ever.
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post #11 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by ShawnJ View Post

A few things you should know or do:

Seating

If you can help it, sit where the hosts seat you.

Er, no.
post #12 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by ShawnJ View Post

20% should be a standard tip, not something awarded only for exceptional service. It also should not be given on a merit basis because good service in a busy restaurant is more dependent on luck than merit. Many people have at least some ethical tipping standard, but in the end they're all arbitrary no matter how consistent you think you're being. The only time you should deviate from a 20% tip is if a server willfully goes out of his or her way to make your experience bad. Server mistakes happen from time to time.

Tip is extra hassle to the customer, and as such it makes sense exactly as long as it is an effective incentive for the staff to do a good job.

I understand the argument for a common base level of tip on the grounds that that way there is something to deduct from to communicate dissatisfaction. Why there would be a fixed tip that is not deviated from downwards is utterly lost on me. Put it on the bill - just like the cook's "tip" is.

Tipping (base level) is not customary here, and because I have barely ever been disappointed in service, I don't need or want the feedback mechanism it provides. Better without the hassle. The food both disappoints and delights much more often, so a cook tipping system would make far more sense to me. Of course, we don't have that either.

Last time I remember tipping for "extra" service was when I came in late, and ordered a dish with a somewhat long prep time. I ended up eating fast (because I was really hungry), and didn't cause overtime for anyone, but they took the risk of that happening when they okay'd the order. Therefore, a tip.
post #13 of 68
Shawn, I really like you quite a lot, but I've got to say that you are expecting "special treatment" by the customer when you're saying you should not be expected to do more than "your job" (i.e. give the customer "special treatment").

If you don't like your job, don't do it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ShawnJ View Post

A few things you should know or do:

Seating

If you can help it, sit where the hosts seat you. Servers usually have "sections" of assigned tables that are filled in a particular order. If you want to sit elsewhere, most restaurants will accommodate you, but understand you will be screwing up the order. Either another server will have to take your table out of turn, or someone else will take that server's table, leaving him or her with one less table and forcing him or her to either take tables outside their section or temporarily swap tables with the other server. That is not always possible, so at best you are screwing things up and at worst taking away earnings from another server. Instead, first ask if your server has another table in his or her section that you can sit at.

This is a tiny tiny issue, at most. Out of 100 guests, how many ask to change seats? And in the game of averages, you will be the beneficiary of such changes as often as you are the victim. Better to give the guests the best service possible, and make them want to come back to your restaurant, even if that service includes "a seat by the window" if available. It's your job to make them happy, not the other way around.

Quote:
Also, upon seating, if you tell your server you need to make a movie or some other engagement by a certain time, there is nothing a server can do to expedite your service besides recommending faster-cooking menu items, and be ready to take your order and give you your check as soon as possible. Generally appetizers and sandwiches cook fastest. Steaks, burgers, and things of that sort do not.

Um... I doubt anyone expects more than what you're saying. If we are in a hurry, we don't expect expedited cooking. We expect to be served quickly. And that's your job. If you can accommodate such a request, do it. Be aware that the guests will eat quickly and be prepared to bring the check quickly. Without telling you in advance, you might not expect a guest to finish their meal in 15 minutes, so you might not be as aware of their needs to receive a check quickly.

Quote:
Kids
Kids are a server's and busser's worst nightmare. They take up valuable seating space, their dinners are cheap, and they make a horrible mess. Do not let your kids make a mess. If they do, either clean it up or compensate your server.

Agreed.

Quote:
Large Groups
Expect to wait longer for seating, service, your food, and your check. Go in the order that your server prefers. Check-splitting is an issue with larger groups. If multiple people will pay, be sure to tell your server before ordering. Also, if you're going to split the check, please sit in some sort of arrangement that your server can follow. "He's with me" and "the one second on the left is mine" are not easy to follow arrangements when 2-3 groups are doing the same thing as you.

This is all common sense, Shawn.

Quote:
Tipping.

20% should be a standard tip, not something awarded only for exceptional service. It also should not be given on a merit basis because good service in a busy restaurant is more dependent on luck than merit. Many people have at least some ethical tipping standard, but in the end they're all arbitrary no matter how consistent you think you're being. The only time you should deviate from a 20% tip is if a server willfully goes out of his or her way to make your experience bad. Server mistakes happen from time to time.

No. It has always been 15% for "standard" service, and 20% for exceptional service. And the US, as having a customary 15% tip, is the highest in the world. All of the sudden you want that to change to 20%, because "you say so", even if you just "do your job"? It is 15% for standard service. If you want 20%, you need to go out of your way. An if you are one of the jerk servers who doesn't know how to smile or address someone with respect and courtesy (or you've just had a bad day), no matter how well you do your job by bringing food and taking it away correctly, you won't get 15% from me. Smiling is part of your job. If you don't do it, then in my opinion, you are "going out of your way to provide a bad experience". If you forget an order, yes, it happens, but it's still your fault. If you spill something, yes it happens, but it's still your fault. There is no "right" to a 20% tip for poor service.

By the way, if you are being taxed on 20% of receipts, even though 15% is the customary tip, then that's an issue you need to take up with the tax board, not the customer.

Quote:
Closing Times

Respect them. Do not come 5 minutes before closing and demand to be seated, or argue with the host that your watch is slower than the restaurant's. Restaurant staff have worked a very long day and should not have to stay longer to work around your schedule. If the restaurant is fairly empty, it's not economical for it to remain open past closing either. There are 24 hour restaurants in your area most likely. Go to one of them. However, if you do manage to get seated, then order something quick like an appetizer or a sandwich. Understand that nothing will be all that good at that time of the night. Eat and leave. Do not linger afterwards as people must stay longer to clean up after you.

If you are open "5pm-11pm" then you should damn well seat me at 10:55pm. It is your job. If you need to stay later than you would on a day when no one comes in late then too bad. If you don't like the job, don't do it. If I argue with you, then as a service employee, you should back off. That's part of what customer service is about.

Quote:
Complaints

The customer is not always right. If you demand a full refund after eating most of whatever you ordered, you will not get a refund. Restaurants exist to make a profit, not to feed the needy. If you do not want a refund, then by all means tell your manager about any aspect of your experience that you found sub-par. They need to know this.

If you eat most of what you've been served, then on your last bite find a cockroach piece in the food (and show it to the wait staff), I think you can expect a full refund. Have you ever had that experience Shawn? It can ruin your entire day at least, and linger in your memory for months. I had a full cockroach come out of a Ketchup bottle about a year ago (after I ate my steak but before I started my fries), and to this day, I am still sickened by the thought of refillable ketchup bottles. That's the restaurant's fault and I damn well deserved a full refund. Actually it was our neighborhood restaurant and because they always provided excellent service and I intended to continue to eat there regularly, I let it slide and accepted an extra dessert as compensation.

Quote:
Payment
When paying your server, credit cards are faster. For me it never mattered whether customers gave me a cash tip or a credit card tip, but some like cash because then they can underreport their tips at the end of the night. But if you pay for your meal in cash, don't ask for change if possible. If not, then expect to wait longer because servers only have a limited amount of change on them.

That's an issue with the particular restaurant. Whatever you do, Shawn, I hope you don't ask the customer to pay exact change, no matter how inconvenient it is for you.

I'm sorry, but it really sounds like you are not suited for any job in customer service. To do customer service well, you have to enjoy the challenges, and the inconveniences you sometimes have to make to make the customer happy. It sounds like you don't enjoy it. You can be the most efficient wait staff around, but if it's not in your heart to make the customer happy, even when they don't always deserve it, then the job simply doesn't suit you.
post #14 of 68
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tonton View Post

Shawn, I really like you quite a lot, but I've got to say that you are expecting "special treatment" by the customer when you're saying you should not be expected to do more than "your job" (i.e. give the customer "special treatment").

If you don't like your job, don't do it.

It's not my job.

And I don't expect to give servers "special treatment;" I expect customers to realize their actions affect their service in part.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tonton View Post

This is a tiny tiny issue, at most. Out of 100 guests, how many ask to change seats? And in the game of averages, you will be the beneficiary of such changes as often as you are the victim. Better to give the guests the best service possible, and make them want to come back to your restaurant, even if that service includes "a seat by the window" if available. It's your job to make them happy, not the other way around.

I never said it was otherwise.

No one's saying hosts shouldn't accommodate customers' seating preferences. But realize your asking for a different table *has repercussions* that people don't realize. Most customers think they can sit anywhere they choose, even in closed sections (which is generally one place managers and hosts will rightfully steer customers away from and suggest a similar seat elsewhere)

Quote:
Originally Posted by tonton View Post

Um... I doubt anyone expects more than what you're saying. If we are in a hurry, we don't expect expedited cooking. We expect to be served quickly. And that's your job. If you can accommodate such a request, do it. Be aware that the guests will eat quickly and be prepared to bring the check quickly. Without telling you in advance, you might not expect a guest to finish their meal in 15 minutes, so you might not be as aware of their needs to receive a check quickly.

You doubt?

You would not believe what customers typically ask for when they're rushed. But they should at least realize what's possible, what entrees to choose, and how to speed things up otherwise (cash vs. credit card, etc).

Quote:
Originally Posted by tonton View Post

[Large group discussion] is all common sense, Shawn.

Um.

No, it's rather not. Customers typically spring last-minute check-splitting notices on servers. That's fine, *no one's saying servers should not accommodate this,* but just understand that it's going to take longer to sort out the check and it's going to be more mistake-prone. In larger groups (10+) customers frequently seat their children together at one end of a table and it's a mess trying to figure things out. Again, *no one's saying servers should not accommodate this,* but again understand that it may affect your service.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tonton View Post

No. It has always been 15% for "standard" service, and 20% for exceptional service. And the US, as having a customary 15% tip, is the highest in the world. All of the sudden you want that to change to 20%, because "you say so", even if you just "do your job"? It is 15% for standard service. If you want 20%, you need to go out of your way. An if you are one of the jerk servers who doesn't know how to smile or address someone with respect and courtesy (or you've just had a bad day), no matter how well you do your job by bringing food and taking it away correctly, you won't get 15% from me. Smiling is part of your job. If you don't do it, then in my opinion, you are "going out of your way to provide a bad experience". If you forget an order, yes, it happens, but it's still your fault. If you spill something, yes it happens, but it's still your fault. There is no "right" to a 20% tip for poor service.

People are very very resistant to challenges to their tipping standards.

You seem to have some sort of standard, but once again, it's not very ethical when you get right down to it. You're tipping for a smile? I'm sorry but that shouldn't have anything to do with paying someone their earnings. This is where arbitrariness comes into play here. What if one server isn't quick to smile like another server? These people generally work *very hard* on weekend nights, so no matter how many mistakes they make, they are all doing their job. I'm increasingly convinced that good service is really a matter of luck. If you knew how chaotic kitchens are on a busy night at an average restaurant, you'd be more sympathetic to this view.

Also, servers don't make much to begin with (typically half of min. wage + tips). Your reserved "20% for excellent service" might be $4-5 more to you on an average night, but that could be $50 more to the server. I don't buy the "they could choose another job" argument. They are, for whatever reasons, working this job. A real minimum wage for servers would help, but that's a different topic.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tonton View Post

If you are open "5pm-11pm" then you should damn well seat me at 10:55pm. It is your job. If you need to stay later than you would on a day when no one comes in late then too bad. If you don't like the job, don't do it. If I argue with you, then as a service employee, you should back off. That's part of what customer service is about.

As in the kitchen "closes at 11" and oftentimes a little earlier than the posted time if it's really slow.

And if you do walk in that time, and somehow manage to get sat, you are absolutely without a doubt an asshole customer. I personally wouldn't walk into a restaurant 30 minutes before closing, but 15 minutes should be the absolute minimum (to give you enough time to order properly). And we are not talking about servers making closing decisions. We are talking about managers making those decisions. The restaurant isn't making much money to stay open for you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tonton View Post

If you eat most of what you've been served, then on your last bite find a cockroach piece in the food (and show it to the wait staff), I think you can expect a full refund. Have you ever had that experience Shawn? It can ruin your entire day at least, and linger in your memory for months. I had a full cockroach come out of a Ketchup bottle about a year ago (after I ate my steak but before I started my fries), and to this day, I am still sickened by the thought of refillable ketchup bottles. That's the restaurant's fault and I damn well deserved a full refund. Actually it was our neighborhood restaurant and because they always provided excellent service and I intended to continue to eat there regularly, I let it slide and accepted an extra dessert as compensation.

I think you can, obviously.

I was not referring to pie-in-the-sky scenarios like that, but instances where the customer doesn't "like it" or felt it was "cooked poorly." Well, they ate it. If they didn't like it, the restaurant would have counted that as a loss and cooked them something different. This happens several times a night on a busy night. Someone's always looking for something.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tonton View Post

That's an issue with the particular restaurant. Whatever you do, Shawn, I hope you don't ask the customer to pay exact change, no matter how inconvenient it is for you.

The point is that it shortens or delays your departure, not that you shouldn't pay however you like. And that you should be *aware* that how you pay affects your server as well. A little conscientiousness and empathy for everyone would be nice for a change.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tonton View Post

I'm sorry, but it really sounds like you are not suited for any job in customer service. To do customer service well, you have to enjoy the challenges, and the inconveniences you sometimes have to make to make the customer happy. It sounds like you don't enjoy it. You can be the most efficient wait staff around, but if it's not in your heart to make the customer happy, even when they don't always deserve it, then the job simply doesn't suit you.

I was very well-suited for customer service. I worked in a restaurant for 6 years doing every imaginable job. I was a courteous and knowledgeable server for the final 4 of those years. But this is not about me. And this is not about catering to servers. This is at a minimum, about raising awareness how certain customer actions will affect their service, about being conscientious to the restaurant staff, and things of that nature.
post #15 of 68
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Sounds like someone has some resentment and justification issues they are stil working through.

Nick

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post #16 of 68
Or perhaps working in the food service industry can give one perspective on just how hard (good) servers have to bust their ass, and how much unnecesary shit they sometimes have to take.

I was always saddened by the people who were obviously upset about other things, and simply chose to take it out on you. The worst was some instances of families on vacation, where the dad was obviously pissed about having to spend time with his family.
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post #17 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by trumptman View Post

Customer Requests vs. Service

If you were yakking to your friends about taking extra shifts to pay off your boob job, about how your latest piercing rejected or about the tattoo you are saving up for, and I need to remind you about condiments, refilling my beverage, my bill, you name it then the service is automatically considered suboptimal and the bill or tip will reflect this point. Everyone can understand you rushing around as quick as you can when things are busy. What cannot be understood is when service is normal or slow and you decide we don't mind waiting as if it were busy.

That's what you get for eating at Hooters®!

Quote:
Originally Posted by sslarson View Post

Food service establishments are started to serve the customers and they exist at the pleasure of said customers. This (allegedly from Mahatma Gandhi) seems appropriate:

Agreed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Flounder View Post

Or perhaps working in the food service industry can give one perspective on just how hard (good) servers have to bust their ass, and how much unnecesary shit they sometimes have to take.

I was always saddened by the people who were obviously upset about other things, and simply chose to take it out on you. The worst was some instances of families on vacation, where the dad was obviously pissed about having to spend time with his family.

While servers are there to serve the customer, there is no reason to treat them poorly.
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post #18 of 68
post #19 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by @_@ Artman View Post

Obligatory...

Gold, pure gold!
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post #20 of 68
It's obvious that ShawnJ has no business working in the restaurant business and no clue what it means to provide good service.
post #21 of 68
Did law school not work out or something?
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post #22 of 68
Sorry to be harsh in this post, but the real world is about adapting to whatever complexities are thrown at you. The list above really gets things backwards. The seller adjusts and accommodates to what the buyer wants. It doesn't work the other way around. If you want to sell T-shirts and it's easier for you to make them in one or two colors, that's great. But if I want one in 17 colors and it's more work then you either adjust or I take my business to someone else who will. I don't have to consider simplifying things for you. I don't have to learn about T-shirts and pick two colors to make life easier for you. If 80% of customer's are the "easy case" that doesn't mean the other 20% have to adjust. That just means your business serves 80% easy and 20% hard cases and you have to learn to compete. It's not that the easy ones are your "real customers" and the other ones are the nuisance.

Two items on the list that make clear sense. One is that the waiter should be told beforehand how they should add up the check for groups. That way they don't have to do double work and make a new check. That's reasonable since there's no way around it. The second is that knowing a place is going to close at a certain time is easy enough and shows basic respect for the people who want to go home.

But let's look at the other arguments. Why should the party have to seat themselves according to what is easier for the staff? That is absurd. If I'm a great programmer I know that 20% of projects will turn out more pain in the ass than the others. I don't get to pick the easy ones and let the other ones go. I have to adjust my skills to do the easy ones fast and do the hard ones carefully.

You say kids make less profits for the restaurant. That's how a business works. You have prime customers and less good customers. I worked in a five and dime and the owner said that 80% of sales were of just 20% of items. But he said without stocking all the other 80% that people need, they wouldn't come and buy the 20% money makers. He didn't get to make his life easier and costs lower by only stocking the 20% good ones.

And the idea that 20% is a proper tip is nonsense. Why not make it 30% or 50% while your at it? There is no correct answer, but we have agreed upon 15%. The only argument you could make is that "Waiters work hard and should make more.". Well, first of all almost everyone works hard. Supply and demand sets wages. Waiting tables pays OK and requires no extensive study, tuition bills, ongoing learning to keep up, etc.

The reason why waiting tables pays $11-$12 an hour for an unskilled job is because it is stressful, but requires no body of knowledge. If you don't want to learn a real skill or a body of knowledge, then you either take it easy and be stress free stocking shelves at Walmart and make $8 an hour OR you bust it out and run around to make the extra $3-$4 an hour.

I had to stress to learn a LARGE body of knowledge just to APPLY to get a tech support job. Then I have to go through 3 weeks of rigorous training specific to that job. Then on the job I have to stress for the first three months while I am clueless as to the basic ways to solve problems. I have a caller breathing down my neck while I solve a problem for the first time. I have to continually learn more and more fine details every day. As a waiter, there is almost none of that mental struggle. Sorry but knowledge is hard to get and hard to use and that's why unskilled jobs pay less.

If I could make $15 an hour waiting tables I'd be set for the next five years. I'd spend 6 months in Hawaii, then 6 seeing the mountains in Utah, then 6 seeing the historic sites in Charleston, SC. I can't do that because skilled jobs have a large learning curve whereas all those hassles don't apply to jumping into a waiting job. This is just another reason that unskilled jobs pay less.
post #23 of 68
Maybe ShawnJ could post these rules and guidelines on the front door of any place he works at.
post #24 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by spindler View Post

If I could make $15 an hour waiting tables I'd be set for the next five years. I'd spend 6 months in Hawaii, then 6 seeing the mountains in Utah, then 6 seeing the historic sites in Charleston, SC. I can't do that because skilled jobs have a large learning curve whereas all those hassles don't apply to jumping into a waiting job. This is just another reason that unskilled jobs pay less.

You can definitely make $15 as a server, it just has to be the right place. I pulled down that much as a waiter, and that was 7-10 years ago.

Waiting tables was a great job summers during college. I made good money, worked with a lot of good looking women, and learned a TON about dealing with irrationally unhappy people.

Shawn recommends 20% as a standard tip because, well, once you've worked in that industry you become sympathetic, and that's just what you do (I know that's what I do). I don't begrudge anyone if they want to have 15% as their standard.
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post #25 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by Flounder View Post

You can definitely make $15 as a server, it just has to be the right place. I pulled down that much as a waiter, and that was 7-10 years ago.

Y'know, it does depend on the place. I find myself wanting to tip a much higher percent at cheap restaurants and a lower percent at expensive ones. If I get great service on a $10 entree with an included salad one day and mediocre service on a $30 entree with a $10 salad, why should I give the server at the second place 4X the tip?
I know the customer to server ratio might be different--but it is not 4X different...

PS Shawn, You will be happy to know that I pick the rice up off the floor after my son does his thing. I figure at the very least, it motivates me to pay attention to what he it doing.
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post #26 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bageljoey View Post

Y'know, it does depend on the place. I find myself wanting to tip a much higher percent at cheap restaurants and a lower percent at expensive ones. If I get great service on a $10 entree with an included salad one day and mediocre service on a $30 entree with a $10 salad, why should I give the server at the second place 4X the tip?
I know the customer to server ratio might be different--but it is not 4X different...

I agree. I went to a lebanese restaurant with a group of about 12 people recently. Since not many people knew much about lebanese food, we just asked them to bring a selection of dishes to the table. This they did, and we had a lovely meal, each of us trying a bit of everything. Afterwards, they asked if we wanted dessert, and again brought a selection. There was more food than we could eat.

Including drinks, the price came to £9.50 each... including a 10% tip! We thought we'd worked it out wrong first. So everyone put in £10 just because it was easier and they deserved it for serving us a meal that cheaply.

For the record, 10% tip is normal in Britain for decent service. I would tip less than that, or nothing, if the service was bad, or a little more if it was exceptional. A tip should be a reward for good service, not something to be expected. Of course, it's different here in that a waiter cannot be paid less than minimum wage, even when not counting tips.

As a student, many of the places I frequent don't take tips. Anywhere where you pay before your food is delivered isn't an appropriate place to tip. It's almost a shame, as one restaurant on campus is absolutely brilliant, both in service and in food. The staff recognise me and my friends, and ask after us, and will happily accommodate requests for alterations in the dishes. But you can't tip in a situation like that: the till displays your price and you hand over your card.
post #27 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by @_@ Artman View Post

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6NcjPxkv7vA

Yep, I'm with Mr. Pink on this one.

Why is the service not included in the bill, and tips left to reward exceptional performance or to compensate for extra trouble caused?
post #28 of 68
Shawn probably had no idea how much backlash he'd get from this thread.

Poor little waiter.

I'd tip ya 20%...
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post #29 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gon View Post

Yep, I'm with Mr. Pink on this one.

Well, I'm with Joe on it.
post #30 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by ShawnJ View Post

A few things you should know or do:

Seating

If you can help it, sit where the hosts seat you. Servers usually have "sections" of assigned tables that are filled in a particular order. If you want to sit elsewhere, most restaurants will accommodate you, but understand you will be screwing up the order. Either another server will have to take your table out of turn, or someone else will take that server's table, leaving him or her with one less table and forcing him or her to either take tables outside their section or temporarily swap tables with the other server. That is not always possible, so at best you are screwing things up and at worst taking away earnings from another server. Instead, first ask if your server has another table in his or her section that you can sit at.

.


I buy all but this. If there is a nice table near the window available I don't want to sit in the corner by the mens room because that was the next in line.
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post #31 of 68
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by spindler View Post

Sorry to be harsh in this post, but the real world is about adapting to whatever complexities are thrown at you. The list above really gets things backwards. The seller adjusts and accommodates to what the buyer wants. It doesn't work the other way around.

I do not suggest a restaurant should not accommodate customers.

I'm merely pointing out that customer expectations might be unreasonable if they don't take into account their own actions. I pointed out several examples where what customers do might affect the level and efficiency of service, ***regardless*** of the best efforts of the staff.

Quote:
Originally Posted by spindler View Post

Two items on the list that make clear sense. One is that the waiter should be told beforehand how they should add up the check for groups. That way they don't have to do double work and make a new check. That's reasonable since there's no way around it. The second is that knowing a place is going to close at a certain time is easy enough and shows basic respect for the people who want to go home.

Just in general, I think you're missing a lot if you only see my points about consideration towards the staff.

Quote:
Originally Posted by spindler View Post

But let's look at the other arguments. Why should the party have to seat themselves according to what is easier for the staff? That is absurd. If I'm a great programmer I know that 20% of projects will turn out more pain in the ass than the others. I don't get to pick the easy ones and let the other ones go. I have to adjust my skills to do the easy ones fast and do the hard ones carefully.

I do not think customers *must* seat themselves according to what's easier for the staff.

Restaurants will accommodate your seating choices. But let me explain something about seating that clearly customers don't understand. If you *do* deviate from how restaurants seat you, it may very well affect your service *regardless* of the best efforts of your server. If it's a busy night and the server had to end up taking a table far away from his or her section, you might wait longer for service throughout the night. There's often nothing the restaurant can do about this if no other server can take the table. So adjust your expectations accordingly.
post #32 of 68
Tipping is all good, -but being from a part of the world where tips are not obligatory all your discussions concerning tipping "standards" is really weird.

To me a tip is something given as a "tip" for good service.

Yes I did work in the service industry, not as a waiter, but still in a place where tips were given to show appreciation.
I suppose a waiters standard pay, - not incl. tips, in the U.S. is really bad?


/tinker
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post #33 of 68
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by trumptman View Post

Wait Times

People are told the wait time for seating, but not for food service. No restaurant should seat a person, take their drink order, deliver the drinks and then express astonishment if food is refused or the drinks demanded as comped when leaving because meals fails to arrive within 30 minutes of being ordered. I enjoyed the ambiance for the 30 minute wait for a seat. If the wait for food is exceptional, state so at the beginning and let me choose.

And the corollary to that is to not bring out the food too quickly either. The Olive Garden once brought out my dinner 8 minutes after I ordered. Going to a chain restaurant, you're going to expect they emphasize efficient cooking and high turnover rates, but that's just too quick.

With longer cooking times, anywhere from 20-40 minutes is not out of the ordinary. Generally restaurants want to get the food out between 20 and 30 minutes. Any longer and you're killing your turnover rate, so trust me, long food waits aren't good for the restaurant either.

Quote:
Originally Posted by trumptman View Post

Temperature/Environment

If you cannot keep your restaurant at a reasonable temperature or refuse to do so as a cost saving measure, be prepared to eat any and all associated costs once the parties inside have acclimated and realized that it isn't just them but your refusal to move your thermostat.

Yes, if it's too cold then that's not going to make many happy customers. But most restaurants besides the small independent ones are not authorized to fiddle with the thermostat. It's usually set by policy either by a corporate office or otherwise. So while some customers might leave or be uncomfortable during their stay, most times there's nothing the staff or managers can do about it.
post #34 of 68
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tinker View Post

I suppose a waiters standard pay, - not incl. tips, in the U.S. is really bad?

$15,310 mean yearly wage for full-time servers (including tips).
post #35 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by ShawnJ View Post

I do not suggest a restaurant should not accommodate customers.
I'm merely pointing out that customer expectations might be unreasonable if they don't take into account their own actions. .

Well from that perspective I agree with what you are saying except for the 20% tip. But, just for the sake of argument, your initial post seemed to written from the point of view of what customers should be *expected* to do. that's why people are getting on you.

It wasn't called "Tips to get more efficient service". It was about "etiquette" which is the requirements of acting properly, like if you go to Japan you must follow etiquette or will look foolish.

One line said "Check-splitting is an issue with larger groups. If multiple people will pay, be sure to tell your server before ordering. Also, if you're going to split the check, please sit in some sort of arrangement that your server can follow." These seem more like commands. It didn't say "IF you tell your server beforehand then you won't waste ten minutes later."

I realize you probably just copied this text from somewhere else (nothing wrong with that) but it seems more like rules to follow from the tone then time saving tips for the consumer.

I'm not against doing a little thing to make the worker's job 10 times easier. I'm just pointing out the hard situations are as much a part of the job as the easy ones.
post #36 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by ShawnJ View Post

$15,310 mean yearly wage for full-time servers (including tips).

That data is from 2001.
post #37 of 68
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mydo View Post

That data is from 2001.

My bad.

$17,190 in 2006.
post #38 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by ShawnJ View Post

My bad.

$17,190 in 2006.

A lot of wait staff are part-time workers. Yes, food services is a low-paying industry. What's the point?
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post #39 of 68


I could have sworn this was a satire piece when I read it.

+1 FP!
post #40 of 68
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Splinemodel View Post

A lot of wait staff are part-time workers. Yes, food services is a low-paying industry. What's the point?

Those statistics are for full-time staff.

Tinker asked.

Follow along please.
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