How to be the Worst Waitress and Not have anyone Tip you!

It was my 19th wedding anniversary on June 22. To celebrate, my husband made reservations at my favorite restaurant; a high end seafood restaurant that takes about forty five minutes to drive to from our house.

During this long drive, we were on the subject of awful server habits and I thought that this topic would be a good post to start out with on my website. Rod and I went down memory lane and we thought of a list of 12 main things that annoyed us about servers that we have encountered in the past.

I would love to hear from you and have you add to this list. Over time, other servers may read about it and the service in our industry may be changed for the good, as a result!

To have a bit of fun with this, I’m going to take the customer’s perspective.

1)  Do not Smile at me
Yup, keep that scowl on your pretty little face as you take an order from me. I will feel very unwelcome and if you don’t want a tip, it’s a good way of doing it!

2) Do not greet me
If you don’t want to greet me in a friendly manner such as, “Hi there! How’s your day going?” that’s okay. If you greet me with, “What do you want me to get you?” or “What do you want for drinks?” especially while you’re not smiling, your tip will dwindle to a small amount as a result…good job (if that’s what you’re aiming for!) You get an extra point for upsetting me enough if I decide that I won’t come back.

3) You spill your personal problems onto my lap
Sometimes I will beat you to the punch and ask, “How’s your day going so far?” before you have a chance to say anything to me.

Bonus points for you if you respond with, “Well, my boyfriend and I just broke up. My cat looks like he’s dying and I think I’m coming down with the stomach flu. My stupid sister and I are fighting and I hate this job!”

You will feel my enthusiasm and energy deflate pretty quickly and I will want to jump up and run out of there (with all my money) to get away from you as fast as possible! Also, I will feel depressed by talking with you (especially when I came into your establishment to have a good time and escape my own problems for just a while!)

4) Roll your eyes at me when I ask a question about substituting something in my food order

This is a great way to annoy me because you may not know the importance of it. Has it occurred to you that I may be allergic to something or that I am on a special diet from my doctor? How would you know that I have diabetes?

So, keep rolling those eyes as I roll out of your establishment with my hard earned money; money that I would’ve left on the table as a tip for you!

5) You make “The Face” at  me while I order a drink
One of my husband’s favorite drinks is a Fireball coke. A few months ago, the server made “the face” as he ordered it. You know…”The Face” … she scrunches her face up like she just stuffed her mouth with sourball candies. I was extremely offended and I thought that was really rude! They had the liquor at the bar, so it wasn’t like they didn’t carry it. If she tried the drink, perhaps she would enjoy it! I don’t over tip rude servers!

6) If a server waves her hands in a “hurry up” motion at me
If a server is busy or rushed, and she proceeds to use this motion, I am upset. I chose this establishment to spend my money in and have a good time, so treat me as if I am worth spending a few minutes with. Motioning for me to hurry will only make me hurry to slip your tip back into my pocket.

7) A mouth full of chicken wings or smacking her gum like a cow
Very lady-like…not! It is unappetizing and rude.

8) A server not “on top” of the service at our table
This is especially annoying when the server is hovering over the customers at the table next to us as Rod’s water glass has been empty for a while or I am in dire need of another margarita. Extra points to her if I notice her glance at our drinks and still not make a move to ask us if she should bring another round! Guess, I just saved some money again by subtracting her tip amount as a result.

9) If I receive the wrong meal
I ordered perogies one time and I got potato skins. I understand that a server flubs up. But, when she neglects to come over at all and ask how everything is, I get mad. I decided to just eat it anyways as I didn’t want the cook to get mad and spit in my plate. I ate something I didn’t order, and I paid for it and the service sucked. Good times…NOT!

10)  Keeping my table a cluttered mess
I totally understand when a server is busy and doesn’t have a moment to grab a few empty dishes or glasses as she runs by with her hands full. I am seething when the items are there for a long time and other servers are sauntering by and not helping out. I am extra ticked off when I see my server standing around gabbing with the other servers when she should be cleaning the mess! I guess they were talking about why they weren’t getting tipped that day!

11) If I’m in a rush and my server doesn’t take me serious
If I ask for a take out container and my bill and mention that we are in a rush, I want it all within three minutes time. I mentioned that I am in a rush and I need to leave, so please help me out! I am appalled if I see you moseying around and forgetting my take out container and acting as if my time doesn’t matter, especially when I stressed to you that I need to get out of there asap. “Sorry, I was in a rush and couldn’t tip you!”

12) Adding an automatic gratuity to my bill
This is something that infuriates me! I probably would’ve tipped you more myself  than the total you put down for me. But, because you assume, I won’t give you anything extra!

Can you add to this list? What are some of your negative experiences that you have had with servers that made you cringe? I would love to hear from you!


17 Responses to “How to be the Worst Waitress and Not have anyone Tip you!”

  • This is so true … I had some of these happen to me too. A server is in the business of customer service and it surprises me how many forget that and think it’s all about them.

  • Not only do you NOT get a tip, it may result in not returning to that establishment…and me badmouthing the service to anyone that will listen…is that really what a person wants? I believe when you work for a company, you represent what they are…so???? Put it all together…when you shine, your company shines…and everyone wins…as more business = more money for all!

  • One I can add now being a new parent is when you go to a family resturant with a toddler. I find there are so many servers who just don’t think, they will place full dirnks, hot dishes condments right in front of the child. I hate having to ask for more napkins or if they could bring the the childs food first when he is cranky. I can look around and see when there are lots of customers and they are bussy and take that into account but its amazing how some of these little things make such a huge differenc in weather or not I want to leave any tip.

  • It is statiscally proven that if a patron visits an establishment and encounters a negative experience, they will verbally repeat that “experience” far more often than if they had a positive experience.

  • the thing that bugs me about bars and restaurants is that even if the waiter or waitress does a bad job there is a common problem that they feel they deserve a tip and it better be 15% how did it come to be that we reward people for doing a sub par job. my tip is a way of letting you know that you did a good job and i am happy with the service. it almost feels like sometimes i am paying 15% waitress pocket money tax and with all the new taxes out there its easier to pay when you’ve had a good time

  • Rod and I had recently dined at a high-end restaurant and I was appalled at our waitress’s attitude! She forgot my drink, didn’t crack a smile and looked pretty annoyed or mad the whole time.I was in the middle of a story when she came over holding the bottle of wine and stared at me as if to tell me to shut up (in a psychic sort of way).
    She was lucky that Rod paid the bill because I sure wouldn’t have tipped her the $30!
    If she was polite, smiled and made me feel more welcome I would be more than happy to overtip her, even if the service was slow or not the best.

  • Treat people as you wish to be treated… As a guest.
    And I must say all the years that I have worked with RO, she is very observant, friendly, always looking to make your experience the most memorable!!!GO RO GO!!!!

    When a customer asks you for his/her bill, instead of just setting it down and walking away, there is still that EXTRA little moment to secure a GOOD tip. As you set the bill down, always say “Thank you everyone! Hope you enjoy the rest of your day!”

  • Servers expect a tip because they have to tip out the busser, bartender, and possibly a food runner for a percentage of their sales (up to 5% total). In addition the IRS expects at the minimum of 12% of their tips to be reported. For those of you who still don’t understand, bad service is one thing but is it really deserving of making the server owe money on your dinner? I say to be safe always tip 10%, at least that way you don’t try to right a wrong with a wrong.

    • Good point Server X.
      The majority of the public don’t understand that as servers we have to tip-out our doormen, kitchen staff, bartenders, etc. At times I will end up tipping out as much as $80.00 on a Saturday night and it does suck when
      customers stiff you.

  • I’m a server and my pet peeve is pre-bussing. I always seem to get waited on by someone who doesn’t care about dirty dishes sitting in front of me forever. Also, what is the deal with back of the house against front of the house…we all look good together, we all look bad together, right? Such a stupid costly war.

    • I agree! Servers should all work together because it reflects on the business as a whole. It takes a moment for another server/hostess/staff member walking by to collect dirty dishes sitting in front of a patron. That is my pet-peeve as well. The longer that mess sits in front of me, the more I get upset and the more I think of leaving a smaller tip.

  • Also y is it that the world doesn’t know that we make 2.13 an hour??? Still- in 2011 we make 2.13 an hour and our tips are taxed…100percent of my tips are taxed whereby I do not even receive a weekly (or even bi-weekly) pay check and end up owing the US govt. even more of my HARD EARNED money every year???????? So please TIP, people!!!! I try very hard to provide my guests with an awesome, positive experience. May your tips reflect that!!!!!

    • $2.13 per hour is ridiculous!!! With that kind of a wage, servers definately NEED to get tipped to survive! In Canada, that wage is unheard of as we make a minimum of $8.00 plus per hour. If you give excellent service, there should be no reason why a server (unless the person is cheap or doesn’t know to tip)should get a tip.

  • I have been a server for five years or so, and I agree with most of these tings, but I have to disagree about automatic gratuity. Grat is added as part of company policy. I know at the last restaurant I worked at if a table of six or more(our company’s policy) came in and gratuity wasn’t added, the waitress faced consequences. Servers can’t pick and choose who’s tab to add grat on, because that would allow all sorts of discrimination. If your server did a good job, you’re more than welcome to tip over the grat so it equals what you would’ve tipped him or her if they hadn’t added gratuity.

  • A question that a reader sent to me was…

    “How do I build a regular clientelle who is loyal to only me, although there are many other waitresses to choose from who also follow me around and try to steal my customers?”

    ~In order to build a regular clientelle, you have to remember that it takes time. I work in a bar and when customers come into my place of work, I try to be as friendly as I can and provide fast service. If I recognize this person/s next time they visit, I’ll smile and make a comment like, “Hey, I remember you guys! You guys sat over there last time and ordered nachos and a jug of beer.”
    They feel special and this starts the conversation of, “Wow, you have a great memory!” I ask them their names and write it down on a scrap piece of paper at the till so I don’t forget. Once you’re on a first name basis, you have started the ball rolling to gaining them as a regular.
    Unfortunately, you can’t really do anything about another waitress stealing your regulars. I don’t believe in that anyways. At my bar, all of our servers are fantastic and it is us as a group that brings regulars in. Yes, a guy will have his favorite, but being nice, sincere, smiling and giving great service is what a customer looks for.

    An article that you may find interesting to read is an ezine article I wrote at Ezine articles ( titled, “How to Become a Customer’s Favorite Waitress of All Time.” It goes into great detail about the subject above.

    • A question from a reader…

      Hi Romana
      I bought your book when I transferred into serving at my company (casino) and I really enjoyed it. I was only serving for a year and half before going on maternity leave and now I am worried that I won’t enjoy serving once I go back to work. Just curious if you have any suggestions for making the transition easier for me.
      Thank you

      Hi Hayley,

      Thank you for your email! I’m glad you found the book informative.
      Serving is a fantastic industry where you can always find appropriate hours to suit your lifestyle especially when you have a family to raise. I know many mothers who come back to this line of work.
      If you enjoyed serving before you had your baby, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it when you come back.

      Concentrate on getting into your groove in the beginning… make friends with the other servers and learn the protocol at your place of work.

      Always keep an eye out for regular people who you seem to serve all the time, especially if they are super nice and tip you well! This is the time to say, “Hi there! How’s your day going?” Then there will be some small talk and you can say, “I remember you from yesterday. You sat over there!” as you will point to the area. The guy will usually respond with, “Wow, you have a good memory!” This is the perfect time to ask his name. Write it down as soon as you get to the till with a description (ex… Randy: Big guy with curly red hair and a Tom Sellek moustache who drinks a bottle of Budweiser). Save the information and look at it periodically.
      The next time Randy comes in, smile and greet him with, “Hi Randy! How’s your day going? Would you like a nice cold bottle of Budweiser today?” I will guarantee you will receive a nice hefty tip and you will gain the title of his favourite server! This is a very powerful tactic because customers will learn your shift hours and will want to come in when you work and will ask which section you are serving. They will sit in your section, no matter how busy it is. This has happened to me for years and I’ve made tremendous amounts of money over the years because of it. Regulars are your bread and butter!

      Learning regular customer’s names will be a nice challenge for you where you can turn it into a game. As a result you will start to make more money in tips. People love to feel special and when you greet a customer with their name, it makes them feel important and happy. They know you care enough to remember their name and something they told you (ex… their daughter is playing in a baseball tournament this coming weekend). Make small talk and show you care by asking how her team did in the tournament. You’ll find yourself enjoying your job and making more money!

      Hope this helped!

      Romana 

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