I just finished reading “Served: The Ballsy Waitress” on SeriousEats.com by Hannah Howard. This new waitress is encouraged by her staff to confront a group of customers when they leave her a small tip.
“You should feel free to say something,” T., the fromager chimed in. “Just go up to them really sweetly. Say, ‘Is this what you meant to leave? Just wanted to make sure there wasn’t a mistake or anything, and that everything was OK.’”
I followed her advice. Verbatim. It was a little awkward, but I played it pretty cool. I definitely made them uncomfortable. They huddled together and recounted their cash.
“Um, I don’t get it?” One of the women in the group asked me after their pow-wow, “Is something wrong?”
“Well,” I said, “You guys left less than five dollars gratuity on a 66 dollar check. That’s less than ten percent, and I wanted to make sure everything was OK.”
What would you, as a customer have done in this situation? I’ll tell you what I would have done, I would have been pissed off. Tips are earned, not guaranteed, and if for whatever reason they felt like being cheap, that’s their problem. To confront a customer about such a matter is rude. I’ve been in several cabs where the taxi driver made me feel bad because I didn’t leave enough tip. Well, the music was turned up loud, the cab stunk, and the driving was terrible. So I left what was appropriate.
Look, I’ve worked as a waitress. I’ve dealt with lousy tippers. That’s just the way it is and by confronting people, you’re just going to encourage them to eat elsewhere. Treat your good tippers particularly well and they will keep coming back. That’s the way it works.