Why You Should Think Twice Before Ticking Off Your Waiter and Other Helpful Tips

Social Spark asked me to share a recent article in Reader’s Digest called 13 Things Your Waiter Won’t Tell You.  Now I eat out A LOT, and I’m all for learning tips and tricks to make my dining out experiences more positive so when I took a look at this article, I immediately agreed to share it with you.

My brother waited tables in college, so he’s already given me the low-down on many restaurant secrets.  For one thing, the restaurant he worked for served boxed wine as their house wine.  He loved to tell how the patrons would rave about the wine and ask him what kind it was and then how shocked they were to learn it was a box of Franzia.  (This was long before boxed wine was cool.  YES!  Boxed wine is cool!)

This article is full of “insider secrets” into the hospitality industry, some more helpful than others.  For instance, as you regulars probably already know, I’m a 1st class germophobe.  So I was less than thrilled to read insider secrets #2 and #3.

2. There are almost never any sick days in the restaurant business. A busboy with a kid to support isn’t going to stay home and miss out on $100 because he’s got strep throat. And these are the people handling your food.

3. When customers’ dissatisfaction devolves into personal attacks, adulterating food or drink is a convenient way for servers to exact covert vengeance. Waiters can and do spit in people’s food.

::SHUDDER::  Ever since I saw a waiter on a TV sitcom take out his angst on a customer by spitting in his drink, I have had a phobia of drinking Coke at restaurants.  Not that it stops me, mind you.  There is nothing quite as satisfying as Coke from the soda fountain in a tall glass over ice.  But I’m careful to make good friends with my waitress before placing my order.

I think the most helpful hints in the article involve tips.  Perhaps that is because I’m so anal about leaving a adequate tip.

10. If you can’t afford to leave a tip, you can’t afford to eat in the restaurant. Servers could be giving 20 to 40 percent to the busboys, bartenders, maître d’, or hostess.

I always tip 20% if the service is decent and sometimes more if it’s particularly stellar.  I know they are working hard for less than minimum wage and often share their tips.  The worst is when you’re dining out in a group and other members of the group aren’t as conscientious about tipping the waitstaff generously.  I often throw in extra just to be sure they’re covered.

11. Always examine the check. Sometimes large parties are unaware that a gratuity has been added to the bill, so they tip on top of it. Waiters “facilitate” this error. It’s dishonest, it’s wrong-and I did it all the time.

Mmmm’kay.  Good to know.  I’ll be going over my check with a fine-tooth comb from now on.

12. If you want to hang out, that’s fine. But increase the tip to make up for money the server would have made if he or she had had another seating at that table.

That’s something that I hadn’t really thought about but I’ll keep it in mind from now on.

I’d love to hear your tips if you have worked in the hospitality industry.  I have never worked in the hospitality industry, unless you count working retail, which has its own set of insider secrets that I could share.  But I have a tip to share with the people on the other end.

You may remember my less than stellar dining experience a few weeks ago when the assistant manager informed our group that we would be expected to order full entrees when seated in the dining room in the future.  Um, hospitality FAIL.  Fortunately my friend who was the guest of honor at the party called the next day and spoke with the head manager, who was properly horrified and awarded her a generous gift card to return and eat at their restaurant again.  At least someone who works there has their head on straight.