Can you top this? Really Inept Wine Service!

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Re: Can you top this? Really Inept Wine Service!

Postby JC (NC) » Fri Feb 01, 2008 4:51 pm

We didn't ask the wait staff to divide up the bill. We worked out fair amounts among ourselves and had the money in one pile to give him when we paid the bill. At this conference we were receiving a per diem amount from the government to cover meals (not enough to cover a fine dining establishment) and it wouldn't be fair to ask those who had just ice water or tea or coffee to cover a proportionate cost of two bottles of wine. I and the others wanting wine with dinner were happy to kick in some extra bucks to cover that expense and related tip.
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Re: Can you top this? Really Inept Wine Service!

Postby Jenise » Fri Feb 01, 2008 6:06 pm

wrcstl wrote: The bill comes, someone adds the tip (15+%-20%), you divide by the number of people and everyone pays, regardless if you had a dessert or an appetizer. This is very easy


I totally agree with you, Walt. It's what we prefer and generally insist on. But both my husband and I have had business careers where this is generally agreed to be the fairest and most becoming method of handling the bill. However, people who have not and who don't dine out frequently go through life blissfully unaware of this option. The brothers and sister I mentioned getting robbed by would never consider it. Groups of women--those that have never had business careers anyway--are also against splitting the bill that way. There's always a micro eater or someone on a tight budget who can't be convinced to throw $20 in the hat for their $4 worth of lunch, and that's fair enough.
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Re: Can you top this? Really Inept Wine Service!

Postby Robert Reynolds » Fri Feb 01, 2008 11:47 pm

wrcstl wrote:The problem with stiffing the wait staff is that many times it is not their fault. Walt


Walt, I usually give the wait staff the benefit of the doubt, if it is a matter of slow food from the kitchen, or a dirty fork when I unroll the napkin. But if I have to repeatedly ask the young waitress for more Pink Stuff for Gail's tea, when she obviously has her mind on the guy she is constantly flirting with; or when the waitress picks the glass off the tray with her thumb and finger, by the rim!, and doesn't seem to realize she has left a large smudge on the INSIDE of the glass in doing so, it is easy to figure out that it most definitely IS the wait staff at fault. In that case, they will be lucky to get 10%, and if I'm ticked off enough by then, the aforementioned dollar. A tip should be an incentive to give good service, not an entitlement.
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Re: Can you top this? Really Inept Wine Service!

Postby wrcstl » Sat Feb 02, 2008 12:16 am

Robert Reynolds wrote:
wrcstl wrote:The problem with stiffing the wait staff is that many times it is not their fault. Walt


Walt, I usually give the wait staff the benefit of the doubt, if it is a matter of slow food from the kitchen, or a dirty fork when I unroll the napkin. But if I have to repeatedly ask the young waitress for more Pink Stuff for Gail's tea, when she obviously has her mind on the guy she is constantly flirting with; or when the waitress picks the glass off the tray with her thumb and finger, by the rim!, and doesn't seem to realize she has left a large smudge on the INSIDE of the glass in doing so, it is easy to figure out that it most definitely IS the wait staff at fault. In that case, they will be lucky to get 10%, and if I'm ticked off enough by then, the aforementioned dollar. A tip should be an incentive to give good service, not an entitlement.



I agree, I said many times, not all the time. I still vote with my feet and just do not go back again, regardless of who is at fault. It amazes me how many people support 20% tips as the new level for average service. I believe tips should reflect service level but I am just not willing to give them too many tries.
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Re: Can you top this? Really Inept Wine Service!

Postby Mark Lipton » Sat Feb 02, 2008 1:59 am

Bill Spohn wrote:So you are OK with getting horrid service and being forced to tip anyway, even though you may not have noticed the notice in the menu that you'd need a magnifying glass to read? Not this cowboy.[...]
When I go to a restaurant I am paying for good food and good service. That emphatically does NOT include overly friendly wait staff - I want them to SERVE me, I don't want to adopt them. In my more curmudgeonly moods I have been known to just stare at them until they get tired of waiting for an answer to their faux sincere salutations and ask about what I would like, then reply that I'd like a menu and then to be left alone.


Bill,
I most definitely need to bone up on my curmudgeon skills, so expect another visit soon. In reading the above, I realize that I am in the presence of a Master of the art form. I just tend to pointedly ignore those overly fawning servers and their idiot cousins (the ones who inquire solicitiously "Is everthing OK?" while I am putting my first forkful of food into my mouth) until they go away.

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Re: Can you top this? Really Inept Wine Service!

Postby Bill Spohn » Sat Feb 02, 2008 3:02 am

Mark - curmudgeon lessons happly offered over a bottle or three....:-)
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Re: Can you top this? Really Inept Wine Service!

Postby Covert » Sat Feb 02, 2008 11:00 am

Bill Spohn wrote:So you are OK with getting horrid service and being forced to tip anyway


This might have been covered, but I believe etiquette rules that one leaves a normal tip no matter what, for all the reasons that cultured people know by heart.

Personally I feel very fortunate compared to the wretched people who have to suffer the entitled set because they lack the skills to make a decent living. (Of course there are exceptions - well paid servers and rich people who like to serve.) When I see one who never even learned how to drink a glass of wine, I almost shed a tear, rather than want to hurt the person even more, and leave an even bigger tip, before repairing to my personal little lap of luxury, for as many days as I feel like staying above the fray, from which I can extract a Lafite anytime and pour it the way I want.
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Re: Can you top this? Really Inept Wine Service!

Postby Bill Spohn » Sat Feb 02, 2008 11:05 am

Covert wrote:
Bill Spohn wrote:So you are OK with getting horrid service and being forced to tip anyway


This might have been covered, but I believe etiquette rules that one leaves a normal tip no matter what, for all the reasons that cultured people know by heart.


You may of course do what you like. I do not subsrcibe to that principal, and find it ludicrous to even contemplate tipping "no matter what". And personally I think anyone that tips in the face of totally inattentive or inappropriate service is a fool. A chacun son gout.
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Re: Can you top this? Really Inept Wine Service!

Postby Covert » Sat Feb 02, 2008 1:35 pm

Bill Spohn wrote:And personally I think anyone that tips in the face of totally inattentive or inappropriate service is a fool.


I thought it was against WLDG etiquette to launch personal attacks. :) But I guess it is excusable in this case, since I would agree with you that I am a fool, sometimes. My wife also thinks I am foolish to tip the going rate, or more, when a waiter falls short.

We had such an argument over this during our second-to-last vacation that my wife asked me to see a shrink to determine why I had such an issue around tipping. The waiter was the worst I have ever seen in a fine restaurant, but I over-compensated him. In one quick session, the doctor revealed that the two most influential people in my life (besides my wife) had put a roaring conflict in my psyche. My adoptive father was a skinflint, having suffered during the Great Depression, and my multi-millionaire grandmother lavished me with money - way more than I could figure out how to spend. When I got so worked up about anybody getting in my way of leaving big tips, even for poor service, it turned out I was still rebelling against the guy who embarrassed me on many occasions, when I was a child with no power, and at the same time paying homage to my grandmother, whom I loved very much.

Bringing this little complex out of my subconscious into my conscious mind in one visit took all the energy out of it so that I can kid around with the dynamic, as I did with you. Interesting stuff, how the mind works, at least to me.

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Re: Can you top this? Really Inept Wine Service!

Postby Bill Spohn » Sat Feb 02, 2008 2:10 pm

Sorry I wasn't clearer about the fact that I was generalizing - not taking a specific shot at you, Covert. Interesting personal quirk though - oh to be a waiter at your table! :D
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Re: Can you top this? Really Inept Wine Service!

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Sat Feb 02, 2008 8:02 pm

Couvert wrote......Personally I feel very fortunate compared to the wretched people who have to suffer the entitled set because they lack the skills to make a decent living. (Of course there are exceptions - well paid servers and rich people who like to serve.)

Are you referring to service staff, bus-boys etc!!?
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Re: Can you top this? Really Inept Wine Service!

Postby Brian Gilp » Sun Feb 03, 2008 11:25 am

Both my wife and I have worked for tips earlier in life. The problem with leaving a smaller or no tip to indicate that the service is what you deem to be inadequate is that there is no way for the server to know that from the tip alone. We had both seen many instances where the size of the tip appears to have no relationship to service at all. This can be both in small tips but also in large ones. Throw in the fact that there are lots of people out there that just are poor tippers regardless of service and what you get is a situation where you just take the tip regardless of size and move on. There is no message received by the server. Having never worked fine dining maybe it is different but considering the number of people that are just don't tip much I doubt it. In my experience, it was those with more money that were the worst tippers.

Using the oposite extreme to prove my point. Back in college my wife waitressed in a bar for a while and made decent money predominately from tips. The bar owner put in a sand volleyball court out back and on the weekend they opened it up all the waitresses wore bikini's. Needless to say, I was there for all of my wife's shifts that weekend and held her tips for her (where was she going to put them?). I knew what she made on a normal weekend and I know what she made that weekend. She made almost three times a normal weeked but If anything her service was worse than normal due to the difficulty of working in a bikini not to mention how much longer it took to get order out since the males were now more interested in the waitress than the food/drinks. So obviously there was no relationship between quality of service and tips.
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Re: Can you top this? Really Inept Wine Service!

Postby Bill Spohn » Sun Feb 03, 2008 11:38 am

Brian Gilp wrote:She made almost three times a normal weeked but If anything her service was worse than normal due to the difficulty of working in a bikini not to mention how much longer it took to get order out since the males were now more interested in the waitress than the food/drinks. So obviously there was no relationship between quality of service and tips.



Not at all. On that weekend, she was offering a different service than her normal take an order, bring the food routine. Obviously (and I'm sure to no one's surprise) that additional service offered was much appreciated by a certain segment of the patrons, and tips followed.

On 'normal' business days, she would be relying on her cheerful personality, and effective service, and if that didn't result in better tips than someone giving ill informed sullen service, then there ain't no justice.
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Re: Can you top this? Really Inept Wine Service!

Postby Simon J » Sun Feb 03, 2008 12:14 pm

Personally, I think that service is an integral part of going to a restaurant and can make a mediocre meal into a good experience or inversely a great meal into a bad experience.

I remember my first experience with grappa was due to a dirty glass. It was my birthday and my wife and I decided to splurge by going to 'Michelangelo', one of the fanciest restaurants in Quebec City. The food was good but the service was great, very discreet as well. We had ordered a bottle of Chianti and upon raising a toast I saw that the lip impression of a previous client was still left on the rim of my wife's glass. Not being shy, I decided to inform the head waiter, who, on inspection of the offending stemware practically fell on his knees offering profuse apologies and offering to open another bottle if we so desired. We did not go that far, just a change of glass was necessary, so in gratitude he offered us a free grappa of our choice from the grappa cart. Heaven.

If you have not seen it, you must go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4WkYnT8y-fw to see the restaurant sketch from Monty Python. I think this sums it up. Enjoy!

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Re: Can you top this? Really Inept Wine Service!

Postby Brian Gilp » Sun Feb 03, 2008 1:57 pm

Bill Spohn wrote:Not at all. On that weekend, she was offering a different service than her normal take an order, bring the food routine. Obviously (and I'm sure to no one's surprise) that additional service offered was much appreciated by a certain segment of the patrons, and tips followed.

On 'normal' business days, she would be relying on her cheerful personality, and effective service, and if that didn't result in better tips than someone giving ill informed sullen service, then there ain't no justice.


While I can agree with you that to an extent that there was a different service being offered, it does go to show that the value placed on service and doing one's job well is subject to many more factors than just direct food service such that tips really can't be an honest method of determining who is a good wait person. Many women patrons that weekend tipped much worse than normal. It could be because the service was worse or it could be because of the way they viewed college age bikini clad waitresses. I believe you will find that in most places the more physcially appealing the wait person the better the tips overall. At least that was my experience almost 20 years ago now. Is it safe to assume that because someone is better looking they give better service because that is the conclusion one would get just from counting tips.

Believe it or not I actually agree with you regarding tipping in accordance with the service you receive. I just also think that most servers will not correlate your tip to the job they did since they do not know
1. If you are having a good or bad day
2. What you normally tip
3. If you are judging their service or some other quality such as their apperance/race/gender.
4. If you did not like the food
5. Is the place too hot, too cold, too loud

People are very good, amazingly good in fact, at finding reasons at why you tipped poorly that have nothing to do with the service they provided. You know the old study that showed that something like 93% of the people surveyed thought that they were a better than average driver.
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Re: Can you top this? Really Inept Wine Service!

Postby Bill Spohn » Sun Feb 03, 2008 2:10 pm

Yup, most people think they are better than average intelligence, at driving and in the sack. Trying to tell them different will get you a fat lip.

They never wonder where all the people with sub - 100 IQs, or the bad lovers and drivers hang out.....
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Re: Can you top this? Really Inept Wine Service!

Postby William K » Mon Feb 04, 2008 6:15 pm

Covert wrote:When I see one who never even learned how to drink a glass of wine, I almost shed a tear, rather than want to hurt the person even more, and leave an even bigger tip, before repairing to my personal little lap of luxury, for as many days as I feel like staying above the fray, from which I can extract a Lafite anytime and pour it the way I want.


And there you have it. The way I see it, although I am unlikely to ever reach the point where I can extract a Lafite anytime, I can reach the point where I behave with that kind of grace.

Well put, Covert.
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Re: Can you top this? Really Inept Wine Service!

Postby JC (NC) » Mon Feb 04, 2008 7:15 pm

Brian is correct that tipping often isn't related to level of service and that waitpersons don't know why a particular percentage tip was left. In addition to tipping 18-20% if the service is good, I will often make a point of saying to the waitperson "thank you for the good service!" (And sometimes I leave a higher percentage--say 25-40%--if I am having a light meal instead of an expensive entree plus appetizer plus dessert plus wine. The waitperson still has to refill my water glass, clear off the dishes, ask if I want anything further, etc. and bring the check.

What do you do when the service is poor and you tip only 10%? Do you say "I would have tipped more if I hadn't had to wait forever to order my dessert (or get a refill on the coffee)"? Do you ask politely if there is an explanation for the prolonged absence from your side (maybe a couple regulars called in sick at the last minute and the waitperson is overstretched waiting on extra tables or maybe there is a private party in a separate room that is taking extra personnel to serve.) Usually I think you can see if the wait staff are really hustling and just extra busy or if they are extremely nonchalant about providing service to the dining customers.
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Re: Can you top this? Really Inept Wine Service!

Postby Covert » Tue Feb 05, 2008 6:53 am

William K wrote:
Covert wrote:When I see one who never even learned how to drink a glass of wine, I almost shed a tear, rather than want to hurt the person even more, and leave an even bigger tip, before repairing to my personal little lap of luxury, for as many days as I feel like staying above the fray, from which I can extract a Lafite anytime and pour it the way I want.


And there you have it. The way I see it, although I am unlikely to ever reach the point where I can extract a Lafite anytime, I can reach the point where I behave with that kind of grace.

Well put, Covert.


Thanks William. I can drink a Lafite if I want to, but I don't very often because I don't have that kind of money. :) I was being a bit hyperbolic to make the point that I am happy you agree with. Beating up on folks who are less fortunate is not very gracious. When I occasionally lose my patience with a server - with a comment to my wife, not to the server - she reminds - "Where is your noblesse oblige?" Thus I am ultimately, I suppose, no better than a niggard who would leave an anemic tip, in that I deign the elitist flip side of the same coin, but am kinder in trying not to show it, and might get to Heaven on a wild card.
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Re: Can you top this? Really Inept Wine Service!

Postby Bill Spohn » Tue Feb 05, 2008 11:11 am

Covert wrote:Thus I am ultimately, I suppose, no better than a niggard who would leave an anemic tip, in that I deign the elitist flip side of the same coin, but am kinder in trying not to show it, and might get to Heaven on a wild card.



Covert - a learned as well as (in the US, anyway) a brave man. See
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Controversies_about_the_word_%22niggardly%22

"You hate to think you have to censor your language to meet other people’s lack of understanding" is a nice quote - which presumably doesn't apply in our wine community. I once heard exactly this misunderstanding take place in supposedly well informed company and felt compelled to commend the falsely injured party to a dictionary.

Sorry, going off on a tangent, but I do so enjoy proper English usage... :D

As for tipping, I take your point that the thrust of leaving a low tip is often wasted because one doesn't always communicate the reasons to the staff, and the staff on their side tend to the common human practice of blaming everyone but themselves. In the rare instance that I find myself leaving a low (or no) tip s a result of poor service, I unburden myself upon hearing the ubiquitous words oft spoken by the maitre d' "How was you dinner tonight?". Not really in expectation of any answer but "Very nice" and so surprised by my acceptance of their salutation as an invitation to actually respond. I know not whether my comments are then passed on to the errant server, but I suspect so.
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Re: Can you top this? Really Inept Wine Service!

Postby John Tomasso » Tue Feb 05, 2008 11:24 am

Re the automatic 18% gratuity on parties of (x) or more.....Jenise is indeed correct that these are the tables that most often undertip, and this policy evolved because of that.
It is worth mentioning that, in the event of subpar service, one can and should make an adjustment to that charge. Any decent house very likely wouldn't argue the point, if it were made to the manager in a polite and reasonable way.
I don't like the policy very much either, though I certainly understand it.
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Re: Can you top this? Really Inept Wine Service!

Postby Dale Williams » Tue Feb 05, 2008 12:08 pm

Bill Spohn wrote:As for tipping, I take your point that the thrust of leaving a low tip is often wasted because one doesn't always communicate the reasons to the staff, and the staff on their side tend to the common human practice of blaming everyone but themselves. In the rare instance that I find myself leaving a low (or no) tip s a result of poor service, I unburden myself upon hearing the ubiquitous words oft spoken by the maitre d' "How was you dinner tonight?". Not really in expectation of any answer but "Very nice" and so surprised by my acceptance of their salutation as an invitation to actually respond. I know not whether my comments are then passed on to the errant srever, but I suspect so.


Good tactic. I'll add that the one time in recent memory that I gave a low (12%) tip ( atrocious service - inattentive, wrong dishes, poor attitude), there was one of those "sign up for our mailing list/we'd love your comments" cards in bill folder, I listed what had happened on the card. Hopefully waiter didn't remove, but even if he did it clued him in on low tip. I have never tipped zero because generally tip pools include busboys etc who are not in control. As it lowers their take it seems illogical, but hard for me to justify nothing to people who work hard for low wages.
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Re: Can you top this? Really Inept Wine Service!

Postby Mike Brenton » Wed Feb 06, 2008 1:55 am

Last year Deborah and I were invited to dinner with another couple, trying a local Lansing restaurant for the first time. The owner knew our friends and stopped by to chat, commenting that he had been open almost a year and was surprised that he was not yet operating in the black. We ordered a bottle of wine, appetizers, salad and entree. Appetizers, salads and entrees all arrived within 5 minutes of each other and there literally was not enough room on the table to absorb the sudden influx of plates and bowls. With the bottle of wine about 1/4 full, the waiter came back to the table, quickly emptied the entire remaining bottle into my glass, then looked at the other three, saying "Shall I bring another bottle?" I'm not having a tough time figuring out why the place is not making a profit. Of course, since I immediately made a decision that I would never return, I might be speculating.
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Re: Can you top this? Really Inept Wine Service!

Postby Art Morris » Tue Feb 12, 2008 3:49 am

I shared Jenise's story with a friend who owns a wine shop. She had a story of her own. When she and her husband were dating, they went to a local fine-dining establishment, which by most accounts is one of the best in the area. She ordered a mid level Cab (couldn't recall which one after a few years) The server promptly returned w/a bottle of Columbia Crest. My friend said something to the effect of "What is that? That's not what I ordered? " The server's response was " Oh, we're out of THAT. This is the substitute Cab." I asked her how she handled that and she said they just looked at each other and howled and ordered Vodka drinks.(Good stuff- couldn't make it up)

CHEERS!

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