Saturday, October 18, 2008

I Did Not Tip My Waitress

Today we had lunch at a local pizza place that we very much enjoy. It was an ordinary fall day, a bit brisk outside but with plenty of sun. We had been out doing a little bit of shopping and wanted a bite to eat, something inexpensive but delicious. It should have been a usual afternoon, like many others before. But it was not.

Today, I did not tip my waitress. That is an extremely rare occurrence and I cannot remember that last time I did that. Usually, I tip at least 20% where ever I go. I understand that servers have a difficult job and that sometimes mistakes are made. I can accept a mistake, though I expect the mistake not to be compounded. Most often when a server makes a mistake, they are especially attentive, to make up for the error and to ensure everything else goes well. But rarely, you get a server who makes an error and then just keeps making it worse.

The lunch started off ok as we received our drinks and placed our order. And then we waited and waited. About 20 minutes passed, our drinks were nearly empty and our waitress had never returned to our table. People who had sat down after us were starting to receive their pizzas. We flagged down our waitress and asked about our order. She then went to check on it and returned to tell us that she had failed to properly place the order. She stated our pizzas were be put on now and she would tell the manager about it. She also seemed oblivious to the fact our drinks were almost finished.

The restaurant was not busy. There were maybe 12 tables, divided between two servers. The waitress should have noticed we had not received our food. She should have been keeping an eye on whether we needed new beverages or not. If this had been her sole mistake, I still would have tipped her.

About 10-15 minutes later, our pizzas were brought to us by one of the cooks. Our waitress had not returned to our table. In fact, she seemed to be avoiding walking by or looking at our table. We had to flag her down again to get more drinks. She did not return again until there was but a single piece of pizza left on our plates to ask how everything was. Any other waitress who had made such a mistake would have been maybe overly attentive, to make up for the error. She would have made sure we had enough to drink, seen if we needed anything else, to make sure the pizza was cooked right, etc. To be largely ignored by our waitress after her first mistake was completely wrong.

The management did not charge us for one of the pizzas due to the server's error. That was very nice of them. But it did not excuse the server's continued neglect of us. I did speak with the manager before we left and told her of what happened. I also explained that I would not be tipping the waitress as I did not feel I even had the minimal of service.

This is the first time I have ever had service issues at this restaurant. And I do believe this was an isolated incident and not something that is becoming the norm. The food was excellent, as usual, and I will return. Though I won't sit in that server's section again. Yet it is incidents like this that can turn people away from restaurants, especially if it were the first time they were visiting.

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