Bad tippers have a special place reserved in hell.
A lot of people don’t understand exactly why a bad tip is so…well, bad.
When you give a bad tip to a server (or no tip at all), you often cost them money. A server generally has to “tip out” a percentage of his sales to the bartender and bussers at the end of the night. I personally have to give 1% of my sales (regardless of my tips) to the bartender, 2% to the bussers, and 1% to the food runner if there is one (a food runner “runs” the food from the kitchen to the tables). So if I sell $500 worth of food in a night, I am required to tip out $20, no matter what my tips were.
So, lets say I averaged 20% tips that night. That’s $100 before the tip out, so I take home $80. But here’s where it gets fun. Let’s say I averaged 20% on all my tables except one, which stiffed me. If their tab was, say, $150 (which is common at the restaurant I work in), I still have to tip out $6 on that one table. I had to pay money to serve them. So when I would have had a $30 tip and could take home $24 from that tip, I lose $6 instead. Now instead of taking home $80 I’m taking home $50 ($350 x 20% is $70, minus the $20 tip out on the total sales of $500).
In the US, 15-20% is standard for restaurant servers. I know, it used to be 10%. It isn’t anymore. A 10% tip is not acceptable unless service was poor. It seems like a lot of people here in Texas think 10% is still a good tip. Or my favorite, that $5 or $10 is a good tip (regardless of the total bill). Sure, $10 is good on a $50 tab. It isn’t good on a $150 tab. Keep tip outs in mind. It’s a percentage of your tab, not a percentage of the tips I made.
(So you know I’m not talking out of my ass about any of this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tipping#United_States )
And by the way, “poor service” does not mean “my food came out wrong,” or “it took too long.” That isn’t your server’s fault, it’s the kitchen’s fault. If you feel your food is taking too long, tell your server, and he should be able to go to the kitchen manager and make him aware that the meal is taking too long.
If your food isn’t cooked right, tell your server and he will take care of it immediately. It doesn’t take 15 minutes to re-cook your meal becuase re-cooks are done “on the fly,” meaning “I know that steak is supposed to go to table 15, but I need it NOW for table 26.”
It isn’t a server’s fault if something is wrong with your food, and if you make him aware of the problem he should bust his ass to make it right. And most servers will, because they know that if they don’t, they lose money. If something happens that is the fault of your server (he neglects your table for an extended period of time, has a bad attitude, takes too long bringing or refilling drinks, etc.), then sure, leave a bad tip. Or better yet, talk to a manager. You may be able to get a discount on your meal, or a free dessert.