I can count on my right hand the number of times I’ve left 0 tip. Last night was one of those times.
We had a group of 12 people for a bachelor party in Montreal and went to dinner at a great restaurant with solid food. We had 2 servers who were doing a solid job until the kitchen made a mistake and they didn’t know how to respond.
Sadly how you respond when things go wrong is the biggest indicator of performance, both in being a server and in other roles in life.
The kitchen made a mistake and instead of Prosciutto and Capers pizzas they made BBQ Chicken pizzas. A not out of the blue mistake that could be filled. Our server let us know but the only solution he offered was to add the other toppings on top of a BBQ chicken pizza.
Not only would that taste horrible, it was the only solution he offered at all. We had to request a menu and provide an alternative solution which isn’t crazy but when we were trying to find a solution the waiter told my female friend to ‘Calm Down!’ we almost lost it right there.
However we held it together, ordered an alternative and ate away. But when the bill came they charged us for both the pizza and the alternative entree to fix the item and an extra drink.
Having worked in a restaurant I knew this wasn’t right and got up to speak to the manager who dealt with the situation quickly and professionally however I felt strongly that the ridicule and attitude the server presented didn’t warrent a tip so I didn’t give him one.
This view was reinforced when, upon exiting the restaurant the server came down to pull me away from our group and ask why I hadn’t given a tip. I informed him that he knew exactly why and he proceeded to defend himself.
I try to look for lessons in everything and in this case I recalled a principle that I was taught on a campaign trail as a piece of advice I’ve articulated to staff on multiple occasions. When (not if) you screw up, come to your manager with the details of what happened and some proactive options to improve it.
The skill of trying to resolve things that go wrong in a helpful manner is just that, a skill that needs to be learned. I’ve had good teachers over the years but am in no way perfect at this. I have learned that when things go wrong, trying to solve them by myself usually just makes the problem worse though.
And so while I am sorry that server didn’t get a tip from me, I am glad I had a valuable lesson reinforced for me.