Sunday, October 24, 2010

Tips Tips Tips

A while ago - friends were visiting from Toronto. We found ourselves in Old Montreal for a quick bite to eat. The experience we had at a particular restaurant really soured us. Read my exchange with the owner of the place:

October 10th, 2010
Hi -

I brought some out of town friends to your restaurant in Old Montreal for a bite yesterday afternoon (Sat. Oct 9th - around 3:30 pm). First time we'd been there. I had paid and left, waiting for my friend outside.
She came out and told me when she was paying, the waitress would not give her her change back, saying, "I'm sorry I can't do that. You have to tip 15%". My friend had every intention of doing so - she wanted to get her change back first and then give the tip from that. She tipped and came out flabberghasted. Not to mention a little embarrassed.

Never in my life have I heard of wait staff demanding a tip. I've heard of gratuity being added to a bill for large groups, but that 15% has always been based on the standard of service. Furthermore, we ALWAYS leave the standard 15% (and more if it was exceptional service). It's just that being asked for it is extremely bad form. Holding back a customer's change is unbelievably unprofessional. Had I heard this conversation, I would have taken my tip back based on that alone.

The entire incident really soured me on ever going back or taking friends there - it was such a surprise and honestly, really off-putting. Are you aware that this is going on? Is this standard practice for your wait staff?

Thanks for taking the time to read this.

October 22, 2010

dear Nat
sorry for the problem and the delay.first let me tell some facts:
- waiters pay taxes on tips wheter they get tip or not.let say they sell 1000 they have to declare between 80 and 150 in income whether the client gives it or not
-sometimes a north american gives 35% tip and it is fine for him and a table of french people spend 100$ , give 25 cent of tip and think they are so cool
So my hard working waiter are stucked between those 2 worlds
and they have to pay their bills also
So let me invite you and your friends next time you are in old montreal

October 24

Thanks for the explanation - though, having friends in the service industry, I do know about the tax on tips. It sucks, I agree. And I definitely feel for wait staff. They work hard. And no - not everyone tips appropriately.

My point was the poor way in which it was handled. Physically holding back a customer's money, saying "I'm sorry, I can't do that. You have to pay 15% tip." It was just very bad customer service - especially to someone who had never been to your restaurant (and who had planned to pay the tip, too!). The 15% should at least be indicated on the menu as a 'suggestion' with an explanation like the one you have just given me. Then I think more people would be apt to understand.

Personally, I always appreciate and reward good service with at least 15% and above. But the fact that this waitress right out demanded 15% was very poor form. Had it been me, I would have taken back my tip then and there. It soured me on ever going back - or bringing friends to be quite honest.

But thank you for replying - I do appreciate the time you took to do that. I just felt you should know how it felt from a first-time customer perspective.


Misster Kitty said...

So uh. where was this place? I want to know so I can avoid ever having the misfortune in going there.

shan said...

I had a similar experience (also Old Port) with family from Australia. I had intended to slip the waitress some extra tip so as not to embarrass my uncle who was paying until she announced to him that he had not sufficiently tipped. I get that they pay taxes on their tips, but I do know that in general most staff come out on top financially. If you are losing money come tax time you are either not working in the right restaurant or not doing your job very well.