At lunch today we had a less than perfect experience. Four of us from work went to one of our favorite restaurants. The waiter was new. My friend Dave had a coupon for $10 off. He carefully confirmed its validity with our waiter. Our food took unusually long to come and when it did, it was the wrong order. The waiter had heard salad special instead of salmon special (not once but twice). Neither Dave nor I wanted to wait for our original order so we ate the salad. it was OK. Then it took unreasonably long to get the cheque. Then it turned out that the coupon only worked if you bought two beverages. So we paid for two, it was still worth it. Then Dave’s coupon was incorrectly applied, twice. I think our aggravation was compounded not only by the cascading problems but by the lack of the-customer-is-always-right gestures.
I tend to tip quite well, typically 20% for normal service. After the debacle at lunch we were discussing how much to tip. One of us was fuming and didn’t want to tip at all. We ended up tipping 10% after the coupon had been subtracted from the total. On one hand I felt bad because I know how much waiters depend on tips but on the other hand, I really felt that even 15% would be too high. I’m rethinking how much I will tip in the future. The maximum will still be 20% but I’m going to save that for truly exceptional service. At the low end, below 10% is for willfully bad service. In between there are ample opportunities for me to exercise my mental math.