For those of you who have lousy bosses/managers who won’t stick up for their employees, be advised that there are some out there who will. My #1 rule when I was a manager is that the customer is always right until they attack or belittle one of my employees in a personal manner, and then they’ve crossed the line so the gloves are off. It was honestly satisfying when called to a customer/employee argument to learn that the customer had used profanity or said something racist, because I knew the company would support however I handled things and the way it went down. The boss in the second story agrees.
Just tip your damn servers
“One place where I was working, we had a table of 18 people who took over the back dining room. They had made a reservation and had a few requests, including making sure that we didn’t have just one waitress for the whole group. They were also informed of the 18% automatic gratuity for parties over six people.
“When they arrived everything was fine, the waitresses basically each took one half of the group and we just made sure everything came out together. Now, a table of 18 would have been easily handled by either of these waitresses, and typically we’d just have her just have the one table, though it wasn’t uncommon to start giving the waitress a couple more tables after the entree was served. But with a split table of 18, I just seated the waitresses in the regular rotation.
“About 15 minutes after they sat down, a woman got up and asked to speak to the manager, who was still there but getting ready to leave so I just told her I was the night manager. She said, ‘Excuse me, I’m the organizer of this event.’ (The organizer of this event? Eighteen people having dinner at a restaurant is an event?)
“‘Hi, I’m Jon, what can I do for you?’
“‘Well, I had requested when we planned this event that we have two waitresses available for the table.’
“‘Yes, I took your reservation, is everything OK? I think both Katie and Amanda were handling your party.’
“‘They did, and everything is fine, but I see they are working other tables as well.’
“‘Sure, but they will keep an eye on your table, too. I’ve only seated them with customers right next to the private dining room and they know to check on you regularly.’
“‘I had assumed we would have exclusivity.’ She used that word with a little bit of emphasis.
“‘Sorry, no, I know I we didn’t talk about that on the phone. But the waitresses work on tips and it’s really not fair to them for me to not let them have any more tables. I promise they won’t make your party wait for anything.’
“She didn’t really argue much past making her point, and I should point out that except for this exchange, up to this point, the party had been fantastic. Couldn’t have been nicer: ordered real meals, appetizers, drinks. No complaints, no weird substitutions, and they were running up a nice bill.
“So, after desserts and coffees were all served, I combined the two tabs into one, added the gratuity, and they dropped the check. And, of course, there we had a problem. The gratuity, which was discussed on the phone and printed on the bottom of every page of the menu, was a surprise.
“‘I had assumed that you were only putting a surcharge on if we had exclusivity of the waitresses.’ There was that word again. She wasn’t even using it right.
“‘No, it’s just for any large party. Any party more than six people.’
“‘I don’t think it’s fair to charge that without exclusivity.’ OK, third time with that word. I was done with normal customer service.
“Their bill was around $700, and I think the gratuity added $120 to that, and split between two waitresses, $60 apiece, minus 10% tip-out for the bussers, all of $54 for a table that was there for three hours. Yeah, I don’t think she was getting her exclusivity on for that. And the whole party of people was watching this conversation.
‘”OK, no problem, I can take the gratuity off.’
“‘You just have to promise me you’re going to tip more than 18%.’
“‘Because if I take it off and you tip less, it’s like I took money out of the waitresses’ pockets, and they are fierce and dangerous waitresses and will hurt me.’ I should point out that I was bigger than both of them put together.
“‘But what if I don’t want to tip 18%?’
“‘How much did you want to tip?’ I’m very aware of how inappropriate this is, the whole exchange, but I should also point out that the restaurant had recently been sold and at the end of the year it was being completely rebranded and I was out of a job, so what could really happen?
“‘No, that’s too low. How about 25%? It’s almost Christmas, and everyone likes presents!’
“‘I thought 15% was standard?’
“‘Standard-ish, for poor to average service, but you had two waitresses and everyone liked them, right? Good service? How about we meet in the middle at 20%? That’s only like 20 bucks extra.’
“‘You know what? You’re right! Just leave the gratuity on, that’s fine!’
“She paid cheerfully, possibly thinking that she got one over on me by just paying the automatic gratuity. And as the party shuffled off, one of the guys in the party gave an extra 10 bucks to each waitress, telling them that they deserved the 20%.” — Jon August
That’s not where cones go
“Many, many years ago I worked my first job at the local Dairy Queen throughout my high school years. Our clientele included anyone that lived in our tiny Midwest town of 3,500, plus anyone driving through.
“I was responsible for taking orders at the till this particular night. I took an ice cream order from a normal-looking 35ish man (it’s hard to say, since I was a teenager and everyone over 35 looked old to me). He calmly asked for a chocolate-dipped cone. So I promptly responded with the price: ‘OK, great, that’ll be a $1.80, please.’
“He stared at me and offered no response for an uncomfortably long amount of time. I repeated the amount with the sweetest 16-year-old awkward smile I could muster.
“He stared at me again, then looked up and then back down and loudly exclaimed, ‘You want me to pay right now?!’ We were busy enough that no other employees had noticed this (they were still finishing the prior order). He then added, ‘At most food establishments, you eat, and then pay for your food afterwards! Are you worried I’m NOT going to pay?’
“At this point I had no idea what to do. I was 16. I didn’t really know how to stand up to a complete stranger like this. I just squeaked out a little nervous laugh and said, ‘But sir, this is fast food. You pay, then get your food to eat in or take home.’
“He again stared at me and then angrily stated, ‘You think this is funny? You think I’m kidding? That I’m messing with you? Well, I’d like to take that cone and shove it up your ass if I could.’
“My emotional brakes came on hard. I was thinking, ‘WTF?! Who talks to a teenage girl that way?’
“Right then a co-employee hands me the cone he had ordered. I took it and said back to my customer, ‘What?! You mean this cone? You want to do WHAT with this cone?’
“I rotated my arm behind me and dropped it in the garbage, then looked up and gave him that sweet, awkward teenage smile. He stammered and started to say something to my manager, who had appeared at the end of the counter. I panicked.
“My manager interrupted and said, ‘Sir, no one talks to my employees that way. Please see yourself out and have a great day.'” — Janine Liles