Handling a rude or uncaring server?


Founder of Cheftalk.com
Staff member
Joined Oct 5, 2001
I think we have all had our share of rude servers, and I was wondering how you handle it? In general I usually try to stay pretty calm, and just ask for what I need, but I make a point to let the chef know. In almost every instance that I have had really rude service I never went back to the restuarant.

Recently spoke to a good friend who ate at a long time favorite in Chicago. On the way out of the restuarant the server stopped him in the middle of the dinning room (really) and in a voice loud enough for everyone to hear asks "was there a problem with the service?" He said no and the server proceeded to ask "well then why did you leave me so a small tip" (remember this is in the middle of the restaurant and everyone can hear). My friend is a good tipper and told her that unless he made an error he doesn't think that he left a small tip. The server holds up the credit card slip and shows him the tip. My friend politely points out to the server that his name is Vince and the signature on the slip is Chris. It was another table. Funniest thing I ever heard.
Joined Aug 4, 2000
I refuse to leave a tip and notify one of the personnel of the rude server.

P.S. Nicko, I sent you an email to contact ALLIEDKENCO.COM for information on smokers.

Joined Aug 29, 2000
I talk to the foh manager. It's worked the few times I've had to do it. Otherwise, I leave a poor tip- usually 5-10%.
Joined Mar 4, 2000
One experience I recall was at a local Indian restaurant, my friend and I had just finished, and the waiter took our plates, quickly gave us the check, and told us to pay immediately because there were people waiting for our table. He didn't bother aking us if we were done. I had to tell the manager about that. We obviously left no tip,and never returned.


Staff member
Joined Oct 7, 2001
I will tell a manager about rude service, every time. If the waiter is really obnoxious then I will ask for a different server. I will, though, always leave a tip. If you don't then the waiter may just think that you are an idiot and have forgotten. Leave them $.50, that really sends a message to them, but make sure that you are punishing a waiter for his/her short comings, not for things that may be well beyond their control such as long waits for food, 86'ed items, etc.
Joined Jan 15, 2000
I generally talk to the manager when there's a significant problem with a server. MANY times, the manager's a knucklehead, too. I suppose I'm justifying bad behavior on the part of servers, but if there's no training or support from management, the job can be very frustrating.

As an FOH manager, I try to listen to each server at their tables, to read their body language,etc. You can tell when a server is taking an attitude to the table. I also look over charge tips during check-out. If a server is consistently being tipped at or below average, it's worth a conversation.

The tip anecdote is hilarious. That server should have been terminated.
Joined Jan 11, 2006
My husband always tells me to wait until after our meal to make any complaints so our food is not "de-filed" in any way. We usually just leave a poor tip although his idea of a bad tip and my idea of one are very different. He starts everyone off at 20% at goes down from there, I start at the bottom and they earn their increase upto 20%.
Joined Jan 3, 2002
That's an interesting observation. Until I read that, I didn't stop to consider that I approach tipping in a similar way as your husband. Thank you for triggering the realization.
Joined Jan 13, 2006
I seem to be a poor service magnet. Everyone I know comments on it, and thinks it's hilarious, particularly because of what I do for a living. I'm a pretty tolerant person when it comes down to the place being busy, but HONESTLY!!! I really have no patience for apathy. If you don't want to do the job... don't. Why do I get the server who drops my meal? Or seems to believe it's thier job to demonstrate our table's obvious inferiority to thier divine selves? (Why, yes, I DO actually know how to pronounce gnocchi..)
Why is the only bubblehead in the place who thinks it's ok to be incompetent if you're CUTE always assigned to my section? The stories I could tell...(stroking her grey beard...)
So What Do I Do?
Well, first of all, I don't believe it's a contest between myself and the server, nor am I being paid to train him/her... so I simply don't get into it with them. And the one time it was so bad that I didn't tip at all? <never a good idea to be rude to me...> I went to the hostess station at the front door on my way out and asked to see the manager. When he arrived, the conversation went sorta like this...
"We just finished our meal, and that young man over there was our server. I didn't tip him... and this is why....."
Joined Aug 15, 2003
If it happens EVERY time you go out, maybe you should take a look at yourself a bit more to see if there is anything you could be doing to "invoke" bad service. Maybe you are a mean person, or you give off a snobby attitude, I don't know, but if it is indeed every time maybe you should consider more than just the service staff.

And it's great that YOU know how to pronounce gnocci, but not everyone does. Maybe it was a pre-emptive strike on the servers part, because he/she got REALLY tired of people saying they want the sauteed gee-knock-ee.

For example, at the last place I worked we had this really great flavored iced tea we had brewed for the restaurant. It was an "apricot-chardonnay" tea. Really good. But it was the only kind we had (no "regular" iced tea). So, that means that every one that orderedit (unless I knew them) had to be told that our tea was flavored. So after about the 1000000th time someone said, "Oh my, your tea has wine it it?" Or some variation of that, I just started telling people that our tea was apricot flavored.

but hey, just some thoughts, not trying to offend you.
Joined Jan 13, 2006
Idle curiosity... what do you suggest about a person's personality if you are trying to offend them?
No, I'm not a mean or snobby person... actually, I usually lighten the moment when the server is just having an off day and shows some regret for the error. But the topic was rude, uncaring servers.
As for the pronounciation thing, well, yes, alot of people CAN'T pronounce menu items. But it's been my experience from both sides of the table that your tip is never positively affected by embarrassing your guest.

I suppose that's the joy of written posts... even smileys can't necessarily show tone of voice... my post was meant to be on the light-hearted side.
And yes, I am a poor service magnet. Most of the time it's pretty funny...yet I still feel that if you can't put your personal issues aside long enough to keep from ruining a guests experience, you probably shouldn't be serving.
Joined Aug 15, 2004
Quite a few years ago a co-worker friend and I went to a McDonald's for an early lunch. The girl behind the counter was totally rude, obnoxious, and when my friend mentioned he knew the owner, she said something along the lines of "I could care less, if you don't like the service here you don't have to come here".

So we sat down with our food, and the owner saw my friend, and immediately came over to gnosh with us. He actually asked how everything was, and I told him "The server could stand to improve her attitude some!" The owner looked at my friend Brad for confirmation, and Brad just nodded his head and said "It was pretty poor".

We never found out what happened after we left, but I'll never forget the looks on all of the servers behind the counter when they saw the
boss sitting with us!

Joined Feb 3, 2006
Iv found that better retuarants tend to have better waiters/waitresses that are willing to work hard for their tips.
Joined Nov 6, 2004
Hi Andrew :) Unfortunatly (for me ;) ) I've been finding the opposite is true for myself, in the Chicago area. Since the wife and I have two small children now we don't have as much time to go out to eat as we once did. So, we find a nice trade off is going to nicer establishments.

Most of the time we get good attentive service with pleasing attitudes. Now I'm not asking for much...I generally start (like craftynatalie's husband) at 20%. If there are no major snags during the meal...that's what they get. The waiter/waitress really has to deserve any less (although I may rethink this). If the waiter(ess) is missing throughout the meal or if they've got a major attitude problem I'll leave less than 10% tip. But they've really got to do bad.

I'm not a rich person by any means, but I do love to eat good food. Most times I recieve subpar service or food, I chalk it up to the experience. In the future I may not eat or recommend a certain restaurant. But that's usually the extent of it. I really don't want to sit there and listen to a manager make excuses for the meal I had. I had my experience and now it's over...I'd like to have a cup of coffee now and move on. (As I said) Perhaps I'll rethink this and my tipping method in the future. But most pplaces would still get a decent (20%) tip.

Back on topic:crazy: . I've been eating more and more in downtown Chicago area...and I've noticed just horrible attitudes there. I'm beginning to think it may be something inherent in Chicago dining. This may be a small exageration of my recent experiences, but it does seem like it may be establishing a new trend.

For my birthday, the wife and I usually go out to Le Francais(in Wheeling). But this year we're going to visit Tru. I'm hoping that the poor Chicago service trend has ended. Which...(just guessing) I'm sure it has. I'm looking forward to eating at Tru. Although...;)

Joined Nov 6, 2004
Thanks for the link Mezzaluna. That thread was actually part of the reason I decided to visit Tru opposed to some others :) Thanks!

Joined Oct 12, 2004
I had a bad experience the other day, not with my server but with another. We were eating and drinking with some friends and had paid our bill. We sat there for another 20 minutes talking (this is a bar/restaurant). We made sure people weren't waiting for a table. As we got up to leave, my friend said "ready to go?" A server was walking by and commented, "It's about f&*(ing time..." I couldn't actually believe what I was hearing. Anyway, I had had more beers than would serve me in a confrontation so I e-mailed the place the next day. Great response from them and two free meals coming but I won't go back to that location again.

But normally I will just adjust my tip down from 20% and not go back. Even in Pittsburgh, which isn't a food mecca, there are plenty of quality restaurants to choose from .

As for Chicago, we went to Charlie Trotters last summer. The service was excellent. It didn't matter that we told the sommelier we were on a budget for wine, she was very helpful and friendly. Our entire experience was great.
Joined Feb 4, 2006
She would never tip unless it was extreme service. Her comment about it was: "I can at least expect that my food will get from the kitchen to my table, or I can go get it myself."

What happened to 10% tip?

There is one exception: when a "WAITER" waits. The description is: 'wait'. Is attentive to the room, his or her tables. Waits for input. All you have to do is glance at your server and they come to your table to find out what you need. They make the dining experience a "want to do it again" thing. That's what hospitality is all about.

Somebody is mediocre or bad? Do you really believe they deserve a tip? It's reward for being a doof. Maybe if people like that don't get tips maybe they'll get a clue.

I agree about the bad service magnets. I've had similar problems and I'm one of the nicest people you could meet unless you give me BAD SERVICE or a bad attitude! (LOL) Then you get a penny on the table under an upside down full water glass.

If you are in the service hospitality industry I don't give a s*** if you are on your period, broke up with your boyfriend or girlfriend, got a parking ticket, broke a nail, in the middle of menopause, tired of the same questions about tea, or are just tired of dealing with someone wanting an extra serving of mayo. THAT'S YOUR JOB! If you can't handle being attentive and personable then go do something else.

You will give me the extra pickle, you will smile and bring coffee and offer drinks and make the experience special. I can get all the grumpy I can stand making food at home for my kids. If I go out I want someone else to bring my food from the kitchen and someone else washing the dishes and do it nicely.

I'm a firm believer in doing what you love. Even if it's not what you ultimately want to do, at least like it while you do it. Or if you're a server, at least ACT like you like it. Like waiters in NYC working to support their acting career.

Joined Dec 16, 2004
April, You just hit 10 on my top ten list of real people. God Bless you !!!

I am one that does not put up with any bull. Straight forward and truthful. Some folks can't stand the truth because they haven't chosen to deal with it and it just keeps pushing them around. Ha Ha Ha ! ! !:lol:
Top Bottom