In this industry, the labour force relies on tipping to supplement what is usually meagre wages. As a customer the tip is not, nor should it ever be obligatory. If the service is good obviously a tip is a great thank-you for service provided. If the service is poor, or substandard then a tip should not be offered.
In most cases servers usually are at bottom of the wage structure. The harder they work, the more tips they generally make. As a member of the noble profession I tend to be a good tipper. But I tip based on quality. The server who makes sure my glass is never empty and my appetite is slaked generally gets a great tip. What I cannot stand is a server who is not doing their job. Yes, we all begin as newbies but if you are not cut out for the job find another because the tips will not be coming your way. Spilling drinks, or food on customers is a no-no. Joking with customers you have never met about punching them out is a no-no. Bringing the the wrong drink and not offering to bring the correct one is a no-no. Having a customer receive a less than satisfactory meal is a no-no.
A tip is reward for service above and beyond expectation. Bringing a customer a glass or water or refilling their water glass is a perfect example. It does not really cost the customer anything . It does not cost the establishment anything either. So it is a win-win situation. The customer feels he is being serviced and the server appears to be going out of their way.
There is no formula for tipping. Tips should be commiserate to your degree of satisfaction. Just remember the server who served you is not a machine – they are a human being. We all make mistakes and so the odd mistake should be forgiven. Repetitive errors however are different concern.
This past week, twice I found myself in a situation where the service was deplorable. The one situation involved a rookie, the other situation involved a veteran of the service trenches. The rookie deserved a second chance, the veteran had no excuse. Either way I was not in charge of the bill but based on how much was left I knew my dining companions were not pleased with the service experience. Hopefully the veteran realizes her errors as much as the rookie does.