Food: Restaurant: Money
Tip status indicator   (+1, -4)  [vote for, against]
Let the wait staff know how they are doing.

A device on the table at the restaurant to indicate how the service is progressing throughout the meal. A small meter, slide scale or the like would suffice.

45 minutes since we ordered? down it goes. Water refill without asking? up a notch.

At the end of the meal it comes as no surprise to the waiter. (note, I don't tip as a matter of course, they have to do more than just bring the food)
-- rbl, Mar 12 2002

:-) Thanks!
Michael Lynn's old study on the effects of smiley faces found that females increase their tips, but males lower them. (This quote unfortunately doesn't list the percentages.) [jutta, Mar 12 2002]

Center For Hospitality Research http://www.hotelsch...r/research/inbrief/
A couple of abstracts of papers published at the Cornell Center For Hospitality Research that Michael Lynn works at, many of them about how to increase your tips. (Crouch while introducing the menu, and spontaeously give two pieces of candy. Oh, and maybe good service.) [jutta, Mar 12 2002]

How to Get Good Service
A neat little essay. [Maicheline, Oct 17 2004]

Funny, I bet I tip less for a smiley face. Bring me water and I am thrilled!
-- rbl, Mar 12 2002

Not tipping as a matter of course is cruel and unusual punishment. Some waitpersons work primarily for tips. Some waitpersons work *only* for tips. Even if you don't leave much, you should leave something.

That said, wouldn't it be easier (and more honest) to come out and tell the waitperson any complaints you might have so they can be corrected?
-- phoenix, Mar 12 2002

I'm not educating a wait staff on my dime.
Put me in the cheap seats.
-- reensure, Mar 12 2002

'Even if you don't leave much, you should leave something.'
Why, if all I'm getting is what I'm paying for? I tip for better service than I might expect, for anything above and beyond, but the waiter's salary is not my problem. You don't tip the guy at the news-stand when you buy a paper, you don't tip your dentist (do you?).
-- angel, Mar 12 2002

I tip where it's customary to tip. My papers are delivered (and I tip the delivery person). I tip bellhops. I tip the person who brings my car around. I tip the coat check clerk. It is not customary (to the best of my knowledge) to tip my dentist.
-- phoenix, Mar 12 2002

Not all of us are assertive enough to bring things up as they occur. I was looking for a more subtle way to indicate the service level, kind of like a service mood ring or something. In entire agreemant re tipping or not, if you are working only for tips and doing a crappy job, you need to reevaluate your job. We never order alcohol, or drinks at all, as soon as you ask for water the service level drops like a rock.
-- rbl, Mar 12 2002

Then set it up as a group indicator. A light that gets brighter as more people input that they are satisfied with the service. When you walk in, you'll have an immediate indication as to the overall quality of service as well as which area(s) of the restaurant are being served better than others. (Never happen, but this is the HB)
-- phoenix, Mar 12 2002

I think it would be highly inadvisable to let staff know that you were not going to tip before you got all your food for hygiene reasons.
-- IvanIdea, Mar 13 2002

[bliss], suggest it, I'll vote for it. Not sure how it would work though, silicone sensing device?
-- rbl, Mar 14 2002

I believe this idea has been explored before, as if I recall correctly there is an episode of Third Rock From the Sun where Dick goes into a restaurant and places a stack of one dollar bills on the table, telling him that this is his tip. As his server slowly dissatisfies him, he removes the money from the tip pile. A cruder form of your idea as the server immediately sees how much money he is losing.
-- cottongin, Apr 30 2002

I don't recall that episode of "Third Rock" but I saw someone actually do that. I had a neighbor that put a stack of dollar bills (don't remember how many) on the table and told the waitperson that every time his iced tea glass got empty, 1 bill would be removed from the stack. We seemed to get good service the one time I saw this technique in action.
-- half, Apr 30 2002

If you think some kind of a meter (accompanied by the threat of reduced wages) is going to get you better service, try waiting tables for a few months. You will discover that the most reliable way to get good service is to be polite, friendly, well-mannered, and respectful of your server, to ask for what you want and to speak up when something is wrong. It's that simple. Someone showing their ill will with a stack of dollars implies that their server is Pavlov's dog; I'd rather they keep their money and I'll spend my time with pleasanter customers.

As for not tipping: In the U.S, it is not acceptable to skip a tip completely (called "stiffing"). Servers are usually not paid a minimum wage; instead there is an hourly allotment (something like $1.85, depending on the state) which covers FICA, SS, and state taxes. A waiter's tips are their wages, and constitute all they will take home. For those who ask "Why should I tip if all I'm getting is what I'm paying for?" : That's not what's happening in a restuarant. Your bill covers only the cost of your food products, kitchen labor and the restaurant's overhead. The servers are not included in that equation; therefore, the cost of the food and drink is less than what it would be if their wages were also coming out of that price. Therefore, in countries where tipping is NOT customary, waiters are paid a regular wage, and dining out is more expensive item per item. Here, waiters get the tip for managing your service, timing the meal, informing the kitchen and bar of what you want, and bringing it to you. If they do those things, they are doing their job and deserve to be paid for it. Anything above and beyond that is gravy. The reality is, waiters give their best service to those who earn it by being humane, respectful, and kind.
-- Maicheline, Jan 22 2003

I would never use this device, because I prefer not to have the waiter spit in the soup.
-- dbsousa, Jan 23 2003

In response to [Maicheline]'s "For those who ask" (for it was I), as far as I'm concerned, what appears on my bill covers everything I've received, including the establishment's costs and profit. If the servers' wages are not covered, how am I to know what else isn't covered? If they tell me ahead of my ordering that the price I will be charged will not cover the servers' wages because they don't get any, I will immediately leave, and if the servers have any sense they'll do the same.
-- angel, Jan 26 2003

In that case, in the US, you will need to stop eating out, because this is true in just about every restaurant that exists. Not paying servers wages is not something exotic; it's standard practice in all but fast-food restuarants.

And it sounds as though you think this is a bad deal for servers! Not really. MOST people tip well. It's a good gig, great for students and moms and anyone needing a second job. Anyway, restaurants are plentiful and good servers are scarce. Good servers will leave a place with bad tippers to work in places where tips are good - that's one reason low tipping is going to backfire!
-- Maicheline, Feb 04 2003

Someone please list for me who all I got to tip. I'm not talking NYC, here. but I reaize that you guys there are in the vanguard. I mean which delivery people can I NOT tip?
-- flerper, Apr 13 2003

I live in Kazakhstan, and I can tell you that service everywhere in the ex-USSR is absolutely awful. Tipping is not customary here, and I think that's a big reason why the service sucks so bad. On top of that, customers are obligated to pay a 10-15% service charge, none of which, I'm told, goes to the server. Merit-based tipping for service gives the server the incentive to treat customers with more respect and care, in my opinion.
-- okroshka, Jun 14 2004

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