Spinoff- What constitutes "good" service? What does "poor" service look like? What about "great" service? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 93 Old 12-30-2008, 06:44 PM - Thread Starter
 
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So the tipping thread
http://www.mothering.com/discussions....php?t=1018339

got me thinking- How do you determine what is poor service, good service, and great service?

And how much would you tip for each?

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#2 of 93 Old 12-30-2008, 11:33 PM
 
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Poor service: the server is either rude or non-communicative. The server doesn't check back to see how the food is, make sure we have enough silverware, or keep drinks filled. A server who isn't familiar with the menu, can't/won't give suggestions or is unwilling to ask the kitchen to verify ingredients is a poor server. Extra poor service would be a server who spills something on you and then expects you to clean it up.

Good/average service: the server is moderately friendly. The server keeps an eye on the table and stops back to make sure we're doing okay. The server responds appropriately to questions about the menu.

Great service: I often feel like we've gotten great service when the server is friendly and helpful. A great server engages us and/or our children in coversation. A great server anticipates our needs by bringing drinks, napkins, bread, etc. before we ask for it. A great server is eager to discuss the menu and recommend food and wine based on our prefereneces.

I tip 15-20% for poor service, 20+% for good service and 25+% for great service.

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#3 of 93 Old 12-30-2008, 11:48 PM
 
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IME Poor service would include:

Being seated in the back of the restraunt, and waiting for someone to come take your order while other better customers come in after you have there entire meal, pay and leave. (By "better" I mean none of them were any other color than white, none had hair of unnatural colors like blue, none had parts of their heads shaved, none wore anachy symbols, none had pircings anywhere visible except for their earlobes, etc.) I'm guessing that when we finally left the waitress complained that she "knew the minute she saw us that we would stiff her on the tip."

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#4 of 93 Old 12-31-2008, 12:01 AM
 
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Poor: almost empty restaurant, lots of servers, and it takes 20 minutes for the server to get to the table with no apology or explanation. Doesn't know basic things about the menu, like "do the nachos come with ground beef" and doesn't offer to find out, fails to bring water refills in a timely manner--which is a sign that they aren't coming by often enough for things like asking for another napkin, makes you feel worse than when you came in

Good: not the above, makes you feel the same as when you came in or a bit better because hey, food.

Great: Good, plus, Anticipates things such as bringing extra napkins to family with children, moving the table to give more room for a baby in a sling, ninja water refills (they come and refill the water before you've really noticed you're out, but somehow you never see it happen), makes you feel better than when you came in.

I tip the same for all of the above, but never go back to Poor.
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#5 of 93 Old 12-31-2008, 12:18 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Breathless Wonder View Post
So the tipping thread
http://www.mothering.com/discussions....php?t=1018339

got me thinking- How do you determine what is poor service, good service, and great service?

And how much would you tip for each?
Poor service is when they bring out all the food for the adults and make you wait an extra five minutes before they bring out the food for the kids. I have had this happen more than once at several different places. Or when they forgot part of your order and put you at the end of the line to "reorder" it. And it is ALWAYS the kids when this happens.

Oh and please.. when DH says he is a vegetarian don't tell me you have fish.
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#6 of 93 Old 12-31-2008, 01:07 AM
 
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I have really only had bad service twice. One waitress obviously was put out to be handed another table, and even though we are exceptionally easy customers to please, she did lots of eye-rolling and heavy sighing. The other time we were ignored while the waiter danced attendance at another table that was ordering more expensive items. That table stiffed him on the tip, though, so maybe he learned a lesson.

I always get at least good service whenever we eat at a restaurant. Drink refills are timely, conversation is pleasant, we don't wait too long for the check-but we aren't made to feel like we need to hurry out, either.

We have 2 restaurants that we are "regulars" at, and we always get great service. We are regularly given a glass of wine or a dessert on the waitperson. The staff knows our tastes and steers us away from anything they think is not up to scratch. When the lasagne comes out, our slices tend to be a little bigger than those at other tables. The waiter lets our daughter practice her Italian with him. I get the feeling at these restaurants that our waitperson is genuinely happy to see us and wants us to have a great evening.
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#7 of 93 Old 12-31-2008, 01:09 AM
 
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Poor Service: Barely acknowledges us, unfriendly or acts annoyed by our questions, does not check back to see if anything is needed, makes us track them down to get more water, etc. Does not know very much about food on menu.

Good Service: Friendly, knowledgable about menu, ablel to answer questions and doesn't act put out when asked. Checks back regularly to see if we need anything, refills water often (this is important bc I usually drink about 4-5 glasses of water during meal).

Great service: Server goes out of their way to make us comfortable, is very friendly and helpful. Talks to my kids and listens to them about what they want to eat. Knowledgable about menu. Checks back often to see if we need anything and refills water or asks to refill before I even think to track them down.

I do tip according to service. If someone is a poor server I will give about 10%, nothing for those that are rude (this has only ever happened once), and about 20% for good service, 35% or more depending on situation for great service. My dh is a generous tipper so he usually takes care of it and it is more than I would tip. We have occasionally gotten some excellent servers and made sure to tip them very well.

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#8 of 93 Old 12-31-2008, 01:16 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Okay- what about an "overly attentive" server?

The one that come by so often it totally interrupts the meal. Who gives the kids another soda when the first one is 3/4 full still, and steals your plate when you're not looking, even though you weren't even half done yet. What do you do about that? How much do you tip?

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#9 of 93 Old 12-31-2008, 01:26 AM
 
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Great: Good, plus, Anticipates things such as bringing extra napkins to family with children, moving the table to give more room for a baby in a sling, ninja water refills (they come and refill the water before you've really noticed you're out, but somehow you never see it happen), makes you feel better than when you came in.

I tip the same for all of the above, but never go back to Poor.
The bolded part made me crack up! I wait tables in an upscale place and this is totally me. It is my personal pet peeve when my busser doesn't fill or touch off the glasses on our tables. If they can't do it, then I certainly make sure that I do. I'm anal about it but I can do it without seeming like Annoying Helicopter Server. It's in his job description and part of what I tip him/her out for so if they can't keep on top of the water situation I become . For the love of god, just keep the glasses full and I won't care where they are or what they do for the rest of the night!
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#10 of 93 Old 12-31-2008, 01:36 AM
 
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In a restaurant, poor service is ignoring us for 20 minutes after we are seated and not even bothering to take our drink order.

Poor service is not bothering to check to see if we need drink refills, bringing out some of the food and forgetting the rest, not being available so we can request the check, spending too much time yacking with coworkers when you have customers waiting, inefficiency or obviously goofing off while orders cool in a window or customers are ignored (if I see someone in the weeds who is trying I cut them slack) eye rolling or sneering, changing the muzak to a hip hop radio station because the boss is gone.

In a bar, I always tip on the first drink. If a bartender is foolish enough to ignore me subtly holding my money in my right hand while he or she flirts with the groupies trying to scam free drinks, it's a mistake. If he or she also doesn't remember my drink the 2nd or 3rd time I come back, they are not half the bartender I was and I'm much less likely to tip more than 15% if I tip again, which is their loss because I rarely tip less than 30% at the bar if they're any good at their job. I always remembered my tipping customers' drinks, even the first time I waited on them.

Personally, I think waiting tables is much more difficult, and as long as a waitress/waiter is not rude and doesn't willfully ignore us, they get tipped. I also know people who wait tables are at the mercy of chefs/cooks and can have their whole rhythm thrown off by one table, where the bartender usually sets their own pace, so a UAV bartender is much more likely to lose a tip than a waitress who is in the weeds. I can tell the difference.

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#11 of 93 Old 12-31-2008, 01:36 AM
 
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Okay- what about an "overly attentive" server?

The one that come by so often it totally interrupts the meal. Who gives the kids another soda when the first one is 3/4 full still, and steals your plate when you're not looking, even though you weren't even half done yet. What do you do about that? How much do you tip?
My base tip is about 15% - less if service really sucks. With the helicopter staff, I won't tip more than 15%, unless we were complete nightmares (kids made a huge mess, someone in our party changed their mind six times - stuff like that). Hanging on a customer so that they can't talk to their tablemate(s) and/or taking their food/drink before they're finished isn't good service.

Great service is hard to define, but it involves a friendly vibe. I also know I've had great service when I realize that I didn't have to ask for anything before it was offered all night...but it can still be great service if I did have to ask. It all depends.

Poor service - rude, slow (like the time my bff and I went into a restaurant and waited 15 minutes for the waiter to bring us menus and ask if we wanted coffee, and almost another 15 before he brought us stewed crud...and then got snotty when we asked for a new cup. We were the only customers in the restaurant! The only reason we didn't leave is that it was pouring outside and we didn't really want to get resettled somewhere else.) and unwilling/unable to answer really basic questions.

I don't ask for recommendations on food. I figure I know what I like better than the serving staff does.

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#12 of 93 Old 12-31-2008, 01:39 AM
 
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In a restaurant, poor service is ignoring us for 20 minutes after we are seated and not even bothering to take our drink order.

Poor service is not bothering to check to see if we need drink refills, bringing out some of the food and forgetting the rest, not being available so we can request the check, spending too much time yacking with coworkers when you have customers waiting, inefficiency or obviously goofing off while orders cool in a window or customers are ignored (if I see someone in the weeds who is trying I cut them slack) ...
I'm pretty easy going if someone makes an effort. DH and I went out with some friends once and the waitress screwed up royally, twice. She was so upset that she was almost in tears, and told us that she was new. One of dh's friends didn't want to tip her, and I couldn't see any reason not to do so. She tried hard, and she fixed the problem promptly. I think she was just overwhelmed by an unusually busy night, and didn't quite have the experience to handle it...but she was friendly and made a huge effort.

ETA: It also bugs me when my tablemates start getting mad at the servers for issues that are almost certainly about the kitchen staff. I did have one waiter, when I mentioned that my fettucine alfredo tasted like it had cheese sauce, inform me that "the cook is celebrating early".

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#13 of 93 Old 12-31-2008, 01:45 AM
 
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Okay- what about an "overly attentive" server?

The one that come by so often it totally interrupts the meal. Who gives the kids another soda when the first one is 3/4 full still, and steals your plate when you're not looking, even though you weren't even half done yet. What do you do about that? How much do you tip?
That would fall under bad service for me.

Generally speaking "bad service" would be anything from the above to having to stop another wait-person to ask where ours is because we've been waiting for a while (either to place an order or to get a check). If I have to get up and go track you down myself, that's "very bad service". Bad service is also telling me there will be a 45 minute wait for a table when I can clearly see that the restaurant is more than half empty. Bringing out dishes that are clearly wrong (nachos without cheese) and making me track down a manager to get the cheese on the side because you can't figure out (when we ask) that yes, nachos really should have cheese on them. Bad service rarely gets more than 10%, and very bad service will be lucky if they get a tip, depending on how angry I am. And being ignored by the host, who addresses himself to the people who walked in behind us... that gets us walking out of the restaurant and going somewhere else.

Very bad would also be health code violations... like when I go up to the manager to tell him that the restrooms are in desperate need of attention (used tampons on the floor in the women's room and used adult diapers on the floor in the men's room), and I'm told that it's the janitor's night off (so nobody's going to clean it). That was a restaurant we visited regularly up to that point, and haven't been back since. :Puke

Good service is a server who pays attention. They're at your table to take your order within 5 minutes of putting your menu down (if the restaurant is empty, it better be sooner). They refill your water glass without being asked. They offer to get more bread when you've taken the last piece. They stop by at least once to make sure everything is satisfactory. THey're attentive enough to notice if I'm trying to catch their eye without me having to stand up to do it. Proper timing of the courses (so I don't get my main before my app, nor do I have to wait 15 minutes after I finish my app to get my main). Good service generally gets an 16-18% tip.

Great service is getting a fresh napkin placed on your table when you go to the restroom. Having my chair held. Being willing to make recommendations, or share opinions on dishes. Offering to heat up the bread for me because the server thinks it's tastier that way (and not doing it in a microwave). Noticing when wine glasses are getting low and refilling them before one of us reaches for the bottle. Being friendly, helpful and attentive without being intrusive. Generally, making the overall experience a pleasant one. Great service will get 20-30% depending.

And yes, all of the above examples I have experienced.

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#14 of 93 Old 12-31-2008, 01:50 AM
 
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Here's great service. I finish me drink (and there are free refills) and as soon as I put the glass down the server is there with a new one. Seriously happened once. It was like "Woah!"

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#15 of 93 Old 12-31-2008, 01:51 AM
 
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I'm pretty easy going if someone makes an effort. DH and I went out with some friends once and the waitress screwed up royally, twice. She was so upset that she was almost in tears, and told us that she was new. One of dh's friends didn't want to tip her, and I couldn't see any reason not to do so. She tried hard, and she fixed the problem promptly. I think she was just overwhelmed by an unusually busy night, and didn't quite have the experience to handle it...but she was friendly and made a huge effort.

ETA: It also bugs me when my tablemates start getting mad at the servers for issues that are almost certainly about the kitchen staff. I did have one waiter, when I mentioned that my fettucine alfredo tasted like it had cheese sauce, inform me that "the cook is celebrating early".
I remember once this poor waiter got totally screwed by whoever was cooking that night. They messed up our appetizer and DH's well done steak was litterally raw (it did not look raw on the outside, so the waiter did not know it, but when he cut in to it it was raw). Our waiter felt terrible and I remember my DH comforting him. "It is okay, you are doing a great job, it isn't your fault the steak was raw!" Some things are just out of the wait staff's control and I don't think their tip should reflect that.

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#16 of 93 Old 12-31-2008, 01:52 AM
 
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Good service is a server who pays attention. They're at your table to take your order within 5 minutes of putting your menu down (if the restaurant is empty, it better be sooner).
I agree, with one caveat. Please don't come and bug me about what I want when my tablemate and I are both still sitting staring at our menus, and asking each other for inspiration.

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#17 of 93 Old 12-31-2008, 01:53 AM
 
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I'm pretty easy going if someone makes an effort. DH and I went out with some friends once and the waitress screwed up royally, twice. She was so upset that she was almost in tears, and told us that she was new. One of dh's friends didn't want to tip her, and I couldn't see any reason not to do so. She tried hard, and she fixed the problem promptly. I think she was just overwhelmed by an unusually busy night, and didn't quite have the experience to handle it...but she was friendly and made a huge effort.

ETA: It also bugs me when my tablemates start getting mad at the servers for issues that are almost certainly about the kitchen staff. I did have one waiter, when I mentioned that my fettucine alfredo tasted like it had cheese sauce, inform me that "the cook is celebrating early".
I worked in a place where the cooks were literally drunk every night, and one of them hated one of the waitresses. One night she was in tears because a customer asked for more bread and the cook chased her out of the kitchen. She could not get the bread for the customer because the cook was physically blocking her from getting to it. The cook had no problem with me, so I came out from behind the bar and got it for her. I ended up walking off that job months later when the same cook screamed at me about something and I told the owner I did not have to put up with that sh!t. He usually hid when this stuff was happening. :

I've heard stories of cooks threatening wait staff with knives on several occasions. People really have no idea what wait staff have to deal with to get their food to them, or how crazy some chefs act when they send something back. Food and beverage can be a lot of fun, but there are some unbalanced characters working there, too. I always take that into account if my waiter/waitress seems to be having a rough night, because I remember.

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#18 of 93 Old 12-31-2008, 01:55 AM
 
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I agree, with one caveat. Please don't come and bug me about what I want when my tablemate and I are both still sitting staring at our menus, and asking each other for inspiration.
On that note, you have to take into consideration personal variables. I'm a server, also legally blind, so I can't see if your still sitting there with your menues out until I get to your table. In which case it would just be rude of me to walk away without saying anything.

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#19 of 93 Old 12-31-2008, 01:56 AM
 
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I never waited tables or anything like that. When I finished high school, I thought about serving...then I thought about my hair-trigger temper (serious PMS when I was young) and what would happen the first time a customer mouthed off while I was holding a pot of hot coffee. It seemed like a bad field for me.

That said, I've heard some pretty scary stories from friends, so nothing sounds too far out to me.

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#20 of 93 Old 12-31-2008, 02:00 AM
 
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Great service:
When Dh, the kids and I go to a restaurant and the waitress is considerate of the kids, eg. brings their food fast, makes kid friendly suggestions, holds the milk to come with the meal, extra napkins/spoons/forks, and brings our bill with our food (yes, this is a good thing with my kiddos...) thats great service in my book.

This one waitress was also sooo good, she was even patient enough to let my DD order by herself (which takes ages), even though she was swamped by the Sat. lunch crowd. She even let us know that her co-worker would "look" after us while she was on a 5 minute break. I could've kissed her.. Dh looked after the bill, and he said that he would be fairly generous.

On another occasion, the cook screwed up Dh's plate and had to remake it, so there was a 10 minute delay in getting the food out. Honestly Dh, FIL and I didn't even notice the delay until the waitress came out with the food and appologized profusely for the delay. The bill came and they didn't charge us for Dh's meal AND handed us a $15 gift certificate! We were floored!

Bad service would be all that PP have mentioned. Oh, and my issue is that when customers say that the music is too loud, please turn it down! Don't tell them that its policy to have it so loud. Honestly Dh and I were only 2 feet away from each other and we had to lip-read the whole time!

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#21 of 93 Old 12-31-2008, 02:02 AM
 
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On that note, you have to take into consideration personal variables. I'm a server, also legally blind, so I can't see if your still sitting there with your menues out until I get to your table. In which case it would just be rude of me to walk away without saying anything.
Fair enough. DH is legally blind, and I know that has a lot of ramifications that aren't obvious to most people. OTOH, the place I'm thinking of has really large menus, and a waiter could easily walk by and notice that we're holding them, even with a major vision problem. Plus, both dh and I hold our menus right up when we're looking at them, and dh holds his almost to his nose. In our case, it's hard to miss.

I don't mind being asked what we want to drink while we're still looking at menus, if that hasn't already been done, though. I just don't like feeling rushed.

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#22 of 93 Old 12-31-2008, 02:06 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Storm Bride View Post
Fair enough. DH is legally blind, and I know that has a lot of ramifications that aren't obvious to most people. OTOH, the place I'm thinking of has really large menus, and a waiter could easily walk by and notice that we're holding them, even with a major vision problem. Plus, both dh and I hold our menus right up when we're looking at them, and dh holds his almost to his nose. In our case, it's hard to miss.

I don't mind being asked what we want to drink while we're still looking at menus, if that hasn't already been done, though. I just don't like feeling rushed.
True, though you also need to take into account the people who continue to look at the menu in order to pass the time while waiting for the server to return.

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#23 of 93 Old 12-31-2008, 02:08 AM
 
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True, though you also need to take into account the people who continue to look at the menu in order to pass the time while waiting for the server to return.
Do they? How...odd. That would seem like a good way to confuse a server.

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#24 of 93 Old 12-31-2008, 02:09 AM
 
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Do they? How...odd. That would seem like a good way to confuse a server.
Maybe it's a local thing, but yeah it happens a lot here. It might be the place I work too though. It's pretty well accepted that it's all good there so often the conversation is something along the lines of "Next time I think I'll try the...."

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#25 of 93 Old 12-31-2008, 02:12 AM
 
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Maybe it's a local thing, but yeah it happens a lot here. It might be the place I work too though. It's pretty well accepted that it's all good there so often the conversation is something along the lines of "Next time I think I'll try the...."
Oh yeah, my MIL does this!! I keep telling her that the waitstaff is not going to come over to take her order while she is still looking at the menu!

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#26 of 93 Old 12-31-2008, 02:12 AM
 
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I got the feeling you're also in Vancouver? Maybe I have you mixed up with someone, though...

I know my friends who have waited tables have all said that someone looking at a menu isn't generally ready to order, and that's what I always thought, too.

Okay - I won't be so annoyed when servers do this, then.

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#27 of 93 Old 12-31-2008, 02:16 AM
 
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I got the feeling you're also in Vancouver? Maybe I have you mixed up with someone, though...

I know my friends who have waited tables have all said that someone looking at a menu isn't generally ready to order, and that's what I always thought, too.

Okay - I won't be so annoyed when servers do this, then.
I'm about 45 minutes from Vancouver. You just have to say your not quite ready yet and remember that they are trying their hardest to make sure you don't have to wait longer then necessary to order.

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Oh yeah, my MIL does this!! I keep telling her that the waitstaff is not going to come over to take her order while she is still looking at the menu!
They will here.

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#28 of 93 Old 12-31-2008, 02:17 AM
 
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I'm about 45 minutes from Vancouver. You just have to say your not quite ready yet and remember that they are trying their hardest to make sure you don't have to wait longer then necessary to order.
I always just say I'm not quite ready, but it's always irritated me a little. I'll try to remember that there are people who still look at their menus after their minds are made up. I don't expect my server to read my mind!

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#29 of 93 Old 12-31-2008, 02:22 AM
 
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True, though you also need to take into account the people who continue to look at the menu in order to pass the time while waiting for the server to return.
DH does this, and I always go insane prying it out of his hands so the the server will come over.

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#30 of 93 Old 12-31-2008, 02:42 AM
 
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Ugh. My mother reads menus like other people read text books. You'd think there was going to be a quiz at the end. She would, I swear, take them home and read them in her spare time if she could sneak them out in her purse. And then we FINALLY get someone to take our oder DESPITE her big ol menu still open and holding her total concentration, she does the um, "Yeah, I'll have the um...............interminably long pause while she still can't decide on one thing......." until someone finally says OH FOR FREAKS SAKE YOU'RE JUST GOING TO HAVE THE CAESAR SALAD LIKE YOU ALWAYS DO.

Anyway, as far as good service - if someone is friendly and polite I'm good. I undersand people are new, places are busy, mistakes get made. Whatever. Say sorry and smile and we'll all move on.

Poor service involves a lot of eye rolling, heavy sighing, half-baked excuses, and me having to flag the server down as if I am somehow being inconvenient. Slapping a reciept down on my table right after you bring my meal isn't winning any tips either.
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