Not long ago I went to Perch with a few girlfriends. I love Perch. They have great watermelon margaritas, amazing guacamole and a welcoming open mic night. Well, I should say that I used to love Perch. Upon leaving the joint on this particular evening, my friends and I had a strange run-in with a woman who worked there. Following the incident, we all agreed that it would be too awkward to return.
Here's what happened:
My girlfriends and I sat in the back on the red couches and had an appetizer and a few drinks. Our waitress was lovely and sweet, and even asked the kitchen if marscapone was in the guacamole (it was so smooth, we had to know the recipe. She kindly gave it to us). When it came time to pay, two of us put a greater amount of cash toward the bill, while our third put the remainder on her card. When it came to tipping there was some confusion, and my friend who paid with the card didn't realize she was supposed to leave the entire tip. We ended up accidentally leaving a tip that was less than 10% of the bill.
After we paid, we went outside and chatted for a few minutes. While standing out there a woman materialized in the doorway.
"Did your server suck?" she asked.
We all sort of laughed nervously. "What?" my friend asked.
"Your ser-ver," she enunciated. "Was she awful?"
Again, we laughed, having no idea if this woman was a customer or if she worked there.
"No," we said cautiously. "She was great. Why?"
"Well," she sighed. "I just assumed that if you're going to leave a tip that's less than 10% that your service was horrible."
Once we realized what had happened, we gave the woman extra cash to pay our server, explained the mix-up and apologized profusely. I'm really glad that she caught our mistake and that we were able to correct it, but the rude and aggressive way this woman chose to deal with the situation left a sour taste in our margarita-soaked mouthes.
I waited tables for six years. Four of those years were spent at a honkytonk steakhouse in Georgia where once, in lieu of a tip, a woman left me a diarrhea-filled baby diaper. Elderly people left Jesus pamphlets, and once a group of teenagers stayed until 1AM, racked up a $400 bill on filets and booze and left me only a few pennies. Literally, pennies. Servers only make a few bucks an hour. Getting short-changed on a tip SUCKS BALLS, which is why I felt especially horrible for having done it to our server.
That being said, if I ever followed a customer outside and degraded them for leaving a "bad tip," my ass would have been fired faster than you can say, "marg, rocks, salt."
If it were me, and I had made the decision to follow customers outside, I would have perhaps instead said something that wouldn't make the patrons feel like huge assholes.
"Ack, geez, this is awkward," I might have said. "But because you paid a few different ways I just wanted to make sure that the tip is what you wanted to leave. If it is, cool -- but I just wanted to double check."
I honestly would have responded better to that -- if she had given us the benefit of the doubt. But now my friends and I feel strangely blacklisted and don't want to go back. I feel like if we go we'll find mocked up sepia-toned posters with our pictures on them behind the bar. The crime? "Wanted For Shitty Tipping."
Regardless of what this Perch employee said or how she said it, do you guys think it's cool for a bartender, server or restaurant manager to aggressively confront someone over a tip? Is it a righftul act of self defense? Or is it just bad for business?