'The Art of Tipping' that ensures you DON'T get a table

16 October 2008

It's Friday night (almost!), and you got a hot date. And a hot date deserves to be treated well, especially one that whispers sweetly in your ear, "Where are you taking me tonight?"

Don't worry baby," you reply, "I have plans. I always do."No, you don't. And the restaurants (except Pinky's Pizza palace down the road) all look a tad bit busy this evening.

Does that mean it's game over?

Not so, according to Bruce Feiler. In Pocketful of dough, an article he originally wrote for Gourmet 2000, he shares the art of, er, tipping up front.

And here's an excerpt of 3 tips from him:

  1. Have the money ready. Prefolded, in thirds or fourths, with the amount showing.

  2. Be specific about what you want. “Do you have a better table?” “Can you speed up my wait?”
  3. Tip the maître d’ on the way out if he turned down the money but still gave you a table.

Thanks Bruce, you like stating the very obvious.

I personally would prefer fellow blogger Gaussling's method, based on advice he received from the Denver School of Hospitality:

Go to the restaurant the day/evening before. Meet the maître d’. Introduce yourself. Explain you have an important engagement the next night. Hand over your business card, and a several £20 £50 pound notes. Tell him you want to be addressed by name as you enter. Then, find the waiter, wash, rinse and repeat (£20 notes will probably do) Then, go into the kitchen, greet the chef, and explain the next evening is important and see if there are any items not on the menu. Thank the chef profusely, preferably before he starts swearing at you. Next evening, after dinner, throw around more £50 bills. Overtip everyone. That should get you a pretty decent table and better service.

If you want to try this at the Italian restaurants in town though, make sure you wear some bulletproof armour.

Ok, now let's hear some tips that actually DO work. What are your thoughts on tipping in the UK? What about those mandatory tips, which often come with mandatory bad table service? Comment below.

TOPICS:   Restaurants

12 comments

  • bigbadbass
    10/15%/20% seems fairly standard for on-the-bill service charge in blighty, and yes, I have refused to pay. I was charged for tap water and not informed.
  • Vince W.
    crap. now i think about it, I also don't know what happened, but I gave £10 for a £7.40 meal at Wagamama yesterday. And I think they charged me for the tap water.
  • james
    oh way. the first commenter was charged for tap water and used it as a reason to weasel out of his tip. Just state you don't want to pay for the water, and tip for the service accordingly. jeez.
  • Paul Nikkel EDITOR
    Dunno... if a restaurant tries to charge for tap water there's no way I'd pay them a tip for the pleasure?!
  • David P.
    I've always known 10% to be added automatically. Once I deducted this said 10% because the service was absolutely diabolical. I certainly made my point. In the few places where they haven't added 10%, if the service is really bad, I don't "not tip". I just "tip" a few pennies. I feel this shows my dissatisfaction with the service better than not tipping at all. Afterall, they might just think I'm tight and don't tip!
  • Vince W.
    Yeah, I must have picked up American habits of 20% minimum expected. Normally if service is bad, I certainly don't leave a tip, but I also get battle mouth and make a point. I suppose it's not the best thing to do, but as David pointed out, unless you make it a point esp with the mandatory tip, they will prob just assume that you're stingy. Has anyone ever had such bad service, that they've requested to have the 10% REMOVED? I once witnessed it in America, but never over here...
  • Ross h.
    Yes, my girlfriend asked for the tip to be removed in an italian in Covent garden. The waiter was chatting when we were waiting to give our order and the bottle of wine we ordered arrived after our main course was delivered. Why do we tip anyway in a restaurant, there are other "service" industries you dont tip. Do you tip an air hostess or a mechanic? Beside, if a waiter brings you a £100 bottle of wine he would get a £10 tip, if he brought you a £10 bottle of wine he would get £1, he has done nothing different to earn the £9 extra tip. Tipping should be a flat rate not based on the value of your meal.
  • jen
    Agreed Ross - it's tipping on overpriced wine that really gets me as well.
  • Paul Nikkel EDITOR
    I think we've got to get a tipping poll up next week! The argument never ends...
  • Vince
    Wait a minute, you are supposed to tip when a waiter brings you a bottle of wine?!?! Maybe I'm misunderstanding what they said...
  • Carina
    Interesting subject. I think as a standard in UK, tipping 10% is fine and more up to the discretion of the diner if the service was exceptional. Given the current economic situation and for those who are students, they shouldnt be obligated to tip. And yes you can ask for it to be removed if the service was diabolical. Just watch out for the "service charge already included" in your final bill otherwise you end up double tipping. I'm pretty strict on my tipping and I'm not stingy. Service is really important to me as a diner and if the service was good I do tip very generously. If the service is lousy I will state the fact and I dont shy away from it, after all you are paying marked up prices for wine and food and you expect a pleasant dining experience with the price dont you? I think Brits are perhaps too shy to complain about things?
  • Future 1.
    [...] on tipping. Or how to secure a good table – even if you sort of come across like a jerk. From [...]

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