This may be a surprise to hear, but I do believe that there are some very rare occurrences that make it alright to not leave your server a tip. If your server was deliberately rude to you when you asked for a iced tea refill and he threw the pitcher at your face bruising your forehead and dousing your clothes, no tip! If you asked for a medium-rare cheeseburger and your waitress said, “Nawww, we buy our hamburger patties off the back of a pick up every other Wednesday. You’re gonna want that shit extra well-done. And no cheese for you. You look like you had enough calories for the day. And I’m gonna leave off the bun too, fat ass,” that might be reason to forgo a tip. Other than extreme situations like that when the server is specifically to blame for your bad restaurant experience, you should be ponying up a tip.
I was recently sent a photo of a credit card slip that explicitly denies a tip on a $176 bill because the fire alarm went off while they were eating. Despite the “good service” this cheap ass decided that there would be no tip for the server, effectively denying that server approximately $35. The photo came to me with the name of the offending customer cropped out which is incredibly lucky for the customer because there is nothing I like better than publicly exposing someone for the cheap ass that they are. However, I can still use this photo as a lesson.
Attention customers: when you are deciding how much to tip your server, please keep in mind what the server did for you. If you didn’t like your food and your server was apologetic and did everything possible to make it right for you, tip them for it. If there was another table nearby that had a screaming child that was bothering you, that is no reason to stiff your server. That is, unless the crying baby actually belonged to your server which would just be weird. You don’t stiff your server because the sun was too bright in the window or because the music was not to your liking or because you didn’t like the type of to-go containers the restaurant uses. These things have nothing to to do with the service your received. A tip is for service. Period.
As a waiter, it is my job to make your dining experience as good as it can possibly be. I want you to be happy because happy customers tip more. Just remember that I’m not the one making the food and I sure as hell am not the one who pulled the fire alarm. If the fire alarm goes off while you are eating, maybe the restaurant should comp you a drink or buy you dessert, but it doesn’t give you the right to completely disregard everything I have done to serve you. And if there really was a fire, I would think you would be grateful for it since it probably saved your life. Think how disappointing it would be if you were dead and couldn’t keep on stiffing servers in your life. Probably about as disappointed as your server was when they saw you had stiffed them for the stupidest fucking reason ever.