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Oprah Redux — 37 Comments

  1. Thanks for letting us know! I’ve been trying to catch this episode since I wasn’t able to watch it last October. Can’t wait to hear your part. :)

  2. My mom and most of her daughters have been involved in the waiting business through the years.
    The comment when we are in restaurants and being served that bothers us the most is DO You Need change? We all think you(i.e.)the waitperson should cash out there customer and bring back the change…We always indicate Keep the change but sometimes don”t have the right amount. More appropriate to Say I will be right back with your change..Puts customer on defense (Can I have all the change) Tipping is an expectation based on good service but really should not Be Out and Out asked for as it is at the customers discretion..
    and I know My Mother who did waitering for over
    40 years left less of a tip she found the asking RUDE.. I am sure this has been addressed
    What do you think???

  3. Sadly, at least in New England, you have been foiled by Ted Kennedy himself. Please let us know if the episode plays again!

  4. I really enjoyed you on Oprah. My concern is this: people going to the restraunt are paying for the service and the food. In Canada (where I live), servers are paid minimum $9/hour plus tips. Tips are for good service. I understand servers are busy and I am not demanding, but if the restraunt is empty and the server is hanging out chatting with the bar tender, I don’t feel bad leaving less than 20%. Also, especially if I am at a nice restraunt, I don’t want to be prodded through like cattle. If my husband and I want to sit and releax after dinner with a coffee, I don’t really care if I’m taking up your space, I just spent $200, and I’d like a coffee. moral of the story: I get it that serving can be a frustrating and difficult job, but the customer is not responsible for paying for your wage AND their check. We didn’t come to the restraunt to fill more tables to pay you. We came for a night out.

  5. I was a waitress and cook for nearly 15 years so I can understand exactly what it is like to be treated rude. I watched Oprah today and saw the show which I didn’t get to see before.
    I have had a new respect for waiters and waitresses since I did that for so long. I think I saw every trick in the book from rude customers.

  6. steph, If you dont want service go for fast food. Yes you are responsible for the unwritten contract that if you take service you compinsate with a tip. Lingering is fine dont let anyone rush you out. Tipping is as much a part of dining as the food because service is as important as the food. If a waiter is ignoring you dont tip well, if he leaves you guys alone to be romantic dont blame him if he talks to the bartender. Relax and enjoy your night out.

  7. I think it’s ridiculous that you send a “fake” manager to do your job. Taking complaints from customers is part of a manager’s job. If you don’t like it, you shouldn’t be a manager. I feel that way about all businesses. I saw it happen at my old job and it made me angry. Whether the customer is right or wrong they should have a right to talk to a manager. It’s just basic good customer service which is severely lacking in this country. Just my opinion.

  8. I saw the Oprah show today. Great show. I don’t like it when I feel a server is pushing drinks. My friend tries not to drink too much but it is hard when someone is pushing it.

  9. Steve: I totally agree with you. I am a great tipper and enjoy great service. I was only trying to say that if the service isn’t good (and there is really no reason for it ie: the place isn’t totally packed and the hard working servers run off their feet) then I don’t feel bad about not leaving a huge tip. I always tip something, but if the service is really bad, I don’t think it should be on the patrons to subsidise the wage the restraunteur should be paying his staff. If it is true in America aervers are only paid $2/hour, there needs to be a legislative change: that’s just not ok

  10. Dude…you are such a douche. Sitting up there asking for a handout making only $2.13, $3 or $4/hour. You reluctantly FORGOT to say that the majority of TIPS received go untaxed. Sorry, but I worked as a waiter/bartender through college and made MORE than my share of money (try about $30/hour + ). SO, nobody should feel sorry for anything in the restaurant biz. If you are someone making less than $20/hour, try making that anywhere else doing mindless work.

    If your goal was to act like a complete idiot, you hit your mark. If that is how you typically talk (down to people)—-get a life!

    Cheers!

    Ed

  11. I just finished watching this on Oprah and disagree with many points.
    1. The restaurant manager should not be sending staff out to pretend to be the manager. That is unethical, and along with rudeness, there is a massive problem with people being unethical. The manager is paid to do this and should, if you are tired of handling complaints, then you are clearly not managing staff well if there are so many complaints in the first place. If the manager can’t do their job, they should find another job. I’d fire my manager if he did that.
    2. You said the customer should ask for the check. Wrong. Why are you putting the onus on the customer? When the wait staff is clearing the table, they typically ask if you’d like dessert, coffee or tea or the bill. Or a simple “Will that be everything this evening?”
    3. I wish I could remember my third point.

  12. I would have to agree with sam about dropping a check. I have worked in fine dining establisments for quite aome time and there is nothing wrong about dropping a check to a guest without them asking for it, as long as dinner is over. I mean they know that they have to pay for dinner. They probably even expect it. The only thing that makes me angry is servers being pushy trying to get you out.

  13. Char,

    Well I have bad news for you because the fake manager thing is the norm, especially in a call center environment. “Management” doesn’t deal with customers on the phone. Having said that, just because the person you voice your complaint to above the initial operator doesn’t have the actual job title, it doesn’t mean they are not there to listen to your concern in an effort to resolve the issue to your satisfaction, and take your feedback as an opportunity to improve customer relations. You are getting hung up on a label.

  14. I love that Oprah did a segmant on this and the information that you put out there! Being rude, not tipping etc are al things that NEED to put constantly brought forth so people know this..But truely, state laws DO need to be changed to raise server salaries!

  15. Let me clarify. I don’t care if it’s a “manager” or not. Just someone that has some authority to think outside the box and make a decision that will resolve the issue. I don’t want the phone just handed to a co-worker that is going to say the same thing that the prior person did. Anyway, we got off track since this blog is about restaurant service, not call centers.

  16. I agree with Char for most points, but I do think it is unethical to not send over a manager. And Suzanne, this is a restaurant we are talking about, not a call center. Even if I’ve had to complain to a call center and the manager is unavailable, they don’t lie and “pretend” to be the manager, they take my name and have the manager call me back. Or if someone comes on the phone and I ask if they are in fact the manager, they’ve said things like “No, I’m the shift manager” or supervisor or whatever. This is the problem, its a lie, and its unethical and both the manager and employee can be fired. The fact that people do it, doesn’t make it right. Do you not understand that part or the discussion?
    Like Char, I don’t care who I’m speaking to as long as they have the authority to resolve my problem. If they don’t then I need to speak to someone who can, which is typically the manager. I’ve been a manager and it would be a big flag that I was not dealing with a manager if they could not resolve my issue. And typically when I dine out, I can see the manager, i.e. the person in the suit, the person walking around saying hello to people, the person asking patrons how their meal was, the person who is overseeing more than working and the person who I see instructing staff on occasion. I’d be pretty suspicious if that isn’t the same person who comes over when I ask to speak to the manager. Isn’t there anyone with actual ethics anymore?

  17. Yesterday it was over 90 degrees here in So. Cal. I don’t think anyone with a customer-service related background needs an explanation of the evil morphing that takes place in humanity under this weather extreme. However, after seeing you on Oprah, I was comforted by the little voice inside me that reminded me millions of people were watching. I had hope that this night would be different! Maybe people would be a little kinder! Perhaps tips would actually be decent! Maybe…
    Well, the voice lied. Again.
    PS… be careful who you offer children’s menus to. Apparantly, “little people” get angry, even if they’re 15 and still LOOK like a kid, anyway.

  18. I was VERY happy to see your book at Barnes & Noble! Gushed at the register how I had read your blog years ago (I’m SUCH a name-dropper). Thoroughly enjoyed reading and I’m looking forward to your next book.

  19. I loved your show and its amazing to see how people who have never worked in the restaurant business react to it. I have been a server for a few years now, I’m in school and have recently started a blog of my own regarding the business. I know your busy but if you have a minute I’d appreciate it if you could stop by and tell me what you think. Congarts again on all your success.

  20. Hi Mr. Waiter. I’m halfway through the book and loving it. I love the part about the missing champagne. That’s classic. That guy Ceaser was a real ass! Anyway, great book. Good stuff. When is book #2 coming out?

  21. I was pretty disgusted with his appearance on Oprah. I used to be a waitress, and I found his attitude poor. Some customers have good reasons to which a secluded corner, such as hard of hearing. We come to the restaurant to enjoy ourselves, and be served. If he doesn’t want to serve the customers, he should find another profession. The fact a customer requests a manager and may get the newbie is horrendous! Talk about putting the newbie on the spot! Keeping data on problem customers was just vindictive. I didn’t really care about problem customers, as a former waitress I tried my best, and if I had a tough customer I didn’t remember him the next time. This waiter should spend more time giving good service instead of keeping files on trouble customers.

    If I had the type of service I heard about from him, I wouldn’t be back.

  22. As a supermarket cashier, I regularly keep whatever book I’m reading next to my register. This week, it’s Waiter Rant (natch).

    So this one customer, a youngish lady, spots the book and squeals “I saw him on television!” I asked if it was on Oprah, she said yes. I told her the writing is pretty good, and interesting. She’s going to track down the book for herself now.

    And that’s why I keep whatever I’m reading next to my register!

  23. hey martha.. if you actually were a waitress.. way back in the day..AND YOU CANT REMEMBER ONE NOT ONE ASSHOLE CUSTOMER>>>> the i guess you ddnt waitress vary long…. or was that in MAYBERRY,or DOGPATCH, or HOOTERVILLE……

  24. I was a waitress for 8 years and I have been a bartender for the last 3 years, and one thing I know for sure is true. We remember the customers who treat us generously, and the customers who treat us horribly, and we never forget. And accordingly, that is the kind of service you will receive. Why should I waste my time on someone who can’t even pony up a couple of dollars? And is an ass on top of it?

  25. I don’t know, maybe you should waste your time because it’s your job.

    Don’t want to deal with a few shitty customers? Maybe you shouldn’t be in the customer service industry.

  26. Just because someone’s in the service industry does not give you, or anyone else, the right to be an asshole to that person. Try being nice to people, you’ll be amazed by what you get in return.

  27. The fact that service staff earn less than $3 per hour from their employer on average is wrong. This is true. It should change.

    Then your cost of your dinner would change. The restaurant would have to build labor into the cost.

    Server tips come after the service has been rendered. Restaurants add gratuity to large parties to gurantee that their support staff are compensated for their service. Servers eat the cost of labor for those support staff when a table of less than 8 leaves less than 10%.

    If you can’t afford the 15%, don’t eat out. Tipping is an honor system that real living people depend on to pay their tuition and feed their children. Don’t leave someone less than they would make at minimum wage…

  28. for everyone out there .. GEUSS what it very probabul that there is noo manager, if you even looked at what the base pay is then get a gripp. the MANAGEMENT pay would be slightly higher then the server rate,, …. For what…. to take all the crazy bullshit rantings from the genaral public thst cant either afford a therapist and or missed ther appointment……im thankfull that god blessed me with a third turtle head ,,, so it can rear itself at all the idiousy i deal with on a ,,,,,,,,,,, basis

  29. Just a random rant, when a waiter/waitress asks ” do you want milk OR cream with your coffee?” DO NOT SAY YES! its a question, milk OR cream. Say one or the other, not YES! If i give you milk and you say ohhh is this cream? I wanted cream, and i have to go get your cream on a very busy sunday brunch It will not make your server a happy camper. Drives me crazy! Ive stoped asking, its not worth it. Just one of the little things that gets to me after waiting tables for 6 yrs. Another thing, in Boston we make 2.63 an hour and in NY it was around 4 an hour, so yes we do need your tips.

  30. Hey Waiter, I’ve been in the biz for 6 years, front and back of the house, mostly as a server and bartender. Love the blog and the book, keep up the good work!
    Martha, databases of unruly customers are a fantastic idea. If you know some people are a waste of time, and you can give their spot to someone who will be a good customer, you do it. Campers and bad tippers are not good for business.
    Edward, these days, computer clock-out systems demand a minimum declaration before you leave work, so tips are still taxed. We’re being punished by government for our hard work. Maybe you got away with it, but many servers don’t.
    Finally, Waiter, how do you respond to a later episode of Oprah where she advocated tipping 10%-15% to save money in the recession? I was surprised to not read anything in reply to this.

    Keep up the good work, and I look forward to the next book!

    ~Joe

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