Customer Disservice

Hi everybody.

I’ll be on CNBC tonight. The program is titled, “Customer Disservice” and it will air at 9pm ET/8pm CT. Tune in!

34 thoughts on “Customer Disservice”

  1. Sandra says:

    Do you think that all waiting staff should be well versed in gluten free foods, what is available on the menu and be sure there is no cross contamination of foods.

  2. GG says:

    Loved what you said on CNBC this evening.

  3. Jess says:

    Waiter dude, ya shoulda’ tweeted it! Missed it . . .
    Au reservoir . . .

  4. John Lahmer says:

    I enjoyed your book and would like to think I will check in with your blog every-so-often to keep up with your latest rants. I have a question, if I may. I don’t like to be hurried through my meal. I know there is a need to eat and leave so the waiter will not be penalized by my leisure meal and conversation. What would be a good balance of time for us leisure diners to not feel rushed and the waiter/restaurant’s need to pay the bills.

    Thanks and I hope “Customer Disservice” went well for you.

  5. Jenny says:

    Hi! I saw this last night…great show and great site!I’m a customer service supervisor…so this is awesome!

  6. Bob Dobbs says:

    Missed it. But it’s CNBC… it’ll be back.

  7. Nan says:

    You look very handsome with a beard!

  8. Steve says:

    watching right now. DVR’d it. Great show! i think customer service should be a high school requirement b4 graduation.

  9. Robin Brennen says:

    I have been working for a buffet for 5 years and am amazed at the messes people leave, (people think its a park letting there children run free), and don’t even drop down a quarter. We work extremely hard, usually 1 server per approximately 20-40 tables. I think it appropriate to tip something, a minimum of .50 a person would keep out bills paid, a dollar would be more acceptable to me. We get parties of 20-50 that make a HUGE mess and don’t leave a dime. We make minimum wage and no raises. What is your feeling on buffets.

  10. Maggie says:

    I just saw the show tonight…excellent! I study and work in the hospitality business and true customer service is a lost art indeed! I think it is a two-way street.When it comes to hiring, I can usually peg if potential employees have what it takes to nurture the customer. Some folks aren’t cut out to dote as some customers are true brutes. Also, some employers are at fault for not properly training their employees in customer service. No one likes to problem-solve these days and yes, some customers are straight up psycho! It’s okay. I believe that everyone can fit somewhere. I won’t fit well teaching Math or dabbling with Physics, but I can thrive in customer service because I truly do care what customers think. I’ve bookmarked your site. Thanks and job well done!

  11. EmBee Mahony says:

    You really have no idea what you are talking about, do you? Completely, totally, utterly, idiotic advice. I added my own comments re tipping to it. Tips are to be earned. One expample. If the wait person F’s up, then the entire staff F’d up. If the rest of the schulbs don’t like it, then they can either encourage the wait person so do better or complain to the manager. I can’t be worried about the busboy, runner, dish washer etc. SO in summary, you’re a douche.

  12. Rick says:

    I saw part of an article on Yahoo today reguarding your opinions on tipping. As one who thinks the whole tipping process is a big ripoff being pushed by resturant owners, wait staff and people with blog sites who have found a way of making a profit by having any opinion that it takes to make a profit. I am amazed that anyone with half a brain takes it seriously. I do tip in resturants when I receive exceptional service. No one will ever be able to convince me that a minimum 20% amount is always required. That is an absurd thought. I should say that I don’t tip my doctor or grocery store clerk either although the box boy that carries a lot of items to my car for me gets a buck or two and I do send my doctor a card at Christmas.

  13. Ali H. says:

    It will be aired again this saturday on cnbc in case anybody missed it.

    btw, is this going to be a regular thing for you. This show is definitely right up your area of expertise, you’ll probably have a lot to say for nearly every episode.

  14. Hank says:

    What time is the Saturday rerun of customer disservice ?

  15. keoni says:

    c’mon waiter, I’m dyin’ over here. Gimme (us)something; I enjoy your stories & insight.

  16. Joe S. says:

    This site has long been one of my bookmarks, and for many years I have visited and enjoyed all of the Waiters’ entries. It makes me sad to say that I have to stop doing that, he just doesn’t post anything anymore.

    I mean, I know you’re busy….but c’mon!

    Guess I’ll just have to wait for the next book to come out, I can issue my support that way.

    Such is life I guess. So long!

  17. Frank says:

    Waiter, I understand you’re busy but is a post every month too much to expect? I love your stuff and I am happy for your success and new opportunities but don’t forget us little people who made you what you are. I am not asking for anything more than a new post (NOT an announcement about your appearances or books going paperback. They’re welcome but they don’t count as a new post) every once in a while. Look forward to your comeback to the site.

  18. message all says:

    Hey, did you hear about the CEO who allegedly broke a waiter’s finger for mistakenly bringing the bill to a table last Saturday night?

  19. Pingback: Customer (Dis)Service: Inside the CNBC Documentary
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  21. 1 says:


  22. gamestoregirl says:

    I hadn’t been here in a while, but got the show – was pleasantly surprised to see you on there! I also enjoyed your book very much!

  23. Waiters Pants says:

    I thought it was a delightful interview Sir, I do hope that I get a chance to serve you in my Bistro some day!

  24. Jan says:

    My name is Jan
    All the bartenders and waitstaff I need your help. I am doing a research at univirsity, and I need 20 bartenders, waiters… The area of research is Linguistics. My task was to make up 5 potential English compounds, and now I have to compare 2 various groups. The task of respondents is to make up so many meanings to my proposed words(compounds) they can only think of and assi gn score to them, nothing complicated really, it wont take more than 5 minutes.. If you can and want to help me, send me a message, or email on I would much appreciate your help. Thank you

  25. Angela McKeller says:

    When Reader’s Digest interviewed you, did they change some of your answers? I was a server for 10 years and some of your answers were spot on while others would have annoyed me. ie: “We like when you tip on the entire tab, but if you tip on the amount of the tab, taxes excluded, it’s ok.”

    That’s never ok because tipshare is owed based on the sales including tax. If a customer only tips based on the amount sans tax, we end up paying out of pocket for our tipshare.

    Another example, you said that no one should ever stiff a server for bad service because the staff that gets tipshare from that server will be penalized. That’s not true, either. We owe our tipshare whether we make 20% or not. It’s up to us to provide the service necessary to earn that 20% so that we don’t have to pay tipshare out of pocket.

    I’m of the opinion that servers should be stiffed for bad service. I was an excellent server and had to pick up the slack for poor servers. If they were tipped 20%, it was for service I (or another great server) provided and it didn’t weed out the lazy employees (who wouldn’t make enough to live on if they were tipped for their service instead of based on “social norms”.

    Anyway, I’m glad that you’re bringing attention to the issue of tipping. Far too many people don’t know about tipshare or just how hard we have to work for that $10, just to give $3 of it to busboys, food runners and bartenders (and yes, they earn it), so thank you.

  26. bill444 says:

    I have never had a reason to not leave a tip.
    We all have good days and bad. I always give 20%, sometimes more. If they screw up the order so what I still eat right? And what the hell the poor guy or gal might not be able to do anythihg else. Why add to the misery.

  27. Brenda says:

    Just fininshed Waiter Rant a few minutes ago. It took me 3 days between serving shifts to read it. I loved it. I identified with it, cried during the sad man in the window and the twin parts and at the end in happiness for you Steve and hope for me and all my fellow servers. My Serving Sentance as restaurant Inmate has been running now for almost 10 years. I am so afraid that i will become a lifer! I love my regulars and and being of service, just hate the downsides all mentioned in your book. I work for a corporate establishment in Canada and not for a single owner. Many things I could add about being Corporate instead of owner operated. Thanks for the “I am not the only one” feeling you gave me from reading your book. Your honesty, sense of humor and lovely sense of humanity will stay with me while i am serving and change my life. Hopefully, I will get paroled for good behavior soon.
    Sister Mary Brenda
    (That is my nickname behind my back with my co-servers!)

  28. thatgirl says:

    Not really sure why I keep bothering to come back here. Wishful thinking, I suppose.

  29. Sam says:

    Sandra, totally think that all waiting staff should be well versed in nutitional information of foods on their menu – isnt that the least we should expect?

  30. MikeQ says:

    Missed your show . . . be sure to post when you’re on again.

  31. Caroline says:

    Missed it, sad to say. Read Waiter Rant then decided to come on this site, a lil too late. 🙁 On a funny note- I’ve got a waiter story. So I went to the Melting Pot for a bday dinner about a week and a half ago. Great meal, great waiter. About halfway through the meal, our waiter comes up and whispers “The guy from the Mark Jacobson commercials is right over there! I can’t stop laughing!” My group makes a lot of funny comments concerning him and the dog that always appears on his commercials. Everytime he comes by our table after that, he’s grinning or laughing. It was pretty funny. Sad to say, the dog wasn’t there that night.

  32. Bev Young says:

    I absolutely love your book, Waiter’s Rank. You really “hit the nail on the head”. I was a waitress for many years and owned and operated 3 restaurants, two with partners, UGH. I have many, many “stories” and reading your book has incited me to write them down. I just wish that I could write as well as you do.
    Thank you so much for telling it like it is.

  33. Peaches says:

    Did you happen to see the story about the $1.34 tip on a $134 lunch bill here in Southern California (Newport Beach)? the signed receipt included a comment along the lines of “get a real job”.

  34. Marc says:

    So, first let me say that I really enjoyed your book. I thought it was a wonderful insight into a world I have never been a part of. I’ll first tell you that I grew up in a middle class family who never went without, but also never had fancy cars or boats. We lived a modest life and that was great for us. My sister and I worked jobs pretty much from the age of 14 on. If we wanted something nice, then we worked and paid for it ourselves. I have been a busboy, paperboy, dishwasher, stock clerk and held many other mindless jobs prior to going on to college (which both my sister and I paid for ourselves ). I worked my butt off through college, and was lucky enough to get accepted to medical school and viola! 15 years of unpaid work later I am now a physician and I make a very good living and I have the means to buy nice things and of course go to nice restaurants.

    Sorry to expand on my upbringing, but I wanted to let you know before I go on where I come from because it gives weight to the following…

    My wife and I enjoy food. ( Read as we enjoy eating out, not being obese). We are now divorced, but have a good relationship. We enjoyed exploring and trying restaurants around the country and over time had many amazing meals, and also amazing service, which certainly added to the enjoyment.

    One example I particularly remember was actually on our honeymoon in Kauai. We we at the obligatory breakfast buffet included with our stay at “insert fancy expensive hotel here” and moving through the buffet line. My wife got to the omelet station, and the server kind of blindly looked at her and asked her how she wanted her omelet, probably expecting a normal response of “ham and cheese please” as he had gotten from every other hotel guest for the last 5 years of his life. My wife however , responded, ” you know I’ve never been to Hawaii, will you make anything you like for me to try?” (Something along those lines, I don’t remember the exact phrasing). Anyway the server seemed to come alive and was really excited that someone would let him have a little fun with his job and genuinely trust his abilities. So he put in all kinds of “local ingredients and spices”. That we had never heard of before. And you know, it was amazing. But just the enjoyment that the server got from someone actually engaging him and treating like a professional also made me feel good. At the end of breakfast we went back to say how much we appreciated his work and I gave him a $50 bill. To this day we still talk about him as one of the best servers we have ever had. Now believe me, I’m not an idiot or a gullible person , so I know that various workers in the hospitality industry are taught to smile and wave to guests, and let the guest think they are close friends. This of course untrue, but certainly does increase the gratuity at the end of said service. This gentleman however, I truely believe was appreciative for our interaction and I wanted to treat him like we appreciated it also.

    I tell that story to let you know that I am prone to tipping well, and always appreciate the hard work of the waiters that take care of us. I always remember the Steve Martin’s line from My Blue Heaven, “It’s not tipping I believe in, it’s over tipping”. I will say that I never tip under 20%, and often tip excessively for good service. Why you ask? I like to think that I am a good person and see how hard waiters work for the money they get, but maybe it’s just because it makes me feel better as a person, to treat people nice so it is partly selfish on some level Even when I’ve had very poor service, I still tip well, because I just feel compelled to. Something that has always bothered me, in fact, is that a waitress killing herself at some Denny’s get tipped dolled fifty for a table she worked just as hard serving as many waiters I’ve had at “Fancy Pants Bistro”. But because a meal at Denny cost $15 vs $200. Somehow she should get tipped less. So when I’m at these diners I always leave at least a $10 -20 tip. In fact my wife often gets mad at me for how much I tip.

    Now don’t get me wrong, I do have a temper and when I feel I’m being treated poorly or taken advantage of, I can get very argumentative.

    So that brings me to my question for you. After reading your book, I found that you discussed at length all of the horrible, angry, drunk, old, and cheap customers you have had over the years. You did highlight many great customers whom you came to be quite find of. You never in your book, however, addressed what we as customers, paying $200-500 for a meal should should do when we have bad service. And trust me I have had horrible waiters over the years! I of course dreading the inevitable “spit-burger ” never complained. So forgive me for oversimplifying your book, but it kind of sounds like you are saying we should be grateful just to be eating at said restaurant, which is a privileged and be grateful for whatever service we get.

    Again, I want you to know that I loved the book and truly appreciate all of the great people who have treated me well over the year, but again I ask how should a customer react to bad service? Say for example a couple on their anniversary, who booked a reservation at said restaurant 6 months, and is now told “sorry you have to wait 2 hours for your table”. (Obviously not because of a major disaster or a woman having a stroke at the table, this anyone should understand). Do we as customer, paying our hard earned money for fine dining not have a right to be angry sometimes?

    I prefaced this whole question with my background to show that not all people are trust fund babies who grew up never knowing the value of a dollar. Most of us have worked very hard for our money, so when we decide to spend $200 dollars on a meal, it’s a big deal. Similar to the “valentines day” couple in your book.

    So I have one more example before I end this overly expanded on question…

    Just recently we brought our daughter to Disney world. As anyone with kids knows, this is a BIG DEAL for them. Kids look forward to this all year. So six months ago we make a reservation at one of the restaurants for a 2:30 buffet that has the Disney characters there for the kids to meet. Now mind you, this is $50 per person, at probably the cheapest cafeteria buffet you can imagine, but you are paying for the kids to meet the characters, so ok we pay for this ridiculously overpriced meal. Believe me, for anyone with kids, the money is well worth the joy you get from seeing your kids playing with Mickey and goofy.

    So anyway, moving on. We arrive at the restaurant well before our reservation, as we tend to do, and are promptly greeted by the hostess who informed us “just so you know, 2:30 -3:30 times are when our characters go on break so you may not see them!” Now lets be clear, when booked, again 6 months ago, we certainly weren’t told , “by the way characters go on break at this time and we reserve this time slot for last minute walk-in” or something of that sort. No, there were plenty on reservations available when we booked.

    So now, here we are, with our daughter so excited to see Mickey, Minnie the crew, and we have just been informed ” tough shit” by the hostess. So I’ll admit, I was VERY angry. And I think I had a right to be. Imagine paying for a broadway show and when you get there they tell you, “sorry during this show our actors go on break so you will only see half the show today”

    So I want to know as someone who has spent his life as a waiter , how would you react at this point. Does the customer never have a right to get angry or complain about really bad service? Maybe you spoke about this in the book and I missed it, but I feel as great as your book was, it was all tipping and being grateful for service. It never addressed the customers view.

    So I guess I am curious about how you respond to events like I describe, or poor service? Does the customer not have any rights when paying an exorbitant amount of money for a meal?

    Again , I loved the book, and look more in the future….


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