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Thread: How do we handle bad service in WDW restaurants please?

  1. #1
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    Hi

    Now, I would appreciate a little advice on what I know can seem to be a bit of a tricky subject for some reason, but I know that here we aren't like that. Well, it is tipping that can be a bit of a tricky subject, and actually, this query isn't about that at all :tongue:

    Now, I fully accept the American way (I sounded a bit like Sam Eagle there, didn't I? ) of tipping 18 - 20% on each sit down meal. And I have read enough on other forums to know that if we are not happy with the waiter's service that we are meant to deal with it straight away, and maybe have a word with the Manager to sort things out immediately. but in all of my many trips to the USA this is something that I can't seem to be comfortable with, and I'd appreciate some advice on how to toughen up!!

    When we went to WDW in February we were on the Deluxe DP and so had an awful lot of meals, and consequently did an awful lot of tipping. Whilst we had some excellent service, as well as some mediocre service that was just ok, but nothing really to let it spoil anything, we also had quite a few times when the service was downright dreadful. For example, the second time we ate at Cape May for breakfast (the first time was perfect so we thought we'd go again) the server was dreadful in performing her duties, especially considering it is only a buffet meal. We waited 15 minutes for her to come back after seating us, and even then she forgot DH's tea. We had to wait another 10 minutes for that, and even then had to remind her. She didn't bring cutlery, or the condiments....and the list went on. We tried to flag her down the couple of times we saw her, but she didn't see us, and in-between she was just nowhere to be found. There was also an absence of a lot of the food from the buffet (which I know is a whole other problem) which of course added to our annoyance.

    Now, the agreed course of action seems to be that we should have contacted a Manager after being there for a few minutes, and again at any point we were ignored. But when the restaurants are busy I can't always see a Manager. Are we supposed to get up and leave our table and hunt one down? and I don't know if this is the reticent English person in me but this lady in particular was lovely, and sweet, and obviously rushed off her feet and I felt bad telling tales on her Is it normal to do this? We kept thinking we didn't want to spoil our experience further by creating bad feeling between us and our server, and her being annoyed by us every time she came over. Maybe we just have to get over that. I suppose my question is, do we just get over that discomfort? Is it simply the usual way this would be handled in the USA, and therefore the server wouldn't think badly of us? And what would be acceptable to complain about and not complain about? 20% is a lot to tip if the service is poor and here of course we simply wouldn't tip, or tip a lot less. How do we handle it in the USA?

    I hope I have explained myself well, and people understand what I am trying to say :blush:








  2. #2
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    I completely understand. I know others will have plenty to say, but I want to discuss two points.

    1. When it comes to a buffet, I tip less, as they normally do less.

    2. I do not underestimate anyone, given that train of thought I do not complain at the moment. Things could go from bad to worse with food and service very quickly. I will adjust my tip to show my displeasure. Come on, service people know when they are not bringing the acquired items or taking a long time. I will however complain or discuss my displeasure as I'm leaving or later through email/phone.

  3. #3
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    FD, thanks. I think that's how I feel, but the general consensus around what I read about WDW is that the tips are almost compulsory And apparently in WDW the buffet tips are meant to be the same as Table Service tips? I think that part of me not being sure is that on other Disney forums things seems to degenerate into a punch up about tipping before there is a defintive answer, and so i never get to hear what i need to!








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    i thought the buffet tips were meant to be $1 oer person eating. i think here in the uk we dont think nothing of complaining if its not right. well i do. but away from home i feel slightly out of my comfort zone, maybe this makes us less able to moan
    it is very frustrating and i know how you feel by not wanting to say anything so not to make the situation worse.




  5. #5
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    Not sure if this is the 'done' thing in the US but I find at off-site dining places, a manager or supervisor would usually come to our table at some point throughout the meal to ask if everything was OK. We used this opportunity if there WAS a problem.

    At WDW we had bad service (really bad service) at Tepan Edo and complained to a manager. I just got up and found a manager and complained to them. Not sure if this is the 'done' thing, but I had a problem (meat juices all over my food and I'm a vegetarian) and due to the style of the restaurant, it was difficult to even get a server's attention. They didn't seem shocked or surprised that I had done it, although a manager did come and apologise to me.

    Not sure how it works in dining, but in attractions if a guest had complained about us we'd have a meeting with a manager who would discuss it with us. It never happened to me so not sure if it's a telling off or just a 'You could have done 'X' better' type meeting.
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    Chief - I'm a little like you in that here in the UK I find it easier to complain.

    Regarding the $1 tip per person for a buffet - I was under the impression that in WDW buffets are expected to be treated the same as Table Service for the purpose of tipping (perhaps someone cab correct me if I am wrong). I know that the suggested 18% and 20% tip was always calculated on the bottom of the bill.

    Josh, during character meals, or buffet breakfasts, and many other meals a member of management didn't come over to ask us. In the example you mentioned I would most definitely have gotten up to find a manager. I know when we were at the signature restaurants it happened all of the time. I am wondering whether rules in WDW are perhaps different to those outside of it

    I know I would adjust my tip accordingly usually to reflect my opinion of the service, but that doesn't seem to be the expected norm in WDW from what I have read in various places. So I was wondering what was fact and what was fiction I suppose!








  7. #7
    Senior Member uscwest's Avatar
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    Deb, if you have a party of six or more you are going to get hit with the 18% even at buffets unfortunately. However, since it is a buffet, the server does do a lot less so feel free to tip less, though certainly more than $1.00/person. The type of service you received is uncalled for, though I understand it is possible they may have been short staffed that particular day. I would most definitely have sought out a manager in that instance, if for no other reason to complain of the food items not being kept stocked and/or hot.





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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Deb, post: 262537
    Chief - I'm a little like you in that here in the UK I find it easier to complain.

    Regarding the $1 tip per person for a buffet - I was under the impression that in WDW buffets are expected to be treated the same as Table Service for the purpose of tipping (perhaps someone cab correct me if I am wrong). I know that the suggested 18% and 20% tip was always calculated on the bottom of the bill.

    Josh, during character meals, or buffet breakfasts, and many other meals a member of management didn't come over to ask us. In the example you mentioned I would most definitely have gotten up to find a manager. I know when we were at the signature restaurants it happened all of the time. I am wondering whether rules in WDW are perhaps different to those outside of it

    I know I would adjust my tip accordingly usually to reflect my opinion of the service, but that doesn't seem to be the expected norm in WDW from what I have read in various places. So I was wondering what was fact and what was fiction I suppose!
    In WDW I still adjust the tip to the service I received. In tepan edo, on the receipt (I paid by card) I actually wrote 'Not Applicable' on the slip because I was annoyed at the way my complaint was handled (There's a thread on it somewhere.) I know the etiquette is an 18% tip (and with my CM discount of 20% they force you to put 18% gratuity anyway!) however there were times that I received awful service, likewise when I received fantastic service, or I could tell they were understaffed an the shortcomings weren't the fault of the server, I would tip 20-25%.

    I knew a lot of servers and their wages aren't as low a you'd think. They get fantastic tips and would earn in a week the same wage an attractions host or seater & greeter would earn in a month! It irritated me a bit as I knew the effort I put in every day to give great service, only to find that other cast members (servers) were giving awful service and being tipped for it out of custom!
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Deb, post: 262537
    I know I would adjust my tip accordingly usually to reflect my opinion of the service, but that doesn't seem to be the expected norm in WDW from what I have read in various places. So I was wondering what was fact and what was fiction I suppose!
    Oh Deb, subject very close to my wallet, I mean heart

    I believe there's a huge vested interest in high tips from the service industry generally. By that I mean that the servers AND the places they work for. The servers treat it as a great source of revenue and many do extremely well from tipping, the places they work for treat it as a way to pay the servers less money than they'd have to.

    So, when we consider suggestions, and cards with amounts on, I take them with a huge pinch of salt it's nothing legally binding, it's nothing more than someone with a vested interest asking me for the most amount of extra money that they feel they can get away with.

    By the same token, naturally you'll rarely ever see a buffet server or establishment encouraging you to pay less tips but they do less for me as a client so they're not getting the same tip from me. The rubbish about them still running around after many more clients in a day and having a hard time doesnt interest me. Sorry to sound hard about it but I tip on my experience, not on how many customers they get through in a day. So I WILL tip considerably less for a buffet.

    There are definite cultural differences here and I think the main one is about what to do if the service is truly lacking. Over in the UK if the service isnt great and we kinda moan to each other about it but the food is ok, I'd probably live with it and zero tip and not go back. Then the seriousness escalates doesn't it... if the food is rubbish I'm going to complain as well but if it gets sorted out by a good server, they can salvage their tip potentially but it wont be as high because I'm tipping on the overall experience I've received.

    In the states, they seem to be ok with tipping something even if everything sucked which kinda does astound me since in general they're so much better at complaining than UK folks are. It's as if they say ok well it was awful so they get the least we tip which is 10% versus me in the UK "it sucked so I'm not giving anyone ANY extra thankyous on this one!"

    So do you want to fit in with the cultural norms of the place you're going to? or go with your feelings on service from your home country?

    End of the day, after dining with many wonderful Americans over the years in many states, I've seen all sorts of tipping behaviour and believe me, the only people tipping 20%, and then obsessing afterwards for days if they left enough, for useless service are us, the tourists

    Right, so, a suggestion if I may ;-). Ignore the cards and all that jazz, come up with a personal tipping guide you can live with.

    I feel a US etiquette friendly table service range might be :
    Useless service: 10%
    unremarkable but adequate: 15%
    Good service: 20%
    Great service: 25%

    At a buffet I'll probably just throw 10% at it unless they're truly rubbish and I never get a drink etc in which case I'll just throw a couple of dollars on the table and forget it.

    In terms of complaining well I'm on holiday and there's nothing making me complain if I dont want to but we UKers need to remember that whereas in the UK complaints are taken very personally and usually badly, which has put us all off doing it in the US service industry, a well meaning, well delivered, non-ranting complaint is usually well received and acted upon appropriately. So if you feel up to it, it's worth giving them a chance to put it right but you shouldn't feel pressured into it. Complaints should be made whilst the problem is happening though and not at the end because really, there's no chance for the establishment to fix anything and it feels like all you're doing then is wanting money off which is a little tacky IMHO.

    That generally works for me, I dont really need to put much thought into it and don't get all stressed about it.

    The only thing I've yet to reconcile in my mind is the US feeling that you're tipping the service purely on the service not on the food. In the UK, rightly or wrongly, I tip on the entire experience. My feeling is that if the server brings me rubbish food then I'll tell them and I expect them to stick up for me and get me something that tastes nice. So if the food/drink/experience is rubbish, the tip will suffer. I've been told repeatedly that in the US, I'm supposed to tip purely on the service component and well, I just can't quite live with that yet

    oh and finally.... let's never forget that a tip/gratuity is "A favor or gift, usually in the form of money, given in return for service." so it's optional and if the service isn't there, why on earth would we gift? Arguments about servers losing money if they serve someone who doesnt tip enough should be put aside, tipping or not, is SUPPOSED to send a message and if the message hurts because they lose money on it when they've done a bad job? that's just fine with me since I'm probably out a couple of hundred bucks on a bad meal too!
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  10. #10
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    Ah, you see Keith, you are a man after my own heart! I agree with you on just about everything there. See, we loved the DxDP last year, so much so that we are doing it again next time, but when we looked at the huge amount of money spent on tips it really was not for the fainthearted! That's really why I am asking for clarification - up to now it didn't really make too much difference.

    I have almost had the impression up to now that it is The Law (not quite, but in all but name :tongue: ) to stick to the 18 - 20% rule in WDW or you may well be accosted and asked to explain your actions I wonder where I got that idea from over the years? I think maybe reading some stuff on other forums? Like Josh, and others here, I am of the persuasion where I leave a mega tip for service that is out of the ordinary, but can leave zero if the service has been impossibly atrocious. Of course normally it's somewhere in-between, I just don't like feeling I have to compulsorily add 18% onto the price as if it is a tax.

    The buffets - it is good to know that we don't have to leave the 18% if we don't like, even for good service. Somewhere like Chef Mickey's is so expensive anyway, and when all is said and done all a good server is doing is bringing me my drinks and taking away dirty plates, with a smile on their face.

    Interesting answers








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