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Tip jarring: When it comes to tipping in restaurants, all bets are off

During a sales seminar five yeas ago that centered on customer service, the person leading the discussion quickly changed from affable to affirmative and rigid when the topic of tipping came to the table.
The proctor and group leader didn't waver with their opinion about tipping as it relates to the level of service you receive.
"I don't always tip. I don't tip if the service is poor. Period."
That led to a lengthy, time consuming chatter between teacher and students who argued passionately that not tipping is just plain wrong, no matter how bad the service is. The argument centers on the fact that those who work in the service industry don't make much as far as an hourly wage is concerned and essentially live or die financially by how much they make on tips. So even the most lackluster service deserves at least something.
But we've all been in that unfortunate situation when the service is so so, but the food on all fronts is downright awful. Bad food often equates to a very poor or no tip at all, which is troublesome given that the service may have been perfectly fine but the waiter or waitress is paying the price for terrible cooking when the consumer decides not to tip because their experience was, quite frankly, atrocious.

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In that instance, not tipping is totally uncalled for, but what about when the waiter or waitress is totally off their game?
Here's the scoop on tipping: it really should be viewed as part of the deal when you go out to eat. The strong, compliant and competent wait staff should be rewarded with tips that tip the scales at 20% or more. If you aren't a fan of the service, that's fine but you should tailor the tip to reflect how you feel, but that shouldn't include stiffing the person.
A tip that dips under 10% is a clear cut way of the customer telling the staff waiting on them that the service was well below expectations. When the service is nothing short of deplorable, don't stiff the person completely but rather ask to talk to someone on duty that is in charge. That person needs to know that the service stinks and it is their job to fix it, not yours by not tipping.
The worst customer slash tipper is the one that makes the server run like a minion back and forth for not only drinks but the likes of ketchup, mustard, barbeque sauce, butter, then more butter and maybe a side of dressing or a cup of sour cream. You have to remember that you're not the only table on their agenda. Worse yet, those are the types of waiters and waitresses that deserve a tip over and above the standard.
Not tipping them is a move that should leave you feeling awful and hopefully leads to a sleepless night. No one is excusing the server for poor service; that's part of their day to day job. But the act of waiting tables and taking your order counts for something left behind at the conclusion of the meal.

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