Should I Tip if the Service is Lousy?

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Should I Tip if the Service is Lousy?

Rude manner, botched orders, slow service, bad food -- find out when it's okay to stiff your server. Plus, should you pay your dentist in gifts instead of cash?

Is it okay to leave a restaurant server a stingy tip for bad service?

Yes, indeed, if the bad service is really the server's fault -- rudeness, botched orders, a bored manner. But don't penalize a server for things beyond his or her control, such as a short-handed kitchen, not enough servers or bad food. And always bring poor service and other problems to the attention of the maitre d'.

Sticking it to the little guys

I work in purchasing at a very large, highly profitable firm that often ranks in surveys as one of America's most admired companies. Several times a year, orders come down from the chief financial officer to delay payment to our vendors and also rebuff their late-payment fees. This pushes our expenses forward to improve the bottom line of the previous quarter and meet Wall Street's expectations.

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I am uncomfortable with this. Many of our vendors are small, struggling firms that are dependent on our large orders. We're causing them cash-flow problems. What should I do?


Your company's bullying of its small vendors is highly unethical. I hope you tell your suppliers that you don't agree with what you are being told to do. Your company probably has formal procedures for raising ethical concerns, so use them. You will be taking a risk as a whistleblower, but this issue needs to be addressed at the highest level. Good luck!

Barter for dental work?

My dentist suggested that instead of paying for some work he did, I could make a gift of a flat-screen TV of the same value. He said this bartering is perfectly legal. I'm skeptical.

You should be. It sounds as if your dentist is trying to evade income taxes. Courteously tell him this isn't proper and ask for a normal bill.

Have a money-and-ethics question you'd like answered in this column? write to editor in chief Knight Kiplinger at