A. You’re going to listen to three people talking about bad experiences in restaurants. First, listen to some extracts and write down the food you hear.
Speaker 1: grilled sardines, fried sardines
Speaker 2: lasagne
Speaker 3: wheat, onions, a plain omelette
We ordered some grilled sardines to share, and after a few minutes, the waiter came with a big plate of fried sardines and put them down on our table.
We ordered very simple things like lasagne, which is easy to just heat up.
…and there was a vegan and a coeliac – you know, someone who can’t eat wheat…
…there was even a woman who said she didn’t like onions… There was also a little boy and I got the kitchen to make a plain omelette for him.
B. Now listen to the three stories. Make notes in the chart.
Was the speaker a waiter or a customer?
Where did the incident happen?
What is the speaker complaining about?
What happened in the end?
At a restaurant in Portugal.
That they were charged for food they hadn’t ordered but the waiter gave them by mistake.
He took the fried sardines off the bill after a long argument.
At a famous brasserie in Paris.
That they had to wait for their food for ages and then the waiters were aggressive when they asked about the food.
They got their food, ate it, and left.
At a restaurant in London.
The very small tip a woman left even though he had gone to a lot of trouble with the complicated food orders.
He left the tip on the table.
I remember we once went to a restaurant in Portugal – beautiful location, upstairs overlooking the River Douro. We ordered some grilled sardines to share, and after a few minutes, the waiter came with a big plate of fried sardines and put them down on our table. And we thought, well, we’d ordered grilled sardines, but hey, they’re really busy and these look really nice. So we each took a fried sardine and ate it, at which point the waiter came back and said, ‘These aren’t yours’ and took them away, and in a few minutes came back with a plate of grilled sardines. So this was all fine, and we had a nice meal, but when we got the bill we saw that we’d been charged for both the fried sardines and the grilled sardines. So we complained to the waiter and then to the manager and said, you know, ‘This was your mistake.’ But the manager said, basically, ‘You ate them, so you have to pay for them’ and we had quite a long argument. Eventually, when we said that we wanted to make a formal, written complaint, very reluctantly he agreed to take them off the bill. We didn’t leave a tip.
We went to lunch one Sunday in a place, a Parisian brasserie called Delaville. It’s a beautiful place – it’s from about nineteen hundred, with wonderful old furniture, mirrors, and all that – really nice. We ordered very simple things like lasagne, which is easy to just heat up, but we waited and waited, and it didn’t come. The place was crowded, but not completely full, and there were quite a few waiters, but when we realized that we had been waiting for two hours, we went to speak to them, and we asked them, ‘What about our food? Have you forgotten us?’ And instead of apologizing, they were really aggressive with us, so we became more and more angry with them. And finally, we got our dishes and ate them and left. We should have left earlier, but we kept thinking that the food would come, and also it was too late to find somewhere else. But it was a terrible experience because it was a very famous place – very – with a good reputation, where all the famous people go. But that’s the type of service they offer. First, I thought maybe they were treating us like that because we’re not famous, but in fact, I heard lots of other people complaining.
I had a table recently at the restaurant I’m working at in London, and I went to all sorts of trouble with them. It was a group of six and there was a vegan and a coeliac – you know, someone who can’t eat wheat – and anyway, I went through the menu with them and explained what they could have – there was even a woman who said she didn’t like onions, so I had to check all the dishes to make sure they didn’t have any. There was also a little boy and I got the kitchen to make a plain omelette for him. Anyway, one of them, an elderly woman, asked for the bill, and she paid in cash, and when I came back with the change, she said, ‘Don’t worry about that; you’ve been great. Keep it.’ It was sixteen p. I mean, I know service was included, but in that case, much better not to tip at all. I left the sixteen p on the table.
A. You’re going to listen to an interview with Sally, an American, about tipping in US restaurants. First, listen to two short extracts. What American English words does she use for the following nouns?
tip bill waiter or waitress
note (= money)
tip = gratuity
bill = check
waiter or waitress = server
note = bill
Presenter And how much should you tip?
Sally A normal gratuity is around fifteen to twenty per cent of the check. But it can be as much as twenty-five per cent for amazing service, or in very expensive retaurants. It sounds a lot, but servers work really hard and I think generally they deserve it!
Presenter And what should you do in bars?
Sally Well, take lots of dollar bills with you because the normal gratuity in bars is one dollar a drink.
B. Now listen to the interview. In which situations does Sally say you don’t have to tip in the USA?
C. Listen again. Complete the information with a number.
1 Many waiters earn $____ to ____ per hour.
2 The minimum wage in the USA is around $____ per hour.
3 A normal tip is ____ to ____% of the bill.
4 If the service is excellent, you should pay ____%.
5 If the service isn’t good, you should pay ____%.
6 In a bar, you should tip $____ for each drink you order.
You don’t have to tip if the service is absolutely terrible, if the bill says ‘gratuity included’, or for fast food / takeaway coffee.
1 2 (to) 3 2 7.25 3 15 (to) 20 4 25 5 10 6 1
P = presenter, S = Sally
P In many countries, tipping is an optional extra. But in the USA, it’s a serious business! There are no actual laws on tipping, but the unwritten rule is that you should always leave a tip in a restaurant unless you want to deal with some very unhappy waiters. But how much is reasonable, and who exactly do you have to tip? Sally from the US is here to help us. Hello, Sally.
P So first of all, why is it so important to leave a tip?
S I absolutely get that in countries where servers are paid well, you shouldn’t have to tip at all, unless you want to because the service was great. But in the US, many servers earn just two to three dollars per hour for their services because it’s assumed that the tips will make it up to the minimum wage, which varies between the different states, but is generally around eight dollars per hour. Now, I know you may think this is wrong, and many Americans, myself included, would agree, but that is the situation right now, until the law changes.
P And how much should you tip?
S A normal gratuity is around fifteen to twenty per cent of the check. But it can be as much as twenty-five per cent for amazing service, or in very expensive retaurants. It sounds a lot, but servers work really hard and I think generally they deserve it!
P OK, so it doesn’t happen often, but what about if the service is bad? Do you still have to tip?
S I’d say you do, but if it really was bad maybe just ten per cent – that will give the message. And if you feel you don’t want to leave even that, then you should probably call the manager and complain, and explain why you’re not leaving a tip.
P Do you need to tip even if the restaurant has already added a service charge to your bill?
S There’s no automatic service charge added in the US, but some restaurants will add a gratuity to your check if you’re in a big group of eight people or more, if it’s a public holiday, or sometimes if you’re in a busy tourist area. You don’t have to leave any more money if the check already includes the service charge.
P Do you have to tip for fast food or takeaway coffee?
S No, no. If you buy food or drinks over the counter, people don’t usually leave any gratuity, but there’s always a tip jar close by if you’d really like to!
P And what should you do in bars?
S Well, take lots of dollar bills with you because the normal gratuity in bars is one dollar a drink. Order and pay for your drink at the bar, and leave the dollar bill on the bar. Don’t worry about putting it in the bartender’s hand.
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