Couple refuses to tip after waitress asked them if they wanted to split the bill, woman claims

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An anonymous Reddit user who claims to be a waitress has gone viral over a photo of a receipt she shared online, with a customer reportedly writing to her that he chose not to tip because he thought it was rude of her to ask if he and his wife wanted to split the bill.

The Reddit user uploaded the photo of the receipt she claims to have received, which is dated Sunday, Aug. 20, and is timestamped at 7:37 p.m., to the “Mildly Infuriating” subreddit, a 6.3-million-member forum where people share images of annoying instances.

The receipt’s subtotal amounted to $65.80 — and there’s a “strikethrough” present in the space where customers typically list how much they’re tipping.

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“No tip because it was very rude to ask my wife and I if we wanted separate checks,” a handwritten note says on the receipt’s right side.

The Reddit user who shared the image on Monday, Aug. 21, wrote, “He had the audacity to write this with my pen.”

In follow-up comments, the Reddit user claimed the restaurant where she works has a policy that requires servers to figure out how customers are going to settle their bill before printing out a ticket.

She also added that she never suspected the pair to be a married couple because there appeared to be a significant age difference.

“He was late 50s [to] early 60s and she was much younger,” she wrote in one follow-up comment.

“This question is asked because it takes time to split checks in most point-of-sale (POS) systems.”

Fox News Digital reached out to the Reddit user for further comment.

Is inquiring about the bill standard practice?

Commenters on the Reddit post, some of whom claim to have worked as wait staff, debated whether it’s standard practice to ask two diners if they’re splitting a bill.

Chris Schneider, of Nashville, Indiana, a service industry expert and host of “The Bar Business Podcast,” which provides professional insights and advice to bar owners, believes it’s not unusual for a server to ask a couple if they’re planning to pay separately.

He told Fox News Digital that it can be difficult to tell whether a dining pair is romantically involved or if they’re coworkers, business partners, platonic friends or family.

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“Most restaurants and bars are going to ask if guests want a single check or split checks, even when it appears that they may be a couple,” said Schneider. 

“Split checks are more common than ever for business meals, due to corporate spending rules, and even with couples, as our culture has moved away from more traditional dating expectations.” 

Nixing a tip is usually reserved for bad service.

He added, “This question is asked because it takes time to split checks in most point-of-sale (POS) systems, and it is always better service to do this prior to presenting the checks, rather than after the check has been given to the guests, and they are waiting to leave.”

While tipping is discretionary, Schneider noted that nixing a tip altogether is usually reserved for bad service.

Service employees who rely on tips are generally paid a lower minimum wage compared to non-tip employees, according to Schneider.

Fifteen states still use the federal minimum wage of $2.13 for tipped employees, he told Fox News Digital.

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“Taking offense to a standard question is never a good excuse to not tip,” said Schneider. “Unless someone is a regular of a restaurant, the staff has no idea what the relationship between people dining together is.”

Is it offensive to ask if a bill should be separated?

Matthew Schubert, a certified counselor and CEO of Gem State Wellness, a mental health counseling service that has multiple locations in Idaho, believes customers shouldn’t take major offense of wait staff ask if a bill should be separated.

“To be offended so easily and to feel the need to write down the offense is outside the normal spectrum of responses to the waitress’s question on splitting checks,” Schubert told Fox News Digital.

Schubert recognized that the customer has the right to feel offended, since not all wait staff ask if couples want to split checks, but he thinks leaving notes about skipped tips is an over-the-top reaction.

“It is up to the customer to tip what they see appropriate. Leaving no tip at times can be a valid response to poor service,” said Schubert. “In this case, the waitress’s offense doesn’t match the response of no tip. The customer is clearly having an exaggerated response to the waitress’s actions.”

What do etiquette experts think?

Nicole Rose, an etiquette consultant and founder of the Poised & Proper coaching service in Las Vegas, Nevada, believes etiquette is about fostering positive interactions — even when restaurant service falls short.

“If you value etiquette and manners, you might approach this situation by considering the overall experience,” she told Fox News Digital. 

“If the service was subpar due to factors beyond the waitress’s control — such as a busy night or kitchen errors — you might still consider leaving a smaller tip as a way to communicate your feedback without completely withholding payment.”

“It’s always a good idea to address concerns in a constructive manner.”

When it comes to being offended about a server asking if a check should be split, Rose said a customer should take any concerns to a manager or supervisor.

“Finding a balance between expressing your dissatisfaction and maintaining a respectful approach is key,” she said. “It’s always a good idea to address concerns in a constructive manner rather than withholding a tip entirely, as this could lead to misunderstandings or escalations.”

Lisa Mirza Grotts, an etiquette consultant in San Francisco, California, believes it’s hard to know if the customer who reportedly skipped tipping is being oversensitive, since it’s not known how the waitress’s question was worded.

“Either way, it’s not the job of the server to make the assumption,” she told Fox News Digital.

Restaurant customers should consider how much they value the service they receive and tip accordingly, according to Grotts. 

“As servers are paid a low base pay, a little extra can go a long way,” she said. 

“When in doubt, always tip. If service was extremely poor, take it up with the management but don’t skip the gratuity altogether.”

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