The 10 Worst Things That Customers Do in Restaurants

Man Holding Plate of FoodWe’ve all seen that horrible customer in a restaurant: In fact, we may have even have been that bad-mannered customer a time or two. The fact of the matter is there are lots of ways for customers to misbehave while dining out. Make sure you’re avoiding these 10 worst things that customers do in restaurants.

Restaurant customers do bad things for a number of reasons. Some are having a bad day while others are simply immature. Make sure you are on your best behavior by avoiding the following.

1. Becoming Ansel Adams When the Food Arrives

It’s true that technology has brought us many good things over the years, but those patrons who insist on photographing and posting pictures of their food are beyond annoying. However, many customers feel the utmost need to share their food photography with the world, despite how impolite it is to use a smart phone to capture a dish it all angles. It’s become so out of control that many high-end restaurants in New York City have banned the use of cell phones altogether, according to the New York Times.

2. Bringing a Pet

It’s bad enough trying to dine next to humans behaving badly, but it’s that much worse when they bring their furry friends. Obviously, we’re not talking about service animals here, but those people who insist on bringing their little dogs that can fit in a purse and such. If we wanted to eat while listening to barking, we would have had a picnic at the dog park.

3. Attempting to Break the Record for Send-Backs

This one is high on the gripe list of many waiters: the customer who can’t be pleased and must have everything sent back to the kitchen. Sure, it’s one thing if your medium rare steak has a coat of charcoal, but some people are too demanding about the perfection of a dish. You’ll know this is you if you’ve asked to speak to the chef in order to give him a piece of your mind. If your palate is really that demanding, then stay home and make it yourself.

4.  Asking the Staff to Perform Mathematical Equations

Another bad behavior from customers that really irks waiters is asking them to figure out how much everyone owes on separate checks. It’s not that they can’t do it; it’s just that it’s a real pain in the butt and they have better things to do with their time, like make money.

5. Letting the Kids Run Wild

It’s definitely okay to bring the kids when dining out at most restaurants, but there’s no reason why they should be allowed to misbehave. It’s no wonder that bringing a passel of unruly kids to a restaurant is the first on a list of things that waiters dread.

If customers can’t keep their kids in their seats and the noise level lower than that of a jumbo jet, then the adults should probably get a sitter and leave the kids at home. If parents want to sit while the kids run around, then take them to Chuck E. Cheese.

6. Performing Grooming

There used to be something called manners while dining, like those ‘don’t put your elbows on the table’ set of rules, but many have fallen by the wayside. While putting your elbows on the table isn’t a deal-breaker, performing any function that is generally done in the bathroom is. It’s bad form to pick your teeth, put on makeup, brush your hair, or even file your nails while sitting at the table in public view.

7. Refusing to Tip

The Internet is filled with stories of patrons refusing to tip for illogical reasons that span from believing the waiter was too fat to not agreeing with the perceived political, religious, or lifestyle views of said waiter or waitress. True, some such stories are bogus, but the tip is not the place to announce your own views. Instead, tip generously—with actual money—and get a good bumper sticker.

8. Being Rude

Many restaurant patrons have turned customer rudeness into an art form, treating the wait staff like minions. There’s the ‘I’m-reading-the-menu-so-I-can’t-acknowledge-your-presence’ move, the ‘my-phone-is-more-interesting-than-you’ trick, and the  ‘come-here-servant’ snap or wave that are all unacceptable ways to treat your server.

Of the 100 items on’s list of things restaurant patrons should never do, about 90% are about customer rudeness. Unfortunately, it might take a little bit more control than you would expect, as a CNN article cites research that suggests we are hard-wired to be rude to restaurant staff.

9. Lingering Unnecessarily

Many restaurants need to turn over tables in a set amount of time to ensure profits and tips for wait staff. Lingering over empty dessert dishes or coffee cups may seem romantic, but it’s really a huge pain for the establishment. Move the ambiance to a bar or private location.

10. Commit Thievery

While it might make good fodder for television sitcoms, stealing from a restaurant is rock-bottom low. Whether you are dining-and-dashing or helping yourself to a new set of silverware, it still hurting someone’s bottom line.

  1. Johan Uberman

    But above all, what’s most annoying is articles like this, demanding customers tip. I will tip if I feel like the service was good; if it was not,then I will NOT reward the waiter for mediocre service. Frankly, I’m sick of people like the person who wrote this article which guilt trip me and make me feel like a bad person for not tipping on poor service. The tip culture have gotten out of hand in this country. Now I am expected to tip people in the restroom for giving me soap, people outside restaurants who park (and sometimes damage) my car. No thank you,I can park myself.

    • Tunes

      Cheap Bastard

      • Michael

        Any experience as a server?

    • Charley

      Johan you should stay the fuck home

  2. Mike

    johan, you should use the drive thru of fast food joints if you’re too cheap to tip. The waitstaff grt paid less than minimum wage because their income is derived purely from tips. If the service is thst poor speak with the manager before your check comes. I’ve been eating in restaurants gor more years than I care to count and never have I ever had srrvice so bad that I didn’t leave a tip. On occasion the service could have been better. When that happens it’s usually because the place is understaffed. The last thing I want to do is stiff someone who’s overworked for reasons beyond their control. That’s why you should complain to the manager, because there’s a good chance that’s where the probkem originates. But if it’s just tipping in general that bothers then you should eat more at home. You’ll be doing everyone a favor, especially yourself.
    And for the record: I don’t work in a restaurant. i never did because that kind of work isn’t worth a thousand bucks an hour with all the crap coming from whining customers.

  3. Vince

    My Opinion:
    First let me say I believe a good waitress or waiter deserves a twenty percent tip from the get go. However that percentage is theirs to lose if they do not provide good service, such as at least acknowledge my presence within a minute or two, I know often times they are busy but a quick polite I’ll be right with you is the first step in getting a full tip. I never reduce the tip due to the cook staff taking too long or bad food, but if the wait is excessive I expect the wait staff to check on me and refill the drinks if needed. Mostly I find in the restaurants I frequent the wait staff gets to know me and are usually quite attentive. If I run into the occasional sloppy or ignore me the percentage falls as well as the manager is informed. If that is unreasonable than so be it, I will reward good service but I will not reward bad service.
    Thank You

  4. armand

    i like to tip because it shows them a big thank you for your time. there was been so many times where service people do things that go beyond and i am left thinking this person didnt get tipped by this person and this other person when i see empty tip jars. i like to spruce it up this way. i like to get get credit for tipping and this is how. i just dont want to toss a few dollars when their not seeing but rather while im complementing their time spent on me.

    i believe a 20% tip is minimum and depending on the service it should increase to your liking. just like the fellow above comments that its most likely an understaffed issue why their lagging behind and definitely not the waiter/ress doing.

    good posts everybody. now lets tip people!!!! jesus!!!

    • OlneyFalcon

      Not trying to start a religious war here, but “Jesus” is
      an important word/name in some religions, and ought to get respect…

      Disregarding that fact is unnecessarily offensive…

      Not going to question your ‘intestinal fortitude’ here, but try
      supplanting “Allah”, if you think you can, and maybe you will get my drift…

      Show some respect, and make the world a better place…

      God Bless…

  5. idalil

    I have owned a restaurant,customer is always right,tips only if you do a good job,,children are children,I pay to have my steak cooked the way I asked for it,if the cook can’t cook the food correctly,he are she needs to find another line of work,just about all of that you said is all un correct.

  6. OlneyFalcon

    ” While it might make good fodder for television sitcoms, stealing from a restaurant is rock-bottom low. ”

    Stealing from anywhere is “rock-bottom low”,

    (restaurants don’t get special treatment on this issue in my book…)

    Except maybe for Robin Hood…


  7. Erica

    I was a waitress for five years and really enjoyed it. Any time someone steals it’s obviously not good. A lot of restaurants (at least where I am from) will require the server to pay of the meal if someone is dining and dashing. I do believe children ought to behave themselves when out in public and there is a point where children are children and then the parent who just doesn’t care what they do. Sorry it is not okay to let your kid use their heeley’s (sp?) to skate around the restaurant bumping into servers carrying trays. On the subject of tips, I think there has only been one time where I myself has not left a tip and that was because the server was blatantly playing with their phone and did not pre-bus the table, refill drinks at all, messed up the order, and was a jerk. We complained and he should choose a different job. I consider myself a generous tipper and 20% is a regular tip for me and more than that if the service is exceptional. I hate to be the one to say this, but I think that it’s ridiculous to tip everywhere. I really liked when i was in Europe and the restaurants I visited included a gratuity so you did not worry about tips and the servers received fair wage. I do not mind tipping in restaurants when going out, but there are other things I won’t tip for, but then I don’t use those services.

  8. DRL

    Two weeks ago my gf & I went out for prime rib. I ordered mine “rare” and it came “medium well.” I’d like to ask the author if it’s permissible to ask the chef if he knows wtf he’s doing?

  9. Patricia

    The worst is blowing your nose into your napkin. What are you thinking! Go to the bathroom amd do that. Cloth napkins should be band. They have someones snot in them.

  10. Keith

    OK folks, this is a late reply to all of the above…. No one is right or wrong but in the end does anyone know what TIPS means/stands for? NO! it means “TO INSURE PROMPT SERVICE”! T.I.P.S. is an acronym ladies and gents. I agree with that principal and having being a server, bartender and progressing up to a restaurant owner I now instill that my business, servers, bartenders, and especially management… We need to educate our staff on the best customer practices or yes they will not get good T.I.P.S. And on another note; the customer is always right but that doesn’t mean comp them everything either! I offer to buy them a desert or a drink and even their next meal the next time they visit. I want to show them that even though they may have had a not so great experience this time, give us another chance!

    Just my way of doing things but we all have an opinion and how you do things is your choice but on the defense of servers, yes they do make a lower wadge than in any other industry besides sales/commission jobs. Lets cut them a little slack because most that work for me are in college and this is just a means to make ends meet at the moment but it doesn’t mean bad service either way….

  11. Dennis

    I used to work 3 years in New York, I never have any guest left without tipping, no matter how cheap they are. Now as server in Las vegas Strip almost every day 1- 3 table no tipping at all. That’s still normal since almost once a month guest walked out without paying or paying with invalid voucher and left, so leaving me to pay at least 50% from their food. Imagine they enjoyed the food while I slaved by them and paid their food. Worst story one day these 6 women ( I don’t want to say ladies cause ladies don’t act like them) had 6 separate checks, 5 paid by credit cards and 1 cash. I settled all the credit cards with very cheap tips. The cash woman paid cash without the tax calculation, I returned her $20 since she shortage $3 in order paid me complete. She was in restroom as other 5 women said. I waited, went to kitchen and when came back found all those 6 woman disappeared and instead of paying me $23 as supposed to but replacing $20 with $5, so at the end I was running all the way to the lobby to find them but seemed they intended to run and hide. It’s not about $18 I had to pay but what an earth a six heartless woman dare to do this after all the thank you they said to me. I just believe what goes around come around.
    Thanks for giving me such a headache to
    Booth, Sarah credit card end 5287
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