I guess I have to chime in here. I am an excellent cook, and do not go out to eat for the food. I go out for the service and convienience of not having to clean up. I find that most of the time:
1) My water, coffe, coke, tea, etc. gets empty and remains that way
2) My food is usually delivered either slightly warm or cool. This is not the kitchens fault.
3) I will not see my waitperson more than 4 times during my entire meal 1, take order..2, deliver drinks..3, deliver food..4, deliver bill
this type of service deserves nothing from me for service. This is what they get paid wages for. If you want a tip from me, deliver me service. Clear my table when I am done eating, keep my cup or glass full, ask me if everything is ok, and above all, deliver my food while it is still hot..This will net you a 15 or 20% tip...in other words, they have to give a damn, or I sure won’t..
Same problem here in West Texas....oil country. Waiters are constantly leaving to go into the oil fields and service is terrible.
But, I normally tip a little unless it is just bad.
That said, the other day I had the best waitress ever. She refilled my drinks to the point that it came before I even had to ask her, she constantly checked on my wife and I, the food was hot and she even asked how it tasted before leaving etc...just great.
She got a good 30 percent tip, very very high for us....
If I was in a job that made enough to do so, I would have given her even more.
I think that is reasonable, although one might decide that a 10% tip is just part of the cost of the meal, with the other 10% being dependent on service.
It helps if you tell them when they first interact that you only tip for good service. And if you do tip well when you get good service, and you frequent the same restaurant (the waitresses talk to each other about good tippers, once they know who they are).
There is no excuse for poor service, but regarding food coming out barely warm, there's several reasons why this happens. One main reason is that the cooks do not communicate to each other, which results in a quick cook food (fried) getting cooked when a medium well steak gets put on the grill. Therefore your fried food will sit there under a lamp for 5-10 minutes while the steak cooks.
There are several different people who should catch this before it ever goes out of the window (the server being the last one). The kitchen manager should know better. The person at the window directing food should have caught it. And the aforementioned server who delivered the food should have spotted it.
As I stated before, there's no excuse for poor service, and the customer should let the manager know about it when it happens. If the manager doesn't correct the problem with the staff, then don't return to the establishment. It will fail on its own.