As someone who's worked in food service over the years, both behind the scenes and as a "waitron," I see the importance of tipping. I usually start at 15%, unless there are problems with service. If I ever leave less than 15%, I make sure that I let the server know why. I don't include things like screwed up food, that's the problem of the kitchen staff, and I'll let the manager know that there's a problem. If service is particularly good or bad, I always let the manager know as well.
One time, I let the manager and server both know that I wasn't leaving a tip due to the server not bringing out our drinks, salads, or appetizer. Once she brought out our dinners, she just dropped them and disappeared again. I tried flagging down anyone else to get silverware, and ask for our waitress. It took another 10 minutes before our waitress came out, after I had walked over to the waitress station and picked up silverware and a pitcher of water. To say that I was very disappointed would be a huge understatement. The manager promised that he would "do something," but when the check came, the appetizer and drinks were still on it. Before allowing the waitress to clear our table, I asked her where the dishes for the appetizer, or the glasses for our drinks were? She said "huh? I don't know." My response was, "you don't see them, because we never got them. I'd like them removed from our check." She told me that it was "in the computer," and she couldn't do anything about it, so I demanded to see the manager one more time. Given the trouble, I would have expected at least one free meal, but at least he took off the charges for things that we never got. I also told him and the server why there was not going to be a tip. I never went back to that restaurant, recommended against it, and noticed that they closed a few months later.
I don't know. I guess because I was on the other side I see things differently too. Often I leave way more than "required" My point was that waiters aren't my employees and it should be my decision what I want to leave. I have just gone and got silver wear or refilled my own drinks before. Many times its just new, nervous or over worked kids.My husband will roll his eyes because I tend to help clean up the table." I think deep down I'm uncomfortable being waited on and prefer to take care of others. I have only had an encounter with one rude waitress. It was at a Chinese restaurant in Florida. My son was in the Navy and we went to see him. She didn't like our orders and preceded to tell us what to choose. I got what I wanted though. My son for some reason had carried in a bottle of soda with him. He sat it on the table and she walked by and grabbed his glass and told him "no free ice" after he had finished his drink. We all just laughed.. He shouldn't have carried it in but she overreacted. She was left no tip . Nada.