Posts Tagged customer service

How much do you tip?

I’m stealing this topic from David G. Mitchell over at

  1. When you go to a restaurant, how much do you generally tip?
  2. Is the percentage affected by the cost?
  3. Does the quality of service make a difference?
  4. What about the quality of adequate service? (That is, ignoring particularly poor or outstanding service.)
  5. How often do you find that you experience service poor enough to cause you to leave a reduced tip?

Here are my answers:

  1. Usually around 18%, though I’m inconsistent about whether that is before or after sales tax.
  2. Yes, though really just on the low side. I have a minimum dollar amount for the tip based on the number of people: $(n+1). Now that I think about it, it also affects the high side if I’m getting really good service — the more expensive the meal, the less likely my tip will be to exceed 25-30%, plus the service expectations are higher. Additionally, if a gratuity is included in the bill then it would take exceptional service to cause me to add more.
  3. Certainly.
  4. Not generally, though it may affect which direction I round the tip.
  5. Very rarely, actually. In fact, the only poor service in recent memory is simply slow service, and my tolerance for that is usually pretty high. Years ago we did have a server that apparently quit sometime after taking our order, but without turning in to the kitchen. A long time passed before anything happened, partly because we had appetizers. There were about 8-10 people in our party and eventually the manager came and told us that our entire meal would be comped and that we could order whatever we wanted. We came away with a positive view of the restaurant. I don’t recall what tip we left, but I expect it was pretty large since we weren’t having to pay for the meal.

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Sprinting Away

When I switched from my Treo 755p with Sprint to my iPhone with AT&T I knew I would be paying Sprint’s $150 early termination fee. I had not realized, though it did not come as a complete surprise, that I would not get a prorated credit for the portion of my billing period after the termination (which turned out to be 26 days – almost $37 by my calculations). The thing that did surprise me, however, was that the early termination fee was inflated by $12.71 in “Sprint Surcharges” (“rates we choose to collect from you”) and $10.16 in “Texas State-Sales Tax”.

I called Sprint to ask about the prorated credit and to complain about the surcharges — to no avail, naturally. Next, I sent the following email to the recently publicized address:

I am writing this email after having just spoken to “Russell” from
Sprint customer service. On July 31st of this year I terminated my
Sprint service of over 10 years. I did so with the full expectation of
paying the $150 early termination fee even though I felt that this fee
should have been prorated based on being 14 months into my contract.

What I did not expect was that I would still be charged for the rest of
my current billing period (August 1 – August 24). Additionally, I was
quite surprised that the $150 termination fee was subject to $12.71 in
Sprint Surcharges and $10.16 in Texas State-Sales Tax. The sales tax may
be unavoidable, though I am surprised that a termination fee would be
subject to sales tax. However, the Sprint Surcharges are pretty clearly
described as relating to service and the termination fee is certainly
not for service.

My final bill only includes the termination fee + surcharges and taxes
because the billing period was pre-charged on the previous bill. Still,
I was fully expecting a credit for the pro-rated amount of $36.66.

 Before I pursue other avenues of grievance, I wanted to give this email
address an opportunity to resolve this issue to my satisfaction. As I
stated, I expected to pay the $150, so I am fine with that. But rather
than the $172.87 that that charge grew to with taxes, I would want my
final bill to be either $113.34 ($150 less the $36.66 pro-rated portion
of the billing period during which I no longer had service) or,
grudgingly, the same amount plus the sales tax — $123.50.

In other words, I would want a credit of $59.53, or at least $49.37.

Thank you for your attention,

After the initial canned response I received the following specific response:

I apologize for any inconvenience you may have experienced. The charges
on your account are correct. Since you canceled your account during a
bill cycle then your are responsible for all charges as if you were
going to pay the bill if you didn’t cancel. If there is any other
questions or concerns please feel free to contact me.

Nice — not.

It’s pretty silly — it’s really not much money and I didn’t leave Sprint because of any intrinsic issues, just to get the iPhone. Prior to this billing issue, it’s entirely possible that a few years down the line I would switch back to Sprint. Now, however, I’m very unlikely to do so. For $50-$60, probably less than one month of future service, Sprint is all but guaranteeing that they will not have me as a customer again in the future. Of course, at the rate they’ve been going lately, perhaps they already figure that they have no future.

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