Skip To Content

    32 Subtly Shady Customer Behaviors That Are Guaranteed To Make Waitstaff Roll Their Eyes At You

    "Whistling or snapping to get my attention. Do it at your own peril."

    We asked members of the BuzzFeed Community who work in food service to tell us the subtly shady things customers do that really frustrate them/the rest of the staff. As we all already know, the customer is NOT always right, and it's time they stop acting like it. If you enjoy dining out, please read carefully, and make sure you're being the best kind of patron possible!! 🫶

    1. "People who tip fake bills or church/religious pamphlets instead of money. It used to happen to me ALL OF THE TIME when I worked a Sunday brunch shift. The worst was when we were busy and I’d just grab folded bills off of tables and find out hours later when tipping out, or even at home, that it was one of those fake 'Here’s a tip: Invite Jesus into your life!' bills. Why places even print those and feel okay about it, I’ll never know. Please don’t do this!"


    2. "Guests who take the signed copy of the credit card receipt. The signed copy is the only proof we have of the tip. When the signed copy is gone, we get nothing. I do believe that it’s a mistake maybe 50% of the time, but it happens way too often."


    A customer signing their receipt

    3. "When a server comes by with your food (and most the plates are heavy and burning their hands), please look up and acknowledge them and move your hands/phones off the table. We can’t set the plates down with your hands in the way."


    4. "Whistling or snapping to get my attention. Do it at your own peril."


    A hand snapping

    5. "Getting upset when I ask you to repeat back what you said because it’s loud, your voice is deep, and/or you mumble. And vice versa: getting upset when I repeat back your order to you to make sure it’s correct before finalizing it. Believe me, it’s a much longer wait for a meal to be recooked than to give me five seconds to confirm it’s correct."


    6. "If the host is leading you to a table, that is not your opportunity to stop and look around the room and pick out the perfect table for yourself. In busy restaurants especially, hosting requires some pretty particular planning to keep the servers and kitchen out of the weeds and to ensure that reservations are kept. There's a lot that goes on behind the scenes that you don't see. If you do need special accommodations, please ask for those up front (or ideally when you make a reservation), and don't be rude if you don't get to have things exactly your way. That's what staying home is for!"


    "Please wait to be seated"

    7. "Quit holding us hostage. If you need more time to decide what you want, great. If my hands are full and I'm telling you I'll be right with you, that is not the time to start a conversation. You are not my only table, and plates do not get lighter the longer I hold them. If I'm talking to another table, don't interrupt! You wouldn't believe how many people think it's okay to start yelling to get my attention or walk up demanding my attention while I'm helping other guests. You are not more important than them. Please, just wait. I promise I'll get to you, and the nicer you are, the more likely I am to 'forget' to charge you for that soda or tea."


    8. "I’m a barista, and it grinds my gears when people think there are hacks for getting menu items at a cheaper rate than listed. They’ll order an average drink and add/subtract certain things to mimic the menu item, but they expect us to craft it just like the item they’re mimicking. We will make it exactly how the drink is supposed to be made, and we will add your modifications, but it will not be the same quality as the drink you’re expecting to get. Coffee is universal — this isn’t your only option for coffee. We both know our drinks are expensive, but we don’t set the prices! We always suggest customers order the drink they’re going for rather than a page-long hack because, most times, it will not be the same. At the end of the day, if you’re going to an expensive coffee shop, you might as well pay the extra $1.25 to get your drink exactly how you want it."


    A barista holding out a coffee

    9. "Customers will ask for something EVERY TIME I pass by, and when they do, they won't say anything other than what they want. They’ll just say 'ranch!' or 'salt!' Once, I saw a woman go up to a coworker and simply say, 'Fork and napkins.' No 'please,' or 'can I have…?' or 'will you bring me…?' I feel like it’s their way of showing that they have power because we work there, and we have to do everything they ask of us. It’s like we're not people. They act like we are customer service machines that just take commands."


    10. "It's so frustrating when customers make out like everything is fine while they're in the restaurant, then turn around and complain on the internet about every little thing and leave the restaurant a poor rating. It's so petty! They would prefer to have a less-than-perfect experience and then whine about it online rather than express to us directly what they want."


    "Rate your recent experience"

    11. "Bringing in their own desserts. At the restaurant I work at, we allow customers to bring in cakes for things like birthdays; however, it becomes increasingly frustrating for the staff. Many patrons ask us to store the cake in the kitchen until it's dessert time (taking up room in our fridges or on our countertops), and they usually ask that the dessert is cut and served on restaurant plates with our utensils. I understand the motive behind it all, but if you want to eat dessert, just go home and share it with friends there."


    12. "I’ve been working in the restaurant industry for 14 years and serving/bartending for 10 years. A lot of restaurants I’ve worked at have had a 'seat yourself' situation. I swear there will be 12 clean, open tables for people to sit at, and for whatever reason, the customers will always want to sit down at the only dirty table. What makes it worse is that they’ll sit down and make it harder for you to get all the dishes off and wipe it down."


    A server cleaning a table

    13. "Complain about things we can’t immediately change. I can’t make the AC change faster, I can’t change the channel until you stop talking, and I can't turn the radio down until I actually leave the table."


    14. "It’s aggravating when customers don’t order a lemonade but instead will ask for several bowls of lemons to stir into their water. If a customer is too cheap to buy a drink, what kind of tip will they be leaving? It also potentially creates more side work for servers in the middle of a shift. In many restaurants, servers prep things like the garnishes and only make enough to last a shift. If a server has to cut more fruit during a rush, it’s difficult to keep an eye on tables and provide good service."



    15. "Please do not ask me if I have any prayer requests before blessing your meal! I respect your religious beliefs and practices, but this isn’t church. As someone who has worked in southern restaurants for 15 years, this happens frequently. It’s awkward every time."


    16. "People who stay for, like, 30+ minutes after they’ve paid. This costs me money because usually another diners could sit at your table. Or, if we close while you’re just sitting there talking, please leave!!! LEAVE!!!"


    A restaurant bill

    17. "For me, the thing I could never understand was when people waited until I brought over the check to tell me they didn’t like their food/it wasn’t cooked right/something was wrong, etc. — all after I had been to the table multiple times during the meal to check on everything and ask how it was. At that point, unfortunately, the assumption is that you’re looking for something free and probably aren’t going to tip well. Everyone makes mistakes, especially when it's busy! I have messed up/forgotten things countless times, so yes, there is a chance it’s my fault. Our kitchen is also constantly a hot mess, so my default reaction is to assume it was on our end (despite being a personal firm-believer in the idea that the customer is NOT always right). Most times, I would rather get the customer what they want/fix the problem at hand at the beginning so everyone is content instead of after-the-fact when now my assumption is you’re trying to get something for free/at a discount."

    "I promise you, the people who tell me early on in the meal and are polite, patient, and understanding get a bigger discount and/or something for free because they treated me so nicely! I’ve even comped a whole meal for a super understanding family because they were kind and forgiving during a record horrible night. In other words: People, PLEASE tell your server right away (or at least ASAP after first bites) if something is not quite right to give them a chance to correct it. Also, it very well might not be their fault, so don’t automatically blame them. If you’re nice, polite, and understanding, you might just luck out with a better deal."


    18. "When they threaten to leave a bad tip, even if they're just joking. It's demeaning. We all know I work for tips. We don't need to talk about it."


    Someone putting money in a tip jar

    19. "Moving tables without checking with hosts, sitting without waiting to be seated, being late for reservations, or saying you’re ready to order when you're really not (especially when we are busy)."


    20. "Guests who request things not on the menu. I worked at a fairly upscale place, and a couple would always request a fried egg on the side of their steak. Yes, we do have eggs in our kitchen, but it’s not on our menu. I would have to get manager approval, head chef approval, and figure out an up-charge — all on a busy Friday night. Our manager finally had to ask them to stop because they would do it every week."


    A woman looking at a menu

    21. "DO NOT call your server over to request one thing, then ask for another thing after your server brings the first thing (and repeat the cycle). I understand it happening once, but making it a habit will make your server rage."


    22. "I worked at a casual dining restaurant in New York in a part of town widely occupied by well-off, young families. So often, these parents would expect me to practically babysit their children, or would let them run wild all throughout the restaurant. This one kid ALWAYS broke stuff. It may sound callous, but if you can’t control your kids, don’t bring them."


    A little boy at a restaurant with his parents

    23. "When someone in the party is talking on the phone, especially if they're doing it while I am trying to take their order. We all get important calls at inconvenient times, but have some bloody manners and step outside."


    24. "The menu is not just a suggestion! It's one thing to ask (nicely, of course) for no mushrooms or the dressing on the side. We're happy to make a meal that you will enjoy. But, when it gets to the point that you're practically asking for a different dish...maybe you should just make it yourself?"


    A salad

    25. "It’s our job as servers to offer recommendations. We are happy to do so! But, if you ask us whether dish A or dish B is better and you go against our recommendation, it’s hard for us not to roll our eyes at you when you try to send your meal back. We told you so!"


    26. "I bartended full-time for 26 years at the same establishment and had several other side jobs. What really ticked me off was when customers would ask what my real job was! I made pretty good money there, and as a result, I am now the owner, so I guess I got the last laugh."


    A bartender pouring drinks

    27. "It’s annoying when customers refuse to pay for additions they ordered. Extras cost money, and a server can get in trouble for not adding those items to the check."


    28. "Guests who blow their nose in our linen napkins and then leave it on the table for us to pick up."


    A linen napkin

    29. "When they, or their kids, watch videos or play games with the sound on. I appreciate that you are trying to keep yourself or your child entertained, but nobody else wants to listen to YouTube, "Baby Shark," or Sonic Spinball. Use headphones or earbuds."


    30. "I work in a popular breakfast restaurant. Once, a customer voiced a complaint, and we had to remake her pancakes because they were 'too circular.'"


    Pancakes on a plate

    31. "When customers come in 10-15 minutes before closing. At the restaurant I used to work in, this would usually be the time when the kitchen staff would start shutting down the kitchen and start cleaning up, and waitstaff would start making sure things were ready for the morning. I worked at what was called an 'omelette house,' so we opened really early in the morning, and we needed to make sure everything was set up properly for the breakfast rush. Customers would come in just before we closed and still insist on eating, even after we'd tell them we’d be closing soon and the kitchen was shutting down. That was definitely an inconvenience for many of us on staff because it usually meant we'd all have to stay past closing to finish all our tasks. Just a bit frustrating."


    32. Finally: "Probably one of the most selfish behaviors that gets on my nerves is when I am obviously taking an order from a table and one of my other tables starts yelling to get my attention. Nine times out of 10, they’re asking for something that’s either already on their table, or it’s something they probably could've asked for when I delivered their food and asked them if they needed anything."


    Oh, to have the patience of a person who works in food service. 🙃 If you've ever worked in food service, tell us your customer pet peeves!

    Note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.