My two sisters and I have just been on a long weekend to London. Monday we went to a Chinese restaurent. The service was quite quick... actually sometimes too much so:
1) My sister finished her drink before the rest of us, she was asked if she wanted a refill, she said no, so the waiter removed her glass.
2) My other sister finished her meal before the rest of us did, so the waiter removed her plate, despite the fact that the rest of us were still eating.
3) We'd finished eating and asked for the check. While waiting a runner came up to wipe our table.
4) Once our waiter handed us the check, he hovered over us while my sister filled out the amount for tip and new total.
1)-3) might just be because it was quiet and the waiters had nothing better to do, but we did end up feeling a bit rushed, despite the fact that the restaurent was only 1/3 full.
4) I just feel is plain rude! Of course we were going to tip, but don't look over our shoulders to see how much! Had I been the one paying I might have been mean enough to write a big fat zero to give him a scare, and then tip in cash instead (because other than points 1-4 we did get good service, so I wasn't going to stiff him completely).
How would you interpret these things? I don't think I'd call it bad service as such, but definitely not good service either.
Oh, and as an aside, thanks to this community I tipped far too much the first night (at TGIFridays). I come from Denmark where service is included in the price. From reading comments here I knew that tipping in the US is 15% for 'regular' service (for want of better word) and 20% for good service. We got really good service, so I tipped 20%. The waiter obviously didn't look at the check until he made it out to the kitchen, because as we were leaving he rushed back, and thanked us for our generosity! :-O I asked one of my friends, and it turns out that in UK you til 10%-15%, so he benefitted from me reading a mostly US community ;)
Ah well, he deserved it, and we had a pleasant evening, so it was worth paying a bit extra for.