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Is this for real? Bad tipping 'trick' ignites social media fury

We get the real deal on an outrageous tipping strategy that's making the rounds on Twitter and Facebook
/ Source: TODAY Contributor

A post about a lousy tipping method is making the rounds on Twitter and Facebook, enraging commenters — but is it just an old plot from a 'Third Rock from the Sun' episode?

Well, maybe. An anonymous diner’s post suggests doing this: Leave five $1 bills on the table at the beginning of the meal, and take a dollar away every time the server "messes up," according to a post that’s been circulating on social media.

Aside from some iffy grammar and punctuation in the original post, the whole thing does seem a bit fishy — first off, it’s a pretty demeaning idea, as thousands have already commented online, and no one so far has come forward as the initial poster, or been able to trace the photo to anyone.

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There’s also the fact that this was the plot of a 'Third Rock from the Sun' episode (look for it around 2:20 of this clip) in which John Lithgow’s character — an alien, mind you — tries the stunt with his waitress.

Even though the recent post hasn't been verified as true, believe it or not this has happened in real life, as documented by Patrick Maguire, author of the captivating blog I’m Your Server Not Your Servant.

In 2012, a man on a date with a woman, told a server in Maguire’s Boston restaurant that he wanted to “play a little game,” plunking down $20 on the table, saying he’d take a dollar away each time something went wrong.

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After conferring with his general manager, Maguire, a partner/manager, decided to take the high road: After the appetizer round, a staffer boxed up the diners’ entrée and he planned to comp the meal, and ask the couple to leave. When he took the man aside to explain, the man was so humiliated and sincerely apologetic, that Maguire allowed the two to finish the meal at the table — and the man ending up leaving a $71 total on a $50 bill, with a note "So sorry."

Lesson: Don’t even think about trying this stunt, because chances are, you’ll get thrown out too, servers tell us.

“If someone were to do that to me or any of the servers I know, they would be asked to leave, because their job is not a joke or something to play about,” says Samantha Tippen, 23, of Loganville, Ga., who was angered by the recent social media post.

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Being a server is chaotic, she says, and in her state, servers make $2.13 an hour, which comes to about $0 after taxes, making the tips the only thing that waiters and waitress bring home to pay for rent, student loans, groceries and all those other bills.

Dollar bills and receipt
Getty Images

"For someone to dangle money in front of someone, like treats for a dog—that is rude and isn’t going to help with your service every time," Tippen tells "I can understand not tipping as high when your server doesn't do anything at all for you, or just screws up everything, but at least leave them something to help them out."

"Think about it, she adds, "What if every time you made a mistake at work, they took money from your paycheck?"

After all, we’re all human.