Leaving a lower tip after a bad restaurant or bar experience is the absolute worst way to give feedback. The staff feels angry, and may be unaware as to why the tip they received was low, leaving you looking cheap and petty. Nothing gets accomplished, and no one gets better. If you are truly upset with your dining or drinking experience, the best thing to do is to give the restaurant or bar a chance to improve. The only way to do that is with actual constructive feedback — and not all feedback is created equal.

The worst way to react is by commenting on one of the many online review platforms. Giving a restaurant a low rating and ranting into the abyss goes nowhere, especially since all of these platforms are seen by the masses simply as a place to lodge complaints. It’s rare for anyone to ever share a positive experience on these sites.

You should also avoid complaining in the moment or asking to speak to the manager then and there. While you might be frustrated, this is a tactic often utilized by guests looking to get something for free, so it usually falls on deaf ears. You might get something comp’d, but you won’t have any real resolution.

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If you want to leave actual constructive feedback, the best time to do so is after you have some time to reflect. When you’re leaving the restaurant, ask for the manager’s card or for an email address you can write to with your comments. The following day, compose a note about your experience and what went wrong. Not only will the restaurant or bar appreciate your thoughts after you’ve had a bit of time to compose yourself, but putting it all in writing will also allow them to make improvements and fix the problems you had. Additionally, I can almost guarantee that the restaurant will offer to make the experience right, whether that is refunding a portion of your bill or inviting you back to dine with them again at their expense.

But please, don’t just write to the restaurant or bar when you have negative feedback! You should write in when you have had a positive experience as well. If a place has gone above and beyond to make your visit memorable, let them know. It’s sadly a rare occurrence for customers to share positive reviews, so when you have one, share it.