I am really sorry that your waiter was rude to you — no one likes an unpleasant dining experience — but yes, you still need to tip. In the U.S., we have created an economic system in dining where the majority of a server’s salary is not paid by the restaurant, but instead by the diner. If you decide to go out to eat, you need to factor your tip into the cost of your night out, regardless of the service. That’s just the way it is. If you disagree, you shouldn’t be eating out.
If we had a system in place where the required minimum wages that restaurants must pay employees were higher, you’d still subsidize the salary; just instead of a tip, you’d pay higher costs for your meal.
But bad service doesn’t mean you have to leave the same tip you’d leave if the service was great. I like to stick to the general rule of no less than an 18 percent tip if you were unhappy, 20 percent or more if the service was great, and 25 percent if the service was exceptional. Going out is not a right, it’s a privilege, and it’s important to remember that. The tip is not for you to lord over a server in order to have them do your bidding. It’s for you to thank them for even serving you in the first place.