I found this article on restaurant behavior interesting, and mostly agreed. Until I got to this:
9. Don't even think about leaving a penny tip to show your scorn for a disappointing experience
Instead, promptly relay your specific complaints — including but not limited to mediocre food, slow or rude service, uncomfortable seating arrangements, annoying music. Ask to speak to the owner or manager and politely and privately describe, in detail, what got your goat. If circumstance keeps you from doing so (perhaps you were romancing a date or schmoozing a client), call as soon as possible to voice your displeasure.
The GM speaks — (Karen Binder): "It's a cliché but it's true. A happy patron will tell one of his friends, but an unhappy patron will tell all of them."
Ummmm, sorry. But that's the point, isn't it? I'm not getting paid to relive the unhappy experience. Its different at a restaurant where I am a regular, and can see when something didn't go right. But if I go to a restaurant the first time, am expecting a nice experience, and they screw it up, they shouldn't expect to see me again, and they shouldn't expect me to have good things to say about them. No, I don't 'punish' the waitstaff with a poor tip if the food was the issue but the service was fine. I've been to restaurants that local critics raved about where the food didn't impress me one bit. I left a good tip if the service was good, and have learned not to rely on restaurant critics so much for recommendations.
But if the service sucks, I really don't see anything wrong with this, when I don't plan on ever setting foot in the door again anyway. At least I'd get a little bit of satisfaction out of it.