Tipping Guide for Good and Bad Service from an Ex-Waitress

by Jamie Simmerman · 1,692 comments

Waitress getting tipped for good service

When we go out to eat, my husband always asks, “How much should I tip?” It seems as though this flexible figure stymies many patrons, especially when the service is above average or far less than stellar.

As a former waitress and hostess, I can honestly say that dealing with the hungry public can be challenging and exhausting, and that servers deserve far more than the reduced minimum wage plus tips the government says they’re worth. With more and more people seeking second jobs or temp work to boost their incomes, this issue is more important now than in previous years.

How do you determine how much to tip?

Here are a few basic guidelines to help you out:

Tipping Guide for Good and Bad Service

  •  The general rule of thumb (for me) is to round the bill up to the nearest $10, and leave 20%. This is easy to calculate, and it rewards servers for good service. I know many people claim 15% is adequate, but keep in mind that your server is making just over $2 an hour without tips to run him- or herself ragged. Go ahead and splurge for the 20%. You’ll make your server feel good, and you’ll get great service when you return to the restaurant.
  •  If you receive poor service, don’t leave without providing a tip. Believe me, a $1 tip will be noticed much more than no tip, since your server may think you just forgot. Before you leave a lower tip, however, try to take into consideration the staffing and patron level in the restaurant, and remember that your server may just be having a bad day. Leaving a pleasant note of encouragement, or a decent tip, may be enough to turn their day around.
  • Include a kind word and a smile with every tip and try to clean up after yourself as much as possible. If my kids leave food on the floor or sticky messes on the table, I ask for a dustpan or a wet cloth to return the table to its condition prior to our arrival. You never know if your server will turn out to be your next door neighbor, a single mom, a volunteer firefighter, or your child’s teacher, so treating them with kindness and respect is a required part of every tip.
  • If you receive truly awful service, talk to your server. If the service doesn’t improve after communicating your needs and failed expectations, then ask to speak to a manager. Never go straight to the boss with your complaints when there’s a possibility of rectifying the situation one-on-one.
  • Don’t skimp on tips in order to save money! If you can’t afford to tip adequately, choose someplace less expensive or opt for an establishment where you’ll serve yourself.
  • If your server only brings your drinks, or the food is served buffet-style, it’s appropriate to leave a lesser tip, but 10-15% still applies.
  • If your chosen establishment includes a bartender, hostess, bus boy, or other additional serving staff, keep in mind that your server will probably have to share tips with these other members of the wait staff, as well. In this case, it’s best not to tip solely on the performance of one staff member.

While it’s important to live frugally and pinch pennies when possible, tipping is not an area in which you should be trimming your budget. If you’re going to eat out, an adequate tip is a standard part of the bill.

Do you agree? How do you determine what to tip for good or bad service? You may also want to hear other people’s opinions on tipping, as we’ve discussed this topic before both here and here.

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{ 1692 comments… read them below or add one }

Waldaddy September 8, 2014 at 12:09 pm

The article is ridiculous, maybe the waitress had a bad day and isn’t up to doing a good job so we should be considerate and clean up after ourselves. Are you kidding me, if i do that at my job i would be fired. Waitresses are mostly over paid for what they do. I worked in restaurants in my college days as a cook and a dishwasher and i know that i worked a lot harder then waitresses are ever expected to work for less than waitresses make with tips and we have to be accountable to everyone. Also waitresses don’t pay taxes on what they earn above minimum wage. Also the article say’s it inst the waitresses fault it they give me bad service because of staffing issues so we should still tip well. That is wrong, i go out to eat and to be served well and it is the restaurants job to provide that or l will not be back and everybody loses when that happens.

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oktipper September 9, 2014 at 8:46 am

You are joking right?
Your hourly pay is not the customers concern.
Staffing and patron levels should be managed. This should not be a consideration by the customer.
It is not the customers job to clean up after themselves.
Also not the customers responsibility to talk with servers about bad service. You should be trained.

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Alex October 3, 2014 at 10:58 pm

I don’t get what you’re saying. Shouldn’t anyone’s pay be irrelevant to the customer? I think in a tipped environment, either everyone shares tips (making that food, busing the table, and cleaning the dishes is arguably all much harder than running it from table to table and cycling through your tables to ensure drinks are filled & dishes served). BUT…that doesn’t happen, and so in a lot of placed waitresses are the only ones tipped, despite the cooks/cheifs having the most skilled job, and dish people having an arguably harder one.

As for staffing, sorry, but if the waitress has to have twice as many people as a normal person can handle, she should be getting twice the tips. If service is half as good though, then her tips should be half as much, which balances out if she’s doing twice the tables but can’t devote enough time to give any of them GOOD service. That’s just simple math.

As for talking to the servers, you should, unless you have a social anxiety condition that prevents you from addressing problems with the people you’re having them with. There is always a way to confront people with a given problem, in a manner that is kind and disarming.

Anyway, I tip 10-15%. That was enough in the 90s, and since it’s a percent, it should scale adequately with inflation, since food is subject to that as well. If it doesn’t, something needs to be reformed, or the hourly wage for tipped staff needs to be brought up, but that’s not my problem either. If everything percent based kept going up, we would eventually have to pay more than 100% of our money to various areas of our budget. When you hit about 90% it becomes unsustainable.

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Monica September 18, 2014 at 10:41 am

1) If “more and more people (are) seeking second jobs or temp work (as wait staff) to boost their incomes”, that is a reason to reduce compensation, not increase it. The law of supply and demand applies;

2) The general rule of thumb (for me) is to leave 10%. This is easy to calculate, and it rewards servers for good service.

3) Don’t rely on tips in order to make money! If you can’t afford to work for your salary, choose a different line of work or opt for an establishment that pays a living wage.

“keep in mind that your server is making just over $2 an hour without tips”: nonsense, that is simply untrue in any civilized country.

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brian September 22, 2014 at 12:21 am

it is completely true 2.13 and hr in most states. I would imagine however that you make barely a livable wage yourself. If you have ever been a server then you would know that it is a stressful job an important job. With a name like monica i assume your black. and i admit i do treat blacks with a pregidous while serving your table after the first time i get tipped by you. I read a study recently that most blacks dont know how to tip because its a cultural thing. now that you have read this article you monica have been educated. Pass this forward maybe if you tip better you will get better service.

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Alex October 3, 2014 at 11:08 pm

You think a NAME, and one that is derived from Egyptians, makes someone black? Did you get that out of a study as well? If you’d ever actually worked as waitstaff before, you would know that Indian people actually have the lowest tip percentage, from a cultural standpoint, and that moreover there really haven’t been any valid studies on this, since seemingly cultural differences can easily be socioeconomic ones depending on the segregation in a given area, or actual cultural trends for the area itself, venue, or cultural trends of a dominant minority sector.

PS – the word ‘I’ is capitalized no matter where you use it. So are names. I could go on, but I’d probably just blow your little mind. Educate your own self for fucks sake.

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david October 7, 2014 at 7:37 pm

monica,
i want you to know the rate in Massachusetts is $2.63 for waitresses. I think you need to get in touch with yourself.

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Jack October 7, 2014 at 10:32 pm

You are so dumb on so many levels.

If someone is working hard at their job, they should expect to be compensated fairly for it, no matter if it’s part-time, full-time their fourth job or their only job. We live in America, not Pakistan. The law of supply and demand also has nothing to do with minimum wage, which is a basic right in America.

I like that you used the phrase “rule of thumb” (look it up) very appropriate here in an ironic way. 10% would be seen as an indicator that your were given bad service and/or are extremely cheap. It’s also just as easy to calculate 20% as 10% (multiply the tip you would have given by 2) or even 15% (multiply the tip by 1.5). And everyone has a smartphone or a phone with a calculator these days so this is all moot anyway.

“Don’t rely on tips in order to make money” and “If you can’t afford to work for your salary…” I’m not even sure where to start with this idiotic dribble. I’m pretty sure that most servers do “work” in order to earn a wage, it would stand to reason that since their wages come entirely from tips in order to earn those tips they actually have to sell something to the customer. Furthermore, how else is a server supposed to make money if they aren’t getting tipped and they are making $2.13/hr (which is what the majority of states still pay)? I’ve never heard of a salaried waiter so please enlighten me on that one.

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Muze Angler September 24, 2014 at 2:04 pm

Really Brian?
With a name like “Monica” you assume she is black?
The meaning of the name “Brian” is “high”. It is of Irish origin from the Brittany region.
Should I assume you are a racist pot head irishman from Brittany who can’t spell the word prejudice?
It never ceases to amaze me how a fool can turn any subject on the planet earth into a racial matter! You’re truly nuts!
We’re talking about tips man!!!!!!

The minimum wage here in California is $9 an hour! That goes for EVERYBODY and anybody can google it! What the minimum wage has to do with tipping is beyond me but these are the facts.

A servers job is to make the dining experience pleasant for each and every diner, each and every time a diner sits down. That’s your job. Period.

Want a tip? Do your job!

Please do not consider yourself educated.

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david October 7, 2014 at 7:40 pm

i believe the minimum wage does not apply for a tipped form of employment.

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jeff November 15, 2014 at 2:51 pm

Minimum wage, whether for tipped employment or not is determined by the state. There are several states that have a minimum wage foe everyone including tipped employees, California and Minnesota among those. As for the author of this article, I tip because I received good service, not to get good service. Also, cleaning up after myself? That’s half the reason I go out to eat, so I don’t have to worry about that. Think about it, you want me to clean up after myself and tip?

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Cliff September 27, 2014 at 12:29 pm

It is a fact that waitstaff are not paid minimum wage by their employers, because they receive tips. There is a loophole in the minimum wage laws that allows this. California may be different, I haven’t waited tables there. But in Texas waitstaff are paid $2.13 per hour.

When I waited tables I also learned that the IRS presumes you are being tipped at least 8% of your sales. So 8% of your sales was automatically assumed to be income for you and you are taxed accordingly. Based on that it would take something more egregious than I have yet encountered to make me tip less than 8%. For really bad service I will still tip 10% but usually leave a note of explanation, I have also sought out management. 15% is for bad to adequate service. I usually tip 20%. I don’t ask for a dustpan. If my kids make a mess (they generally dont, my kids aren’t brats, nor would I let them be.) I pick up the big pieces and expect that my business has provided ample compensation for standard cleanup of whatever is left.

I know from experience that waitstaff is expected to share their tips in some way with bartenders and busboys whether or not they sold any drinks or bussed all their own tables because the busboys were too busy. I think this is ridiculous. Busboys are not servers. They’re housekeeping. Paying them is the responsibility of management and shouldn’t be foisted upon other employees. With customers and waitstaff themselves subsidizing the payroll it’s a wonder so many restaurants fail.

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Bob October 1, 2014 at 1:58 pm

1st believe what a waiter/waitress says about tipping. She forgot you don’t tip on the tax…

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Bob October 1, 2014 at 2:11 pm

Let me add, since waitress/waiter is about the same as working at Burger King and let’s say we upgrade them to oh say $10.00 and hour. Really shouldn’t we be paying them for our time in the restaurant?
So my future tipping will be… If I’m in the restaurant an hour and I’m their only customer wouldn’t it make sense to pay them by the hour? Since they get $2. Something an hour, wouldn’t I tip about $8.00 bucks for a hour at the table?
If they have 2 customers I should tip $4.00 for my hour at the table.

I’m glad I read this, I think I’m stumbled on the proper way to tip…

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Greg October 1, 2014 at 6:00 pm

@Bob:

“waitress/waiter is about the same as working at Burger King”

How so, and why do you think so?

I’ve worked fast food, and I worked for years as a waiter. Waiting tables is orders of magnitude harder, more stressful, and more demanding.

Once when I was waiting tables, they hired a guy who was the son of a friend of the restaurant owner. He thought the job was going to be soooo easy, and made sure the rest of us waiters and waitresses there knew how easy he thought the job was. Long story short, he lasted less than a week. He was one of the worst, most incompetent waiters I ever saw. One of our regulars wrong a long, scathing letter about him. Last I heard he was studying for his MBA.

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D October 7, 2014 at 5:36 pm

I am empathetic to the below minimum wage salary. However, it is not a secret before accepting the position and that alone should motivate servers / wait staff to perform above mediocre since the incentive pay (TIPS) is reflexive of service rendered.
We all make conscious decisions of our career path and if its that terrible try working for minimum wage, without daily cash flow for two weeks, and see if you fare any better.
I respectfully disagree with the contributing author, DC & Northern Virginia have a 10% tax on food, so I only tip according to the food & Beverage cost NOT the exorbitant tax. A better suggestion is to have a baseline tip of 15%, increase it for outstanding service and decrease by 5% for subpar service.
Why suggest inviting additional discourse to the server or yourself by dialoguing about poor service. A prudent wait staff will get the hint that they performed below the expectation of the patron by the minimal tip. To suggest that people don’t eat out or ingest substandard food because of a tip is comical. Change career paths and see what repeated sub par performance gets you. HINT, it starts with an F and ends with D, no its does not have U as a vowel!! F I R E D
Just my unsolicited view. Hope it helps someone.

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Jack October 7, 2014 at 7:47 pm

I worked as a waiter through college to pay bills, I suspect many of the people who try to justify their not tipping or tipping inadequately never did, otherwise they’d know it is a difficult and many times thankless job. But the thing that a lot of you were correct on is hourly pay.

You’re right, you shouldn’t be concerned with hourly pay, just what you owe as a patron who received a service, and that includes tipping appropriately. These days 20% is the norm, if you can’t afford to tip the extra $5 on a $100 meal (like, you’re seriously going to go out and buy a 20 oz New York Strip like a “bigshot” and then cry poor when the check comes?), then stay home and make DiGiorno’s, or go somewhere you can actually afford.

It’s also just as easy to calculate 20% as it is 10% or 15%, whip out your phone and punch it in, or do some remedial math, or look at the receipt where many restaurants now do the calculation for you.

The way that I’ve always thought about it is I could give a 15% tip for what I perceive as “below exemplary” service, or I could tip 20% (an extra measly $2 on a $40 check) and give them the benefit of the doubt.

If everyone thought this way, on a 5 hour shift where a waiter averages about 5 tables per hour and $40 a table its the difference between $150 and $200 in tips. Average that over the course of a month and you’re looking at a big difference in take home pay (full time close to $1000 and part time at least a few hundred). That’s what is meant when people say that waiters rely on tips to live. Hopefully at least one or two people read this and it changes their perspective.

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ohiomark November 7, 2014 at 12:58 pm

Get owners to pay their fare share of the wages, and the problem also goes away.

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Greg October 7, 2014 at 8:55 pm

@Jack:

” These days 20% is the norm”

Says who? When I was waiting tables decades ago, 15% was the norm. Then and now, that’s what the etiquette books decreed.

In the decades since then, restaurant prices have kept up with inflation, so a server getting a 15% tip on today’s menu prices is effectively making the same as I did back then, adjusted for inflation. So … what are today’s servers doing today that I wasn’t doing decades ago, to deserve a 33% raise on their tips (15% -> 20% is a 33% increase).

Are they spending a lot of time and effort manually writing up bills because computers no longer do that for them? No, I had to do that then, but today in most restaurants it’s worlds easier with specialized restaurant computers. What do they do with all the time that frees up? I know what I’d have wanted to do with all that time; I’d have asked to serve an additional table and so make more tips throughout the day.

So, what exactly are today’s servers doing to earn that 33% raise that we weren’t doing decades ago?

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Jack October 7, 2014 at 9:59 pm

Greg,

And I’m sure you walked up hill both ways to school. You made my point for me when you said “decades ago”, inflation is a nice buzzword but has nothing to do with what is acceptable today when it comes to tipping, heck the base wage for servers hasn’t changed (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-04-25/waitresses-stuck-at-2-13-hourly-minimum-for-22-years.html) since you were waiting tables so I’m sure that alone makes the inflation thing moot.

Furthermore, I’m no economist, but I would wager a significant bet that adjusted for inflation servers make much less than you did “decades ago”.

Your point about “free time” is pretty hilarious, specialized computers you say? Well what’s the point of having servers at all! Just have the computers do all the work. No matter how you chalk it up, it’s a difficult job with difficult customers who want more and more modifications, gluten and fill-in-the blank allergy free food things. If anything computers have made things more complicated because instead of simply writing it on a piece of paper you have to scroll through numerous screens, split checks for customers (something I doubt you had to do since credit cards certainly didn’t exist back then) and generally just deal with pickier and more difficult people.

And on top of all that servers have to deal with cheap jerks like yourself who don’t think they should be obligated to pay what is widely accepted as the standard going rate tip, because that’s not what it was “back in the day”. I think you need to get a newer edition of the “etiquette book” bud. Thanks for making my point for me.

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Greg October 8, 2014 at 8:55 pm

@Jack:

“the base wage for servers hasn’t changed since you were waiting tables so I’m sure that alone makes the inflation thing moot.”

The wage was not then and is not now a significant part of most servers’ earnings. For most servers, most of the income is tips.

“I would wager a significant bet that adjusted for inflation servers make much less than you did “decades ago”.”

You would lose that bet. Average tip percentage is significantly higher, on menu prices that have kept up with inflation and more.

“computers have made things more complicated”

Not according to servers I know who did it then without computers and do it now with computers. Though computers certainly have their issues, overall they make the work much easier and save a lot of time. I have not met the server who would want to go back to doing it manually; that would be strange.

Also, special requests are not a new thing. Though there are probably somewhat more special requests today, they are also easier to deal with; pressing a button is easier and faster than writing it out. And, entering it in a terminal near your station is faster than running it to the kitchen in a large restaurant.

Your idea that computers make the job harder is strange and not based on reality. Of course there are servers who never had to do it manually who get frustrated at computer glitches and limitations, but that does not mean they would really prefer doing it manually if they actually had to.

Of course I had to split checks. Splitting checks is worlds easier with today’s computers. Some early ones had no mechanism for splitting checks, which required deleting the orders and reordering them while communicating with the kitchen that those new orders were not to be made. My last wait job had a computer like that — in fact it was beta; the restaurant owners never paid for the final release version(!), so we lived with lots of bugs. Those days are gone (along with that restaurant); today’s computers are much better.

What do you mean “simply” writing it on a piece of paper?!? You did that for both the kitchen and the customer, and then for the customers again if they changed their minds about splitting checks. It was a LOT of writing, and you got to do the math too. Pressing buttons and navigating screens is much easier; even the buggy early beta one I used was still a big improvement. Plus the fact that the screen is often near your tables, reducing long trips to the kitchen.

“generally just deal with pickier and more difficult people”

Ha! You’re kidding right? Clearly you did not wait on people back then. The average customer today is much, much, much more reasonable and easier to work for. The most difficult customers today = the AVERAGE customers back then. Ask any old server who’s been doing it for several decades.

“And on top of all that servers have to deal with cheap jerks like yourself who don’t think they should be obligated to pay what is widely accepted as the standard going rate tip, because that’s not what it was back in the day”

Again, exactly what are they doing to earn that 33% raise?

“I think you need to get a newer edition of the “etiquette book” bud.”

I recently checked them all out from the library. I’m lucky to have one of the largest library systems where I live, and they had them all, in their latest editions. I know what I’m talking about.

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Jack October 13, 2014 at 10:14 pm

Greg,

If you are using inflation as your basis, inflation raises cost of living for everyone including servers.

The question is how has the wage actually increased, and reports overwhelmingly (http://www.epi.org/publication/waiting-for-change-tipped-minimum-wage/) say that for waiters the wage has not increased significantly enough to keep up with economic conditions.

That’s why 20% is now the norm and you can argue it all you want with your baseless statements about inflation but inflation doesn’t fully account for cost of living. When you say 33% raise, you say it like it happened overnight, it only changed when it became necessary to make up for inadequate pay.

The national average wage was about 24k in 1994, now it’s 44k, what did the average person do to earn almost 100% more? Nothing, it’s an adjustment based on the market, the service industry is the same, but as you said service industry and tipped workers make all of their wages from tips.

Lastly, I was half joking about computers making it more complicated, but I do think your take on this aspect is complete bullshit. Sure it’s easier to do the math now and I guess you have to write less if that’s really a big deal for you, but since when was math the difficult part of waiting tables? Oh and I’m sorry you had restaurant owners at your last job that bought a computer with software to make your “life easier” and all you can do is complain about it because it was in beta, HAHAHA. Seriously man, it’s really too easy, either you waited tables in the worst restaurants on earth or you just think everything was harder cuz you had to deal with it (leaning towards the latter).

The biggest reason why servers earn that extra 5% is having to deal with difficult customers, like yourself, who seem to think that everything is easier these days than when they were doing it and just want to justify not giving a proper tip. No, I did not wait on people back then, and you do not wait on people now but I know that you’d be a really difficult customer to wait on just based on your blanket statements and bullshit.

Your geriatric ass seems to have forgotten that those etiquette books you checked out are about 20 years overdue, GREG.

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Greg October 13, 2014 at 11:35 pm

Jack, it’s a good thing you have computers to do your math for you.

The hourly wage was never a significant part of most servers’ income, at least not for most servers young enough to be still living. But going from 15% to 20% tip is a huge raise. Even if the wage were eliminated entirely, it would still be a small loss compared to the windfall of going from 15% to 20% tip. Do you understand the difference between big and small? What would you say to someone who asked for a $50 bill to replace a lost dollar?

Your argument may make sense for the very lowest-earning servers; I’m thinking a cheap, slow dive of a diner, where customers are few and don’t spend much. At a place like that naturally the hourly wage is more important than at most restaurants, and a larger tip percentage could compensate for the stagnant wage. But I’m pretty sure the customers at dives like that aren’t hearing you, and would probably only scoff at your suggestion of 20% if they did.

“The biggest reason why servers earn that extra 5% is having to deal with difficult customers”

There have ALWAYS been difficult customers, and on average customers today are more reasonable than in past generations.

“those etiquette books you checked out are about 20 years overdue”

One of them was updated just a few years ago, in 2011. The bellyaching about wanting 20% had been going on for several years by then.

“all you can do is complain about it”

I have no idea how you got that idea. Actually, I made it better for all of us that worked there. I worked out a way to program the system to accept ad hoc, spelled-out special instructions, which the computer vendor had told us was impossible.

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ohiomark November 7, 2014 at 12:56 pm

Not sure about this, but I believe part of the reason that servers keep wanting more is that restaurant owners, over all these past 20 or more years, have not had to increase the portion of wages they pay to the wait staff. Also, they put more and more of the workers at the restaurant in the tip pools, so servers might be forced to sharing more of their tips with other restaurant workers than they had to in the past. If that is true, you can blame restaurant owners for keeping their wages down, yet no one ever mentions restaurant owners…the wait staff (and restaurant owners) just keep slamming on customers for not giving them enough, and it gets tiresome. The servers just keep drinking the kool-aid that owners have been serving for decades that they can not afford to pay the servers.

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Eric October 13, 2014 at 3:39 pm

I have three children that are servers. I know how hard they work and the stress of there jobs. I have witnessed some pretty rude people that they had to put up with. One group of people came in and let one of my kids know up front that they where very hard to please. The complaints went on and on throughout the meal about one thing or another. they where given free desserts and a portion of there meal was paid for, as it is the policy not to have a unhappy customer. Then they left without a tip laugh to one another about how they got there meal for next to nothing.
There are hard working people that take on this thankless job to put themselves thru college. I know that a server isn’t always to blame for bad serves. It can be the result of a slow kitchen, over crowding and other factors. By inlarge I think most servers try hard to please. My kids get a real kick out of getting a better than expected tip and even more when they are given a good report to the management. Yea things happen, but put yourself in there place for a minute, they want to feel like they have done a good job and got rewarded for it. They will never get rich from your 15 or 20% tip.

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Big Don November 6, 2014 at 1:25 pm

Yeah Eric knows what he is talking about. Those waiters could be your kids someday. Take care of them. Show the world you’re a man and not a rip off artist.

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ohiomark November 7, 2014 at 12:49 pm

If servers do a good job, I am sure they will, on average, get tips commensurate with the level of service they gave.

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bartender October 26, 2014 at 2:50 am

T.i.p.s- to insure prompt service.

This is the bases for which compensation for service began.

Also, 10% in a restaurant is for unacceptable service. 15% is for acceptable service. 20% or more is for outstanding service.

If I’m averaging between 10 and 15 percent on my daily tip total, then I don’t believe I have done a good job.

Also, consider this:

Most restaurant stablishments Institute a tip out system, anywhere between 2 and 3 percent. That means, for every $100 dollars in sales, it costs you $3. So, let’s say you make $50 off $500 in sales. After tip out, you actually leave with $35 or $40 dollars. Considering that serving is “part-time” that means that servers, generally, work less than 32 hours a week. Now, 32 hours a week usually equals 5 or less shifts a week.

So I don’t come across as biased, let’s use 5 shifts to find the general pay wage if 10 percent was applicable.

500×.10=50
500x.03=15
50-15=35
35×5=175

$175 dollars a week.

For those of you who claim that inflation doesn’t apply:

175÷32= $5.47

If this we acceptable, then restaurants would then have to accommodate their employees with “back-pay”. This now forces the restaurant to have to either, increase prices or decrease labor.

What happens if that happens?

Usually, it ends up effecting service or effecting your wallets.

Now, with everything said, do you think it is fair to leave a waiter 10 percent or more?
Does inflation play a part in the tip scale?

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ohiomark November 7, 2014 at 12:46 pm

Not sure where all these ‘percentage rules’ come from. To me, if service is truly unacceptable, any tip amount left is reasonable. whether it is $1, or whether it is 10%. If a server gives bad service to a customer, he is running the risk of not getting much of a tip, and that also affects his work associates who may share in that tip. Once service reaches an acceptable level (and that level of service probably varies from customer to customer), a tip of around 15% and higher should be left, based on that customer’s perceived value of the service he received.

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Greg November 7, 2014 at 6:34 pm

ohiomark:

“Not sure where all these ‘percentage rules’ come from.”

Here’s a brief history of American tipping. I may be a little off on some details:

Era 1, through the late 1860s:
Little or no tipping. Tipping was for those awful royalist Europeans. To an American, tipping was insulting and degrading for both the recipient and the tipper.

Era 2, approximately the late 1860s to the early 1950s:
Wealthy Americans started traveling to Europe more and picking up European social customs. Including tipping, with much enthusiasm. Tip was about 10%, at expensive restaurants for the wealthy. Nobody had to worry about tipping bad waiters because bad waiters were quickly fired. A few old-timers protested that tipping was un-American, degrading, etc., but they were ignored. Still little or no tipping at cheap eateries for regular folks, except maybe in a token, “keep the change, kid” sense.

Era 3, approximately the early 1950s to the early 2000s:
Fine dining goes mainstream, and tipping along with it. But the fine dining restaurants for the masses had to charge much less than the expensive, exclusive restaurants for the wealthy. That meant just as much work for the wait staff but for much less money. Solution: higher tips. 15% became standard. Also, it became established that 15% was for GOOD service. 10% or even less for substandard service was accepted, and 20% or even more for outstanding service was encouraged though not required.

Era 4, approximately the early 2000s to today:
Many servers start loudly demanding 20% as a standard tip for average service. Not one has yet provided a logically defensible reason for it. They are not working any harder than servers in earlier decades (less if today’s computers make their job a bit easier), and their income has kept pace with inflation as menu prices have risen. Their hourly wage has not kept pace with inflation, but a tip increase to just 16% would more than cover that. Exception: cheap, slow dives where the hourly wage is a significant proportion of a server’s income; going to 20% for them seems fair, for those who do provide good service.

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ohiomark November 8, 2014 at 4:22 am

Thanks for the information! My comment/question on ‘rules’ was a little tongue-in-cheek. To me, I look at them as ‘guidelines, or suggested amounts. I still believe that tips should be a minor part of a server’s income, and not the overwhelming majority of it. I also question the new push to 20% that servers are now ‘demanding’ (doesn’t that word go against the true meaning of what a tip was supposed to be?). If they want to demand more, they should be demanding it from their employers, who really haven’t increased their pay in many years!

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Joey Volcano November 4, 2014 at 5:50 pm

Now, it is NOT important to live frugally at all, but to live and do what makes you happy. That out of the way, in the USA, the standard hourly pay for servers is still $2.13 per hour. Has been for ever it seems. They work hard for their tips. Most are good at what they do and deserve more $. I know quite a few that put in 12 hour shifts sometimes just to make ends meet. That’s 12 hours on their feet, running food and drinks back and forth.

As for tipping, I almost always tip 20%, sometimes more. Why? The people in these comments that wrote pure gibberish, don’t understand that you as a customer, already know that this is customary in the U.S., that going to a restaurant that has wait staff, will require you to tip for good service. If you haven’t done your homework or research before trying a new restaurant, then its your problem. Its the experience you’re paying for, along with great food and its not a new concept :p In other countries they frown on tipping, but that’s because they make a pretty good living with their salaries, so tipping isn’t required. Not the case here. If you cant afford to tip or are super cheap, then go to McDonalds or cook at home! Pretty simple.

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ohiomark November 7, 2014 at 12:41 pm

Not sure why it is the customer’s responsibility to ensure the wait staff are paid a decent wage. Seems like everyone climbs all over the customer for not leaving “enough’. The U.S. has the highest ‘expectations’ of a tip percentage in the entire world. If other countries can afford to pay their wait staff a living wage, it should be possible here in the USA as well. Restaurant owners ‘claim’ they can not afford to pay their help, but if all restaurants paid a living wage to its employees, the good restaurants would stay in business; the bad ones would have to either improve, or go out of business. I think that servers and restaurant owners think it is easier to pressure customers to tip more than to change the system. Fast food workers have been trying to pressure increases to minimum wages these past years; maybe it is time for restaurant workers to do the same; pressure its employers to pay them more, so they can rely less on tips. Yes, I know…prices would increase, but tips would be able to decrease as well, since servers would be paid more.

And…what does these phrase “the experience’ really mean? Customers are looking for great food and a good overall atmosphere (building and décor), which is covered in the menu prices. The only part the tip covers is the level of service the customer has perceived he has received, and his valuation of that service. To some, they will tip high whether the service is great, or average, or not so great; that is their choice. Others tip rather poorly, and that is fine also, if that is all they can afford to pay, or they do not put the same value on the service. If tips are to truly be required, the restaurant should put up a sign stating that a certain percent will be added to the bill to cover a service charge; then that would be the ‘required’ tip. Tipping in its current state is not required by law.

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Big Don November 6, 2014 at 1:17 pm

Leave a decent tip. I agree with the writer, if you can’t afford to tip, eat somewhere else. I wasn’t a very good tipper until my son started working as a waiter in college. It’s a good job for a student because the hours are flexible and the best money making hours are Friday and Saturday nights. So a young person working weekend nights is sacrificing for the job. Leave 15 to 20% and throw in an extra dollar to make an average tip a “good” tip. I don’t really like tipping but that’s the way it is in the USA.

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James November 7, 2014 at 6:58 am

OMG I have just figured out why waiters have become so demanding about receiving above average tips for mediocre to poor service! This is the the new expectation of the generation raised by helicopter parents. They always have been given praise and trophies for participation. Big tips are the new trophy for participation!!! Customers are supposed to be the new coddling and encouraging coaches!
It all makes sense not. These bubble wrapped kids have now entered a workplace that is not catering to their needs! I believe many of the new waitstaff generation are just waiting for that magical $ 1,000 tip to be theirs.

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ohiomark November 7, 2014 at 12:25 pm

I agree, James. This next generation coming up, for many reasons beyond what you have said, has the general expectations that they are to receive riches and glory just for showing up, and when that does not occur, they get upset, and rant about it. That is how they have been conditioned by their parents, the school system, their friends, and all forms of the media (TV, internet, etc). I am taking a college class this semester as part of the senior citizen program at a local state university, and I am seeing more and more examples firsthand of the entitlement-thinking this next generation has. They do not take the class seriously, miss many of the sessions, do not complete the homework assigned, even when they know the instructor will be calling on them to answer specific questions on the assignments, and they are just not prepared, and…it does not even seem to affect them. Now, put them into a work environment, well…you get the picture.

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Hawkeye November 7, 2014 at 3:28 pm

Justified … Blah, Blah, Blah … Hard Work … Blah, Blah, Blah
Shared tips … Blah, Blah, Blah … Dealing with rude people … ETC!

No education is required to Wait
Lots of people work as hard or harder in other jobs for LESS

You chose the job. If you don’t like it, obtain the credentials for a job you do like

WITHOUT blaming the customer, welfare wannabees

And DO NOT go crying to your family or friends when your social security payments are low because you didn’t pay in as much as others.

No, I never waited.
But I did work in a truck stop, had to go outdoors regardless of weather,
and Never received a tip.
And I worked as a bricklayers helper outdoors, hauling heavy bricks and mortar to the bricklayers. And Never received a tip.

And NEVER, EVER bitched about the jobs I chose or the job requirements

I didn’t particularly enjoy the above jobs, so I earned the required credentials
to program mainframe computers.

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Jack November 7, 2014 at 5:23 pm

Hawkeye,

Coming from someone who just spent the first 6 grammatically incorrect, poorly written and completely erroneous paragraphs of your above post bitching about how everyone but you was born with a silver spoon in their mouth and have it easy, I’m SURE you never bitched about any of the jobs you chose, or anything in life for that matter.

First off, if you’ve never waited tables you can STFU right off the bat about how difficult it is. I’ve worked many menial labor jobs as well, including bricklaying and I won’t claim it’s as physically demanding, but during a busy shift you basically run around for 6 hours, without much of a break, all the while just basically eating shit and smiling the whole time – it is not an easy job.

On top of that, many people who wait tables do so because, as many people have referenced in the comments section, they have other responsibilities such as kids, school, second jobs that require flexible schedules. I GUARANTEE you that the overwhelming majority of waitstaff do not plan on doing it as a career, and like you were so eager to point out in your own story, are trying to pick themselves up by their bootstraps and do something beyond that.

So I would challenge you as someone who is a self-proclaimed rags to riches story to think about that the next time you decide to stiff your waiter because they didn’t put your dressing on the side like you requested. Also, go fuck yourself… crotchety old bastard.

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Hawkeye November 7, 2014 at 5:44 pm

Jack,

Thanks for your thoughtful insight.

Pretty sure you voted for Obama Nov 4, 2014
because “hand it to me” liberals like you defy education.
(BTW, sorry you had to write in both the office and the name.)

Hard work does NOT entitle anyone to generous compensation.

Personal situations do NOT entitle anyone to generous compensation.
(Revelation: Everyone has personal situations, not just Waiters.)

Whiners do what they do best – WHINE.

Successful people find a way to succeed.

What I tip is my business alone, and I can count on one hand
the number of times I’ve left a meager tip to send a message.

My beefs are the sense of ENTITLEMENT and entitlement JUSTIFICATION.

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Jack November 7, 2014 at 6:48 pm

Hawkeye,

Thanks for your thinly veiled sarcasm.

Pretty sure I voted for Romney because he was the best choice, but thanks again for putting your ignorance on full display. I was unaware that tipping was a right vs. left issue, I always thought it was a cheap bastards like you vs. reasonable people like me issue… and I find it hard to believe you’re that successful if you are trying this hard to justify not tipping properly, maybe you are just a troll.

“Hard work does NOT entitle anyone to generous compensation.”

Hmmm… coming from the guy who just about shouted from a megaphone that they are a super right wing, tea-party, NIMB, welfare hating, red-blooded “Amurican” I would think that you’d be of the exact opposite opinion.

If hard work doesn’t entitle generous compensation then you probably should go to a different country like, say North Korea or China where your ideologies will probably be much better received. This is not to say that every hard worker does get compensated accordingly, but they most certainly should. And with your bricklayer, truck stop servicing, “worked all kinds of super tough jobs and never complained” background I would think you’d be on board with that concept.

“Personal situations do NOT entitle anyone to generous compensation.
(Revelation: Everyone has personal situations, not just Waiters.)”

You were the one who brought up your (ignorant) view that people have a choice to wait tables – sometimes it’s not a choice it’s simply what fits with their PERSONAL SITUATION. I never said they are entitled to generous compensation, just proper compensation. If they do their job properly you are required to tip, if not feel free to stiff them or maybe understand that they might be having a bad day or the kitchen is understaffed or a 100 other things that may be affecting your experience and that it’s not all their fault. There is no gray area though as to what tips are, it is not an entitlement it’s how they make their living and the large majority work hard to earn them.

“My beefs are the sense of ENTITLEMENT and entitlement JUSTIFICATION.”

No one here but you seems to have a sense of entitlement, entitlement to be an A-hole.

– Jack “not a liberal just a guy who’s been there”

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Jack November 7, 2014 at 6:53 pm

I also just realized that you thought the mid-terms were the Presidential elections, haha. Woosah, you sir, are a moron.

Greg November 7, 2014 at 6:10 pm

Jack:

“Coming from someone who just spent the first 6 grammatically incorrect, poorly written and completely erroneous paragraphs of your above post bitching about how everyone but you was born with a silver spoon in their mouth and have it easy, I’m SURE you never bitched about any of the jobs you chose, or anything in life for that matter.”

Hahahahaha!!! Touche! :-D

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Alexis November 11, 2014 at 5:54 am

As a waitress for a Wafflehouse I’ll go ahead and give you the list of things we have to do for just one table.
as soon as you walk in we say “welcome to waffle house”
we grab the silver ware ( note we don’t have the bundles of silver in napkins )
spoon fork knife
we lay it on the table under a little napkin
get your orders
call them
get your drinks
deliver hot food
make sure your all set to eat
we leave for a little bit price up the bill do dishes ect because we don’t have dish people check our other tables the usual.
give you the bill on our follow up check for refills make sure everythings good take your empty plates/bowls
most people want us to take the money and the ticket while they are sitting even though they want us to take you at the register when your ready to leave so we do that to make you happy
once you pay you may sit for an hour you may leave then it all depends on who your with what your doing.

it may not seem like much to a lot of you but if your in the middle of a rush and you have 5 tables to yourself and only 2-3 waitresses ( depends on the day sat and sun are our busy days and how competent the girls/men are ) it is a lot of work and you sometimes never get a chance to do dishes so it piles up.
I can gaurentee someone reading this right now wouldn’t be able to handle the stress of that coupled with only 2.13 an hour. I make about 30 dollars and work 3 days a week its really hardly enough to get by. 90 dollars and 30-40 dollar checks every week.

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Cliff November 11, 2014 at 10:33 am

It’s clear you’re working very hard & management shouldn’t be cutting costs by making wait staff wash dishes. That’s one example of management abusing the loophole in minimum wage laws. I hope you can find a better employer & that your customers are generous in their tips. But its not right for management to expect customers to tip extra so you can save management money by doing the dishwashing at 2.13 per hour.

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Jen November 11, 2014 at 10:23 pm

Ok. I never waited tables but I’m usually a generous tipper not because i feel bad for their income level or feel obligated but because i think their good service deserve such amount. Usually my minimum is 20% and often leave far more to show my gratitude. However today i went to a family restaurant with my kids and en encountered the worst arrogance waiter who didn’t bother to refill drinks. He must be having a bad day but his attitude of rushing my well behaved kids to rush them at order was unacceptable. For a week day 1:30 they weren’t even busy! I decided i was not there to lecture a waiter but considered leaving a quarter for tip. In the end i left $2 for $50 bill. I thought of leaving a note along but since this guys turned all smile and thanking me for the business so much so I just decided leave to save my time and energy. If you want a good tip you will have to earn it. Don’t think your customers are obligated to consider your work condition or other hardship you are going through. You want to say I’ll get a bad reputation for cheap tipping ? Oh well still i won’t be bullied to tip if service is bad.

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Greg November 11, 2014 at 10:57 pm

Jen:

“encountered the worst arrogance waiter” … “this guys turned all smile and thanking me for the business so much”

A few waiters use intimidation as a tool to get good tips. Sadly, it usually works for them. My advice: don’t play their game. The more bad tips they get for their bad service, the less they’ll play that game.

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