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

by Jamie Simmerman · 1,762 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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{ 1762 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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Mac February 2, 2015 at 5:16 pm

“It was enough in the 90’s.” Really? Did you know that a server’s minimum wage hasn’t increased since 1991? Did you know that the non-tipped minimum wage in 1991 was $3.80? The price of your service isn’t included in your meal. If it was, you’d be paying more than $9.95 for your steak and mashed potatoes. 10% is an insulting tip. It’s NOT a reward. It’s NOT 1991 anymore.

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Greg February 2, 2015 at 5:50 pm

“10% is an insulting tip. It’s NOT 1991 anymore.”

10% hasn’t been standard since before the early 1950s. 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.

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, as well documented in etiquette books from then through today. 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.

A March 11, 2015 at 3:58 am

Waiters are skilled. They have to be excellent with time management and multitasking. They also work just as hard if not harder then the dish staff. You sounds ignorant…..like maybe you have no personal experience on which you are basing your ridiculous assumptions!!!

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Scott January 28, 2015 at 8:24 am

Even if you tip zero the employer has to make the hourly wage equal the state federal minimum-wage. I never tip the waitress. I am not paying you extra money for doing your job.

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Brian January 28, 2015 at 9:01 am

You never tip the waitress? Do you live in the United States? In the US, if you go to a restaurant that has sit down service, the price of the service is not included in the food menu prices. We have a social compact that says we will tip, on average 15% more, to cover the price of the service. If you do not tip, you are stealing. You wont get arrested, but you have no integrity.

On the rare occasion, there are restaurants that did not accept tipping, the service is built into the menu prices, and this will be clearly noted.

If, in the US, tradition changes, and the majority of restaurants switch to a service included model, then you will not have to tip.

Just because the restaurant must make up wages to equal minimum wage, means they will average it for the work week, not for a particular hour’s wages.

If you can not afford the tip, you should eat at a counter service restaurant.

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Laura February 28, 2015 at 7:40 pm

The waitresses know who you are. You go to the same restaurants. They complain to the cooks. Everyone knows you as the guy who never tips. Someone spits in your food… or something. I’m quite sure of it.

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Ashley February 7, 2015 at 6:48 am

You have obviously never worked as an ACTUAL waitress.. keep in mind we earn less the minimum wage. I make $9 per hour in Canada, and thats considered very fair to other countries in the world even though minimum wage is $10.25 and we are never guaranteed full hours. Yes, I will admit, in the high season we make good money for what we do, but it’s never a predictable pay-check. As soon as winter comes and business slows down, you could be cut, even just after arriving to your shift. By law in Canada they have to pay you for at least 2 hours… so we’re making $18 per shift on slow days. And trust me when it’s slow it’s SLOW. So put together the $18 in wages (minus the tax, which we do actually pay) and the $30 in tips we make on an good 2 hour shift in the winter, that equals a whole: $45 (like i said, give or take), not counting tip out, to take home for the day…
The reason why a lot of restaurants are understaffed is because they have to stay under a labour percentage, usually around 9% of sales to make it “profitable” for the company (even though most of the companies are franchises, and make millions of dollars a year in profit per store) The restaurant business is so un-predictable, and that’s what makes it hard to schedule staff. One Wednesday it could be dead, but the next you could have a full restaurant.. In the business language its better to keep a low staff attendance, because there’s a good chance it’s going to be like any other day, but on the off chance they get screwed, it was probably the one day you went in and decided to bitch about it. Why would you blame the server? It had nothing to do with her/ him. Figure it out yourself…

Also, yes kitchen staff are also extremely underpaid for what they do, the entire industry needs a wake up call.

-Peace

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Ashley February 7, 2015 at 7:03 am

Sorry, this was towards “Waldaddys” response, not Brian’s. Brian knows what’s up

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Brian February 8, 2015 at 9:01 am

Thanks. I waited tables while in school. I tip a minimum of 20%. If I have problems, with the meal, I take it up with the waiter. If I have problems with service, then I take it up with the manager, but still tip.

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Tejas March 14, 2015 at 2:00 pm

To the waitress,
I come to restaurants to eat, not to distribute my earnings amongst your kind for no reason at all.
I pay for my food, fill owner’s coffers, tip you generously and drag the bartender, busboy and the likes’ weight all by myself?
I do AGREE that you get paid less, and that is why I tip 10% , this is the industry’s fault and why do not you find a better(real) job, or form a bargaining group for your own good, and group against restaurant owners?
It is not my fault, I am at a job that pays more than yours and I earn it for my skillset. It does not mean I use my skillset as charity to feed everyone at your restaurant starting from your boss to your garbage disposal man.
To get where I am in my career and to gather this skillset of mine, I had to move away from my country and had to gamble a lot with financial stability and disrupt my family’s equilibrium, and deal with uncertainty in life. Do not expect I can feed your entire restaurant workers legion with my hard earned money.
And I can undo, my 10% and make it 15%, but can your fellow waiter who served beef to a friend of mine who never touched meat in his whole life, undo the fact that my friend had a bite and chewed on it before he realized it was meat.
Waiters I find are lousy and they end up in jobs as such due to a variety of reasons, but I only pity those who had no control over those reasons.
This is just logic of my thinking, and I am not addressing anyone personally, but waiters and waitresses altogether.

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wowwww April 2, 2015 at 3:11 pm

Have you ever considered the fact that your waiter or waitress is also working towards a career? Or that he/she may actually already have one and is working two jobs? I seriously laughed out loud when I read this because I can picture you sitting in a restaurant with you room temperature water and extra spicy tofu snapping and demanding things because of how wonderful your “skill set” (probably answering phones in a cubicle) is.

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Tejas June 13, 2015 at 3:10 pm

So, there it is, a person who hides behind a “Wowwww” thinks a person named Tejas’s skill set must be answering phones in a cubicle. Sorry to disappoint you my friend.

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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Chris December 5, 2014 at 8:26 pm

Jack, I used to work at a high end country club where the gratuity was automatically added to the check, club policy. That is about as salaried as a tipped employee can be.

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Hanna May 16, 2015 at 8:05 am

*Raises hand and clears throat* I have certifications in hospital administration and medical billing and coding. I work 9-6 Monday through Friday in hospital administration doing medical insurance verification, and medical insurance pre-certification, with full benefits and earning 13$ hour. I also have a business on the side as an event decorator. I’m also black, and have no children…and I work at Applebee’s part-time. Why? I like serving people, making people smile and providing entertainment, and to pay my pool boy. Don’t judge a waiter or Waitress because they are a waiter or a waitress. I don’t understand any of the mentalities I’m reading about something as simple as tipping. Tip. It’s literally that simple. It’s not a salary based thing, don’t worry about how much I’m making an hour. Its not a economic thing either and it’s not a history class session. It’s purely courteous. Tipping your waiter/waitress is like saying thank you for doing a good job. That’s it. It’s really as simple as that. Go to McDonalds where you don’t have to tip and you get lousy service half the time. Please. You don’t have to tip them.

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Tejas March 14, 2015 at 2:08 pm

Waiters might work hard, but the reason they do is they lack skillset or had too much fun in college, to get a skillset. Get a real job, leave this process related jobs to machines.. Trust me when I say future of waiters is bleak.. At-least do not let your kids into this business, unless it’s a temp summer job.
http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2014/12/robots-are-coming-for-waiters-jobs.html

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wowwww April 2, 2015 at 3:23 pm

Plenty of servers have degrees and work both a 9-5 and a restaurant job.

ALSO, I’d like to add that working in customer service, for example serving, provides you with multi-tasking and communication skills, fiscal responsibility and the social capabilities to be patient with inept individuals such as you.

I have had two jobs for a year now because my parents do not send me money from Islamabad. One, a 9-5, a “real” job and the other, serving. I am also working towards a masters. Both my jobs are “real” jobs.

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Tejas June 13, 2015 at 3:27 pm

Okay.. You don’t need to be at a waiting job to get those skills.. Don’t rationalize your decision to wait.

Being a student at Masters level, be a TA or a GA or be an RA. There ate plenty of opportunities if you are worth your salt. If you are not, be a waiter and get a namesake masters degree.

I have a masters degree in business and a masters degree in technology, both earned working in an environment where I taught under grads or worked on different business related engagements for my university. Look for something on those lines that help your resume or career. Just do not pick waitressing as your career choice, it is not worth it. It is dead end and has no intellectual stimulation to offer.

Ryan December 4, 2014 at 3:15 am

First of all, your points make absolutely no sense.

Second, here’s a website from the US Department of Labor that shows the server minimum wage for each state.

http://www.dol.gov/whd/state/tipped.htm#Guam

It’s ignorant people like you that make working in a restaurant completely awful.

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Lacey December 29, 2014 at 11:35 pm

Actually its completely true I make 2.13 an hour and my checks average void-1.73 after taxes. I bust my ass for my customers keeping their needs in mind being quick and curteous smiling at people who brush me aside its not am easy thimg to do… I tip out a percentage of what I make to the hostesses/bussers etc so your 10% isn’t even enough to cover my ass I am essentially paying out of pocket for you! RULE OF THUMB be considerate and respectful to all people no matter what their job or status you never know the battle they fight every day

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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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Suzanna January 10, 2015 at 5:35 am

just to clear this apparent misunderstanding up federal wage is 7.25 a hour federal tipped wage is 2.13 a hour. Now its true many states have different wages Georgia were I live still has a minimum wage of 5.20 a hour but federal trumps state wages. 95%-98% of states pay the 7.25 or 2.13 for minimum wages.This is how it works for tipped employees you get taxed on your paycheck according to the amount of sales you made that week weather you were tipped on those sales or not. so if you don’t get tipped you end up paying taxes for that meal out of your own pocket. you don’t get paid to clean dishes clean tables clean the bathrooms refill condiments sweep floors or any other prep work that wait staffs preform that also is paid for by your tips. so when it comes down to it when you don’t tip your waitress or waiter your saying you deserve free service on their dime.

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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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Lacey December 29, 2014 at 11:51 pm

No, its not required by law.. But if you’re interested in being a decent and understanding human being its probably the right thing to do considering most servers make .47 on their checks after taxes (the IRS assumes the server makes 8-9% of their sales for the day in tips and taxes them accordingly)

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Laura February 28, 2015 at 7:53 pm

“Tipping in it’s current state is not required by law”.

People who think everything is by force… and are so difficult… I am sure they are miserable people.

Good tippers are full of grace and mercy and love. They go to Heaven.
Bad tippers are legalists who have to be forced to do or not to do something. We know where they go.

Well, of course, this isn’t even the core of the matter of how to go to Heaven, of course.

It’s just, by their fruits you will know them. These fruits… don’t indicate… a person headed to Heaven.

Jesus says to those on His right, “I was naked and you clothed me, I was in prison and you visited me…”

We’re supposed to infer, “I was a waiter/waitress and you tipped me well!” :)

Don’t you just love religious people who speak of the Last Supper? And don’t realize, what they’ve done for the least of these… they’ve done (or not done) for Jesus?

What kind of person doesn’t tip Jesus well? (Probly those on His left on Judgment Day.)

LOL

God bless!

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Shady June 16, 2015 at 7:38 am

That’s the biggest load bullshit Ive ever heard. Listen woman,
If you don’t know how religion really works then don’t try
And win your disguised opinions with this type of religion you believe in. If you tip well you go to heaven, if you tip bad you go to hell is basically what you saying. What a blady joke.

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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Lacey December 29, 2014 at 11:54 pm

I’m a server not crying for more money I’m crying for human decency and courtesy working on the industry has really opened my eyes people are so rude and disrespectful !!

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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! 😀

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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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JDog May 5, 2015 at 6:10 pm

Well what are you doing for the other 4 days of the 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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Ray November 23, 2014 at 1:42 pm

What a bunch of ignorant tightwads. I hope you have fun with the 2 or 3 bucks you saved by not tipping adequately.

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Hawkeye November 23, 2014 at 1:52 pm

@Ray – It IS the customers money until they decide whether or not to share it with the Server. I will not allow ANYONE to shame or guilt me into spending it other than by MY choice.

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Eve November 27, 2014 at 9:17 am

Ok I didn’t have time to read all the comments so please excuse me if i cover any points already made. I am from the UK and up until now, i have tipped on service that is average to excellent when i travel to California. However, as of July California now has a higher and fairer minimum wage. I’ll be back in Clifornia in a few weeks time and now i will tipping in the same way i tip here. Only if the service is excellent. With a decent minimum wage there is now no reason to tip a server if they give poor or standard service in my opinion.

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Withnail December 6, 2014 at 12:43 pm

There is no new normal.

Customers tip customarily: par is 15%, bogey is 10%, double-bogey is 5%, birdie is 20%, eagle is 25%. More or less.

The livelihood of the server is not the customer’s trip. Good day / bad day — not the customer’s trip. Front of the house / back of the house shenanigans — not the customer’s trip.

It’s the owners responsibility to pay a living wage, to hire sufficient staff to maintain a prompt and comfortable flow, high standards in food preparation and cleanliness, and to train servers so that they can give good service and get tipped accordingly.

It’s the employee’s responsibility to look for the next opportunity if the owner is too lame to make it happen.

Nothing, nothing at all is the customer’s problem. Anyone who thinks that it is or sometimes is or can be in this or that situation should not be in a business that requires customers for cashflow.

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Tiffany December 8, 2014 at 7:52 pm

I don’t ever leave a tip for any waitor or waitress, no matter how attentive they are to my needs. They chose their job. In doing so, they accepted their rate of pay willingly. It is required of no one to become involved in food service. If that’s the only job they could secure, I am extremely sorry for their misfortune, but that does not obligate me to surrender my hard-earned money. By the way, I also don’t give money to homeless people with signs outside Walmart.

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Hanna May 16, 2015 at 8:23 am

*Raises hand and clears throat* I have certifications in hospital administration and medical billing and coding. I work 9-6 Monday through Friday in hospital administration doing medical insurance verification, and medical insurance pre-certification, with full benefits and earning 13$ hour. I also have a business on the side as an event decorator. I’m also black, and have no children…and I work at Applebee’s part-time. Why? I like serving people, making people smile and providing entertainment, and to pay my pool boy. Don’t judge a waiter or Waitress because they are a waiter or a waitress. I don’t understand any of the mentalities I’m reading about something as simple as tipping. Tip. It’s literally that simple. It’s not a salary based thing, don’t worry about how much I’m making an hour. Its not a economic thing either and it’s not a history class session. It’s purely courteous. Tipping your waiter/waitress is like saying thank you for doing a good job. That’s it. It’s really as simple as that. Go to McDonalds where you don’t have to tip and you get lousy service half the time. Please. You don’t have to tip them. I’m almost certain you big black and fat and have been seen on my 600lb life. I feel sorry for your misfortune for eating so much, I really really do.

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Nicholas MOSES December 15, 2014 at 4:27 am

I think a lot of the commentators are missing the point. With a $2 to $3 minimum wage (excepting notably such states as California and Minnesota), it is fair to say that the labor (and you don’t know how much labor it is until you have worked in a restaurant, trust me) for “tipped” employees is not adequately counted in the prices quoted on, for example, restaurant menus. This is why you should leave 15%* of the principal: you did get service, and it was not counted in the price. (That said, if service is so bad that you complain to the manager and he waives the charge for your meal, you are leaving 15% of $0.) But if the service was acceptable or better (in my experience service is either good or bad, no in between), then 20%, if for no other reason than to make up for the stiffers.

Withnail (6 December 2014) does have a valid point about responsibilities, though I would argue that even if the restaurant owners’ mass shifting of the pay burden to customers is unfair, it is a burden that we know has been placed on us, we do not have to eat out so often (and probably should not) and the fact that someone else is not doing his part does not excuse us from not taking up the mantle when the occasion presents and we are able and we can effect positive change without too much harm to ourselves. If you can afford to pay $20 for a single meal, you can most certainly afford to pay $25 for that same meal. If you really only have $20, you are deluding yourself if you think you can afford to be splurging on a restaurant in the first place.

I don’t know whether “Tiffany” (8 December 2014) was being sarcastic, but the kind of attitude caricaturized therein is an excellent example of why minimum wage laws are put in place. You can believe in the free market all you like (I certainly do), but if too many people don’t do their part to make the world – and people’s lives – better, then either someone will force them to (not a good situation, I am the first to argue), or the whole thing will go to hell (even worse). That’s not because regulation is good or bad; it’s because that’s how things tend to work. The sayings “What goes around comes around” and “Do as you would be done by” are quite apt.

* I know that at one time, the standard was 10%, but the cost of food has tended to be lower in recent decades than it was in the 1950s and 1960s (when restaurants offered fewer frills and when eating out was a much rarer occasion for all but singles, businessmen and very well-to-do families, and there were far fewer singles), so the purchasing power of servers would have plummetted had the old standard remained in place.

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Hawkeye December 30, 2014 at 4:53 am

I respect ALL people … until they disrespect me.

That usually occurs with pompous, arrogant CEO’s and the like.

But, servers who expound upon the difficulties and unfairness
in their CHOSEN job are taking gainful employment and
adding begging to the mix.

Just yesterday (12/29/2014) I had soup and salad at an Olive Garden.
The waitress was professional, cheerful, upbeat and entertaining
each time she visited. Not there too often, just often enough to ensure
our needs were being met.

I start at 15%, but she EARNED a 20 + percent tip from me.
Since I am on social security plus a very small pension,
20 percent from me does not come easily.

A tip exceeding 15% is surely NOT given if I have to listen
to trials and tribulations.

We ALL have them – serving has not cornered the market.

Servers should consider their social security payment amount will be based on the THIRTY-FIVE highest earning years of their working lives.
If they aren’t paying in very much, they aren’t going to get much back …
When they will likely need it the most.
If working in a high end restaurant, they should be saving a portion.
If not earning much, they should be looking for better paying employment
and / or obtaining higher education.

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ohiomark March 28, 2015 at 11:22 am

@nicolasMOSES: You stated “I know that at one time, the standard was 10%, but the cost of food has tended to be lower in recent decades than it was in the 1950s and 1960s”. I am not sure what planet you are from, but grocery prices now are many times higher now than back then. Menu prices as well as groceries. One of the reasons a larger tip amount is cried for is that in more recent history, restaurant managers have become more creative abd shrewd in having the waitstaff share their tips with more and more overhead restaurant personnel, who in the past, was probably paid an hourly wage with no tips. Go to: http://www.thepeoplehistory.com/60sfood.html and see what grocery prices were back then, and compare to what you pay now.

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ohiomark December 30, 2014 at 6:03 am

Most servers seem to blame the customer when they feel they do not make enough. I never hear of ANY complaints about the owners not paying them more. The customer should not be the one paying the lion’s share of a server’s income. Tips were originally meant to show appreciation for a job well done, and be a token amount, not 90-95% of the server’s income. Yeah, I know, restaurants claim they can not afford to pay more. The interesting thing is that in many countries, servers are paid a living wage, and the restaurants are doing well. I do try to tip reasonably, based on the level of service actually received, and other factors, but I do not care for the tipping system being the lion’s share of a servers income, and the fact they have to share their tips with others, all to save the restaurant from paying living wages to overhead people there.

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Tim Trainor January 10, 2015 at 2:06 pm

I love how so many waiters and servers receive a small tip (or no tip) and the first thing that comes into their mind is “this customer is a cheapskate!”

Turning up does not mean you deserve a tip. Getting the plate to the table does not deserve a tip. Writing down a food order is not tip worthy either.

What will get you tips is offering VALUE to your customer. In a self centred, narcissistic take-a-selfie-every-5-seconds-and-post-it-to-facebook world many service staff have forgotten that you get paid when you offer a customer value.

You probably know that you have 4 seconds to make a first impression. Its all in you body language. You then have another couple of seconds to make your words count.

There are simple strategies that waiters can use to increase their tips without working extra hours.

If you are interested in seeing bigger tips in your wallet the go to http://www.triplemytips.com to discover how.

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Greg January 10, 2015 at 2:20 pm

“If you are interested in seeing bigger tips in your wallet the go to http://www.triplemytips.com to discover how.”

According to scientific studies, by far the most effective way to get the biggest tips is simply to be a woman with large breasts. Even if you give awful service.

And according to the same studies, the least effective way to get bigger tips is to give better service. The correlation between tip size and service quality is very low.

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Paul January 11, 2015 at 6:25 am

The comment about the large breasts carries some validity, but service also counts for me. I start with 20%. Screw-ups lose 5% each. Unexpectedly good service increases the tip to 30% or more. Screw-up examples: bringing the soup spoon after the soup has arrived, forgetting to ask if I’d like a drink refill, serving a “hot” meal after it has been under the warming light for 5 minutes–it’s cold by then. Examples of unexpectedly good service: pouring the beer into my mug, spooning the rice onto my plate, automatically removing the charge for an uneaten item. At a fine dining restaurant my expectations change. Those of you who eat there know what I mean.

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Paul January 11, 2015 at 6:37 am

If you get poor service, ask to speak to a manager and explain to him/her why the service was poor. Almost always they will either adjust the bill or offer you a free meal on your next visit. It is the manager’s job to correct the server’s poor performance. The manager can’t do that unless he/she knows poor service is being given. If the poor service continues, don’t go there any more. In the past 15 years I have had to write off 4 restaurants; in spite of my complaints to management, the poor service continued.

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Tina January 16, 2015 at 8:03 pm

As a waitress, I have to say that, a good tip is always pleasant. However, its your job, as a server, to ensure a good service, so do that. If there is a problem, fix it. The customer came to get served food, they didn’t have to come. On the other hand, if the server was very good, then why give a good tip? Its a polite way to say, I enjoyed this.
But at the end of the day, the customer is always right.

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Dean January 19, 2015 at 8:26 pm

I have worked in the past as a bar server/waiter and also a double glazing sales person in the UK… So I’d like to think I understand about low paid jobs.

Ii see tips as a commission you need to earn, it should never be expected and should be the reward for hard work.

And after reading an example on one of these comments of a waiter working 5 hours with an average five tables per hour at an average of a $40 per bill and at 20% tip, giving a wage of $200 per shift, has left me speechless. I would kill for the chance to earn that for 5 hours work, and some people on here think staff with bad customer service skills should still be paid for it.

I tip on good service, a friendly smile, a drink refill and “is every thing ok” every so often and I’m happy… But people still expecting tips for poor service and blaming low wages to push it onto the customer is beyond belief… this job like it should be with every thing, we should reward good service and punish the bad.

I think I might come over there and work my butt off giving great service without expecting tips of every one… I bet I would earn much more than my fixed wage pays now.

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Katherine February 1, 2015 at 8:10 am

I make it a habit to tip 10% at least but just like the other day I was at pizza hut with my whole family I ordered the pasta and while I watched my family eat I waited. Finally when her 10 minutes were up I got up and complained. Turns out she forgot my brother and I. And what I hate more than anything are excuses. I don’t care if you had a bad day but she told me 4 times how awful it was. I’m sorry but you pull your Shi* together and do a good job. And don’t tell your customers about it. So instead of a cash tip I left a written tip! My money was earned by working had and I will only give it to someone who works just as hard. (Ex waitresses by the way). I always gave my best when I walked through the door.

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Brian February 1, 2015 at 11:27 am

Instead of leaving no monetary tip, I would have spoken to the manager. I agree poor service should not be rewarded, that it is not ‘your problem’ if your server is having a bad day.

But, having waited tables, while going thru school, I have more empathy, I guess.

Only two types of jobs are designed so that if you work poorly, you risk not getting paid at all. Wait staff, and commision sales.

My empathy comes in, because, look at any other job. You come into work, you have a crappy day, you still get paid. Your full wages. Your boss might talk to you. You are at risk of being fired, but as a waiter, you literally do not get paid that day.

In the situation you describe, the manager will probably discount off the bill some of the food. I would then tip 10-15% of what the bill would have been.

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Courtney February 1, 2015 at 10:43 am

As a server I approach this subject with what I see as a very realistic point of view. It, for me, boils down to “you get what you pay for”.

I don’t expect that everyone is going to give me a 15-20% tip because, as mentioned by several people, you are not required to tip me. However, if you are a poor tipper or a stiff (non-tipper) I will remember that. If you return to the establishment and I am your server you will be receiving the bare minimum of service. I will ensure you get what you order in a reasonable amount of time. I will refill your drink (when completely empty). I will not be friendly about it, nor will I go out of my way to ensure your happiness. As I see it, you give me no incentive to do so. I have met my basic job requirements.

If I’m not your server upon your return, I will ensure that your server knows you’re a poor tipper, and you probably won’t get stellar service. If you decide to complain to my manager it is unlikely I will be reprimanded because as I said, I’ve met my basic job requirements. In addition, as soon as I mention “(S)He doesn’t tip”, my boss will probably understand. After all, they want customers who tip well. The more “good tippers” they have, the less likely workers are to complain about low wages.

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ohiomark February 1, 2015 at 7:55 pm

It is amazing how restaurant managers and owners have conditioned its staff to take out their frustrations on not being paid enough from the managers and owners to the customers. And yes, bosses and owners do want the customers to tip well, because they sure aren’t paying their staff anything, and they side right along their waitstaff to grumble about customers who do not care to pay exorbitant tips for mediocre or bad service. The whole tipping system is a farce. Other countries have restaurants with great service without any tips, or tips running a lot less than the American counterparts, and with great service. Cry me a river.

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Jack February 1, 2015 at 8:12 pm

@Ohiomark – I’m not sure you understand how it works in other countries. Tips are literally included in the cost of your food and most European servers are paid fairly well because of that. That’s why restaurants in other countries can afford to pay their waiters more, because you are paying more. You’re not making an apples to apples comparison here. And, while I agree the system is broken, the alternative would be to shift the burden of increasing server pay on the customer anyways so you’d be forced to pay the servers’ extra wages like it’s done in Europe.

Your argument about everyone being in some sort of conspiracy against providing good service to the customer also holds no water. I’ve never ever in my life seen an owner or a manager side with anyone beside the customer, and to do the opposite is tantamount to customer service suicide especially with sites like Yelp now a go to resource for figuring out which restaurants go the extra mile and which ones don’t. Don’t try to make yourself feel better for tipping poorly with your twisted logic.

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ohiomark February 2, 2015 at 4:57 am

@Jack – Yes, I do understand how it works in other countries. I also understand that if waiters are paid a fair wage that meal prices will rise, relative to what we pay now on the menu. I never meant to state there was a conspiracy…I just was inferring that owners love the fact the they do not have to pay their staff much, and owners are right there with the staff trying and wanting to get customers to tip more to keep their waitstaff happy. I would love it also if others would pay my expenses.

We both agree that the current system is broken; I was just commenting on the broken, that’s all. And, I am not sure how you were able to twist around my comments to infer that I tipped poorly. I never mentioned in my comment what my tipping habits are, but because I complain about this broken system (your words, above), you assume I am a lousy tipper. I do tip within accepted industry norms for excellent, average, and poor service. Determining a tip amount for great or average service is easy to do; however determining a tip amount for poor service is not fun, as I will reduce the tip amount for poor service. When my wife and I eat out, and service has been mediocre or poor, we discuss just how much of a tip to leave. I guess a key question that should be asked by a customer when they decide on a tip % or amount is….”Did the service enhance my dining experience, did it have no impact on the dining experience, or did the service detract from the dining experience?” Once that question is answered internally, a tip % (amount) is easier to determine.

Customers who do leave large tips for bad service just encourage poor servers to continue working poorly, and that reflects badly on the restaurant they work for in the long run.

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Jack February 2, 2015 at 5:24 am

@Ohiomark – I guess it was “the whole tipping system is a farce” comment that got me. For me tipping is very objective, if the service did not take away from the experience significantly I give 20%.

Why? Very simple, because it’s way too easy to be subjective and say that the service didn’t knock your socks off and therefore was either just average or, as it seems many people here mistakenly think, mediocre. The one area I would say that it’s acceptable to hold service to a “higher standard” is in fine dining – where the waitstaff is expected to provide a superior product because you are paying a lot of money for it and those servers probably make close to six figures. If you are going to go to Pete’s Bar and Grill then you should expect friendly and attentive service but nothing extraordinary, it’s just a fact of life.

I fear that you are the exception not the rule here Greg, and any small bit of inconvenience the customer experiences is chalked up to poor service by the waiter. I, having worked in the industry for a number of years while in college, tend to give the waiter the benefit of the doubt.

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ohiomark February 2, 2015 at 5:54 am

@Jack… Not sure what you mean by me being the exception not the rule here. I am not one to go looking for small bits of inconvenience. When I do go out to eat, it tends to be at better restaurants, and not a ‘bar and grill’, but I have had some great meals at bars and grills when I do go there. Also, I am not sure why you are called me ‘Greg’ in your comment.
I also worked to earn money to put myself through college and graduate school, but very limited work in the food business. Over the past 40-odd years, I have gone out to eat at countless restaurants in the USA and elsewhere to know exceptional, average, and poor service when I get it.

Jack February 2, 2015 at 7:15 am

@Ohiomark – sorry I got mixed up with who I was responding to. By exception, I mean that it sounds like you actually take a cognitive approach to tipping rather than most of the folks in this discussion. What my point was is that many people either don’t have a system for discerning good or bad service or they don’t care. Either way it’s pretty shitty. I was putting you in the former group of people who do not look for ways to undertip. I would also note though that if you have not worked in the food service industry it’s hard to appreciate how physically and mentally demanding it actually is.

Courtney February 1, 2015 at 9:04 pm

If you receive poor service, leave a poor tip. You should not feel required to leave a 15 or 20% tip on bad service. Honestly, if they’re bad at their job, I don’t want them as my coworker any more than you want them serving you. Bad servers drive away business. The less business there is, the less money in my pocket. That being said, that is the only time it is acceptable to tip poorly. Spouting rubbish like “You chose this job” or “It’s not my responsibility to page your wages” isn’t going to cut it.

There’s really only two ways to abolish tipping…
Option 1: You will have a service fee added to your bill. This service fee will most likely be in the neighborhood of 18% of your total bill. You will no longer have the option of deciding how much to tip, and you certainly won’t have the option not to.
Option 2: Raise minimum wage for tipped workers to equal federal minimum wage. So instead of $2.13 per hour, it would be $7.65 per hour. This will inevitably raise the cost of your meal because restaurant owners will have to pay their staff (in some cases) over $5 more per hour. Keep in mind with this option, having a pleasant dining experience will be a rarity. Any server worth their salt will not work for $7.65 an hour. I’d rather clean toilets, collect trash, or participate in clinical trials than do my job for minimum wage.

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ohiomark February 2, 2015 at 5:04 am

I realize abolishing tipping the restaurant industry here in the USA will never disappear completely; it’s too ingrained. What would be nice is if restaurants paid their staff a fair amount, and customers could, at their discretion, leave a smaller tip to show genuine appreciation for great service (not average or poor). That way, great servers would still be rewarded for great service, the labor costs would be more equally shared between management and customers, and poor servers hopefully would find other employment. And yes, I realize menu prices would rise, but we would get used to it, as other countries who do not tip at all have. Right now, menu prices are artificially low, because they do not have all the cost components of serving meal reflected in the price, like most anything else we purchase.

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Dean February 1, 2015 at 9:52 pm

@courtney

You mention the 2.13 per hour wage.. But people have mentioned that the employer meets the minimum wage if you don’t earn enough in tips!

Can I also ask.. What your average hourly wage is WITH tips?

I just can’t get my head around the notion of still tipping poor service… Why would any one give away cash that they worked hard for themselves away for free? For good service I always tip, and most of the time for average service… But tipping poor service is crazy.

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Courtney February 1, 2015 at 11:06 pm

@dean
You know, I’m not sure why someone would tip for bad service. I think possibly out of fear of what others will think of them, especially when dining in a group or on a date for instance.

The wages question is actually a great one because I think a lot of people who haven’t worked for tips don’t understand how the system works. Yes, legally the employer is required to meet the minimum wage if their employee doesn’t make this in tips. The figure is calculated based on a work week so this is what that equation looks like…
Say I work part time, 20 hours per week.
20 x 7.25=145 This is a weekly minimum wage income
20 x 2.13=42.60 This is weekly minimum wage for a tipped woworker

As a server, if I do not make at least $102.40 in tips over the course of my twenty hour week, my employer is required to cover that. This almost never happens. You have to be a really terrible waitress to not make $105 in a twenty hour week. It only requires making an extra $5.12 an hour in tips.
I’ve never had this happen but I’ve met a couple of people it has happened to and it’s not as if your boss says “Oh hey, Sally, I noticed you didn’t hit minimum so I made up the difference”. Your boss has no idea how much you make in (cash) tips so it will be your responsibility to bring this to their attention. At that point it is also your responsibility to prove that you didn’t meet minimum. This results in a rather cloudy version of he said/she said between the employer and the employee. Often employees end up having to file a complaint with their local Department of Labor (which yes, they often win) but if you’ve ever filed paperwork with any government agency you know it’s never a speedy process.

And there you have the wonderful workings of the system. Like I stated, I wouldn’t serve for minimum wage. I would wager I made roughly $30,000 last year and I work at a diner. I feel I earn a fair wage. People working full time at a high end restaurant can probably make twice that. Think it’s too much? Well I think pro sports players, private nannies, investment bankers and CEOs get paid too much…but I bet they’d beg to differ.

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Hawkeye February 2, 2015 at 5:40 am

There is considerable discussion from the viewpoint of serving.

What I don’t see a lot of is discussing cost of living and comparative salaries.

The cost of living in a small town is almost always much less than in a city.
So, someone waiting in the finest restaurant in a more rural area may be better off financially than someone working in a similar restaurant in a city. And, in the city, the customers are also experiencing the higher cost of living.
No point to my comment other than the perspective of both waiters and customers is going to vary.

The average annual salary nationwide for a bricklayer’s helper is $17,000/year.
I picked that because I did that job when I was young.
Hauling bricks and mortar in a wheelbarrow is VERY physically demanding.
And, the work is mostly outdoors.
So, even if a waiter is working very hard, expounding on their “hard work”
is received by me as whining when they are taking home more than a bricklayer’s helper. Both are unskilled labor with the quality of the work dependent on the individual’s drive, not whether they hold a degree.

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Jack February 2, 2015 at 7:35 am

@Hawkeye – First off I’m really glad you indicated that there was no point to your first comment. Thanks for making that clear and I wholeheartedly agree with you.

Secondly, I’m not sure where you came up with the bricklayer’s assistant (not even the bricklayer himself?!) as an apples to apples comparison. Yes, both jobs are very physically demanding – brick laying I would admit more so but it doesn’t take away from restaurant work requiring you to constantly be lifting heavy things such as trays full of food and drinks. But that’s really where it ends. As a server you have to be knowledgeable, polite, engaging and personable – qualities I wouldn’t associate with unskilled labor. Not to mention that I personally would much rather be outdoors working 100% percent of the time.

This comment is really asinine if you think about it.

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Hawkeye February 2, 2015 at 10:01 am

@Jack,

My first comment was to illustrate differences in perspective.
That is lost on people wearing blinders.

I’m pretty sure you haven’t worked as a bricklayer’s helper.
If you had, you’d know that while letting a bricklayer run out of supplies isn’t going to cost you a tip, it WILL result in a thorough tongue-lashing that EVERYONE on the job will hear. I.E., poor service will result not in a reduced tip, but public SHAME! (And, no, that didn’t happen to me but I saw it happen to others.)

You choose to elevate your position without credentials. Almost every job requires learning. My point is neither waiting nor bricklayer’s helper require a formal education. And “knowledgeable, polite, engaging and personable” WILL come in handy when inevitably near the end of the day a load of mortar or brick is spilled.

Sure you’d ” … rather be outdoors … ” – when it’s 60 – 70 degrees and not raining. Try it when the temp’s are over 90 or under 50 … when work MUST continue. A bit more challenging than working in a climate controlled environment.

This is my last reply to you.
“Don’t argue with idiots because they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.”

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Jack February 2, 2015 at 11:19 am

@Hawkeye – You can reply to this or not.

I have worked labor jobs before – landscaping (where I did do bricklaying) and construction (Where I did demo, flooring, painting, etc.) – rain or shine. I also have worked as a server at various restaurants (bars, pubs, fine French cuisine, fine seafood) so I think it’s a safe bet that I have a more comprehensive, unique and representative view of where things are today in these respective industries.

If you work menial labor, as you are comparing serving to, there is little to no learning curve, you basically do grunt work and that is why you get paid very little. There are, suffice to say, some server jobs that aren’t much more than order takers, but I would compare that to working in a fast food restaurant, or a sandwich shop and not a sit down restaurant where there are likely things you need to learn in order to be effective as well as certain nuances to the job that require having a particular disposition. I’m not arguing that you need a formal education to be a server (although most states do require certifications and training for alcohol and food safety) but I am saying that it’s not something you can just pick up right away, and not everyone’s going to be good at it. If you are a hard worker you can succeed in bricklaying and other labor positions.

You’re not making an apples to apples comparison, and you make assumptions about the service industry that you really can’t make unless you’ve worked at a restaurant. Which you admit you have not. Not sure how you can claim other people are wearing blinders as you compare two jobs that are not close to being similar.

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Greg February 2, 2015 at 6:05 pm

Jack, that may be the very best reply I’ve ever seen given to Hawkeye here.

However, Hawkeye already knows everything about all jobs he’s never had. In particular, he knows exactly how hard it is to wait tables (which he has never done).

If you ever want to know how hard any job is in the whole wide world, just ask Hawkeye. He’s the expert!

Hawkeye February 2, 2015 at 6:45 pm

Jack,

And certainly Greg knows of which he speaks!

After all, he’s getting implants so his tips will be bigger.

Greg February 2, 2015 at 7:37 pm

Hawkeye,

That’s offensive and inappropriate for this family web page. You should be ashamed of yourself.

Courtney February 2, 2015 at 7:41 am

@hawkeye

From reading your earlier post, you seem like a very reasonable person. I can tell that you are probably not someone I would be put in a position to defend my profession to. Unfortunately when articles like this are published, reasonable people such as yourself seem to be the minority.

I normally never feel the need to mention that I work hard to earn a living. After all it’s my chosen profession, I enjoy it, and I’ve always felt that I’m fairly compensated for it. When I see people saying things such as “I don’t tip because it’s not my responsibility to pay your wages” or “It’s not my fault you’re too uneducated or lazy to go out and get a decent job”, I tend to get riled up as do a lot of my fellow service workers. I’m sure you, as a tradesman, have encountered these people as well. People who make you feel as if you’re unworthy because, for instance, you chose to enter the work force instead of continuing your education.

I do not feel that I am entitled to tips. I do however feel as though I earn them through hard work. I don’t feel as if I, or anyone else for that matter, should ever be forced to defend the way that they earn their living. The key word there of course being EARN. With every good or service purchased we pay someone’s wages. The only difference with the service industry is that you’re paying me directly instead of my employer. Lots of educated, hard-working people hold “menial” jobs, so I encourage people to stop thinking they’re better than the person who pours their coffee or changes their oil. Obviously, @hawkeye, this last portion isn’t directed at you or anyone else who understands these simple concepts.

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Courtney February 2, 2015 at 9:07 am

I also want to point out that I think @jack made a stellar observation. A lot of people do not have a good system in place for discerning between good and poor service. Here’s a great example that is fairly common…
Your water has been empty for 5 minutes. You look around for your sever and discover they are:
Scenario 1) Sitting at the bar on their cell phone.
Scenario 2) Running around like a maniac, or what we in the industry like to call “in the weeds”
Scenario 1 is a blatant example of poor service. Under no circumstance should you tip this person and in fact you should speak to their manager.
Scenario 2 is not as simple. Is this still poor service? Technically yes, but not at the fault of your server. Obviously it isn’t your (the customers) fault either.
What commonly occurs at this point is the server gets a poor tip. Now, I certainly would not expect a 20% tip at this point, but by leaving say a 5% tip or no tip, you are punishing someone who is no more at fault for this indiscretion than you are. Imagine if your wages were docked because your boss failed to do their job. Does this happen? I’m sure it does, but you’ll be hard pressed to find someone who considers that fair. And unlike you, who may be able to go to upper management and rectify the situation, I am just stuck with it.
Granted at this point I could just quit my job because my employer obviously, well, sucks. I personally would probably do just that. But let’s not kid ourselves…employment isn’t exactly growing on trees these days, and for many this simply isn’t an option.

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Hawkeye February 2, 2015 at 10:06 am

@Courtney,

I enjoy exchanging views with courteous, reasonable people like yourself.

Sometimes, incorrect assumptions are made.

While I worked as a bricklayer’s helper in my 20’s, I retired from a position as a Programming Manager of a decent sized financial institution.

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Dean February 2, 2015 at 8:32 pm

After reading Courtneys reply, and a few others on here.. I understand a little more about the tipping process over there in the US.

Tipping is obviously needed due to the low hourly wage and the hard process of getting the employer to meet the minimum wage if enough tips were not earnt.

I’m coming over to take my little one to Florida next year (after a lot of saving up) and thought I’d come on here to get the latest on tipping.

As I’m from the UK, so for me it’s usually a tip of ” have a drink on me” so about £2/£3 on a £20/£30 meal and it’s usually depends on a few things.

Now it seems compared to the UK, your wages are higher (with tips included) than over here for table servers… I currently work in a conference centre, and those here that serve, (unless they are a supervisor) are on 0 hour contract and on about £7 per hour… With maybe only £20 tips per year. So I know which I’d prefer.

maybe the expectations of some, to tip poor service, with the fact that there is even an expected % to tip, makes it strange to me…. But I suppose they say “when in Rome”

I guess if you guys were taken out of you comfort zone and what’s normal for the U.S. and going to a country with say, a 35% tip expectation, with servers earning more than you, you might start to question the tipping process.

But hay ho… I hope you servers will give me a wink and a smile for the 20% 😉

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Hawkeye February 4, 2015 at 4:28 am

For another view, read:

http://www.thrillist.com/eat/nation/why-you-should-stop-tipping-reasons-not-to-tip

Since it takes a lot of words to develop the point, the end follows:

Conclusion
Whether you start leaving 0% tips is up to you. I can’t make you do it, and I may or may not do it myself. But that’s the point — an employee’s take-home pay shouldn’t be up to you, or me, or anyone other than his/her employer. When we tip, we intend to do right by the people handling our food, but we’re actually just entrenching a system that takes advantage of them. We’re screwing everything up.

P.S. I am NOT saying I fully agree, just that it’s worth considering.

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Amber February 9, 2015 at 1:21 pm

I am a server and when someone tips me 10 percent and under I take it really personally and get kind of upset. Not because of the money, but because I think I did something to make them angry or they did not like me. When I go out to a restaurant I find tipping as a way that tells them I think they are doing a good job.
Also at our job we tip out 5 percent of our SALES. So if we are not tipped we owe money to the restaurant. For example, if someone’s bill is at 250 dollars and they leave nothing, we then owe 12.5 dollars to the restaurant. So we are basically paying to serve you. I am not saying that is your problem as the guest. I would never tell someone I was serving that. I just think everyone should know the facts before we make decisions in life. If you truly believe that you shouldn’t tip then fine that’s your prerogative. But I like to make other people happy and spread joy. I am someone who believes in the whole “pay it forward” mindset. But if tipping is something you cant do and you don’t have the money for it then I wouldn’t want to take money from you. Seems like you need the money more than I do, so keep it. Just be nice, at least. Nobody likes to be treated like crap.

I am aware that I probably should not be in this job because I take it so hard to heart. I have had many nights where I have ran to the bathroom crying because of the stresses that serving can put you under. The pressure to constantly on your shoulders to make everyone happy. I am currently taking courses to become a preschool teacher and serving is helping me pay for my schooling and living expenses. So yes I am changing careers, but it would be nice to be working in a happy environment in the mean time.

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Chaos June 4, 2015 at 9:20 pm

I’m ……odd I suppose, I generally tip about 25-50% depending more on how much I have on me. My eviler side wants to leave cash tips tho, so I can see their excitement. I’m twisted.

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Shady June 16, 2015 at 8:01 am

The problem here is that the problem will never get solved. People go up against each other and judge people on their lack of education, this and that blah blah. Its a never ending cycle until the post gets removed along with all the comments in it. Realistic truth is that if waiters/waitresses have a problem with their earnings they should take it up with their employer and you have that right as the employee!. Complaining about customers not tipping the way you think they should is like hating somebody because you asked them to help with money and they said no just because that money they using is what they saved to use for their own good time etc. Its not fair. 1 thing most people don’t understand is that all these situations and rules if you want to word it like that, were created by humans themselves, most of the problems in this world were formed by humans themselves. Its really simple here if you think about it. Not happy with your income? Find a better job. Can’t find a better job? Then why don’t you try to stop being normal for a bit and try and be something unique. Stop kissing ass in life, you were never meant to. Education teaches how you how to live, not to survive. All the things you learned is all the things that “humans” have made important as an educationary standard. By all means if you struggling then sure do what you have to, but that means, sort out the people who continue to bring you down and under mine your worth. When it comes to a company, you need to remember, the company is only as good as its workers,and without workers, the company does not work, in most cases. I struggle to survive everyday, but I know who to have problems with, and I don’t let a problem survive longer than a day. I do apologise if I have offended anybody during this post. Just remember the best way to learn is through experience.

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Hawkeye June 16, 2015 at 8:54 am

@Shady,

EXCELLENT POST

(I don’t have to agree with every word to recognize the wisdom.)

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