Do Waiters Always Deserve the Tip?

by David Ning · 288 comments

My girlfriend and I were at a restaurant today and our waitress was not very courteous to us. We wanted an empty plate and she basically left without saying anything and just slid the plate on the table while she walked by without even stopping. This got me wondering whether or not waiters/waitresses should always deserve a tip. It is a widely acceptable standard American culture to at least pay 15% tip for a meal. However, we would probably not be happy if we went to pay for a copy of a book and they asked us for a tip. Where’s the difference? Someone (or machine) assembles the book, someone might have helped you picked it out, and if none of the above apply, the cashier helped you ring up the register. Why don’t they deserve a tip too?

I’m all for paying a tip for a waitress who is polite and treat us like actual customers, but why are we basically forced to pay a tip? By the way, I have come across many good waiter and waitresses here in Orange County, California. However, I just feel like that if people aren’t forced to pay 15% for the bad ones, the same people can afford to pay more than 15% when someone good serves them. Who started this culture and where did 15% come from? Why not 12% or 18%? I know they pay 10% in Canada, and there really isn’t any standard in places in Asia.

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • Darius says:

    And if you’re quoting Mitt Romney’s 47% you’re just as dumb and racist as he is

  • Darius says:

    I think everybody should watch “Adam Ruins Restaurants” on YouTube. Tipping was never meant to cause this sort of division. I serve. I tip judiciously. But the fact of the matter is: people are cheap. The restaurant Industry cheaped out on its workers decades ago.

    Here we are, years later, trying to assign blame and make up petty reasons for letting our fellow man struggle like this. But it’s a bit of everyone’s fault. This is just another form of wage slavery we refuse to see for what it is. Because it’s easier to deny somebody a living wage when you shoulder the responsibility of payroll onto other slaves (the avg. middle class worker) – while keeping the profit they earned for you.

  • Jesse says:

    Waiters and waitresses, simply believing you should always get a tip will not effect your customers paying you when they believe differently.

  • Jon says:

    Tipping is not mandatory. Whiny food & beg employees will sit here and argue until they’re blue in the face, claiming they it is, but it is not. Tips are earned. If your service is sub-par, you do out deserve a tip and wont get one.

    As time goes on, diners are expected to leave larger and larger tips for their servers regardless of the service received. That’s bullshit. Bad service, zero tip.

    Yes, I’ve worked in the food & never industry, more then once, in full service restaurants.

  • Charlie says:

    Yeah, i’m a waiter for 7 years and I thoroughly enjoy my job! Honestly, I do, but if I give inattentive service, I not only expect not to be tipped, it makes me move on to the next customer, with a serious attitude adjustment, and an air of treating them like royalty, and I make damn good and sure I bust my behind for them. I always want to be fairly equal in treating my customers well, but hey we’re all human and if I mess up, it is MY problem, and I own it!

    • Amanda G. says:

      Charles… you were born to serve! ???? If I had a server like you every time I went out to eat, I’d leave very happy. Your attitude is above par and your humility really shines through, good for you, you’re down to earth, realistic and you recognize your faults. I hope you enjoy your job to turn it into a career, I’m not sure what kind of a restaurant you work at, but take some courses in etiquette, and you can submit your resume to some of the highest rated and highest order restaurants you want. You’ll make money, and I believe truly be doing what you’re best at. Damn I love your attitude! 😉

  • jesse says:

    I was served a glass of 90% ice but I was being charged $2.50 for a drink. Then I never got the refill I asked for. Couldn’t finist my meal without something to drink so finally I yelled at my waitress across a crowded restaurant to please bring me a refills. She told me I wasn’t the only customer that she had. I told her that since she had too many customers to serve properly that she shouldn’t complain if they don’t tip. I got up and walked to the front with the check and told the manager I was paying for my drink and the meal I ordered was still on the table.

  • Jeff says:

    Oh, and I disagree with “Withnail” as well. It is NOT the owner’s responsibility to pay a living wage. It is the owner’s responsibility to run his business and pay as little for LABOR as possible. His responsibility is to his business and not to you. That is another concept we must all master. Business owners start and run their businesses so they can live, raise a family, have a sense of accomplishment, and ultimately make money to spend as they choose. Nowhere in that description do I see anything about the employees. They are a necessary part of doing business but they are not the reason FOR doing business.

    What is the old saying? Those who can do, do. Those who can’t whine? Stop whining and start doing…

  • Jeff says:

    Tony and Paul, if you are not happy here, why limit yourselves? There is a golden land of opportunity where workers are paid more than an equitable wage every day. It’s called Russia. I am sure they would open their doors to enlightened individuals such as you. The way the ruble is heading, if you leave now you should just about get there when they shut the lights off.

    The thing that you are missing is that this is a free market economy and individuals are paid based on the contribution they make. You can make all kinds of arguments to the contrary, but that is the way it is. From the way that servers are compensated you can clearly see how the economy values their contribution versus say, the contribution made by an engineer. To resolve your situation you have two choices: keep doing the kind of work you are doing and continue to receive the same compensation you are currently receiving or change jobs to something else that pays more. Nobody is willing going to pay you more just because you think you deserve it. You serve food. You should be glad that you have a job at all.

    Do yourself a favor. Stop with the food service thing and go find something better.

    • Tony says:

      I don’t need to leave the food business. I worked very hard to create a business that is well established and profitable. I make what I need, and should make. He who controls the money wins and I do win. However, for some reason, I have a conscious and the one glaring part of the industry that has always driven me crazy is that my kitchen employees work harder, longer, in more dangerous conditions than the front of house with a much lower relative earning potential. Please be aware of the phrasing because while my kitchen is clearly my greatest overall cost, next to grocery, I am handcuffed as to my abilities make the situation fair. These are not under the table Latins that owners would use and abuse. These are people just like the waitstaff who want to make ends meet, have families, or go to school. I know there are owners out there that will take advantage of their employees, cheat them, overwork them in a salary situation, Work people under the table or whatever else they may do but I am not one of them. My whole stance is why raise the minimum wage for servers at the same absolute rate for kitchen/other? It’s not just a cooking job by the way, what we do is way more than that. And anybody who (not saying you) says if they want to make more money they should just go find another job or wait tables just isn’t getting it. The kitchen is the heartbeat of a serious restaurant!

      • Tony says:

        And please Jeff, or anyone else reading these statements, make the in incredibly important distinction between absolute and relative. A 300 lb man vs 150 lb that can maximally lift 400 lbs who is stronger? The front staff and kitchen staff who makes $500 but server works 20 hours and kitchen works 40 hours, who makes more? Point being that kitchen staff would also like those 20 hours for themselves. Time is money. Time is valuable

        • Jeff says:

          If you feel bad for your servers and kitchen staff and want to pay them more, by all means please do so. If you are a business owner that is your right. You can pay them whatever you want. You sound like a good and caring person and I can understand why you are concerned about them.

          That being said, the choice is yours. Please don’t ask the paying customer to leave bigger tips just because you feel bad for your employees. That is something between you and them. Tipping is for service “Above and beyond” and should not be considered part of the employees wages. I have my favorite restaurants and my favorite servers and I routinely tip them 20% because they earn it and not because they think they should automatically get it.

          Happy holidays!

  • Withnail says:

    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.

    • Tony says:

      You don’t know didly about the indusry as a whole and even less about the financial statistics involved within at least the restaurant portion of the service industry. I have run the numbers of a financially successful restaurant for 18 years. I have literally handled at some point every cent that has come into my business and paid out every single expenditure for goods, services and labor costs. I KNOW the numbers stone cold dude. I also make sure the food is safe, fresh, presented and served well. We do everything right regardless of who makes what $ wise because that is what the customer deserves once they step thru the door. But at the end of the day our customers leave 19-22%, as of jan1 my servers will make $5.01/hour plus $15 -20/hr in tips alone so you do the math. Now calculate the % labor cost of total sales if one attempted to pay kitchen on par with that. I would be out of biz and quick. You don’t know half of what you think you do. Let me guess.. You have or are a server or bartender, because your post conveys your bias. And if you aren’t then you are even more clueless and have no need to be involved in this conversation.

      • Paul says:

        Junk! Total junk. If the rest of the world can do it, why can’t the States? Oh yeah, the land of the free… free to rip off the workers. Says it all really, doesn’t it?

        • Tony says:

          Hey I would love to be able to pay my kitchen more. I am sure a lot of businesses would like to pay their people more. It would make everybody feel better all the way around, but if that leap to say a $15/hr minimum wage were to happen, everybody had better be prepared for the sticker shock. It would all of a sudden be like living in Iceland where a beer is $10 and a burger is $20. Yes wages must increase to a higher living wage but you can’t expect businesses to leap the operating cost percent in terms of labor to something outside their sustainable business plan. It’s just to risky for the individual(s) who have already shouldered huge risk in creating or running the business. That’s why I like to direct a profit sharing plan that utilizes bonuses based on performance but only for the kitchen because like I have already stated the server is perplexingly the Kings of the industry.

  • Tony Jarvis says:

    Reading much of this post is a total joke. Not kidding. Waitstaff are the biggest relative money makers in the industry, including ownership. Waitstaff makes 20% of the menu cost plus a very high approximation of $5/hour. Ownership is happy to make 10-12% of total menu cost if everything is a tightly run ship. Now ownership does have luxury making 10-12% of every table so that adds up but he/she is the one carrying all risk, financial liabilities and operating costs.
    Here in FL over past 15 years waitstaff minimum wage was $2.13/hr now almost $5/hr. A 10o%+ increase. The rest of restaurant went from $5.15/hr to $7.91/hr. A 65% increase. Tell me how that is fair? Furthermore, by law, waiters only have to claim a very small percent of their tips so most of their income is even taxed. Not so for everybody else. And still even more in the waitstaff’s favor is two factors. 1) as food cost spike, and menu costs paid by customer increases, so does the tip. Incidently, owner doesn’t make more because they increase menu cost just to cover the increased food costs. And (2), the proper tip percentage to leave used to be 15%, but because no one likes to be considered cheap socially, the customer has been shamed to leave 20% now so that they “look hip” so to say. In my opinion because I know because I have dedicated everything I have to owning and running a restaurant for almost 20 years that all waiters who complain are crying over spilt milk. My advice; just shut up and enjoy the gravy train you are riding. In fact I can tell you many stories of people who got a college degree(while paying for school and living as a waiter), only to go back to working as waitstaff because it paid better than the “professional” job. It’s a racket. You know it. So please spare us of the only very occasional occurance of someone who leaves 10% or nothing every once in a blue moon. It’s just crocodile tears. Trust me, it’s so much harder to find an attentive kitchen staff who will work for the small amount of money you can pay them because of an idiotic minimum wage increase that funnels more money to a service staff because they are ” single working mothers barely making it”

    • Paul says:

      Quote: Incidently, owner doesn’t make more because they increase menu cost just to cover the increased food costs.

      Bogus… think about it, if that were the case in a VERY short period of time the business would go broke. They increase it to increase their profit margin as well as any (yeah right) increases in their staff wages.

      • Tony says:

        Paul you are wrong. If my business was to maintain the exact same number of customers between two years, and I raised prices by let’s say 5%, I would not become more profitable. I would only be able “tread water” because every year every single entity that I write a check out to so as to operate is going to increase their price. And the checks are vast, CO2 for soda & beer, linens, salt for the water softener etc etc etc…all those little things the employees and customers don’t see or know about increase in cost every year right along with ever increasing food costs (that doesn’t include price spikes for food in which supply becomes compromised due to increasing environmental events) and of course labor where minimum wage increases along with unemployment compensation insurance and workmans comp insurance (yes The Hartford Insurance Company is going to charge you more even if you have no claims!). Sir, the only way a business is going to increase the volume of customers while keeping your prices on par with the numbers it takes to run a business. Basically people are going to know if you are greedy and price gouging so you have to continually run the numbers and make sure your operating numbers are appropriate. There is nothing Bogus about any of this. You are playing a numbers game while trying to host a rocking party every day that people are willing to pay for.

  • lissa says:

    I like to tip 20%, sometimes its a little hard to figure out. Move the decimal point. multiply by 2 , and which copy is mine? Sometimes you can get a little drunk and tip 40% instead of 20% . Or you have no money in your bank account and only loose change on you.
    I only get upset if I have to wait 20 minutes for syrup when I order pancakes.

  • Sam says:

    Geez, I try to keep an open mind but several of these comments sound as if made by unsophisticated, self righteous cheapskates! In the U.S., tip 15-20% for decent service. Great service? Tip more. Or, eat at home and spare the world your whining about the great service YOU provide (yeah, right) while asking for nothing in return.

  • Xavier says:

    I tip well, but that came about from a waitress yelling across a small dinner to my party as we were departing after paying the bill. I was young, grew up in the country and from a background of not eating at restaurants (so tipping was a foreign concept to me ~ side not, tipping is offensive in some foreign countries). Every since the incident, I’ve tipped 20% or more, and more importantly, do not eat out if I can’t cover the tip along with the meal (eat at home and save the change). But, the tipping system is unfair to both parties, as the consumer feels obliged to tip, apparently even if we have neutral to poor service (for the rest involved in the system), and for the staff (since the restaurant doesn’t have to pay a fair/minimum wage) to my understanding. A fair / minimum wage should be used, as tipping isn’t present in the fast food industry, practically eliminated in most grocery store chains, and probably persistent in industries were the patron is trying to get preferencial treatment (the good table, entry to the club, baggage handling, and such). All for a fair wage.

  • angela says:

    I don’t tip. A lot of you will say it is because I am stingy but the fact of the matter is that not only do I not earn much myself but I also feel as if they are doing their job the same way that I do mine but I am not entitle to any tips, it shouldn’t take tips to make you courteous! At the end of the day the staff get paid by their company so why should I spend lots of money on the food and then be expected to also pay extra for the service which SOMETIMES I could do better myself. It should be up to the company to take care of their staff and pay them correctly.

    I understand from some of the post I’ve read that in America they get very low wage and relay on tips to make ends meet, but please read above again. I am from the UK, not America but we have the same awkward tipping ‘traditions’ here also. You don’t tip the retail girl at your supermarket, you don’t tip your doctor and you don’t tip the road sweepers.. So why should I tip my waiter? That is a genuine question.

    Angela, UK

  • Sylvia says:

    It is not my responsibility to pay for the restaurants staff. If that were so then when I go to a clothing store and they assist me by selecting several outfits, jewelry, shoes etc… then run back to get different sizes do they deserve a tip? These same staff are also responsible for clearing out the dressing rooms and restocking clothing.
    I do not tip at restaurants and do not feel bad about it at all.

    • angela says:

      Thank goodness I’m not the only one who feels this way!

    • Paul says:

      Oh don’t do that! It might catch on… couldn’t have that now could we? : p

      • Jesse says:

        Paul, your right. I don’t pay for bad service at all. I used to be a door to door salesman. No one tipped me shit. I worked straight commission there wasn’t even a $2.13 hour wage. Waiting tables is a lot being a salesman. Their tips are their commission. No one ever feels sorry for a car salesman and pays him because his boss is cheap. I ordered service with my meal and didn’t get it so I owe nothing. All the smiling and conversation is nice but I consider that free since I didn’t order it.

  • Indian says:

    I live in California and waiters here are all paid minimum wage ($8.00/hr I believe). So, I agree, if the waiter just did their job and nothing extra then why do we tip them? They’re already getting paid minimum, which is what most people get paid for other types of customer service jobs that have just as many, if not more, downfalls. I have always tipped 15-20%, but am now wondering why unless the service warrants it. Another point that was made that I never thought about is that if I buy something that costs $50 instead of something that costs $15 from the same restaurant then why am I paying the waiter/waitress a larger tip if they are not even the ones who cooked my meal?

  • Cletus says:

    I tip accordingly to service. Bad service usually 10%, and good service 20%. Today, I had a waitress that wasn’t very friendly. She just kept treating me and my party of 3 like we were a burden. We were not asking for anything, but she just kept glaring at our table with a dirty scowl, and when she came around she acted like it was such a huge burden to wait on us. A few things are going to happen when you make me feel unwelcome. 1. you will get a smaller tip than I normally tip and 2. I’m not going to come back. Plus it didn’t help the food wasn’t that great.

    • Paul says:

      So, why would you “reward” a bad waiter with a tip at all? FFS, that’s like telling a naughty child off and then giving them ice cream. Only encourages the behaviour.

  • Don't owe you crap says:

    Don’t go out??? Not all waiters and waitresses even deserve a tip. These people think they just deserve everything handed to them even if they are rude hell even my pizza delivery people never even say thank you. They just take the tip and leave. Some people are really struggling and all they can afford is the restaurant’s overpriced meals or in many cases I experienced the wait staff who is extremely rude and forget you are even there.

    Once in TGI Fridays the waitress came every 30-40 minutes to ask us what we needed. We were there forever and she was rude too. She only got a tip because you know how these people love to put your personal information out on social media because god forbid you didn’t leave a tip. Plus they like to write nasty notes and threats on the receipt and say the customer did it. So it has gone from leaving a tip is elective to it’s now a requirement or else. And the threats about doing things to your food and drinks? These people have become terrorists. I only order things to go in restaurants now all this bull is not worth it. Even these coffee and juice places want tips in a jar just to hand over a cup at the counter! So Joe how about you get a better job then and not expect customers to pay everything for you? Because leaving a tip is not a requirement.

    • Paul says:

      Hallelujah! Someone telling it like it is… and wtf with coffee carts having tip jars? If things are that precarious financially, up the price, but don’t expect me to experience a guilt trip for not tipping.

      • jordan says:

        seriously paul, you are a vile human being. luckily, most people aren’t as disgusting as you, so we don’t always have to worry about this kind of crap. when you don’t tip, we pay for you to eat. i hope one of these “terrorist waiters or waitresses” you speak of actually do mess with your food.

        • Paul says:

          WTF? Try opening your eyes jordan! Wasn’t ME that said anything about terrorist waiters or waitresses.

          My comment was, although I could see you probably not seeing it, that waiters and waitresses are often rude, slow, you name it, and DON’T DESERVE A TIP.

          Anyway, where I live, people don’t tip. But then waiters and waitresses actually get paid a (relatively) living wage. Minimum wage in my country is $14.25 an hour. Most would get probably between $15 – $16 an hour.

          Maybe there should be a campaign in the land of the free to pay people a living wage and not treat wait people like virtual slaves. Again, where I live, it is illegal to pay less than minimum wage and one must be paid for all hours worked. None of this bullshit from managers that because they’ve had a slow day they can’t pay the staff because we didn’t make any money. Bullshit. Business losses are treated the same way in the States as they are in my country. It’s called a tax loss.

  • Melissa W. says:

    Personally, I tip what I can personally afford and if its about $2 on a $15 bill, that’s what I can afford to tip. Servers should be grateful that I tipped at all.

    • Joe says:

      If you can’t afford to tip, DON’T GO OUT! Those folks bust their ass and have to LIVE on those tips. If you get bad service fine, don’t tip, but don’t give a pretext of just being able to afford a little for the tip. If that’s your issue, have a water, skip one drink.

  • Brooke says:

    Actually, not all servers receive a paycheck! I am a waitress at Red Robin, and we do not receive any money what so ever from our boss! We are supposed to make $2.15 an hour, but we never actually receive that money, it just goes straight to taxes, so you should always tip your server, because I once spent an entire shift waiting on a party of 15 people, and they left me $5 on a $200 check, so for my entire shift I only made $5, which is less than minimum wage!

    • anamouse says:

      I am not sure why you think customers should presume you’re working for a thief when they calculate how much your service was worth to them.

      I admit that in your example you got ripped, three times in fact.

      The first time by your employer who you let steal from you by not finding another job and leaving

      And in that case the second time by a customer who left you a 2.5% tip.

      And a third time when the IRS demands you pay taxes on the amount they think you normally make for that big a sale.

      I think right after you get a better job you should turn them in, after all their own records should prove they are not paying $2.15 an hour. Keep your own tally with times and table numbers, and let an attorney discuss what should be reasonable compensation for that type of employment abuse.

  • 72Dance says:

    I was raised on tips as my mother was a waitress, and my father was a bar tender. Both my parents were excellent in anticipating your needs and providing provacy during your meal. The “regulars” tha ate where my mother worked had her start their drinks, and had the most positve attitude. Seeing those dollars come home daily due to their hard work has allowed me to be generous with good service, 20% or more, and a smaller tip for lousy service. I see the problem where I currently live that kids are waiting tables and have no incentive to be good. Thei cell phones are paid by parents, their laptop is paid for, they are working to satisify their parents desire for them to “work”. I appreciate good care as i was raised with it.

  • Jacqueline says:

    This is in response to Betsy the nurse. I’ve had horrible service when I was in ER and then 5 days in hospital. The ER staff did not listen to me when I said I had a “medic alert bracelet twice”. They ignored everything and did everything contrary to what I wanted on the auspicious notion they were “trying to save me”. Baloney, I also had a DNR in place and my attorney was there also. ER totally ignored everything. Then I didn’t get fed anything for 5 days. Had to have a relative bring in jello on the 4th day so I could eat something which the nurses thought was unnecessary. They wouldn’t even fill up my pitcher of water. And sorry, nurses get paid very well in San Francisco. One nurse’s husband told me his wife made $88K/year and had very good benefits. My point – if you don’t want to be in a service-based situation, get out of the job and get something else!

    Oh by the way, I finally forced a nurse to take my IV out otherwise I would have done it myself. I had a relative sneak me out of the hospital because of “lousy service”! And this was one of the better hospitals in San Francisco!

  • Jacqueline says:

    If I receive bad service (i.e., no water or minus refilling after repeated requests, missing cutlery, non-response on repeated requests, food coming in short, cold, inaccurately cooked, etc.), then I do not tip at all. In fact, I correct myself, after the meal, to show my disdain, I leave a penny in the water glass. But if the server gives me great service and attention to my meal, then I give 15 – 20% but no more. To have them share the tip is something else. Busboys are notorious for using “sour” towels to wipe tables, are sloppy when they clean tables, sweep floors while we’re eating, etc. Sorry people but tips are earned – not freely given. I work very hard for my monies also and don’t like to throw good monies after bad!

  • Osiris says:

    The difference between your bookmaker and the waitress are the federally mandated minimum wages.
    Bad servers deserve a nominal tip to survive, but the only real answer is to get legislation moving so that servers to not have to rely on tips to live.

  • Mel says:

    If you tip less than 10% the waiter has Paid out of pocket to serve you. In TN, all servers get 2.13 an hour including the time to set up the restaurant, do prep work for food, cleaning the kitchen line, washing dishes stocking and closing the restaurant. On top of that they pay the restaurant to work there! The pay is based on food sales, the more they ring up, the more they pay at end of the shift. 3% to hostess, 3% to bartender, 3 % to table bussers, 3% to food runners. That is off total sales. It’s 12% percent. Your waiter gets to keep anything beyond that. Your tip pays every persons wage in the place ….except the cook. Thus why 15% is a standard tip. 20% is for standard and friendly or fast ( or people who sit a long time taking up a table that cold be making money for all concerned. ).

    So if you are thinking of leaving a buck, why not say something? Tell the waiter, hey, can get some better service?food?smiles? Get something comped off the check by a manager. Something. If you just hated your server because of personal reasons, then tip 12%. Oh, by the way, the server has to claim you tipped at least 10% to the IRS at the end of every shift, too. It’s the law.
    If you cannot afford that, then go to McDonald’s. Would you really ask your plumber to fix the sink for free just because he didn’t cramp a smile the whole time he plunged your pipes? Or finish in the timely manner you “expected”?

    • ohiomark says:

      Every restaurant does its tipouts differently, to avoid paying its staff anything out of ITS pockets. It is quite a racket. Personally, I believe restaurants should be paying its staff a living wage, and reduce the expected tip percentages. I find it hard to believe that the hostess gets as much as the bartender. All the risk ends up belonging to the server. I guess the server better be working hard since they are supporting everyone else. However, when I get bad service, I do not tip 15%; I do not care WHAT mechanism the restaurant has put in place to take the server’s tips and redistribute them. The hostess should be a straight wage position; the bartender should only be getting a share of the tips based on alcohol sales.

    • ItAllAveragesOutTo15% says:

      It all averages out. The amount reported to IRS is for aggregate food sales. Some give you 25%, some give you 5%. Some give you 20%, some give you 10%. You are either confused or misleading to say that each tip less than 12% costs the waiter money. The way you do accounting, each transaction is treated individually, but only the ones with low tip percentage. Should we make a federal case about how you are stealing from your coworkers (12% tipout) and the government (10% taxes) for every tip in excess of 12%? Since most people do tip 15%, and if you want us to look at every tip as an individual transaction, then you are committing a felony every time you represent to your coworkers and to the government that you only owe the average on gross receipts. That adds up to life in prison.

    • brenda says:

      If people are bussing your table and running your food, what is your job except taking the order and asking if it’s good? You should get a smaller amount if others are doing all the heavy lifting. And they only have to claim 8 percent to IRS in tips, usually cash only since credit cards have traces. If you aren’t at 8 percent after tip out, either move restaurants because tipping out 12% is insane or you aren’t particularly good at your job.

  • jim says:

    I would like to have a waiter/waitress explain to me why a person bringin me a 30.00 steak deserves more then the person bringing a 25.00 steak. Personally I don’t ever tip on the amount I tip on the meal. A fixed amount for breakfast, lunch and dinner regardless of the bill. Sometimes for a cheap meal it could be 30% sometimes for an expensive dinner it could end up being only 5% but seriously you don’t have any vested interest in my meal why should you be tipped based on its value. What a value based tipping does is ensure if I order beer all night your always their but if I order water your never around. Tipping comes simple breakfast 5.00 tip if their give 5 star service 5.00 otherwise it reduces down to zero if needed.

    • jordan says:

      I received a 5% tip from a customer on a very large ticket today, which forced me to work for 5 hours making 0 dollars. This is because we are forced to tip out almost half of what we make to the rest of the restaurant. Now servers keep doing this job because typically people aren’t like you, but there is nothing worse than going to work, busting my butt for people that are rude, and not even getting paid to do it.

    • lisa says:

      The reason for tipping more on higher bills is due to the fact that servers have to tip out people in the restaurant based off their sales and they are taxed based off of their sales. You spend 100 dollars i have to claim at least 10% in tips. Then i have to tip out my bartender, and busser, sometimes the cook based off my sales. So that ends up being a few dollars. So, if someone doesnt tip on their bill, I am actually losing money.

  • Theora55 says:

    In the US, waiters get a reduced minimum wage, under $3/hr, with the expectation that tips will raise their pay to the minimum wage. In most restaurants, the share their tips with bus staff, bartender, and maybe kitchen staff. You got the plate. If your food order is accurate, prompt or with an explained delay, you got menus, and you get water, cutlery, etc., then tip at least 10-15%. If the service is unusually bad, the food was bad, the order was incorrect, etc., ask to speak to a manager.

    We went to a great restaurant on a bad night, and our food was absurdly late. The waiter explained why, brought more bread and free appetizers, and our late entrees were comped. We tipped 20% on the full amount (incl. entrees), because the waiter can’t control the kitchen.

    I wish wait staff got minimum wage, so tips would actually represent exceptional service, meanwhile, people should at least get minimum wage.

  • Canadian says:

    I am from Canada and the standard tip, in most areas that I’ve been to (can’t comment on Saskatchewan, Labrador or the territories), is 15%, 10% what you usually give when you take-out or get a delivery. 20% is more the norm in major cities. Server wages tend to be much higher in Canada, than in the States, but then again our dollar, though practically on par with the American dollar in exchange, has considerably less purchasing power.

  • Nick E. says:

    T.I.P.S. – To Insure Prompt Service (even though Insure should really be ensure). But that is the historical context of the acronym. I agree with Jeff. I tip 15% – 20% because I usually get good service. I tip more if the service is something special. Doesn’t meet those criteria they get less.

    • kevin says:

      If you have to submit to extortion to get service your server deserves to be fired. The actual term is gratuity, meaning a voluntary expression of gratitude. Tipping is always voluntary.

  • Betsy says:

    If the service or customer is not good, I do not leave a tip period and don’t tell me I should leave one anyway just not as much as I would leave if the service is bad. If you are in any kind of customer service field, you treat the customers with good service whether you had a bad day or not. I am a nurse and how would you feel if I had a bad day or a very busy day and left you in a wet dirty bed all day. Would you be so forgiving?

    • Jo says:

      Excellent post, Betsy – I had been thinking about that myself! Nurses do such an essential job, yet they are human and have their problems like everyone else -it would give me nightmares to think my quality of life depended on a nurse who was poorly paid, disrespected by her employer and unhappy with her life. Thank you Nurses, for everything you do and all the compassion you show your patients. As Nurse Jackie said, ‘Doctors diagnose, but Nurses heal’. No, I’m not a nurse LOL.

  • Jeff says:

    I think you are all missing the point. A tip is for service “above and beyond”. If a waiter or waitress just does their job they deserve nothing because they are paid to provide service. Now I tip, and sometimes generously, but I do it when I feel that the provider has done something special to warrant it. Just doing their job doesn’t automatically mean that they get a tip.

    And here is another “tip”. If the server is providing bad service I would go right to the manager and have them address the issue. That’s their job. If the server gives me any attitude afterwards, guess what? I’m having another conversation with the manager. If that doesn’t fix it then I talk with the owner.

    All this whining about how hard the servers work and how little they get paid, listen to yourselves. You ARE the 47% Romney was talking about. If you don’t like what you are getting paid, stop whining and DO something about it.

    • David says:

      I agree with you Jeff about these 47% that Romney was talking about. I mean seriously, if you don’t like what you are doing then GO OUT AND DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT! I know its hard to go back to school and work a job at the same time, but you can look for another higher paying job, or save sone money to start your own small business like I did. Oh and I’m not some rich guy or anything like that. I have my struggles as well, I just bought my house and let me tell you that its a great investment because paying rent is throwing your money away (I bought my house in a ghetto area because its all I can afford, but IT’S BETTER THEN PAYING RENT IN A GOOD NEIGHBOR HOOD WHERE YOU WILL NEVER SEE THAT RENT MONEY AGAIN. Jeff here is a tip for you, I wouldn’t complain to the manager before or anytime you are still waiting for food or drinks or refills to be given to you from that rude waiter, they will spit or do horrible things in your food. I use to apologize after they complained about me, told them ill offer them a free desert and then pick my nose and stick my fingers in it. Wait until your leaving the facility.

      • Jim says:

        David, do you realize that tampering with a customer’s food is a criminal offense? You could be serving a jail term for that. Every restaurant and kitchen has cameras.

        • candytripn says:

          Hey, hows Kirby, cause you must be in Dreamland….

          Almost no restaurants have cameras anywhere near the kitchen..

          Don’t %$#! with the people handling your food…

          • Victor says:

            “Don’t %$#! with the people handling your food…”

            What is this, an unskilled laborer mini power-trip? You trying to puff up and scare people into tipping you more? LOL You know who you really shouldn’t %$#! with? Your surgeon. Tip 20% of your $200K tab to your heart surgeon (the night before the operation) if don’t want your pacemaker to fail. How’s that?

      • Emma says:

        School doesn’t pay for itself, dear. Many of us are just working our way through.

      • Tony says:

        David you are an idiot and I would never allow my customers to be exposed to an asshole like you. To even mention of a threat to tampering with food shows your entitled and unprofessional attitude. You are the type that give this industry it’s biggest problems.

      • Dave says:

        I never tip the waitress ever. All she does is act as a conveyor belt from the kitchen on my table. I will never tip a person for doing their unskilled job. The only thing a waitress could do to get a tip from me is suck my dick. And while she is down there she can shine my shoes.

        • Danielle says:

          You do realize that waitresses are only paid 2-3 dollars in my state right? How can someone live off of that and people do make mistakes.

          • bob says:

            Not actually true…federal law requires employers to make up the difference between the tip minimum wage and the regular minimum wage if the server doesn’t make enough in tips. Any server working for a criminal company that does not follow this federal law are idiots for staying at that job. And what kind of server are you if you can’t make $7 an hour in tips anyway??

    • Bill says:

      Waiters and waitresses get paid to serve, but BELOW minimum wage with the assumption that they are getting tipped for providing service. Tipping is part of their standard wage. They need and deserve a tip if they provide decent service, not just when they go above and beyond. A tip is intended to compensate them for doing their job. So, basically, you are just flat wrong. Start tipping.

      • Daniel says:

        Actually NOT getting minimum wage as as server or bartender is a state by state issue. Here in California all staff including servers and bartenders get minimum wages plus tip… So no Bill you are flat wrong

        • toni says:

          Agreed, bill you are flat out wrong. If you offer an outstanding service you deserve a tip. But if your job as a waiter does not involve listening to the customer s order, then you do not deserve a tip. Getting an order wrong from the beginning and then asking for the full bill, then your tip is either lost completely or it is within the total bill. And it is up to the manager and yourself to work out why you didn’t deserve a tip!

  • I say if they are rude and give bad service a dollar tip is sufficient. I worked in the industry and I didn’t expect a good tip if I messed up. You do need to consider the amount of people in a restaurant sometimes that can be why a server is brief.

  • Mario says:

    I used to be a bartender and waiter and a damn good one at that. I was paid the minimum at the time, so I made sure to WORK for my tips. Always courteous, always with a smile, always remembering customers.

    But I am shaking my head at some of you servers who EXPECT 20% just because you guys have a lot to do. Seriously? For all you know, it’s that customer’s first experience at that restaurant and just because you had a lousy experience at a previous table or have personal problems ruining your day, automatically everyone after should be tipping you like crazy?

    Sorry, but I have sympathy for all bartenders and waiters, but I draw a line as well. I usually tip a minimum of 20% for decent service, 25% for excellent service or even more… but if you are giving me crappy service, please don’t expect the 15%.

    Yes, I’ve been there. I’ve been that guy that gave exceptional service and got 5% and sometimes not even that, but I’d take it in stride and move on to the next table and try to do my best all over again. But I never had an entitlement mentality about it where I just expected people to give me a percentage everytime, because at that point, that only indicates complacency and that’s the last thing I wanted to be known for.

    I wanted to be the bartender/waiter that everyone wanted to go to. That usually meant more money in my pocket at the end of the night.

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