How Do You Feel About Tipping?

by Vered DeLeeuw · 159 comments

Last week, I took my kids to the ice cream place to celebrate an awesome achievement for one of them on her math test. When it was time to pay, the tip jar was glaring at me, with big yellow letters that seemed to scream “THANK YOU!”

Ice cream for the three of us cost about $8. I gave the guy a $10 bill and asked him to keep the change.

On Saturday night, my husband and I met two other couples for dinner at a nice restaurant. The evening was great – interesting conversation, and amazing food. When the bill arrived, we realized that a service charge of 18% was automatically added to our bill, since we were a group of six. When signing the credit card receipt, I added enough to make it a 20% tip.

Years ago, when I was a law school student and worked part time as a waitress, there was this one terrible night where the kitchen was understaffed. No matter how efficient I was, my customers had to wait for their food FOREVER. I got very bad tips that night, even though the delay in serving the food was completely out of my control.

Tipping. We all have stories about tipping, and most of us feel pretty strongly about the subject. Today, I’d like to share a few stories, make a few observations, and hear what you have to say about this seemingly delicate subject.

Tipping Generously = Being Financially Irresponsible?

I remember a very funny Two and a Half Men episode, where it turned out that Charlie Sheen’s character was in financial mess, despite his good earnings, because he was spending too much. There was this hilarious scene where he explains to the pizza delivery guy that he can’t tip him $50 anymore, and the guy just says, “Well, I guess we had a good run.”

Me? Just like any other person who ever worked as a waiter, I will never ever treat wait staff badly or under-tip. But sometimes I wonder about over-tipping. I have this attitude of, “I’m obviously doing better financially than they are at the moment. I feel bad for them because I know how hard they must be working, so I’m going to be generous” – see the ice cream story above. But wasn’t I being wasteful when I left such a large tip in a situation when I didn’t even get that much service, and where tips are obviously NOT calculated as part of the employee’s salary?

The Painful Topic of Tip Jars

We are expected to tip in so many places these days. Many of us are annoyed by those little (or big!) jars in places where you get very little service – but facing the person behind the counter, it’s difficult to ignore those jars and NOT tip, even though it’s perfectly alright to do so. Perhaps they don’t carry your food to the table for you, but they do make you a cup of coffee, or a cone of ice cream, and (hopefully) serve it with a smile.

Of course, in this context I can’t help but mention a very funny Seinfeld episode, where George was annoyed that no one seemed to notice he was tipping into a jar, until when it happened – again! – he reached his hand into the jar in an attempt to take the tip back, and got caught by the employee behind the counter.

Feeling Pressured To Tip

Feeling pressured to tip does not feel good, and the amounts do add up, especially since what’s considered “normal” for tipping keeps climbing. I still remember when 15% used to be the norm and 20% was considered generous – something you leave if service was really good. This is not the case anymore – 20% is pretty much the standard tip these days, especially in major cities.

Tips are Important

Regardless of how we feel about tips, it’s important to realize that in most cases in the US, waiters do not earn living wages. The employer underpays them and the assumption is that the tips will bring their pay to a level that enables them to actually survive. Perhaps the law should be changed. But then we will pay more for our meals – would that be a better arrangement?

David’s Note: I vote for charging more. The bottom line is that a customer really has no idea how, or even if the tips are actually being distributed to the staff. I was once in a restaurant where our waiter told me not to tip at all because he’s upset the owner keeps EVERYTHING. Also, there is no standard whatsoever, which makes showing your appreciation impossible unless you really don’t care much about your money (in other words, you give a tip so big the whole restaurant will line up at the door to thank you). What I mean is, you probably paid 12% to show your appreciation back in the day when the norm for tipping was 10%. But these days, you probably will get the evil look if you pay a 12% tip. It’s really very confusing for the customer when different types of restaurants, cities and places all have different standards and expectations. Restaurant owners should just pay everyone a better salary and charge us more!

What if Service was Bad?

As my own experience as a waitress illustrates, in many cases, even if service was bad, the right thing to do is to tip, although 15% would be more than enough in such a case. It’s not just that it might not be the waiter’s fault – but in many cases tips are shared, so if you don’t leave a tip, you’ll be punishing people who do not deserve the punishment. Your best course of action, if you had a bad experience at a restaurant, is to tip – and go talk with the restaurant manager, or wait until you get home and write a letter of complaint.

How do you feel about tipping? What about tipping jars? Do you leave a tip when service was bad?

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  • Patrick says:

    I just googled this topic after leaving a small tip for poor service I just received during lunch. I feel bad because I am aware of what little servers make an hour but I think that isn’t my fault. I should not have to subsidize the owners business expenses. Anyway, it just seemed like the other servers were on top of their tables and mine just seemed to have forgotten abut us. Our entrée came out before our apps and drink. We requested ketch up twice and finally received it from a different server. Plus she took so long bringing a second round of drinks that we just opted to not have them. I saw servers go tot he bar and wait there for the drinks before leaving. I asked for ketchup and she started cleaning the table next to us and then walked and asked another table if they were doing ok. I’ve not done that before, I always tip 20% regardless of the service. But this time I noticed a huge difference from the service I normally receive when I go their and compared to what I saw other servers doing.

  • Paul says:

    Tipping should be abolished. Period. Employers should be paying their employees decent wages. Enough with the bullshit that if they don’t get tips there is no incentive to work well.

    Yeah I’ve heard ALL the arguments.

    Now… go read this…

  • Will says:

    I currently manage a restaurant in a mid-major city in and waited tables for years before hand, so I actually have some perspective on this issue.

    As a general rule, servers should be tipped. If you don’t tip your server, you shouldn’t be going to a restaurant that utilizes servers. I really do not like this misconception that food is more ‘expensive’ because of a tip. The food costs what it costs. The tip is for recognition of the SERVICE being provided. If you aren’t going to tip, order take out and serve yourself. Don’t take up a valuable table from a hardworking server and leave them nothing. It’s disrespectful.

    Now, that being said, a tip should reflect the quality of service provided. If someone takes exceptionally good care of you, then there is nothing wrong with rewarding that performance. When I was serving, I never made less than 20% of my overall sales in tips and I was usually a lot closer to that 25% mark. But, I never got upset at a tip of around %20, no matter how spectacularly well that table went. Some folks showe

    From a management perspective, I don’t object to lower tip percentages if the service was genuinely poor. It doesn’t bother me if people tip low because the server was rude or didn’t make an effort to provide a quality experience. For me, they reap what they sow there. But it does bother me when people tip poorly for long ticket times, or the kitchen making a plate incorrectly, or the like.

    Take for example this past Sunday at our restaurant:

    We had a part of 40 walk in the door at 9:30 when we where already on a wait for tables. Once those FORTY simultaneous orders hit the kitchen, it took us 18 minutes to fill them, which is a pretty solid time if I do say so myself. But, while we worked on those 40 orders, other orders just stacked up and our queue kept growing because we COULDN’T work on them. That party set us back to around 25 minute ticket times for about 90 minutes after that party sat. Needless to say, guests where unhappy with those times and tipped their servers poorly. In no way shape or form, where those ticket times the fault of the server, but the average person doesn’t understand how restaurants work and attribute those long times to server error. Its amazing how many people don’t realize that if a restaurant gets slammed that it might actually take a few minutes longer to get their food.

    The bottom line is that guests should take an honest account of WHY their experience may have been poor rather than just simply concluding the server was bad. It isn’t always their fault things went awry.

    • JJ Keist says:

      But suppose it indeed is the waitress who’s at fault? I ate at one some time ago that I had to stop patronizing. The one waitress was the owner/boss’ granddaughter, and could get by with things like flirting with the male patrons, even sitting at their table chatting them up. She also, even if the shift was slow, chose to ignore me as if I weren’t there; often, if my glass was empty and she chanced to go past my table, she paid no mind rather than ask if I’d like a refill (usually iced tea, because I don’t drink any alcohol). Twice I sat there for 15 minutes before she even deigned to “see” me, though my table was right there in her line of sight; she passed me by and went on to the next table, which was beside mine and in her area of waitressing. I had to ask her to refill my glass, and even then she acted as if it was making her go out of her way just to refill my glass, or I was asking for some special treatment. Needless to say, I was disgruntled. After that I never went back. I didn’t tip her, either, the last time she pulled that stunt on me. I did the first few times, but after I was treated so poorly that I didn’t go back. I didn’t bother to put in a complaint about her to the boss; it would’ve been a waste of breath, because she was the boss’ grandkid. Sort of like “teacher’s pet”, if you like. Was that the right thing to do, in your opinion? I’d like your input. Thanks! ?

  • Jay says:

    The entire concept of tipping is born out of the restaurant industry’s failure to pay their people appropriately. You can get good or bad service at any retail establishment, but only the restaurant industry asks the customer to pony up for it’s employees. I shouldn’t be asked to pay anything based on how much the waiter/waitress is getting paid – that’s ridiculous! We only do it because it has become a tradition, not because it makes any sense at all. Don’t get me wrong, these people work hard and deserve to be paid appropriately, but it should come from the employer, NOT the customer.

    • Will says:

      This comment again displays a lack of understanding of how restaurants operate.

      Most restaurants operate with a very low profit ratio and higher labor costs would destroy the entire concept of casual dining. In my restaurant, our servers average a total income of $20 an hour and we have an average ticket price of $10 per guest, which with the standard 20% tip, makes the total cost of the meal around $12. Without the tipped system, to maintain the same number of servers on the floor and still be able to pay them the $20 an hour they currently make, we would have to increase our prices dramatically. We’d have to pay them FIVE TIMES as much as we do and trust me, consumers would feel the weight of that. That would create so many variables in an already tight system. Most family and casual dining restaurants profit only pennies on the dollar. I can say definitively that the overall cost of the average meal in my restaurant would rise to considerably more than $12 per guest if the tip system where not in place.

      And reducing the number of servers on the floor to compensate isn’t an option for several reasons. Less servers leads to a lower quality of service and much slower turn times, making the restaurant much less profitable. The faster we can turn tables when the restaurant is busy, the more money we make, and less servers makes doing that at a good rate impossible. Not to mention the decrease in quality of service, which no patron wants. So less servers is a loss for the consumer and the company.

      The currents system allows restaurants to make money, patron to get a high quality of service, and servers to make a quality wage. This idea that restaurants are being cheap and penny pinching is absurd.

      • Paul says:

        You are deluded. It costs $x for a dish, as in product and labour plus markup. In the US system the employer pays junk wages, if any wages at all. So they can charge a bit less for the product… and then you the customer has to determine how much to tip. That is simply idiotic. Employer should pay decent wages and staff should NOT have to be tipped. Some staff currently get good tips because they are of the female sex, and the more glamorous get better tips. That’s a fact across the industry.

        Would you expect a builder to be paid by tips? Of course not. Models? Car mechanics? Don’t be stupid. US needs to get with the rest of the world and eliminate tipping in this industry.

        Do you tip at take out places? No. So why should you pay tips at dine in. The price of the product should cover wage costs, product costs and profit markup.

        Works well in most rest of the world.

      • dennis says:

        While I lived in Japan, I ate in many differently priced restaurants. Yet, all were identical in two respects; great service and no tippng allowed. I learned this after finishing a bowl of ramen and leaving a modest tip. The owner ran after me down the block and handed it back! In Japan, the customer god, and God doesn’t tip!

  • 8498693 says:

    I used to leave 5% all the time on the whole bill. I’ve upped to 7½% but I take out the tax portion of the bill. So for example if I have a bill for $19.80 but $1.80 of that is tax ($18 plus 10%) .. I would tip 7½% of the $18.00 or $1.35 .. so the total I would pay would be $19.80 plus $1.35 = $21.15 .. and that is plenty generous for $18.00 worth of actual service for anybody.

    • Will says:

      And I would strongly suspect you are very disliked by the people who serve you. $1.35 on a $18 ticket? There’s a good chance many choice words have been said of you in the break areas of restaurants you visit.

      In a busy restaurant, a server may have 3-4 tables that they can flip once an hour. If they got $1.35 from each of their tables, let’s say its four, they would make $5.40 that hour plus he $3.97 an hour the restaurant pays them for a total of $9.37 an hour. And that doesn’t include any money they may be required to tip out to an expo or a busser. In my restaurant, my servers tip out a dollar per hour to the expo and to their busser, so that means with four people like you sitting at their tables they would make $7.37 an hour, which is a whole $.12 above the federal minimum wage.

      I would never want to wait on you and would pass you off to trainees or weak servers if you where a regular in my restaurant.

      • Eric says:

        All the more reason why the employer should pay decent living wages. Works well everywhere else. Why not the States?

        But oh no, the corrupt employers (I’d use other words but they’d delete the comment) screw the employees, probably nick 50% of the tip amounts. Maybe even more.

        Funny, in Europe people eat out without any tipping obligation. Same in UK. In Australia. In New Zealand. In South Africa. I could go on but my fingers would get tired of all the typing.

  • kb2 says:

    First things first. In reality tipping is a way of letting the customer pay for wages so the establishment doesn’t have to. That’s unfair to the customer to begin with. Its not the customers problem to pay wages and feel guilty if he doesn’t. Waiters being human will generally give better service to people their own age and or to the prettier lady or more handsome man. Waiters, of course not all waiters, do not give the better service to the quiet patron that allows for a waiters mistakes even if they are numerous. I have seen it time and time again. When I get a happy and courteous waiter who shows up when you request something, I give at least 20% if not a little more. When I, as a patron, who supports the waiters wage and is recognized as such with good service I tip more. If I get bad service I do not tip. Giving a small tip for poor service shows a lack of courage on my part and I look like a cheap scape which is not appreciated by the waiter anyway. So I lose both way by doing so; out the small tip and bad service.

    • Will says:

      The first comment here comes from someone who clearly doesn’t understand the restaurant industry.

      Restaurants are not being cheap and cutting corners by taking a tip exemption on their servers. Actually, in an pseudo-related tidbit, US Labor Laws require servers to declare their tipped income, and if their declarations fall short of the minimum wage the company is required to make up the difference. So by law, no server is making less than the minimum wage.

      Tip exceptions for employees are what allow restaurants to be profitable. Most restaurants only profit pennies on the dollar, and if they doubled what they pay their servers to say minimum wage, they would raise their labor costs by a percentage high enough to force them to make dramatic cut backs in food costs and quality concerns. Or force them to cut the number of servers on the floor which is bad for everyone involved. That leads to poor service and slower turn times, something neither patrons nor companies want. Or, worse yet, pass that cost onto the consumer.

      Now, don’t get me wrong, high end establishments with four or five stars behind them don’t have these issues, but your standard run of the mill casual and family dining places, and a lot of your casual fine-dining restaurants, only profit pennies on the dollar and labor costs are extraordinarily prohibitive. So rather than pass that cost on to the consumer with direct food prices, the tipped system lets the general public reward a good server while still allowing the restaurant to provide a quality level of service.

      • Paul says:

        Taking your argument the rest of the world has a major problem then. Except they don’t. Waiters get paid at least a minimum wage. Restaurant charges $x and still makes a decent profit after all costs including labour costs.

        In the rest of the western world, minimum wage makes the US minimum wage look sick. 50 different states with varying minimum wages. FFS its the 21st century… not the Charles Dickens era.

        It’s no wonder the States is full of homeless people who literally can’t live on the minimum wage. Hell, many can’t live on the minimum wage plus tips without having to work 2, 3 or even 4 different jobs just to survive. No wonder the US is such a crime ridden country with so many people in such dire straits.

  • judi says:

    I generally tip nowadays around 20%. If I’m grabbing a bite at a diner where food is cheap….such as Waffle house – I know but my son loves it-I usually tip more…they work as hard if not harder than in a more expensive restaurant. But…if service is bad….I don’t mean slow… I mean rude and they never come back to my table or bring something I have asked for…. why do they deserve a tip at all…I think it is reasonable for my tip go reflect same. If we keep paying extra for poor service, it is only going to get worse. I would MUCH prefer paying more for food and eliminating tips altogether.

  • Sue says:

    Tipping is getting ridiculous!!! I tip 15% – that’s it folks! Some people are advising 18%, 20%, 25%!! It’s getting out of hand!!!

  • Erica says:

    As a current server, I would much rather not have to rely on tips. I would most likely make less money overall, but it would at least be predictable. I honestly think this wouldn’t impact service too much, at least for friendly customers. I’ve worked in food service for a long time, including jobs that did not accept tips, and I still like to think that I provided great service with a smile. The only way it would affect service is for rude customers. If a table is rude to me, I don’t show that it upsets me at all, and treat them just the same as other tables, because I need their tip. If I wasn’t depending on their tip to my bills, I wouldn’t necessarily be rude in return to them, but I would definitely give the nicer tables priority and more attention.

    Since I am a server, I could obviously go on about tipping well and how important it is, but I’ve made that mistake on sites like this before, and have learned that it won’t do any good and bad tippers will forever be stuck in their ways, unless if they happen to start waiting tables.

  • PhilC says:

    Saturday morning at breakfast I sit next to an Aussie who is visiting the US. We chat then we start to compare countries. First on my list is health care issues I’ve read on the web/from friends (they have many options comparable to ACA). Her first comment is tipping, why don’t we just pay people a decent wage instead of the hopes of bribery to do their jobs? Good point and I agree with her.

  • N.W. says:

    Problem: 2 tables 2 parties: party 1 has 4 guests, 4 avg. priced meals for this establishment. Add 1 very expensive wine @ $ 600.00 Total bill $725.00. My Tip $25.00 food plus $50-$100 Wine, total tip would be $75.00 or more depending on “wine show off ness.”

    Problem: Same restaurant, party of 6 guests, 6 avg. priced meals. Regular Bar drinks 5 Liquor and 8 house wine. Total bill $282.00. Tip?
    Why? because the waitperson in one case deserves a larger tip based on the work load and amount of trips to and from. My Tip $55.00-$70.00

  • Osiris says:

    I always tip generously. Even if the service was bad, I still tip because I know it’s not the servers fault. In my opinion servers should be paid more than $2 an hour since tips are not
    technically wages – they are intended to show appreciation of good service.

    • Paul says:

      If tips are not technically wages then why do wait staff have to declare them? Because the law says that they are wages (or income) therefore taxes need to be paid.

  • Bill says:

    The America custom of tipping is ridiculous. In most of Europe tipping is not done at eating establishments. This is because the wait staff are well paid with good benefits. The tip is, after all, included in the price of the meal. This is the way it should be done, let’s move on from our slavery economy.

  • Andy says:

    I once ate with a friend who used to wait tables. I paid the bill as it was my turn to do so. He called me “cheap” when the tip was 18%.
    He told me he knows how hard it is being a waiter blah, blah and he always tips more (which he does to my disgust at times).

    Well here is a newsflash, being a waiter can be hard, but so is doing any other job worth a damn in this world. Poeple work damn hard to earn their money, and if their release is to enjoy a night out somewhere for dinner how is anyone going to be so judgemental and tell them eat somewhere else if they aren’t willing to give up 20% AFTER the cost of the actual food? Get over yourselves waiters and waitresses who have these kind of misguided expcetations

    • Andy says:

      And it is a shame that establishments rely on tips (especially large groups) to help compensate their workers when they are the ones working them so damn hard, and paying them peanuts.

  • Julie says:

    As a former waitress, if the service is substandard, I pay attention to what the server is doing. Do I have to ask for a refill on my drink? Do I have to ask for the drink I ordered because it hasn’t arrived at all? Is the server standing around chatting with other servers? Absent from the dining room floor for periods of time? Is it hard to get their attention when you need something? Are they running around like crazy because it is busy? Are other tables suffereing the same long wait for food? Some things are absolutely in the control fo the servicer, and some are not. And all it takes is one demanding table to throw everything off, especially if they have a small section.

    And, what people may not realize having never worked in a restaurant, especially a nicer one, is that your server may not be the one that brings you your food. And you may see them bring out another tables food. That is because the restaurant wants the food on the table as soon as the order is completed and get it out of the window and onto the guests table. It is called running food. Because your server does not bring you your food, does not mean they are not doing their job when they have done everything else.

    Tables with small children alwasy made me cringe. Why? Because there was a 90-10% chance that the parents would allow the children to destroy the table, make a huge mess and leave it. Yes, the sugar and sweetner on the table is complimentary. But it doesn’t mean your child can open up all of them, dump them out in a pile and get it everywhere. Or the creamer. Or opening the salt and pepper shakers. Spilling drinks happens. When it happens two or three times, really? Allowing children to make these messes, means a server has to clean them up. And the general rule was, the messier the table, the less they tipped. No matter how nice they were, no matter how nice I was, families with small children who destroyed places for the most part are bad tippers. Some would tip over and above, but very few. The 10% with the seriously angelic children, were generally former servers themselves.

    The other thing I tend to do, is when I pay with a credit card, I tip in cash. That way, if a server doesn’t get a tip or a poor tip on a large bill that is paid for with a credit card, they can claim the minimum amount. You never know what is going on behind the scenes. I once had a table that had a free check up to $600 as a barter with the owner of the restaurant for a lunch. It was a huge party that took up my whole section. They made sure they came as close as they could to the $600 mark. I had no one else to worry about, we had water and bread service, and they didn’t tip. Nothing. I was supposed to tip the water server and the bar tender because they had alcohol. Since most people paid with credit cards, in general at this restaurant, it took for ever to make up for the tips I had to claim that I never made. Because you have to claim ever bit that is tipped on a credit card.

    I know a bunch of folks think servers are getting away with a bunch of money tax free by not claiming all of their tips. But the base wage for servers is enough to cover taxes for tips. If there is any question about what a server is working for, it is not a paycheck, it is tips. Tipping is part of our culture. If you don’t feel like you should have to tip, don’t eat at an establishment where tipping is expected. Yes, tipping is expected. However, if service is abismal, due to server inattention or just plain bad server behavior, I tip less, and if it is really bad, less than a dollar, but never nothing. If you leave nothing, it would make me or any other server think that you forgot. To prove a point, leave something.

    And in this day and age of social media, where servers like to put up their bills and charge slips when they have horrible things written on them or no tip, be it real or not, I have taken to writing “Cash Tip” or “Tip Included” in the tip line so it has been addressed that a tip was left, but not on the credit card.

    • ohiomark says:

      You are supposed to pay taxes on ALL your income; you do not like it when you are not paid ‘your fair share’ on tips, but it is OK not to pay your fair share on taxes. Seems like every server has some ‘reason’ not to claim all their net tips (after tip-outs) for tax purposes. Maybe customers should not tip as much when they tip with cash, knowing you will not be claiming all of it on your taxes. Sounds fair to me.

  • Tom says:

    Here’s a tip for this waitress. Don’t ask me to help clean up after myself. That’s YOUR job! If I need to clean up after myself, you’re NOT GETTING a tip.

  • PhilC says:

    I just found this link, shows min. wage/tip wage in each state. I see this as something that will eventually go away. Many countries have no tipping and really it isn’t tipping if it’s making up your discounted wage. The person should do a good job and if they don’t it is the job of their boss to deal with it, not mine by adjusting their income. I’m so used to not tipping it seems strange.

    On the subject of credit card receipts. Keep them until cleared. I’ve had people charge, credit, charge more than I authrized two months later. I’ve had people add a 1 to the front of a tip making $4 into 14.

    Another thing is that wait staff seem to judge like a shoe salesman. They kiss up if you dress & act a certain way. My lifestyle choices do not reflect my income. I often only order salad. I also eat small meals. I don’t drink other than water. They think I’m cheap but I’m vegan and very health conscious. Right away their behaviour changes. I’m talking everyday places not special occasion restaurants but still common at places requiring reservations. This does not happen in non tipping countries because it doesn’t matter. The workers there want you to be happy w/ the experience, they invite you to return.

    Give the employees minimum wage. A good restaurant will be able to stay in business.

  • Lucy says:

    I believe by law every employer is required to pay their employee the minimum hour wage. So a waiter/waitress always have the option to go to the restaurant owner and make a proposation to forgo the tips and get paid minimum wage instead. and the owner by law would have to agree to it (if they say no I believe you can sue them because the only reason why an owner can get away with less than minimum wage payment is because of the expected tip, so if you forgo that then there is no way they can pay you less than minimum wage legally). If there is a waiter/waitress earns less than the minimum wage AFTER factoring in the tip then they should really look for another job that pays them that (I believe McDonald pays minimum wage). If the minimum wage is not enough to make a living (and I agree in many states it’s not), then it’s definitely not my job as a customer to make sure my waitress is earning more than my garbage guy, street sweeper, even my kid’s substitute teacher. That’s something the voters in that state have to complain to the legislation to fix.

    The truth is most waiter/waitress aearn high than minimum wage after you factor in the tip (again, if you don’t, you have no economic reason waitng instead of going to mcdonalds) so it is not to their incentive to go to the owner and say pay me minimum wage and I hand you all the tips. Let’s just take a look at some math. I’m from washington state and my state’s minimum wage i $9.19 per hour. If a waitress works 10 hours shifts then according to minimum wage she is entitled to $91.9 compensation for a day (of course you can say that’s way too low but I think that’s lawmaker’s problem, not customers’). Instead, if the waitress earns $3 per hour and add tip, she’ll need to make up $61.9 difference in tips. Say if people are nasty today and only tipped 10% on average (or tipped 15% but she has to pay it out to other staff etc..), she needs to make a sale of $619 dollar all day. If an average bill for a customer at a sitdown restaurant is $20 then she needs to serve 30 customers to earn her tip or wait 15 tables of 2. If you a waitress is responsible for 5 tables then all she needs is one time at lunch and a turnover at dinner. So you can see, even all conservative estimates the waitress can easily make up the minimum wage difference in tips so I don’t feel there is a need for me to pay more than that if all I want to is compensate for their minimum wage gap.

    As far as I goes, I start with 18% at low end restaurant and 25% at fancy ones and start deducting. If I had to wait for my bread, if my food is cold, if my water is not refilled, if the waitress didn’t even bother smile etc…those are all points off. If I got bad service, I would leave a low tip and write “bad service” on the credit card slip. If the waitress chase me out and politely ask why I wasn’t happy, I would explain to her in detail and raise her tip to around 12%; if instead she chase out and start demanding more money, I would explain why she’s not getting any more; if she started shouting at any time, I would ask to see the manager, explain the situation, and inform the manger I want to take all my tip back. Vice versa, if I get truly exceptional service, I would leave my max tip and hand the waiter/waitress some extra money and say this is a gift for you to show my appreciation.

    what I don’t understand is why does a waitress expect a generous tip when the food was fantastic and fast and all she did was collection plates and taking order, but on the other hand refuse to be punished when the food was horrible and kitchen staff was slow because it is “not her fault”. Either you take both sides and accept you are only getting tipped for taking orders/billing, refilling water/soda, and carry plates around (which in mind does not deserve 15% of the bill) or you are getting tipped for the entire dinner experience which has aspect outside your control but it works both in your favor and against you. I noticed all those current/ex-waitress claim they get penalised because kitchen was slow/food sucks when they had no control over it, but why don’t any of you mention you get tipped extra generously when the kitchen was prompt and the chef is excellent when they are outside your control as well? Do you return the extra generous tip and say I’m glad you like the food but it’s not my doing? Do you give the extra tip to the chef? If you pocket the positives then maybe you shouldn’t complain about the negatives? While I admit waiting a difficult job (I waited when I was in high school part time) and many of you are probably not earning enough to make ends meet, I just don’t understand the victim mentality and an expectation of your customers to make up that difference. At the end of the day, it’s your employer’s obligation to make sure you earn a minimum wage and it’s the lawmakers’s obligation to make sure that’s a livable wage. I don’t see why it’s my responsibility in anyway to ensure that happens when all I want to do is to dine out with my family.

    • PhilC says:

      Right there with you.

    • Osiris says:

      It’s not your responsibility, but a bit of compassion for their situation goes a long way. I’ve known servers who received NEGATIVE paychecks because their tips weren’t enough to cover taxes.

  • ted says:

    The main issue has not been addressed with any discussion i see on tipping. Customers pay a lot to eat out; they should not have to pay wages for the workers. Restaurants should not get by with only paying $2/hr (or whatever). They should conform to labor laws, with no restaurant loophole so the companies have to pay for their labor charges.

  • bill jennings says:

    Few people seem to understand where this tip thing originated !!
    T = To
    I = Insure
    P = Prompt
    S = Service
    It was designed to be handed out prior to a meal.
    Unfortunately, it has evolved into a way of charging more for food, so that the
    customer – not the restaurant pays the servers. I personnally like to see in advance what things are going to cost – including meals – and accordingly
    totally disagree with what tipping has become. If you must tip, tip before
    themeal. This is the way it was originally designed. Let the restaurant include
    the cost of staffing in the price of the meal.

  • mike says:

    wow… this article is kind of a joke simply because of who wrote it… an ex-waitress. Talk about being one sided! ITs called “a tip” for a reason… its only supposed to be a small token of appreciation … NOT a rent payment or a mortgage payment or your kid’s tuition. Round up to the nearest $10?… so if my bill is $15 and I round up to the nearest $10 that would mean give a $5 tip… on a bill of $15 that would equate to a 33% tip… do you see the error in the logic here? Like I said… coming from an ex-waitress… what a colossal joke. Some people have no business even opening their mouth’s when it comes to giving other people advice.

  • david says:

    A waiter spends about 5 minutes in taking the order, 5 minutes in delivery, and 5 minutes cleaning up. At a $10. per hour rate, this would be only $2.50 tip, regardless of the amount of the bill. Even doubling the time, $5.00 should be enough for almost any meal.

  • Richard says:

    In my state of residence, restaurant workers are required to be paid the state mandated minimum wage which now exceeds $9.00 per hour. That being said, that should be factored into any tip since this article says the servers are paid $2.00 per hour.

    I have some difficult feelings about tipping. If I visit any kind of establishment whether it be a restaurant, hair salon, etc. – I believe the owner of the business should pay reasonable wages to his/her employees. I think any employee SHOULD provide good service without me being coerced to pay a tip to ensure such good service. Do most folks tip at a buffet, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King, K-Mart, WalMart, etc.? I think not. But, those workers are mostly on their feet all day, the pay isn’t very good, etc.

    I despise tipping.

  • Dan says:

    Tipping is no better than bribing a government official. Unfortunately, tipping has also led to a sense of irresponsibility and unearned entitlement. If one is to look at the economics of scale, all that a waiter does is he is a middlemen between the customer and the kitchen. So since he is not doing anything really that demanding (unless he wants to make it demanding and then boast how he is overworked, even though he brought that upon himself) he should not be highly compensated. Tipping is also leading to resentment because the customer didn’t “pay” the waiter enough money even though it is his employer’s job to pay him what the market would allow. Not having tipping would actually increase the sense of security a waiter has in his job without worrying about whether he would be payed enough.

    Lets say that it is true that waiters aren’t paid enough. Did anyone not know the consequence of his/her decision? If the pay wasn’t good enough working at restaurants, why not work in retail instead. Retail is a far better work experience than at a restaurant. Also, I don’t need a waiter coddling me I just want him to bring my food after it is done cooking!

    So yes, abolish tipping and stop the corruption, resentment, and entitlement!

  • Kama Mustafa says:

    Poor service/bad service is exactly that. A server/waiter is responsible for service and it should be good (pleasant) and prompt. If there are problems with other areas affecting my service the server should be able to explain that to me with a smile and I won’t hold it against them. I don’t blame bad tasting food or poorly prepared food on a server but I do blame cold or not as hot as it should be on the server. Also, drinks should be refilled and requests shouldn’t have to be made more than once (extra sauce/extra napkins…). If this is taken care of then a generous tip is on the way. But if these aren’t, then my eating experience is less than it should be and the tip goes down. I was always told that 15% is a standard tip and no article is going to change that to 20% for me. But, I will add that the 15% only comes up if I feel the service is subpar and I’m trying to determine what to give. I only leave nothing if the server is a jerk and so far in my eating experiences these jerks have always been young men. Whatever restaurant I’m gracing with my consumer dollars, is making me a promise that I will enjoy their food and service so I think they should live up to it.

  • Rebecca says:

    Heaven forbid you have to PAY TAXES on your income, or wait two weeks to get it like the rest of us. If all the wait staff is so concerned about making minimum wage, go work at McDonalds. They will pay you minimum wage for a food service job. Except that wait staff still makes more than minimum wage on average, otherwise they WOULDN’T keep going to a job that makes less than minimum wage.
    I don’t get paid more at my job if I give exemplary service. I’m all for just not having tipping and everyone makes a wage. Yes, plenty of wait staff go above and beyond to make the meal a good experience for the customer. However, shouldn’t every person do this at their job? I give good service because it is the right thing to do, not because I expect any differing compensation for it.

    • Kama Mustafa says:

      You make some good points but I have learned over the years that the good servers, and I mean the really good ones, love the system we have now because they have the skill to make us part with dollars in tips to them. They do this, not by expecting a handout, but by providing excellent service.

      • Dwayne says:

        This is where I fall in line., I feel I have been trained as a great server by an expert in the field. She’s constantly helping me by coaching and watching over me. i am a full-time professional already before my side job (teacher, coach, mentor), but this is a supplemental job to help me pay off my bills earlier. I work about 23 hrs./weekend, so my weekends are shot, but I pull in about $15/hr. due to how I work. This is already after a tip-out to a busser daily as well as a host on 2 of the 3 days. Like many, I start at $2.13/hr. but the sky is the limit. At times, when I’ve done really well, I’ve pulled in $25/hr. I may about $15000/yr. extra and claimed every cent I’ve brought in. However, just a couple buildings down, I see the other side. Tipouts aren’t claimed, shoddy staff, blame is placed on everyone with no resolution, and i’ll be surprised if they make it 5 years. Not everyone busts their tails the right way, which is to “service the needs of the guest.” That’s how I make my extra wages, allow the business to keep the lights on, and allow the business to thrive.

    • Osiris says:

      People in certain fields do get bonuses for exemplary service, and they pay taxes on them. But they are also paid at
      least the minimum wage. Servers don’t get that, and its not fair.

  • Dan says:

    I always like to leave a 20% tip but here is a question. If I ordered an expensive bottle of wine with dinner and the bill is very high. My thought has always been that 20% of a big bill is the same amount of work and effort on behalf of the server had I ordered a less expensive bottle. On these occasions I lower the percentage to what I feel is appropiate. Is that taboo?

    • Jesse says:

      The only problem there is that most places have the server “tip out” the bartender a certain percentage for the wildly difficult task of handing them the bottle of wine. If there is a bartender, remember that the server will probably have to give the bartender 3-5% of the total sales (or at least beverage sales). So by ordering a more expensive bottle and tipping less, depending on a) the increase in price and b) the decrease in tip, you may have actually given your “real” server less money since their tip-out to the bartender is usually based on sales and not on the tips they receive. This is yet another bizarre, convoluted, and complicated segment of the American tipping phenomenon.

  • Trish says:

    Waiters, Waitresses, etc. – Stop looking to the patrons so much for your compensation and put on your grown-up panties and start approaching your managers and places of employment if you feel underpaid. 15% tip is plenty! The restaurants are probably making a killing and the profit sharing should be more equitable.

    • Jesse says:

      I think Trish would probably agree with what I said up there ^. And you’re more than right, but a lot of these people don’t want to put on grown-up panties. True, some places that are a bit higher-end pay $8-20/hr for servers who do great work at places that manage their money properly, but many that I’ve encountered have poor management and bleed money because of poor organization. Heck, most of the smart, educated, and wealthy people either open fast-food franchises or run the really posh places – mid-level dining is where the most problems exist with everything from money to staffing to management in general.

      Plus, though there are some responsible people working through college or who are generally just plain hard-working, there are just as many who complain that even though they make as much as some teachers’ starting salaries, it’s just not enough to raise their kids. These are the same people who say they could do so much better and just need to get their degree, but then complain about community college and drop/fail out. It’s a crappy sense of entitlement that they feel they deserve to make at least $40K/yr without trying very hard.

      So yes, if someone makes you feel special and you can tell they are doing their best to earn every penny that you tip them, it makes sense to tip over 15-20%. But if I was waited on by some of the lesser employees I’ve supervised, they would be lucky to get 10% out of me.

      • Kama Mustafa says:

        Ah yes, the missing part of the equation. How do I feel at the end? If the answer is great = more tip; if the answer is upset = less tip. And there’s no rules or regulations that change that. That is the way of the world and servers get used to it. Or, buckle down and make the customer feel good and you’ll be surprised with the reward.

  • Rebecca says:

    “Regardless of how we feel about tips, it’s important to realize that in most cases in the US, waiters do not earn living wages. ”

    Plenty of people don’t earn living wages, see: fast food workers, people who work at stores like Walmart, a lot of people at my old home healthcare job. Should all of these people expect us to supplement their wages because their company isn’t paying them a living wage? Perhaps the problem isn’t tipping but the greedy people who don’t pay their employees a fair wage.

  • Jesse says:

    In one way or another, I agree with nearly everyone here, and though this may seem impossible, I will show why it is not. First, let me propose what appears to be a system that would work to everyone’s benefit.

    Step 1: Restaurants create a marginal price increase, not enough to cover a “good tip,” but enough to pay at least normal minimum or “living wages” for the servers, ending the lower “tip wage” in countries such as the USA that still practice this.

    Step 2: By whatever means “tip standards” are created, ostensibly word-of-mouth or media, the generally accepted amount drops, probably to about the 10% range (maybe 8-13%?).

    Reasoning: I believe that, both personally and professionally, this is a reasonable compromise. Though I have multiple degrees and am self-employed, I also moonlight as a rotating manager/server/trainer at a chain restaurant and can see the ups and downs of both arguments, those basically being a) do away with tipping and b) keep it in place. Since I do not rely solely on tips for my income, but also need some extra money until my online business and art sales pick up, I’m not scratching at anyone’s table for money but am grateful for every little bit that I receive.

    However, a general comparison akin to some of what has been described by both foreign and expatriate individuals alike may be far more compelling. Obviously, many here have had a wide range of experiences in regard to levels of service both tipped and non-tipped (primarily in regard to full-service restaurants). The solution that I propose would remove the “guilt tipping” and re-create the gratuity – or as I prefer to see it – “gratefulness” scale. For instance, should you receive sub-par service – disinterested or rude servers, lack of refills, incapacity to comprehend the menu from which you are ordering – it would then be both standard and reasonable to leave no tip. On the other hand, if you were to always have full drinks, awareness of your needs (menu, dietary, etc.), and a generally positive experience, then a tip of 10% or even more would be considered standard or generous, depending upon the degree to which all of these details and more were executed.

    As an example, consider this. One server greets you, asks if you want to order, brings your drinks and then your food, maybe stops by once or twice and then hands you the check. In between these paltry few steps, you notice that the establishment is nearly empty and the server spends the majority of their time not with other customers, but instead chats with staff, texts on their cellphone, or disappears completely.

    Now assume that you, for some unknown reason, return to this same establishment, and have a different server. This person tells you about special items not shown on the menu, asks if you have any special requests or questions about menu items, offers to make special drinks or bring you a salad while you review your options, and then bustles off to greet other customers before returning with any items you requested. They keep your drinks full, ask if you need anything else, and perhaps if there is unusually high volume in the restaurant they want to know if you will be satisfied momentarily while they assist the kitchen with cooking for a large party so that your order will be filled sooner than expected. They then serve your food that was obviously just finished cooking (rather than waiting for them to stop texting long enough to get it for you like the first server). There may even be the off chance that your meal wasn’t what you expected, and they offer to re-cook it themselves to your specifications.

    Now consider that aside from firing the first server and hoping that the cost of training their replacement will yield better results, your compliment for the better server will likely not entice the owner or manager to increase their pay in almost any establishment in which you may dine. Those of us who follow the latter example would like nothing better than to have a cadre of employees like ourselves by our sides, but the sad fact is that in nearly any workplace environment, expecting your co-workers to compete with your level of hard work and skill is rare unless there is compensation to make such an action justifiable.

    I had three jobs by the time I was 16, and though I reduced that number to one or two through college and graduate school in order to maintain my grade-point average and activities, that did not prevent me from doing my damnedest to be the best I could be in every position I filled. Over nearly two decades, I have learned (among, obviously, a few other things) that it is both unreasonable and disappointing to presume that one may find an entire staff that is equally driven to rise above their means.

    The service industry is a rare breed in that it allows the consumer to reward the most valued members of a given community rather than leaving that option to company management or owners who may or may not see fit to do the same. If you appreciate what someone has done for you in their low-wage job, reward them where others may not. If you can’t afford to do so, let them know that you’ll drop a couple of extra bucks their way when you have it. I have been in that situation myself, and also have appreciative customers who remember my kindness when they were between jobs or working their way through school, and they give me $5-10 every time they visit, no matter what they order. Ensuring repeat business – and thus my own continued employment – is paramount in this venture, and pays its dividends well over time.

    Retaining the standard of tipping, regardless of what amount is considered conscientious, creates a culture whereby you have the opportunity to show appreciation in a practical manner for the quality of work and effort put forward for your sake. If you are among the many who dislike the many systems discussed herein – taxation, compensation, arbitrary tip standards – paying less for a meal in order to determine the value of the service received is truly priceless. A lower tip shows dissatisfaction and leads to a lower wage; a higher tip shows appreciation for someone who may well be undervalued. I assure you, if all servers were tipped per their level of service, the poor service from lazy and unmotivated workers would be relegated to naught but the lowest-hanging, most shriveled fruits of jobs the industry has to offer. Again, this has nothing to do with overworked servers and everything to do with the chatty texting crowd who could care less about what you receive until it comes time for you to tip them.

    And yes, I agree…discussion of such things, online or otherwise, is the only point of origin for such changes.

  • Fred says:

    Been around for 47 years and still don’t really understand the whole tipping thing. Seems to me that I am at the restaurant and already am paying for my food … delivery of that food to my table (and taking of the order) should be part of the restaurant’s overhead … why do I have to be made to feel obligated to provide a tip … it is a gratuity and I should be able to determine if I would like to give one or not. Why should I have to make-up for the server’s wages because the restaurant industry belives that taking advantage of its customers by having them pay the vast majority of their staff’s wages is the way to do business? What other industry that serves people does this? I’ve been in IT service and support for over 25 years and we don’t ask for a tip, nor expect one.

    It’s about time that we put the onus back on the restaurants to cease this ‘socially awkward’ and morally unjust practice and let us consumers determine if we want to reward our server for the job done like we expected it to be done in the first place.

    This is another of those incredibly stupid practices that over the years has become convoluted enought to be thought of as the way things are. What’s next, we have to pay the restaurant vendor’s a tip because they deliver the raw food product to the restaurant?

    FYI/My sister and several friends over the years have been wait staff at restaurants and let me tell you something … everyone of them would rather have a full and proper salary that they can depend and bank on rather than hoping they do a good enough job to gain the appreication of the customers to get enough tips to pay their bills!!! Remember, wait staff are not millionaires.

    • Nichole says:

      Yes, I am a waitress and I’d much rather be paid more by my employer than rely on customers to provide my income. Some days I walk out with a lot of money, others barely enough to get by. It’s stressful.

  • PhilC says:

    I grew up in the US but have lived in Asia since late 90’s. I have grown to think that tipping is a form of a bribe. After the fact with wait staff but before in many other circumstances such as bell boys, porters, room service, maid service, hair stylists, shoe shiners, doormen, concierges, taxi drivers…….. I have a lot of exposure. I feel it is the obligation of the business to pay fair wages, charge accordingly and monitor employee performance. If I want (and many places have a system for this) I can put in a good word for that person. Tipping in the US and some other locals has become a way to get good service. That should not be the case as a person in the service industry should want to do a good job. I also don’t appreciate the false kiss up that goes with the good tip or as a result of my previous good tipping. The service charge should be split among the service people, even those we do not see who make our experience worthwhile. I tip appropriately as a local wherever I travel but the fact that US workers are taxed to include their tipping which they may not receive is a problem with the labor laws and that needs to be changed. Perhaps a progressive change would help it happen. Employees should not tell me they don’t get the tips they should tell the labor boards. I am often expected to tip (and it is said in the local language) because I am from the USA, this is insulting. Please learn what is appropriate when you travel and help change the laws in the US.

  • Phill says:

    Living in the UK its been coming into restaurants about tipping. I’ve always been under the idea that you tip for good service and don’t tip for bad service, simple. Although the minimum wage compared to the UK is about $2.50 more an hour in the UK you have to remember cost of living.

    I ALWAYS check the bill to make sure they haven’t added a service charge already. One thing many places do now when paying by card is ask you if you want to add a tip…and having to hand the card machine back to the waiter who can see immediately what you have tipped which I find awkward.

    Generally though I tip 20% (out of ease of maths) or whatever spare coins I have (of acceptable value obviously)

  • Dan Lloyd says:

    These articles on tipping are right on, and I’ve never been a waiter.
    The sick pukes of the world, Mark Zuckerman comes to mind, giving ZERO on a 30 euro lunch bill (in Italy) makes me sick.

  • Mark D says:

    I live in Vancouver, Canada, and I generally consider it appropriate to tip 10% for ‘adequate’ service, 15% for very good service, and I go as high as 20% in restaurants for outstanding service (this is very rare). I do not feel an “obligation” to tip for poor service, nor for most other services (I do usually tip cabbies, but rarely use taxi services, and I do tip at full-service gas stations, the very rare time that I actually get “full” service — Gas jockeys: This is MORE THAN pumping my gas and taking my money!). I am not afraid to not tip at a restaurant if the service is unacceptable, and if it is extremely bad, I will leave no tip at all (or a nominal “one-cent tip”) and maybe even a note with my complaints (a different kind of tip — lets them know how they can improve). I seldom tip on credit card transactions, leaving the tip in cash when possible, so the server gets the whole tip, rather than losing part of it to the merchant bank, and never accept the automatic calculations on the credit card readers, which calculate tips on sales tax, and after coupon discounts, whereas I prefer to tip on the pre-tax, pre-coupon value of the meal or service. I strongly resent the ‘expectations’ of tips everywhere today, and the expectation that owners can underpay their staff in the expectation that patrons will subsidize their wages with tips. Governments who pass laws condoning this or overtly enabling it are just as guilty for perpetrating this farce to our economy. I would rather the meals be a bit more expensive, the staff paid fairly, and tips being at the discretion of the clients, based on the service quality, not the expectations of wage subsidies necessitated by laws and chintzy entrepreneurs who under-pay their staff!

  • Hope says:

    In most countries outside US service charge is added automatically. I find service in these countries way poorer than in US. There is no motivation for the waiters to provide good service. I would rather tip for good service than pay a service charge even though the service is bad.

    • Asha says:

      Yes, there is. If I, as an Australian waitress, serve you badly, you tell my manager, other customers, twitter, whoever you want. Ultimately, it’s my bosses job to make sure my work is up to scratch, not yours. My motivation is repeated complaints will get me fired/prevent promotion/less shifts. This is the exact same motivation people in office jobs have to do their jobs well. No one tips office workers – but the bosses watch. Frankly, I think in the American system, not only are you having to pay the workers for the boss, you’re having to supervise them too. Exactly what do your bosses even do?

  • bunnyslippers says:

    I’m starting to feel more and more pressured on tipping to the point where I’m ready to cut back. It seems it’s only the last 10 years or so that we started to read these whiny complaints about how much we are to tip. The latest outrage I heard was some person in media trying to say that “20% was the new standard”. Why not 25%? Why not 40%? The whole practice has lost it’s original purpose which was to reward good personal service and turned it into a selfish cash grab and I’m sick of it.

  • Larry says:

    I don’t like tipping and don’t think it is my place to support the resturants employees. When i go to a place and a automatic tip is added to my bill I never go back. I do tip when the service is excellent -but that is not often-. I am in china now and I think they have it figured out. No tipping allowed! I have tried to tip when the service was excellent and was told if the waitress took the money she would lose her job. So wake up America, pay the people for the work they do.

  • commenter says:

    If you look at the comments of the people who are wait-staff (current or former), you see that some of them actually expect/DEMAND tips. Given the definition of the tip, this is not right. I would rather that the wait staff be paid a proper wage, and that be factored into the meal, instead of this tipping mechanism which is distateful to many.

    • JD says:

      Your comment reminds me of that scene in Reservoir Dogs where Steve Buscemi’s character get’s explained why server’s get tips ; ) Of course server’s work for tips. Why else would they put up with crap attitudes, messy people, really really particular picky eaters, insanely high strung and often abusive managers etc? I’m with you, I think tipping in US culture has really gotten out of hand from what it originally was in the country and I also wish that everyone got paid a living wage. If you look up the history of tipping in the US it’s really fascinating how originally it was frowned upon when it came over from Europe, then transcended to rich people getting favors and better service by tipping. The system to some extent was created in a less than honorable way and continues to evolve that way. I hate feeling a pressure to tip when I get a coffee….When you go to a restaurant you probably want amazing service, yummy food, and good prices. Back in the day rich people were willing to grease palms to get better goods and services(still to this day as well). Now we have what we have and very few people are willing to do something about it. A guy did down in San Diego with his restaurant and his staff reported to be happier and have a better quality of life even though they make less money. Something to think about. Definitely not a cool feeling if you ever had a server that demanded a tip(this has never happened to me), but if they did at least you can know that in the beginning of tipping being accepted in this country, it eventually became expected to tip to get good service and so its not crazy to be in a situation where this happens again ages later. It’s not like server’s are rebels against society trying to hustle people(most of the time, watch out for drinks sales ;). They just operate in the same system you see a problem with.

  • Dave says:

    in SF there is a a2-4% HEALTHY SAN FRANCISCO tax on many high-end restaurants , I tip 18% , and sometime account for the 2-4% Health tax the city imposes on businesses …. some businesses choose to work it into their prices thus a Hamburger can cost you $18 or they add it on as a line item ….. I would consider the HEALTHY SF Tax a tip , I am paying for socialized healthcare , I do not think its right to demand a 20% “tip” and then add 4% on top of that …. On liqure tiping should be minimal what should someone get $10 for opening a cork and pouring wine on a $50 bottle … that just throwing your money away. Be sensible especially in SF where there the highest living wage in the USA and then there is city mandated healthcare tax etc….

  • shellyma says:

    I think tipping is only necessary if the service is exceptional, and only if I feel like tipping. I feel like now a days people assumme that they are automatically entitled to a tip no matter what type of service they gave you.( Good or bad) it is not fair for waiters to make the customers feel bad for not tipping the amount that they see is fit. It is not my fault you decided to work at a place that does not pay enough to sustain youself. And, to those that say “if you do not feel like tipping then you should stay home to eat”, do you not realize that if that were the case you would not have a job to complain about crappy wages. So hate me for my bluntness, but I think if you are looking for a better tip then take it up with your boss.

    • Nichole says:

      I have a lot of experience as a waitress and let me just say, where I am jobs are hard to find. I had no money and no luck on getting a job until my employer hired me as a waitress. Have YOU ever had to serve anyone? Some people have no respect. I’ve had customers cuss me out just because of a minor mistake that could easily be fixed. When you have ten tables that are all needing you we are humans we make mistakes. When you don’t have a choice or can’t find another job then you do what you have to do to get by.

      It can be overwhelming at times but then again very enjoyable. We do everything at the restaurant I work at, bus tables wash dishes prep whatever needed, all while waiting on customers. So yes when I bust my bottom to make sure someone receives excellent service, and then don’t get tipped, I’m frustrated.

      I don’t just give good service for the tips though. It’s a job I take seriously and I enjoy giving people great experiences. I have regulars that come in daily and only tip a dollar or two but every time they come in I still give them great service because that’s my job, and I do love my regulars no matter what they tip. However I live off of tipping so yes If I am getting you drinks, making sure your order is accurate, getting you refills, attending to your needs so you can sit and have a good time and enjoy a meal, I expect a tip. It’s just how it is.

      I understand some people can’t afford 20 percent or whatever. I don’t track percentage. It’s just nice even to just get a dollar. Hard times have made me appreciative of what I can get. No one should say anything about tipping until they are a waitress/waiter themselves and see what it’s like. Before I was a waitress I didn’t tip well but after experiencing it, I will make sure to leave a tip based on service. With experience I can tell if someone is just giving careless service or just having a bad day. But even if I experience bad service I always leave tip because I know that’s what they live off of.

  • Lindsey says:

    I am a server/bartender at a well known gulf coast restaurant and its pretty pricy, but like someone else said if you are going to come in and ONLY tip me or my coworkers 10% go somewhere else. We live of our tips! I live in a tourist trap city and this is almost one of the best jobs you can get around here that makes decent money. Not everyone like myself has a degree or even go to school but we do try to make an honest living and by you blaming it on us when we have no control over food (because we don’t cook) it really hurts us. My husband works in a very high flow restaurant and there are only 3 of the them total. What he makes in the summer is what we make til march. We have to save our money and spend it wisely because we don’t have a ton in the winter time.

  • DdR says:

    And that’s another thing…. “you can’t make money off of tables that don’t turn.” That’s a negative part of the tipping culture. The cultural expectation in Europe (at least in this part of it) is that when you walk into a restaurant and sit down, your seat is yours for the night. period. You may stay 30 minutes, you may stay from open to close. The wait staff isn’t relying on your tips, and you aren’t even brought the bill until you signal and ask for it specifically. It makes for a much more pleasant dining experience all the way around. If I ever open a dining establishment, you can bet I will ban tipping in that establishment and pay my staff what they are worth!

  • DdR says:

    Having just spent a year overseas where tipping is definitely not an expectation, I find that I’m vaguely dreading the return to the US and the culture of tipping expectations. Why work for an establishment that does not pay adequately? I don’t mind tipping when employees work “for tips only,” I make a point of tipping generously in those cases. I sincerely doubt that I will tip for anything less than good service once I return stateside.

  • Dan S says:

    I just simply stopped tipping altogether. Admittedly I don’t go out that often and when I do I tend to go to different locations. Let’s be honest .. the dirty littlke secret is that many, many waiters and waitresses are raking in some serious dough stiffing Uncle Sam in the process. I just refused to be a part of the shell game anymore.

  • rick says:

    The whole tipping culture is obscene. It is economic class distinction at its worst. People should be paid a decent wage to do a decent job and provide decent service without being bribed by their customers

  • Ana says:

    The service in Australia is terrible because they don’t have any motivation to give good service i.e. no tips expected. In Sydney this past April 2012, after waiting 15 minutes for a cappuccino, I went up to the counter and asked why it was taking so long and the response I received was “because this isn’t McDonald’s”.
    I just went back to my seat and waited another 10 minutes for my cappuccino – i wasn’t about to get better service elsewhere!

    • Dee says:

      Not that you are generalizing, or anything…..right?
      Here’s a thought, I bet you were very rude, arrogant, self important and demanding. This is the way many Americans do behave when overseas. Also, the coffee in Australia is excellent, and takes time to prepare. We do it properly. Because of this, one gets a fantastic cup of coffee. I bet the barista was what he said he was- busy. You just didn’t like hearing that. Interesting that you still chose to hang around.

      So, you are in a snit about a cup of coffee taking too long to arrive. You then extrapolate into espousing how the whole country gives terrible service. Please do not come back.

  • Dan says:

    I will tip for good service. I’ve gone as high as 10 percent but the food and service must be exceptional for tipping at that level.

  • Rosana says:

    I live in Japan and tips are not given here. If I go to a restaurant I just pay the price for the food plus 5% tax, and if you want to leave a tip for the waiter or other
    staff, you just create an uncomfortable situation. If you take a taxi, you will get the changes. So no tips whatsoever here!

    • Stan Francisco says:

      I live in Japan, too, and I only leave money on the table when the waitress is really cute and I want to talk to her outside. She’ll usually come blazing out after a couple of minutes while I fumble with my keys. Then I ask her for her phone number.

  • Kevin says:

    In every state the law requires the employer to make up the difference between the half minimum wage that the employer pays and what the employee DECLARES in tip income. Most tipped employees hide what they actually make in tips, usually declaring just enough to et their employer to cough up his share. The concept of tipping before service is even rendered is bizarre to me, if I have to bribe you just to get you to do your job then I’ll go somewhere else. It’s not my fault that you chose a crappy low paying job, and I refuse to bribe you to ensure that you perform a simple task. If you ignore me until I flash a bill I surely will. A gratuity, the actual name for a tip, is an expression of my gratitude for doing your job well. I actually am a pretty generous tipper when served well, but don’t expect it up front. Also don’t expect one simply because you trudged over to me, took a simple order, and refilled my drink once, that’s what you get paid to do. If you act bored or rude while taking my order I’ll get up and leave, and I’ll be sure to let your manager know exactly why on the way out. I hope he fires you.

    • Osiris says:

      Kevin, I am glad you have the luxury of not having to take a “crappy low paying job”. Not everyone has that.

  • Kevin says:

    My “tip-meter” starts at 20% at a restaurant where I’m being served. I often tip more than that for very good services, but will tip less if I am not getting the service I want from my server. It’s rare that I’ll go below 15%, but I will for bad or neglectful service.

    I also recognize what is and is not in the control of the service staff. If there’s a big kitchen backup, that’ll affect my tip but not a lot. On the other hand if they ignore me too, that’s not good.

  • Alfred L Moniot MD says:

    I think it depends also on the country.

    I live in Mexico and frequently travel internationally.

    Typically, I tip 12 -15% here (far more than most), but there are exceptions:

    Late Sunday comida (lunch/dinner) is usually MXN$300, + $50, corkage for a bottle of wine (US$25. total), but I get competed. So, for the great service, I tip MXN$100, a 28.6% tip.

    In the US, I generally tip 20% on food and 10% on wine, and always make a point that if they didn’t charge 3 or 4 X retail for “commercial” wine, I would tip better for the screw cap “twist”.

    ret expat MD

  • Kyla Marie says:

    As a waitress, this article really caught my eye. Each and every one of the comments on here contained good points. I do have a few things to say though.
    -Unfortunately we do not live in other countries where tips are not expected. Deal with it. Go live there and if you think it’s such a big deal. If you miss it so much in your own country, than go back. Or simply just don’t go out to eat. It’s the nature of the beast.
    -These waitresses/waiters are being paid below minimum wage. Some would say if it’s that bad, why don’t they just go and find another job? Some people only stay at these jobs as they have tried to find another job and are unable to. So for the time being, this is where they must stay.
    -Working in the restaurant businesses is one of the shadiest places anyone might work. There is sexual harrassment every where, this happens not just with the customers but the staff as well. The owners will make you pay for people who walk out on their bill, although it is actually illegal to do this, yet they still get away with it. They put stipulations on things, knowing at times that their staff has no where else to go workwise.
    -Sometimes it is not the serving staffs fault that the service is poor. It sometimes depends on the kitchen staff, hostessing staff, management, etc. Although some did comment earlier that they are aware of what’s going on and won’t make the waitress suffer for something that is not their fault. As a waitress I know if it’s the server’s fault or the surrounding environment that is affecting the service.
    -Have you ever dealt with a truly rude customer? Until you do, you can’t really say anything. One time I had to deal with five guys who were on cocaine. That was not easy when you are only getting paid $8.65 an hour and depending on them to make it worth it.
    -I live in Canada. It is expected someone tip at least 10% if they feel the service is adequate. I’m not sure where you are dining where 20% is expected. If this is the case I feel you should find another place to dine or perhaps get take out. I will tip 20% plus regardless of the service only because I am a waitress and I know what it’s like.
    -As for the automatic tips on large parties, it is true. The tip is automatically put on there because they want to make sure everyone is tipped out fairly. The tip out of the place I work is 5.5% for the restaurant side and 6% for the lounge side. And this percentage comes from your total sales, now how much you make in tips. If a large party doesn’t tip you still have to tip out. (Another way restaurants are shady.) Why penalize the waitress if they did a good job? If you truly feel the serving staff of your large party doesn’t deserve to be paid the automatic gratiuity you can actually talk to the manager and if it is a legit complaint about horrible service, usually they are willing to remove it. They don’t just take it off because someone is too cheap to pay it.
    -If so many of you feel that it would better for restaurants to get rid of tips and raise their serving staffs wages maybe you should do something about it rather than sit on a forum and talk about it. 🙂

    • Bud says:

      Talking about change is one of the first ways to make it happen. Look at your own words, for example: ‘shady’. If you are doing business with ‘shady’ people, and now you are talking about it, maybe you are ready to change with whom you do business.

    • RR says:

      I also live in Canada. i will generally tip 10% up to maybe 15% when I go out. The 20% + is for American restaurants were servers get $3 an hour not the $10 they get here. Many severs make as much money as a professional partly due to the fact they don’t report most of the tips as income. Gov’t minimum standards are to report 10% of their hourly wage as tips (that’s $1 per hour), meanwhile they get low income subsidies like GST credit and low income housing that I pay for out of my fully taxed income. I used to work in the industry and agree it can be brutal, that’s why I don’t work in that industry anymore. Canadian servers are reading too much American news and websites and are starting to think they should get 20% even though they make 3 times what they do in the US (not even counting Canadian tax funded health care). The entitlement mentality needs to end somewhere!!

  • Stan Francisco says:

    Maybe the employer should tip the employee and not the customer.

  • Ed says:

    If they don’t bring food and drink to your table, there’s no need to tip. This includes buffets and ice cream stands. Many times when I don’t feel like tipping, I chose a buffet or fast food place. Full service restaurants could attract more business by not allowing tips!

  • Stan Francisco says:

    I never tip. I live in Japan. It’s great. Tipping is ridiculous. You have to worry about making the waiter or waitress angry. Also, in Japan, we don’t have to make conversation with the staff. They leave you alone to eat your meal.

  • Christina says:

    I used to tip 18-20% but after living in Japan and South Korea for the past two years I think tipping is a completely ridiculous and wasteful practice. Over here in Asia jobs like waiters gets paid like any other minimum wage job so there is no need to tip. Not only that but tax is included in the price, so when you see a price in a menu, or at a store, etc. that is all you pay. You don’t have to dig for change, calculate in your head what the food + tips + tax costs. It really is a much simpler method, one I think the US should adopt.

  • Bosephus says:

    If the economy is good people will tip. If it’s bad they start stiffing you.

  • Michael says:

    Tips, originally called gratuities, are given in recognition of good service.
    Unfortunately, restaurants have begun forcing tips by automatically adding them for large parties. Why? In many cases, large parties have been known to leave nothing.

    Cruise lines will add tips as a pre-paid “courtesy” to their passengers. Why? Again, many times, people are known to leave nothing.

    Here’s a kicker, tips have become required and expected. Because of this, service employers get away with paying less than minimum wage.

    If I do not receive good service, I do not leave a tip. When I do receive good service, I leave a generous one.

  • Ss says:

    I don’t understand how a waiter with 10 tables is considered poorly paid off of tips. Each bill is a minimum of $40 for 2 for most places around here, thus $8 if you tip 20%, times 10 tables. The waiter will get around $80 every 90 minutes ($40 if folks only tip 10%) or so. Even if they share tips with other staff this is a lot of money for a manual labor job.

  • Doug says:

    Places where people “earn” tips by actually doing something should do whatever they can to try and stop the nonsense of tip jars in places where they don’t belong. For example, why does a cashier at a do-it-yourself yogurt store deserve a tip??? They don’t.

  • JD says:

    You bring up an interesting point JOE. For me, the whole tipping on a percentage and furthermore at such a high percentage in the USA is a really crazy cultural thing. I’m from LA where its pretty common for people these days to tip 20%. I recently got back from working in Buenos Aires for 2 months where servers get tipped a peso or two normally, or when your trying to make a good impression or the service was super awesome maybe you will tip a FEW pesos(around 1 to 2 dollars US). The service in Argentina was absolutely incredible compared to the service you get in the US. The servers are much more attentive, and don’t upsell on anything but rather try to save you money by recommending smaller portions or better entrees. In turn the servers down there are respected a lot more. They are a more important part of society. The perspective is that servers care for you and your family. They are providing you nourishment and an environment to relax and be social. People form relationships with their neighborhood restaurants and the servers who work in them. I just did a google search on “history of tipping in the United States” the top 2 hits are pretty interesting. There is a great NY times article on the history and current state of tipping in the US. According to a Cornell professor there is almost no correlation between tipping and quality of service. People tip the same regardless. It also talks about a restaurant owner in San Diego that did away with tipping and how it created a much more relaxed and cohesive work environment between the serve and kitchen staff. Having been in Argentina I can say that being in a restaurant where servers aren’t thinking as much about tips creates a much nicer, more relaxed environment for the diner too. Back at that SD restaurant a former server was interviewed and said it was the most meaningful server position she ever had. For me it’s a good example of how quality of life isn’t always determined by the amount of money you make(or spend). It’s about where you put your value.

  • JOE says:

    I have always wondered why the tip is based on the cost of the food brought to the table. I should think that the amount of the tip should be a flat rate based on the service received. Why should a entree costing $25.00 bring a larger tip then a plate of pasta costing $8.00. The server is still carrying only one plate to the table.

  • cookula says:

    If you want to tell a server that the service is bad, leaving a cheap tip is not the best way. Talk to them, or a manager. Otherwise there is a high likelihood of them just thinking you are a cheap bastard. There are lots of those out there.

  • cecilia says:

    Many people don’t realize that servers do not keep all their money in most restaurants. In the restaurant I work I must give 1% of sales (not tips) to the bartender 1% of sales to the busser and 1% of sales to the QA (the person that makes sure the order is correct and sends it out from the kitchen in a timely manner. I used to make 2.13 per hour but through the generosity of the voters minimum wage has gone up steadily. It now is 4.35 per hour. Of course my pay check is almost nothing because of taxes. So I rely on my tips.

    • jimmy says:

      I have a friend who works in the restaurant business. he relies on tips because his hourly pay is worth next to nothing. but giving that; he files the bare minimum of all his tips to the IRS…

      Do you report ALL your tips to the IRS? I hope you do; but some don’t… just saying.

      • Cecilia says:

        Yes, I report all my money to the IRS. I would be shooting myself in the foot if I do not. What if something happens to me and I need to go on disability? What about retirement? If I don’t claim it all then when those times come then I am only screwing myself to do what? Save a few dollars in taxes?

  • Claude says:

    The problem with % tipping is that it’s based on the wrong thing. If I go into a restaurant, order a short stack of pancakes for 4 bucks and tip 80 cents after taking up the servers table for 45 minutes during a busy time of day while reading the newspaper, I’ve done that person a disservice. Total amount of the check, time taken in the establishment and even how busy the place is should all be considered.

    Bunch of open tables, 4 buck total bill, good service should be a buck or so in tips.
    Busy time of day, 4 buck bill, good service, and the tip should really go up if you’re interested in doing right by the server.

    OK, I prefer to over-tip. My perspective is that server people in basic family restaurants are just trying to make ends meet and tips ARE depended on to get up to even minimum wage in some states like mine. My take is that if I can afford to go out, I can afford to tip generously. It also helps cover for other customers like my mother-in-law that consider a 10% tip the HIGH end.

    • cecilia says:

      Agreed. Nothing worse than having a station filled up with campers that won’t leave and you cannot turn your tables. You cannot make money on tables that don’t turn.

  • JOHN BOY says:

    1) Walk in to the restaraunt and demand 20% off the bill up front. 2) Take notice the reaction of the establishment. I wonder why? Isn’t that exactly what is being done to the patrons? I agree with KM and I too have traveled abroad and in our Western Hemisphere neighbors to the South. It is quite different. I DETEST TIPPING OF ALL FORMS.. It is gouging plain and simple. Pay a decent wage to your employees and maybe they will endeavor to earn it OR.., folks will apply to fill those positions in greater numbers.

  • Kelly says:

    here’s my issue: I’m a “special-requeser” (for medical reasons, in my case, but it could be for ANY reason), so the pressure is really on to tip even MORE than 20%. In my case, I cannot escape being a “special requester”. literally every day of my life, every where I go, I ALWAYS am “that customer”… I should have to “pay for it” by tipping extra?. That feels wrong. People who are wheelchair-bound don’t tip extra for being seated at a handicap-accessible table, but somehow someone with food allergies isn’t seen the same way. Hmmm….

    Truth be told, I DO tip 20-25% on average when I’m taken care of. When I’m not, I tip 15%, talk to the Manager, and write to the restaurant to explain the terrible experience and express my great disappointment. Yes, I do feel, the 15% is to “make up” for the low wages I know the staff is making. Do I think it’s right? No.

    My vote: European style. Cut the tipping, even if it means prices increase. This way all are treated equally, no matter what their medical issues may or may not be.

    • Bob says:

      I live in Europe. This means no free refills on soda ($4 for .4L), you have to beckon the wait staff each time you need/want something, and the gov’t adds 19% to cover health care. How many soda refills do you get per meal? I think you’ve never been to Europe or spent any significant time here. I’ve been here three years and am looking forward to our American system. It’s much cheaper.

      • Roy says:

        Indeed, the American system is cheaper. I would go to the extent of saying it is downright cheap.

        The waiter ain’t happy – (Why only 20 and not 22 ?) and the customer is always unsure.

        More often than not, the outcome of tipping takes away from the meal, either getting a smile at the end from the waiter but thinking I tipped too much for that smile, or I tipped what I wanted to – but got a glare from the waiter…

      • lin says:

        I lived in Europe for 8 years. Waiters there are much more professional (very few high school and college kids), earn a living wage, and often keep their jobs until they retire. It is a true career. Restaurant owners in the US are taking advantage of their waiters by not paying them a living wage. And why in the world do we Americans need unlimited free refills on our soda??? That’s why we’re overweight.

  • Tired of Tipping says:

    When will it stop. First 10% then 15% next 18% now 20%… And automatically adding it in to the bill regardless of service .. As long as we feeling obligated to pay and keep paying the expected % will keep going up. There are plenty of low paying jobs that don’t get tips but they do an excellent job with a genuine smile.
    What happened to giving good service because you have a good work ethic? Something is wrong when restaurant service people can live off their tips and bank their wages …

    • monkey says:

      Really! I have no idea where you live however most severs make 2.15\hr which in turn means at most a 2 to 3 dollar check for the week because the rest goes to taxes you are the kind of person that needs to stick to fast food or takeout

      • me says:

        he probably does live somewhere you don’t, cuz 2.15 an hour is crazy… In any case, if a server doesn’t want to get 2.15 an hour then they should get a new job, not expect customers to make up the difference for the employer who should be the one doing that. If you can’t get a better job then that is also still on you, not the customers. When you go to a restaurant (just like any other business), you are paying for the full experience, not just the food. I give my money to the restaurant, it’s up to them to figure out how that money is distributed, and up to the employee to accept that or not work there. Giving charity for people that don’t make enough to live is a great thing to do, but I’m sorry, it should NOT be a standard expected part of eating at a restaurant. Most other industries get that and even the food service industry in many other countries does too.

        • Sheeba says:

          Hate to tell you but 3.63 an hour is a Federally mandated wage. The government tells the restaurant what to pay the employee. The employee much repart at least 8% to the government whether we get it or not. Or you have to claim at least the difference between what you make an hour and the current minimum wage. The restaurant owner CAN pay more but not many do. After all if you owned a business and the government said you only have to pay 3.63 an hour rather than 7.25 an hour, what would you pay????? And if you want to work in other countries that is okay too but it would be nice to have indoor toilets and clean water in those countries.

          • Jim says:

            Many states require minimum wage to be paid to all restaurant workers. Restaurants are NOT allowed to count tips toward minimum wage. California is one of those states. The average waiter in California gets $19 an hour ($8 for minimum wage and the rest in tips) which is a lot of money for the type of work they are doing.

            And last I checked Europe and Australia have indoor toilets and clean water.

    • Dianne says:

      I tip on how the waitress serves… I don’t do tip jars and as far as a tip being added to the check I refuse to pay it and have gotten away with it. No one is going to tell me what to tip. No one tipped me when I worked a min. wage job and I worked very hard at that job..

  • Witty Artist says:

    I guess tipping depends on two points: your money availability and character.
    As long as the service was good of course I will leave a tip. But when the waiter was rude or the treat not so great, either I leave small tip or none, it depends on the situation and the mood I feel.
    As for the tipping jars, they are not my cup of tea 🙂

  • Bonnie says:

    This article is a bit ridiculous. Why should I tip a rude waiter? I leave 5 cents in those cases, just so they know I didn’t forget the tip. For the most part, I can tell if the restaurant is understaffed or the kitchen is just slow getting the food out. In those cases, I don’t penalize the waiter, especially if they’re making an effort to keep me updated on the status of my order. Vered must’ve never come across a rude waiter. Seriously, I’ve met with rude clients and I’m not rude to them, so why should a waiter be rude to me, the customer, when I haven’t even been rude to them, and then expect a tip? I wholeheartedly believe that wait staff should be paid fully by the employer and I’ll tip if I feel like I’ve received exceptional service. I many restaurants, tips are split amongst all employees who worked that night, so I can’t even be sure that my tip made it into the pocket of MY waiter. Paying employees should be the responsibility of the Employer, not the customer.

  • Joe says:

    Tip jars annoy me, but as a former waiter myself, I always try to leave a good tip for sit-down restaurants.

  • Diane says:

    where i live they expect tips everywhere, sonic even expects tips but the ppl that bring the food to you don’t make it or anything they just carry it out but they rely on tips. the resturaunts i see charge extra on the bill and i don’t understand why half the time. and half our waitresses drag around and don’t care about anything. i stopped going out to eat except at buffets or some place that you don’t have a waitress because i don’t like to feel obligated to tip a person who is not doing their job or can’t atleast smile. they make it known they don’t wanna be there. and most of the time my food isn’t cooked right anyway and it just turns into a frustrating night.

  • Michael Real says:

    Tipping is actually for charity. I don’t give tips to tip jars that doesn’t have anything reason to be there in the first place. but, if the service is really superb, I don’t give the tip to the service crews but to the manager.

  • Dominique @Dominique's Desk says:

    I don’t normally leave tips as the service charge is “built in” at all restaurants here at a hefty 10% and we still have to pay 7% GST on top of it. It’s already lots and I’m sure the tip doesn’t go directly to the waiter/waiteress.

    • Sheeba says:

      At the restaurant I work at if the party has 7 or more people in it the tip is added to the bill at a 18% rate. Let’s say the bill is $200. The tip would be$36.00. Now the server has to give the busboy 3.20 and the bartender 1.60. If the table had alot of bar drinks, say 40.00 worth. Then the bartender gets 4.00. So out of 36.00 the server gets a possible 28.80. And if it is on the credit card, the tip is then added to the servers income and taxes come out of it. The server in this case does not get the tip that night but has to wait until the paychecks for that week come out (a possible two week delay in some cases) and still has to tip out cash the tip was generated so the server gets less in the long run. 36.00 less 3.20 to the bus, 4.00 to the bar and 10.08 to the government. So the server winds up getting 18.72 from 36.00. Yeah, I am for abolishing tipping but restaurant owners would raise prices to cover it. That $5.00 hamburger would cost $15.00 and I would be out of a job and the restaurant would close. Bad service does deserve no tip or only a penny. But we do work hard for our tips. Often we get no breaks in a 10 hour day. Often we can’t go to the bathroom when we have to go because it happens in a busy time. We are there either a half hour early to set up or an hour after we are cut from the floor to clean our stations making only 3.63 an hour but we do it gladly because we enjoy the customers *even the bad ones that make unbelievable stories* But raising our wages will never happen but once every few years. I can wish things would change but it never will.

      • Rebecca says:

        Heaven forbid you have to PAY TAXES on your income, or wait two weeks to get it like the rest of us. If all the wait staff is so concerned about making minimum wage, go work at McDonalds. They will pay you minimum wage for a food service job. Except that wait staff still makes more than minimum wage on average, otherwise they WOULDN’T keep going to a job that makes less than minimum wage.
        I don’t get paid more at my job if I give exemplary service. I’m all for just not having tipping and everyone makes a wage. Yes, plenty of wait staff go above and beyond to make the meal a good experience for the customer. However, shouldn’t every person do this at their job? I give good service because it is the right thing to do, not because I expect any differing compensation for it.

        • Jesse says:

          Rebecca is right on many fronts. If you want to be tipped in cash so as to illegally evade taxes, then that’s not a very good argument to posit in order to get people to join your side. One thing that both of you missed is that restaurants in some countries increase the costs and expect no tipping while giving the servers not only a working wage, but also a percentage of their sales. So, if the server makes a normal minimum wage PLUS 10-15% of sales, they will strive to make both their employer AND their customers happy.

          Also, I’m surprised Rebecca did not point this out already, but if the restaurant added 20% to the $5 burger, it would NOT be $15, it would be $6. Blatantly overinflating easily recognizable statistics can be as damaging to your cause as claiming that waiting tables gives you the right to evade taxes. Additionally, including your increased wages in lieu of tips would not put you out of a job; it would standardize your wages, and the restaurant would not close. The restaurant would, however, have to close if the customers knew they would be served by someone who has a bad attitude over the fact that their tip is included (lucky you, many places still don’t even do this for large parties) and is ONLY about what the average starting teachers’ salaries are, even though that person is not even educated enough to comprehend the consequences of tax evasion or their good fortune at making compensation equivalent to someone who has a considerably higher level of education.

          IF you were to wait tables 40 hours per week AND report all of your tips, you would see on your earnings statements that you likely make 30-40K per year, which is what many people earn their first few years out of college. As you don’t claim all of your tips, you are paying less taxes than them and therefore your net income is actually higher than theirs. There are many valid changes that could be made in the industry in favor of both consumers and employees, but arguments such as yours form a conclusion that you deserve better wages AND less taxes than college graduates, just because you say so. This does not help any of us who are forming valid and reasonable responses to the situation at hand.

          • Sheeba says:

            You missed the cost of the hamburger by a mile and therefore demonstrated to me that you have no clue how prices are calculated on food. By adding $3.62 an hour to a server’s wage times the number of servers employed doubles the payroll expense. It also doubles the owners expense that he contributes to Social Security. Add that to the already increasing utilities, cost of raw product, waste (such as meals sent back or refused because they ordered more than they can eat and they make up some excuse not to want the meal) insurance, repairs, and other miscellaneous items that figure into the cost of the item on the menu….well…yeah, you might be able to buy that hamburger for $10. I didn’t say the system is great I just said it will never change. I never said I wanted to pay less taxes. In fact, I don’t mind paying the taxes and I even have extra taken out each week so I can get a refund and not have to pay extra taxes. Restaurants are the worse businesses to start because they have the most failures. The owners are rarely rich people and within a few years of opening they go bankrupt because of the expenses. And for the servers this means being out on the street once again. And paying out of pocket for uniforms and shoes and accessories that go with the new job.

          • Jesse says:

            Since the reply (below) to my comment was obviously not based on any mathematics or economics in our dimension, let me divert anyone’s fear by using real numbers.

            Increases in food cost (including delivery, etc) occur at an average rate of 3-5% per year. Food cost analysis includes waste, so depending upon the type of restaurant (i.e. sushi vs. burger joint), food cost can vary but industry-wide, still maintains an average of about 25%, with customers’ prices following suit. Additionally, unless a server is only managing about $10/hour in food sales, the cost of employing a server at the currently low tip wage generally hits around the 8% range. So, doubling the server wage and calculating the cost increase would alter the price by upwards of 13% if the profit totals were expected to remain the same. Yes, the restaurant also pays payroll tax on social security as well as unemployment insurance and other included tax-related factors, but the increase in this would be about 0.5% of the overall cost of the product (to customers) industry-wide. If you add this up, my 20% increase is generous considering the average comes out to less than a 15% increase.

            I’m sure that starting at entry level and moving up to multi-unit management may seem like I have no idea what I’m talking about, especially since along the way I received a graduate degree along with gaining experience in teaching both College Algebra and American Government, when the litmus test of the involved party is basically “How it affects me and how I can scare people into agreeing with me,” but here on Planet Earth this is how we calculate things.

            Additionally, claiming different exemptions to have a higher tax return is not the same as paying higher taxes and claiming all of your income. If you claim $15,000 when you earn $30,000 the actual amount the government KEEPS is considerably lower than if you were to actually claim all of your total income. Withholdings and exemption levels are completely different from income levels. For instance, your “dependent line” changing from zero to two does not alter your real tax rate per annum based on claimed income, it just determines whether you get more per paycheck or get a lump sum during tax season. On the other hand, if you claim that you only earned $15,000 when you actually earned $30,000, the amount paid in to – and retained by -the IRS is considerably different.

            Again, I know that this won’t change the minds of people who base their mathematics on the “How I Think The World Is” model, but for any who were actually interested in the specifics regarding this conversation, you can talk to any restaurant manager or owner, or even research these statistics (as well as tax law) and divine the truth therein. By the way, with compounded inflation in costs, a $5 item will be $10-15…around 2030 or 2040. So if that was the intended point, you should have said so. And by then, minimum wage (even for servers) will likely be in the same range. My apologies to anyone who believes that awareness of tax law, economics, and actual math (beyond what shows up on an earnings slip) proves some sort of cluelessness, and I wish you good luck in explaining this exemplary new set of economic theories to anyone with a relevant set of education and experience in the future.

  • B Kelly says:

    well in my country, the tips are configured into the bill officially by the establishment parked under ‘service charge’.. however, the smaller restaurants don’t have that, and it’s pretty much up to you if you want to leave the change/tips for the waiters. I still do, but i’m increasing caught in a fix – as the prices keep going up and i’m left wondering if the price was to include the tips or is this just that food cost has really sky rocketed?

  • vered says:

    I think I’m going to go ahead and agree with David, Amber, Patricia and several others on this one. Many of us would be glad to pay more, so that waiters actually make a decent living, and rid ourselves of this awkward business of tipping.

  • Steve says:

    If the service is bad from the waiter, and not just late food, I tip less. I usually do not tip in the jars if someone just makes me a cup of coffee or take out foodcat a chinese restaurant. I would rather no tipping. Charge me more and makevthe owners pay them. Waiters expect twenty percent and many do a lousy job. They try to sell you drinks and dessert to get a bigger tip. A salary would do away with that. The special meal of the day is usually the most expensive.

    • James says:

      I’m not saying they don’t try to get you to buy more because they know that the vast majority of people tip on a percentage, but at all the restaurants I’ve ever worked at you are told by your manager to push drinks and dessert. I believe its because those items have the highest profit margins. Do a google search on how much it costs a restaurant for a regular sized glass of fountain soda like coke and it will make you want to open up a restaurant just to sell soda. Most servers I know who really care about maximizing tips try to give awesome service with a smile, keep their appearance up, and pick all the best shifts etc. There are a ton of books on the psychology of serving and maximizing tip revenue and pro servers know about them. I can’t exactly tell what you meant with your last sentence, but as far as special menu items costing more–I guarantee you the servers didn’t set the price higher so that they would get more tips. It’s part of the job to showcase the specials to customers.

      • KiwiKid says:

        James that person’s comment about the Special of the day, he’s saying that it is deliberately overpriced to vastly maximise profits.

        Pretty obvious to me what Steve was saying.

  • Kelly@SHE-POWER says:

    Tipping is more common place in Australia today but is still not expected. Lots of people would just round up ($54 might become $55 or $60) while people who earn more than average would routinely tip 10% in restaurants, but not necessarily cafes, and certainly not the ice-cream parlour. When I have travelled I find tipping a bit of a stress because the ‘rules’ seem to be very changeable and unclear. I think it’s much better to provide a higher wage and a real higher cost of goods and services. You’re paying it anyway when you tip so what’s the big deal?

    • laughing diva says:

      ….I DON’t dine out too often, but when I is GREAT FUN, easy going for all…tipping at least 20% …and am ALWAYS asked to come back soon and have more fun and good food !! I appreciate someone waiting on me..and always have a compliment for the wait-staff !

  • Amber says:

    They don’t tip in places like Australia, because the people working in those places are paid a decent wage. The reason we have tipping here is because the waitstaff gets paid a couple bucks an hour and has to make up the rest in tips.

    I think we should get rid of tips and just build the cost of paying people at least the minimum wage into the prices of foods.

  • RobertE says:

    I agree with David. Not only the question of what %, and is it shared, but the whole business reminds me of the rich & powerful giving a few crumbs to the poor servants. I want to treat everyone as fellow human beings. I have heard that if the service is really bad, discuss with the manager.

  • Tipper says:

    I once got such bad service at a place that I left no tip at all, and in the line reserved for the tip on the credit card slip, wrote “Yeah, right”, or something to that effect. Guess what? The cheeky waiter (or restaurant owner, who knows) added a 15% tip, regardless, as I found out when I reviewed my monthly statement . I had to go to the card company to get it back as a disputed charge (for once, saving all those receipts and checking them against the statement paid off)

    • KM says:

      Good job on checking the receipts. I always check the amount before I shred the receipt, but I haven’t yet had a problem like this. That’s a really lame thing to do though, adding extra tips like that. I always thought it was strange that they half-charge your card, then add on the tip amounts later. There is this one restaurant I have been to that had a card machine where you slide the card, then input the tip you want to leave and confirm the amount.

  • Diane H. says:

    I’ve always been annoyed by the % thing as a guideline for tipping. The absolute BEST waitress in the world works at a pizza joint near us. She remembers our names, our orders, takes our kids with her to pick out the complimentary ice cream, and is in general just lovely. But it’s an inexpensive restaurant, so even if I tipped 25 or 30% it wouldn’t come close to the dollar value of a 15% tip at a mid-priced place. So while I think about % since it’s sort of standard, I always tip more than that at those great cheap places with fantastic service.

  • Patricia says:

    I worked many years waiting tables to get through college and grad. school. – I even waited tables when my children were growing so that they could have sports and music lessons. I know the importance of tips.
    I know the importance of coupons in stores – but I surely wish folks would be paid better so that we did not have to tip or study coupons.

    Right now the purchasing of anything is off limits….anything. I have a very careful food budget and I would rather pay more at the farmer’s market/Coop in order to get organic, non-modified food to keep us healthy….than spend it on a tip…..
    I also worked at a restaurant in a huge city in the mid-west where the owners did not allow tips – we were paid well and gave wonderful service without having to be an entertainer to get a tip and the manager made sure that the customers did not treat the wait staff as beggars or toys – I so appreciated being treated with respect and I was never once grabbed, squeezed, pinched or sexually teased by a customer.

    I always leave a tip when I stay at a motel or Inn and the service has been excellent and the place is clean. I worked as a chamber maid for years too – low pay and heavy work….

    I would pay more not to have to tip

    • Smokey says:

      When your letter carrier goes out of his/her way for you, remember that at Christmas. They are paid well, but their supervisors don’t want them doing special things for their postal customers and discipline might be applied.

  • Big D says:

    15% -18% is my standard. And I have no problem going lower if service is bad. No problem going higher if service is above average. However, I find the restaurant has to have a few stars for the waitstaff to be any good.
    I generally avoid dining with former waitstaff as they want to plunk down 25% to any server that does the most basic job.

  • Ginger says:

    I have only tipped 10% twice and both time it was after talking to the manager without a solution. If I feel like I should tip 15% or below I always talk to the manager and in most cases the problems are solved or part of the bill is comped. My average tip is 20% and I will dock it if I feel the service is not good. I rarely use those tip jars, however, my mom uses them in places she goes to often and gets better service for it.

  • 20 and Engaged says:

    By nature, I usually tip pretty generously. I start off high, but then if things go array during my visit, I mentally deduct.

  • ChrisCD says:

    Interestingly enough TIPS were originally given ahead of time to get a good table or extra attention.

    They are now given after the fact to show thankfulness for good service. I have never considered that my tip isn’t going to the employee itself and I would never set foot in the door of a restaurant again that did that. I guess I should start asking.

    I actually like giving good tips for good service and don’t mind dropping a dollar in the bucket when I am served with a smile. Of course, I don’t always carry cash so can’t always do that.

    I believe 20% is the high end and I’d better been treated very well for that. I’ll give less for adequate service and no tip for poor service. I have been in understaffed places before, but I didn’t hold that against the waiting staff.

    I haven’t felt the need to give no tip in a long, long time.

    • KiwiKid says:

      Just remember, every tip you give in cash, the waiter pockets themself. If you pay electronically, depending on the establishment, it is divvied up with wait staff, cooks, cleaners etc. And most often according to my sources, the management swipes a good percentage for themselves first and the crumbs for the aforementioned staff.

  • KM says:

    I think tipping should be completely removed. Look at Europe – no one leaves tips and there is no confusion. I am fine with paying more for the meals and having the waiters earn a decent amount – at least that way I know exactly what I am spending instead of adding on tips and taxes after, making the food quite a bit more expensive than advertised. If you think about it, 20% is a lot, especially if it’s the place is a bit pricier, and leaving $10-15 in tips is not uncommon for a meal for 2-3 people in a sushi place, for example – that’s an entire extra meal.

    • Bob says:

      I love the “Look at Europe” argument. I’m an American living in Germany. Tipping occurs but it’s rounding to make change easier. Over tipping is considred pompous. Nonetheless, the waitress makes a living wage and has free health care, but you pay 19% tax on every purchase. Not to mention that a 12oz cola costs 2-3 Euro per drink. There is a trade off for everything. Would you give up tipping for a $5 per refill on a cola?

      • me says:

        maybe there is always a tradeoff, but it’s not always that extreme… you can also take the case of places like Japan, where there is also no tipping. Not many places give free refills, but sales tax is only about 5%. If you widen the debate to things like healthcare etc, you get a lot of valid points and interesting conversation, but I think you can address the point of the question without all of that.

        I personally tip well I think (about 18-20%) but mostly because I just don’t want to be a jerk, and it’s a nice thing to do in the absence of doing things ‘the right way’. But it does burn me up a little bit that I’m basically just subsidizing the paycheck of employees that SHOULD be coming from their employer, and by doing that, I’m enabling them to continue doing that and keeping that money instead of paying a good wage….and I know the owners of these restaurants are doing a lot better financially than I am.

        There is really NO reason we should be tipping. Not because ‘this job is hard’, or ‘that job doesn’t pay it’s employees well enough’. Lots of jobs are hard; many of which don’t pay a good living wage, but some of those we don’t tip just because that’s not the societal norm. Basically I agree with Mr. Pink’s rant in Resevoir Dogs. And as far as the living wage thing goes- every person is responsible for their own employment If you accept a job and the wage it pays then you are agreeing that that is what your time is worth on the market. If you don’t agree, then you shouldn’t take the job. If you can’t get a job that pays more, then that IS the market saying that’s what your time/skill set is worth.

        People are taking these jobs because they are figuring the tips into the equation (hence the subsidizing their paycheck comment), and I don’t think that’s right. Sure you can make the argument that that is what all business comes down to- the business makes a value proposition and you take it or leave it. It includes everything you get (so in a restaurant, that’s everything from the food to the service, convenience etc). But personally I just think it should be a standard fee. I don’t care if I end up paying more overall because food costs more or whatever. I’d rather employers just pay the employees what their full wage, and let me just worry about the price of my food. Conceptually/Mathematically it may work out the same either way, but at least you lose some of the dumb stuff that comes with tipping, like employees treating certain repeat customers differently, or even poorly because of tipping history, or groups of customers feeling awkward about tipping situations as some of them can afford to give better tips than others etc. It’s just dumb, there would be no reason for it if the negotiation between employer/employee covered the full amount of wages an employee expected to receive.


          How nice it can be if we tip the waiter in a restaurant as soon as we enter there? This may:

          a) Surprise them!
          b) We may expect a better service.

          Is this a very stupid idea?

    • HW says:

      In Europe though, service’s (tip) included. Usually already 18-20%. Their salary’s are also higher than the U.S.A. In the U.S.A., I hate the fact that there are restaurant servers that automatically bring you NO change from when paying cash for your check. Thinking it’s alright to assume keeping your money when you had never verbally said so?! Quit that practice already!

      • KiwiKid says:

        Incorrect. That 18-20% is a TAX not a service tip. Tax is mandated either by the government or local authority (council).

        If they don’t bring your change embarrass the hell out of them by talking very loudly that you want your change.

  • Mano says:

    Well, tip will always depend on the service. i don;t mind giving huge tips if I am really satisfied with their services. But I don’t give tips when i’m not satisfied 🙂

  • russell says:

    i don’t mind leaving a small, or even no, tip when service is sufficiently bad or slow. it’s not my job to determine why the service was subpar…but i refuse to leave generous tips when service is bad.

    this should create a negative feedback loop within the restaurant. maybe the poor/slow service wasn’t the server’s fault. In that case, I expect that he/she will let everyone else (other staff, that is) know that the poor service is impacting customers and tips.

    leaving good tips for poor service interferes with that negative feedback loop.

    • Lynn says:

      I didn’t type my reply because I think I have a controversial view of tipping (despite being generous and fair) but I did want to say I agreed with this.

    • grandmared says:

      In a restaurant you tip because they bring you your food. If the service is slow tip minimum if you choose. If you don’t want to tip go to a drive through.

      • Paul says:

        In most of the rest of the world people get paid to deliver your food to you at your table. Obviously things are pretty backwards in the States. Then again, what’s news?

    • Holly says:

      We’re all humans here, and to say you don’t tip at all is ignorant because you’re applying the fact that you don’t make mistakes. 99 percent of servers don’t intentionally give bad service, unless maybe you were a familiar face to them and did something to them before. Servers, just like most workers go through long hard days of manual labor and by tipping them $0 does nothing but ruin their day. I’d suggest leaving 10-15 percent tip with some advice on the bill instead of being intentionally rude as I’m sure they weren’t. Besides, I know many people who look for reasons to not tip their servers because they’re cheap. No one’s perfect. So next time go somewhere you can afford instead of having someone be your slave and leaving them a little to no thank you.

      • KiwiKid says:

        Do you tip at Walmart? At the gas station?


        Same sort of thing applies. Restaurants, if they can actually be called that, should pay their staff a LIVING wage. THEY are the ones being CHEAP.

    • kevin says:

      I agree with the statement you made, however you are failing to see that the whole model is flawed. Generally when service is slow, or poor it is due to the lack of internal service that your server is getting from their co-workers in the back of the house. Those positions are at a flat hourly rate and those workers have no incentive to work harder, faster and better. So I ask, does it make sense to screw someone out of pay for things that they cannot control? If a server had any ability to effect the pay rate of back of house staff based on good or bad performance, then it might be fair, but they generally arent even allower to communicate directly with BOH staff ad have to go through an expeditor…

    • Frank says:

      Most servers anger is due to cheap customers that demand too much and give very little. I had two daughters who were waitresses and their opinion was, if I cannot tip twenty percent I did not belong there. Makes no difference how the service is done or not done. I am not rich but I have been doing it for over 50 years and if has done me no harm. Servers tend to remember me and give me good service. Once in a while I will have some reservations when the tip is 75 dollars or more, but I get over it.

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