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

by Jamie Simmerman · 1,869 comments

how much to tip

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

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

How do you determine how much to tip?

Here are a few basic guidelines to help you out:

tipping-guide

Tipping Guide for Good and Bad Service

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

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

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

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • Rebecca says:

    Having worked as a waitperson when young, I choose the following:
    1. Treat my server with kindness and respect.
    2. Tip well, especially if the food bill is very low.
    3. Stay within your budget, and consider tipping a portion of the meal price.
    4. Don’t leave an egregious mess, and control your children.
    5. As a repeat customer who is kind, respectful, and a good tipper… I get phenomenal service.
    Wise saying: be the change you want to see in the world. Act like a nasty brat and you create nasty behavior around you. Act kind and respectful and you create kind and respectful behavior around you. Choose.

  • Jordan says:

    “If your server only brings your drinks, or the food is served buffet-style, it’s appropriate to leave a lesser tip, but 10-15% still applies.”

    Mmmmmm no, no it doesn’t.

  • Jay says:

    First of all no one gets $2/hr legally in the United States. People getting tips make MORE MONEY than average hourly wager earners. This especially applies at LARGE restaurant chains with high turnover rates. NO server legally works in the US and does not get at least minimum wage.

    Rich people also tip the LEAST. Even lower than 10% sometimes. People who are in service or used to serve tend to tip the MOST.

    Also why should I pay more when this writer feels that the served should help clean up. Isn’t that what you get your tips for? Personally I always stack dishes and plates to make room it is just a habit from family dinners at home.

    Also 15% should be WITHOUT tax. Why should anyone have to pay a tip with tax??? The state tax if there is one is a separate charge.

    Finally 20% minimum is nuts for this server to claim. That kind of crap is what makes NY such a shitty city. My friend was in NY and they demanded 20% tip and my friend left NY for good.

    Thank god we live in the world of the internet and yelp. We can choose to NOT do business with servers like this writer. By the way I never leave less than 15% without tax unless the service is so bad I am not coming back.

    I know there are bad cooks and servers who will mess with your food if they don’t like you. In Pasadena there was a pregnant lady who was a bitch and later she got sick and went to the ER. When they pumped her stomach they found multiple samples of seamen!!! She won her lawsuit but I would not want to have to go through that.

  • customer says:

    WA State requires serve staff to make minimum wage (not sub-minimum or $2.00 an hour). We have the highest minimum wage in the nation. Tips are on top of that. Of course many employess – retail, fastfood, etc. get that minimum wage with no tips at all.

  • Peter Brooks says:

    Come on now! Twenty percent??? No way Lady. Having a waitress write a column on tipping is like asking the Fox to guard the henhouse! Waitresses make at least minimum wage — not the “$2.00 an hour” this silly article says.

  • Greg says:

    @Just Askin:

    1: When I was waiting tables up until 20 years ago, middle-aged people — baby boomers — on average tipped better than older or younger people. But it wasn’t a very strong correlation; there was a lot of variance in all age groups. Well, not as much variance for the very oldest and the very youngest.

    2. There is no logic to tipping as it is done today in restaurants. You might be interested in Miss Manners’ rant on that in her main etiquette tome.

    3. Who told you that? I’ve never heard of that, but I also never worked in a restaurant where customers paid up front. Occasionally a customer would be confused and try to pay up front, but when that happened the host would have to bring the check back to us, because they had no way of processing a payment.

    I don’t see any reason not to tip on the credit card even when paying up front. The tip still goes to the server; it would be illegal for the restaurant to keep it. But it would be interesting to hear about that from a server who’s worked in that kind of restaurant. I would guess they have some way of connecting the dots between credit card tips and customers, and if at the end of the day tips are unusually high or unusually low, they can go back and figure out what table or tables were the outliers.

  • Just Askin' says:

    There are a ton of posts on here so I apologize if I end up re-posting a previous question. But I have always wanted to know the following from wait staff. As a disclaimer, I have not worked in the industry and go to restaurants as just a normal person.

    1. What age group tips the best, regardless of profession? I always have a nagging feeling that Generation X always tip better than Baby Boomers. Again, just from what I see out there.

    2. I tip 20% or higher, even for a restaurant I frequent a lot, I never get the same wait staff twice, which leads me to believe that being generous on many previous visit does not buy me any better service the subsequent time around or protects me from perhaps 2 previous customers who has elevated the PO wait staff that is now attending my table. I am still stuck at the mercy of moment at hand. What is the logic of being known as a good tipper when in fact, I am not? But only for the sheer fact that the server doesn’t know me any different from a first time customer.

    3. I pay with CC every time for budgeting reasons. I only carry small bills because frankly, I want to. There have been times that I do not pay at the table, but pay at the front register and write the tip into the receipt at the register. I was told that for future visits to these types of payment fulfillment, that I should not do that and leave an appropriate tip in cash at the table so the wait staff knows I got “credit” for acknowledging their service. I find this whole method of reasoning unreasonable as now I am having to change my habits and micro manage a subset of rules and ecosystem in order to get “table credit” from my server. But the thought still lingers, how does the person know my bill has their tip added until the end of the night? Do servers keep a mental log of whether or not the guy who bought the roast beef sandwich and french fries with a side of horseradish sauce actually tipped them. Just curious. Any thought on this would be great.

  • monet61 says:

    Having lived in NV for forty years, I guess I appreciate the servers situation a little better. Sharing tips has been going on a long time, and will probably continue. I understand some of the posts here, ie. how tipping is shared, but I don’t understand the incredible arrogance of some folks. Servers are people, bus boys(men), bus girls(women), bartenders, just people trying to make a living.

  • nutshell says:

    Just think about how much you would have to pay for your food if we made just 10.00 an hour. No tips required……and then we had to pay our taxes, we would probably make no more then 300 a week. Do you really want to go out to eat and pay $30.00 for a $15.00 meal. So if you tip 20% on a $15.00 check is $3.00, YOU ARE GETTING IT CHEAPER BY TIPPING instead of us making hourly pay. and who can live off of $300 a week in this day and age. So don’t tip us, make us suffer. We are not trying to pay bills, and we love giving the government our money

  • Greg says:

    @nutshell:

    “Most of the time I barley walk”

    “The Barley Walk” noun \’bar lee wok\
    1: A fashionable dance step introduced in 2013, popular in agrarian areas.

    Sorry, couldn’t resist. 🙂

  • nutshell says:

    For all the people out their who complains about tipping. I feel that I am a very good server, and I probably work hard and give 120% to every table that I wait on. If you think about it and really use your brain you will realize that most jobs in the world does not pay minimum wage, The pay is much higher…..For all the people living off welfare, they are making so much more than a server! Guess who is paying their wage, you are. So why are you complaining about tipping. I’m lucky if I make what the government makes me claim. I have at least 2 out of 7 that don’t tip at all. They don’t tip because they don’t want to. Not because I gave them bad service. So when we do make a good tip it covers that tip I didn’t make on that other table. Most of the time I barley walk out with 8% of my sales.

  • Greg says:

    @RNandProud:

    “I’m a registered nurse. I have worked in food service. After reading this article, wait staff will be lucky to get 5 percent from me. Next time a waiter comes into my trauma room should I contaminate their medication if they are rude to me?”

    Spitting in or otherwise deliberately contaminating food is extremely rare. In the 6 years I was waiting tables, I never heard of anyone doing it. I’m sure every server I ever worked with would have reported it to the manager if they saw another server do it. No server that I ever worked with would want that happening to customers at their restaurant.

    Even for those very few who brag online about doing it, I suspect most are just saying it for shock value and did not really do it.

    “I do it because I get personal satisfaction when I save a life.”

    I hope you have lots and lots of opportunities to save lives, because it sounds like you don’t enjoy anything else about your job.

  • RNandProud says:

    I’m a registered nurse. I have worked in food service. After reading this article, wait staff will be lucky to get 5 percent from me. Next time a waiter comes into my trauma room should I contaminate their medication if they are rude to me? I bust my ass harder than any day I spent as a waiter plus I have to THINK while I am doing it, plus I have to be right 100 percent of the time. The hours suck and the working conditions would make even the best waiters crouch in the corner and cry. I’ve been physically assaulted a dozens of times. People treat me like I am their waiter, not a highly trained professional with a master’s degree. I average about $35/hr. I hold people’s beating hearts in my hands. I Don’t GetTips. I do it because I get personal satisfaction when I save a life. And hey, at least I am not a cop, a firefighter or a member of the armed services. Now there are thankless jobs!

    Quit your whinnying or get a new job. Next time you have a traumatic accident, call a waiter. But for god’s sake, be nice or they will spit in your food.

  • Jocour says:

    I’m a registered nurse. I have worked in food service. After reading this article, wait staff will be lucky to get 5 percent from me. Next time a waiter comes into my trauma room should I contaminate their medication if they are rude to me? I bust my ass harder than any day I spent as a waiter plus I have to THINK while I am doing it, plus I have to be right 100 percent of the time. The hours suck and the working conditions would make even the best waiters crouch in the corner and cry. I’ve been physically assaulted a dozens of times. People treat me like I am their waiter, not a highly trained professional with a master’s degree. I average about $35/hr. I hold people’s beating hearts in my hands. I Don’t Gjet Tips. I do it because I get personal satisfaction when I save a life. And hey, at least I am not a cop, a firefighter or a member of the armed services. Now there are thankless jobs!

    Quit your whinnying or get a new job. Next time you have a traumatic accident, call a waiter. But for god’s sake, be nice or they will spit in your food.

  • Big Spender says:

    The more expensvie a meal, the LESS percentage I tip. Waitstaff doesn’t work any harder to bring me a $20 steak vs. a $50 steak. Same effort. I will tip a breakfast server 25%. To all of those who may have forgot TIP = To Insure Promptness. It’s never a guarantee and never an entitlement. You have to earn it, period. And it’s never going to work out to be more than I make per hour. If you don’t like the money or hours here’s a tip…get a different job, it ain’t rocket science so you souldn’t be paid like it is.

  • Greg says:

    Whoops, the non-tipping restaurant in that 2008 article is now closed:

    http://thelinkery.com

  • Greg says:

    Interesting article about a non-tipping restaurant:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/12/magazine/12tipping-t.html?_r=0

    I think my ideas posted here earlier would work better for them.

  • Hcklbery says:

    I grew up in a time where a tip was a means of saying good job, you went that extra mile.

    So tips were not part of the dining experience as a matter of rule.
    If the servers are not getting paid enough than they should address that with the business NOT the customer.

    I don’t tip at all just to tip as a matter of obligation of eating out, THAT’S what the bill is for as that is obligatory.

    People seem to think that just for dong their jobs for which they are paid an hourly wage they should be made a fuss over.

    HOGWASH !!!!

    • Greg says:

      @Hcklbery:

      “I grew up in a time where a tip was a means of saying good job, you went that extra mile. So tips were not part of the dining experience as a matter of rule.”

      You must be very old. Tipping got started in the USA in the 1860s and was standard practice by the 1920s. In Europe it goes back even further.

      If you grew up in the USA in the late 1920s or later and were given to understand that tipping was not standard practice for good service, you were misinformed. Just because someone told you something when you were growing up doesn’t mean they were correct about it.

      That isn’t to say I think tipping is a good system. As I’ve said here before, tipping is a bad system and restaurants can and should get rid of it by paying servers properly and applying proper incentives; details in an earlier post.

  • cindy says:

    Problem is, service has gone all to H E double toothpicks. Waitstaff sit down at the table with you, come to work dressed like a homeless person, ‘ask’ you if you need water when you’re half-way through the meal and your glass is empty, and say things like, “I’ll do that for you” when you ask for a freaking napkin. I waited tables for twenty years and it didn’t take me long to realize I made more money when I was nice and smiled and did my job. I needed my check the other day and found my waitress texting behind the kitchen line. And people tip 20 percent half the time no matter how bad the service is, because they’re too lazy to do the math for 15. THIS ENCOURAGES BAD SERVICE. I’m over it.

  • Jim B says:

    The only thing I dispute with this article is the suggestion that the tip should be 20%. That is excessive for ordinary service. Waiters and waitress always like to point out that they get less than $2 an hour before tips, but many of them serve several tables per hour, so most of them end up making more like $15 an hour, which is pretty good money for a job that doesn’t even require a high school diploma. I usually tip 15% for good service – potentially much more if a waiter or waitress goes out of his or her way for special requests – but only 10% for average service and nothing (plus a comment to the manager on the way out) if the service is bad. I do usually give a minimum of a dollar, which can come into play if I order something inexpensive. For vey large bills (say at fancy restaurants) I will tip more like 8-10% because I don’t believe a waiter or waitress deserves $15 for waiting on one table.

  • Michael says:

    When I go out to dinner I expect to receive good service and good food. Its a plus for me when my water is always kept full, food is served in a reasonable amount of time and the server sees that if we are waiting for a long time for the food they make the effort to check with the kitchen and let me know how much longer it will be (please don’t just leave me hanging and walking by me). I hate it when a server drops off the food and walks away without offering condiments or asking if we need anything else and then I have to try to get their attention and they keep walking by me not paying attention or even worse, just dispersing for a long period of time and I find myself getting up to get my own. Always have a smile no mater how bad of a day you are having, please don’t ruin my day because you’re in a weird mood (customer service). I am a strong believer in customer service and treating people how you would like to be treated (I provide excellent customer service everyday at my job because its my job and I enjoy the feeling of making people happy). Most servers provide excellent service and I make sure I tip them well but when I run into someone that doesn’t I just can’t leave them a tip (sorry but if they don’t deserve it they don’t get a penny). You say leave at least a dollar, but to me that is just saying that you are a cheap scape. As a customer you have to send them a message that they are not performing well enough to get a tip. When I receive excellent service or when I see a bus boy/girl working their butt off I stop them to say thank you and that I appreciate their customer service. I then find the manager when I’m leaving to point out the employees that are providing the awesome service and how they made my day a special one (I’ve found most managers do not hear about the good service but the bad service, the good employees need to be rewarded and acknowledged). EXCELLENT service = a good tip and BAD service = 0 tip / Its that simple

  • Lori says:

    I have been a server for 12 years. I do it because it is a job that pays my bills and I enjoy it. It takes organizational skills, people skills, efficiency and the ability to always have a smile on your face no matter what. I work at buffet restaurant where many people don’t feel the need to tip, yet I average anywhere between 130 and 160 dollars on a four hour shift taking care of probably 30 tables at a time.
    I feel incredibly grateful for two things…my job and the ability that I have to give excellent, friendly and smiling service to every table, no matter who sits there…including repeat regulars that I know, who sit in my section and NEVER TIP ME.
    If a patron is elderly or infirm (where I actually get them their food, in a buffet setting if they so choose)
    a young college student (usually don’t tip or don’t tip much)
    moms out with multiple kids (who sometime leave horrendous messes and tip 50% of the time, and I thank when they try to clean their mess, but don’t let them because moms need a break too)
    large groups (who are so engrossed with socializing that they ignore you and tip 50% of the time)
    handicapped ( usually require much more service)
    regular able people ( sometimes tip and sometimes don’t)
    grouchy people having a bad day (a lot of those but hey, everyone does have those now and then right?
    downright mean regular customers that ALWAYS sit in my section (because they know they won’t get ignored)
    I always give them a clean table, on top and underneath, always set and watered, always get beverages and refills and treat them all with respect because I know that ALL of the people that walk through the doors of my restaurant make it possible for me to have a job WHETHER THEY TIP OR NOT!
    You want to come in to my restaurant and leave me 20% for good service? Come sit in my section.
    You want to come in to my restaurant and be grouchy? Come and sit in my section.
    You want to come in to my restaurant and have someone be kind to you? Come and sit in my section.
    You want to come in to my restaurant and not tip? Sit in my section, I’ll still smile and give you great service.
    I call it an honest days work for an honest days wage.

    • Hawkeye says:

      Lori,

      I’ve posted before that this blog changed my tip rate for good service to 15% from 20%.

      That would NOT be true if I was seated in your section.
      Bob

    • Shirty says:

      Thanks, Lori. You brought me a breath of fresh air today. Now I will go out and have lunch at the little local place I frequent when working at home and tip them nicely. They are always pleasant and clean, do an excellent job on the food and are good community members to boot.

      I hope you have customers who appreciate all you do for them, because, honestly, I think you make their day.
      Blessings.

  • Greg says:

    On second thought, I suppose it would need to be big enough to print a receipt too, though I don’t see a roll of paper on it.

    • Felicity says:

      These kinds of card readers are used in Europe. If you have time to bring the bill to the table, you have time to bring the card reader. The whole process of paying for a meal is much quicker there than here in the USA. No I don’t find it hilarious at all.

      • Greg says:

        @Felicity:

        “These kinds of card readers are used in Europe.”

        Ah, that explains it. Silly me, I’d thought those two models had Southern California written all over them.

        The service I’ve received in Europe was glacially slow by American standards. No doubt they’d have plenty of time to make a special trip for that. In fact in my observation they had time to make a special trip for just about everything; no need to combine trips.

        “If you have time to bring the bill to the table, you have time to bring the card reader.”

        Ha ha! That thing takes a whole hand to carry, while a bill can be neatly tucked into the apron, making it easy to combine bringing the bill with other trips.

        It might work to carry the reader around on a big tray, but I doubt the restaurant buys enough for each server to carry one around, so they probably have to take it back quickly so another server can use it — thus a special trip.

        Making special trips (rather than combining trips) is the bane of all servers (well, servers doing fast-paced service). Too many special trips and a server in such a restaurant is soon “in the weeds” — hopelessly behind. Combining trips is essential to keeping up in a fast-paced restaurant. That would be why I’ve never seen a reader like that taken to a table in an American restaurant.

        • Felicity says:

          They do. Perhaps California uses them too. Every server I’ve seen use one has a pocket big enough and it seems a little strange that you deride Europran service but you’ve never seen one used. Maybe service there is glacial by comparison. That’s not my experience, but I’ve never felt myself rushed out of a place because the server is more interested in a bigger tip from another customer (note I didn’t use the word ‘guest’).

          Your disdain is almost palpable and part of the reason I stay away from the kind of fast-paced establishment that you most likely work in. When I go out to eat the plan is that I enjoy my food, and not get indigestion at the thought and sight of the staff wanting me divested of my wallet and out of the door in the shortest possible time.

          • Greg says:

            @Felicity:

            “Every server I’ve seen use one has a pocket big enough”

            I hope the male servers don’t put that gigantic thing in a front pocket — it would look obscene!

  • Greg says:

    Does anyone else find it hilarious how the “waitress” in the photo at the top of the article has brought a gigantic card reader — almost as big as her head — to the table?

    First, who has time to bring a big card reader to the table? I can imagine it being done today with tiny card readers that a server can conveniently have on their person all through their shift, but not with a card reader as big as that. Anyway, I don’t recall any server ever reading my card at the table.

    Second, why is that card reader so big? It’s at least four times the size of the card readers I used 20 years ago. Does it have a 1980’s cell phone built in?

    Cracks me up every time I look at it.

  • Lisa SF says:

    Justin, you say that his story is “irrelevant”, but you agree that the server hounding them and not bringing the coffee was “WAY out of line”. He DID say that getting the check early was not in itself an issue, and I am sure that getting asked once two minutes later would not have been either. The issue was that the server’s constant nagging kinda ruined his meal with his parents. And he said he DID try to talk to the server, at which point instead of trying to turn the situation around the server chose to just give up and leave them to their own devices. Joe wrote that he left the change to the $70 as a tip. What was he supposed to do, hunt down the waiter and force him to do his job? Tip him 20% anyway because maybe the server was having a bad day? I think the server is lucky to get anything if he can’t be bothered to even bring them coffee. Which brings me to another point, if the policy for the restaurant is that the check should be brought BEFORE anyone is done eating, shouldn’t they ask if they will be wanting anything else first (as ridiculous as it sounds to ask so early on)? I find it hard to believe that a restaurant would have a policy that would cause them to lose money on all post meal items, i.e. alcoholic beverages, coffee, and dessert, (especially since these are some of their highest profit vs. cost items).

    I really don’t understand how you can (at least partially) agree with someone yet call their story irrelevant, especially since it gave you the forum to lecture us non-waitstaff on restaurant-policy. I think YOU are way out of line for telling Joe he needs to “man up” and talk to “the manager “. There are plenty of people in the world who don’t need or want to make a bad situation worse. Sure, the manager might offer a free dessert or a comped appetizer, but honestly, why would anything like that increase the tip? I’m guessing there are a lot of people like me out there who just want to get a disappointing situation over with without having to spend the AWKWARD extra time and effort and this is the fault of the SERVER NOT THE DINER/S.

    I completely relate to Joe’s situation. There is nothing worse than spending the money to go out and have what you are hoping is a good time ruined by a lousy server. This is something that puts a damper on the whole experience for me, but I usually have the opposite problem. Speaking on my experience from the time I was in my late teens/early 20s (i.e. when I began earning the money to go to a tipping restaurant myself), me and my company have apparently always looked like people who tip bad, because I usually have completely inattentive waitstaff who are nowhere to be found when I need pretty much anything. From the usual lagging with the menu/order/drinks/food to the even worse disappearing once an order is delivered so it is virtually impossible to ask for sauce/napkins/refill/etc. I can’t count how many times I have taken silverware from another table, and even more so had to stop another member of the waitstaff (NOT mine) to request sauces, napkins, a refill, the check, you name it. The funny thing is I almost always tip 17-20% i.e. double the tax in California (and they are already receiving the FULL minimum wage which is among the highest in the country). Sure, it isn’t always the 20% that certain people feel they are entitled to, but the service I generally receive consists of providing menus, taking my order, bringing the food, if I’m lucky once checking in on the order, bringing the check, the change/signing, and the end. I can’t tell you how many times I can’t even find my waitstaff for the most basic request: silverware (that they forgot), extra napkins, drink refill, condiments, etc. also can’t tell you how many times I could just do it myself, and if I CAN do it myself, I HAVE!!!

    My main point with this is that I will tip 20-25% for above-average performance, but because I look and am middle class I feel like I am treated poorly in many situations. I find this kinda funny cuz my experience has shown me that the majority of wealthy people tip like shat.

    • JoeDen says:

      The initial article suggests rounding your bill up and a 20% standard tip. Be sure to restore the table to its original condition to avoid burdening the restaurant staff.

  • KT says:

    For the most part I found this article to be spot on, however, I don’t know where this woman lives, but I live in WA state, and have been in the restaurant industry for almost 20 years. To say making almost $3.00 an hour is absurd. Yes I have had to live off my tips however I have made some really good money doing this. I have also made crap money doing so. Waiting tables isn’t for everyone, and writing an article isn’t going to fix the stingy rich guys. I have come to find that the people who tip the best are the middle to lower class people, like myself. If I get good service I will tip 30% If I get bad service, depending on how bad 10-15%. Sometimes even less than that.

    • Rebecca says:

      I am semi-retired but work part time in a garden center. I notice that middle to lower class people are the best behaved… especially if greeted with a smile and good service. The higher the economic “caste” the lower their standards of behavior, no matter how good the service… the endless sneer of superiority! It is a bit funny to see how much they need to prop their ego at the expense of someone who will be fired if they respond in kind. Odd that their egos need quite so much propping up.

  • tipster says:

    All these comments about how you should stay home if you won’t tip 20%….fair enough opinion. But consider the consequences. A 10% loss of clients means 10% less staff effort is needed. The simple translation is 10% fewer hours. And if 10% less business turns to 20% or 25%, well, the restaurant is closed, with an accompanying 100% loss of wages and tips. How does that work out for the servers?
    Otherwise, I am glad we don’t live in a society where we are commanded to pay a specific surcharge. Sure, you can opine about how these people who don’t tip according to someone’s standard should stay home and shrink the restaurant sector of the business marketplace or just eat fast food. Then, these frequently unskilled workers can get jobs at McDonald’s, IF they can find a job. Here is what it comes down to for most diners….exceptional service will command a good tip in the 20-25% range. But there are skinflints who will pay less even if served on a gold platters. Just as there are bad drivers, people who spill gas and folks that won’t return clothes to the rack after trying them on. Part of life is dealing with it. Not liking it is another story. But you don’t get to tell them to they cannot do something. When you take a job such as this, there is not guarantee every patron will tip the amount you want. You make a choice and accept the responsibility for that choice-after all, you CHOSE the job….and you prepare to take action to improve your options so that you can opt out of that choice in the future, should you decide to do so. But griping won’t improve it or change it, though it may make you feel better. You may not control everything that happens in your life, but you do control your choices. You make decisions and you deal with the consequences of those choices. Why would someone in the service industry be different than anyone else in that regard?

    • JoeDen says:

      tipster wrote “All these comments about how you should stay home if you won’t tip 20%”

      Nah. Give customers better buffets that don’t require paying for fake service.

    • Brad says:

      Tipster,

      I have to take umbrage with the statement that there are people who choose these jobs. With the economy the way it is, I know that a lot of these folks are doing the job because they simply cannot find anything else. Some of them choose it, but many of them have no other choice.

  • Robert Marsh says:

    Jamie, I agree am on board in practice with all the points except the one about cleaning up. Should I bus the table too? I always tidy up after myself . But being asked for a dustpan and or a towel, please, that is not my job it’s yours.

  • Jeff says:

    Being in this industry, I find your arguments flawed on many levels, first of all, only some states pay servers 2.13 an hour. Many states, such as California pay servers 8 to 10 dollars an hour. Secondly no restaurant automatically claims tips for their service staff, your credit card tips are clear on your cash out, and many hold a policy of 8% of your sales should be claimed at minimum, but no system that I have worked with in the 21 years working in the profession claim for you. Lastly, if we should tip more because you are required to share the tips with busboys and staff, you better be tipping out the dishwashers and cooks who provide you the means to make your living, otherwise your argument fails. Tip your server what they deserve, which, to be quite honest, is often times much less than 20%.

    • JoeDen says:

      Good point. Why is tipping limited only to the upfront staff? Restaurants apparently are able to pay their chefs adequately despite grueling working conditions and peak order periods.

      Should tipping percentages be lower in states with higher minimum wage rates for restaurant workers?

  • morningdogwalker says:

    I worked as a server in a restaurant for four years.

    The difference between 15% and 20% may seem like a small deal, but it is certainly not to your server and here’s why – volume.

    Lets say a server sells $100,000 of product for their restaurant during the course of the year (which is about what I averaged).

    If I were tipped 20%, I would make $20,000.

    If I were tipped 15%, I would make $15,000.

    That’s a $5,000/year swing….25 cents here and $2.00 there, adds up in a big way.

    Also, there are specific times of the day that a server makes the majority of their wages. During meal times. That means that a server that works a dinner shift, she has about 3 hours to sell as much food/wine/dessert etc. as they can AND provide the best possible service.

    So while servers can make up to $20 – $30+/hour during the busy hours, they are really limited to a few hours where that happens…If you average out all the hours they’re making zero dollars, it’s not that all that high…

    If you go out to eat, realize that you are part of the economic engine and your tip actually does make a difference.

    If you get bad service, tip accordingly. If you go back to the restaurant and it happens to you again, don’t go to the restaurant anymore. Bad restaurants shouldn’t (and don’t) stay in business.

    If you get good service, its our responsibility to keep our restaurants and servers in business. Take responsibility for the economy around you. Your tip matters.

    • Hawkeye says:

      @morningdogwalker,

      Your handle suggests you are a dog lover.
      Kudos!

      However, the tone of many Servers/former Servers posts suggests they believe most of their customers earn more than they do.

      I am paid $10.40 per hour. Without overtime, that calculates to $21,632 per year.

      Approximately equal to your calculation BEFORE your hourly pay is included. Then you are either paid a bit less (15%) or a bit more (20%) than I am.
      (Not true in the several states requiring Servers to be paid minimum wage.)

      But, I don’t have to put up with cranky customers. Right!

      I DO have to put up with working outdoors, assisting with medical calls and assisting when fires occur.

      Last week I spent several hours outside in 93 sunny degrees signing employees in / out when a turnstyle didn’t work.

      Today I will walk 3 miles inside a hot warehouse doing my rounds.
      Some days I walk 4 miles inside a plant.
      Occasionally, I am assigned to walk the full plant – 7 miles.
      On cement floors, wearing steel-toed boots and a safety vest.

      During the winter I look like the Pillsbury Dough Boy bundled up against the cold.

      And, if there was a blog about why people should treat security guards with respect – you would NOT read a whiny post from me.

      I chose my job and knew what it entailed when I was hired.

      We dine out about once a week, on average.
      And, thanks primarily to this blog I now tip 15% for good service instead of 20%.

      Bob

      • Brad says:

        Bob,

        Just out of curiosity, what is it that you do? I’ve also done a lot of the menial labor jobs it sounds like you do. Not much fun there, either.

        • Hawkeye says:

          Brad,

          I am a security guard at the world’s largest paper plant,
          a Vietnam veteran and a retired data processing manager.

          I work primarily for the exercise and have lowered my total cholesterol nearly 100 points.

          Tipping 20% is well within my means, but teaches people that working at a job requiring no secondary education, limited training and no experience should be compensated equal to many jobs requiring one or more of the above.

          I think that’s wrong.

          Even so, I generally tipped 20% … until I read this blog.

          Instead of being grateful for tips received, many comments of Servers reek of entitlement, not gratuity.

  • Brad says:

    Looks like we’ve got some serious tightwads on this site. Bottom line: If you do not want to tip well, stay at home. I will always, ALWAYS leave at least a 20 percent tip unless the service is absolutely horrendous. If it’s above average to great, I’ll leave a 25 to 30 percent-plus tip to let the server know that I appreciate their work, and tell the manager that they need to do whatever they can to keep that employee. I’ve only stiffed an establishment once, and it was because the service my family and I received was absolutely horrendous on all counts (it took us 10 minutes to be seated by a hostess when no one else was in the restaurant, we didn’t see one manager or super on the floor at all, the waitress was about as rude and inconsiderate as she could possibly be, and the food was not cooked to order and arrived cold). I’ve been in the service industry before. I’ve dealt with my fair share of great people and I’ve seen my fair share of misers. I do not wish to be in the latter category, especially when I know full well just how shabbily many waiters, waitresses, busboys, and servers are treated by customers and managerial staff alike. Anyone else who does not abide by those standards in my book is thoughtless, rude, inconsiderate, incompassionate, and cheap and shouldn’t be going out to eat if they cannot afford to live up to them.

    • James says:

      Brad,
      It is not so much me being a tightwad, it is about servers giving really poor service. Too many servers are self absorbed college / high school kids or single moms that think they are owed 20% of the bill just for showing up and going through the motions of being a server. I will tip generously when I get good service. Just last week I encountered a young man who got 27% form me because he was simply excellent. However, sleepwalking through the evening service and gossiping / chatting by the restrooms will not earn you good tips. Watching your tables does!

      I think one of the problems is that many servers have such low expectations of themselves that they have no clue how to excel at their job. I hope that we all stay at home more and avoid the places that give mediocre service and we should make an extra effort to go patronize the establishments that bother to actually train servers.

      Sick and tired of having the lip of my glass touched by my clueless, stupid, server while I am right in front of them!

      • Brad says:

        Oh, I agree James. I expect to be treated well because I will tip well if I get treated right. Thing is, I have honestly not had many bad dining experiences. I go out EXPECTING to get great service, and having to tip well. As such, I won’t go out if I can’t afford it. Maybe being from the Midwest (I think there’s a stronger value system in place here than there is in most places in the country) is part of what I typically experience when I dine out, but I can honestly say that I haven’t had a bad experience in any establishment for a good 5 years plus. I’ve found that the vast majority of waitstaff are good, honest, hardworking folks just doing their best to try and make ends meet. And I want to reward them for not only serving me, but also for likely having to put up with incompassionate managers on one end and slovenly, unruly customers on the other.

        I’ve been a busboy making less than minimum wage at a mom and pop establishment to gain some job experience that couldn’t afford to give any more while I was in high school. I’ve done customer service over the phone (without the possibility of a tip). I was a porter/barback at a casino that saw more than my fair share of 40-year old adolescents, 80-something year old’s blowing their retirement checks while toking on a cigarette and carting an oxygen tank behind them (gasp!), stuffed shirt managers who had no freaking clue what any of us were putting up with, and modern trustees of chemistry. In short, I’ve had a variety of customer service jobs where I dealt with far too many unsavory characters on both ends. I’ll never go back to doing it because there’s no way that I could get paid enough to go through it all again. Remembering all of that and realizing how I would have liked to have been treated has made me much more empathetic to what many of these people go through. Sure, there are some entitled folks out there in the industry. You’ll find that in any field or industry though. My experience has been that most of these people are hard-working and put up with more than enough to get paid more than what they usually do. And I’m going to do everything in my power to be an ethical, classy diner when I go out, because it’s the right thing to do. End of story.

        • trt says:

          Brad, you’re wrong about people in the Midwest having a stronger value system than those in other places, and frankly I find it insulting for you to say that. I live in the Pacific Northwest, and up here we don’t have as many of the religious zealots you have there, trying to force their views on everyone.

    • Pete says:

      Brad you are 100% on target.

  • James says:

    Perhaps the new greeting for waiters should be similar the Applebee’s greeting when the server squats down and introduces themselves.
    Hi my name is Jamie; I will be your server tonight. In the interest of giving you the service that I think you may deserve, I request that you please tip me in advance at least 25% of your expected bill. Just to let you know your place (server bends over and drops pants) please kiss my a$$. I will be back to take your order once I get done texting my friends and checking FB.
    Also, I am having a bad week, so if between courses, please work on your note of encouragement to make me feel good about myself. After desert, you will be given complementary cleaning kit so I don’t have to wipe down your booth. The bus cart is up front, you know where the plates go…. Thank you, and enjoy your fine dining experience. (optional gesture : flipping off the table as you walk away.)

  • James says:

    What disturbs me most about some of the replies from restaurant employees is, the undertones of, if you don’t tip well… your food will not be hygienic. It seems to be almost a shake down. This attitude coupled with some of the gross pics on the internet will make me stay away from eating out. I’m just getting tired of the crap.

    • CalMark says:

      It’s strange, how entitled they feel. Increasingly, middle-of-the-road restaurants I go to are dirty, service is slow and unfriendly, and there’s just a general air of nobody really caring about the customers.

      According to all of the waiters on this thread, it’s the customers’ fault for being insufficiently sensitive to the needs of waiters. Let the free market decide.

  • Joe says:

    I have a feeling this whole argument is moot anyway. I’m sure 99% of wait staff/server make well over minimum wage when averaged out over a weekly paycheck. To all those complaining 15%is not standard, 20% is average 10% for bad service, etc., what if your restaurant owner decided to put up signs declaring no tipping permitted and just started paying you minimum wage? Would you prefer the current risk/reward system you currently enjoy, or would you rather have a guaranteed $7.25 an hour (www.dol.gov/dol/topic/wages/minimumwage.htm?) and gross $290 a week?

    • Greg says:

      @Joe:

      Would you really want to eat at a restaurant where the servers and bartenders made only minimum wage, and where the rest of the staff — bussers, hosts, and cooks — did not see their income substantially boosted by large tipouts?

      I wouldn’t. Think of the worst dive you’ve ever been at. Then imagine it several times worse. Then imagine putting “food” and “drink” from that establishment in your mouth. Yuck.

      • Hubbs says:

        That wouldn’t happen because the place would go out of business and be replaced by a place that wasn’t a shit hole. Really most of the time I dine out the service is good. In our society a 15 – 20 percent tip is customary. If you leave less for good service you are a cheapskate but you entitled to being a cheapskate (yes I’m talking about no tippin Pippen).

      • Joe says:

        I wasn’t suggesting we actually start paying servers the minimum wage. (The same minimum wage millions of people make. The same minimum wage plenty of decent people you interact with on a daily basis make, as well) I was suggesting that short sighted servers actually stop and think about their situation. It could be MUCH worse.

        Let’s assume a server is assigned 3 tables at a time. (From the excuses most of my poor servers give, you would think they serve 15 tables at a time) They work in a chain place like Applebees or T.G.I. Fridays. Table 1 has a couple eating dinner, table 2 has 6 coworkers out for drinks and table 3 has a family of 4. Table 1 Entrees, drinks and desert run $60. Tabls 2 Apps, Entrees, Drinks and alcohol run $189. Table 3 Kids meals, Entrees and drinks run $45. Assuming each table is occupied for an hour and every person tips poorly at 10% that 1 hour earned $28. + the $2 server minimum wage = $30 an hour. National minimum wage = $7.25. If each table were occupied for an hour and a half and everyone still tipped 10% that’s an average of $18 dollars an hour + $2 =$20 an hour. I know serving is not an easy job, but is it harder than building a house? Replacing a roof? Repairing a car? Pumping septic tanks? Or a hundred other jobs that don’t pay $20 an hour.

        gra·tu·i·ty [gruh-too-i-tee, -tyoo-]
        noun, plural gra·tu·i·ties.
        1. a gift of money, over and above payment due for service, as to a waiter or bellhop; tip.
        2. something given without claim or demand.

        No one forces anyone to be a server. Those who take the job do so knowing that they are only guaranteed $2 an hour. A tip is a not certain, it is not a right, it is a privilege. It is a bonus for doing good work. That you work in a bad industry that exploits your service is neither MY fault nor something you HAVE to do. If the pay (including tips) were truly so horrible, no one would apply for these jobs, they would find work elsewhere, and the economics of the restaurant business would be forced to change.

        People CHOOSE to be servers instead of other jobs. When asked about retail, the common answer is “I can’t support myself working at xxx.” The inference there is that they CAN support themselves waiting tables.

        To answer your question, Greg, I would have no problem eating in a place that paid it’s customers minimum wage. I buy my groceries in a store that pays minimum wage. I buy my cakes from a bakery that pays minimum wage. I buy my tools and lumber and pants and oil and a host of everyday items from people who make minimum wage. These people work hard to earn their money and I would expect a server to do the same.

  • PJ says:

    I used to wait tables and had good and bad days… and good and bad customers. I one had a 13-top run me ragged when I had 5 other tables, and because they objected to the concept of a 15% gratuity, they stiffed me. I believe the fact that I waited tables for (barely) a living gives me insight into the job and makes me a better, more understanding customer.
    That being said, it makes me really mad to go out to eat and not ever see our server again after the food is served. Not to check if we need refills, or if the food is cooked properly and is tasty. Or they walk by 20x and never so much as glance in our direction. I have stared a hole in waiters when I was ready to leave but they can’t even be bothered to LOOK and see if any of their customers are in obvious need of something. Once I’m ready to leave and have to sit and sit, the tip goes down incrementally. Also, if I sit with an empty tea glass for the duration of my meal, this is unacceptable.
    Of course I’m happy to tip 15% for good service. More if I’m able to “splurge” a bit and it was deserved.
    One time we went out for my Dad’s 85th birthday. There were 5 of us and we go there often enough that they recognize us. But this time we had to go and find the manager to finally get our drink order taken after being there a good 20 minutes, it was dwnhill from there…the absolute worst service ever. It ruined the occasion, and we’re reasonable, friendly folks. I think at times like that, customers fall through the cracks of a last-minute section change, or being shorthanded. Still, the manager should always be aware of the entire dining room and offer support to any servers “in the weeds”. It benefits the whole restaurant.

  • CalMark says:

    I’m always polite and pleasant to wait staff. I’ve often wondered why I get lousy service in so many places where nobody knows me from Adam. Reading the posts here makes me realize that the problem isn’t me, it’s them. No one should be surprised. Literature is full of stories about the snobbery and arrogance of waiters.

    They demand a certain amount of money, regardless of service; they demand clairvoyance from customers about their feelings and work conditions, and demand that be added into the mix. To their benefit, of course.

    How about this: I expect value for my money, too; after all, I’m the one paying for the meal, and quite frankly, I don’t mind buffets at all because it’s not that big a deal for me to be waited on. Furthermore, what about MY feelings? I might be having a bad day, too, but I don’t expect my server to cheer me up. If you do, that’s nice of you, but if I’m gloomy but civil, that doesn’t make someone a bad person, either. It’s not my job to make you like me.

    In other words, the world doesn’t revolve around waiters, no matter how much you might believe it. It’s a low-skill job; otherwise, people marking time wouldn’t be doing it. And even at a fancy restaurants it’s still low-skill, just with more experience and hopefully polish.

  • ohiomark says:

    I have to say the uncertainty of what kind of service we might get at a restaurant, combined with servers high expectations of large tips even when service is not that good, has driven us to eat out less, and to cook very delicious meals at home instead. The other day, my wife and I cooked two nice lobsters, had a bottle of wine, as well as a couple of side dishes…all for around $42. It was very easy to cook, very easy to clean up, and wonderful to enjoy. And, no worries about servers and their ‘expectations’. we still eat out for some special occasions, when we travel, or when we might feel like it, but it is nowhere at the level it used to be. Especially with a large outdoor grill, it makes it so easy to put together good, simple food at a fraction of the cost and without the aggravations that can happen sometimes when eating out. So, for those of you who say tip at least 20%, or do not bother coming out, we don’t bother for the most part. And, we do not have to worry about any food additives placed on our food by the servers. And yes, we do tip a fair amount (usually 15-20%) when we eat out, sometimes higher % when it is a cheaper place.

  • Mariago says:

    To address something the author said: I am not sure how one can speak to their server about bad service when the bad service is that the server is no where to be found! That sems to be the issue when service has been poor (and I don’t mean the server is busy runnung around waiting on tables, I mean, they are no where to be found and another waitperson you ask has no idea either and waits on you themselves). I always leave 20% for ok to good service, more for excellent service and 10-15% for bad service….and for me to leave less than 20%, the service has to be REALLY bad.
    If the food is really bad, I will communicate this to the server or manager, but I will tip based on the server’s performance, not the kitchen’s mistakes.
    If kids make a huge mess, I would certainly expect the parent to at least offer to help clean up the area. This not only makes it more likely that the server will feel less disrespected, it also teaches the children how to be decent people who don’t take advantage of other people just because they can.
    Also, I would hesitate to tell my server face to face about the poor service for fear of the “bodily fluids” in my food comments that are apparently not just myth, but actually happen according to the previous commenters (this, btw, should be reported immediately by anyone who witnesses this due to health issues. Nasty.).

  • Jean_V_Dubois says:

    Serving is a tough job and requires great people skills, the balance of an acrobat, and endurance. I always tip the 20% or sometimes more but when I have gotten especially good service I always make a point to speak ott he server, get their attention and look them in the eyes and tell them that their service was important to me and my enjoyment of the outing and that i appreciate it. YOu will be amazed a tthe response.

  • whansen says:

    It is pretty simple…if the service is at least adequate you leave 15%, if good or better 20% and up (I believe in the South 15% is the customary good tip). I usually leave at least a 5 even if on my own or under $20. I have been in the industry and yes some folks just aren’t good tippers, however the best waiters and waitresses (good attitudes and very friendly) seem to do quite well and still get their share of those folks. Going out is not just about the food….Folks should want to return based on how they were treated by the service staff regardless of the food, etc…so if your on the service staff, kill’em with kindness, if you are getting the service, then take notice…sometimes the interaction with the service staff can amplify the whole experience and they deserve that tip when they work that hard.

  • SCC says:

    As a New Yorker, we go out to eat periodically. ONLY once at a tourist trap, did the establishment had the chutzpah to put down 20% suggested gratuity. We were only 2 people, not a large group and no minimum gratuity rule were posted. Service in fact WAS bad. I still left them 15%, BUT the waitress had the chutzpah to run out of the restaurant demanding why she did not get 20%.

    Before any of you start suggesting that I should stop eating out. Please remember that if enough customers get annoyed with your entitlement attitudes, they will go to fast food places or stay home. THEN you will be OUT of a job.

    • ohiomark says:

      I agree. If servers want 20%, they need to EARN it…it is not an entitlement. If I was in NYC, and had bad service, I would not leave 20% either, and depending on how bad the service was, even 15% might be a stretch. I would have no problem telling a server the service was not great if they wanted to push the issue, and I probably would not go back to that restaurant again. The good thing about NYC is there are so many restaurants, that if you hit a bad one, there are many others to try in its place.

    • CalMark says:

      Truer words never spoken.

      Not only will they be out of a job, they’ll have to find work alongside the rest of us, whose jobs and responsibilities they disdain.

  • R says:

    It is all very simple. Regardless of how you feel about these tipping issues (how much to tip, whether you should feel obligated to tip, etc) the fact is that (at least in here in NYC), the majority of people tip 20%. Servers remember those of you who tip less. We talk to each other about the cheapos. When someone walks into my restaurant, into my section, and they have either tipped me poorly before, or a coworker points out that they are a bad tipper, I simply give them bad service. I don’t care about the ensuing bad tip, because I have multiple other tables that are going to tip me correctly. I prioritize the tables that are going to tip me better. It is supply and demand. So I suppose if it is your first time in the restaurant, I won’t know that you are going to tip me poorly, and then you can just go on your merry way. Just don’t come back! In general, it is never a good idea to mess with people who handle your food. I’ve seen some crazy shit. And if that means you are less inclined to go out and eat, who cares. The service industry is better off without you.

    For everyone who is making a waiter’s wage a pity party…let’s stop the bs here. My wage is $4.50 per hour, but I always take home around $30-$35 an hour, and pretty much every server makes bare minimum $20 an hour. It seems like a lot of people assume that we are servers because we HAVE to be, but that’s not always the case. I usually clear about $900 a week, cash, and pay far fewer in taxes than other professions. I work less than 40 hours per week. I wouldn’t want the owner of my restaurant to pay me a “fair wage”. And that will make your food more expensive anyway. Very happy with the system.

    I assume the people saying they tip 10-15% are not from cities. General guidelines for servers in NYC:

    -Anyone from a different country, automatic 20% gratuity. They will be too scared and/or insecure about the language to challenge. Or just assume its a mandatory charge. Those who frequent the country and know of the customs are likely to get a little offended, but it doesn’t matter because they will still pay it.

    -If the people at your table are American but you suspect they are not New Yorkers, try and ask where they are from. Anyone SOUTH of Newark, NJ, NORTH of Albany, NY, EAST of Queens, or WEST of Jersey City, NJ, (all of this excludes those from big cities across the country) gets a suggested gratuity of 20% written on their check. If they don’t take your “suggestion” ask them if there was something wrong with the service. That usually gets you what you need ;). This is not to offend anyone from these regions, and I know that some of you do tip 20%+, but sometimes you just have to play the odds.

    I’m a server and obviously also a patron. When I make a decision to go out and eat, I add that 20% (and actually usually more) in my head when I decide what I’m going to spend on the meal. If it’s too much money, I don’t effing go out! You guys need us as much as we need you. Without your tips, we don’t make money. Without us, you have to serve yourself. The law of this country makes it so that we can get paid less than other professions, because we are going to get tips. If you don’t like that system, talk to a congressman, don’t take it out on someone who is bringing you shit.

    • trt says:

      I normally tip 20% or more, and I’m from California. But if I ate at your NYC restaurant and saw your “suggested tip” note on my check, and especially if I knew you only put that on there for people from outside NYC, I’d be tempted to tip less just for spite. Your egotistic attitude that anyone not from New York is a bumpkin/rube does not make me feel generous at all.

      That being said, you are right that people who tip well are treated better by wait staff – and that’s true everywhere, not just NYC.

      • ohiomark says:

        I agree…if some waiter put a “suggested tip” note on my check, I would probably first bring it to a manager’s attention that I was affronted at such an arrogant attitude by that server, and then I would leave a tip that was adjusted downward for that attitude, as my ‘dining experience’ would have been reduced by such an offensive action by a server. That is also a part of the dining experience, and would be a negative.

      • Shirty says:

        @trt: Thanks for this. I live in the San Francisco area and can tell others the same type of attitude expressed by this NYC server is common. The sense of entitlement and general arrogance by some wait staff is quite off-putting.

        That said, when I go to a higher end place, much less often than I used to, I expect to pay a 20% tip. If the restaurant adds a service charge, the wait staff will get some change for exceptional service because the service charge is quite often only 16%. I have never received a note from a server with a “suggested tip”. However, some restaurants have tip suggestions (15% or 20%) printed on the credit card slip under the bill. This is helpful, but staff will only receive basic tip for minimal service. I rarely short staff, only if server is rude or service is nonexistent.

    • Felicity says:

      No, R, ‘we’ don’t need you as much as you need ‘us’. In spite of what others say on this blog, my experience of eating out in Europe is far superior to here in terms of service for the most part, and with the attitude you display, it’s a wonder anyone eats out at all.

      It’s because of people like you that I rarely go out to eat anywhere fancy and I don’t miss it one little bit. You earn WAY more than many overall and you have the nerve to ‘suggest’ what people pay for their meal? I tell you, if I went to where you work and that happened, not only would you get 0% but I’d never walk through the door again. Not that you care I’m sure – you’re too busy stiffing the poor souls who know no better.

      And before you go off on one, when I do go out I tip very well, but I stick with places I know.

      Oh, and by the way – if you’re getting paid $4.50 an hour, it’s not ‘your’ restaurant.

    • DogCatMom says:

      Try again, R. I live in the East Bay of the San Francisco region, 9 precious miles across the Bay from San Francisco. 15% is the accepted base rate here, even though wait staff constantly try to talk it up. The public isn’t going for it, funny enough.

      “Suggest” away!

  • MarkT says:

    I travel a lot on business, and I usually will find a local casual dining establishment, comparable to Chilis or Fridays, for my evening meal. My normal bill is something in the neighborhood of $17-20. For that, I can eat a nice entree, or an app and desert, and feel like I got a good meal. So let’s do a little math: 15% of $20 is $3.00. 20% of $20 is $4.00. The difference is one lousy dollar!! If all it takes to make my server happy is that $1.00, I can easily afford it, because I can easily remember when that $1.00 was a big deal to me. If that $1.00 is a big deal to you, the diner, then you should be spending your money on things other than dinners out. If the $1.00 isn’t a big deal, then cough it up for someone who needs it worse than you.

    • ohiomark says:

      A tip is not based on who ‘needs’ it, and it is not an entitlement. A tip is a reward for good service. If a server really needs it worse than the diner, then maybe that server should be giving exceptional service to all their tables, and the better tips will come. It is one thing when you are only paying for one meal, so a $1 leeway is not much. However, when you are taking out a lot of people, like your family, and you have a bill running in the $100-150, which is not hard, 20% of $150 is $30; 15% of $150 is $22.50, a larger difference than $1. If the service has been very good, then tip at a higher percentage; if the service is just average, then a small percentage is used. It is also easier for a server to give good service when there is just one person at a table, versus 5-8 people.

      • ohiomark says:

        And, if someone is travelling on business, chances are, either that higher tip goes on an expense report, and the traveler is reimbursed (makes it so easy for a business traveler to tip well when they can get reimbursed for what they spend), or the business traveler writes that extra tip off of his taxes as a business expense (again, the cost to him is less than someone eating out for pleasure).

    • Pete says:

      MarkT,
      I do believe you hit the nail on the head.
      That and some should stay home and try and improve on their Grilled Cheese skills.

  • Overtaxed bybiggovernment says:

    I do not leave a tip. However, I do out of generosity, leave a gift with a Thank You Card that clearly explains gifts such as mine fall under Section 102 (a) of the Internal Revenue Code, and therefore are not taxable to the recipient.

    • R says:

      Instead of leaving the gift, leave me the cash value of the gift IN cash, and then I won’t claim it and thus won’t be taxed. THAT would be generous, not some chatzky gift and a thank you card that I will immediately throw out.

      • trt says:

        I believe he/she is talking about a cash gift, not some “chatzky” gift as you so derisively (and erroneously) mention. This person is anti-government and wants to tip the server without them having to pay taxes – a gift.

      • ohiomark says:

        I guess it is OK for a server to not pay his fair share in income taxes on some of his cash tips, but it is NOT ok for someone to not give a large enough tip to the server (in the eyes of the server). Maybe I should just reduce any cash tips I leave from 20% to 17% since the server is not declaring them for taxes, and I, as the person paying the tip also recoup some of the ‘savings’ from the server not declaring the tips as income.

  • MikeM. says:

    Why should a waiter/waitress at a “high-end” establishment be tipped more than a waiter/waitress at a local coffee shop? The meal price has no bearing on how hard they work. In fact, a waiter/waitress at a local coffee shop probably works harder. One of the ways I calculate tips is just double the sales tax and round up to the nearest dollar.

    • Rob says:

      There is a resataurant I frequent because the food is amazingly wonderful…..
      The service at said restaurant consists of…..
      1) busperson fills waterglasses
      2) busperson presents menus and describes “daily specials”
      3) Very pompous waiter arrives to take order including bar order
      and wine order
      4) cocktail waitress brings 2 Martinis (I tip her $5.00)
      5) busperson presents wine
      6) busperson brings dinner entrees….clears cocktail glasses…..
      7) busperson checks back to see if everything is satisfactory…
      8) I slip busperson $20.00
      9) Waiter arrives with dinner check (Total…$200.00)
      10) I leave a $20.00 tip with check .. all on credit card
      There is a very good local diner, I frequent , for breakfast.
      1) Waitress arrives with Big Smile and pours coffee and takes
      order………..brings breakfast……..checks back to refill water
      and coffee…….she delivers check
      2) I pay check and leave $5.00 tip on table
      3) Waitress buses table and has a Big Smile
      4) Hope I helped start her day off right…She sure did mine….

      T

      • R says:

        The “busperson” is not a busperson, this is the “frontwaiter”. The “waiter” is actually a “captain” and is pompous because he/she is the most experienced and is the leader of the rest of the front/backwaiters. So just so you know, the captain is already tipping out the frontwaiter that you gave $20.00, and the $20.00 you left at the end is considered very cheap. It seems that you assume that the frontwaiter is the one who deserves more money because they are doing more work, but actually the captain is taking on more responsibility and is overseeing the overall service of your table and many other tables. Also, $5.00 is making no ones day.

        • CalMark says:

          Wow. Pardon us for living.

          Ever hear of Ludwig Bemelmans? He was the author of the “Madeleine” series of children’s books. He was also a career waiter/restaurant manager. His book, “Hotel Bemelmans,” talks about

          As one book reviewer accurately stated: there is no greater snob than the waiter at a high-end restaurant. Recognize yourself?

          • CalMark says:

            His book, “Hotel Bemelmans,” talks about customers in an often-nasty way, as though they are lowlifes.

    • R says:

      I assume you have never eaten in a high end establishment based on your quotations, as if it is something that doesn’t really exist. The level of service in fine dining is far superior to that of a local coffee shop. You have a much higher ratio of front-end staff to diners, so they can cater to you and should be able to give exemplary service. If they are not, then you are eating at the wrong restaurant. Also, the people who you tip consider you cheap, just so you know. Maybe you really don’t care, but they do.

  • kpryan says:

    Claims the article: ” but keep in mind that your server is making just over $2 an hour without tips to run him- or herself ragged.”

    Really? What a shame to run oneself ragged for $2 bucks an hour.

    Except (in many instances) it isn’t true.

    In some states where labor routinely finds itself screwed in multiple ways, restaurants and bars have suceeded in paying their staff pennies per hour, but on most of the country servers are paid minimum wage for their efforts.
    In Oregon that ‘ragged’ waiter is being paid $8.95 per hour plus tips. In Washington it is more like $9.25.

    So the claim that wait staff in general earns only $2 an hour is false.

    So is the idea of cleaning the table and floor and chairs after eating. If I’m going to clean up, I’ll just bus my own food and wash my own dishes. That way the poor waiter won’t be ragged at the end of the night.

    • ohiomark says:

      The wait staff is not really running itself ragged for the $2, or whatever they make per hour from the restaurant. They are running themselves ragged (well, some of them are, others take their sweet old time), in hopes of getting a large tip. Others do not run themselves ragged, but still expect that big ol’ tip. I think we call it… entitlement. They need to try to earn it.

  • jayne190 says:

    I live on a fixed income of about $900/month. Every now and then I like to go out to a place where I don’t have to fix my own meal. I don’t really like to cook so that means about once a week I go out and usually this means going to a fast food place and once a month I go to a nice sit down restaurant for a nicer meal and usually this means I need to tip. I realize that what I am about to say is not great to say, but I tip about 10% on the subtotal of the meal. I realize that isn’t proper to correct to tip, but that’s what I can afford. If I go to a nicer place, I would probably tip in the 15-20% range. But honestly, servers should be grateful that they even get a tip from a customer, especially a single diner who’s not ordering alcohol.

    • Greg says:

      @jayne190:

      “servers should be grateful that they even get a tip from a customer, especially a single diner who’s not ordering alcohol.”

      Yes, serving alcohol is so much more work than serving your hot tea and refills.

      You are a good example of why the tipping system is a bad system. If there was no tipping and restaurants paid the servers — along with the beneficiaries of the servers’ tipouts, such as bussers, hosts, and cooks — as much as they make now with tips, you would either pay more to go to the same restaurants, or go to less expensive restaurants.

      • ohiomark says:

        I agree that the tipping system is a bad system, and would love it if the restaurants were the ones responsible for paying their staff 100% of their salaries. Yes, I realize prices would go up…no surprise there. In other countries, there is a much less tipping percentage, with some countries not having tipping, so I am sure it could work here as well.

      • Josh says:

        I think she’s a fine example of why the tipping system is a good system. She gives what she can, which I think most non-drug-addicted servers would appreciate.

        • R says:

          No, we don’t appreciate it. Because she is taking up space. Odds are, if she stayed home and someone else sat at my table, I would make more money.

          • Josh says:

            R et al: the world does not revolve around NYC waitstaff. Realizing this is the first step to getting out of a lifestyle of gossiping about who tipped what and what to do if you ever see him again. Pathetic!
            Thinking of humans as having intrinsic value as opposed to “taking up space” is another important step. Bar work is nobody’s dream job. If you serve to *serve* it’s a lot more fun. You also make a lot more money.

    • R says:

      I think you are lying about your situation. You contradicted yourself by saying that you tip more at a nicer place. So you are willing to pay a bigger percentage on a (presumably) bigger bill?

    • Brad says:

      If I can’t afford 20 percent on top of the meal, then I don’t go out. Period.

  • Michael says:

    I think this whole discussion is ridiculous. Reading these “guidelines” one should recognize the spin as that of the server. If we are to consider the tip as part of the experience, then let the management include the tip in the check. Personally, I don’t believe I should pay for lousy service, and I am going to this venue to enjoy a meal, not to give words of encouragement to some server who is having a bad day. My tip and attitude will reflect that of the server. In fact, I value a smile more than I do impeccable service.

    • Josh says:

      ^This. People would not be so broke if they looked at commerce from a wider angle than just their own personal needs.

  • Joy says:

    I’m intrigued that no one answered my question about tipping in a minimum wage required state. I personally go to work every day in a tech industry and get paid just over $16 an hour. I seldom go out to eat because I can’t afford it. Our minimum wage in this state is over $9 an hour and even servers are required to get minimum, not counting tips.

    When I go out it is usually with a small group of women 2 to 4 of us. Usually we go to a mid-priced restaurant where we might get one drink and our bill is close to $25 each. We don’t often linger so we aren’t taking up a table that could be turned. The staff is at that same time also waiting on other tables, a conservative guess might be a total of six tables. If each table has guests spending about $25 each, and there are two people at each table and they spend 1 1/2 hours there (like I said, I’m being conservative) and each table tips 20% that means that the server is getting $40 an hour in tips alone, on top of the $9 an hour wage they get. Say they share it with the bus staff, bartender, cooks and whoever else is involved…they’d have to give away 83% of their tips to make the same hourly wage that I make. I’m guessing that doesn’t happen.

    Plus, I’d like to see a show of hands one how many of you report to the IRS every penny you make? I pay taxes on every last cent I make, there is no way to fudge my numbers. Do you?

    So, taking into consideration that our bill is already higher than in other states where the minimum wage for servers is $2 an hour…why should I tip 20% no matter the service?

    My kids are not small, I’m usually out with adults and don’t leave a mess. I’ve found that when I’m out with a man I get much better service…why? Because servers think women won’t tip as well so they give them worse service…which results in worse tips – a self fulfilling prophecy. If someone brings me a drink (I often pick water, not to be cheap but because that is what I like, I don’t drink soda and if I’m driving I won’t drink alcohol) takes my order, brings me my food and asks if I want anything else and I don’t see them again until they bring me my check…is there a reason my group should give that person $20? THAT is the service I often get!

    If someone gives me recommendations for a good meal, checks back multiple times, keeps my water glass full, notices if I didn’t eat something and asks if it was okay, makes sure to mention dessert BEFORE bringing me my check and is in general friendly, THAT might be worth $20.

    • Greg says:

      Joy:

      “Plus, I’d like to see a show of hands one how many of you report to the IRS every penny you make? I pay taxes on every last cent I make, there is no way to fudge my numbers. Do you?”

      I did. Servers who don’t are setting themselves up for a lot of hurt when they eventually get audited. The IRS looks at the average credit card tip percentage a server made and takes that to be the percentage tip they made on all their sales, though cash and check tips actually average a bit lower.

      Also, servers who don’t keep meticulous records of their tipouts, which no one will tell them to do, will have to pay tax on those tipouts when they get audited.

      I had been claiming all my tips minus tipouts, but not keeping records of tipouts. When I was audited, I had to pay tax on those years of tipouts, plus a late fee.

      “I personally go to work every day in a tech industry and get paid just over $16 an hour.”

      Maybe you should try being a waitress. Do you think you can handle the stress?

      • CalMark says:

        “Maybe you should try being a waitress. Do you think you can handle the stress?”

        Stress? Every job has it. In your world, though, the worst that can happen is someone gets atrocious service, abandons a restaurant forever, and you get fired. In most people’s jobs, the consequences for failure are far more serious.

        How do you know she doesn’t do something a lot more stressful than you do? For that matter, it’s quite possible, even very likely, her job is a lot more valuable to society than yours. Waiters have an overblown sense of their own importance.

        I repeat what I said previously. The servers commenting here seem like a nasty, disgruntled lot. No wonder you’re all stuck in a job that for most people is either entry level or temporary, a stop on the way to something better.

        • Greg says:

          @CalMark:

          “Stress? Every job has it.”

          Sure, but restaurant service is more stressful than most jobs, at least for servers who are trying to do a good job. I recall a study that found that the two most stressful jobs were surgeon and waiter.

          I left restaurant work 20 years ago, and today I’m a software programmer. Software programming has only a tiny fraction of the stress of waiting tables (but I’ve never been on a “death march”, which does sound fairly stressful). No other job I’ve ever had has been anywhere near as stressful as a normal day of waiting tables.

          “In your world, though, the worst that can happen is someone gets atrocious service, abandons a restaurant forever, and you get fired.”

          Sounds like you’ve never heard of food allergies and drunk drivers.

          “How do you know she doesn’t do something a lot more stressful than you do?”

          She probably does, since my software programming work is more fun than stress. My work is like being paid to play a game or do a puzzle. Or did you mean when I was a waiter? According to the study I mentioned, there is no such job as one that is “a lot more stressful” than waiting tables. Surgeon, according to the study, is up there with about the same stress.

          “her job is a lot more valuable to society than yours”

          In that case, it’s too bad society doesn’t pay her what she’s worth.

          “you’re all stuck in a job that for most people is either entry level or temporary”

          As I’ve said at least 10 times on this thread, I left restaurant work 20 years ago. But I guess you don’t hear what you don’t want to know.

          • Hawkeye says:

            Greg,

            I was a mainframe programmer/data processing manager until retirement.

            If your job is the new norm, programming has changed a great deal.

            Most of my career I was on call 24 X 7.
            (Servers are done at the end of their shift.)

            Many times my projects had deadlines – and I met most of them, regardless of the effort and number of hours in a day.
            Since I was salaried, you could say it was mandatory overtime.

            Oh, and when a critical program crashed that HAD to work, I was often the guy to effect the repair.

            Wish I’d had a job like yours …

          • trt says:

            Not sure what study you’re referring to, but I’m sure being an air traffic controller is more stressful than being a waiter. Or how about prison guard, where you could be killed anytime, or a Deadliest Catch fisherman, where your coworkers are getting killed and maimed at alarming rates? These are just a few things I thought of off the top of my head, but there are plenty of others. It’s absurd to say a waiter has the same amount of stress as a surgeon.

          • CalMark says:

            So now I’m obligated to go back and read ALL your posts, not just the one that caught my eye?

            In other words, you expect other people to go above and beyond for your own convenience.

            I’m glad you were never my waiter.

          • Greg says:

            @CalMark:

            “So now I’m obligated to go back and read ALL your posts, not just the one that caught my eye?”

            That’s right, ignore the more relevant parts of my reply to you, and resort to an Ad Hominem. You’re a real winner, CalMark.

          • Greg says:

            @trt:

            Just FYI, my reply to your post is “awaiting moderation”, probably due to the links in it. Not sure how long that takes.

        • CalMark says:

          @Greg,

          If it was 20 years ago, why are you still so angry? Let it go, man.

          • Greg says:

            @CalMark:

            “If it was 20 years ago, why are you still so angry?”

            What makes you think I’m angry?

        • CalMark says:

          @Greg

          Most low-skill and menial jobs are unpleasant. They’re stressful in the sense that the hours, supervisors, and pay are often lousy. Without trying to be snarky, waiting tables falls into that category. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be the kind of job that people get when they’re marking time.

          That said, people stay in menial jobs because there is no real responsibility, and accountability is usually limited to being fired. It’s a tradeoff. It should also be a motivator to move on. (Clearly, you did.)

          I’m afraid I can’t concede your point for one simple reason: if things get too bad, people can just walk away from waiting tables with no “life penalty.” In fact, it’s considered virtuous, if you move into a better profession — like you did. On the other hand, walking away from an actual profession must be explained forever, particularly if people are relying on the professional for some important aspect of their lives.

          • Greg says:

            @CalMark:

            “Most low-skill and menial jobs are unpleasant. They’re stressful in the sense that the hours, supervisors, and pay are often lousy. Without trying to be snarky, waiting tables falls into that category”

            You seem to think that all wait jobs are as low-end as they are at, say, Denny’s. Maybe you should try some better restaurants.

            “That said, people stay in menial jobs because there is no real responsibility, and accountability is usually limited to being fired.

            This picture of wait jobs may be true enough at the deepest dives of low-end restaurants, but it does not an accurate picture of wait jobs at better restaurants.

            “I’m afraid I can’t concede your point for one simple reason: if things get too bad, people can just walk away from waiting tables with no “life penalty.” In fact, it’s considered virtuous, if you move into a better profession — like you did. On the other hand, walking away from an actual profession must be explained forever, particularly if people are relying on the professional for some important aspect of their lives.”

            True enough for police officers and firefighters, but not true of soldiers. Does that mean soldiers don’t really have stress? Of course not. Your criteria is absurd.

            Stress has various causes. Threat to life is obviously a big one but not the only one. And, having to explain leaving a given job is another one, but again not the only one.

        • CalMark says:

          @Greg:
          “Each person has a unique set of experiences in life, and therefore a unique, subjective conception of what reality is. Studies are done in part to try to get a more objective picture of reality.

          For more on that, you might want to look at a basic primer on science.”

          Wow. Who’s going Ad Hominem now?

          The reality is this: waiting tables is generally a menial, low-skill, lousy job held by people on their way to something better, or those unwilling or unable to move on to something better.

          Who’s more stressed? Who cares?

          I don’t care if my waiter is over-stressed. I DO care if my doctor or accountant is. The former might get my order wrong, or scald me with soup. The latter could ruin my life, or even kill me, with a bad decision. And all the so-called “objective” studies in the world won’t change that reality.

          • Greg says:

            @CalMark:

            “Wow. Who’s going Ad Hominem now?”

            Pointing out the fundamental value of science, to a person who expresses disdain for it, is not an Ad Hominem fallacy.

            “The reality is this: waiting tables is generally a menial, low-skill, lousy job held by people on their way to something better, or those unwilling or unable to move on to something better.”

            That is no doubt the reality at many low-end restaurants. But it was not the reality I observed in 6 years as a waiter and restaurant manager. At those restaurants, a person suitable only for menial, low-skill jobs would not have gotten the job in the first place, and would not have lasted long if they had.

            Perhaps it’s because you’ve never been a waiter that you believe that all wait jobs are the same. They are not; there is a large range of skills required from low-end to excellent restaurants. A server doing fine at Denny’s isn’t necessarily well suited to work at a large city’s finest restaurants — and if they are, they usually upgrade to better restaurants after a while.

            “I don’t care if my waiter is over-stressed. I DO care if my doctor or accountant is. The former might get my order wrong, or scald me with soup. The latter could ruin my life, or even kill me, with a bad decision. And all the so-called “objective” studies in the world won’t change that reality.”

            Agreed, and I have no idea who you think believes differently. Prisoners at Gitmo may be highly stressed, but their stress doesn’t kill you nor even scald you with hot soup.

      • Felicity says:

        The stress of being a waiter is up there with being a surgeon? Or firefigher, or in the military, or deep sea fisherman, or miner, or police officer, or traffic controller, or pilot, or EMT or paramedic etc etc etc? And you get to go home at the end of the shift and not think about work again until your next shift so you’re not on call 24/7 like many are?

        Give me a break!! Now I know you’re making it up! If you get/got that stressed out being a waiter, you’re in the wrong job and simply can’t handle more than one call on your time in any given moment, as most of the rest of the human race do – even the ones who don’t have someone else’s life in their hands. Last time I checked, keeping me alive wasn’t a waiter’s responsibility.

        Talk about an inflated sense of your own importance. Care to show a link to that study? I’d LOVE to see the criteria they were using.

        • Greg says:

          @Hawkeye:

          Being on call 24×7 fixing crashes sounds like a type of tech support, not programming. Maybe the functions were combined back in the days when Tyrannosaurus Mainframe ruled the earth.

          Before I was a programmer, I was in tech support, and on call 24×7. My job then was taking calls all day long from frantic people with computer problems that needed fixing now, now, now. And sometimes being woken up by such calls in the middle of the night. That job was certainly more stressful than programming (and it did require some programming, though that didn’t really make it a programming job), but not as stressful as waiting tables.

          I don’t mean to say that programming is not stressful at all. Of course it has stress. My point is that it is much less stressful than waiting tables.

          Also — this isn’t to say that waiting tables is stressful for all waiters. Some of them take a cavalier attitude toward it. Those are often bad waiters who get by on personality rather than good service.

          • Felicity says:

            ‘Being on call 24×7 fixing crashes sounds like a type of tech support, not programming.’

            Then you know nothing about current practices in the industry.

            ‘Also — this isn’t to say that waiting tables is stressful for all waiters. Some of them take a cavalier attitude toward it. Those are often bad waiters who get by on personality rather than good service.’

            What nonsense! I suggest that the stressed waiters just aren’t very good at the job.

          • Greg says:

            @Felicity:

            “Then you know nothing about current practices in the industry.”

            I’ve been in the industry 20 years. When I was in tech support, on call 24×7, some programming was required, but it was not considered a programming job. It was tech support.

            Since then, as a programmer, I haven’t been on call. No doubt some programmers are on call, but it being on call isn’t defined as part of being a programmer.

            “I suggest that the stressed waiters just aren’t very good at the job.”

            You might want to have a look at the links in my reply to trt, when the moderators make that post visible.

            Whether they show it or not (many are good actors) being a good waiter at a busy restaurant is very stressful.

            Of course, some people handle stress better than others. A waiter that doesn’t handle stress well is soon fired.

          • CalMark says:

            @Greg

            I’ve heard a lot of stories about doctors (one of mine, in fact), cops, and military people so stressed that their health suffers. In fact, their stress-relief activities (drinking/smoking being the most common) often make it worse, to the point of killing them. You don’t hear that about many waiters.

            There are different types of stress. People with high-stakes, always-on-call jobs often have a burden of constant, often crushing, stress. I doubt the same is true for waiters.

            Studies can show just about anything. The proof is in reality.

          • Greg says:

            @CalMark:

            “I’ve heard a lot of stories about doctors (one of mine, in fact), cops, and military people so stressed that their health suffers. In fact, their stress-relief activities (drinking/smoking being the most common) often make it worse, to the point of killing them. You don’t hear that about many waiters.”

            It isn’t in the news, but it happens. Lots of waiters deal with the stress by ruining their health with lots of drinking and smoking.

            If a journalist did report on it, what do you suppose would happen? Just look at this thread for your answer. People who had not been waiters themselves would not believe it was because of the stress; instead they would assume the affected waiters were just self-destructive personalities.

            For that matter, the majority of doctors, police officers, soldiers, etc. *don’t* ruin their health that way, so for those that do, is it more about the stress or more about a self-destructive personality?

            Lots of people have stress. Dealing with it with self-destructive behavior is a choice.

          • Greg says:

            @CalMark:

            “Studies can show just about anything. The proof is in reality.”

            Each person has a unique set of experiences in life, and therefore a unique, subjective conception of what reality is. Studies are done in part to try to get a more objective picture of reality.

            For more on that, you might want to look at a basic primer on science.

        • Greg says:

          @trt:

          “Not sure what study you’re referring to”

          It was long before the web, and I don’t see any reference to it on the web. However, here’s an article that references a study that puts it in the top 10:

          http://www.brighthub.com/office/career-planning/articles/94515.aspx

          And another one:
          (see the 2nd of 3 lists there)

          http://www.forbes.com/sites/tombarlow/2011/04/26/what-are-the-most-stressful-occupations/

          I don’t know what their methodologies were, if anything. These days any monkey can put a random list on the web.

          “I’m sure being an air traffic controller is more stressful than being a waiter. Or how about prison guard, where you could be killed anytime, or a Deadliest Catch fisherman, where your coworkers are getting killed and maimed at alarming rates?”

          Physical danger is not the only cause of stress. No one said that waiting tables was among the most dangerous jobs.

          Also, in many dangerous jobs, the imminent threat to your life is not there all day long, every day of the year. For example, firefighters are certainly under a lot of stress when fighting a large fire, but they also have a lot of time when there is no fire to fight so they do other tasks. No doubt those other tasks are important, but I doubt anyone would argue they are as stressful or as life-threatening.

          Police officers are another example — obviously they are often in great danger and under much stress, but not all day long, every day of the year.

          Even combat soldiers are not under fire all day long, every day of the year.

          In a restaurant, waiters are sent home if there is not enough business to keep them as busy as possible. Every waiter, when they arrive for every shift, knows that one of two things will happen:
          — They will have a busy day and be under a lot of stress.
          — They will be sent home early due to lack of business, after making little if any money. Which is stressful if they needed to make money.

          • CalMark says:

            You know nothing about me, yet make lots of snarky comments. Who’s Ad Hominem now?

            One of two things is true: you’re either a cranky, hostile person, a computer-dude straight out of the old cliche book. Otherwise, you’re working this for attention.

            I’m done talking to you.

          • Greg says:

            @CalMark:

            “You know nothing about me, yet make lots of snarky comments.”

            I know what you posted here, and that was enough. You make absurd arguments, but can’t support them, so you get mad at me, and assume that I must be angry.

            “Who’s Ad Hominem now?”

            You don’t seem to know what Ad Hominem means. Please look it up.

            “One of two things is true: you’re either a cranky, hostile person, a computer-dude straight out of the old cliche book. Otherwise, you’re working this for attention.”

            You’re more than welcome to think so, though no one who knows me would agree. Also, if I was doing this for attention, surely I’d fill out the “Website” field when posting?

            You probably think that last question is Ad Hominem. Did it make you mad?

            “I’m done talking to you.”

            Is that a promise?

  • J.B says:

    As an ex-waitress, there is some a mistaken comprehension on what waiters get taxed on.

    You report your tips and if the tips don’t get to minimum wage then you are paid minimum wage. (So the complaint about $2 only even if you don’t get tipped, while it sucks to work so hard you actually get paid minimum wage in those cases and not half minimum wage.)

    Waiters are not taxed on the amount ‘expected’, but on the amount they report. There is no expectation by the government that you are going to get paid exactly 10% or 20% tips.

  • sue says:

    Don’t know where a lot of you live but in CA waitresses earn minimum wage which is between $8.oo-$9.00 and hour. Have a daughter that is a care provider and she earns the same with no benefits as it is part time. She receives NO TIP for how she cares for peoples bodily functions, which are urine, feces, vomit, nasal drippings. I think the whole thing of tipping has definitely got out of control. There should be no set amount. I truly hate it when it is taken out on your bill at the register. Who is someone else to decide when and how I would tip. If I feel like the person was TERRIFIC I would tip if I have that EXTRA money that day.

    • trt says:

      After reading the comments on this article, I looked up the mandatory wage paid to servers in Washington state, where I live. It’s $9.19. The tips are extra. Sure, the tips are often shared with other staff, but damn! I’m seriously rethinking my “standard 20%” tipping practice. Sue is right – why should a server make way, way more than someone who wipes the butts of elderly people? I think Americans are brainwashed by this culture of generous tipping for servers. But my god, what are we supposed to do when traveling? Each state has a different law!

      • MarkT says:

        Different states? How about customs in different countries? Someone in this thread mentioned traveling in England. When I went to England a few years ago on business, I didn’t know that you DON’T TIP SERVERS in England. I just thought the prices were noticeably higher than in the U.S. and went on about my life as usual. DOH!!! And that post was also correct in stating that the service is AWFUL over there. I’m sure my servers were chuckling all the way to the bank.

    • Bobbette says:

      Montana state law also requires servers to be paid minimum wage, $7.80/hour (or that was the minimum wage last time I checked). Its still standard to tip 15 or 20 percent though. I personally have a tendency to tip really well if a server is exceptional (for example, being friendly to my son). Things like prompt refills and inquiring about my needs are standard, if these things aren’t being done the server is not going to get a great tip, meaning nothing above the 15%. If a server is rude or dismissive, the tip is going to be low enough to let them know I was not impressed. I think that most of the commenters here are most likely very understanding of slower service or an exasperation from a server when the restaurant is really busy and will most often give the server the benefit of the doubt regarding tipping them for their service. I know I do, especially when the server takes the time to apologize and explain why the service is substandard.

  • G says:

    Wow! According to this author, if I can’t afford the 20% tip at one establishment, I should go to a cheaper restaurant where I serve myself–but even then should feel obliged to pay a 15% tip. I rarely go out to eat because my husband and I are on a very limited budget. We are, in fact, well–poor. Being poor is tiresome, as is eating beans and rice at home for dinner every night. Occasionally we like to pretend we’re “normal” folks who can go out to eat in town on a warm summer’s night. We opt for a low-cost diner and leave a 15% tip. I don’t appreciate being made to feel like a schmuck because I don’t leave a bigger tip to my waiter than I make in an hour myself. A lot of us are struggling, including some restaurant patrons.

    • DogCatMom says:

      You aren’t doing anything wrong. 15% or a little higher for good service is just fine, and this is on the Pre-Tax amount. If I’ve had to ask a lot of questions (I have some food-related migraine triggers) or DH and I have run through the pitiful amount of “creamer” that restaurants provide with their coffee and the server has made extra trips for us at our request, or other special services *just for us,* then I raise the tip–yes, sometimes even to 20%.

      But 20% is NOT a starting place. The OP is delusional.

  • jim says:

    IMO, the Restaurant Industry has dumped this part of their responsibility for compensating their employees, right into the laps of the patrons. Additionally, the percentage rate over time, has doubled in “real” terms. In the 60s, the standard rate was 10% of the cost of a meal. As inflation caused the price of a meal to go up, the 10% would have essentially resulted in a CPI adjustment. But instead, the price of the meal and the standard tipping percentage have BOTH gone up. Why has the “real” value of the tip doubled? Has the service increased in a commensurate amount? Highly doubtful. It looks to me as though the “owners” are the big winners here, shirking their responsibility. A European system wherein the servers are well compensated by management, and the additional costs are simply included in the price of the meal, would be a much more pleasant dining experience. Also, I never tip on the tax. This would be ridiculous, as it is an “add on”, after all of the service has been performed. I personally tip between 15 and 25%, based on the quality of service, the dining experience, the amount of expensive wine, etc.

  • Joel says:

    Ask for dustpan? Maybe we should just ask for a broom and use of the dishwasher in the kitchen to do the dishes.Tips means” To Insure Proper Service” for good service I gave more then 20% , for bad service I leave a penny. When dd tis become ” automatic” We go out to enjoy, not to take pity on someone whos job is basically to help me enjoy the experience. Base the tip on, how good the service was, and you will see service improve. Period

  • CalMark says:

    The harsh tone of many servers posting here shows me why they’re making a career of a job that, for most people, is entry-level or temporary on the way to something better.

    As for their sentiments: an old New Yorker cartoon shows a man at a table, with a saucer in front of him bearing a sign: “Your tip so far.” That is how it should be; you work for a tip. Nobody would dare do that, of course: as several posters here have gleefully (Shame!) insinuated, staff would take umbrage and do something to one’s food.

  • SKS says:

    Tipping Guide for Good and Bad Service from a Current Patron:
    Start at 15%: add or subtract for good or poor service.

    “Round up to nearest $10 and then add 20%” Of course a waitress would want that. Tips are g-r-a-t-u-i-t-y: something given without claim or demand. Instead of asking patrons to go to a cheaper restaurant, perhaps waiters should consider working for a more expensive restaurant AND providing better service.

    • ohiomark says:

      That is one reason we should not be taking tipping advice from those who profit from it. They are the WRONG ones to ask. Good waiters and waitresses do not have to worry about making sure people know how much to tip; they will get the tips over time. It is usually the poorer service waitstaff that is overly concerned about making sure everyone tips more, because they usually do not earn their tips.

  • Dic4 says:

    The managers hire waiter and waitress to SERVE customers, that is their job. We tip them base on above average service. The word tip is “A sum of money given to someone as a way of rewarding them for their services.” So we reward the waiter and waitress for doing above average work. Just because they make 1/3 of minuium wage doesn’t mean anything, a typical resturant with a table of 4 dinning spends about $100 with drinks, and sits for about 1 and 1/2 hrs or less. With a 15% tip that is $15 for 1 and 1/2 hrs of work, but the waiter or waitress not only serves one table, he/she serves 5-6 tables or even more. This equals to about $50 per hr if the resturant is busy and full. Even with the tip spilt with different employees, I am sure it’s more then min wage.

    I guess only America expects tipping for below average work.

  • Fred says:

    If you don’t tip then the restaurant makes up the waiters wages to the federal minimum wage – this is the law, so no waiter really makes “just over $2 per hour”, this is an outright lie.
    This guide is nonsense, the tip for normal, expected standard of service is 18%.
    You should treat everyone with respect, even the checkout people at Walmart (especially them). Singling out wait staff like this makes it sound like you don’t respect other people in general – this makes you a bad person.

  • Hawkeye says:

    Tipping is up to the customer.

    Expectations by Servers lead down the dark path to negative feelings.

    Or, people are as happy as they Choose to be …

    Regardless of circumstances.

    That said, happier Servers are generally tipped more.

    (Hint, Hint)

  • Facts says:

    If you’re rounding up $10 and paying 20% you’re really averaging 25% tip, which is absolutely outrageous.

    $25 rounded to $30 is $6 tip which is 25%. Half the time you’ll be above that, half the time you’ll be below that.

    ANYONE WHO PAYS MORE THAN 15% IS RICH AND STUPID.

    Many cultures don’t tip even 1%.

    • Brad says:

      Anyone who pays more than 15% is rich and stupid. Hmmm…I make roughly 30 grand a year. Roughly what the median household income is for this country. Hardly “rich” by any stretch of the imagination. Stupid? Maybe I am. Maybe I also have an ounce of compassion for the people who serve me my meal while being paid peanuts to do so. Maybe I’m someone who’s been there, and realizes what morons some people can be. Maybe I refuse to be cheap, because my parents raised me well and made me realize that if I can’t afford to pay a tip, I probably shouldn’t be going out to eat anyway.

  • pongman says:

    Capitalism…only in America does it seem to come down to nickel and dimes. It appears that every industry is grabbing and fighting over every penny. Somehow its suppose to be justified. Doctors want to be paid thousands of dollars an hour for their services. Lawyers think they should be paid hundreds of dollars an hour for their services. Meanwhile waitresses are groveling to at least try to earn a living wage but it appears society could care less.

    Reading over the comments here is a microcosm of this country. There’s no wonder why everyone is absolutely mad; chasing the almighty dollar. There is no humanity or courtesy anymore. My dad taught me to tip well because he knew the struggles that restaurant employees go through; because they got paid peanuts from the owner who couldn’t give a damn. Waitresses don’t get health insurance, dental insurance, or a 401K and definitely no stock options. Most of the restaurant employees are some of the lowest paid of all the industries. Its a shame how we treat each other as we fight for every dollar from each other.

    Folks it’s every man for himself. That’s the take I get from reading all the comments; wild animals feeding over a dead carcass.

    • Hawkeye says:

      Pongman,

      I fully agree with you about lawyers!

      Doctors, not so much – Because they pay exorbitant amounts for malpractice insurance (caused partly by outrageous court awards). And their hard-earned education + experience is stifled by bean counters in health insurance companies.

      But servers do not have to have ANY education or meaningful experience to enjoy tips for a job performed almost entirely indoors, out of the weather.
      And an honest one posted here that she earns about 100,000 dollars a year in tips, plus hourly wage. Although retired for some years my highest paid year was $56,000. After years of training and experience, I managed the computer programming staff of the third largest bank in my state.
      I was On-Call 24 X 7.

      Now who was “groveling” between that Server and myself?

      Tip whatever you choose and so will I.

      (My range has been lowered based entirely on this blog.)

    • Pete says:

      If it’s all that hard to figure out , just put yourself in the other person position. Ask yourself then what you would expect.

      Or the old stand by,
      What would Jesus do.

      If you are treated well return. If not , don’t.

  • Robert says:

    Wow ok I used to work as a waiter and this blog is filled with so much misinformation it’s laughable. Even with Tip sharing the wait staff where I worked would make close to $50/hour during the dinner rush. Keep in mind this is a low skill labor job, yeah it can be stressful, but what job isn’t? I used to feel bad because at the end of the month I usually made more money than the Chef.

    “round the bill up to the nearest $10, and leave 20%” HAHAHA really? Umm.. NO! With phones having calculators there is no reason to not be able to figure out how to calculate 15% of the bill. 15% of $11 and 20% of $20 is a huge difference. Basically you’re now tipping 36.37% of that $11 bill, by tipping 4$ instead of $1.65 which is the standard 15%.

    15% IS the standard for exceptional service, just because you feel you deserve more doesn’t mean you’re entitled to it. Tipping should be based on performance, the fact there even is a standard is a joke. If you feel the service was awful you are well within your right to skip the tip. You’re there for a meal, not to pamper a stressed out server so they can feel better about themselves. Why would anyone in their right mind want to pay extra after a poor experience? If I have an empty glass and I see my server off texting in the corner I’m certainly not tipping.

    Honestly IMO the whole tipping system should be done away with. The employers should be the ones paying their staff not the customers.

    • Shirty says:

      Thanks for this. I really want tipping abolished and living wages to be paid for all this kind of service work. People who go into others’ homes and work usually get very low wages and there’s a huge variation in tip levels.

      Wait staff in restaurants vary greatly, as does this thread, in compensation and merit. Pay them on a gradated scale like other industries, with longevity taken into account. When a wait person has been in a restaurant as a career, as in some well known places, that person should be rewarded for their seniority and ability. Merit doesn’t accrue simply by being good looking or personable. Doing an exceptional job on a regular daily basis for years merits reward among other things.

  • Pirate says:

    I don’t know where the author of this story is from but in florida minimum wage for servers is 4.77 hr. and unless you go to an extremely high end eatery you just don,t get the service that deserves the amount of tip money being quoted here. Now I do understand that it is not all the fault of the servers that service is not up to parr but also most resturants don’t have enough servers for the amount of customers. Ther have been way to many times that I have to find a server to get a refill on a drink or to even get my check because they are either handling too many customers or spend too much time gossiping with the other servers or the worst they are play with there cell phones, or they have friends that are there wasting their time with BS. And the worst is the one where the restaurant has a policy of automatically adding the tip for eight or more, I for one have alot of friends that like to go out to eat together and we would more than not tip more than what is on the bill but refuse to be told what we have to tip. I tip solely on service provided and if service sucks you get nothing and I will not be coming back. I work hard for my money and just don’t give it away for nothing, not tosay that servers don’t work hard.

    • Brad says:

      I don’t know if it’s the case anymore, but I know that here in Iowa, it is legal for owners to pay their waitstaff only $2.25/hour or some such ridiculous wage. I WILL say that I certainly agree with the basic sentiment of some: it shouldn’t be the customers’ responsibility to insure that the servers get a livable wage. But that is not the system we have in place. As such, whenever I go out, I will always leave a 20 to 25% tip unless the service is truly lousy (I’ve had that happen only once or twice) or if I’m going to a buffet style restaurant, where I will leave a 10% tip.

  • John says:

    The article is a joke- servers arent heroes. DO YOUR JOB! Which means being nice and attentive, and efficent, without attitude. Then you will get a tip.

  • Greg says:

    JJ:

    “If you go to a restaurant and spend $100 for a meal and leave after about 1 hour, that is $15/hr, tax free, to the wait staff. Assuming they’re serving 6 tables that makes $90 per hour. Plenty generous enough.”

    It isn’t tax-free, they tip out 25-30% of their tips to other employees, much of their work is untipped prep and cleanup before and after they get tables, and not infrequently they’re sent home after an hour of untipped prep work without getting any tables.

    “most wait staff are kids, temps and women trying to cash in on their looks.”

    Sounds like you frequent dives. There are better restaurants with excellent service. Try one sometime; you might enjoy it.

    • ohiomark says:

      While you are mentioning about having to work hours and not received tips (prep work, etc), many people have to work overtime, or hours at home at get ZERO pay for it. Not just office people, but others such as public school teachers who do a lot of their work at night, at home. Every job has its bedpans. You should not complain here to the customers about it, maybe you should complain to your restaurant managers. They are the ones who are only paying you $2 or so an hour for your efforts. I guess they do not really put a whole lot of value on their waitstaff, but make workers get it through tips, then waiters and other restaurant workers complain that people do not tip enough. Seems like waitstaff are never truly happy with whatever they get in tips. I knew of one waiter who mentioned on the internet at another site that even if he got a very generous tip, he always wondered what he could have done to get an even larger tip from them. You know, there IS a limit as to how much a person will tip.

      • Greg says:

        “maybe you should complain to your restaurant managers”

        I have not worked in a restaurant in 20 years.

        “You should not complain”

        Correcting JJ’s errors is not the same thing as complaining.

        “many people have to work overtime, or hours at home at get ZERO pay for it. Not just office people, but others such as public school teachers who do a lot of their work at night, at home.”

        Salaried positions. Yes, salaried positions are usually more than 40 hours and often require work at home. In exchange, salaried positions give you a consistent paycheck that you can rely on; you don’t have to wonder how much you’re going to make, and you get paid for sick leave and vacations. You also usually get better health insurance at a better price than what is available to waiters.

        “public school teachers”

        Yes, teaching is hard work and long hours, for relatively modest pay. In exchange, for many it is a very emotionally rewarding job that they go into for the love of it.

        What would you think of a person who went into waiting tables for the love of it, and found it as emotionally rewarding as teaching? Most people would think it was strange, and they would be right. I never knew a server who enjoyed waiting tables at a level comparable with teaching. There are good reasons to be a teacher, and good reasons to be a waiter, but they are very different reasons.

        “hours at home at get ZERO pay”

        The nice thing about working at home is that the commute doesn’t cost any time or money. Waiting tables is the only job I’ve ever had where we were routinely sent home without having made enough money to cover bus fare or gas. Managers scheduled enough waiters each day for a busy day, then sent some home early on average and slow days.

        “Seems like waitstaff are never truly happy with whatever they get in tips. I knew of one waiter who mentioned on the internet at another site that even if he got a very generous tip, he always wondered what he could have done to get an even larger tip from them. You know, there IS a limit as to how much a person will tip.”

        Yes, as we all know, any one person you read on the internet is always representative of the group. Since that one waiter said that, you can be sure they’re all saying it.

        “what he could have done to get an even larger tip”

        If the experienced waitresses I worked with are to be believed, the most effective thing he could have done is change genders and get big implants. According to them, the single biggest determiner of tip size is bosom size. Now why would that be?

        My advice to him would be to think of it from the perspective of the customer, and try to make it the most enjoyable experience for each of them that he could. I’ll stop there about that before I end up writing a book.

  • JJ says:

    15% for good service, on the bill excluding the tax. A bit less if the wine was ridiculously marked up. More than 15% for exceptional service, which is very rare, particularly in the United States where most wait staff are kids, temps and women trying to cash in on their looks.
    If you go to a restaurant and spend $100 for a meal and leave after about 1 hour, that is $15/hr, tax free, to the wait staff. Assuming they’re serving 6 tables that makes $90 per hour.
    Plenty generous enough.

  • Solomon says:

    I’ve also learned that guests who nitpick at service generally don’t tip well but I’ve never ignored any guests. I just don’t give them more attention than is needed to get them their food/drinks and their bill in a timely manner.

  • Solomon says:

    I’ve been in the service industry for 10 years while maintaining a day job, finishing my degree, when I was in between jobs but not it’s my only profession. The pay can be amazing, and at other times it can be just barely above minimum wage. How tips are distributed varies by restaurant. I bartended at a busy restaurant where the bar was always packed but I barely cleared $12/hour. This does not include the 2 hours it took to haul ice from the basement, wash my own glasses, cut and juice fruit and restock. It also took close to 2 hours to clean after my shifts. The bar was also overstaffed since it only costs the business $2.63/hour per tipped employee. So I left. The restaurant also has issues maintaining employees as they hire 30 new ones every month hoping 5 will stay more than 6 month.

    I’m currently at a top notch sushi restaurant as a server. As a server, I am required to tip out 36% to the chefs, bussers, bartender and food runner. 15% tip is pretty much expected for good service. Sometimes I receive 30% with the guests, but at the end of the month I average about 18%, so I basically make about 10% of what I serve/sell, and it has a lot to do with selling.

    Working here has probably made me a little bit classist/racist. I’ve never offered anyone bad service, but if they are a group of students or non americans I don’t waste too much time chit chatting but I do spend more time up selling. These are the guests who will generally always leave between 10-15% regardless of how impeccable service is, an amount that will never pay my rent. I expect to be tipped if I didn’t screw anything up, but since EVERYONE at the restaurant except owners and management get the bulk of their wages from gratuity, we’re taught to spend more time with guests who we think will either spend more or tip more.

    • Felicity says:

      Therein lies much of the difference – only in America are wait staff expected to spend time ‘chit-chatting’ with customers. Everywhere else that I know of, people expect to be able to eat their meal in peace and fawning service is seen as just that, fawning and unnecessary, even intrusive.

      A polite comment in passing, maybe. Chit-chatting if a regular customer, maybe, but it’s not part of the ‘service’ it’s just that, chit-chatting.

      Frankly, the less time the wait staff spend engaging me in conversation, the more discreetly they meet my dining needs, the bigger the tip they are likely to get from me. If I know the staff because I’m a regular customer, that’s a whole different ball game. It depends on the restaurant of course. If I’m taking children out for a meal that’s very different from spending some romantic time with my spouse. I expect wait staff to know the difference and act accordingly and according to the establishment.

      Interestingly, I’m actually likely to spend more if I’m allowed to choose my food in peace, and I’ll know next time someone is trying to ‘help’ me with my choices that they are just up-selling.

      • Greg says:

        @Felicity:

        “Therein lies much of the difference – only in America are wait staff expected to spend time ‘chit-chatting’ with customers. Everywhere else that I know of, people expect to be able to eat their meal in peace and fawning service is seen as just that, fawning and unnecessary, even intrusive.”

        In all the restaurants I worked at, servers were all expected to divine how much chatting each table of guests wanted, and adjust accordingly. Some want you to be their pal, some just want you to be as invisible as possible, others somewhere in-between.

  • Beth says:

    I mostly have a problem with “round up to the nearest $10 then tip 20%”. This takes a 20% tip on $12.00 from $2.40 to $4.00 – now a 33% tip? I’m a generous tipper, though I was never a server myself, because I concede that it’s a difficult job that I am not suited for and I think the convenience of not cooking for myself is pretty valuable, but I am bothered by the insinuation that the amount of the tip should not depend on the level of service & communication from my server.

  • Greg says:

    ohiomark:

    Here’s an idea, how about if everyone in every job is paid whatever their employer’s customers that day feel like paying them? Maybe there are some waiters who would be happy to decide what you get paid at your job tomorrow.

    Instead of everyone making up their own rules, why not consult the standard etiquette books? Emily Post, Lelita Baldridge, Miss Manners — they’re generally in broad agreement:

    — 15% for good service with a good attitude. Not necessarily flawless; everyone makes mistakes sometimes (but is expected to correct them promptly).

    — 20% for excellent, exceptional service; 10% for service that is seriously flawed in one way or another. Although the etiquette books don’t mention it, as a former waiter I’d say stiffing is fine for really awful service; it encourages the really bad servers to look for an easier line of work.

    — For buffet service, drop the above amounts by 5% each.

    Regarding your idea to tip only on drinks served at buffet service, do that if you want the restaurant to only be able to get and keep servers who can’t get and keep a good wait job. So if you want to be served by people whose service is so bad that they can’t get and keep a good wait job, tip accordingly.

    If there is some kind of discount like a coupon, Entertainment Book, comped entrée, etc., tip on the amount before the discount, because the coupon or other discount never includes tip.

    Tip on the amount before tax; there is no reason to tip on the tax.

    By the way, I think Emily Post is generally considered most authoritative, and it was updated in 2011, long after this nonsense about 20% being the new standard started going around.

    • Hawkeye says:

      Greg and I have a running debate …

      Servers – If you expect Executive pay – Get an Executive position!

      Otherwise, accept that you are employed in a lower-level occupation and APPRECIATE IT when you are compensated (tipped) in a manner commensurate with a job You performed exceptionally well.

      I do NOT give a whit about your personal concerns – the same as you feel about mine.

      Your Attitude can = either a good tip … or Nothing.

      Suggest you work on your attitude.

      It can reward you much better financially than any attitude in another occupation.

      • Greg says:

        Hawkeye:

        Not sure what your point is here. Do you disagree with Emily Post, et al?

        • Hawkeye says:

          Greg – you said:

          “Here’s an idea, how about if everyone in every job is paid whatever their employer’s customers that day feel like paying them? Maybe there are some waiters who would be happy to decide what you get paid at your job tomorrow.”

          People who receive tips are a separate category than other occupations.

          And will Always receive tips their customers are obliged to pay.

          Arguing otherwise is a stupid thing to do.

          • ohiomark says:

            And yes, with the current system in place, customers can tip based on their perceived value of the service received; if the service is not good, the tip is lowered; if the service is fantastic, the tip amount can be raised. So while customers are obliged to tip, they can tip whatever they want to, based on the value they place on the service received.

    • ohiomark says:

      Actually, when I was working, my customers were what we called ‘internal customers’, which included my direct boss, as well as other staff VPs and other managers. My work was to serve THEM, and they were the ones that ultimately decided on my annual bonus, as well as annual merit increases, or possible promotions. I had no direct interaction with the company’s customers. I never worried about what my pay was; I just did my best, and graciously accepted whatever increases or bonus I received. People whose work is not satisfactory do not get raises or bonuses; if their work is really bad, they lose their job. Over 30+ years, I was very happy with the work I did for my ‘customers’. Every job has its own set of customers that basically determine what they are paid and what their value is. Now I am happily retired.

  • ohiomark says:

    “If your server only brings your drinks, or the food is served buffet-style, it’s appropriate to leave a lesser tip, but 10-15% still applies.” – No, I do not think 10-15% still applies. They really have not done much except bring drinks. Maybe people should base their tip on the costs of the drinks served. 10-15% of the total bill on a buffet, is not much less than 15-20% on a full service meal where a lot more is done by the wait staff. While the wait staff at a buffet would love that ‘entitled 10-15%’ tip for doing very little service, I see no reason to pay that much. Maybe 5-7%, 10% if they do something beyond typical ‘service’ at a buffet.

  • Jaddy says:

    Great blog entry!! This post fully embodies everything that is wrong with the entitlement culture fully in bloom among millennials (of which I am ashamedly part). Many should read this post for a window into the mind of a lazy spoiled entitled middle class suburban millennial who thinks that by showing up they should be rewarded. The server wage concept is ridiculous but then I am against all government mandated minimum wages anyway because they screw up the market. Tips were supposed to be the capitalist’s answer to a system of fixed prices, you pay bonuses or tips to encourage the service you want. Now you have lazy teenagers who often don’t know the first thing about food service demanding their entitlement to a 20% cut because they showed up and didn’t give bad service.

    The best part of this article is that the author didn’t even address the question of whether tips are given on the pre-taxed subtotal or the after tax total or what to do when using a coupon that reduces what might have been a larger tab. More evidence that this post was written by an imprecise, non detail oriented, entitled millennial.

    • ohiomark says:

      You can be sure IF she would have addressed pre-tax versus post-tax, she would have told us we should do it After-tax. Since when should we take advise from waiters and waitresses on how much and how to tip? Of course they are going to keep pushing for higher tips. But, people seem to listen to them as if they are these ‘experts’. As far as coupons, I think the thing to do is to tip as if the coupon did not exist (tip on the pre-coupon price), given that we must tip in this flawed system.

  • JoBean says:

    Thank you ! I will repost his . Host/server/cocktail / bartender for years AGREED.

  • Felicity says:

    I’m glad to see someone sticking up for Europe after the unwarranted blast against England. I’ve just spent an extended visit there and would far rather pay higher prices and avoid the shall I/shan’t I debate every time I eat out and then have to deal with the ‘how much is this server worth’ question too. The ONLY time I received poor service it was mentioned to a manager – in part because the server made it so difficult to engage her on anything – and we were offered a return visit, at no charge, for our whole party. European service as a whole is much more discrete, and unless you’re a regular in a place and friendly with the staff, you’re not expected to be interrupted, just served; and a tip is exactly that, a tip, and not the customer being responsible for paying the wages.

  • trt says:

    I tip 20% for standard service, a little more for exemplary service. On those really rare occasions when I’ve received lousy service, I will leave a lousy tip. I once tipped a server a dime, because she was unbelievably bad – rude, condescending, made mistakes, forgot things, AND took forever to take our order, bring our check, etc. And this was on a very slow night, with only us and one other party in the whole place!

    One thing that confuses me about your article is your recommendation to round up to the nearest $10, then add 20% onto that. So you’re saying if my bill is $35, I should round up to $40 and then tip 20% in addition to that? Sorry, but that’s ridiculous. I take 10% of the amount, which is easy ($3.50) and double that – $7. Easier to figure out than 15%!

    One thing that bugs me about servers, though, is blatant interruptions. If I am in deep conversation with my companion, I do not want someone to come up to us every five minutes and interrupt our conversation by asking if there’s anything we need. Just walk by every now and then, making brief eye contact, and move on. And keep an eye out for things like empty drinks. If there’s a lull in the conversation, then sure, ask if we need a refill. Despite all this, I would not let my irritation with this interrupting behavior decrease the tip, because it is all too standard in America. In Europe, they do the eye contact thing, which is much better. Plus, they just stay in tune with their patrons. They notice when your water is low, for instance, and will fill it up without interrupting or asking if you want more. And they do it from the side rather than reaching in front of you.

  • Mjp says:

    As a former server, I would never expect someone with kids to clean up the table. That’s ridiculous. And if you are only making 2$ an hour you need to try a new restaurant. Servers are not down and out. Many are making very decent money. As a server you should be polite and understanding. If you can’t have a positive attitude and be flexible than you are in the wrong line of work.

  • Big says:

    I do agree that courtesy towards your server is mandatory – if you can’t be nice then don’t come to a public place where you will have to interact with others. I also think that if a person is going to open a restaurant that it is impolite to expect that their guests will cover the operating cost of the servers. With this logic why not require guests to bring their own food or clean their dishes. The servers don’t get a pass, they chose this work, for better or for worse. But, this is the regime we have. So, here’s the deal if I choose to eat at a restaurant: As a baseline I kick in an additional 12-15% to cover part of the cost of the server and if he or she goes above and beyond then the tip increases proportionally up to 20%. If the server’s performance is below average then the tip is reduced below the 12-15% baseline. A reduction isn’t a punishment or anything like that–a person can have a bad day or just suck at their job–but just compensation for the value of the service received.

  • Interested says:

    One thing I’ll not base it on is the fact that an ex-waitress complains about the government not valuing her enough. Take control of your own life. Amazing

  • ohiomark says:

    Also, I have no problem tipping for good service (even though the tipping system is flawed, it is the system in place for now), but I really hate the process of having to determine what to tip when the service is sub standard, and has detracted from my dining experience. While I have a choice in what I order for a meal, I have no choice in selecting the level of service I am to get with my meal; this is totally at the discretion of the server. Again, if the service is good, that’s great, but when the service is not, it really becomes such as waste of time and money to have gone out, to have that experience. I also think each restaurant has a responsibility to fully train AND evaluate their servers, and if there are problems, get rid of them, others could use the job. And no, I do not mean if someone is ‘having a bad day’, but if these ‘bad days’ are stringing into a group of bad days, it is time to cut them loose.

  • ohiomark says:

    The basic problem of all of this is that over the years, the restaurant industry has placed more and more of the wage responsibility onto the customer, and the customer does not like having that responsibility. The local arguments are that this is necessary to keep prices down, but when the customer is expected to add 15-20% to the bill, the bill is already higher! Other countries have good service without having to tip (think Japan, China, and other countries). The US restaurant business has added more and more of its overhead positions to tips (busboys, food runners, and others), so more tips are needed to supplement their sub-minimum wage as well. The tip percentage has risen over the years from pocket change, to 10% to 15%, and now to 20%, even though menu prices have also risen over the years, which is increasing tips.

    The other area making the tip method an inconsistent mess is that a server can serve one person poorly, and still get a good tip (see comments above from others), and when another customer pays a smaller tip for poor service, the server gets upset because other customers have given him or her a good tip for the same level of service. They do not get consistent feedback in the form of tips, and bitterly remember those who gave them the smaller tip, and yet forgetting WHY the smaller tip was given. There is no consistency! People who think they are ‘helping’ a waiter or waitress by giving a great tip for sub-standard service are not really helping them in the long run to be a good server, but are merely enabling them. If they consistently got accurate tips for poor service, they would have a decision to make…are they really not cut out to be a server, or perhaps they would work harder to get better tips.

    I also do not have the time nor patience to analyze all parts of my ‘experience’ at a restaurant to determine why the service was bad, and whose fault it is. The waiter or waitress that serves me is basically my only contact with the restaurant, so to me, it is up to them to manage my service, and keep me abreast if and when there is a problem truly out of their control. Even then, I really do not know IF they are telling me the truth or not. If they blame the kitchen, I can not verify that, so I still tip on my overall experience. It is up to the waitress, if there are problems, to discuss with the managers at the restaurant if these errors are negatively impacting their pay via the tips, and it is up to the managers to fix problems so they do not keep occurring.

  • Jennifer says:

    In my younger days, I was a waitress. (Yes, we were still “esses” back then.) Because of this, I always tip well–but not over and above unless the service has been exemplary. What I see happening is that younger servers have built-in expectations when they apply for these positions. Patrons are *supposed* to tip a specific percentage, servers feel, and when they don’t, it’s a knock against the patrons rather than accepting that maybe the service warranted a smaller tip.

    It’s time servers stopped blaming the public, and place their expectations on the shoulders of ownership and management of the restaurant. Until owners/management are forced to pay minimum wage, patrons will be viewed as the parties responsible for paying a mortgage or rent, and that’s simply not how it should be. And yes, the argument can be made that it simply *is* this way, but unions were founded because of poor pay. (Trust me, I’m no fan of unions; I grew up in a management household!)

    As a server, I always hoped for a nice tip, but I never *expected* it. And had I made a mistake that required a suit be dry cleaned, I’d never have expected any tip at all even if everything else had gone quite well.

    Stop with the expectations. Do your jobs, do them well, be pleased when you receive a large tip–it means you were very good–but don’t *expect* it. Because you will only be disappointed. There are cheap patrons, but there are also patrons who are working just as hard at their own jobs, whatever they may be.

  • G Roberts says:

    I visit a restaurant by name, I leave a tip with my primary contact with the restaurant, this us typically the waiter or waitress, for me, they are in the position of being the face of my dining experience. They serve as the manager for my meal.

    If I order chicken and am served fish, I can not be expected to know the source of the error. Was the order to the vendor only fish, that is the only choice that the chief could offer. Did the chief prepare the wrong meal for me, was it the correct meal, just not prepared as explained on the menu, was the wrong meal presented to the waiter/waitress by the kitchen, did the order get confused with the next table over from me, did the server put the wrong meal in front of my wife, and how could I possibly know where the error occurred.

    I have never been offered unhindered access to the chief, the kitchen is considered off limits to most customers, and if not should I expect to have my individual steak identified from a group of them on the grill.

    What I expect when I go out for dinner is that the waiter/waitress will take my order, and return to the table with the food I ordered, or to explain what that is not possible. This is not an unreasonable expectation.

    It may or may not be a fair system, but it is the one that is in use. I leave my tip on the table, again, fair or not this is done by myself and most others.

    I have never had the method of tip distribution explained to me during a meal, are the tips pooled, is the bartender tipped-out for all drinks, both my Coke and Rum/Coke.

    If I find a bit of food stuck to my fork when I sit down, is this an issue for the one that bussed my table, the one who washed the fork I am using, the person that put the washed fork in a bin to then be bussed to the table?

    What if the kitchen is short a person, should my tip include any staffing issues?

    If the dishwasher is responsible for catching my dirty fork, but the bus staff catches this error, but the dishwasher is not tipped for their job, should i tip for the extra effort provided by the bus staff?

    Is there a bonus system for the management of the place, if so are both the bar and the kitchen under the same manager.

    Should I take into account if the manager was having a bad day when the cook was hired, so the person who got the job did not perform to the level of service needed to produce a quality product.

    Should I be expected to know any or all of this information, should I expect to learn of it during the time I am seated and taking up time that might be used by another group of people who are eating, or should I have understood the policy before being seated at the table?

    If I wish to tip 6 different people, and it is not the understood policy of the restaurant, which method of tipping should prevail?

    If there will be 3 others tipped by the wait staff, should I expect to be offered 4 individual envelopes or other method of separating my tips?

    I usually pay for my meal with a credit card, and tip with cash. Should I take a discount for the cash?

    If I tip individuals with cash, should the wait staff be tipped extra because of the effort required to make change for each person I am tipping, or is that an expected part of the job.

    If the busboy is the kid of my neighbor, who wants to go to baseball camp this summer, so I want to tip him extra, and it winds up being more than I am tipping you, would you think of that as a possible situation, or will you be insulted? Would tipping like that change your level of service, or effect the way you think of me as a customer the next time I am there to dine?

    If you had 100 customers in a week, all of who came to eat because they all had really bad days at work, because their boss made them stay overtime with no extra pay, because they had to reorganize their files which got knocked over by the cleaning person, who they can not control, so they did not want to cook, and each did not tip well, would you take into account that the customer did nothing wrong.

    The reason that the cleaning person did this was because they had a really bad day, was that 2 vacuums had broken and they had to finish the cleaning with a much smaller vacuum. This of course would not have happened if the guy who put the belt on the vacuum had centered the belt on the pulley, and not installed it off center, but his day was horrible due to a loss in the family, and he was not allowed time off to attend the memorial service. His boss would not let him off for the memorial service, because the 2nd shift had made a week’s worth of vacuums that did not work, and the replacements had to be shipped by the end of the week. It was not really the entire 2nd shift, it was really the fault of just 1 worker on that shift. It seems that his job was to install the left belt cover, and not the one on the right side. But he was covering a shift for the guy that usually did the right side of the vacuum, and the sides looked just about the same, but the right side needed 1 more screw than the left side. When the box of supplies had come from the stock room, it contained 2000 screws, and this is what the left side needed, so he put together the 1000 vacuums, because he needed 3000 screws and not the 2000 that were sent. There were only 2000 screws because the person in the stock room was new, and made the same error of thinking the left and right hand sides were done the same way …..

  • Aaron says:

    I agree with pretty much everything…except giving a 15% for buffet-style restaurant. In such cases, 10% should be the max. After all, you waiter doesn’t have to take your order, bring your food, bring you reorders, or, in some cases, even bring you refills on your drink. I DO try to take into account that everyone can have an off day…yet there still may be children at home that need to be fed and clothed. So, yeah, unless the waiting has bad attitude with it, I simply assume it’s “one of those nights” where the waiter/waitress is at the mercy of the kitchen, etc.

    However, I do have a problem with a waitress who, knowings she’s good looking, thinks she can get away with poor service because she is flirty. Really? Are there idiots out there who think that if they give her a better tip than she deserves she’ll–what?–marry them? date them? Grow up!

  • chexx6969 says:

    This is patently absurd!
    Now we are expected to tip 20%?
    please oh please!!!
    Patrons are paying the wages–this is ridiculous!

  • jerald wyoming says:

    What about the patron who is working two jobs to get to take his wife out? Poor service should get nothing! 10-15 percent is more than enough for a tip.

  • joe says:

    As a bus boy who was supposed to receive some part of the tips from the waitresses, I can tell you that many give very little to the busboys, and then only grudgingly. I hated having to make the rounds asking each waitress for my share. They each thought I had worked harder for the others, and so didn’t give me much. The amount given didn’t vary with the quality of my work, or the number of customers. They just did not want to have to give part of their tips to anyone.

    • James says:

      I can tell you this is so true, when I was tending bar, a few waitresses would always try to hold back on the tips due the bar staff! Thank God we could monitor these servers using the dual register system (Yea it was 35 years ago) and report them to the manager. Company policy was either fire the thief, or have the restaurant side make it up to us.

      There are some really selfish, dishonest, bad servers out there.

  • Andy says:

    My new criteria for tipping:

    Wait staff pays attention to my table after ordering. If a waiter comes by at least twice before we ask for the bill to ask if we are doing okay, that is good enough for me. It also ties in to the ext one..

    Hook me up with more water/tea/napkins without needing to be asked. Coming up to us with a pitcher of water asking if we want refill is always worthy of a tip, especially if done multiple times.

    Compliments are always appreciated. Even though I do not care, it shows attention to detail and a waiter actually is paying attention to things around him.

    If I do make a mess, or need to get out of my seat for something really small (an extra fork or something) and the waiter tells me that it is okay and they will handle it.

    If I do not get at least 2 of the 4 per dining experience, I will leave a sub 10% tip. Is that fair? If wait staff feels like they deserve 20% tip, I EXPECT that kind of friendliness, inititiative, and service.

    Criteria for ZERO tip:
    Forgetting any part of the order, even if it is added on after ordering is an automatic no tip. This includes extra water.
    Not checking up on the table at least once after ordering.

    • A Former Waiter says:

      Andy: I agreed with you until this line, “Forgetting any part of the order, even if it is added on after ordering is an automatic no tip. This includes extra water.”

      I’d surmise you usually leave ZERO tip since almost every food server forgets one thing per table. I’m usually okay with them knocking it off the bill. However, if it’s something I was really looking forward to, I’ll ask them to bring it anyway, and just pay for it since it is what I ordered.

  • Andy says:

    I always leave 15-20% tip for good/great service, but I do have a gripe about tipping being an American standard.

    A tip should not be an obligatory part of dining and I hate how 20% is all of a sudden the norm, especially dining with large groups. A tip should be a thank you for exemplary service, a bonus if you will. It is a shame establishments use it as a means to compensate their workers when they are the ones working them to the ground and paying them peanuts, all for the sake of profit.
    If you get a poor tip, be grateful someone thought enough to leave anything at all because always expecting 15-20% is just plain ridiculous.
    One time vacationing in China, the waitress ran after us to give us back the tip!

    And why in the hell would anyone take a job for 2 dollars an hour? If the place is slow that day, then what? A college/hs student I definitely understand and empathize, but a grown adult relying on tips is just plain sad.

  • Guest says:

    When I waited tables, I was young and a little clueless, and one night a man requested soda water to get a small stain out of his jacket. I misheard him with his accent and thought he had requested salt water (no idea why), but regardless, he got pretty upset with me and asked to speak to my manager. My manager came and said the restaurant would pay for dry cleaning for the man’s jacket, I did everything else for that table that they needed, but I ended up getting a big fat $0 in tip. I wasn’t ever rude to them and had just made an honest mistake. That wouldn’t have hurt so badly if I hadn’t been working in a restaurant which mandated “tipping out” to the busboys and bartenders. That meant I had to pay 3% of that party’s total bill out of my other tips, since they hadn’t left enough to even cover the tip-out. So I basically paid to serve them. Come on, people, don’t be jerks, especially if it’s an honest mistake. Punish laziness and rudeness.

    • Hawkeye says:

      Guest:

      Look up “Personal Responsibility”.

      You screwed up and wanted your error to be excused.

      If your tax preparer makes a mistake or you discover they left out deductions that would have lowered your tax bill, do you say “It’s O.K.”?

      If a mechanic messes up the service on your vehicle, do you pay the full bill without complaint?

      It is immature to ask of others what you would not accept yourself.

      • Greg says:

        Hawkeye:

        “If your tax preparer makes a mistake or you discover they left out deductions that would have lowered your tax bill, do you say “It’s O.K.”?”

        You have them fix the mistake. They still get paid for their work.

        “If a mechanic messes up the service on your vehicle, do you pay the full bill without complaint?”

        You have them fix the mistake. The mechanic still gets paid for his labor.

        Even if an expensive auto repair mistake is made, the auto shop business owner pays for the fix and the laborer is paid for his labor. Of course, if the laborer makes too many expensive mistakes he could get fired.

        Only in the restaurant world does the laborer, rather than the business owner, pay to fix mistakes, or go unpaid for their labor if a mistake is made. To find that kind of treatment in other industries you have to go back a century, before unions. A century ago it was common to dock workers’ pay for their mistakes. Even back then, I don’t recall reading of examples where laborers’ pay was routinely docked for OTHER PEOPLE’S mistakes, as when a server is stiffed because the kitchen was slow or made a mistake in preparing the dish that wasn’t apparent just by looking at it.

        If the auto shop owner, or the tax prep business owner, tried to dock laborers’ pay for mistakes like your examples, they’d soon be in hot water.

        “It is immature to ask of others what you would not accept yourself.”

        Have you ever made a mistake in any job in your life? Did your employer dock your pay when it happened?

        Of course, if you’re self-employed, you’re both business owner and laborer. With business ownership comes both greater opportunities and greater risks than with labor.

        • A Former Waiter says:

          Greg: We don’t pay our mechanic or the tax preparer directly, we pay the business who then pays their employee to fix the mistake. In the case of foodservers who get tips, they are their own business and should fix their mistakes.

          Which is why I suggest we abolish tips and make the restaurants responsible. Tips set us all up for lose-lose propositions. There can be no winners.

          Grudges are held long after people are gone. Resentment builds. Read the comments from these servers. Expectations are high and not being met. All because of tipping.

          Get rid of the tips, instruct people to do their jobs, and put the responsibility back on to the employers.

        • Shirty says:

          @ Greg, “If the auto shop owner, or the tax prep business owner, tried to dock laborers’ pay for mistakes like your examples, they’d soon be in hot water. ”

          You’re wrong on this one. As a 10 year veteran of the home service industry (customer service, paid minimum wage + 1 1/2 % commission on phone sales), I can tell you that most home service workers get a base plus tip. If there is a complaint about the service, they can lose the base for that job. Their pay is considered contract pay, they are in violation of their contract. Most workers today in this industry are considered independent contractors.

          The government has done nothing to police this; there doesn’t seem to be a violation of law, to my knowledge. In the entire ten years working for that industry, I can tell you I was grossly underpaid comparing my commissions to the standard of 2% in the service industry. The 1 1/2 % only applied to a total sales over a certain amount.

          Along with many others, I was laid off in 2010. Our operation (a franchise) laid off 6000 employees nationwide, all administrative, and went to a telephone system based in a low minimum wage state.

          I rarely eat out, but have worked (before working as an office administrator and teaching school for 20 yrs) as a waitress early in my life. My opinion remains tipping should be illegal; employers should be forced to pay a living wage for anyone’s work. BTW JoeDen, keep your insulting assumptions about elementary school teachers to yourself. They spend most of their “summer off” collecting materials and writing lesson plans. Usually this occurs in quiet times when they are by themselves at home. Just because you don’t see them doing it, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. Furthermore, you wouldn’t even be able to participate in this discussion without the education given you by an elementary teacher, one who receives a very low wage with NO tips!

          • Greg says:

            @Shirty:

            “You’re wrong on this one. … If there is a complaint about the service, they can lose the base for that job. Their pay is considered contract pay, they are in violation of their contract. Most workers today in this industry are considered independent contractors.”

            I think it’s pretty clear I was talking about employees, not independent contractors. In most states, it’s illegal to dock workers’ pay for mistakes. Of course, the worker can be fired for making lots of mistakes; they just can’t have their pay docked.

            Independent contractors don’t have that protection. Sadly many jobs that are effectively employee positions are fallaciously structured as independent contractors. I think that’s a type of abuse and I’d like to see a crackdown on the practice, but that’s a topic for another discussion.

      • Guest says:

        Hawkeye, I was certainly expecting some sort of tip deduction for my mistake, but certainly not to have all of my other service to the man overlooked. I took their orders (there were 4 of them), brought all their food to the table and there was nothing wrong with their food, brought their drinks and refills, and was very apologetic about the misunderstanding over salt water/soda water. My employer paid for the man’s dry cleaning. Did I seriously deserve NEGATIVE dollars for serving the man and his family?

  • Mark says:

    What struck me about this article was that, when in doubt, leave a good tip!

    Question. With taxes making up over 10% of a bill, I tip on the amount of the actual check. Fair? Does anyone else do that?

    • Lisa says:

      When restaurants charge gratuity on large parties, it is charged on the base total before tax. There’s nothing wrong with that.

    • Guest says:

      Yes, Mark, you tip on the pre-tax total. Here, tax is 8.25%, so I look at the tax amount x 2 for an idea of what to tip for average service (16.5%).

  • James says:

    Would one of the waiters or waitresses please explain to me the compulsion for service industry workers to tip so extravagantly for average to mediocre service?
    I just don’t understand why so many current and former waiters are so willing to be treated badly when they are the customer.

    • Greg says:

      “To know all is to forgive all.”

      It’s been 20 years since I was a waiter, but I still remember the few bad days where it seemed everything went wrong.

      And, I remember the few sickos who took such perverse pleasure in making life hell for me for an hour, and then leaving little or no tip for all my effort. There is a special place in hell for them.

      That said, I’m getting over it. Some people just belong in an easier job. Being an enabler for them doesn’t help anyone on the long run.

  • K says:

    So what about when the state you’re in doesn’t have a server wage so waitstaff make normal minimum wage? In Washington, this is currently $9.19. Not huge, but much better than many states. It seems as some point the “20% to supplement ridiculously low wages” rule goes out the window somewhat. I spent a few years as a busser in the past so I generally still tip around 20% (although I feel no obligation to, having seen the industry from “behind the curtain”), but some states do treat their waitstaff much better than others.

    As far as sharing tips, this is restaurant by restaurant as well. I’ve worked in places with it “unofficially” mandated, and others where is was recommended but not required. And beyond that, servers differ on their generosity as well. Some would tip out $2 on $200 of tips received for the evening to their support stagg, and others would tip their bussers / bartenders $20 on a $80 night.

    • A Former Waiter says:

      I used to see that all the time. The foodservers who complain about customers stiffing them then turn around and stiff their bussers, bartenders, cashiers, cooks, and hostesses.

      Yep, we had to tip them all.

  • Carl says:

    The funky “ALWAYS tip” thing is somewhat unique to the U.S.

    In other parts of the world, service workers like waiters, busboys, limo drivers, bellhops, hotel housekeepers, etc. get payed a decent living wage (as opposed to the working-poor abomination we call “minimum wage”). Tips aren’t an expected part of the pay structure, and are reserved for those extra touches that go above the usual expectation.

    Sure, dining out may be a bit more expensive, but it removes the feeling of obligation to tip for sub-par service.

    And just so I don’t seem like an insensitive jerk who doesn’t want to crunch tip-calculations with my fortune cookie, I have been known tip well and ask to speak to a manager to praise a particularly excellent server.

  • El Dee says:

    Good service , I usually tip well, others I tip very low.
    What puzzles me is here in the Houston area is Luby’s Cafeteria. They went to a wait staff in early 2000s (?). The customer stands in line, chooses the food, chooses his drink, walks tray to cashier, pays bill, takes food to table and sets food and drink down and then a waitperson walks up and introduces them-self as your waiter. Why, I just did everything myself, Get lost. I quit going to Lubys.

    • Dee Martinez says:

      Me too, El Dee. I quit going, although the food is great, I knew that greed was the reason for going to a “wait staff.” Luby’s doesn’t want to pay the staff minimum wage so now, the customer, after doing all that you described, has to tip the staff for bringing them a refill of drink. That’s all they really do.

  • nina says:

    Do what the Japanese people do. They do not tip at all. The boss have to provide the income.

    • PatTheRat says:

      After reading many of the responses from waiters/waitresses on this article, I think this is the only solution. You would think that a really good server would be appalled that a really bad server is given the same 20% as they are, but apparently they’ve all been brainwashed into believing that they are all equal regardless of how extraordinary – or awful – they are at their job. Sad, really. I think this article has convinced me that 0% is my new tip amount, regardless of the service, because it doesn’t sound like they are going to be happy at whatever amount they get. Perhaps I can convince enough people to give 0% that the existing system will become obsolete.

      • Aaron says:

        Hi Pat (and other cheap asses out there),

        I averaged 24.7% tips for 7 years in the service industry despite people like you because I put my game face on and did a phenomenal job putting up with shit that you will never, ever understand.

        Why won’t you understand?

        You lack the exceptional social and emotional intelligence that is required to thrive within the service industry.

        Of course there is a huge gap between the people who excel at their professions and those who merely eek along.

        Most people can’t last in the restaurant industry simply because they don’t understand the dynamics involved, things move too fast, or they can’t control themselves when faced with the remarkable amount of clueless dorks like you who line up to be served in any busy restaurant. It’s too stressful for most folks.

        I’m a better server than most, so I can give you great service while still recognizing you for what you are: a cheap, pathetic person who probably didn’t get loved enough as a child.

        But here’s what most servers don’t know: getting great tips is NOT result of great service. Great service is just the **basic** level of doing your job well in a restaurant, which is why you and the other little numbnuts like you who frequent our establishments but don’t want to play by our rules get all pissy when you misunderstand why you shld give up your cash just for us fetching a beverage. Great service just gets you decent tips, not great tips.

        What gets you great tips — consistently, over the long haul — is being able to maintain your personal power over the situation *while* delivering great service and *never* allowing yourself or others around you to be abused.

        Because trust me, your condescending and sniveling tone comes across in full volume from your posts, and no one likes you. People put up with you around you, probably most often when you are paying for something. Hopefully, your mother loves you. But probably even she doesn’t really like you much.

        So it wouldn’t really matter to me at all if you tipped or not — but you would. If I served you, I’d be pleasant and cordial to your face, regardless of whatever idiotic nonsense you said… unless, of course, you try to pull some serious shit. Not the normal wussy requests you probably make for water with no ice and 3 slices of lemon — I’d even smile while bringing you your “I’m so delicate I can’t get my teeth cold” beverage.

        But I dare you to come tell me in person that people who work in restaurants are stupid, you gross troll.

        In fact, why don’t you loudly say that every time you’re out to eat so that all the staff know where to direct their farts as they walk thru the restaurant?

        Oh, and I wonder how much spit, semen and snot you’ve eaten while dining out. Hope it tasted good!

        Now, I never put any body fluids in food myself, because I have too much self-respect. But I know a lot of mediocre restaurant workers who have! Lots of rude people end up eating body fluids.

        So listen, do yourself a favor and just shut up, because you have no clue about what it means to work in a restaurant. You think you’re smart, which is why you’re never ever going to stop saying dumb things. But in reality, you can’t even understand the dynamics at play.

        Those of us who make great money in service put up with idiots like you, because it goes along with the job. Some of the truly amazing folks I’ve met in bars and restaurants have become lifelong friends.

        Tipping is a social exercise that functions because of how our society handles the dynamics of wealth, power and cool.

        I am cooler than you, so you pay me for it while I condescend at you from behind the bar. I’m sorry that you don’t like it, but it’s true. In the bar, the bartender is always the coolest, unless there’s some great musicians around.

        Judging by the total lack of emotional depth that your comments display, you won’t understand what I’m about to say, but I am going to try anyway for the benefit of any cheapskates lurking about who may have the capacity to learn. I will try to be simple and clear.

        Bars and restaurants are social places. Tipping is a way for you to promote your own status and emotional wellbeing. When you give to someone who serves you, it makes you feel good. It promotes you in the eyes of those around you. Sharing your wealth with others will always bring you fawning attention.

        You may say, “well, I don’t need that kind of attention, and I’m certainly not willing to pay for it.” Quite so.

        Please, stay home and learn to cook and make your own beverages. Get off the internet, stop being mean, and start learning how to treat other people with the respect and civility that every human being deserves.

        Because it doesn’t feel good when someone is mean to you, does it?

        • Hawkeye says:

          @Aaron

          You do not get to choose your customers.

          You Would like to …

          But you cannot

          • Aaron says:

            Hawkeye, to some extent, when you choose where to work, your choice is made.

            Applebee’s regulars probably won’t be seen at a gourmet restaurant charging $100 per plate.

            Of course, not everyone gets to work at the best places.

            But there’s always a choice of where to work.

            I have a friend who refuses to work in any bar with a blender. She insists upon working in bars with dead animals on the wall, because she says those are her favorite types of customers. But she’s very good, so she can be choosy.

            I’ve worked at quite a few places where the owners found it really fun to kick out annoying customers. One owner called the police nearly once a day on any customer who complained too much. And that place averaged $10K per day in sales.

            You don’t have to be polite to make a lot of money, but it helps to be very, very good at what you do.

            When you are excellent, you always get to choose who you serve.

        • Cormamin says:

          //Please, stay home and learn to cook and make your own beverages. Get off the internet, stop being mean, and start learning how to treat other people with the respect and civility that every human being deserves//

          Oh yes, and he should learn this by your friends mistreating his food? How about this: your entire shpeal JUSTIFIES his behavior.

          Please, provide some names and locations and I’ll promptly (as a 20%+ tipper, since that’s the only “okay” thing in your book) report them all to the appropriate agencies. Since you’re such a great, “cool” guy, I’m sure you’ll have no problem helping to dispel the negatives of your industry.

        • A Former Waiter says:

          Aaron: I don’t believe you made anywhere near what you claim simply because you are too hateful, too arrogant, and too rude to be a decent, self-respecting server.

          As much animosity as you hold for anyone who thinks differently from you, I believe you wouldn’t have lasted in the industry as long as you did.

          Your own anger and frustration would have forced you to quit a long time ago. Why would you have continued doing something you obviously hate for so long?

          You can believe you were good, but your rabid visciousness belies you.

      • A Former Waiter says:

        After reading the comments from Justin and Aaron and other foodservers, I’m more than willing to join you. Perhaps we can start a movement to abolish tips.

        These sickos who serve customers need to be removed from their positions. And the sickos who know about these gross and illegal actions should be reporting them to the restaurants and to the authorities. By not taking action, they not only condone but agree with them. Perhaps even enjoy the actions.

        As I said, abolishing tips will remove a lot of animosity between server and customer. It will get servers decent wages, and it will help them in their later years as their Social Security payments will be greater.

        The onus is upon your employer to pay a decent wage, at least minimum wage. It is with your employer that you have an agreement to work for a certain wage. Servers have no such contract with their customers, so there can be no expectation. Take it up with your employers who are doing you the disservice of paying you so little.

    • Justin says:

      I do quite well Joe, and I could care less about your opinion of me. Food service is all inclusive, and I and going to assume, based on your responses, that you were never a server. Being a serve is much different than other positions in food service. What do you think you pay for when you go out to eat? You pay for the SERVICE. So yes, if someone is SERVING you, then they have a right to be tipped, provided that they give you adequate or better service. Not knowing that simple tidbit DOES make you a jackass.

      • James says:

        Justin, you bring up a good point, we go out to eat and we should pay for the service we receive! I think for most of us, we feel we aren’t receiving very good service. How much should we pay for poor service? I have worked in the industry and know what is going on. I can see slackers and unorganized servers all over the place. I love to tip well for good service and I understand when the kitchen screws up. I also know when a waiter is blowing me off to chat with the table of friends or disappearing for smoke break/ phone call. I think that the problem is that for every two times I go out and get great service have to suffer with server laziness or attitude the next three times.

        Servers and their friends ” retaliating” against people who are thought to be poor tippers just shoots the waitstaff in the foot. I may have been the guy who did leave 7% last time I was there( Crappy waitress) but I have left 25-30% for a great waiterss or waiter. If you would leave the attitude behind, tips may increase!

      • Samuel Saberian says:

        Justin : you have had too much of a field day with comments and really makes me wonder about the kind of service you say you provide.

        I worked as a server all the way through college (undergraduate and graduate) and functioned on the motto of giving the best service possible to everyone, even if they were rude and ill tempered because it was my job to do so! So yes I do have 6 years of experience waiting tables (I actually started as a busboy)….but I do follow the rule that bad service equals 5% tip. But I do generally talk to the wait person who is providing bad service to give them a chance to improve and if they don’t it 5% or even lower. I do not believe it to be a birthright to be given 20%.

        I agree with some of the comments here which say you must earn your tips. I did have one customer who came in time after time and was just f’in snotty beyond belief, but I almost took it as a challenge to see how I would unfrost him. 18th months of him showing up every Saturday, eating the same meal barely tipping the minimum 15% ..and then the year I got my bachelors degree I guess he overheard our maitre’d telling someone that Iwas graduating and he left me a $100 with a nice note. Yes I am sure you will think this is irrelevant too, but it is relevant : always do the best job you can and it pays off at some point.

      • A Former Waiter says:

        Justin: Hopefully, you are reading these comments. Samual and James make good points. Here’s another one.

        You don’t have any type of contract with your guests. You have one with your employer. You will work for the wage they are paying. There is no such agreement with your customers.

        What am I saying? You cannot expect anything from them. They do not need to pay you. They have an agreement with the restaurant if they order food. They can see the prices. They can estimate their final bill. They are served a total at the end of their meal. They agree to pay the bill if they order food.

        Food servers do not have that satisfaction nor guarantee. The tip is not a requirement. Unless there is something that tells the customer they should expect to pay a tip, they are not obligated. And even if there is something, it can be disputed. And even if there is something, your employer does not have to share it with you.

        I still vote that we eliminate all this animosity, all these expectations, and just abolish tipping. You do your job; I’ll do my job; and we’ll do the best we can because that’s what we are being paid to do. Rather than agonizing over how much your custmers left you or holding grudges against people who may have forgotten, not had the money, didn’t like the service, or whatever. Everyone is happy, or at least not filled with animosity over others.

  • Victor says:

    This is an ongoing debate that I feel will never be solved. While I agree with some of the points, there were others that didn’t really stick with me. The “encouraging note,” as others have already disputed, is not something I pay attention to that often. Especially if it’s a very busy night I might just glance at it on my way to service the other 3 tables I have and forget about it immediately. It’s in good faith, but still wouldn’t worry about it.

    Now having been a server for 3 years I ALWAYS tip at least 20% even with sub-par service. I don’t expect anyone else to agree with this, but having literally seen every situation in my time at work I can never bring myself to leave a bad tip when I go out to eat. My conscience would eat me alive! Now as an everyday patron, 20% is good for good service. It can naturally go down if the server is forgetful, complacent, careless, or if you maybe see them being lazy (i.e. on their phones or talking instead of helping you). Like the post said though, be mindful of the situation. If it’s a busy night and the server is slammed don’t be terribly impatient and know that if you go on those busy nights (Friday, Saturday nights usually) that’s how it will be.

    Either way, I hope y’all would never be rude to a server because, frankly, they do handle your food. Not to say some of those myths you have heard about treatment of food are true, but I’m not saying they’re not either.

    • PatTheRat says:

      “I hope y’all would never be rude to a server because, frankly, they do handle your food. Not to say some of those myths you have heard about treatment of food are true, but I’m not saying they’re not either.”

      How would a server know how much I am going to tip before I even get my food? If there’s even a chance a server is going to do something to my food, then I will leave 0% for the tip. Perhaps 0% should become the new norm for tips and it is raised to 20% when the server proves they did not tamper with your food.

      And you do realize that tampering with food is illegal. Not to mention, just the perpetuation of that possibility makes people not want to eat out, which in turn hurts your entire industry and your tips. Try supporting your family on tips when there is no one in your restaurant.

      • Erin says:

        I’ve been reading your posts and its pretty disturbing. You say you won’t cleanup after your kids….I say you should stop procreating. As a parent, it is your job to teach your kids restaurant manners. I assume you wouldn’t allow them to make a mess at home? Don’t do in public. And if you DON’T teach them at home, then I can only assume you live like a pig and don’t clean up after them there either.

      • Justin says:

        Servers remember faces Pat. Any server who has ever received a very good OR very bad tip will ALWAYS remember that person. Rest assured, the server will remember you next time, and you will receive the service you earned with your less than adequate tip on the previous visit. Most places won’t do anything to your food, but word will spread, and by facial recognition, you’ll certainly never receive good service at any restaurant in the area again. Maybe think about that while you are sitting on your pedestal, looking down on the world.

        • Joe says:

          THAT seems like a recipe for personal success. Hmm, I got a small tip from this person last time they ate here. That must have been because they were cheap. I’m gonna serve them poorly this time and tell all my friends to serve them poorly.

          How perfectly short sighted.

          Perhaps it was something the server did, or maybe it was the kitchen. I know it is unfair, but it’s often the server who bears the scars from the sins of the kitchen.

          In perpetuating bad service (and spreading it like a plague) all you are really doing is setting your establishment up to close. Word of mouth among restaurant goers is a lot more important than word of mouth among restaurant workers. If everybody things you place is an unfriendly place to eat, they’ll stop going. When they stop going, YOU stop having a job. Although, again, with your attitude, perhaps that’s not such a bad thing for the rest of society.

          • Justin says:

            That’s funny, because the amount of people such as yourself that choose to act in a disrespectful manner, then essentially slap your server in the face with your pathetic tip are much more few and far between than the number of servers there are working in restaurants around the country. So it seems to me, that since that thought didn’t even cross your mind, you are so far off base that I laughed out loud at your statement. I, personally, provide excellent service to everyone. However, the exception to the rule being customers such as yourself who frequent the restaurant, are rude, and tip terribly regardless of service. At the end of the day, my attitude is completely justified. Please prove me wrong by working as a server for ONE day. I guarantee your stance changes. Society would certainly benefit by you choosing to frequent different establishments. The place I choose to work doesn’t have time to worry about one person not coming back. There are plenty of people who appreciate good service and hard work.

          • Joe says:

            I have worked in food service, that’s why I know exactly how much server make in tips. Moreover, I currently work in an industry where it’s all about my attitude. 3/4 of my salary is based on commission. Margins are razor thin. Products are mostly the same, I’M the difference in me making 25k a year of 100k a year. I’m selling myself as much as the product. Good customer service is what gets me the sale, GREAT customer service is what keeps them loyal. That seams to be a lesson you, and many, but not all, servers today have never learned. You think it’s a right that you are tipped. That you are entitled to it because you showed up. This isn’t field day. You don’t get a ribbon for participation. You have to earn it. That idea doesn’t make me a jackass, the lack of understanding does make you one. And also poorer.

          • A Former Waiter says:

            Justin. I think you should post the name of your restaurant. I’m sure a lot of us would like to know what restaurant employs people like you to serve customers. Even if you “manned up”, you’d likely lie about it.

            You must be ignorant to think that so few people worked in restaurants. Almost everyone I know worked in a restaurant at some point in their lives. I didn’t remember good tippers or bad tippers. You reveal too much ignorance for your line of work. You’re telling us that you hold grudges.

            Getting rid of tips entirely would actually help you as well. No more grudges to hold, because you’re getting paid to do your job by the company you have a contract with, the company you work for. You would be able to do a good job at each and every table, because you are not waiting to see what tip they leave or remembering what tip they left.

            Remember, you and your customer have no such contract. If tips hang around, perhaps you could approach each of your customers and ask what it is they will pay you to service their table. Then you could work accordingly. Or not, and give that table to one of your coworkers.

  • Anna says:

    I’m not going out to get bad service and attitudes and still leave a tip. Uh NO!!!!!! If I clean up after my meal then is the job of the server just to serve with attitude and be rewarded? Uh NO!!! Lastly is this your job or a place to come and receive tips?

    • Victor says:

      Well Anna, it’s our job AND a place to receive tips. Is your job “your job” or is it a place to collect wages? Ok then.

      • PatTheRat says:

        Well Victor, DO YOUR JOB and you will get tipped. But don’t expect me to get a dustpan to clean up after my kids. What idiots you people are. I had no idea how stupid waters and waitresses were, but I suppose to take a job that pays 1/3 of minimum wage, you’re not exactly the brightest bulb in the box.

        • Lisa says:

          Well, Pat, do your job as a parent. I have taken my kids out to eat by my myself, outnumbered and cleaned up after them. Normally they don’t make much mess, but it’s MY job to clean up after them if they make a larger mess than the average patron. If there ever comes a day when I think another person should be responsible for cleaning up half-chewed food that went from my toddler’s mouth to the floor like I’ve seen other parents leave behind, then it’s time for me to rethink my ability to parent. Restaurant workers are patient when a parent is alone with multiple children and I’ve yet to be at an establishment where a parent was expected to clean up their own child’s vomit if the child gets unexpectedly sick, but when a table of adults with a few children spends the entire meal talking to each other instead of telling their children to stop throwing food on the floor and then walks away and leaves the mess behind, that is poor parenting. Be a courteous human being. If only it took as much effort to become a parent as it does to become a stupid waitress at a decent restaurant…

          • fenix1230 says:

            The hypocrisy being exhibited by waiters and watressess is ridiculous! A parent should pick up after their children if they make a mess, but the fact is they do not have to. While a good parent would, they are at a restaurant where there is a waitstaff that gets paid, and whose job it is to clean up after the patron.

            I’m amazed and apalled by the expectations that servers seem to have based on this thread. Servers expect to receive a 20% tip regardless of service provided, and they expect patrons to clean up after themselves, and if service is bad, the servers expect for the patron to understand and not make a fuss and be “understanding” and not go to the boss when they receive bad service because the server gets paid less than a living wage without tips? The fact is, if you have a position that pays you less than a living wage without tips, then you better make sure you ALWAYS provide exemplary service to each and every customer, and if it’s crowded or slow or whatever, to communicate that to the patron so they know that they poor service isn’t because you as a server aren’t trying.

            The fact is lots of people work in jobs that are depended on supplementary income, but you don’t see them expecting to receive 20% for every action they do. Several sales people are commission only, and guess what, if they don’t do their job well, they don’t get paid. So if one of these sales people came up trying to sell you something, should you buy simply because if you don’t they don’t have enough to pay their bills, or do you buy based upon the product they sell, and their ability to sell you on it.

            At the end of the day, you have to earn what you make. Simply crying about how little you get paid by the owner and expecting 20% because you used to do the job amounts to sub par service and retalitory behavior borne out of entitlement. You as a server should expect one thing, that you will work your ass off, that you will give the patron excellent service, and that in the long run your actions will be compensated. Will some patrons not tip well or at all sometimes? Of course, but if you consistently come into work with a great attitude and provide great service, you will get what you deserve. Just don’t expect it, because once you do, you stop working for it, and that’s when you don’t deserve it.

          • RocWorld says:

            Applause for fenix1230! This is by far the best comment I’ve read on this thread. Unfortunately, all the waiters and ex-waiters will disagree of course, because they expect a 20% tip and prefer to believe that they always deserve it – good service or not

          • Lisa says:

            I clean up after my own children no matter where we are and expect others to do the same so I’m a hypocrite? I expect to be tipped according to my service. I’ve forgotten people’s drinks before. I even forgot to ring someone’s entire meal in once on a busy night when I was a new server. I’ve worked shifts that were way busier than the norm for that shift and because of it, I couldn’t quite keep up with anywhere from 8 to 13 tables that I was attempting to serve. I expect to receive lower tips in those circumstances. The last situation is frustrating because there’s really nothing I or anyone else can do about it if the entire restaurant is unexpectedly busy, but it’s just the way it goes.
            However, I don’t expect to receive a lower tip if the kitchen is backed up and it takes longer for your food to get made. I don’t expect to receive a lower tip if the bartender is likewise backed up. As long as I’m polite and keep you informed, I’m doing my job to the utmost. I also don’t expect to receive a lower tip if you don’t have to pay for your entire bill. Whether you have a coupon, know the owner, or the kitchen made a mistake on your food, I still did 100% of my job. I expect to be treated fairly.
            Furthermore, I, not as a server, but as a human being, expect you to do your job as a human being. Be polite. Be considerate. Be responsible. None of us “have to” do anything. We don’t have to tip at all. We can all let our children run amok and be rude to other people without a second thought, but I refuse to consider that acceptable behavior and frankly, it makes me livid to think that my children will some day have to deal with the children of people who think it’s not their “job” to be decent human beings.

          • fenix1230 says:

            @Lisa,

            First off, don’t know why I can’t reply after your reply, but none-the-less will do so here. You, and other current and past waiters and waitressess, and obviously I’m being entirely general and all encompassing with this statement, so it may not be entirely applicable to everyone, but it seems like all of you expect us, as paying patrons to be “understanding” if things don’t go as expected and should expect to tip at a minimum of 20%. In addition, we should expect to clean up after ourselves, and if there’s additional staff as say a bartender or other people, then we should expect to be even more “understanding” and possibly even tip more because you as a waiter or waitress have to tip them as well. See, the hyporcisy lies in the fact that all the expectations are that the waiter or waitresses deserve the 20% no matter what, and not that the patron should expect to have great service, visibility in timing of the food and that they won’t have to clean up after themselves.

            That’s why it feels like you’re hypocrites, because you basically want to do as little little as possible and we should just give you 20% for giving us the minimum.

            And here’s another tidbit that might not only help you in serving, but in other aspects of life. You, as the main focal point of the meal, means that you are the leader, and you are what I think of when I decide on the tip I leave. You are the Kobe Bryant, you are the Drew Bledsoe, you are the reason the experience of dining there was a success, or a failure. That also means that it is YOUR job to make sure it goes well. If someone else on your team isn’t doing their job, then you need to make sure they do. If you go about your job, or even your life simply thinking that all you have to do is worry about yourself, and that if other people fail it’s not your fault, then success is going to be fleeting. You have to make those around you better, and know that being a server isn’t about doing your job, it’s about giving the patron a great experience, and that includes making sure everyone at the restaurant is there to provide that as well. When the hell did going to a restaurant become less about the food, and more about “understanding” that the wait staff doesn’t get paid enough and gets taxed on their tips?

            And as for your “human beings” diatribe. We, as “human beings” should not expect anything from anyone else. You can live how you want, but I should not “expect” you to do anything. You know what happens when you “expect” everything? You operate with a sense of entitlement, which when that entitlement is not met turns into resentment, then ultimately turns into disappointment, and apparently then into blaming everyone except yourself.

            The only expectations you should have are for yourself. As stated before, you should, as a server, expect to work your ass off, expect to provide exemplary service to each and very customer, and that if you have done the first two, then you can expect to be rewarded for that hard work. That said, if you don’t do the first two, then you sure as hell better not expect the third, and if you do the first two and don’t get the third, then you should leave to where it will occur. Just don’t expect me to tip you 20% simply because you expect me to. I don’t expect to have great service whenever I go out to eat, so that when I do, I tip accordingly. To me, when I eat, you have 0% tip, and you earn that tip until the very end of the meal. That is how it should be.

          • Greg says:

            fenix1230:

            “all of you expect us, as paying patrons to be “understanding” if things don’t go as expected and should expect to tip at a minimum of 20% … no matter what … In addition, we should expect to clean up after ourselves”

            Is that what you found by reading through all these posts? It isn’t what I found by reading through all these posts. Only a tiny percentage of the posts from current and former servers say so, and some of those are trolls from non-servers. Please don’t feed the trolls.

            When you go to a typical restaurant, in all likelihood not a single server there expects what you say “all of you” expect.

            Are you one of those people who walk into restaurants with a chip on your shoulder, overflowing with anger and venom toward restaurant employees?

          • fenix1230 says:

            @Greg,

            Yes what I wrote is what I got from reading these posts, and here’s why:

            Starting with the original post:

            “The general rule of thumb (for me) is to round the bill up to the nearest $10, and leave 20%.”
            “Leaving a pleasant note of encouragement, or a decent tip, may be enough to turn their day around.”
            “…try to clean up after yourself…”
            “If you can’t afford to tip adequately, choose someplace less expensive…”

            Now let’s find some additional responses (Note, as there are over 1,000 responses, I’m only going to start from March 27, 2013:

            @Sean – “I tip very well. Reason? I’ve been there.”
            @Heidi – “The point, basically, of the whole article was that no, it isn’t that “one tips for good service” but that tipping is basic manners, and that “if you’re going to eat out, an adequate tip is a standard part of the bill.”
            @Matt – “I tip 20% AND I waited tables to put myself though school.”
            @Chrystine Collins-Blums – “I tip 20% most of the time…”
            @TimB – “I normally tip 20%…”
            @Peregrinus – “…I tip a standard 20% for regular service…”
            @Jeff – “I always leave an extra tip. No questions asked. I worked these jobs…”
            @Em – “TIPPING 20% IS NOT SO BAD.”
            @Bryan – “The 20% tip is standard.”

            And of course, from the following:

            @Victor – “Sorry but you should stay home. If you don’t tip correctly, don’t go out.”

            So you sure that only a tiny percentage of the posts say that 20% is expected?

            But no, I am not one of the people who walk in with a chip on my shoulders. If anything, I always try to be as courteous and clean as possible, and believe it or not, try to clean up after myself. What I also am is someone who works hard and has earned what I have in life, and completely detest people who feel they are entitled to something without earning it. You are a server, and therefore it is your job to, say it with me, “SERVE.” That means you provide exemplary service to each and every customer, and you DO NOT expect anything in return. Now do you deserve something if you have done a good job, most definitely, but you shouldn’t expect it. And the notion that if a server is having a bad day and gave you bad service you should still tip them because it might make their day is completely ass backwards and idiotic.

            The fact is, I walk in a restaurant and have always tipped well. In addition, I take people out for my job, so you can imagine how important it is for me to have an excellent rapport with the wait staff, so if I didn’t tip well then I could expect to receive piss poor service whenever I return. That said, I know the difference between going above and beyond, and simply providing the norm, and I as much as I am willing to recognize and reward excellent service, I am just as willing and able to recognize and appropriately tip poor service.

            But please, care to make more incorrect assumptions about myself and how I think? You’ve already been proven wrong twice, care to go for three strikes?

          • Greg says:

            fenix2030:

            “You are a server, and therefore it is your job to, say it with me, “SERVE.” That means you provide exemplary service to each and every customer, and you DO NOT expect anything in return.”

            My, my. Were you ever a slave owner?

          • fenix1230 says:

            Lol, I guess that is all you got. No, I’ve never owned slaves, but the duties of the job are pretty inherent to the title. You are there to serve. You serve food, you serve drinks, you serve the customer. Service is not something that I feel has a negative conotation, and service is definitely not synonymous with slavery. Service is something that is provided to the paying patron. It’s another reason why they choose to eat out, instead of cooking at home. Not only do they not have to prepare or cook the food, but they also do not have to serve and clean up after themselves. Some people pride themselves on being able to provide superior service, and they are usually successful. Others make expectations and assumptions, and tend to not be.

            Were you ever a server Greg? I only ask, because now you’re grasping at straws.

          • Heidi says:

            Hey. I never say anything about 20%. My point was that tipping may be a stupid system, but it is the system, and therefore just common courtesy. But I didn’t bring 15% versus 20% into it, so please don’t imply that I did.

            And yeah, the way you’re so emphatic on not expecting anything seems kind of weird to me. In most states, tips have to be expected in return for good service. That’s why servers get less than minimum wage. And going on about having expectations and entitlement seems hypocritical to me considering your attitude.

          • Greg says:

            fenix2030:

            “You are there to serve.”

            Auto mechanics are there to fix your car, but they are also there to be paid, and would probably not fix your car if they knew you would not pay them.

            Tax preparers are there to prepare your taxes, but they are also there to be paid, and would probably not prepare your taxes if they knew you would not pay them.

            Name any job (other than slavery), and the worker is there not only to do the work, but also to be paid. Why do you have this attitude about restaurant servers? What makes them different to your way of thinking than other people who work for pay?

            ” Service is not something that I feel has a negative connotation”

            Good for you, but positive connotations don’t pay the bills.

            “Were you ever a server Greg?”

            If you had read these posts as you said you did, you would know the answer to that, several times over.

          • DaniellaS says:

            Having been in the business in various capacities for MANY years, I appreciate courteous human beings and exceptional parenting. Well said. If only everyone treated each other with common decency and respect.

          • A Former Waiter says:

            Greg, I don’t pay a mechanic to fix my car just as I shouldn’t have to pay a foodserver to serve me food. I pay the shop just like I pay the restaurant. Since you feel entitled, as your nemesis as suggested, to 20%, perhaps you chose the wrong profession. You have a contract with your employer that you are willing to accept less than minimum wage for your work. A mechanic has a contract with his employer for a certain wage as well. However, it sounds like the mechanic made a better choice than you did.

            All that aside, however. After reading through some of these comments, all of you reinforce my belief that America should do away with tipping, make it illegal. Then, all employers with tipped employees would have to pay decent wages to their employees, because none of them would work for such low wages. In turn, these employers would have to charge more for their product. Finally, the GDP of the U.S. would rise and the U.S. would make more in taxes and Social Security would see more dollars since all of these wages would be reported fairly.

            Then people like me who don’t regularly receive tips for simply “doing their job” would quit griping that we don’t receive tips.

            P.S. In America, if you don’t do your job correctly or at least satisfactorily, you will likely be let go. Not sure why the British wouldn’t do the same, but service would likely improve amongst U.S. foodservers since they would no longer feel cheated out of tips. They would feel their employers value them and are not simply trying to cheat them out of wages. Then everyone can go to restaurants without foodservers suggesting they stay home if they can’t afford a tip.

          • Greg says:

            @A Former Waiter:

            “Greg, … Since you feel entitled, as your nemesis as suggested, to 20%”

            What makes you think I feel anyone is entitled to 20%? I have never said so here nor anywhere else. As I’ve said many times here, it’s 15% for good service, less for service that is less than good. For truly exceptional service, the guest certainly has the option of tipping 20%, and some tip even more.

            “perhaps you chose the wrong profession” [compared to being an auto mechanic]

            As I’ve also said many times here, I haven’t been a waiter for 20 years. I wouldn’t want to trade what I do now — software development — to be an auto mechanic.

            “my belief that America should do away with tipping”

            Agreed, as I’ve also said here.

        • Craig says:

          Pat judging by your attitude towards wait staff I have a feeling your food gets spit in a lot. You are quite the dick. All this article is talking about is basically be a decent human being and treat others as you want to be treated. If your kid leaves a huge mess clean it up, if your server is not very good don’t be a dick eat your food leave and don’t go back, if you don’t like the fact that the wait staff splits their tips with the Hostess, bussers and bartenders go out get a cookbook and eat at home. The service industry is filled with hard working people that are just trying to make a living doesn’t mean they are stupid people they are just doing what they can and at least they are out working and not collecting a welfare check.

          • Yang says:

            @Fenix2030 LOL, you got owned.

            I was a server for several years and when I am a patron of a restaurant, I generally tip 25%. I usually pre-bus the tables and will clean up after my son when he makes a mess. However, I do have some expectations for my server. I ask that you refill my water when it’s empty, notify me if my food will take an exuberate amount of time, take away my dishes when I am finished with them and run my ticket and return it in a prompt and timely manner. If you choose not to do one of these things, I choose not to tip you 25% but instead will give you the “standard” 18% tip which will not offend you, but also not reward you. Again, I know the restaurant business, my family owns restaurants so do your job or expect me never to frequent your restaurant. I am 32 years old, have only left 1 10% tip and left 2 with no tip.

        • Justin says:

          Pat, you are just brimming with intelligence here. Let me tell you what “idiots” YOU people are. By that I mean people who are completely ignorant to how society works, let alone common restaurant ettiquette. You have no idea the patience and effort it takes to be a server, and serve douchbags such as yourself. If you can’t afford to tip accordingly, by all means, stay home by yourself (certainly a cynical asshole like yourself is single), and make your own food. You obviously are the one who isn’t so bright here. It is common sense how to act and tip in a restaurant, but I guess you slept through that class.

          • Joe says:

            I’m sorry, Justin, please enlighten me on how “society works.” I was under the impression that you Earn what you make and aren’t entitled to anything. If being a server is too hard for you, there are always tons of “Scottish” establishments looking for lazy workers. Judging by your tone, I’d wager you make very little in tips and feel that’s a customer problem and not a YOU problem. Assuming someone who doesn’t want to leave you an obscene tip can’t afford to eat out is fairly ignorant,a s well. I can afford to eat out, and chose to do so. I can afford to leave a tip, large or small, and do so. I do so based on quality of service. Serve well, get a decent tip. serve poor, get a bad tip. barely serve at all, get no tip.

            Let me relate a story from just this weekend. I met my parents, who I see not as often as we’d all like, at a certain Australian themed chain. At 2pm on a Sunday, only 8 of 40 tables had people seated. it was odd because it’s usually packed with the after church crowd. We were seated promptly. Our server was quick with drinks (mine never was less than half full.) Shockingly, our apps were at the table 5 minutes after ordering. Our meals were also delivered promptly. I thought to myself, here’s a server who knows what he’s doing. As our meal progressed, trouble started. First, he was around to pick up plates one by one as they were finished, for example, as soon as I finished my side, he took the plate. Annoying, yes, but in the grand scheme of things, not so bad. This was followed by him bringing the check before my mother was even finished with her steak. Again, by itself not necessarily a bad thing, but when added to the almost predatory way he was busing dishes, it raised a red flag. I mentioned to my mother that I thought he was anxious for us to leave. She looked around at the 2/3 empty restaurant and said “No, he’s just being efficient.” Not moments after that, with food still on her plate, the server reappeared and asked “Are you guys ready?” I stared at him for a moment, looked at my mother, at her plate and back to the server. He just continued to wait for an answer, so I said, “No, she’s still eating.” He just turned and left. After that he did “Fly-by’s about every three minutes. As soon as she finished her meal, he stepped back to the table, placed his hand on the folder with the ticket and asked “Can I take this.” Startled, My mother said she wasn’t ready yet. One more time, he came back to take the ticket. My parent had wanted to get a cup of coffee after dinner. He never offered, nor did he give them a chance to ask. The third time he asked about the bill I spoke quietly but in an obviously annoyed tone of voice. I said “Dude, clearly we’d like to sit a minute and talk. There are 30 empty tables here, you don’t have to push us out the door. If you need to cash out because your shift is over let us know, otherwise, can we please have a minute to talk? We’ll let you know when we’re ready. you don’t have to ask every 3-5 minutes. And while you’re here, can my parents each have a cup of coffee?” We never heard from him again. No coffee was ever brought. His tip went from 15% of our $66.63 bill ($10.00) to the change from the $70 we left on the table. Also, to be clear, we walked into the store at 2:00pm and walked out at 3:05. It was the fastest we have ever experienced at that particular chain.

            That’s a perfect example of a server working himself out of a tip. If you actively ruin my enjoyment of my meal or my visit to your establishment, you should in no way be rewarded. Making me feel uncomfortable and like I’m not welcome is horrible customer service and whether you understand it or not, you are in a service industry. For those who want to use this as an example of how he didn’t have that many tables so his average tip + salary was low for that time I have this to say. If you aren’t split between many tables and being run back and forth, it’s the perfect opportunity to show excellent customer service. You have no outside excuse to effect your quality of service, only your own internal abilities and actions.

        • Tamara says:

          This was completely rude of you. Like many people have stated there are many waitresses, including myself, that are working towards a Masters Degree.

          • Hawkeye says:

            @Tamara,

            My paper carrier may be working toward a Masters, but I tip him based on what he does TODAY.

      • Felicity says:

        Collect wages, yes, but tips are not wages, nor should they be. If the government is making that the case, take it up with the government or choose another line of work.

        • Felicity says:

          Sorry, that sounds more harsh than I meant it too, I just meant to say that it is not the customer’s responsibility to give tips that make up a decent wage, the tip should be an extra for good service. Requiring 20% as a tip just seems ridiculous to me. What do you give for good service? 30%? 40%?

          • AnotherAnnie says:

            I personally tip 20-25% for good service, and 15% for poor to mediocre service. Bad service, which only rarely happens to us, is subject to a much smaller tip. But be assured, to get a 25% tip from me, I expect service above and beyond what is normal. To me, that entails ensuring you are seating my family at a clean table and that we have silverware, extra napkins/paper napkins for the children, prompt refills on beverages, waiting until we have clearly tasted our food before asking if everything is alright, removing empty plates from the table promptly, and checking to see if we’d like left-over food boxed up, or an extra refill in a to-go cup. Thankfully, we get more great service than bad service, and when we do, we tip accordingly. If my children spill or make an mess, we will usually make some attempt at cleaning it up, but I honestly would never ask for a broom and a dustpan in a restaurant. I also don’t check myself out at the grocery store, take my own temperature at the doctor’s office, or iron my own shirts at the cleaners’. So what?

          • Pete says:

            Felicity,
            T.I.P.S. To insure prompt service.
            However , the way our world works is that Servers are really only paid thru tipping. I didn’t start it, it’s been that way forever.
            So if its a $3 .00 tip on a $12.00 meal or a $6.00 tip for a $30.00 tab it’s just all part of the cost of Dinning Out.
            Last Summer in Vegas our server went all out ( 6 people) for us, we gave her a $50.00 tip on a $275.00 tab . Sitting alone waiting for the Family she came over and asked if I still needed anything water or something. When I told her again that we appreciated the food and service the smile on her face said WIN / WIN. and that’s what I want when I eat out.

          • A Former Waiter says:

            Pete, shouldn’t you have left $55. Perhaps she was trying to indiscretely let you know.

        • Brent says:

          Maybe tips shouldn’t be neccesary to earn a livable wage if you were designing a perfect system from scratch. But you live in the world you live in. Unless you live in on of a hanful of states (WA, OR, others?), servers don’t make any money in traditional wages. Literally only a couple dollars a week after taxes sometimes. If you are aware of this, it is morally questionable for you to pretend that it is the servers problem when you go out to eat instead of accepting that the system is a reality and (begrudgingly if you have to) consider a 15+% tip part of the cost of the meal. And nobody said a 20% tip is required, just reccomended. But if you are one of those people that goes out and tips regularly under 15%, especially in a state where servers earn $2/hr, then you are taking advantage of hard working people. You aren’t protesting the system (it doesn’t hurt the restaraunt owner).

          • A Former Waiter says:

            Brent, I beg to differ that you aren’t hurting the restaurant owner by not tipping. If everyone quit tipping, food servers as well as employees of other tipping-mandated industries would find better paying jobs which would leave these businesses without employees. These businesses would have to close or start paying their employees more. They would have to charge more for their dinners. And then we could enjoy a tipless America and the annoyance of having to decide how much extra some foodserver, hairdresser, bartender, taxidriver, etc, should receive for service they should be doing simply because it’s their job.

            Tipping is a way for companies to avoid paying employees real wages and to avoid paying into Social Security for their employees. Realize that not reporting tips gets you less in Social Security when you retire (unless you’re making a serious salary off your tips).

        • Justin says:

          What an incredibly irrelevant story Joe. Thank you for sharing. I can tell you what happened in this instance, and this is certainly due to you not understanding the industry. Many restaurants now FORCE their servers to offer certain items, say certain things, drop the check at certain times, etc. Not to mention that when a server is “cut”, which means they are finished, the restaurant gives them a certain amount of time to finish. With that being said, the server was told by his employer to drop the check before the first person was finished. That is standard protocol at most establishments. The server is also told to check back on the bill within two minutes. While I can agree with you that he was WAY out of line hounding you, and never bringing your coffee, leaving him less than a 5 percent tip is unacceptable. You said yourself that most of your experience was great and timely. If you had an issue, talk to the server, then the manager and get it resolved. Man up and talk to someone about it. Treating your server like garbage by tipping 5 percent isn’t going to fix these things. Keep in mind that many things servers say and do are not of their own accord. Maybe go back to the restaurant and ask about their steps of service. Chances are, you’ll learn something.

          • Felicity says:

            What an incredibly arrogant response, Justin. It explains some of the reasons why I rarely go out to eat these days.

            Pete, there isn’t a reply button under you comment, so I’ll reply to you here instead. I didn’t say that I don’t tip, or that I don’t tip well or even that I begrudge tipping. However, some servers here ARE claiming that tipping at a specific level is required so far as they are concerned and that patrons should stay home if they are not prepared to do so. There is something bizarre about a system that allows for some wait staff to make six figure incomes, as some have stated here, all the while others in the industry indicate that they need 20% + tips because they are so poorly paid. Certainly, tipping is part of the cost of eating out in the USA, but when some states pay wait staff $2 per hour and others pay a minimum wage which is almost 5 times that, a flat tipping rate across the board Is inappropriate. Besides, I’m not sure what point you are making with your anecdote. An 18% tip for a server who went all out seems miserly, in the light of the rest of your comment.

        • A Former Waiter says:

          Felicity, the government does consider tips to be wages. They “expect” you to report all your wages, but they “allow” you to claim as little as 10% unless you can prove you earned less.

          • Felicity says:

            I understand that. That doesn’t alter the fact that tips were originally intended as an extra to reward good to exemplary service and that wait staff have no business demanding tips of any particular level. As I said in another comment I rarely eat out in a fancy restaurant any more and don’t miss it, not because I can’t afford to but the attitude of wait staff was offensive too often, and the demeanor of many of the comments on this blog affirms my choice. If restaurants can pay their chefs and other staff without relying on patrons to subsidise them, I don’t take kindly to being bullied in this way. It adds insult to injury to find myself described as a guest, when in fact I’m a paying customer who, by many accounts here, will be held in derision if I don’t cough up as much as the waiter thinks I should. I don’t need a ‘dining experience’ on those terms.

  • Bryan says:

    I always try to engage the server in conversational small talk. Ask about the food. Ask what he/she likes to eat. Talk about what you had the last time you were here and why you’re back. You don’t need to become friends, but you can be friendly.

    Still, be cognizant of how busy the server is — how many tables they have, whether they’ve got a large party to deal with. If you’re in a hurry, let the server know before you order; if you’re being leisurely, say so and be willing to wait.

    The 20% tip is standard. I’ll go over that if service is not a problem to me, or if I’m a regular and come here frequently (as a regular, you should know the servers by name).

    Always be aware that the server is working for 1/3rd of minimum wage. And the server gets taxed on the tips even if you don’t tip(!). And the server might be splitting tips with others. And the server brings you the food but doesn’t cook the food.

    • RocWorld says:

      20% tip is not standard. 15% is standard

      • GoodToBe says:

        20% IS standard for people with compassion. Anyone who believes that 15% is standard should stay home.

        • RocWorld says:

          Any waiter who believes they are entitled to 20% should get another job. Go work at Walmart and see how much tips you’ll make

          • Greg says:

            15% is standard for good service. Consult any standard etiquette book.

            Your mention of Walmart reminds me — way back when I was a waiter, I sometimes worked with bad waiters. I remember one who was not fast enough, not organized enough, not friendly enough, and not smart enough. He didn’t get good tips, and eventually he left for a job at Walmart.

            Last I heard he was a department manager at Walmart and doing very well there. He’s plenty fast, organized, friendly, and smart enough for that job.

          • Erica says:

            15% is no longer the standard for good service. Any ‘etiquette book’ you’re consulting is outdated…seriously who even sells an etiquette book any more. In my opinion, 18% is fairly standard. I mostly say that because at the restaurant I work, our gratuity for groups of 8 or more is 18%. And no, it’s not greater than 15% because the server does more work. It’s to ensure that the server doesn’t get screwed over by a larger party taking up a large chunk or even all of their section.

          • Greg says:

            @Erica:

            “15% is no longer the standard for good service. Any ‘etiquette book’ you’re consulting is outdated…seriously who even sells an etiquette book any more. In my opinion, 18% is fairly standard. I mostly say that because at the restaurant I work, our gratuity for groups of 8 or more is 18%.”

            So your authority for correct tipping is not any etiquette book, but the amount your restaurant adds for groups of 8 or more.

            That makes a lot of sense. Why not ask your manager to increase it to 25%? Then 25% would be the new universal standard. Or how about 30%? Or 45% on Thursdays? All the world’s eyes are on your restaurant’s tipping policies.

            “seriously who even sells an etiquette book any more”

            Amazon.com. eBook editions available if you don’t read print books. See Judith Martin, Emily Post, and Lelita Baldridge, though the Baldridge book is getting a bit old.

            “15% is no longer the standard for good service. … In my opinion, 18% is fairly standard. I mostly say that because at the restaurant I work, our gratuity for groups of 8 or more is 18%. And no, it’s not greater than 15% because the server does more work. It’s to ensure that the server doesn’t get screwed over by a larger party taking up a large chunk or even all of their section.”

            Let’s see, so you’re saying:
            — 15% is no longer the standard; instead it’s now 18%.
            — The reason you know that is because the restaurant you work at charges 18% gratuity for groups of 8 more.
            — The increase from 15% to 18% is “to ensure that the server doesn’t get screwed over by a larger party taking up a large chunk or even all of their section.”

            Does that mean if the server has no large party, say only parties of 2 to 4, the standard tip for their section that day should be 15%, rather than 18%?

            Conversely, if 18% is now the universal standard whether or not the server has a large party, shouldn’t they get even more if they do have a large party, to “ensure that the server doesn’t get screwed over by a larger party taking up a large chunk or even all of their section”?

          • Erica says:

            @Greg:

            Okay, there are places that sell etiquette books, but that does not mean that they are accurate, nor popular. Although I must admit I have never read one because I, like most people, grew up eating in restaurants and know how to tip, and if I need to know anything else about etiquette I can google it. This is 2013, not the 1950s south.

            Also, I don’t understand how you so grossly misconstrued my logic of 18% being the norm. My manager and the owner of my restaurant are not affected by how much you tip me, as long as customers continue to come in, they don’t really care. Why would a restaurant place an automatic gratuity on the table if they think it was unreasonable to the customer and would scare them away? 18% is the standard at ALL restaurants, at least in my area. 18% is also the norm for ALL tables, regardless of size. The thing about a larger party is that it takes more time and space. There have been times when a party of 50 or more is literally the only table I’ll have all night. If I leave it up to their discretion to tip me, I could be leaving with almost no money for an entire night’s work. Even if I provided excellent service, some people will not tip well no matter what. The gratuity is just there to protect the server.

          • Greg says:

            @Erica:

            “Okay, there are places that sell etiquette books, but that does not mean that they are accurate”

            Attention everyone, throw all etiquette books in the trash. They are wrong, and Erica is the expert. If you need to know anything about etiquette, just ask Erica.

            “I have never read [any etiquette book]”

            We know.

            “if I need to know anything else about etiquette I can google it.”

            Whoops, not a good idea, Erica. Much of what you’d find would come from those etiquette books that you have just explained are wrong. No need for you to google it though as you are the expert.

            “Also, I don’t understand how you so grossly misconstrued my logic of 18% being the norm.”

            Maybe you should re-read your own “logic”.

        • Smitty says:

          20% is standard for people with money to burn. They’d have to provide services that might get them fired to justify 20%.

          • morningdogwalker says:

            20% is a standard tip. I’ve been working in the same casual-dining restaurant for 4 years and our guests (regulars and first-timers) consistently leave 20% for good service.

            If you can’t afford to tip 20% at a casual dining restaurant, there are many other places to spend your money where you don’t have to tip at all…

            Always treat your server like you would want to be treated (and if you can’t get it in your head that you would ever ‘stoop’ to the level of ‘serving others’…consider leaving a 30% tip to re-adjust your karma)

        • Joe says:

          If I spend 30 minutes ordering/waiting on my food and 30 minutes eating that’s an hour. If I go out with my wife and daughter, depending on location, the bill could run $80-$100. It’s EXPECTED of me to pay my server $20 an hour? My wife, who is a school teacher and deals with unruly children all day long doesn’t make nearly that much, why should I be expected to pay a server, who is also working other tables during that time, a salary that high? I base my tips on 2x minimum wage x how long I was at the table. That seems MORE than fair and compassionate.

          • Dave says:

            I like that idea. I’ve always suspected people pay 20% because they’re bad at math and 15% is too hard to calculate.

          • Chris says:

            Eat elsewhere Joe. If you’re complaining about tipping, it’s out of your price range. I make squat and am up to my ears in student loans and still tip 20% unless it’s really bad service. Complaining about your wife’s salary in comparison to what your tipping is ludicrous. Most servers would gladly switch their incomes with hers. Plus they’d have 3 months off.

          • JoeDen says:

            Servers and those that enjoy purchasing a service relationship at restaurants will argue vehemently that waitpeople are worthy of more compassion than those in lower paid jobs.

            In defense of higher pay for wait-person jobs, this work involves irregular, weekend, night-time and holiday hours. How much more money is needed to get an elementary school teacher to work those undesirable hours? The fundamental reason that school teachers aren’t paid much is because the labor supply is very high and the pay is fixed.

        • JoeDen says:

          Is the 20% calculated on the pre-tax or post-tax amount?

        • Smarf says:

          20% is only standard for people that find it difficult to do that math on 15%. Knock a digit of the total, there’s your 10%. Take half of that number and add it back in. There’s your 15%.

          Also, if the server takes 10 minutes to ask for a drink order, 10 minutes to come back for the food order, forgets the complimentary bread, and never comes back to refill the drinks, they are most definitely not getting a tip.

          Would you pay for the plane ticket if your pilot had a bad day and dropped you off in the wrong state?

        • pedro says:

          There is no standard. Good service deserved a good reward. Poor service=poor reward! Note the word “REWARD.”

          I don’t tip on sales tax, and I don’t tip on wine mark-up by the restaurant. $1.00/drink is very generous!

    • Joy says:

      Here is my question, I moved to Oregon and until recently I tipped between 15% and 20% depending on the service. I was talking to my hairdresser though and she said she only tipped 10% because servers here in Oregon get full minimum wage (over $9) instead of the $2 they often get in other states. What would you suggest in that situation, knowing that my food prices are already higher so the staff can all get minimum wage. Do I give the full 20% on already higher prices? or do I adjust my tips to 10-15%?

      • Kevin says:

        I live in Portland, I give 18-20% for good service. The high pay for servers supports our city’s amazing food culture and provides a pool of generally pleasant, intelligent, attractive people bringing you your food.

        If you can’t afford to tip well, you can’t afford the restaurant.

      • Marcus says:

        I would say you are safe to drop it to the 10-15% range. However it really depends on you, the service and how much it has been marked up. The argument for tipping 20% is based off of the employees making $2 to $3 per hour is diminished because of getting paid minimum wage and tips. 10-15% seems spot on for me.

  • Tiffiny says:

    Really??? You want me to “ask for a dustpan or a wet cloth to return the table to its condition prior to our arrival”???? Are you serious?? I go out to eat so that I DON’T have to clean up afterwards. This is not to say that I don’t make an effort to minimize the mess, but it’s not my job as the customer to “return the table” to it’s prior condition. That’s the job of the busboys who are the recipient of the aforementioned shared tip.

    • Jeff says:

      Spot on Tiffiny, also it’s not my responsibility to tip my waiter or waitress more just because they have to share with the busboy or the the dishwasher or whomever else they share with. They share their tips so they can get a table cleared faster so they serve more customers. The busboy doesn’t do anything for me.

      • Dear Jeff says:

        It is not your responsibility to tip your waitress MORE just because we as servers have to share. I would hope that if you thought your service and experience was amazing you would show that to your server by providing a tip to show that.

        But it is not to our discretion if we want to tip out our busboys, bartenders, or food runners. We have to. Our tip out does not dictate the speed to which the busboys clean our tables or how fast the food comes out of the kitchen or how fast your beers and cocktails get poured. And just so you know, the busboys do something for you. When you are asked to wait for a table, that busboy is cleaning up after the party that sat before you making sure you have a spotless place to sit and enjoy your meal. If you ever spill, that busboy is there to help you clean it up. If your server is occupied, that busboy is there to clear away your dishes so you don’t stare at them all night. And when you leave, that busboy is there to clean up the mess that you just made.

        ….

        Hopefully that will help

        • PatTheRat says:

          Yes, that does help. It helps me realize that the tipping process is seriously flawed. I give a tip to my waiter/waitress for a job well done, not to every person who works at the restaurant. I did not realize my waiter/waitress did not receive the full tip, but now that I do, I will just give a baseline 10% along with a note explaining why. When this sharing of tips is abolished, then I will resume my usual 20-30% tipping. Thank you once again for helping me see that tipping is just a scam for the restaurant owner to pay less to its staff and make more profit. I will not be a party to that system any longer.

          • pancho says:

            PatTheRat…if you don’t want to be part of the system, then don’t go out to eat. Stay home! That’s the only honest way to “not be a party to that system”. Remember too, that the server has taxes pulled out of their $2/hour wages. The IRS assumes that they made at least 10% tips after tip out. I’ve had many pay checks for $5 per week after taxes when waiting tables.

            Go eat out in England. They tip only change there, but food prices are higher to pay the wages, and service is MUCH worse.

            Stay home, Pat

          • Bill Mishem says:

            Pancho, you’ve obviously never been to Europe. They actually pay servers a living wage, and the service is just fine. Why should the customer have to pay the employee’s wages? A few bucks is fine – but according to this article you should be leaving $6 on a $21 bill. That’s stupid – when I go to my doctor’s office I don’t have to pay the receptionist’s salary.

        • Hubbs says:

          So we need to tip to cover bus boys cleaning tables? Funny I thought it was an included necessity of the price of the meal. My rule for tipping is there needs to be personal interaction. That being said I tipically tip 20% to servers which is solid.

        • Chris says:

          Jeff and Tiffiny,
          You clearly have never waited tables before. Everyone should do it once in their life in my opinion, you treat people better afterwards. Small messes are no big deal, but there’s nothing like seeing a family of 4 with a couple young kids leaving half their meals on the floor and surrounding areas and getting a 10% tip on it after bustin your tail for them. Treat people the way you want to be treated; if you go out to not have to do anything, including being courteous with your messes, that’s fine. Just leave a bigger tip. Also, when you leave big messes you cause a 1-2 minute clean up to be a 5-10 minute clean up. Now the next table is late being seated and that can affect the next tip.

        • Mike says:

          Why are the wait staff of today a class that feels they are automatically entitled to over generous tips. Many customers in franchise restaurants such as Frisch’s and Bob Evans are only making minimum wage. If a waiter or waitress averages 15% on a $15 meal and they average 20 customers an hour they’re earning over $45 an hour in tips. That’s six times more than some of their customers earn. If you give exceptional service you deserve exceptional tips, if you give mediocre service than you deserve mediocre tips. And if you give lousy service with a lousy attitude your tips should be non-existent in the hopes that you move on to a different career (you owe that to your employer, your customer and your fellow workers.) If your giving lousy service because your having problems at home, then get over yourself and leave your problems at home because if you brought your problems from home with any other occupation your employer would soon can you.

          • JoeDen says:

            Wait-staff should be paid properly.

            The main reason that waitpersons oppose any standardization of pay is that they want to work only 10-15 hours during the week at a peak pay rate while evading taxes whenever possible. Then, there is time for the primary job. The better service jobs go to the beautiful.

            Restaurant owners avoid paying waitpeople properly to avoid raising the advertised prices, often going as far as to impose an 18-20% mandatory gratuity.

    • Dear Tiffiny says:

      I think the correct context of that statement was directed to people who dine out with their children.

      “If my kids leave food on the floor or sticky messes on the table, I ask for a dustpan or a wet cloth to return the table to its condition prior to our arrival.”

      What she is saying is that when you go out, if your little one is throwing food on the floor, breaking crayons, writing on tables, or just creating a chaotic mess MORE than the average person, be respectful of that. Ask for a towel to clean up the food from the floor, or the crayon off the table. That is it.

      I’m sure those who have children never let their children act like that at home so why would it be okay to let your child act like that in a public place and not try to tidy up after them. Understandably you go out to be waited on and to be cleaned up after, but don’t you think that is a bit rude and inconsiderate to just leave the table looking like a hurricane blew through it and created a sticky mess that takes the busboy 3x longer to clean than normal.

      She is not asking you to clean up and reset the table. You wouldn’t even be able to do that if you tried. ‘

      • PatTheRat says:

        If my children leave a larger mess than usual (and broken crayons do NOT qualify for that, lol) then I tip accordingly. But if the waiter or waitress expects me, with 3 young children in tow, to get down on my knees with a dustpan and clean the floor, they can kiss my white, hairy butt. If you run a restaurant and don’t want children in your establishment, then post a sign on the door. Otherwise, accept the fact that children are going to make a larger mess than an adult. Expecting parents to do the staff’s job is simply ludicrous.

        • Platypus Friend says:

          Or, you can choose to be a really, really nice person and clean up as much as possible. Enjoy your professional relationship with your server, don’t tolerate bad service, praise them when they do a little extra, and also do a little extra, yourself.

          • MJB says:

            PF, my guess is that your comment’s origin is more idealogy than reason. Quit navel gazing and be a part of what is going around you in the world. Despite your advice, I may on any day, prefer to be a normal person involved in my life’s transactions such as having lunch and paying my check and not choose to “be a really nice person and clean up…” as you offer. My personal of responsibility is to act civilized and pay for my food. While you have the responsibility to “serve” the customer (that’s why you are there), your responsibility is business, not personal this means that the relationship in not equal, your standard is determined by the fact that you are doing a job. (If I were sitting at the dining table in your home as your guest, I would have a different standard by which to relate to you). As a server in a restaurant you do not get “equality.” I have the option of voting with my feet, you have the option of getting a different job.

      • Drew says:

        Actually, most restaurants don’t want you to clean up after yourself. They just throw everything into a tub and wipe the table down. It would take far longer to turn over the table if the customers were getting dust pans and wet rags. I agree with not leaving a disaster area, but, kids are messy. Don’t tell me a restaurant is kid friendly and expect them to act like adults.

    • Harold Hepcat says:

      I’ve been in the ‘business’ for quite a few years now and she’s not talking about regular, reasonable crumbs, etc. People can be pigs, leaving stuff that a haz- mat crew should remove and let their kids trash the place. I was raised better, apparently some people weren’t.

      • Drew says:

        You were raised that much better if you ended up a waitress.

        • Justin says:

          Drew, how classless and elitist of you to talk down to servers as if they are scum. In fact, having worked in the industry for a decade, I can tell you that MOST servers are either in college, or have already graduated college, and are working to pay off their student loans. I’m sure you are much more educated and better than servers. Do us all a favor and stay home, because nobody wants to wait on a pretentious asshole like yourself. You’d think you were raised better than to talk down to hard working people on the internet. I’m sure your parents are ashamed.

    • Art says:

      Why should someone have to clean up after your bratty kid’s mess? You’re kidding, right? Another rube who has no business going out to eat anyplace more sophisticated than the Olive Garden (which I’m guessing is one of your favorite spots). Ugh–how do people like you live with themselves?

      • Adrian says:

        Why should someone have to collect my garbage? Or clean the bathrooms I use? Or clean my car and vacuum all the leaves off the floor of it? Because it’s a job. The only way we get to choose what job we have is by choosing our path in life. Do I think that anyone is better than anyone else? No, I think if you get up and work 40 hours a week at any job to pay your own rent then you deserve respect. That being said, if a kid throws a plate of spaghetti on the floor should the customer have to ask for cleaning instruments to clean it up? Sure, if said customer feels like it. If they don’t feel like it and you don’t want to clean it up yourself… I guess you picked a bad day to be a waiter.

  • Rose says:

    Zoltar – do I really need to tell you that Jews and Canadians are Caucasians, unless when they are not? Use a dictionary if you can’t handle words with more than 2 syllables.

    • Zogtar says:

      Actually, Jews and Canadians are not Caucasians. Caucasian is a physiological feature while being Jewish is a religious feature (that may be tied to being Caucasian, in some cases) and being Canadian is a political feature–citizenship of Canada. So yeah, you’re wrong. Use a dictionary if you can’t understand what race, religion, and nationality mean. Thanks.

    • Glen says:

      This was the worst argument for anything, ever. “Jews and Canadians are Caucasians unless when they are not” That’s like me saying that the weather is always sunny and clear except when it isn’t.

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