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Your Take: Remember To Tip Your Servers

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Ahhh, this is the second article in the Your Take series and it piggybacks an article I wrote earlier that was linked to by Consumerist. Well, when Consumerist linked to my post on ridiculous money saving ideas, it touched off a firestorm in the comments about washing clothes in hot or cold water and tipping. Today, we’ll hit on the idea of tipping, which apparently polarizes the readership more that one would probably expect. In fact, RDM7234 got so fired up that he/she totally missed the point of my post (that it was a tongue in cheek and pointing out ridiculous ways of saving money), and called me an asshole for trying to save money by tipping less. I wasn’t really fazed by the affront because I know I tip on the generous side (my benchmark starts at 20%, not 15%, simply because it makes the math easier) and because I used to be a banquet waiter; I know the crap the wait staff has to take so I don’t mind throwing a few extra dollars their way as long as the service is good (I’m easy to please).

Now, fundamentally I don’t agree with how the compensation structure for the wait staff works but that doesn’t mean I tip less, why punish the victims in the scheme? I don’t think they should get such sub-minimum wage hourly wages and then have to depend on tips to bring that up to or above minimum wages. Now at places like a Ruth Chris Steakhouse, it’s really a non-issue… even a crappy tip can keep someone fed. But what about all the folks working your local diners? We’re not talking $50 entrees there, we’re talking $5 Reubens and $6 BLTs; making up the difference there is significantly harder.

What’s your take on tipping? Do you protest the system and tip a little less? Do you honestly not care and tip a little less? Do you tip more because of the system?

Oh, and to add to it, what do you think of all the random tip jars that have been appearing everywhere? Does that cashier at Starbucks really need a tip? What about the kid singing as he makes your ice cream cone at Coldstone Creamery? I don’t know about that.

{ 39 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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39 Responses to “Your Take: Remember To Tip Your Servers”

  1. Lord says:

    Tip for service or eat somewhere else. That said, ignore tipping for jobs that don’t include personal service beyond doing their job like handing you your food. Also heard it recommended not to tip owners since theirs is in the profit.

  2. Javert says:

    Always tip. What you are paying for at a restaurant is the food, the prep, the building, management, overhead, etc. The servers really do not factor into the equation of the cost of a meal. If you don’t want to tip then don’t sit. Not only are you cheating the wait person out of your tip but someone who probably would have tipped is not sitting there.

    For those who say get another job, get real. Be on a wait staff is the perfect job for people with other responsibilities in life such as being a single parent or a student. I worked through grad school at a Chilis. Wow, one of the hardest jobs ever.

    Oh, and one thing you might want to remember…if you have a coupon, buy one get one free deal or if something is heavily discounted, you should still tip on the amount you should have paid without the bargain. I always order water at restaurants because it seems moronic to spend $3 on 5 cents of syrup but I always add the $3 to my total when calculating tip.

    Also, use your brain. It the service is bad, ask yourself, whose fault was it? If something was screwed up in the kitchen or something, do not take it out on your server. Tip them normally, ream the manager. But, if your server is a flake or, my fav, does not write down your order, and screws it up, you then can show your displeasure via tip.

    As for stores with tip jobs to serve a counter? What am I tipping for? I also worked minimum wage fast food jobs during the summers of high school and the thought of tips were not even remotely in our minds. Why then does every store it seems have a tip jar for people who are at least making minimum wage? I don’t know.

    W/r/t Coldstone, God, do I hate the singing. So some times, depending on my mood, I will drop a tip in and run out just to torture my fellow customers. Sorry. I have a weird streak in me.

  3. Brian says:

    My tips start at 20% and work their way down if the service is bad. I think I feel bad for the waiters/waitresses because of the low wage they are being paid. That said, I think this system is good for this type of job as it makes the staff think harder about how to please you, their customer.

    As for the Starbucks/Coldstone tip jars, I think minimum wage is enough for the typically young kids that work there. If they want to take the risk of getting/not getting tips, they should move over to the restaurant business.

    • Spencer Arias says:

      The problem with that is that these types of jobs make it impossible to get a job like that. while I Was in high school yes part time minimum wage is enough, but once you reach college, especially since I dont have tits, part time minimum wage is not enough when they wont give you more than part time.

  4. Jeff C says:

    I use to be a server and you truly do not know what it is like unless you have been there. Take the post tax pre-discount/coupon amount and double the number furthest to to left and there is you tip, always round up. So if the bill is $26 leave $6. It’s more then 20% but the extra buck helps out that server more then it will ever help you. If you want to argue about that extra buck then don’t go out to eat, cook at home and save more then a buck.

    As far as bad server I echo Javert’s comments. The source of the bad experience is not always the server. It might have been the cooks who messed up the order and had to remake it.

    If my significant other and I go out to eat and the server is over-the-top wonderful let people know. Tell the manager how great this person was or tell your friends to go and ask for that server. We have a few places around town where the servers know us and we enjoy that ‘relationship’ they take care of us because we take care of them.

    As far as tip jar for other ‘jobs’ I have to say that I don’t ‘tip’ in that situation. I mean it you got me 2 scoops of ice cream and put them in a cup, did you really earn a tip? I don’t think so.

    One of the funniest places I say a tip jar was at a t-shirt shop in Key West. Am I supposed to tip for picking out some overpriced trinket and brining it to the cash register? I don’t think so.

  5. Minimum Wage says:

    Don’t forget your routers!

  6. saladdin says:

    “What you are paying for at a restaurant is the food, the prep, the building, management, overhead, etc. The servers really do not factor into the equation of the cost of a meal.”

    What??
    That is just illogical.
    Any business that does not factor labor into its product cost will go under quick.

    A tip is extra, not mandatory for me. If I feel like it I tip, if not I don’t.
    It’s my choice. There is absolutely no arguement for making tipping a mandatory act.

    saladdin

  7. dong says:

    I try to tip between 18-24% depending on service. I don’t agree with the system, I wish tipping wasn’t required and was done for good service, but given how things are setup – I know it’s what keeps waiters and waitresses fed.

    saladdin, I think you’re missing the point – the sytem is not just the restaraunts and the business, but the culture that says waiters are payed on their tips. Because most people do, when a particular person stiffs the waiter, he or she is depriving that specific person. I mean if we all started boycotting tipping then maybe things would change, but there’s not organized movement to change this system.

  8. Jonathan W says:

    I may have noted this elsewhere recently, but I typically start off with 25% and work my way down (or up for exceptional service). My wife and I are only a couple years removed from the foodservice industry where tips put food on the table more than one night.

    Perhaps the only time I tip only 15% is in parties of 8 or more where tip is included in the ticket. I know it’s often not the choice of the server, but something about that just irks me.

  9. James says:

    I think the whole system is arbitrary and doesen’t make any sense. I mean I don’t mind the concept of tipping, but the whole peer pressure aspect turns me off more than anything else. You should tip because you WANT TO not because society demands it.

  10. gautham cfl says:

    I tend to tip more than most of my colleagues and friends. I tend to tip between 15 to 25 % depeding upon the total amt. of tip. Basically never less than 2.50 bucks unless I am picking up the food myself where I do just a buck +round off figure. Some might say thats not enough and also that my friends are cheap. May be its related to the fact that I am an immigrant here who came here about five years ago.

    I tip more when I am ordering pizza or using a coupon. I used most of the coupon money for the tip an. Also, the guy or gal delivering pizza on Super ball Sunday deserves generous tip. What say you?

  11. robert says:

    First of all I always tip 15% more or less depending on service (because it’s the way things are). My opinion is that anyone making minimum wage should not be tipped at all. Waiters offer personal service Isn’t that there job? I have worked for a department store where I offered personal service. I never got tipped. I also never expected it. I guess since I never sold the holy grail of food I was not entitled to tips.

    • bst srvr says:

      Servers do not make minimum wage just a little tid bit you may need to know before you decide to take up the servers time. They only make $2.33 an hour so for any of you cheap a***s going out to eat maybe if you cant afford to tip or are just a holes about it maybe Burger King or another fast food option would be best for you!!!!!!

  12. plonkee says:

    Well we don’t have the same system over here in the UK, the minimum wage is the same whether you are a waiter, waitress, cleaner or software engineer.

    I normally tip 10%+ for good service, a little more for outstanding service, and if the service is poor, I tip less – right down to nothing. It works for me, most people I eat out with think that I’m being too generous, which is about the right level of balance.

  13. saladdin says:

    I agree dong, it is the culture.
    But my problem, like others have stated, are those that believe it is required. Some of these posts say things like “tip or don’t sit” or actually accuse you of “cheating” someone for not tipping.

    I may tip for extra service but not for the same service I get when I pull through and buy a Whopper.

    My only question is:
    Whose responsibility is it to pay employees their wages? I believe it is the owners, not mine. The cost should already be built into the product.

    saladdin

  14. Beth says:

    My tipping is usually around 15% (usually a little better; if I ever had truly horrible service it would probably be under). I don’t tip at places that are simliar to fast food (i.e., coffee shops), unless there’s a very good reason to do so. I’ve never been a waitress; I’ve seen the job, and I couldn’t do it–so I like to show appreciation to those who do.

    I hate the idea that we have to tip, but I’m not going to try to start a one-person campaign. It only hurts the hard-working server.

  15. Scott says:

    I’ve never actually lived in the UK or Europe but from my brother who has I know that tipping anything more than 10% there is considered bad taste by most locals – makes you seem like a pompous American. Plus, as was pointed out here, the waiter is already getting paid a normal salary. I think the real point of all this is that in America the laws are set so that wait staff can get screwed. I would be all in favor of passing new laws to pay waiters minimum wage, raise my food prices, and stop the tipping fiasco.

    Now for something that surprisingly NO ONE has mentioned here… what about tipping BARTENDERS? I’m not talking about wait staff that brings you drinks, I’m talking about the people who pour one beer, overcharge you $3 for it and still get at least a $1 tip (only in America of course). What do people think? Should you tip them well? Most bartenders certainly think so – you can count on some crappy service if you don’t front some money. I find this very odd – they do less than the Starbucks kid but expect a tip larger than anyone else on the planet. Jim – new post!

  16. Javert says:

    saladdin you don’t seem to get it.

    “What??
    That is just illogical.
    Any business that does not factor labor into its product cost will go under quick.

    A tip is extra, not mandatory for me. If I feel like it I tip, if not I don’t.
    It’s my choice. There is absolutely no arguement for making tipping a mandatory act.”

    Why should they factor in labor? It is simply not done and it is accepted. The business model for restaurants is simply as it is. Who started it? I don’t know. Why would it go under quick? It is quite brilliant. You are right though, it is not mandatory. Everyone has the right to be a lazy jerk. Again, if you don’t want to tip, stay out of sit down restaurants.

    The bar issue is a good point. I think the tip there is more of a bribe in the case of a packed bar on a Saturday or Friday night. My goal is usually to be remembered so that the next time I step up in the crush of people, I can get served. I know this sounds selfish but it can be dog-eat-dog at the bar.

  17. Suresh says:

    “What you are paying for at a restaurant is the food, the prep, the building, management, overhead, etc.”
    No restaurant business runs without taking the labor cost into consideration which also includes wages paid to the servers.

    Some people commented that one should stop eating out if you dont tip. Tipping is not mandatory. More over i go out to eat because it i want to and not to pay tips to the servers. That said, my tip is always 15% though i dont understand why to tip 15% and not 10% and who fixed it.

  18. Rashers Tierney says:

    I tip around 20% too, and am always baffled about blog comments on poor service. I’ve probably received horrific, I’m-considering-a-small-tip service all of twice in my life, where are you people eating?

    I had a manager a few years ago who took us all out to a nice place for lunch one afternoon, and felt the need not only to leave only a tiny amount of change for the tip – he was pissed about something so minor I can’t even remember what it was – he tossed it in a dirty beer glass. We were mortified, and he lost the respect of his whole team that day. Bad mistake – it really helps to have your employees on your side.

    I do agree with those who say if you can’t afford the tip, don’t eat out. Yes, this is America, no-one can force you, get a desk job, socks up, chest thump, etc, but to me it smacks of kicking those who can least afford it. To a number of those you’ll meet it’s cheap, not frugal, and people (employees, dates, friends, colleagues) WILL make judgements about you based on it.

    And to Scott above, I bartended in Ireland for the bulk of my teenage and college years – tipping more than 10% was NOT considered bad taste in any place I worked, it was considered a wonderful and welcome thing, we only made 3 or 4 pounds/euros an hour. Most Americans were primed to tip nothing by the guidebooks anyway.

  19. Brad says:

    15% is typically an easy number to figure in your head, so I start there and generally round up. If I’m in an expensive restaurant, I stick pretty close to 15%. In a cheaper diner I’ll round up more, resulting in a higher percentage. It doesn’t seem to me that someone who serves a $70 dollar meal really has to do more to satisfy me than someone who serves a $7 meal.

    I hardly ever put money in the tip jars at coffe shops, fast food, etc. Tipping at bars depends on the situation, but I usually tip periodically, not every drink.

    At least here in the US, as I understand the taxes, waitstaff are paid a different, lower minimum wage at restaurants, but are taxed assuming tips. Therefore, when you don’t tip you are not only reducing their pay, you are making them pay taxes on money they did not receive.

  20. saladdin says:

    Javert,
    Are you telling me that a restaurant does not budget for labor costs and factor that into the products cost like it does for overhead? What business does not do that?

    Please help me understand that and you may turn me into a tipper yet.

    I understand that when posting it is not possible to see someone’s intent so I will not take that “lazy jerk” comment as a personal attack but as a generalization of your opinion. And as you have a right to yours, so do I.
    If I do not want to tip I will not. And that will not stop me from going to a “sit down” place to eat.

    saladdin

  21. I usually tip around 20% for typical (i.e. good) service at regular restaurants. However, my standards and expectations rise the nicer the restaurant is. Decent service at Chili’s will get you 20%, but that same level of service at III Forks will only get you 15% (which is still a bigger tip since the food and drinks are much more expensive).

    And if a waiter at a 4-5 star restaurant delivers less service than you would expect from a Chili’s waiter, he/she might get dropped to 10-12%, especially if the meal’s price is inflated simply because I ordered a nice bottle of wine.

    By the way, there’s no reason to rant about our culture or the practice of tipping. Our culture is what it is and this practice has been around forever. If you want to buck it and refuse to tip where tipping is expected, well then people will correctly assume that you are a tight-wad, an a-hole, clueless, ignorant, or from another country.

  22. saladdin says:

    Elizabeth George,
    Sure there is reason to “rant” about culture or the practice of tipping.

    You are giving reasons why you tip, why should others not be allowed to give reasons or explanations for their opinions? Is yours the only one that counts?

    To say “it is what it is” is just defeatist, lemming talk to me. To be honest, I really don’t care what others may think of my spending habits. But like the other posts, I have an opinion. And a right to it.

    It is just as valid as yours.

    If you really want to get worked up, check out this discussion about tip jars at My Money Blog. Last I saw there was like 50 posts. Some for tipping, some against. I will put the link below but am unsure if posting links is allowed. Again, it is at My Money Blog . Com but you will have to look back a few days to find the post.

    http://www.mymoneyblog.com/archives/2007/07/tip-jars-are-everywhere-should-we-fight-back-or-give-in.html

    saladdin

  23. Scott says:

    To clarify, I didn’t say that tipping over 10% abroad was considered bad taste by the staff (why would it ever?), I said it was considered bad taste by the locals, a.k.a. the clientele, because it tends to drive up the prices they pay. (This is the similar to my experience in China when Americans don’t bargain for better prices at open markets and drive up the prices that locals pay.) I agree that tipping over 10% is certainly appreciated by anyone involved but abroad it’s not EXPECTED like it is here in America. I always tipped decently well when I’m abroad but I think it’s nice to know that no one’s going to be all pissed off and chasing me down the street screaming that they can’t pay their bills if I don’t.

  24. Joe says:

    My wife and I believe tipping is essential and is one way to share our “bread” with people that are working.

    Yes, we pay for the meal and the meal price *could* include the tip but then the sales tax is added to the tip. So we accept the custom of tipping to help people earn a good wage.

    Some private clubs add the gratuity to the monthly food bill – but sometimes the service is not worth the gratuity – so I like to add an amount myself. Also, they have to add the sales tax to the gratuity and I don’t like that.

    Our base tip is 10% and the max seems to be 30% with a norm of 20%.

    We double the tip when we order one meal and split it if the waitperson provides service like it were two meals (and most do). If a single meal cost $20 then we tip $8 (rather than $4) to recognize that we took the table turn with a below normal meal price.

    I (but not my wife) avoid buying soft drinks and alcohol with meals because I think their prices are too steep. I know that affects the total tab and I don’t mind giving part of that back to the wait person. We do not add desert frequently so I try to recognize that fact when I determine the tip. It seems that the “average” tab for many places we eat with drinks and desert is in the $50 range whereas ours is in the $40 range and that is why I don’t mind tipping $8 to $12.

    Tipping for services such as hair cuts, pedicures, and massage depends on the provider. I still use a guide I learned as a child and that is not to tip the provider if the provider is the owner. Most providers that we use now are not owners, but I still wonder if the guide I learned is still correct.

    We generally ignore the tipping jars.

    I sometimes wonder if we should extend the custom of tipping to places like WalMart if we think their workers are underpaid. That is, we like the low prices on (name the item) but then some complain that WalMart does not pay their workers enough. We could tip their workers. Maybe WalMart and some organization could work out the details to see how many of us would help improve the wages of their workers.

  25. razmaspaz says:

    I tip. Usually generously. That said, I NEVER feel obligated to Tip. The whole point of a tip in my opinion is incentive for my server to work for me. I’ve always seen it like this. When I go to a restaurant the server works for me, not the restaurant. The better the job they do for me, the more they will get paid. For those of you in the food service industry, you are not entitled to that money any more than the guy who cuts my lawn would be entitled to the money. If he cuts my lawn and leaves zig zag marks on it, or chews up my garden hose with the mower, I’m not going ot pay him. Same thing in the food service industry. If my food comes out cold, or late, or wrong…you are responsible for it. You let it leave the kitchen in that condition. On the flip side of that, if you keep my drink filled, or ask me if I want another glass of wine right before my meal arrives, then you get the credit for that. Your level of service will determine my elvel of tip. That is the whole point.


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