Your Take 

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. EA says:

    I don’t usually tip at the tip jars unless the counter person went above and beyond what they’re paid to do. (Although I often dump my nickels and pennies in there, especially if I already have a pocketful of change.)

    For a meal in a restaurant it depends on the level of service. I tend to tip higher percentages at cheaper places. If I’m at the local greasy spoon and the two of us have a burger and water each, and the waitress comes by to fill the water and check on us several times that’s as much service as a fancy place with expensive drinks and an expensive meal. Why does the server at the expensive place deserve a $20 tip (20% of $100 for two people) and the server at the diner deserves only $2 (20% of $9.50, rounded up) for the same amount of work? I tend to leave a “large” tip for the waitress at the diner ($3 on that $9.50 meal) and a “small” tip for the server at the more expensive place ($15 on $100). Obviously that might go up for good service or down for bad service, but that’s the base I work from.

    In my opinion the system should be more focused on what the person does (do they come back and check on you, bring your drinks promptly, top up your coffee) than a percentage of the total meal. Obviously a multi-course meal is “worth” more than a single course, and subtract for rude service, but there could be a standard of X, plus Y for promptness, plus Z for each extra course.

  2. MoneyNing says:

    Yeah I wrote about the same thing on my blog a few months ago and everyone was pretty fired up. There are always both sides of the story and everyone will see everything from their own point of view. Just do what you feel is right since there’s no right answer.

  3. Sherry L says:

    As a former server who fed my kids on tips, I’d like to mention that many state governments “allow” employers to pay sub-minimum wages to employees who can reasonably expect tips……. waiters and waitresses. In Nebraska that wage is $2.23 an hour!! So right, wrong or otherwise, that is the amount most employers pay. This does not include fast food workers, they are covered under the “regular” minimum wage laws. I tip well if a person is at least trying to do a good job, not so good if they’re standing over in the corner chatting with friends and I’m out of coffee. Even I have limits of tolerance.

  4. saladdin says:

    I’ll add my last 2 cents.

    Last night I went out to eat with my girlfriend. As we were sitting there the waitress came back over to ask if we needed any thing else…as she had her cell phone to her ear. She did not get tipped by me.


  5. Javert says:


    You are quite correct in the poor context of my post. I should have not put ‘lazy jerk’ in there in such a way as to be a personal attack.

    With respect to the overhead of a restaurant…you are correct labor is factored it but it is factored in knowing that they don’t pay minimum wage. It is factored in at $2.15 per hour (estimated…what it was in 01). It is the structure of the system that is wrong but the wait staff should not be punished. A boycott of tipping does not seem to be the answer but rather a boycott of restaurants.

    As to you not tipping for the cell phone…I do not believe in tipping as an absolute right. I start at 20%…service good, great service +, poor service -. I will knock down for bad service. But as a word of advice, if you are truly aghast at service, not leaving anything does not communicate this because there are some who simply do not tip. If you are truly ticked at the service at is was in fact due to the incompetence of the wait staff, leave 26 cents. Or 4 cents. Don’ just leave the change from the bill (coins) but leave a specific amount so they are aware that you made a decision to reflect their poor service by making an effort to tip bad. That is the only way they may think ‘hmm, maybe I am not cut out for this.’

  6. Rashers Tierney says:

    Or how about actually addressing the waiter/bartender or the manager, and saying “listen, my experience here tonight was not good, so I’m not tipping”. Then perhaps someone can remedy what went wrong in the kitchen/on the floor for the next table, maybe you can get a break on the bill, the restaurant owner has a heads up. This passive aggressive leaving 4 cents thing, or throwing change in a dirty glass, is really petty behaviour that makes the customer seem like a sulky kid.

  7. Mike says:

    I have a job, and do not get tips for anything. If the wait staff is underpaid, quit & get a better paying job. Don’t prey on the CHARITY of others.
    That’s pathetic.

  8. I ignore the random tip jars at Dunkin Donuts and other similar places. I don’t tip at Taco Bell or McDonalds, why would I tip at Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts?

  9. Ginger says:

    All restaurants that have a busser or bartender and some for host make the server no choice tip out a % of the sales. Not the tips the sales, then it is the law that even if the server make less then 8% of the bill as there tip they are tax on 8%. So if there is a busser and a bartender you must tip a least 10% min to the server so they are not lossing money by serving you. It is better to tip 15 as a min because sometimes the host and others take a cut. There was a case where the managers were taking cut. Trust me servers will remember and not server you or the service will be worse the next time because you are not worth it. There are other tables that may tip better. If the service is decent 20% if it get bad enough that you would go below 15% talk to manager. Btw if your just cheap and that is why you don’t tip tell the manager may lower you bill.

  10. Crystal says:

    My husband and I are both servers. We only get paid $2.13/hr here in Tennessee. I agree with what Brad said, we have to pay money on our taxes on our total sales wither we get a tip or not. Do you think it is fair for a server if most of his/her tables stiff them or leave them crappy tips and then the STILL have to claim at least 10% of their total sales! Why should I pay taxes on money I didn’t make. No, it’s not your fault that resturants are made up this way, but if you don’t like the rules then don’t eat there. Simply put. Go to McDonald’s where they get paid at least Min.Wage. Another thing that isn’t fair. How about the server that has been taking care of you for well over an hour, you KNOW that their shift is OVER, considering the new server taking the tables, and they have to stay extra waiting on you to LEAVE because they can’t cash out. Is it fair for them to have to be away from their family and you dont leave one or tip only $2!? There have been days were I get to work at 7am and technically I should have left a 3pm…3:30pm at the LATEST but dont get to leave till almost 5!My co-worker is losing out on a potential table/tip and I am waiting to be screwed over. So sometimes you aren’t just screwing over your server but the server who is working the next shift! Also, I HATE the church groups who ONLY leave the “BE SAVED AND FIND JESUS!” pamplets! Ok, first of all, Jesus/GOD(yes I only listed thems because it is ONLY the Christain faith that I have seen do this) DOES NOT pay my bills, God grants me the gift of life to be able to get my ass out of bed in the morning to WORK for a living. I work HARD for my tips and it isn’t up to my OTHER tables who tip over to make up for what you didnt tip. No one, can say “Get another job” well if that were the case, NO ONE would be there to feed you. So I guess you’d really be saving money by eating at home! Please be curteous to your server. If the service was HORRIBLE. Factor in some things, was the server extremly busy(and couldn’t immediately refill your drink, that you drank down in one gulp., was it’s the kitchen’s fault and the server tried all she/he could to make things better? If it was for poor attitude or respect than by all means DONT tip but if it wasnt the servers fault, Tip right. We deserve the money, we work hard(I actually work a job were I have to run UP and DOWN stairs to get to my tables from 7am-3pm(unless I get a table who wants to sit there forever), we don’t usually have the time for a break considering how busy we get) So you figure in I run ALL day for about 8-9 hrs. non-stop. I put up with rude arrogant people, I deal with people who let their children(or even themselves) DESTROY the whole table and area around them with food and paper, I have to run extra hard when a table can’t just tell me EVERYTHING thing they need in one trip and I have to go back and forth EVERY SINGLE TIME. I put up with a person who tells me “Yes, I am ready to order” but then it takes me 10 minutes JUST TO GET IT, because you really didnt KNOW! I even put up with people who are mean and hateful and talk to me like I am beneath them. I deal with people that WONT even talk to me and just ignore me, uh I cant take your order unless you speak. I do this all the time. I put up with it. Why? Because I know I am a good server, I know there are people out there that I can not please. But, I feel like I still derserve that tip. For those of you who DO tip(and I mean tip good and not poorly). Thank you, we honestly appreciate it. There are those of you who remind us of why we DO put up with the things we do. You are the ones who make are job a little more pleasant. Because of you treating us like we are people too. Joking with us. Asking how WE are doing. Letting us know when there is a problem but not over doing it like some do. There are those of you who stack the plates up right so it’s not as hard for me to juggle all of them. It’s nice when you hear a customer tell you that you are the best server they have ever had. It’s nice when you get a thank you in return. So again thank you to all of you who DO take care of us and respect us. For those of you who DON’T just remember the next time you tip, you might be the reason a server can’t put food on a table that night or can’t pay that bill tommorrow. Remember most of us get paid a lot less than min. wage. We rely on those tips. Sorry thats just the way it is. Dont like it stay at home and dont waste our time.

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