To Tip or Not To Tip

It seems that my previous post took a turn into a hot subject… how much to tip and if to tip at all.

Most places in Colombia are non tipping, meaning you pay for the food and the service is included in the price. Tip at that point is appreciated but never expected.

Here in the U.S. its a LOT different, and I was very surprised when Barry thought that tipping was some cool aide that we all had drank and he wanted no part of.

I have been around plenty of people that have worked in the service industry and I know that tips are part of their income. My Dad has a part time job in the weekends where he runs a donuts shop in the morning. The salary is crappy, but the tips he gets has become his disposable income. He provides great service there, so much so that in two days he makes more on sales than what its made during the other five days during the week. I attribute this to his great service. He remembers all of his regular’s orders and they are being prepared before they even get to the register. Normally people don’t tip at a donuts shop, but my Dad makes probably more on tips that the salary that he gets.

I also know a lot of servers, or former servers and they do depend on the tips. I am not talking about just your average college or high school kid with a couple of part time jobs, but people that are servers as a profession. I believe this is one of the hardest jobs and I am going to reveal something about me that not many people know. I judge people on how they treat servers. It is on my top five measurements on you being considered in my book a good person.

I believe that if you treat the people eating with you nicely, but you are nasty, condescending or dismissive of the server you have not been brought up properly. Now if you are overall nasty, condescending or dismissive all the time, than this rule does not apply. It only applies if you all of a sudden switch because you are talking to someone serving you. However, I don’t judge someone on how much they tip at all.

All of these goes out the window if the server is lousy or being nasty first, or if they look miserable while serving you. I think part of the job is being able to put their issues aside while you are being served. The moment that you look down upon someone that is doing a service for you, I am sorry but you have lost points on my book. The people that work in the service industry are performing duties for you that they normally would only do for family and friends. I think people that don’t respect those professions or see them as less than what a lawyer or accountant does, are missing the point of what providing a service is.

I think those actions have to be paid for, and while it being built into the price in some places(In my experience only some high end restaurants, some resorts and most places in Colombia), it is not the norm here in the U.S.

How much should you tip?

Personally think it is a sliding scale depending on service, type of restaurant and time of day. For lunch, if the meal is being served you should pay at least on dollar per five worth of food. It is a lot easier to leave a 50% tip at lunch for excellent service than on an $30 a plate restaurant at dinner reason being that my favorite time to eat out is lunch. At dinner time everything changes, it takes more time to serve a dinner with multiple courses. If you were provided excellent service I think 20% should be the minimum or at least what you already set yourself to pay. If the service was just ok, anywhere from 10% to 15% should be the norm. An easy way to figure it out is just double the tax, most places tax is around 7%. Again, think of the service you are being provided.

I do understand that having a family means bills are larger and 20% of $60 is $12 (for the no math people) which is what a family of 4 ends up paying on your chain restaurant after drinks, appetizer and a couple of kids meals. $72 dollar seems a lot to pay for a meal at Chillis’s when you can get at least 3 days of groceries for that same amount of money. Not having kids makes it a lot easier to go out to dinner and being able to tip well. I know when I was paying for 3 people to go out to dinner it would happen a lot less often, or take out would be the solution. At that point to me eating out became more of a treat than a convenience.

I can count on one hand the times that I have not left a tip, and I prefer to leave the establishment before the meal is served if I am not being served properly. I just put a lot of my ideas out there, but I don’t know what the right answer is to this question. I guess I care more about people treating the wait stuff with respect and not as much to how much they tip.

12 Responses to To Tip or Not To Tip

  1. “I think people that don’t respect those professions or see them as less than what a lawyer or accountant does, are missing the point of what providing a service is.”

    THANK YOU! See, the fact that people don’t get that, or just have a lack of respect in general for whatever reason they may give, is so hard for me to swallow.

    And I’m sorry that I was probly the one that took that last post into a hotter area than you were probably expecting…I tried to be nice! Honest. :)

    I read a really good little article recently on tipping, but I can’t remember where! It specifically mentioned that doubling the tax can be a bad solution, as that generally adds up to less than 15%. But it also mentioned that you should tip on the total cost of the meal pre-tax, which I never thought about. And it also reminded folks that a minimum of $1 per drink should be tipped when you’re getting drinks from the bar. I always shake my head at the people who leave a buck and a few coins for the bartender at the Moose when they’ve ordered 2 or more drinks. They make me sad.

  2. Always, always leave a tip. If the service is truly awful and the waiter could not care less, leave a nickel or dime. If you leave without leaving a tip, they might figure that you’re one of those prigs that doesn’t tip or maybe that you just forgot. Leave a 5c tip and your protest is registered.

    I’ve never had to do that myself, but that is the decided course of action should the occasion ever arise.

    What annoys me about the tipping regime is the ambiguity of it. Restaurants it’s 15-20% so I can account for that. But what about at the counter of a burrito factory? Or at the bar counter? Or Starbucks? It’s less clear-cut. I don’t know how much the server is relying on tips. And, to be honest, if I’m already paying $4.50 for a cup of coffee, I’m not super-enthusiastic about another 50c to the server. So should I just not go there anymore if $5.00 is more than I’m willing to pay but $4.50 isn’t? If paying $4.50 means that I am stiffing the server, then probably so. But if it’s just a little extra… well that’s different.

  3. But it also mentioned that you should tip on the total cost of the meal pre-tax,

    And pre-coupon! A lot of people forget that.

  4. I totally agree with Faith. Leaving spare change gets the point across, but I have only done that maybe a few times in my life after truly horrible service. It’s hard for me to not tip because if they pool their tips or have to tip out to wait assistants and bartenders, you’re punishing the innocent. It has to be super crap-tastic service for me to leave change. That being said, I still don’t know if I’m supposed to tip at Sonic or not. My hubby and I have been arguing that one for years.

  5. TRUMWILL makes some very good points. I, too, have confusion with counter service kinds of tips. But keep this in mind for the Starbucks question: employees there are usually paid quite well (often upwards of $7.50 per hour to start) AND they get benefits. None of my favorite servers at the Moose in PV have benefits, because they can’t afford them for themselves, and the company doesn’t offer it to them. Consider that the next time you’re trying to figure out what to do with that $.50. (I’d go by the rule of regularity on that one, though. If you go there 3 or more times a week, leave a dollar or two at least once a week. If you go there once a week or less? I don’t know if it’d be worth it to tip.)

    Good point about the coupon thing! If you’re getting two dinners for the price of one, that server still had to enter the entire order, bring the entire order out, and serve you drinks/bread/chips/etc…all the same. So tip them as though you’re paying for the entire meal, and not just for the one entree you actually have to pay for.

  6. Tip the pizza delivery boy
    A college pizza delivery boy arrived at the house of Larry Johnson. He delivered the pizza to his trailer. After giving it to him, Larry asked: “What is the usual tip?”

    “Well,” replied the youth, “this is my first trip here, but the other guys say if I get a quarter out of you, I’ll be doing great.” “Is that so?” snorted Larry. “Well, just to show them how wrong they are, here’s five dollars.”

    “Thanks,” replied the youth, “I’ll put this in my school fund.”

    “What are you studying in school?” asked Larry.

    The lad smiled and said: “Applied psychology.”

  7. I don’t understand how the time of day should effect your tip. I tip 20% lunch or dinner.

    As far as who you tip, I use this rule. If they are doing something for me that I can do myself then they get a tip.

    In restaurants you tip because that waitress/waiter is taking our order, bringing us drinks, bringing you your food, making sure you have everything you need for an enjoyable meal. You pay for this service via tipping.

    If you don’t want to pay for this service then eat fast food. I don’t tip those people.

  8. What makes it interesting in WA is that servers earn minimum wage so it does seem strange that the tip % is expected to be the same as states where a server earns $2 (the extra hourly wage is rolled right in to the food prices). I always tip 20% unless something goes wrong and then it scales from there (or upward if it’s really great service). Like Will, I’m confused when it’s counter help b/c they don’t even leave the area to take my order or even deliver it.

  9. Interesting, in the part of the country where I live (Tennessee) it’s NEVER been part of the culture to tip at counter service. I know I haven’t, and I’ve never seen anyone tip a server at a Starbucks or any other walk-up, order-get-and-pay for your food place.

    Now, that said I have seen tip cups at the counters in a few places, but there’s never more than a buck or two in change in them at a time.

  10. I tip at sit down eateries usually 15-20%. If the service sucks the managers know it as I don’t let service slide from uppity servers. I don’t tip at coffee places, otc places where someone isn’t waiting on me. I also do NOT tip at Sonic, my step daughter works for them and she makes bank (8/hr + avg 20-50.00 an hour on tips).

    @ Barry, I understand your argument for feeling pressure/guilted into tipping. Having over 10 years experience waiting tables for $1.85-$2.10 an hour if I provided a good meal on time and you left satisfied/content because of my work then I’d expect a tip. On the flip side I CHOSE to be waiter and knew full well that I would come across people like you that don’t tip no matter what, I had 9 hour shifts where I’d make my $1.85 and get 6.00 in tips for the day. It’s part of being in the service industry…I also didn’t work at places that had mandatory “Tip Out” rules.

  11. My problem always is that it takes the same/similar effort to serve you in perkins where you tip 4-5 bucks as in some expensive place where your tip can easily become 20-30 dollars or more. the argument is that if you can afford the meal you can afford the tip is fine but it can be turned around to say if restaurant charges more it can afford better pay for their employees. not a problem for me-I don’t eat at expensive places, just a thought.

  12. I make $3.25 an hour as a server in Missouri. That’s it. My “paycheck” is usually either void or under $20, because that $3.25/hour pays my taxes on the tips that I make.

    AND I have to tip the bar 10% of my tips and 8% to the busser. So yeah, a good night is when I walk with 20% of my sales.

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