On Leaving Too Much

I usually pack a lunch for work every day to save money, but when a friend asked if I wanted to meet at a nearby restaurant, I decided to skip my turkey sandwich and agreed to meet him. My budget allows for one cheap meal a week, so I got the lunch special, and drank water to keep my bill under $10.

When we got our checks, I watched my friend scribble the customary $2 tip for the cost of his meal. My total was $7.60 with tax. I started to tip the same amount, but then I looked over at his half-empty Diet Coke and stopped. My friend’s total was a couple of dollars more because he had a drink, so his tip was a few cents over 20 percent of the cost. I was planning to leave the same amount out of habit when I realized that mine should be less. Standard tips are based on a percentage of the bill, and people tack on more for exceptional service. I had chosen tap water over sweet tea so that my bill would be lower. Now I was going to tip the same amount of my friend who ordered more? This didn’t seem fair to me.

So, I calculated 20 percent of my bill on the customer copy of the receipt, and decided to leave the exact amount: $1.52. I had only saved 48 cents, but I felt like a money-saving genius. How many times had I left more than what is customary just because I didn’t want to do the math? Here was a way to save that I had completely overlooked in my efforts to cut costs.

Over the course of a year, if I ate a similarly priced meal once a week and paid the exact tip each time, I would save almost $25. Those meager-sounding savings would pay for two more meals with drinks.

After my discovery, I did some research to see what tipping experts had to say about it. According to the Emily Post Institute, tips should be calculated before tax. That had never occurred to me, but it makes sense. I’m paying a percentage on the meal I just bought, not the sales tax on it. Discounts and coupons are subtracted before tax, so anything added to the bill should be, too. The pretax tip for my recent lunch would have been $1.30. I would’ve saved 70 cents over my usual $2 tip, making my yearly savings nearly $40.

I also read that 15 percent is customary for adequate service, and 20 percent should be the minimum for good service. I’ve always left 20 percent no matter what kind of service I got because it seemed like the right thing to do. If I get great service from a waiter who is attentive without being overbearing, I’ll leave more. The same applies when I’ve asked a lot of the server and he or she was accommodating with my requests.

I like to save money when I can, but leaving a poor tip, or worse, not tipping at all, will probably have its consequences, especially if I visit the restaurant frequently. I’d never leave less than 15 percent, even for poor service. I’d rather shell out the money, and avoid securing that special place in hell for people who don’t tip at all.

Another interesting suggestion is that you don’t have to leave tips when you’re getting take out or buying coffee. I’ve always felt obligated to drop something in those sad little tip jars cafes and restaurants keep by the register, but it’s not necessary. The cashiers are probably not being paid tipped wages, which are far less than the hourly wage of a regular employee, so they aren’t relying on tips to make up the difference.

The guidelines also mention how to tip at a bar: Standard practice is that bartenders should be tipped $1 or 2 per drink when paying with cash. I’ve always followed the cash-only rule when I’m out drinking, because I thought having a bar tab would make it easier to run up a bill I’d regret in the morning. But paying with cash may end up costing me more. Opening a can or bottle is not as complicated as making a mixed drink, but I knew from experience that if I didn’t tip the bartender when he handed me a PBR, he’d ignore me the rest of the night. I always felt cheated because that dollar for each trip to the bar could’ve gone towards at least one good beer.

The same 15 to 20 percent tip applies to the whole bill if I’m not paying on a per-drink basis, so I could avoid the awkwardness with the bartender and save money by opening a tab. If I have four $3 beers and pay a $1 tip in cash each time, I will have spent $16. If I keep a tab and pay one gratuity, my tip would be $2.40. That’s a savings of $1.60. If I go out once a week, in one year, that’s over $80, which would afford me a few more nights out drinking good beer.

There’s no shame in trying to save a few cents on lunch or when you’re out drinking, especially if you’re on a budget, but don’t want to give up hanging out with friends. Tipping the exact amount can even be a little secret between you and the waiter. Pull up the calculator on your phone to get the correct amount and use your debit card so you won’t need change. Most waiters are probably used to rounded numbers, so write the amount clearly on the receipt. Check your bank account to make sure the correct amount was deducted, and then watch the change add up.


See also: Counterpoint: No, This Is How You Tip

Cindy Whitt lives in Raleigh, N.C.


178 Comments / Post A Comment

josefinastrummer (#1,850)

Have you ever worked as a server? To each his or her own, but man, you saved $.48. Congratulations. And please remember that a lot of those people behind the counter are making minimum wage, which is pretty far below the living wage, so throwing in a dollar in the tip jar probably isn’t financing their fancy vacation plan. As a former server, I think you should keep eating your turkey sandwiches.

pandaonaplane (#1,528)

@josefinastrummer My thoughts exactly! Most of the time servers are making $2.13 an hour. 48 cents will probably mean much more to an underpaid server than your bank account.

ghechr (#596)

@josefinastrummer I know this makes me an asshole but a lot of people do not get paid well and they do not receive tips. So why would I give a waiter 50 cents and not, say, the woman who works as a sales associate at Sears?

Bettytron (#111)

@ghechr Because as pandaonaplane said, most servers are paid the minimum wage for service workers who receive tips, which is only $2.13 an hour. Making up the rest of that depends entirely on tips, whereas the sales associate will be making standard min. wage, at least.


Are you Steve Buscemi circa 1992? Don’t make me get all Lawrence Tierney in this motherfucker.

josefinastrummer (#1,850)

@ghechr I have no problem with anyone who makes less than the living wage putting out a tip jar. No one forces anyone to leave a tip ever, unless you are in party larger than 6 or you get room service and gratuity is included. Something tells me you wouldn’t be so quick to tip the lady at Sears though…

MissMushkila (#1,044)

@josefinastrummer @Bettytron Most servers are not paid 2.13. Minimum wage for tipped workers varies by state, 2.13 is the MINIMUM of tipped service wages and applies to very few states.

For example, in my state, tipped workers can be paid only 1.50 less than minimum wage. Which means server positions are highly sought after as they usually mean more hourly pay than non-tip positions (assuming you make at least 1.50 in tips each hour…which is a pretty likely bet).

ghechr (#596)

@Reginal T. Squirge Yes! I am Steve Buscemi circa 1992!

josefinastrummer (#1,850)

@MissMushkila It also varies by employer. Some family owned places will pay more as a base salary, but tips are pooled or you have to deal with the drama that comes with working with a family that is or isn’t yours.
And honestly, even if you get paid minimum wage, it’s still not a living wage, so I think tips are still deserved. But that’s just me.

@ghechr THANK YOU. I worked in a daycare for minimum wage, taking care of people’s children all day. Did I get tips? No. Does the guy who delivers my pizza and gets paid minimum wage get tips? Yes. And before people get all over me for saying tips go to a servers wages, it doesn’t in my state. Were I in a different state, it would be different, but I’m not.

I also agree with the point that there are tons of jobs that don’t pay a living wage where people don’t get tips so what makes servers special? If we’re going by that guideline, you better start tipping at every retail store, fast food joint, etc. etc. When you start doing that, I’ll give in to your argument.

ghechr (#596)

@ghechr I guess what it comes down to is that I am not a waiter’s employer. If they have a problem with their income, they need to take it up with whomever hired them and not the customer or, in this case, the article writer who decided to tip a generous 20% and not more than that. It’s disingenuous to argue that simply because someone is paid a low wage they deserve extra compensation from people who, again, are not their employer- whether they are a day care worker, Sears clerk, or waiter.

katiekate (#1,051)

@ghechr WOW. ACTUALLY http://www.paywizard.org/main/minimum-wage/tipped-workers

Counterpoint: if you are willing to actually pay for your meal, don’t got to a restaurant. I have worked in daycare and food service extensively, and was raised by a bartender at Red Lobster. Trust me, those food service workers deserve and earn every tip. There is nobody, NOBODY in the world that gets shat on more than food service workers on a daily basis. The humiliation that customers put us through day to day is plan horrific. This conversation about whether or not we deserve to eat and pay our rents is just one more fucking example. God some people on here are selfish.

ghechr (#596)

@katiekate Who is saying that wait staff don’t deserve to eat or pay their rent? Look, all I am saying is that people are getting up in arms that the author didn’t tip MORE THAN THE CUSTOMARY AMOUNT. And the only justification that I hear is BECAUSE WE GET PAID POORLY. My point is that many people are paid poorly, under-appreciated, and treated badly by their customers but they do not get extra monetary compensation from persons who are not their employer because of it.

I don’t follow the 20% tipping rule when a bill is under $10– I always round up and tip more. Obviously you’ve never spent a day working in the service industry. I think every adult that goes to restaurants or bars should be required to work for a period of time as a waiter, busser, bartender… If you did you would never ever fret about leaving 48 cents too much or suggest that other people follow your lead.

Whit@twitter (#2,413)

The “little secret between you and your waiter” will be your waiter rolling his eyes about what a tightwad you are.

Mike Dang (#2)

Leaving 20 percent is better than leaving 10 percent, or worse, nothing, but for me, I’m happy to leave more if I can afford it, because yes servers, don’t make much money. It’s all about what you can afford. When my friends and I had a good time at TGIFridays upstate, we left 40 percent as a tip, because if you can afford it, and you think your server deserves it, why not?

pandaonaplane (#1,528)

@Mike Dang I totally agree. I actually look forward to tipping servers generously when I go out. I budget for it even. Cause I have been there!
Also, building up rapport with servers and bartenders often leads to free snacks and drinks on subsequent visits.

wearitcounts (#772)

@pandaonaplane YUP. and then i tip generously AGAIN. which makes the cost close to the same as “not tipping too much” (whatever THAT means), except everybody is happier.

megsy (#1,565)

@pandaonaplane so true! I used to round up my $6.50 brunch to $10 at my local place because a lot of the other patrons were old people and old people are bad tippers (I always bring coins to top up my parents or grandparents’ tips at restaurants). I would get awesome service, tons of coffee, free OJ or an upgrade to the premium brunch.

katiekate (#1,051)

@megsy Yeah straight up? Most people at your first level (Red Lobster, TGIFridays, Applebee’s, etc) are not tipping. Just throwing that out there. I’d say my mom gets a 15% tip maybe 20% of the time. Half the time she gets none at all. I tip to make up for when I can, which is rare because I’m the daughter of a food service worker.

megsy (#1,565)

I always round up when I spend under $10 – yes, I may have ordered water, but I always aim to leave at least $2. I also never leave more than $1 per drink when I’m at a bar.

charmcity (#1,091)

For me, tipping is part of the cost of a meal, because for a waiter, tipping is [a huge] part of how they get paid for serving me that meal and it is how the restaurant world works for customers and workers. I budget that into my expected costs. I usually don’t tip if I just get a cup of drip coffee, though.

Morbo (#1,236)

First off, separate checks for the two of you seems like a bunch of unnecessary work during the lunch rush. Throw in the fact that you are doing credit cards, which require printing off and filing of receipts, it is even more labor.

Just a thought, but the effort to keep your free water filled is the same as it is to keep the Diet Coke filled. The server should be given some kind of credit for that, no?

Lets turn your math around: If someone is working at a place where the average tab can come in under $10, odds are, they are getting a good number of people doing what you do, or rationalizing even worse, because the cost is so low. 50c a check, ten patrons decide, that can come out to $5.00 a lunch rush. That is $25 a workweek, (more likely $30 or $35), which is a lot if you are waiting tables.

City_Dater (#565)

This writer’s presumption about the ease or difficulty of servers’ and bartenders’ jobs is really obnoxious. If she’s that irritated about leaving an “extra” dollar or two on the bar after a night out, maybe she should just buy a six pack and stay home. Or find a bar that will let her stand behind it on a Friday night while people scream orders over the music, spill drinks, leave their empties on the wait station, etc.
More and more I agree with my former boss who believed everyone should bartend or wait tables at some point in their careers.

lemons! (#384)

If I’m being served with someone taking my order, making menu suggestions, refilling my glass and clearing my plate that’s a $2 minimum for their time and service no matter what my bill is. If everyone tipped like you are suggesting, the server could lose $25 a day which adds up in a more significant way than your savings over the course of a year. I totally get the pinch from living on a budget, but I’ve also worked as a server working for tips and less than $2 for service is insulting the work that went into you being able to sit with your friend and share a meal.

GOOD LORD. This is sending me over THE EDGE. I mean, God bless for being thoughtful. And sure, protect your budget. Live the way you need to. But honestly, I feel (PROBABLY UNFAIRLY) like you could have gotten a second job or a night degree with the amount of time you calculated tips to come out to $1.52. A dollar and fifty two cents! My word and stars! What is next?

josefinastrummer (#1,850)

@Choire Sicha@facebook Yes, I am wondering what the author spends her money on, if she is so fixated over $.48. There are so many great ways to save money that don’t involve anyone else, especially not someone who actually needs that extra dollar.

pandaonaplane (#1,528)

@Choire Sicha@facebook I know! This article really got to me too! If forty eight cents means that much you, you probably shouldn’t go out for lunch.
I care about this far too much. Being bored at work on Friday is the worst.

iffie (#1,911)

@Choire Sicha@facebook I couldn’t finish reading this! All for $.48. I can’t with that. I could never leave someone that awkward tip. It’s beyond embarrassing.

matt (#2,039)

I think we’re going to have to turn the comments off over here.

thematt (#1,017)

@Choire Sicha@facebook Never mind the time that she spent WRITING THIS ENORMOUS THING FOR FREE FOR THE BILLFOLD.

I could’ve learned Japanese instead of reading these comments!

NinetyNine (#1,864)

Is the author cute? 25? Because that really affects the math.

wearitcounts (#772)

if you can’t afford to tip $2, don’t go out for lunch.

zou bisou (#1,637)

First everyone determined that a 15% tip was mandatory, then 20%, and now 20% isn’t good enough? Are you so offended by the idea that she didn’t round up 48 cents because it apparently “means less” to her? F THAT. She tipped within the guidelines and that is all that is expected of her. Who are all of you to judge how much 48 cents is to her?

I gladly tip 25% and up for good service, but I am tired of being forced to tip over 15 or 20% for mediocre or straight up bad service. Especially in New York, where all the waiters act like it’s beneath them to actually wait on people. Like any other job, you have to prove your worth. You aren’t going to get a pat on the back from me just for showing up.

josefinastrummer (#1,850)

@zou bisou No one is forcing you to tip anything! But it sounds like there are a lot of servers/ex-servers on here and it’s your attitude that makes good servers walk away from the job or become cranky. Working in retail is hard, and serving is even harder and both jobs usually pay shit. So try having a little compassion or don’t eat out.

Worker Parasite (#2,292)

@zou bisou I think I come at this from a somewhat different perspective having primarily lived in countries were servers get at least minimum wage, none of this $2.13 an hour crap. And I did work as a server at a godawful chain with pieces of flair, so I’ve been there. But I really struggle to tip when I get indifferent or poor service, which seems to be the majority of the time (maybe that says more about where I eat than the overall state of the restaurant industry though). I recently went to a restaurant (party of 1, sad businessperson dinner at a sad suburban restaurant), and they added a 15% tip to the bill automatically – what the hell is that?! Why not just raise your prices 15% and pay your employees well?

Legit question about tipping not round amounts. If I’ve had a few drinks and am paying with a card I often select the % rather than $ amount to calculate the tip on the machine, and enter in what I feel is an appropriate %. That usually comes to a weird tip amount, like $4.52 on a $30.13 bill or whatever – would someone be put out by that?

I generally overtip if the bill is smaller. Especially at breakfast (since that’s the meal I seem to eat out the most.) An $8 breakfast (or lunch) usually involves just as much service as a $30 dinner. If someone is actually waiting on me I leave a minimum of $3 regardless of the overall bill. Of course, I also don’t budget for anything and spend my entire day fending off creditors, so.

xxAnniexx (#1,137)

@Matthew Lawrence@twitter That’s a great way to look at it. I worked for a few years at a breakfast place that had crazy-cheap prices and one server on the floor (me). It was easy to see that the amount of work that I did for each individual customer was worth more than 20% of most bills (an $8 could get you a ton of food, but the $1.60 “expected” tip seems awfully low). I guess a better question for customers to ask themselves is something like “what was this service worth?”, but it feels complicated and arbitrary to leave the responsibility of answering that on a customer.

@Matthew Lawrence@twitter At breakfast we always tip at least $5.00 for the table, more if we linger. If we hang around the server can’t turn the table and it costs them tips.

Look, if we can’t have socialism and radical redistribution of wealth, I am at least going to redistribute my own wealth to the foodservicepeople I come in contact with. That’s why I always tip the same. 20%, rounded up to the nearest dollar, at restaurants and on bar tabs, no matter how shitty the service. $1 on coffee and with cash at bars, same.

Also, if you use a Groupon or get free food because the server thinks you’re cute or if you get any other kind of discount on your meal, you should tip as a percentage of what the bill would have been, sans discount. Don’t shaft the server just because you got a deal!

josefinastrummer (#1,850)

@cuminafterall I love you.

lapgiraffe (#1,336)

@cuminafterall exactly! the writer purposely went for a “lunch special,” which is the pre-internet way of having a groupon or whatever. would she apply the same logic to happy hour? two for one beers at $4, all you can eat wings for $5 ($12 worth of food) – are you going to tip on the $9 actual cost or the $20 of normal cost? and people wonder why they get bad service sometimes…

Name@twitter (#2,417)

Cindy, while tipping 60 cents per drink might be saving you money, you’re stiffing over the bartender. Tipping 20% on a drink that costs less than $5 is a serious dick move. $1 per drink is an absolute bare minimum to tip for a drink. A well-made cocktail might be worth $2.

How hard up do you have to be to wind up calculating your tips out to the penny?

Porphyritic (#2,415)

Ditto, on Zou Bisou. As someone who grew up in another country I find the whole tipping system ridiculous, yet everyone gets all defensive and starts trying to guilt-silence the critics with the woes of working as a server. Don’t like 15%? Don’t work in that industry.

“Pay for perfomance” is a load of crap you’ve all internalized from the right-wing intent on pushing risk from owners onto workers. Sure, I bet 20% makes you all feel like you’re “Good People” but consider this:
If the server’s performance is bad, the server’s pay takes a hit but the owner still gets paid. But if the owner can’t make products people want to consume, everyone suffers, even if the service is good. The owner’s payroll risk is capped at $2.13/hr or something meagre like that. The capital always wins.

Whit@twitter (#2,413)

@Porphyritic “Don’t work in that industry.” Ah, yes! Because the job market is so flushed right now and full of opportunities.

Morbo (#1,236)

There are some issues that don’t need politics brought into them.
I really don’t think you want to get into a discussion on tipping habits of left-wingers and right-wingers. In my experience, both as a server and on the other side of the bill, there is little to no correlation between political persuasion and tipping habits/

josefinastrummer (#1,850)

@Porphyritic I guess in the country you grew up in, servers actually made a living wage, or at least minimum wage. That’s really nice. Maybe you’ve heard that it’s not like that in America. So why don’t you and other anti-nice tippers lobby to your state for servers to get paid a decent wage, so we can all stop tipping. Go for it. Let us know what happens. And no complaining when the cost of everything goes up!

aetataureate (#1,310)

@Porphyritic Part of the social contract of going out to a restaurant in the U.S. is knowing you’re going to have to tip. As soon as you walk in and sit down and order, that’s what you’re doing, period. It doesn’t make me feel like a “good person” to tip generously — it makes me feel like I’m doing what you do when you go to a restaurant.

@Porphyritic As someone who’s currently a waitron, I do agree to some extent. If I’m having an off day, and I know the service isn’t what it could be, I’m not offended to get 15% or less. If I give exceptional service (and, trust me, I do care about treating customers well), then it’s nice to get 20%. Tipping should reflect service- 20% is not obligatory, and it sucks when I have to take care of another server’s table because they can’t be bothered, only to see them get a large tip because that’s the customer’s default mechanism. However, please keep in mind that we often get undertipped for great service. At least 50% of my customers are foreign tourists, and it is far from unheard of to get tipped 8% or less because they don’t understand tipping culture in the U.S. So, those who “like to feel like ‘good people'” when they get good service, and tip a little extra, balance out my day.

Wait, I’m confused. Was this a sit-down restaurant with a waiter or a cafe where you get the sandwich from behind the counter? I usually shove a dollar or some change in the jar for those people or for baristas, but I thought the tipping rules were different for them? Do those people also make $2 an hour? (My only food service job was Subway in high school, where we were told to tell anyone who offered us a tip to “use it for their next Subway purchase.” I never accepted a tip but I definitely never said that.)

Name@twitter (#2,417)

“If you don’t like it, leave” isn’t a very mature response to service people who may not have a choice in what industry they work in. Food is cheaper in the United States than many other places because of the tipping system. Wouldn’t it be grand if the price were just included, but that’s not how it works here, so don’t take it out on the service person who is only getting that 2 something an hour.

xxAnniexx (#1,137)

Reading this as a long-time and current server, I was definitely icked out and frustrated by the author’s attitude and, well, precision. And while I’m one of those people that typically leaves a stupidly high tip when I go out, I can see why others would find that excessive. For those who have little or not experience in the service industry, the 15-20% “rule” probably seems like just that: a rule.

I think a big part of the problem lies in the server-customer power structure that allows a customer to determine another person’s income. Shouldn’t there be a different system, shouldn’t the onus be on the restaurant to pay the server a living/competitive wage instead of the customer? It seems so out-dated. I’ve been tempted to think up some “radical” new policy to enact at the restaurant I manage, something like having the tip be automatically included in a person’s bill (similar to what I understand happens in a lot of European countries), but I feel like the public would potentially revolt over this.

Has anyone else encountered alternative tipping scenarios in the US?

josefinastrummer (#1,850)

@xxAnniexx A real radical scenario would be to actually pay the servers a living wage. I know that’s not very affordable but plenty of other countries do it. The minimum wage in Australia is $15.00. But it would be pretty un-American to actually have a living minimum wage, so I guess we have to keep tipping.

xxAnniexx (#1,137)

@josefinastrummer Agreed. Pretty frustrating that something so reasonable would be considered radical. I can’t believe the minimum wage in Australia is $15, that’s pretty amazing (even though it’s really not).

meg (#329)

@xxAnniexx it is amazing. and uncomplicated. generally speaking, we really only tip in nice restaurants or to say “thanks for helping to make my evening particularly enjoyable” or “keep the coins I don’t wanna jangle”. it’s appreciated, but not expected, and you’re not screwing anyone if you don’t tip.

EmmaG (#1,023)

@josefinastrummer This whole discussion has been really fascinating as a foreigner. Ontario’s minimum wage for servers is $8.xx (vs. $10.xx for other minimum wage work). I had always known that servers in the US also had a lower wage, but I had NO idea how much lower it is. I don’t make many trips to the US these days, but I will definitely be tipping closer to 30% on future trips now that I know just how low servers’ wages are (I had only tipped 20% in the past).

SkipToMyLou (#2,438)

@xxAnniexx In Australia the hospitality (food/beverage service) industry minimum wage is $16.42 an hour, I just looked it up: http://www.fairwork.gov.au/pay/pay-rates-calculator/pages/default.aspx. I don’t tip on that, mostly because I am concerned that if tipping becomes the norm, then the fair wage base that these employees expect will destabilise and become as variable and unfair as the US tipping-based system.

TARDIStime (#1,633)

@SkipToMyLou It’s a little more complicated than “$16.42 an hour”.
Wages increase as you get older, topping out at 21 yrs old. They also change based on your posession of an RSA certificate, other skilled qualifications etc.
I think $16.42 is for those who are 18 years old? My partner works at the David Jones Food Hall in Bondi and his base is over $20 an hour (they pay award wages, he’s seen the payroll rules and regs).
He’ll rake in the tips if he’s doing panini bar (cooking, serving booze), but not at the bakery section (handing out the bread and ringing it up on the register). That said, he shares your opinion – tipping could create problems if it was more prevalent in this country’s culture.

TARDIStime (#1,633)

@TARDIStime PS: my partner is 24 years old, so now he complies with the “21 years of age you are an adult wage earner now” law.

Is this a good place to ask what the convention is for hair stylists/nail salon type services?

I generally tip 20-30% on those services and I’m guessing 30% is more than enough? But I’m not sure if 20% is enough. Like a $62 hair cut I gave $75 which is a $13 tip. Is that enough? (just over 20%)

wearitcounts (#772)

@redheaded&crazy i generally tip at least 20% for beauty services, more if they do an excellent job/take a lot of time and care. also more for waxing because …i don’t want to anger that person.

wearitcounts (#772)

@wearitcounts also no less than $5 for manicures. because sometimes manicures are really cheap but they are still a lot of work.

cherrispryte (#19)

@wearitcounts I do my own nails, but in my youth, there was a place that did $5 manicures. I believe I tipped a dollar or two – should I have been leaving a 100% tip?
I leave between 20% and 30% for hair and waxing, because I’ve been going to those people for years and I want them to like me, and also because they do an amazing job. Too high? Unknown.

wearitcounts (#772)

@cherrispryte hmm i have never seen $5 manicures. i really don’t know. i feel uncomfortable tipping less than $5 on a manicure but i don’t know what i would do if that’s how much the service actually cost. i might just throw down a ten and consider it still a pretty good deal. (i also do my own nails, but get a manicure for certain occasions like if i’m in someone’s wedding.)

and yeah. definitely want to stay on the good side of your waxer.

@wearitcounts I guess I should just make 25% my convention and stop worrying. I have never had a regular hair stylist although I dream of having one someday (last time I got my hair cut I felt pretty good about it).

I have serious tipping anxiety, if I’m in a cab or getting a service done that I don’t know how much it costs (some how this happens to me often which is, you know, my own dumb fault) I spend the entire experience being like “okay if it costs THIS much, I’ll tip this much, but if it costs …”

josefinastrummer (#1,850)

@redheaded&crazy Now that cabs are taking credit cards in lots of places, they give you the option to hit “20%” for the tip and it does it for you. I really like that! I know it doesn’t help if you are paying with cash, but it’s a start!

@josefinastrummer My problem isn’t calculating tip percentages (My method is to take 10% of the total and double it) but more like, if I’m in a cab worrying I’m not going to have enough cash (i.e. when will be my point that I get out and walk from) or getting a fancy service done, just worrying about how much it’s going to work out to. I just like to have certainty!

One time in university my friends all gave me money to pay the delivery person but they only gave me enough for like a 10 cent tip and the dude rightfully blasted me for it. That probably explains where a lot of my anxiety came from.

wearitcounts (#772)

@redheaded&crazy i think the fact that you care so much about not doing it wrong means you’re doing it right.

joyballz (#2,000)

@redheaded&crazy I’ve always tipped my hairstylist $20 for a color and cut. Sometimes it’s $65+20 tip and sometimes it’s $85+20 tip since she charges based on how much color she uses and whether or not she does highlights. It’s over 20% each time, but I’m always incredibly happy with the results and it makes the math easy and consistent for me.

aetataureate (#1,310)

@wearitcounts Yeah, seriously, if you’re asking yourself “Is this too much?” then the person you’re patronizing loves the shit out of you. Mission accomplished.

Will Murphy (#2,255)

I suck at math. When I was a bartender, though, I could calculate tip percentages in my head in seconds. Most people measure service with the percent they tip. If I got a 40% tip on making drinks, I knew it was because they enjoyed them. If I got 40% tip on pouring beers, I knew it was because they enjoyed themselves. If I got $1.62 on three beers and valuable real estate, I would think they were assholes with calculators.

When I eat out, I always leave an extra dollar, or five (depending). It is one dollar to me, and 5 more % for the guy busting his ass. I think there is a social contract when you go into a restaurant, and that is: I am making a decision to be served, I expect good service. I have to pay for that service. Additionally, sometimes bad service deserves bad tips. If the server/bartender is not even trying and feels entitled to the tip because he is there, but not actually doing his job is something that should be considered. However bad service because you didn’t even tip should be lauded.

And please, don’t tip after the coupon. The person serving you is doing the same work as if you had left your coupon at home. If saving money is that serious, buy your beer at Costco and invite your friends over.

aeroaeroaero (#1,422)

@Will Murphy THIS. Exactly what you said.

“I saved $.48.” UGGGGHH

oiseau (#1,830)

If I am at a sit-down restaurant I always tip 20%+, and if I order from a counter I put my change in the tip jar.

But I have a question: what if you order at a counter (i.e. Starbucks, sandwich deli, to-go burger place) and pay with your card, then when they give you the receipt to sign, there is a space where you can write in a tip? Are you supposed to add a tip even though you are not technically receiving service? Sometimes if the person is friendly or whatever, I write in a $1 tip on the receipt. I’m paranoid I am doing it wrong, though! Opinions?

@oiseau I always leave a tip on the receipt because I have friends who are baristas. However, those same friends have told me the receipt-tips are appreciated rather than expected. I think your method is fine!

littleoaks (#1,801)

The idea of leaving a smaller tip for the purpose of saving money leaves a bad taste in my mouth. If you’re going out to eat, your budget needs to leave space for an appropriate tip. I do think 20 percent is an appropriate tip though! My city has a 10 percent sales tax rate, but so when paying with a card, I often double the tax for a tip that’s exactly 20 percent. Note that I usually always tip up when paying cash (eek, since I am not Scrooge McDuck, I cannot even imagine anyone asking for loose change back from a tip), tip more for great service, tip a dollar a drink, tip based on the regular price when I get a discount, etc.

Being able to tip generously is worth giving up 2 cheap lunches a year. Damn.

thematt (#1,017)

@down the rabbit hole YES THIS. I assume that I get more out of tipping 25% than my waiter does. Self-satisfaction is a wonderful, and relatively inexpensive, indulgence.

Worker Parasite (#2,292)

Somewhat related but not exactly question: I usually pay for my meals with a card. Is it better to tip cash or put the tip on the card? Pros and cons to both:

Card: not leaving cash unattended on the table, I don’t have to remember to carry appropriate denominations of cash, but easier for managers to skim (the owner of the restaurant I served in had a vehicle we referred to as the Lincoln Tippoolgator as we were sure that it was financed through skimming our tips).

Cash: You have to remember to bring some, if you don’t have the right amount you have to ask for change, you may end up leaving it on the table unattended when you leave (I hope nobody’d be dick enough to steal a tip, but you never know), but it’s harder for managers and the government to track.

Current servers, what’s your poison? Cash or card? Or am I making a mountain out of a molehill here?

Name@twitter (#2,417)

@Worker Parasite There’s no doubt that cash is better for the waiters. It doesn’t get reported to the IRS, and while the IRS does make assumptions about servers getting tipped, they only assume a rate of 8% of sales revenue, so the server comes out way ahead almost every time.

It really is a pain in the ass to carry around, though.

@Worker Parasite I gave up tipping cash after getting the stinkeye from a couple of waitstaff who saw I didn’t leave a tip on the card and hadn’t gone to clear the table yet.

wearitcounts (#772)

@MilesofMountains when i tip cash instead of putting it on the card, i write “cash” in the tip spot instead of “0.00” to clarify my intentions.

katiekate (#1,051)

@wearitcounts YOU JUST BLEW MY STUPID MIND with the writing in cash thing. Doing this. Thank you.

cherrispryte (#19)

I’ve always found the sort of people who whip out a calculator to figure out their tip to be insufferable.
Also the people who don’t round up to the next dollar when leaving tips.
But I suppose everyone else has already explained why this is important.

meg (#329)

“watch the change add up”. yeah, nah.

I guess I’m in the minority here, but I totally agree with the author. If the norm is 20% why should I tip more? Why is my 20% tip on a $10 bill less valid than my 20% tip on a $20 bill. We all have jobs and work for our money. I don’t expect an extra 10% on my check at my 9-5 because I did an exceptional job making a PowerPoint that week. Kudos to you for saving your pennies (it does add up).

littlebitofK (#2,422)

@Lauren Janay@facebook Because as many people said above, if you’re working an office job you’re probably earning at least minimum wage, whereas most waiters make a few bucks an hour based on the assumption that they’ll be getting decent tips. Your 9-5 job has nothing to do with the service industry.

cherrispryte (#19)

@Lauren Janay@facebook 20% on a $10 bill is less valid because usually there’s as much work involved in a $10 bill as there is in a $20 bill.
Look, I work an office job. My boyfriend is a bartender. Never, ever, no matter how hard I bust my ass managing databases and creating powerpoints and sending emails, am I ever working as hard as I’ve seen him work in a standard bar shift. A lot of service work is cleaning up after people, and dealing with drunken assholes or entitled assholes. All jobs are not alike, and this is made worse by the way service staff are underpaid hourly. You can either be part of the problem, or you can recognize that this shit is unfair and try to rectify it just a little.

@littlebitofK I guess we can agree to disagree. I have a 2 year old and pay a huge amount for his daily upkeep so my 9-5 really may equate to not much more than a server would make (if it’s more at all). When I do go out a 20% tip is adequate whatever the amount of my bill. Also, when did 20% become a tip that’s not decent?

wearitcounts (#772)

@cherrispryte YES YES YES THIS YES.

@cherrispryte I complete disagree. 20% is the tip regardless of the bill. I would definitely think that a $10 bill would require less work than a $20 and up bill. There are less dishes to bring out, less to clean up, etc, etc. You boyfriend the bartender probably makes more than most people who do work entry level 9-5 jobs.

A tip is 20% across the board. I shouldn’t feel bad for not ordering enough. That’s silly.

josefinastrummer (#1,850)

@Lauren Janay@facebook It’s not that 20% is bad. It’s that you are justifying saving $.50. And that’s embarrassing. You chose to have a child, so of course a lot of money goes towards his care. But you also choose to go out to eat and you shouldn’t be crying over $.50. That’s the issue.
And food is food. If it is the special, it is still the same amount of work for the server. Getting water is the same action as getting a soda. Yes, the water is free, which is why you aren’t charged for it. But the server still brings you a drink.

Will Murphy (#2,255)

@Lauren Janay@facebook If you do a good powerpoint, though, it will somehow be reflected on any future raises you receive. The service industry is not an office, but as any job pay should reflect performance. I do not think people should tip 20% across the board. I think it’s a good standard for those who have not worked in service. I think if the server/bartender/barista is not attentive and doesn’t care, then they probably expect a tip anyway. If a server goes out of his way to accommodate me (crazy requests, special orders, finding me tylenol), giving me directions, yadayada) than I should consider that he went well beyond my expectations and pay him accordingly.

Don’t consider 20% the “norm”, but just a decent amount for an average job.

@josefinastrummer I don’t owe $.50 to anyone. It’s my $.50. According to your logic why don’t I just add $.50 to everything. I’ll pay $.50 extra on my phone bill, $.50 extra on my insurance, etc. If I go out to eat I choose to pay 20% tip. There’s nothing embarrassing about that.

cherrispryte (#19)

@Lauren Janay@facebook What does having a kid have to do with anything?

@cherrispryte I guess you chose not to reply to my last comment? Cool. If you had read the comment you’re referring to I said “I have a 2 year old and pay a huge amount for his daily upkeep so my 9-5 really may equate to not much more than a server would make (if it’s more at all).” Reading comprehension is important.

josefinastrummer (#1,850)

@Lauren Janay@facebook That attitude is fine but it will result in people thinking you are cheap. If you are okay with this, cool. If you aren’t okay with it, get used to it or change.

@josefinastrummer Anybody who cares how much I tip and makes a point to notice that I haven’t arbitrarily added on $.50 to my bill isn’t someone I deal with. It’s not a matter of being cheap it’s a matter of paying what is owed.. If someone does a stellar job they deserve an extra tip if not then 20% is what they get.

josefinastrummer (#1,850)

@Lauren Janay@facebook I agree. If I notice that my friends are constantly under tipping or tipping to the penny, I try to avoid going out to eat with them. I remember one time at Chi Chis (remember Chi Chis!), if everyone just put in $10, that would cover their meal and tip. And one girl who I had never hung out with before insisted on change and said I should pay for the taco she didn’t want and offered to me. We never hung out again. But as always, to each her own.

cherrispryte (#19)

@Lauren Janay@facebook Please, be insulting, it really makes your points stronger.
I asked what you having a kid has to do with anything, because you seemed to be trying to justify your tipping habits by pointing out that raising a child is expensive.
Which, obviously. But it’s not your waiter’s fault that you chose to reproduce. We all have expenses, and so do the people who’re serving you your $10 meal.
And sometimes a $10 meal is less work than a $20 meal, sometimes it isn’t. Whatever. It’s the action of counting out change, making sure that the server doesn’t get a single cent more than the absolute minimum necessary to leave so people don’t think you’re a bad person, that I actually have a problem with, in retrospect. A $2 tip on a $10 meal? Sure, fine. But if you’re tipping $1.60 on a dining experience that somehow only cost you $8, that’s ridiculous.

kthkskddn (#2,342)

@Lauren Janay@facebook …okay, but what about a server who has a two year old kid? Wouldn’t they be paying more or less the same kind of expenses as you, while earning less in takehome pay and with absolutely no benefits such as health insurance?

@cherrispryte You did do a really great job on that database though, so the client is giving you 20% more than the value of the contract. And it’s your choice if you want to pay taxes on it or not.

Oh wait, every other kind of job in the world doesn’t work that way.

@stuffisthings I might try that same argument to see if my boss will just round up my salary to the next whole number, though.

cherrispryte (#19)

@stuffisthings I mean, I have friends in office jobs who, the harder they work, the more money they bring in for their companies, the quicker they get raises, etc. Also they get holiday bonuses relating to how successful they were during the year. I work for a federally funded non-profit, so the concepts of “clients,” “raises,” and above all “bonuses” are really alien to me. I hear they’re out there, though?

@cherrispryte Ah but the key difference there is that bonuses, raises, and performance incentives are paid by the EMPLOYER not by the CUSTOMER. That was kind of my point in my various comments here — the serving/tipping matrix is the only part of the working world where the onus is on the consumer to make sure that employees are adequately paid, which is archaic and stupid.

Just look at the number of comments on this thread directing spite at the author — who, mind, IS PAYING 20%! — while the role of the restaurants in underpaying their employees is just taken as a fact of nature.

There’s your whole “problem with American late capitalism” in a nutshell.

@stuffisthings I mean could you imagine if GM had two versions of each car — “Buy this model and the workers who made it get health insurance, or you can buy the ‘no health insurance’ model which is $1,200 cheaper!” What the hell kind of system would that be?

cherrispryte (#19)

@stuffisthings Oooh see I am bad at subtlety this late in the week. I don’t think anyone here is arguing that the way servers are paid is a good and fair system that should be continued? But how do you change that? I’m all for a massive overhall of, oh, pretty much every element of society I can think of, including how servers are paid, but until we get to the post-apocalyptic thunderdome of my dreams, it ain’t happening.

@fo (#839)

@@Lauren Janay@facebook

” 20% on a $10 bill is less valid because usually there’s as much work involved in a $10 bill as there is in a $20 bill.”

OK, this forced me to log in and post–riddle me this, folks: what’s the difference in effort for the server between the cheapest bottle of wine on a menu (say, $20) and the most expensive (say, $100)? Are you thus *obligated* (in the eyes of the server) to tip $20 on the $20 bottle? Or is any cheapskate here going to suggest that $4 on the $100 bottle is okie-doke, bc it’s the same amount of work?

I’ve heard it suggested in the past (by folks in the industry, admittedly on the ownership side) that, at a sit-down fancy-ish restaurant, you tip a % on the food, and a $$ on the wine (perhaps related to a % of the cheapest bottle), for exactly that reason.

But then, one can argue the same thing about food: how is a $65 kobe steak more work to serve than a $25 chicken entree at the same restaurant? Why is one “deserving” of a *minimum* $13 tip, while a $8 tip on the other is really good?

In sum, I think that the $0.48 thing is stupidstupidstupid, but I think y’all who bitch and moan about 20% on $10 v 20% on $20 are raving maniacs who hurt many of those you are attempting to defend, by advocating a *completely* unprincipled position.

A pox on all y’all!!

@kthkskddn Well I also don’t have health insurance through my job since my independent health insurance was cheaper. So we’re in the same boat. Servers at nice restaurants can make a lot of money. They very well might be making more than I am.

@cherrispryte The minimum is $0 tip. A tip is not required. Nobody’s going to be arrested for not tipping on a meal. My point is that 20% is a valid tip and if I or anybody feel the need to make exact change there is nothing wrong with that. Also, I’m sorry from your perspective I came across as insulting. In my post I clearly stated the reason I brought up having a child (which it seems you have issue with). I tipped this way before I chose to “reproduce” as you put it. Everyone is entitled to their opinion.

katiekate (#1,051)

@@fo Bar tipping is totally different. The one dollar a drink, wine or beer, is pretty acceptable. And my mom is a Red Lobster bartender so I’m pretty hardcore about tipping well. Tip more if that was a hardass cocktail (god, anything with egg yolks, for instance). But if you are at a fancy restaurant, at a table, with a bottle of wine that cost more than $15? Dude, you’re at a fancy restaurant. Tip the 20 percent, what did you expect? Also you can afford a bottle of wine. SUCK IT UP.

This may be obvious advice, but I know lots of people who have trouble calculating tip totals (I know lots of machines do it now).

The easiest way to do it in my opinion is to take 10% of the total, so all you have to do is move the decimal point one to the left. So 10% of 15 is 1.50. 10% of 23 is 2.30. I usually round up and then double that amount.

Anyway, calculating 10% of something is the easiest thing to do math -wise so that’s my base point for everything. easy!

suiterkin (#1,998)

It is way too Friday afternoon for me to wade into this mire, but can’t we all just agree that Waitress is a great movie? Because it is.

@suiterkin It really is.

Mike Dang (#2)

@suiterkin @redheaded&crazy I memorized the pie song to sing to my children one day.

@Mike Dang Of course you did Mike Dang. That is why everybody who reads this site wants to marry you :)

karrrren (#957)

one thing i don’t think has been mentioned here is that waiters & waitresses don’t just have to use tips to make up for a tiny hourly wage. they also often have to share those tips with other people (hosts, bussers, etc.). and those of us who eat out usually see them during a lunch rush or a busy dinnertime, not during the slow hours in between. those tips have to go a really long way. it may seem like a lot sometimes (it can to me), but there’s a whole system there that has to run on your two bucks along with everybody else’s.

i’ve never worked in food service, but for me that’s all the more reason to tip decently. i would be a terrible waitress, or at least a very spotty one. if this person is halfway-pleasantly doing a task i wouldn’t take on myself, and if the cultural contract dictates that i decide how much to give them, then that’s a responsibility. i’m not going to give everybody huge tips because i can’t really afford to, but when i think about it i chip in an extra dollar.

there are things you economize on and things you don’t. learning the difference–picking battles–is tricky but very necessary.

Will Murphy (#2,255)

@karrrren Service in the restaurants where I worked tipped out 10% of their alcohol *sales* to the bartenders, and about 10% of their *total tips* to the bussers and food runners. This was typical in every place I have worked, and those restaurants where I knew the staff.

“Tipping the exact amount can even be a little secret between you and the waiter.”

So a bunch of people already said things that I was going to say about how thankless and demoralizing being a server is and how they usually deserve a modicum of generosity.

But one “fact check” thing! Depending on what state you live in, it may not actually be true that people working behind a counter make minimum wage. I worked in a coffeeshop where I made $5 an hour. In a lot of states (at least in TX, I know for sure), as long as you make enough in tips over a two-week period to ‘make it up’ to minimum wage, they don’t have to pay you minimum wage. Some pay periods, I barely made it! Just FYI.

josefinastrummer (#1,850)

@Summer Anne Burton@facebook Great point! There are also several states that require servers get paid minimum wage before tips!
I also worked in a coffee shop that paid $5 an hour plus tips all under the table. It’s really nice that some folks think anyone can just get any job right now, but this was the only job I could get at the time.

Yes in Ontario, the minimum wage for servers is less than the minimum wage for everyone else. And I know most people have made all the points that I have running through my mind, but try this one- rather than accept your pathetic $1.52, that server could have served a real customer. You are occupying their money making space. If you don’t want to tip, DON’T take up the space of those that do. There are no rules to tipping. Personally, I rarely leave less than 30% after tax. As someone who put myself through university serving, I know that an extra few dollars go a long way.

And now my major point- most restaurants require servers to tip out kitchen staff, hosts, and service bar based on their sales. So when a cheapskate comes in, it may actually cost the server money to waste their time on someone like you.

This is precisely why I was glad when Johnny Rocket’s fired me for not being an enthusiastic dancer. $10 tabs with $2 tips meant having to turn tables quickly, and that meant running my ass off to get as many tables as possible during the lunch rush.

(I then got a job at a nicer place where I worked just as hard bringing food and drinks, but the bill totals were like 1,000% higher, so I made more money, hooray. Still had to tip out bartenders/busers at both places, still made $2.14 base hourly at every shift.)

Tipping on the price of your food is kind of a “good enough, I guess?” solution, and not anything at all connected with the amount of labor that went into your experience. Emotional labor is huge. So I leave too much, always, always.

katiekate (#1,051)

@Miranda Everitt@facebook I remember at Coldstone Creamery (where they dance everytime they get a tip, UGH) I would tip them and request that they not dance. Poor bastards. CC and JR employees have my undying respect.

I was a server, and I always tip 20% or more. I get it. I get why everyone’s really angry about this article. I worked really, really hard, and luckily always made more than $20 an hour, working everywhere from the olive garden to an actual restaurant. I hustled for that money, and guess what? I made more in general then than I do now, working in an office, with a Bachelor’s degree, at a much slower pace. I’ve often thought about getting another serving job, but man…the body does not want that.

I’m actually pretty astounded that everyone got SUPER PISSED when anyone brought up the politics of restaurant work, because it DOES matter. Servers have no sick days, they generally have no insurance, they can’t work if their body doesn’t want them to, and to top that, it’s incredibly sexist work at the top. It’s hard work, and it should be respected as a career and paid accordingly. The U.S. has this shit alllll sorts of wrong; why is everyone so up in arms when it’s suggested that the actual businesses, who churn through good service workers and make BILLIONS of dollars at their expense, be let off the hook here? Why can’t they pay fair wages for their labor? Yes, I will absolutely pay $10 more for my meal so that my server can see a doctor, and take a day off when they have the flu. This is not an argument about tipping, as much as it is service workers and the public arguing amongst themselves, all the while someone else is banking on the argument.

josefinastrummer (#1,850)

@Jake Reinhardt Well put! I think Americans think that serving is something kids do in college and never think how important the job actually is. Are these folks going to serve themselves!? I also think this is the same for school bus drivers, day care workers, and lots of other really important jobs. Not everyone can wait tables or bartend or drive a school bus or watch your kid for 10 hours a day without losing their mind and yet we applaud someone who sits behind a desk and surfs the internet all day while doing a few hours work. Our priorities are so messed up.

@josefinastrummer You don’t tip your kid’s school bus driver? MONSTER!

BeRightBack (#2,430)

This reads like an outtake from the business card comparison chapter of “American Psycho.”

Mary's sister (#2,434)

@BeRightBack I’ve been reading the BF since Day One and I finally created an account so I could applaud this comment: I tip (HA?) my hat to you, Sir/Ma’am. But the comments in general here, I have to say, are giving me a deep sense of love for my fellow citizens, which is warming my crusty heart on an annoying day.

I do not see anywhere in the article where the writer said that she didn’t want to tip…she’s just tracking her money AND paying the customary tip of 20%. No where in the article did I see where she states that she slips out WITHOUT leaving a tip! LOL! I DID work in the sevice industry and I’m not at all offended. You go into a job like that KNOWING how it is so quit complaining if you don’t get more than 20% and be grateful when you do!

Name@twitter (#2,417)

@Susan Doss@facebook The problem is that 15-20% of the tab on drinks should only apply to pricier drinks, not $3 beers. Tipping 60 cents on a drink isn’t fair to the bartender, who is having to take time to serve you the drink, time when he is only being paid $2 and change an hour by the bar.

lizpie (#906)

What do people who live in states that have the same required minimum wage for servers as for everyone else think about tipping issues? I ask this question as a person who lives in one such state and also works (pretty damn hard) in retail making just barely more than minimum wage. I always tip well, but sometimes it leaves a bad taste in my mouth that it’s an expectation for all service at a restaurant, so even a server who’s not providing good customer service is always making more than someone in a retail position providing excellent customer service making the same base hourly wage because there’s no expectation of a tip. It doesn’t influence the way I tip, but it is something I think about sometimes. Not intended to ruffle any feathers because I think most servers (and people in retail) should be making a lot more than they do, but curious about how/if others think about this.

Name@twitter (#2,417)

@lizpie That’s an interesting angle. I wasn’t aware there were such states.

lizpie (#906)

@Name@twitter there aren’t many of them, and they’re almost all on the west coast (or very close to the west coast). List of server wages by state here, for the curious: http://www.dol.gov/whd/state/tipped.htm#.UHh3J7e9Kc0

katiekate (#1,051)

@lizpie I live in Washington state where they get paid pretty decent money, but it’s still not a living wage. And the knowledge that so many customers stiff their waiters? I tip generously still. And for what it’s worth, daycare whiners? We still make more than servers in Washington, the vast majority of the time.

Okay, I have a tipping question. I go to this one restaurant fairly frequently to get take-out. At the counter there is a tip jar, but you also order at that counter if you’re eating in. Last week I paid with my debit card and the tip prompt came up so I tipped. Normally when I pay with cash I don’t tip. Should I be tipping? How much should I be tipping? (my totals have been coming to around $7, if that makes a difference)

Name@twitter (#2,417)

@Kayla Whitehurst@twitter For counter service, I tip $0 if I’m dining in or $1 if I’m carrying out. Carry out usually involves a little extra work for the counter staff, like packing plastic ware, etc.

No need to tip anything for dining in. You’re doing all the work of a server yourself.

Two comments to the author:
1) You’ve already saved your two dollars by not buying that soda; do you really need the $.48 too?
2) It seems reasonable to say that there is a baseline for sit-down restaurant service: $2 or 20%, whichever is higher, to account for the minimum amount of service there is just taking your order and getting you food, when you’re taking up a table in that server’s section. Just assume that the $2 is part of your budget for eating out. Likewise, I assume $1 or 20% is the baseline tip for bar service. It’s like minimum shipping and handling charges. There’s just a certain amount of work that goes in no matter what, but it doesn’t scale proportionately at the lower end.

We should all just add an extra $.50 to everything we purchase…. yeah, uh huh, okay…..NOT! The whole point of the article was realizing where your money is going. It DOES add up when you tip and then feel like you have to top what is the standard…or here’s another idea…COMPLAIN to your employer and don’t fault someone who keeps track of their hard-earned money …. and to imply the author should get a six-pack and stay home because she tips the customary amount on top of her purchases is ridiculous! I certainly don’t have money to just hand out cause I feel bad about another person’s pay and I also have the right, as does the author, to go out and enjoy food and drink as long as I am paying for it and leaving the tip. I think I’m going to pull out the ol’ tip calculator everytime now. Kudos to the author!

Name@twitter (#2,417)

@Susan Doss@facebook $1 per drink is customary. 15-20% for drinks is revisionist, and should apply more to pricier drinks, not cheap drinks.

@Name@twitter How does that make sense? Oh, you opened me a can of PBR, here’s a dollar. Oh, you made me an Old Fashioned, well here’s a dollar twenty.

@fo (#839)

@stuffisthings “How does that make sense? Oh, you opened me a can of PBR, here’s a dollar. Oh, you made me an Old Fashioned, well here’s a dollar twenty.”

Hey, I ordered a bottle of Cristal, to drown my sorrows. Make sure I get $499 in change from my $100 bill, my good man! Oh, and here’s another buck for the club soda for my driver.

katiekate (#1,051)

@stuffisthings Do you want mixed drinks with alcohol? Pay that dollar for the PBR. Also if you order four PBRs and don’t tip on the last one or two, nobody is really going to care. But there is a lot to be said for having a good relationship with a bartender. Best bang for your tipping money by far (ditto your daily barista who gives you a cup for your drip). I’ve definitely gotten free coffee when I’m accidentally out of cash because of this.

And I think that’s what the author basically said when she hands the bartender a dollar for opening the bottle so she will not be ignored the rest of the night. lol.

Name@twitter (#2,417)

@Susan Doss@facebook Right, and she proposes opening a tab so she can stiff him with a 60 cent per drink tip.

If you’d like a really awesome idea on how to save money, I have one!

If you’re finding that saving $0.48 on tip is really making a lot of difference in your budget, you can go even further.

Go to the store, get bread, cheese, mayonnaise or mustard (or both!) and any meats you like. While you’re there, grab a liter of your favorite liquor and a 2-liter bottle of your favorite soda. Assemble yourself at home and bask in the wonderment you’ll feel at knowing that you have spent way less than $7 per sandwich and haven’t overpaid for a drink as crappy as PBR, and the rest of us will bask in our knowledge that some over-privileged person who thinks that stiffing people on tips makes you smart is away from us.

Do I get to be the Stephen Hawking of money-saving now?

mishaps (#65)

Wow, we may have invented thrift-trolling.

Look: tipping is a stupid and archaic tradition and should be abolished. While I usually overtip, getting on someone’s case for giving *exactly* 20% is just madness. Seriously.

Plus, the presumption that all food service folks are miserable wretches and anyone writing for a blog MUST be rich is a little ridiculous — especially in a big city. I know for an absolute fact that my regular bartender earns more than twice as much in a year as I do (with a Master’s degree and salaried office job). I’ve worked in food service before. Most of the jobs suck but your Friday night bartender is not going to starve to death because he goes home with $399.52 instead of $400. Like, I stopped buying Cokes at the deli for lunch to save a couple of bucks — does everyone want to yell at me for stealing money from the pockets of a poor immigrant small business owner? Come on.

The other issue, though: if you are any kind of serious drinker you NEED to tip well, because that’s how you get hooked up. Especially if your bartender gets free liquor from distributors or any kind of promotions budget. I’d much rather tip $20 on a $10 tab for $150 worth of drinks than save $0.13 or whatever on each sad little can of PBR so I can splurge on a Blue Moon three times a year, or whatever.

@stuffisthings The moral of this comment, basically, is that everyone is a jackass except me.

@fo (#839)

@stuffisthings: No, you’re a jackass, too. You just have to console yourself with being *correct*.

Brunhilde (#78)

@stuffisthings “if you are any kind of serious drinker you NEED to tip well, because that’s how you get hooked up…”

No joke. I don’t even know how much drinks are at my regular pub any more. I think they charge me a flat rate per night, or something?

lapgiraffe (#1,336)

@stuffisthings Agreed in many ways BUT let’s not forget that this is lunch. These are the shifts that service industry folks loathe, check totals are lower, very little alcohol, despite tables turning more quickly there just aren’t as many people out lunching as there are at dinnertime. This person may be lucky enough to get a weekend night shift that could pull in a full bills, but it’s likely that this lunch, tips included, won’t even out to min. wage, and it ultimately lowers your total draw even if you do have some sweet shifts. I always think that these people took the shitty shift so I could enjoy a lunch out, and hope but not assume that they get some better shifts later in the week. give and take…

Jack (#2,429)

Does anyone writing for this blog have service experience?? I’ve read a few posts written by people who seem to think that a server’s only responsibility is waiting on them personally, that servers don’t have to attend to several tables at once, and that they don’t have to give a significant portion of their tips to food runners and bussers and bartenders. If that’s actually the impression that your writers are getting from their servers, they are receiving EXCELLENT service and should be tipping well over twenty percent!

No Kaitlyn you just sound like a witch. How is tipping the customary tip stiffing anyone on tips?? And Name, the author says she always pays a dollar or two for a bartender to pop the cap off of a cheap beer,that she never opens a tab to avoid overspending/drinking. It was simply another way she COULD save money. I think some people have reading comprehension problems. It was an article on being frugal, not skipping out without paying a tip.

stuffisthings you made me laugh.

WhyHelloThere (#1,398)

Discussions like this almost make me glad that I can’t afford to eat out!

Am I right in thinking that most servers wouldn’t want to switch to a all-wage, no-tipping system, because they think they benefit from the current pay structure?

katiekate (#1,051)

@WhyHelloThere Uh, no. You are not. Maybe the ones in fancy restaurants. Most servers throughout the country don’t work in the foodie places and boutique bars that most people on the Billfold can probably at least treat themselves occasionally. THey work at Applebee’s and the like, and TRUST ME they are not bringing home the big bucks in tips, because most of the time they are getting stiffed by assholes. TRUST ME.

You do realize that many servers don’t get the change when you tip exact, right? I used to work as a delivery driver, and they always just rounded up or down. That .38 you put there? Yup, no, you just tipped me a dollar. I don’t see that money. You come to absolutely despise people who tip with change, and not just because of the fact that they’re donating money to the company as opposed to you, but because who the heck cares if a bill is even on a credit card?

There are so many points in this article that are so out of touch with the reality of life for the working poor that it is, quite frankly, breath taking.

“The cashiers are probably not being paid tipped wages, which are far less than the hourly wage of a regular employee, so they aren’t relying on tips to make up the difference.”

No, but they are probably counting on the tips to, you know, pay their rent. Buy food. Diapers. Maybe take the bus to work the next morning at 6 am instead of waking up at 4 to walk the two miles. Servers at coffee houses and places like subway (I should know, I worked at a similar establishment) make maaaaaaybe 9 dollars an hour if their lucky. With no health benefits. With no safety net. For 10 hour shifts at a time, just so they can afford a crappy apartment and some frozen dinners. You really might just as well have said “Well then let them eat cake!”

You are unbelievably naive and self absorbed. Oh! No! My budget! I can save 40 fucking cents! Thats like, roughly 30$! a year! Yeah, asshole? And if everyone tips 50 cents less for me that means I make 10 less dollars a night, which means 50 less dollars a week, which means 200$ less a month, which means guess what, now I can’t afford all the luxuries of paying for my apartment, my phone and my food, all at the same time, because you just screwed me out of 2400$ a year. Oh, no big deal. Thats only roughly 25% of what a server makes in a year.

And be honest, at least. This isn’t about “saving money.” This is about the fact that you’re an asshole and don’t like tipping, and now you’ve found a new way to rationalize it to yourself without feeling guilty. (what’s more, you even feel PROUD of screwing every service industry person who comes into contact with you out of the ability to make a living) The drinks thing shows this. It’s not about saving money, its about not tipping.

If you can’t afford to not tip one dollar per beer then don’t go out drinking. It’s really that simple. If you couldn’t afford the price of the drinks you wouldn’t go to the bar and say “Hey, is it ok if I just give you 3.50 instead of four? I’m on a budget you see.” Tipping is part of the price you pay to go to the bar and use their services and have a bar tender sitting there doing nothing but getting you drinks all night. You tip a dollar for any drink, and then you tip more if it was a complicated drink. Are you telling me you go up there, order a complicated drink that the server has never heard of, and then throw down a one on the bar with a smug grin on your face thinkng that you’re a great benevolent person? Dear god you sicken me.

People like you are what makes working in the service industry terrible. The work is hard enough, and boring. The hours are long and grueling, but its the people like you who come in and treat us like dirty. Like we’re not even people. You’re the people that make that job the pit of hell. You know who you are. You’re the man who tips 1.20 on an 18.80 delivery, to “make it even.” You’re the woman who comes in at 8:55 when we close at 9, and asks “oh, are you still open?” and then proceeds to sit in the dining room for 45 minutes. (oh, don’t worry, I wasn’t at the end of a 10 hour shift or anything. For which I will make a grand total of 80$.) You are the person who brings your kids into the restaurant and then does absolutely nothing while they run around the entire store and rip up napkins and throw chips and garbage everywhere and scream for an hour straight. You just sit there eating your sandwich with a satisfied grin on your face. The solipsism of your own stupid enjoyment. They pay people to pick that up for you. Thank god you thought of that!

mof (#342)

@Sh Alexander@facebook Why are you so mean? Did you even read the article, or just the angrier of the comments? The author does tip. She tips what society has decided is the acceptable amount. I’ve read a lot of hate-filled, irrationally angry comments on blogs and new stories and yet yours really stands out.

ghechr (#596)

@Sh Alexander@facebook Whoa. The author tipped the 20% which is the custom. And why don’t you get the change on a tip? I have never heard that before and, if that’s happening to you, I’d file a complaint with your state labor board. Also, there are a lot of low paid jobs and poor people. The service industry is not singled out for persecution there.

IdiotSlowDown (#2,443)

I take no issue with anything the writer wrote. In fact, I see a lot of people becoming far too sensitive, reactionary and butthurt.

The author still cited the 20% tip standard and the Emily Post Institute standard for tip calculation.

I have a lot of friends in the industry who I forwarded this article to that took zero issue with it. They also take zero issue with individuals not tipping for poor service.

Unfortunately, I think some of the replies are more semblance of the entitlement culture our society has. “No one should lose and everyone should win, no matter the performance”. Fuck that mentality.

Most servers also don’t pay the tax rate that the average “wage slave’ person does. What waiter worth their salt gives a damn if she tips exactly 20% and that 20% comes out to $1.73 vs. $2.00? Most in the service industry sure as hell don’t accurately report these tips on their taxes, so they’re already coming out far ahead of the rest of us.

I have one friend who makes the same as I do (with a professional degree) as a bartender…. and his take home pay far surpasses mine because he doesn’t have an accounting department overseeing his every move. On top of that, he receives tax refunds that make mine look nominal, again, because of what his reported tax rate is.

The service industry fucks can cry me a river. The girl just said she posted 20% standard and upwards of that for exceptional service. It’s baffling folks would expect more.

What the hell is wrong with some of you?

@IdiotSlowDown Is your username dirived by what you hear directed at you from others every day? “Butthurt” is your own personal experience, quit projecting. You’re one of the biggest douches In existence! Expand your vocabulary twitt!

katiekate (#1,051)

@IdiotSlowDown I think a lot of the angry posts lower down are in reaction to lameass cheapos on the comments, not the article directly (which I’m not implying you are one of, for the record).

Have you ever worked a service industry job in your life? I mean… Honestly?

IdiotSlowDown (#2,443)

You mean honestly? I’m glad you cleared that portion of your question up, otherwise I obviously would have answered it facetiously.

Are you one of those people who uses “literally” in an inappropriate and obnoxious manner as well?

But, since you put it that way. Yes, I have.

There’s a word for anyone who tips 1.52. It’s ‘douchebag’.

Having worked as a server, bartender and a restaurant manager for 15 years, I can speak from experience. Whether or not a server makes minimum wage between hourly and tips, they have to declare at least minimum wage for tax purposes. Which means that after deducting state, local, social security and payroll taxes, most servers bring home a $0 amount paycheck. Lots even owe money at the end of the year. Servers right now in 15 states make 2.13 per hour. In 10 more states they make between 2.50 and 4 dollars per hour. In only 8 states do servers make at or near minimum wage (over 6 dollars). In Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Tennessee there are no minimum wage requirement (so you can imagine) and in several states even with tipped employee minimum wages, it is legal to underpay new employees (under 90 days) and people under 20 years old. As most servers are kept to part time hours, they are never able to get benefits or paid leave/vacations which they must pay for out of pocket. All this information is available online from the US Dept of Labor website.

Miele (#2,453)

You could also save $474.24 a year by skipping the cheap weekly lunch out. Forgot your lunch at home? Don’t eat. Fill yourself up with free water at a water fountain. Heck, have water for lunch every day! Imagine the annual savings once you’ve added your surplus from grocery savings (no need for lunchtime groceries!) to the nearly $500 annually you’ve saved by not going out to lunch!!!

fake coffee snob (#2,227)

So, opinion question: how does the importance of tipping change in states that mandate the same minimum wage for tipped and non-tipped labor? The entire west coast (California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska) has such a mandate, and I’m pretty sure other states do as well. Still such a dick move to tip 20%?

I’ve worked in the service industry, though not as a server or in any capacity with a mandated tip, but I don’t really see what’s so stingy about a 20% tip regardless of bill. Yes, $0.43 might add up for the server – but what’s to say that it doesn’t mean as much for the author? People with meager incomes occasionally splurge on meals as well, and a lot of these judgements seem to hinge on the fact that the waiter is necessarily harder up than the tipper, which is not obviously true.

WhyHelloThere (#1,398)

Have you ever worked a service industry job in your life? I mean… Honestly?

Yup. I’ve had a variety of crappy, minimum-wage service jobs. None of them have been waiting tables, though, and none of them have been the kind of crappy minimum-wage service job where you get tips. You’ve never known anyone who has worked at a fast food place or stocked shelves at a grocery store or been a home health aid?

I don’t like unwritten rules. They’re confusing, and they exclude people. I live in a working-poor neighborhood (real working poor, not hipster, temporary working poor), and I don’t know anyone here who waits tables. So if you grow up here, how do you know elaborate tipping etiquette like not leaving change or not tipping on a credit card? For people from working-class backgrounds, unwritten rules like that are a barrier to middle-class institutions.

The obvious answer is to get rid of tipping, add a little bit to the cost of the food, and pay servers a living wage out of that. But it’ll never happen, in part because servers don’t want it to happen. In the meantime, I would caution against labeling people douches because they’ve had a different experience than yours. Not everyone who has had a different experience is somehow drowning in class privilege.

josefinastrummer (#1,850)

@WhyHelloThere So you’ve never left your working poor neighborhood or gone out with friends not from your neighborhood?

katiekate (#1,051)

@WhyHelloThere Wow, you’ve never had a friend who worked food service? COME ON. The excuse that ANY AMERICAN doesn’t “get” tipping is BS. I give you a pass if you are doofing from out of the country, i would probably forget too, but god YES YOU DO TOO UNDERSTAND TIPPING. DON’T EVEN. And I’ve worked all those crappy jobs too, and yes, SERVING IS WORSE.

Ok, i lie, home health aide is worse. But that’s the only one. And it doesn’t mean you magically don’t get to tip. That’s like paying you $3 to wipe my family members ass every day and being all, change yr job if you don’t like it, punk!

You mention, tip the total BEFORE TAX: “Discounts and coupons are subtracted before tax, so anything added to the bill should be, too.”

BUT: you never mention people should tip on the total before the discounts. People get desserts comped for birthdays, apps comped because they took too long (often kitchen’s fault, not server), or maybe you’re a regular or it’s happy hour, you have a coupon etc etc.

MAYBE…..you should’ve mentioned this tidbit. It’s important as well. BUT OH WAIT, that means you have to leave MORE THAN 20% and it’s a contradiction to your article.

You had that “server” fetch you water. They had to make sure the water was cold and it took her out of her regular direction, likely. You don’t think the 48c might have been worth their extra effort?! You must be a republican!!

Aunty Penny (#6,406)

I realise this is an older post, but I’m still going to leave my thoughts, in case anyone can explain this bizarre situation to me.

A. I’m Australian, we pay our workers a living wage, including all service workers such as wait staff. Tipping is rare to non-existent here, and I’m so glad. This tipping business is absolute craziness. I can’t see how it is fair at all. Workers in a busy café will get more money through tips than in a quiet café, but how many patrons come through the door usually has little to do with the wait staff and a lot to do with other factors (management, prices, location, weather, etc).

B. I’m baffled why people think to pay a percentage of their bill. You mentioned that you had water to keep costs down, and therefore keep your tip percentage down. How’s that fair? Surely there’s just as much effort involved in a waiter pouring a glass of water vs a glass of soft drink? And just as much effort involved in ferrying a sandwich to your table from the kitchen vs a fancy steak? Why would the cost of the food involved influence how much you give a person for their service?

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