The Minimal Tip

I don’t believe in the idea of a “minimum tip.”

There, I said it. It’s a big change from my previous beliefs on tipping.

A few weeks ago, my family and I ate at a restaurant where the service was extremely poor. We sat for twenty five minutes waiting for our server (my wife was literally getting on her coat). Then, we spied our server sitting at a table with other restaurant employees after we had ordered (where the server had also been while we were waiting). We did not get drinks at all until after our meal arrived and we requested them again (to our server’s annoyance). When the plates were being served, mine was bumped on the edge of the table, knocking a portion of my food off of the plate onto the ground. Not only was my plate left there with some of the food missing, the server didn’t bother to clean up any of the dumped food on the floor. At one point, my wife attempted to get the server’s attention, and the server looked at her then pretended that she didn’t see my wife at all and continued to sit at the table with her friends.

Needless to say, we were not impressed. I gave a zero tip.

Afterwards, one of my friends chided me for not at least giving a 10-15% tip. “That money is part of her salary,” he argued. My argument? You deserved to get paid if you actually do your job.

For many years, I did believe that you should give a minimal tip to the service staff at restaurants because, in many cases, that tip is part of their expected salary from the restaurant. However, a few things soured me on this.

First, it seems really unfair to give a 15% tip to someone who isn’t even providing minimal service and then giving a 20 or 25% tip to someone busting it and doing five times the work to make your meal enjoyable. I don’t think it’s reasonable to hand out 40-50% tips to people who are really striving to do a good job so you can amply reward them in comparison to people not doing their job at all.

Second, some businesses collect the tips from the waitstaff, skim some percentage off the top, then redistribute the tips to all employees. A small tip to an individual person doesn’t matter in this situation, as it will all be redistributed equally to everyone there. In fact, if I have received great service, I actually ask my server what the restaurant’s tipping policy is – who gets to keep the tip? (In this situation, I’ll usually tip at the very low end of normal, then hand a small amount of cash directly to the server if the service was good.)

Third, a “standardized” tipping policy ignores how the real world workds. If you tip identically no matter how good the service, the people who provide poor service will believe such service is acceptable and the people who provide good service have no incentive (beyond internal drive) to keep up the great work. A “standard” policy rewards the bad equally with the good – and that’s a situation that doesn’t benefit either side.

In fact, I’d argue that over the long term, a “standardized” tipping policy makes overall service in restaurants worse over time. It tells the self-motivated people who are really good at their job that they won’t be rewarded for their self-motivation, so they’ll seek a new channel for it. Meanwhile, the people who do a poor job are quite happy to collect nice tips for their minimal effort and will stay put.

My current tipping policy is pretty simple. When I go into a restaurant, I don’t plan on giving any tip at all. Waiters earn the tip through good service. If I don’t notice the service at all, that means it was good and I tip a solid amount – 15% to 20%. If I notice outstanding service, I go higher – I tipped almost 40% recently. If the service is poor enough that it begins to detract from the experience, I’m simply not going to tip the waitstaff well at all – 5% to 10%. If the service is poor enough that it makes the meal miserable, I will not give a penny. Obviously, I’ll make some exceptions to this, particularly if the server is new.

Honestly, I don’t care whether the tip is part of the person’s salary or not. In fact, if it is a part of that person’s salary, I view it as a strong argument for my tipping policy, as it rewards extra effort and doesn’t reward poor effort at all.

Just like real life.

What’s your tipping policy? Why?

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  1. Karen says:

    As a former waitress, I see your lack of tip as totally justified. Wouldn’t life be wonderful if we had such an instant feedback mechanism for everything else we disliked? The most recent waitress in my family was my daughter back in high school. She said if she went to work in a bad mood it instantly showed in her tips. She loved the small business aspect of working hard to reach ever-higher levels of instant positive feedback in her customer compensation.

  2. Catherine says:

    I totally agree with this, and I worked in the food industry all through high school and college as a hostess, waitress, and food runner. The only thing I would do differently is if the service is really pissing me off I’ll leave apr a 1% tip so they know I didn’t “forget” the tip but rather was not satisfied with the service.

    Luckily, this rarely happens and I am more likely to give a 40% tip to someone who has brightened my day!

  3. NRV says:

    Wow, that does sounds like poor service. I used to wait tables during my college years, and I can’t imagine treating a customer like that. Perhaps there was a very distracting personal issue going on with her that day, but I don’t blame you for not tipping in this situation.

    My question is – why did you sit there for so long? I would have approached the hostess or manager after 5-10 minutes and told them I wasn’t being served. I assume your kids were with you since you said you went with your family. Did your children just sit there happily while you waited that 25 minutes? (I can’t imagine my children being that patient when they are hungry!).

  4. Corey says:

    The best tipping policy I have seen (although I don’t use it) was when I saw a customer lay $20 in cash down at the start and told the server that the tip was theirs to lose. When the server made a mistake he would take a little money away. That guy got the best service of everyone in the section.

  5. Christine says:

    Trent,

    I think you should have gotten a manager involved in that situation.

    However, I have never really heard of any company that pools tips and then skims some off the tip. Is that a regional thing? I have served for 10 years and I honestly doubt that I would take a job at a place that did that. I know I’m a good server and would make much more on my own that with pooled tips. As you said, pooling tips rewards the poor servers.

    I do think you did the exact right thing in that situation. Sadly, servers that care that little are more likely to blame the lack of a tip on you being a cheapskate than to actually examine themselves and what they did to deserve that tip.

  6. Allan says:

    I’m not sure where you get the impression that restaurants collect the tips and then “skim off the top.” I have worked at many restaurants and have never seen or heard of this. That said, I totally agree that the server in this case did not deserve a tip.

  7. Anna is now Raven says:

    Trent, you didn’t say whether you informed the server that not tipping was directly related to her poor service. From her behavior, she was obviously clueless. Without explicit information from you, she could have thought you were a cheapskate or an otherwise undesirable customer, and she would not have learned from the experience. I say you were entirely right not to leave a tip, but I hope you told the server the reason.

  8. Jennifer says:

    To me, that was a really over the top bad experience that not only deserved no tip, but a discussion with the owner or manager, which I think you could still do. That would sour me on ever going back there again, and managers should know that. If you remember her name and can give the manager the date and time you were there, I would follow through on that.

  9. Jeff says:

    Trent:

    I have a friend who subtracts the sales tax before determining the tip amt. What do you think of that practice?

    He argues that the tax isn’t part of the price of the meal and should not be factored in. I think it is “cheap” and say it doesn’t make that much of a difference.

  10. Leah says:

    That was an unusual experience, I’m hoping. I’d get the manager involved too and likely not tip. But I don’t rely solely on the tip to give the only feedback to my server. Getting management involved, requesting comped food (you should not have paid for the meal that half slid onto the floor), and walking out (only before food is ordered) are all viable ways to “send a message” before you get to the tip.

    As far as I know, most places require some form of tip-sharing but don’t necessarily collect tips. As a server, you want to tip out the kitchen, busboys, etc so that you get good service. I did work one place that required tipping out (not a restaurant, per se, but was food service).

  11. Amy says:

    Trent, I used to waitress full-time, and I agree 100% with you on not tipping at all in that dreadful situation.

    I would have also complained to a manager, who might have comped some or all of your meal, but that’s entirely a personal choice.

  12. Erin says:

    I agree in the example you gave, that server deserved no tip. In that case I would give no or very little tip as well. I do feel that if the server does the basics and is polite, there should be a minimum expectation of a 15% tip. But your story was someone completely beyond the bounds of adequate service.

    In the whole 7 years in high school and college that I waitressed, I only got no tip or almost no tip twice, and both times it was something to do with the kitchen and not me but the customers were very upset about it.

    @Corey – that example you gave sounds very rude to me, it sounds like that guy is someone who enjoys having people under his power and bossing them around and making them feel inferior. What a jerk. I would feel about an inch tall if someone did that to me. I’d like to see that guy wait tables without ever making a single mistake, I bet he never worked in a restaurant in his life.

  13. Alexandra says:

    Trent, please state which business “collect the tips from the waitstaff, skim some percentage off the top, then redistribute the tips to all employees”.

    I think this is just plain untrue.

    Yes, some restaurants pool tips and distribute them by percentage to other staff members on the team like line cooks, prep cooks, bus boys and hostesses. This is common practice, and it’s easy to understand why. No business takes some money off the top though, and I challenge you to back up your ludicrous assertion with a single name of a business that does this. Just one.

    Your credibility just went down yet another notch.

  14. Michael says:

    As a rule, I start at 15% and knock off 5% for each major mistake. If the server actually screws up enough to get to 0%, I leave a note explaining what they did wrong. (You’d think that direct confrontation is more honorable, but in my experience, that’s usually perceived by the server — who is a screw-up to begin with — as even more obnoxious than the note.)

    On the other hand, if the service is exceptional, then I bump it up to 20% and personally compliment the server.

    I’ve never had service that warranted more than 20%, but I very rarely go to high-class places.

  15. Leah says:

    Jeff, your friend is cheap. That’s ridiculous. Does he do the tip to the penny? If I leave a cash tip, I totally round to avoid leaving change. Even a CC tip will be rounded so that the end of my charge ends in a specific number (I have a CC system).

    I don’t think this applies in your situation, Trent, but I have sometimes given good tips even for poor service. Sometimes, you can tell a server is just having an awful day. Maybe they’re distracted (like your last post) and not able to pay as much attention as they should. Maybe they got some bad news and are just having a hard time getting through the day; perhaps the manager was unwilling to give the server time off to deal with a big issue. In any case, the choice to leave a minimal tip should always be carefully considered. I’d hate it if my boss decided to adjust my pay if I wasn’t feeling well one day or didn’t achieve peak productivity because of a personal issue.

  16. Christine says:

    I have never heard of tipping out prep cooks, host/hostesses or line cooks. I have only ever had to tip out buspeople. The theory behind this is that the faster the bussers get the table cleaned the faster you can turn tables over, therefore getting you more opportunities to make money. I have worked at chain restaraunts and have not had to tip out bartenders, although I currently work at dinner theatre/bar and do tip out the bartender.

  17. Alexis says:

    I generally tip 10-20%, completely dependant on general service. In many restaurants, the serving staff has to “tip-out” to bar staff, kitchen staff, and bussing staff – so just because your wait-staff didn’t do their job is no reason to punish the rest of the staff.
    If the service is Very poor, I ask for management to come to the table, before I leave, and speak to the manager about the specific problems.
    If the service is EXCELLENT – I ask for managment (either at the table or as I leave, depending on the type of restaurant) and praise the service. A good review from a customer can go a LONG way sometimes….more than an extra buck or two.

  18. Christine says:

    @10 Alexandra,

    I actually did work at a place that kind of did this. It was a small mom and pop type bed and breakfast that also served breakfast and lunch. There were two servers and the owners. The owners had us split the tip three ways so that they could take a third, even though they didn’t usually serve the tables. It was kind of a sham and completely unfair. Needless to say, I didn’t work there long.

  19. Jonathan says:

    I lived in Japan for the past six years (where there is no tipping and counts very much against the perception that it is an expensive place to live), and I still need to get used to tipping again here. It shocks me that the level of service is so much higher in Japan than it is here…even without a tip; even fast food restaurants in Japan had higher levels of service, in my opinion, than high end restaurants here. I wonder if it’s this “internal drive” to do well that you mentioned or maybe a stricter attitude towards customer service (e.g. if someone gets a lot of customer complaints or is apparently substandard with their level of service, they get fired). I just stick to the 10-15% rule now, simply because my base line is completely out of whack now…but I often wonder about how the level of service here could be improved through merit-based tipping or some other method.

    As a bit of a non sequitor, this talk of tipping reminds me of the opening scene of “Reservoir Dogs”…the part not talking about Madonna…;p

  20. Hannah says:

    No waiter is working at their dream career. They may like their job, or they may not, but they are probably just trying to get the bills paid. It could be the waiter or the customer who is in a bad mood one day- It sucks that their income depends on the generosity, or lack thereof, of strangers, instead of a boss who can look at the whole picture.

    I wish didn’t have obligatory tipping in the US, so waitstaff would get consistent wages and I wouldn’t have to think about it. To put my money where my mouth is, I always tip at least the minimum 15% and am happy to go over 20% if the waiter is genuinely awesome.

  21. Colin says:

    I have never understood why this is such a problem or a hot topic to talk about.

    If you suck you don’t get paid; if you rock then you get paid well. So don’t suck.

    Entitlement to a tip is complete and utter non-sense. Tipping is merit-based. Believing a tip is an entitlement is an insult to capitalism and the entire point to meritocracy.

    One final note on compulsory tips for large groups. Compulsory tip means I don’t tip more than the compulsory amount. Never. If the tip is forced on me then it’s no longer a tip but an included part of the price. Compulsory tips are good for the lower-half of the bell curve and bad for the upper-half of the bell curve, which is a shame because it takes skill to manage a large group. But if I don’t have the choice of lowering the tip then I eschew the option of increasing it.

  22. Kari says:

    I agree with you totally. I know some people think you should have gotten the manager involved. I think what you did was perfect (unless you’re looking for something free to compensate for the poor service). But if not, then who has time to waste talking to managers about poor service? Let the waitress figure it out for herself, which she will soon do when she stops getting tips. If she’s busy sitting at a table when she should be working, the manager will eventually figure that out, too.

  23. Tara says:

    I worked in the food service industry for years during school, and your post made me want to cheer out loud! If someone doesn’t have enough personal pride to provide half-decent service, they don’t deserve a tip. Staff always pooled tips where I worked, and we knew that the bad apples were going to take their “share” of the earned tips, without bringing in many tips of their own. We just waited for them to get fired, or quit because work interfered with their social schedule. ;-)

  24. Amy says:

    I generally tip 20% for good service. I regularly tip a bit higher for great service that makes the meal more enjoyable. I also usually order water because that’s what I like to drink, so I add a little extra to my tip to account for no drink order. Just because my water was free doesn’t mean the server didn’t have to work as hard refilling my glass.

    If service is bad I will definitely reduce the tip. However I try to do it only when it’s the server’s fault. If it’s the kitchen or something he or she has no control over, it’s not fair to reduce the tip.

  25. Valerie says:

    Trent — what a horrible restaurant experience. In New Orleans, this type of service would not be tipped at all. However, I think this is more than a tipping issue. I would have calmly asked the cashier or another server for the manager on duty and expressed my dissatisfaction. The likelihood of your fanily ever returning there is nill. Poor service like this represents the restaurant, and management or owners need to correct problems but can only do that if we as customers inform them. A manager would have probably comped or part or all of your meal and apologized. Then he or she could have retrained the server or done whatever corrective action was needed. Restaurants depend on repeat business. ALWAYS let a manager know if you are dissatisfied (or pleased) and don’t ever think tips alone will express your dissatisfaction or correct the problem.

  26. candylover says:

    My friend used to work in a chain restaurant where tipping out was required. Not in the typical sense of you tip 1 or 2% to the cooking, bar, and bus boy staff. This restaurant’s policy was you tip out 10% of your total sales for the day, so when a table left a crappy tip, it would cost her money out of her pocket in order to tip out to the other staff. Management felt that this encouraged the wait staff to provide exceptional service and get exceptional tips, but honestly, that’s not always the case. My hubby and I have stopped eating out with some people who always leave shoddy tips because they feel that service is what the wait staff is hired to do, and therefore shouldn’t be tipped any differently for simply doing their job.

    As far as how my hubby and I tip, we tip 20% for average service that doesn’t improve or detract from our experience. If we receive bad service, we leave a lesser tip and talk to the manager before leaving so they understand there was a problem and we aren’t just being cheap. If the service is great, my hubby and I have tipped upwards of 30-40%.

  27. Deborah says:

    Good for you. The base tip rewards inferior service which is counter to the whole point of tipping. I understand why you might choose not to raise the level of conflict but I have been known to get up and leave, the food on the floor might have been too much for me.

  28. I agree that there are RARE occasionas that a tip is simply not warranted, like the one you described. However, I think the timing of this post might have been poor, right before Valenitne’s Day when many may be going out to eat even if they can’t afford it.

  29. Brittany says:

    Your policy is sound, Trent. I like the idea of leaving a note for bad service, though.

    Once I was in a restaurant with service very similar to what you described–just utterly awful I had not desire to tip at all. The bill ended up being something like $19.17, so we gave her a $20 and told her to keep the change. She actually came back, threw our change on the table/floor and snottily said, “I don’t think you realized what your change was.” and stood their staring at us. What nerve! We just got up and walked off without saying anything (which I think said more than a verbal confrontation).

  30. Lorraine says:

    Here’s a thought: Trent, did you have your kids with you at the restaurant? I know a lot of servers dread having little kids/toddlers at their tables, not just for the mess factor at the table/floor with boosters and high chairs, but for the noise and level of demands (extra plate, kids eating from the parents’ food and not ordering their own meal, needing crayons, extra napkins, bottles heated up, etc.). I’m not saying it’s right, but I’ve seen servers trip over themselves to avoid serving a family with kids, and acting like they drew the short end of the straw when they get stuck doing so. Plus there’s the perception that families with young kids are cheap and won’t tip well to begin with. I know it’s wrong but the perception is that families with young kids are a lot more work for a lot less potential reward, and so they’re treated accordingly. Just a thought.

  31. Pete says:

    Trent, my policy is exactly the same as yours and I am happy to see that there is someone else out there who feels the same way. My wife is a former waitress and I have worked in restaurants so we are both sensitive to this issue and we are both in agreement. Most of the time, it doesn’t require busting your hump to give good service. It just requires caring about your work and those you serve. When I see that (even if other factors such as an unusually busy time cause the result to be less than stellar) then I tip generously.

  32. Strick says:

    Good for you. As someone who worked for years in a field where hard workers and poor worker were always paid practically the same, glad you did this.

    I used to often give no tip for bad service, 15% for decent, and 30% for great. I’ve now totally removed percentage from the calculation. But I couldn’t figure out why I was giving the decent waitress at the high priced restaurant a $15 tip (15% of $100) and the great waitress who never lets a cup of coffee run out at the local diner $4 (30% of $12), especially when I was already getting such better value on the meal price itself anyway. Sure a $15 tip would stand out on a $12 bill and a $15 tip gets lost on a $100 bill, but either way you’re spending $15. Shouldn’t the person doing the more work, the better work, and the one giving me the meal of better value get paid more?

    I now tip according to a completely subjective, 2 second, off the cuff valuing of the the quality and quantity (# of persons) of service, which can lead to some 100+% tips (I happily pay $25 for the local’s $12 meal for 2 with heart-warming service) and some 0% tips.

    The first time the diner waitress caught me on the way out the door and thanked me so much for the “huge” tip (the high end restarant waitress would have considered it minimal), I knew this would continue to be my tipping policy and I would never again tip a waitress $2 just because the meal was a great price.

  33. Claire says:

    The only argument I would make is that in other similar-type jobs, say a cashier at a retail store, they get paid whether they do their job well or are rude to the customers and provide no service. The waiter’s tip really is part of their salary, even when they’re doing a poor job.

    Not that I disagree with your “no minimum tip” rule, but just something else to think about.

  34. Shevy says:

    I know of people who leave anywhere from one to a few pennies for “service” like you experienced, on the theory that no tip could be construed as a cheap or forgetful customer or a table where someone else stole the tip. A penny or two says “this is what your service was worth”.

    I probably would have talked to the manager myself.

  35. Brent says:

    You should tip a penny. A lot of servers are used to people not tipping. If a leave a penny, they will know that you tip but that they didn’t get a tip because of their service.

  36. matt says:

    For skimming, its not ‘skimmed’ per say but redistributed, for instance only servers get tips, they all contribute to the tip pool and 10% off the top of this goes to tip out the kitchen, then another 10% to tip the busboys, then usually 15-20% to tip out the hostess. The remaining is split equally among the servers. (sometimes the manager in the front of the house will take 10-20% for himself as well, but only a less scrupulous one) whether the kitchen, busboys and hostess did a good job or not, your ‘good tip’ for service provided by your waitstaff gets eaten by these people. I have worked in restaurants where this is the status quo. Additionally I tip minimum $10 for great service (i’m a heavy water drinker and if they keep my water glass full they get this), and am fine only leaving 10% for soso service (reaching for a drink and my water is still empty), or nothing for really crappy (not for food issues but for server ignoring you, didnt put part of your order in, didn’t refill the water etc). Even after working in a restaurant, I believe if you ‘need’ tips as part of your salary you better be willing to work for them.

  37. partgypsy says:

    I that situation not only would I not tip but ask to speak to the manager as well. The managment can’t correct problems like this if they are not aware of them.

  38. chzplz says:

    When I get terrible service like the one described in this post, I leave one cent tip. It tells the server that I didn’t forget to tip, I knew exactly what I was doing.

  39. Hope D says:

    During high school I worked at a Pizza Hut. They took the tips and put them together. They gave a percentage to the cooks and a percentage to the restaurant. I know they changed that policy, but I’m sure some other restaurants are going to do it.

    I have a very good friend who eats out all the time. My husband and I would go out occasionally with her and her husband. We stopped because he was so demanding to the wait staff. He was so arrogant I felt ashamed to be there. He thought he was demanding good service. He was actually being impossible to please. My husband said he was trying to get free food.

  40. Kenny says:

    Instead of not giving any tip, I have on rare occasions tipped $0.05. That way they know you’re not just a person that never tips.

  41. guinness416 says:

    Ugh, Corey, that’s a really creepy way to approach it.

    I could care less what people other than those I’m dining with tip but some people honestly seem to do this because they’d rather be passive aggressive than have to speak to the manager. Best case scenario, on the basis of a three minute conversation with whoever’s in charge you get your meal comped, the restaurant gets a heads up that something is very wrong and the next person gets better service. Win-win-win versus sulky teenage waitress and steaming blog post.

    I will say that I’ve only received really bad service two or three times in my life (and we eat and drink out a fair bit) – and one of those times it was clear the kitchen/manager totally screwed over the single waitress in the place. I’ve never left a zero tip (or, and again ugh, the few pennies thing). I can’t fathom where you people are eating if this is something you regularly have to think about.

  42. cathleen says:

    RE: “Second, some businesses collect the tips from the waitstaff, skim some percentage off the top, then redistribute the tips to all employees. A small tip to an individual person doesn’t matter in this situation, as it will all be redistributed equally to everyone there. In fact, if I have received great service, I actually ask my server what the restaurant’s tipping policy is – who gets to keep the tip? (In this situation, I’ll usually tip at the very low end of normal, then hand a small amount of cash directly to the server if the service was good.)

    As a restaurant owner In California I can tell you unequivocally that this is illegal. So if someone is doing this it is fraud.
    Would you say that you aren’t going to pay your complete bill at Target because some employees steal? :)

    I would go to better restaurants if this is the kind of service that you get. I have never received service such as you describe, not even at a coffee shop.

  43. Jack says:

    Regular service gets a 15% or a little better from me. Poor AND better than average service gets a word with the manager/owner. Managers hear a lot of complaints, the occasional ‘atta boy’ is always well received and helps them know what is happening with their business.

  44. J says:

    The situation you describe warrants escalation to the management immediately. Tipping doesn’t even enter into it.

    I believe the practice you describe as “skimming” is more correctly described as “pooling”, in order to compensate the people like the cooks and bus staff who help the waiters. “Tip skimming” is something that’s defined in the law and can be prosecuted as a crime.

    I’d also argue that you go into a restaurant intending to tip 15-20%. I’ve eaten out a fair bit and quite honestly the service is usually what you describe — adequate, but not exceptional.

    Otherwise this post reads like something right out of Mr. Pink’s mouth in “Reservoir Dogs”

  45. Christine T. says:

    I waitressed all through college and I normally tip pretty high (>25%). In this case there is no way I would leave a tip. You definitely should not have to pay for the meal that was partially dropped on the floor and not replaced. I would talk to the manager or just tell them the service is so bad that you are leaving without getting your food. Then slam them on yelp.

  46. IASSOS says:

    On tipping the tax: The sales tax pays for government services. Did the waitress enhance your street lights or public library?

    Secondly, sales tax rates vary by jurisdiction, so should one waitress get a bigger tip than another merely because the tax is higher?

  47. Brandon says:

    There has been a lot of discussion of the proper level of tipping, but I do have one consideration that no one has talked about that I have put a lot of thought into. Why is tipping traditionally a percentage of the bill?

    The cost of the meal is often completely unrelated to the skill of the server. I could order the cheapest pasta dish at a restaurant or the most ornate lobster dish and the server does exactly the same work, but the tip is then based off of whether I spent $10 on my meal or $30. Furthermore, does a waitress deserve less tip if I have my water refilled scrupulously five times versus having my wine refreshed twice? Do servers at fine dining restaurants deserve more money in tips than the ones at Olive Garden on the same level of service?

    I have thought a lot about this, and I think it may lead to me looking a little cheap at fine dining places. If the service does not blow me away, I might tip below the ‘acceptable minimum’ because I don’t think the server deserves $15-20 for doing exactly the same thing that I would tip $6-8 at a cheaper restaurant. Conversely, the server at Waffle House deserves more than the $3-4 they would get off the price of the meal there.

    Just a thought.

  48. Crystal says:

    With us, every visit starts out at 15%. If the waiter/waitress kicks butt, we will tip up to 50%. If they forget about us completely, we will go to 0%. Most of the time, we end up tipping 15%-20% around here…average to good service. We rarely get excellent or awful service. Execellent service will get us to return much more quickly.

  49. Tom says:

    With sharing of tips between staff, a really good or really bad performance by waitstaff is best accentuated by telling a manager about it.

  50. Trent,
    Right on!!! I have been working a similar tip policy for awhile… My wife worked as a waitress for years–and supports it.

    A funny “tipping” conversation occurs in the first scene of “Revervoir Dogs”. I am not as militant as “Mr. Pink” in the movie’s conversation….but I see his point (“who in society deems some jobs deserve a tip?”).

    Also, I was brow beaten recently by a gal in a drive up window of a local fast food joint. The receipt had an area for a “tip” and I crossed it out, as to make sure no one wrote something in the space… The gal who leans out a window to throw my order (that’s not usually correct) in my vehicle DESERVES a tip???
    Not a chance.

  51. Amanda says:

    Trent, if you get a less than perfect meal you still pay for the meal. If you go to see a bad movie, you don’t get a refund for your ticket. Some people have off days at work in the office, but they still get paid. If you CHOOSE to go into a restaurant, then you should know you are taking a risk over whether or not your tip will be “worth it.” Like it or not, in the U.S.tipping is a part of that person’s salaries. Waitresses make around two dollars an hour. If you choose not to tip for your meal, then you are severely impacting their pay for the day, ESPECIALLY since they may still have to pay out a tip to the bartender and busboy WHETHER OR NOT you actually tip them. That means the waitress is actually taking a loss on serving your meal. If a waitress does a really horrible job, I suggest the proper course of action is to talk to a manager.

    If you don’t like the tipping practices in the U.S., I suggest you stay out of restaurants.

  52. Brandon says:

    Another thought: I have from time to time heard that you should not tip the owner of a restaurant if you are served by them for whatever reason. It makes sense as their salary is not tip based. The only family owned and operated place that I frequent, I do tip, but does anyone have thoughts?

  53. Jessica says:

    The only time I use a ‘minimum tip’ is when I’m at a restaurant that’s really inexpensive. If my total bill is $10, I feel bad only leaving $2 if the service is good. I tend to tip at least $5 in those situations. Otherwise, I tip based on service alone and if they’re terrible, they get very little if anything.

  54. Brandon says:

    Oh, I hate to add more, but I also would like to say I almost exclusively tip on my credit card as I do not approve of waiters not claiming cash tips on their taxes. Did any of you who waited tables actually claim 100% of your cash tips on your taxes?

  55. I was a server for years and I think it all comes down to effort. If I can tell a server is really busy and trying to get everything done but a couple things slip, I totally am understanding and tip normally. If they’re overly attentive to the point of annoyance I only tip 15% and if they make sure everything is taken care of while allowing the diners to enjoy their experience then I tip at least 20%. They deserve it.

    I have never stiffed anyone but I have tipped lower for down right bad service.

  56. Keith Morris says:

    I more or less agree with you. We tend to tip 20% for standard service just because the math is easy that way, but I’m not opposed to refusing to tip if the service is awful.

  57. tightwadfan says:

    I tip minimum 15%. I don’t like the tipping practice, it’s demeaning but it’s not the waitstaff’s fault how their pay is structured.

    In your example, rather than leave no tip, I would have gone to another restaurant. I don’t know why your wife put her coat back on and you guys stayed. If we weren’t too hungry after waiting 25 minutes, I would complain to the manager on the way out. He or she should know why they just lost your business.

    I would never reward such treatment with my money, (even without a tip). If the service is bad, I just leave, you can usually tell pretty quickly if the waiter is going to suck. I think the latest I’ve walked out is after the drinks order.

  58. kelli says:

    I used to wait tables and bussed tables before that. Waitresses tend to be the most fair in tipping other wait staff. We had a guideline: If the service was good, 15%. If the service was great 20%. If the service is less than stellar but the restaurant is packed and the wait staff are busy, they still get a good tip because they are doing the best they can. If the service was as abysmal as you got: $.02. Literally 2 pennies. Stiffing a waitress can be interpreted as you being cheap. Leaving 2 pennies on the table is usually interpreted as “I know I’m supposed to leave a tip, here’s my 2 cents: the service sucked”. I still follow this guideline.

  59. Kris says:

    Trent,
    More of a question (albeit related). I would like your opinion (or you wife) on the teacher’s pay scale. Where I live (Ontario) teachers start at a base salary (can be higher if the teacher has more education) and each year their salary is increased until they hit the ‘cap’ – for secondary school it is about $90K. How can this motivate someone to be a better teacher and how does it not allow the bad teachers to slip through the cracks? My son has had some great teachers, but their was one in particular who spent most of her time socializing and no work came home that year.

    In my job (and most jobs) we are rewarded for good, if not great, work. Similar to tipping.

  60. tightwadfan says:

    should have said your wife took her coat back off

  61. Josh says:

    @Amanda #49

    The waitress in question does not deserve any tips, and she doesn’t even deserve the $1-$2/hour the restaurant is paying her. She should be fired immediately.

  62. Ginger says:

    Honestly, this post upset me. If you have a problem like this you should talk to the manager. Why were you waiting 25 min. When I hear things like this I often get the impression that the person just wanted to be upset because they did nothing to fix the situation. I do believe you tip 10% if the service is bad and I have only had to do that twice, I will not have the server lose money to serve me even if they do a bad job. It is illegal for that to happen in any other job, I won’t cause it to happen to a server.
    “Second, some businesses collect the tips from the waitstaff, skim some percentage off the top, then redistribute the tips to all employees.” If the server is caught not putting their full tips into consideration they can be fired and often it is this attitude that cause owners base tip sharing to be based on sales not tip, which then causes the above.
    Why post this if you will unwilling to deal with the manager in person?

  63. Mel says:

    This off-topic and probably unhelpful, but I say be grateful for good service being common. Where I live, even a smile is almost exceptional and reluctance and rudeness is normal. There are a lot of reasons for that, mostly historical, and it is definitely getting better.

    Tips here are normally just the price rounded up to the nearest ‘nice’ number (nothing for a grumpy guts, more if someone is actually friendly!). Staff are paid to do their job by their employer, not me, just like any other staff.

    I actually find tipping culture in different countries interesting – both in how much is expected (nothing – 40% ?!), and how it’s done (leave it on the table, return the change, or here you say the total you want to pay when you hand over the money).

  64. Tamara says:

    Hear Hear Trent!

    I only tip if the service is adequate, and only tip really well if the service was exceptional. In Saskatchewan there is not a different minimum wage for service staff, so they should not be “expecting” a tip as part of their salary.

    With regards to the “skimming” tips issue, my sister was a hostess at a nice restaurant, and the management did collect all tips to then “tip out” the cooks and the hosts so the wait staff did go home with less tips than they “earned”.

  65. Johanna says:

    Is there any other situation where the customer has complete control over how much to pay a service provider, *after* the service has already been provided? I can’t think of one. So I don’t agree that tipping a flat percentage “ignores how the real world works.” Rather, it’s the flexible tipping policy that’s the exception rather than the rule.

    That’s not to say it’s bad, when it’s used appropriately – and for a situation like Trent describes, I do think a 0% tip is appropriate, since the server seems to have crossed the line between doing a bad job and not doing her job. The problem is that there’s nothing to stop people from using the tipping system *inappropriately* – nothing to stop selfish jerks from abusing the system to gain more influence than they deserve.

    It’s a bit like the filibuster in that respect.

  66. Nicole says:

    Agreed with those who say instead of not leaving a tip, leaving the restaurant or asking to talk to a manager.

  67. jim says:

    Zero tip was completely justified in that situation. Tipping is always optional. That server did not deserve a tip at all. We shouldn’t feel obligated to tip horrible service, it just rewards bad behavior. Telling the management about the horrible experience would be a good idea also.

  68. candylover says:

    On a side note, not all waitresses make $2/hour. When I lived in Oregon, wait staff there made minimum wage plus tips. Minimum wage at that time was 7.90/hour. I had no problem not leaving a tip if the service was bad because I knew the wait staff was being paid a regular hourly wage as well.

  69. Honey says:

    When I was a server they ran my report at the end of the night and told me how much money I owed the restaurant for the food that had been purchased (we did have to pay in part of our tips so that the busboys and/or food runners would get tipped out, too, which is I think what Trent is talking about when he says “skim off the top”). Anything beyond what I owed the restaurant was mine.

    I had to fill out a sheet saying how much I’d made in tips, but the amount was usually pre-filled in assuming a 15% gratuity rate across all food purchases. Since most people tip more than this, a lot of your income is cash and therefore unclaimed on taxes. This is why if you are a very good server you can make out quite well.

    When I worked at the restaurant I made “restaurant minimum wage,” which at that time was $2.13/hour. It was assumed that tips would supplement the difference between that amount and “actual minimum wage,” but if I didn’t make enough in tips to cover the difference the restaurant would have been required by law to do so out of their pockets. This is a means to identify (and fire) servers who are not doing a good job.

    Things may work differently in other places where there is no “restaurant minimum wage,” which I do not think exists everywhere.

  70. Julie says:

    I generally leave 15%, 20% or more if the service is really excellent. I decided long ago that if I was unhappy enough to not leave a tip, I was also unhappy enough to complain to the management, which I have on a couple of occasions. I prefer that to just not leaving anything and having the waitperson assume I stiffed them because I’m a jerk or something. I want to make SURE they know it was a result of their service.

  71. Laura in Seattle says:

    You definitely did right with the zero tip. I have also employed the tactic of leaving pennies for really horrible service (think I’ve only had to do that once or twice).

    Two things: First, someone said that you should consider whether the server is having a bad day, etc. While of course none of us is a mind reader, I do remember a recent experience in a restaurant where our section (which was large and completely packed) was being handled by only one server. Everything we ordered came late, but we could tell this poor girl was doing the best she could by herself and working her butt off trying to keep up. I tipped her double.

    Second, I do this for really good service, but it would work for bad service as well: I pay with a credit or debit card and write a note at the bottom of the restaurant’s copy of the slip. That way, the server knows not only that I’m tipping them well, but why. And while a separate note might be misplaced or thrown out, receipts have to be kept so you know they’ll see it and maybe other staff will too.

  72. Trent Trent says:

    My sister-in-law and, later, my niece worked at a hotel/restaurant in Illinois where their policy was to collect all tips then redistribute them to all employees as a “bonus” at the end of the year. That bonus, however, was far lower than would reasonably be expected from a year’s worth of tips (on the order of a $100 bonus per employee after serving 200 people a night for ten months). The policy was seen as so unfair by employees that they asked us not to tip there. I don’t think it’s fair for me to specifically name the business because I am unsure whether their policy still is in place or whether it has been altered.

    Furthermore, statements like “Your credibility just went down another notch” when I’m encouraging people to simply inquire about the tipping policy of the restaurant to ensure that the waitstaff actually receive your tip is rather over the top. Even if the above example were false, that advice would still be sensible and true.

  73. jim says:

    Anyone know why our society decided that 20% is the new expected tip level? What happened to 15%? Back in the early 20th century 10% was the norm. So WHY have we decided to raise tips from 10% to 20% in the past 100 years? Anyone got an answer or explanation for that? I’m just curious cause this is something I can’t figure out.

    I’m pretty sure that Trent just misspoke when he used the word “skimming” and I’m sure he really meant “pooling” for the common practice of giving share of tips to other staff.

    Tamara said: “In Saskatchewan there is not a different minimum wage for service staff, so they should not be “expecting” a tip as part of their salary.”

    Thats also true in 7 of the US states. On the west coast states you get $8+ minimum wage plus tips. Yet everyone still expects that tip as part of their wage and many people don’t even realize the waitstaff gets full minimum.

    Amanda: “If you CHOOSE to go into a restaurant, then you should know you are taking a risk over whether or not your tip will be “worth it.”

    That is not how tips work. Tips are not mandatory. By definition tips / gratuity are voluntary and extra reward for good service.

    I agree with Iassos that theres no need to tip for the sales tax. Call that cheap if you want, but I’m not paying an extra $2 to a waiter just cause the state in question has a high sales tax.

  74. jim says:

    “My sister-in-law worked at a hotel/restaurant in Illinois where their policy was to collect all tips then redistribute them to all employees as a “bonus” at the end of the year. That bonus, however, was far lower than would reasonably be expected from a year’s worth of tips.”

    That is not normal nor typical at all. That is actually called theft.

  75. Christine says:

    @51 Brandon

    I claim all of my tips for a few different reasons.

    1)I’m terrified of being audited
    2)My 401(k) contribution was based on a percentage of my pay. The less I claimed, the less money my 401(k) got.
    3)You never know when you will need credit. At my credit union, part of the loan decision making process is based on debt to income ratio. Less income claimed=higher ratio=less likely to get approved.

    However, I do believe I am in the minority when it comes to claiming tips. I have never thought of it in the way that you put it. I guess tipping in cash in kind of enabling the server the not claim the tip and therefore not pay taxes on it.

  76. chacha1 says:

    I agree with many others, this was a situation requiring not passive-aggressive zero tipping but actual engagement with the owner/manager of the business. He/she surely has to know that bad service = fewer customers = less profit = going out of business.

    Just had a conversation last night about Valentine’s Day dinners (notorious in our city for rushed, crowded, noisy venues – and however exceptional the food, the experience tends not to be romantic); our friend had an experience bad enough that his comment on it was overheard by the manager, who invited him back “on the house” and provided a greatly improved experience.

    Some people are teachable, and some just aren’t – but very few people learn well from an absence of verbal or written feedback.

  77. Alexandra says:

    The policy of any restaurant establishment skimming off the top of their waiter’s tips is illegal, and FAR from the norm. If it happens at all, it likely happens in less than 1% of all restaurants. To list it is the second of your three criticisms against minimal tips is why I feel it harms your credibility. You present something as fact which is not fact. Your one example hardly makes this a typical practice, and is not a good excuse for why one should fail to tip appropriately.

    It sounds like you are trying to over-justify leaving no tip. Extremely bad service is enough justification not to tip.

  78. Alexandra says:

    Questioning who gets to keep the tip isn’t really your business. The wait staff has a choice to work in a restaurant that splits tips or not. Most finer establishments do split tips, or have the waiters pay out the rest of the service staff. If a waiter does work in a restaurant that splits tips across the staff it means that they have made an agreement with the rest of the staff who works there. This agreement means that they acknowledge that the work of the rest of the staff contributes to their success and performance as a waiter. And they agree that they will pay them a percentage of their tip as their compensation for their own contribution to the waiter’s success.

    Trying to circumvent this system goes against honesty and integrity, upon which this system is based.

    I don’t think you get it.

  79. Nick says:

    thinking of this story, I remember my mother’s policy for tipping for poor service. Instead of simply not tipping, she would leave a penny. It made it 100% clear that this was a direct result of poor service, and that she didn’t just forget a tip.

  80. matt says:

    @jim, yes theft but not really, for example i used to work in a banquet hall in highschool. If they left a tip it was usually for the room and they usually gave it to the maitre’d. Most maitre’d would take 50% of this and split the rest with the wait staff, others would take the whole thing for themselves(. In trent’s example they were likely redistributing it to everyone and not just the people earning the tips, hence why it was lower.

  81. matt says:

    @77 Alexandra: if you have never worked in a restaurant you don’t have a clue. Its not exactly skimmed, but you don’t get to keep all your tips. I’ve worked everywhere from banquet halls to 5 star restaurants to pizza hut. Almost everywhere you have to either tip out the other staff, or they do a tip pool and redistribute. Never mind the dishonest servers that only put half or less of their tips into the pool. The whole tipping system is a bad idea unless the server directly gets to keep the tips, which in my experience is the exception rather than the norm. Also its not part of their salary. If they are a crappy server and cant make enough tips, restaurant is by law required to make up the difference to get them to federal minimum wage for the hours they worked. I’ve never known a server that lasted more than a week that ever had to resort to this though…

  82. Kat says:

    @ Honey, #69

    Cash tips are supposed to be claimed on your tax forms and you are supposed to pay taxes on them. Not doing so is tax fraud and illegal. While I am sure almost all waiters do it, the assumption is not supposed to be that “lot of your income is cash and therefore unclaimed on taxes.”

    And, yes, Trent should have complained to management. He probably would have been given something free, like a dessert, and the waiter would be retrained (or fired from a job that they obviously aren’t cut out for).

  83. friend says:

    The one time in my life I did not leave a tip, I wrote the reason why on the back of the bill. Probably should have talked to the manager, but that did not occur to me at the time.

  84. Eddie says:

    @Corey: Haha. Sounds like “3rd Rock From the Son”

    On the subject, I’ve always left a tip. Of course the tip is higher based on the server’s attitude, effort, etc.

    A friend of mine went to a restaurant the other day, and we both tipped the BUSBOY more than the waiter simply because his attitude was much more pleasant. He made great conversation, took care of refilling our waters, and displayed a cheerful attitude to all the patrons in the restaurant. We asked him if he got a part of the tip, and he said only if it was offered directly to him. Thus, we picked up the tip and gave it directly to him.

  85. Michele says:

    My son works at a very high end restaurant (his college part time job) and must tip out 10% of his nightly tips to the expediters and bussers. The 10% is figured by computer based on an average 15% tip on his ‘pre-tax’ checks. He also has an automatic 8% of his ‘pre-tax’ check calculated (they are totally computerized) and taxes are deducted from his twice a month paycheck so taxes are already paid on tips, just as they are on his hourly pay. He knows that if service isn’t excellent, he will lose money since his tips are already calculated based on the customer’s pre-tax check- so he works very hard to make sure service is excellent.
    And I agree with the other posters, Trent, for goodness’s sake, don’t wait for the service to get worse! Go to the manager or front desk right away. Why put up with lousy service? My husband and I don’t go out to eat very often, so I won’t wait more than 10 minutes before nicely asking why I have not been helped. If the food is bad, I don’t penalize the server- but if the service is not good, I always fill out little cards and leave a tip to make it clear that I didn’t forget, and the service was not up to par- and I let a manager know, too so the behavior can be corrected.

  86. veer says:

    I am wondering what everyone thinks about tipping for Buffet meals.

    I regularly go for Buffets and the only service I get is water is filled first and then used plates are taken away.

    I used to tip 10% but occasionally when I don’t get water upfront I debate whether to tip.

    Should I even be expected to tip for Buffet restaurants?

  87. Josh says:

    @Michele #86

    They don’t actually lose money on taxes if the tips aren’t enough. If their other tips don’t cover it, you only claim what you actually earned when you file your taxes and would end up getting a tax return if the computer withheld more than you were supposed to pay.

    I’m guessing the opposite happens much more often though, where someone tips more than 15% and the excess does not get reported.

  88. jim says:

    I initially thought the situation Trent mentioned was “theft” but now I’m not so sure. Trent said they get lower ‘bonus’ than what the tips actually were. So I thought that he meant the management was somehow stealing some of the tip money. But it could just be that the wait staff gets lower bonus than the amount of tips they see simply cause money was going to housekeepers, cooks, dishwashers etc. Thats your typical setup where tips are shared around. Thats not “theft” but just the way their system is setup. I had assumed initially that the management was giving out lower “bonus” than the tip totals and basically stealing from the tip pool. Cynical or untrusting wait staff might assume there is theft when there isn’t cause you have to trust the management to handle all the tip money, I guess you can never know for sure if management is stealing.

  89. Ari Herzog says:

    Let’s keep in mind that TIPS is an acronym, OK? It stands for “To Insure Proper Service” and to my knowledge, the practice started in Europe before coming to America. Over there, tipping is exercised before the meal, not after. Leave it to Americans (which I am) to do things backwards.

    Like others commenting above, I’m a former server and your actions and thoughts are in par. I also wonder why you didn’t leave after five minutes of inactivity. It’s one thing if the server walked over and took a drink order and said things were busy; but ignoring you? A friend and I walked into a restaurant a few days ago, sat there for over five minutes with the server 20 feet away and she took forever to come to us, and asked us (at 11 a.m.), “Would you like a menu?” We left.

  90. Meika says:

    @Jonathan, I lived in Japan for two years as well, and it’s the first thing that came to mind when reading this post. The service there was excellent almost without exception, and our Japanese was not especially good – can you imagine what kind of service you’d get in the U.S. without decent English? I’m actually a little bit annoyed that restaurants in the U.S. leave it to their customers to do crude employee evaluations via tipping. Not that this is likely to change. :)

    I am curious, though – it’s my understanding that tipping is not customary in Europe, either. Does anyone have experience with dining there, and how the service compares?

  91. matt says:

    @meika #80

    My best japan story is at a sushi bar in California. The server must have been FOB, because when a gentleman left money on the table she grabbed it and chased him down to give it back to him.

  92. Julie says:

    I agree – making a waiter rely on tips for his income may be the best way to ensure good service, which is in the best interests of both the establishment and the customer. If I get extremely bad service like you described, I leave a few coins on the table. This clearly communicates my disgust with the service and the waiter doesn’t have the option of wondering if I simply forgot to leave a tip.

  93. jennie says:

    Even if where you live restaurant servers make a lower minimum wage, they are still compensated to at least the minimum wage level by tips, otherwise what’s the point? Go ahead and offer any restaurant server a minimum wage job at McDonalds and watch them laugh in your face. Of course they generally make enough money in tips to compensate for the tough job and the occasional non-tipper. If not they’re probably terrible at the job and are free to work elsewhere.

    I also hate the arguement that the customer receiving poor service is responsible for complaining to the manager. After a bad night caused by bad service, the last thing I want to do is get into a confrontation with someone about it. Just letting your tip speak for the service received is all that is required.

  94. Mel says:

    @Ari, @Meika
    My experience in the UK (and New Zealand, where I’m from – it’s not Europe but anyway) is tipping that you generally don’t except for exceptions.
    Here in Czech Republic (Central Europe, but still Europe) tipping is just rounding up the price you pay, generally regardless of quality – and it can be shocking sometimes! Maybe 138czk would round up to 150czk (a little less the 8usd). When you pay, you just say the amount you want to pay and you get change for that. It’s almost more reducing the amount of small change than actually paying for the service.

    @Ari: In all the European countries where I’ve eaten, tipping was expected after the meal if at all. I’d love to see the look on someone’s face if I tried that! And you are not ‘insuring’ – if anything, it would be ‘TEPS': To Ensure Proper Service.

  95. Dean says:

    As a Brit, I’ve never heard of tipping before the meal (except in Egypt where you’d probably tip before, during and after). I typically round the bill up to the nearest £1 or £5 depending if the service was good or excellent, if it was anything less than good I don’t tip.

    All staff over 22 get paid at least $9 minimum wage ($7.50 for 18-22).

  96. Larabara says:

    Has anyone thought of the possibility that someone in the kitchen could retaliate by putting something untoward in your food? @Corey, I saw that episode of “Third Rock From the Sun” where after establishing a reputation of not tipping, they presented the possible tip at the time they ordered, and took a small amount away from it whenever the waitress did something that wasn’t perfect. And it was noted that their food always tasted “funny” whenever they went to that particular restaurant. You hear about situations where people are caught tainting the food of diners they didn’t like. I used to work in the food business, and it happened a lot more than I ever thought… and some of them, both the wait staff and the cooks, got really creative with their, uh, “enhancements.” Knowing this now, I try to be nice to the server at the beginning anyway, and if I ever have a problem with the service, I usually wait until I get my food before complaining, just in case. And I never go back to that restaurant after complaining. @Hope D #39, if your demanding friend was such a jerk that you couldn’t stand to eat with him, I’m sure he had his food, uh, “enhanced” during at least one of his dining out experiences.

  97. The server probably didn’t get the point. They probably just thought you were being a cheapskate. A better approach may have been to leave pennies on the table. That way they know you didn’t forget and you felt that their service sucked.

  98. Brad says:

    I rarely leave zero tips. I used to a lot more when I lived in Canada. Somehow in the US tipping is a standard but I have recently gone back to my roots. When service is TERRIBLE I do not tip. When it is acceptable an 8-10% is good. When it is EXCELLENT I will go 20%.

    My friend once left a single penny as a tip after a horrific dining experience. Great way to get someones attention.

    One night my wife and I spent our anniversary at an Elephant Bar. Her chicken was undercooked but the entire time the waitress TRIED to make it right. We had our meals comped (long story but rightfully so 100%, and this is a story on its own that I dont like comped meals) but I asked that we leave a tip. I had no cash so the manager charged a $0.99 amount so I could tip our waitress who was just getting the short end of the stick from the kitchen and management. She really was trying.

  99. anna says:

    Although feedback is valuable, it is certainly not your obligation to speak to the manager about the poor service you got. A good manager would know what was going on and not remain clueless about situations like this. Take your complaints to a higher level if you want, it might help somebody, but do not feel obliged to do so.

  100. Michelle says:

    On a slightly different note, I make a point of tipping between $1 and 10% of the total on a to-go or counter order as well. Regular restaurants don’t usually have a tip jar on the counter if you’re ordering to go so I add it to the credit/debit receipt. It was something I only did occasionally until a staff member profusely thanked me for the small tip. He said customers assumed that because they’re not served at a table, no work goes into preparing the order. It’s not nearly as much work as serving tables but it’s worth a dollar or two to me.

    As for amounts, same as everyone else here. 5-10% for mediocre service where the problem isn’t the kitchen or other circumstances but the server him/herself. 15% for competent service. 20% for good service. 20%+ and a mention to the manager for stellar service. If the service is so terrible I’m considering leaving no tip, I’d talk to the manager as well. If the manager has an attitude problem, then no, I’ll never return to that restaurant. If the manager appreciates the complaint because he/she realizes it improves their business, then I have no problem returning. I’m always polite and calm when I complain. Just as you don’t punish a sever for the kitchen’s mistake, don’t punish an otherwise decent restaurant for a server’s mistake.

    Strangely I’ve often ended up living in places that have 8-9% sales tax on food bills, so in sheer laziness, I’ll usually just double the tax, round up, and add that as tip. That, of course, means tipping on the pre-tax amount.

    One of my funniest and most memorable meals included a personable waiter who was great at keeping us up to date on why our meal was delayed. That included one of the cooks being late, finally showing up, getting into a fight with another cook which involved getting cut by a knife and having go to the emergency room. I have no idea if it was all true but it was very entertaining and his tip sure didn’t suffer.

  101. #19 Jonathan – Amen to Japan. They really understand the societal value of service to their fellow man. What makes it really special there however is that complete strangers on the street will go out of their way for you.

    I once read that TIPS stands for “To insure prompt service” Obviously this young lady failed to provide even acceptable service and should not be compensated for something she didn’t do.

    More power to you Trent!

    I travel for a living and end up eating at restaurants several hundred times a year. I have seen this, I have seen worse and I have seen much better. My rule is zilch for this kind of service, 15% if they just do their job, 20% if I get anything extra (even a smile counts!) and it goes up from there. In a few cases I have had servers go above and beyond and have been willing to give 100% tips (low low cost meals, think waffle house!) and up to 50% tips at higher end restaurants that took good care of my customers and I.

  102. Todd says:

    I once had bad service like this, and I talked to the manager; however, I later learned from a friend who worked there that the manager was a big part of the morale problem.

    Now, my policy would be to write a letter to the corporate headquarters. I did this recently with another type of store and I got a phone call from a vice president at the company thanking me for taking the time to write. Store managers listen to lots of complaints, because it’s easy for people to gripe while they are in the restaurant. But when someone takes the time to find the address of the company (easy with the internet) and to craft a well-written letter and sign their name to it, it shows that they are very serious about the complaint. You can be sure the manager will see a copy of the letter and you might even get a generous gift certificate to give the business a second chance. I did this after my letter of complaint, and it may have been my imagination, but when I went to spend my gift certificate I was amazed at how much positive energy was coming from the employees. I was sure they had all been told to shape up.

  103. John Morris says:

    Whoa, this is the 103rd reply. That’s amazing feedback, Trent.

    I taught my children my system for tipping. I start with a 20% tip and add 2% for all noteworthy service and subtract 2% for all SERVING errors. I also told them to leave a minimum of $1.00 per person. One adjustment I make is for breakfast where the meals are lower priced.

    I worked for tips as a hat checker and appreciate what it like to live on tips. I usually leave larger tips than my friends do. At least, they don’t argue with me about it.

    It’s better to round up to even dollars.

    Anyone who would slap a $20 down and tell the server it’s their to lose usually has no intention on leaving it. Yeah, it’s a power junkie being a jerk twice. I’d ignore them.

  104. Johanna says:

    “Tips” is not an acronym, people. The use of the word “tip” to mean a gratuity dates back to at least the 18th century – and the practice of making up words based on acronyms didn’t begin until much, much later than that.

  105. Jane says:

    I have worked in several restaurants as a host. I have been paid both a standard hourly wage, and an hourly wage plus tipshare. I have heard of tip pooling, but I haven never heard of a restaurant keeping some of the tips for themselves. Usually bussers, food runners, sometimes bartenders and sometimes hostesses get tipped a certain percentage.

    I do agree that you should have told the manager though. If you spoke up early enough in the meal, the manager might have been willing to provide you with a different server, as well as probably a complimentary portion of your meal. Then you could have tipped a server who actually does their job.

    Another practice that restaurants frequently do is team servers together, especially if there is a large party to be waited on. Usually, the manager will team a strong server with a weaker server. Then, at the end of the night, the servers have to split their tips evenly, even if one server did more work than the other.

    I have never been in a situation where I received such terrible service that I was tempted not to leave a tip. But I have had substandard service before, and even then, I always tip, at least 10%. If there was something I felt needed correcting, in case I get the same server the next time, I get the manager.
    What you have to remember is that some customers do not tip AT ALL. Some people were not taught to tip. Some people believe $2 on a $50 ticket is a good tip. I have seen top servers in restaurants I’ve worked at walk away with only half what they should have made that night based on sales, just because half the tables they got sat didn’t feel like tipping that night. And there is nothing they can do about it, no higher manager they can complain to, because tipping is optional and the only answer they ever hear is “Well, you should have been better” even if it was not their fault. Therefore, I always tip something, generally 20% or higher, to make up for the tables they aren’t going to get tipped on.

  106. Randy says:

    I don’t think tipping poorly or not tipping sends a message. If you want a message, talk to the manager. Recently we were in a very busy restaurant and our appetizer didn’t show before the meal. The waitress apologized profusely and explained she thought someone else brought it out. The manager brought us a fresh appetizer (ours had gone cold) and comp’ed it. She also comped us a set of deserts, one for everyone at the table. This, all because they were swamped. I’ll go back again. The waitress got a nice tip.

    I generally tip 15%. Rarely tip less. I talk to the management if something is wrong, but understand when the place is busy. If a waitress was talking (or smoking) instead of serving, I’ll speak to a manager. If service is good, I’ll tip closer to 20%. The difference between 15% and 20% really doesn’t amount to much.

  107. Marti says:

    I’ve done a fair bit of both waitressing and bartending in years past to pay the bills and buy the stuff. I remember a time, long ago, when wait staff were paid below minimum wage and therefore, tips WERE part of their wage. But I don’t think that is the case anymore and honestly; I don’t get the whole tipping thing. An example of what I mean is walking into Starbucks, standing at the counter to order, moving to the end of the counter to pick up drink and there’s a tip jar at the register. What am I tipping? Serious question.

    I like idea of people getting paid a fair hourly wage for their work and when you get good/great service, like at the grocery store, courthouse, post office, library – you smile and say thanks.

  108. Suzanne in Japan says:

    Not to be crude, but many of these posts make me envision tucking bills into a G string . . . I would be terribly insulted if my customer thought I was ‘performing’ for the almighty twenty dollar bill on the table versus having pride in my work. That said, I definitely dislike tipping AT ALL now that I’ve lived in Japan for 10 years. Not only do I find bad service in the US when I visit, I am embarassed that our servers are so poorly trained by their companies–because that is where it all starts. In Japan, I learned that trainees drill on customer service techniques–from attitude (how they enter the floor with a bow and a greeting of ‘may I help you? before entering) to how they take your cash or card (always on a plate–never hand to hand). It is all about presentation and representing (style). I would love to see more training in the US on curteous customer care. I think the US tipping/compensation system is flawed– not the people. It hurts to fork over my dollar for substandard care, when I know that many around the world are proud to perform flawlessly without having a carrot dangled on a stick.

  109. Tim says:

    I do not automatically tip either. But, I do always leave something. When the wait staff does a really poor job and you leave nothing they just think you are a jerk. If you leave a few cents it’s obvious what you thought they were worth.

    Also, I try to take into account things that are beyond their control. If the food is prepared poorly or you see them hustling but nothing comes out of the kitchen I still tip well and then make it a point to comment to the manager. I also make it a point to comment when things are exceptional.

  110. Shelley says:

    I see a lot of comments are from people like me: former restaurant servers. I tip faithfully…for good service, for even adequate service. I would hope that you spoke with the manager about this person because, frankly, I wouldn’t return to that restaurant if I was starving. If there wasn’t a manager available, I think I’d be inclined to leave a nickel tip and a note telling this person they should find another kind of job.

  111. Priscilla says:

    I agree with you, Trent. Why should I leave a tip for horrible service? I was raised with a wonderful work ethic, something for which I will be forever grateful to my parents. Something that frosts me is an entitlement attitude, and I am seeing that everywhere now. Apparently your waitress is of the opinion that the world owes her a living even if she does not do her job. It is this perspective that has taken America down to the level she is today. It is a rare thing now to find someone who really gives a full day’s work, and does their job well. It would behoove this waitress to read The Simple Dollar and learn about work and frugality. She would benefit herself and any employer she works for. She would become a contributor to society and not a consumer, if she really took to heart the things that you espouse.

    Obviously, the owner of the restaurant in question does not care about the kind of service his/her employees are giving the customer. Whatever happened to customer service? Don’t these people realize that without customers, they don’t even have a business?

    I have received poor service too, not only in restaurants, but in grocery stores, etc. I have spoken to the managers and they have all appreciated knowing that I talked to them. Managers and store owners need to know how the public perceives their business, so that they can take care of problems and make things more enjoyable for everyone.

  112. littlepitcher says:

    I waited tables many years ago, and I leave 20%, unless service is bad, then I leave a flat zero.
    Somewhere Out There is a saint of a man, though, who left me a more-than-generous tip after I dropped his lobster Newburg on the carpet…

    Management cutting into tips generally is a mom-and-pop thing, except for Pizza Hut, whose labor policies deserve any lawsuit you can hand out. They also skim pay by using computerized time clocks and refusing to allow print copies to employees.

    What we really need, in the interests of taxpayer frugality, is a constitutional amendment limiting pay and benefits of Congressmen to half minimum wage and a week’s unpaid vacation. They already steal enough to make up the difference.

  113. Lou says:

    Trent’s experience has been well covered by others, as has the merits/defects of the US tipping system. My dad raised us on the tips waiters in high-end restaurants and catering halls make, so I’m comfortable that I know what constitutes poor service and i don’t reward it.

    Here’s something few have alluded to: there is still a fairly obvious caste system in restaurants, with male waitstaff at high-end places and women in diners and family restaurants.

    So, I rarely tip more that 15% to the highly trained professional waiters in expensive places – 15% of those bills is a lot of money.

    I won’t tip less than a dollar a head in the less expensive places, even for a cup of coffee, and generally, I leave 20-40% as a tip.

  114. Kelly says:

    I wouldn’t have left a tip either! I definitely would’ve spoken to the manager before I left. We had a poor experience at Outback Steakhouse. We went on a weekday evening with a giftcard we received for Christmas. It took the server about 12 minutes to even acknowledge our presence. Another 5 minutes to get our drinks….the kicker was that it took about 45 minutes to get our meals! People who were seated AFTER us and ordered AFTER us got their meals before we did.

    I didn’t say anything during that visit but went home that night and put in a complaint through their website. That restaurant manager called me a few days later. I told her of my dining experience and she agreed with me that our meals took longer than they should have. She offered a $20 gift certificate. I told her that would buy a meal for my husband and that was it. I told her that only $50 would be acceptable because with the price of their meals, and soft drinks we couldn’t get out of that place for under $50.

    I received the gift certificates in the mail a week later. We used them to dine and have NEVER been back. Nor do we plan to unless someone else is paying.

  115. Eve says:

    Read the book Waiter Rant. This book was fun and brought back some memories of being a waitress many years ago. It is written by a waiter in NY, and he will tell you the exact nature of his job. Your server was lousy, and did not deserve anything, I hope you made a complaint to the mgmnt.

  116. Eve says:

    Read the book Waiter Rant. This book was fun and brought back some memories of being a waitress many years ago. It is written by a waiter in NY, and he will tell you the exact nature of his job. Your server was lousy, and did not deserve anything, I hope you made a complaint to the mgmnt.

  117. teresa says:

    The way I always get good service is to be exceptionally nice to the server when I get to the restaurant. I have never had really bad service this way, and I have 5 kids. I always give good tips to good service and ALWAYS clean up after my kids. I try to always tip well, don’t pay much attention to the % but I’m sure it’s above the 15-20% because we never eat at high end places. I’m not sure what I would do with poor service, probably bug the server with kindness. I find that if you act as sweet as possible to mean/gumpy people they feel really guilty and improve their behavior. At least you know that you havn’t stooped to their level!

  118. Heather says:

    For the first time in my life last night, I didn’t tip a server. The server was that terrible — dropped our check about three bites in to our meal and we never saw him again. We talked with another server (who cashed us out and got my husband a refill) who said our server was the manager on duty! We finally saw him again on our way out and he didn’t even apologize. I plan to call corporate on Monday.

  119. Caroline says:

    I think I should adopt your policy on tipping, Trent. And I hope I never have to deal with really bad service!

  120. Mrs Embers says:

    I’ve never been a waitress, but I walk into a restaurant expecting to tip 15-20% minimum. If we get taken care of reasonably quickly and the waiter/waitress checks in occasionally, that’s what they get. Outstanding service gets a good increase and a thank you.

    The only time we’ve had a really bad experience was when we were seated (with 2 small kids) and had to wait for WAY too long before anyone even took a drink order, and then the food took forever to arrive. We talked to the manager (he actually approached us) and found out we had been seated in the wrong area and none of the servers knew we were there (in a small room). We got our food and for free- but the waiter still got what would have been a reasonable tip. It wasn’t his fault we had to wait, and he busted his ass trying to make up for it. I wasn’t going to punish him for someone else’s mistake.

    It’s worth talking to the manager- if a waitress is doing a crappy job and gets no tip, she may or may not get the message, but the manager probably won’t know about your problems. Even filling out a comment card has to be better than nothing, right?

  121. Kevin says:

    After having been stuck in the corner, ignored by the waiter, have to wait far too long just for food to arrive and so forth… all while there to celebrate a special occasion with my partner – well after that I shifted to a merit-based tip. This was about 5 years ago and I haven’t looked back since. I am a firm believer in being proactive also since then, so if something is up, they’ll know about it.

    Of course there are always exceptions to the rules you live by (whether you always tip or consider each case on its merits)… sometimes it’s just not the waiters fault for something going wrong. The flip side is that if something else is lowering the tips for the waiters, the waiters should get on top of the issue or speak up to the manager to get things back under control. Success or failure as a team, so be proactive as a waiter if you are getting bad tips to be successful. Better for everyone.

    And as far as tipping in Europe goes – different countries, different expectations. In Switzerland, everyone is paid enough so you do not have to give tips. And the worst experience I’ve had to date while there was having to explain to the bartender what a harvey wallbanger was.

  122. Jen says:

    @Corey (#4): If I ever went back to waiting tables and a customer did this to me, I would find another server to take the table. I find this incredibly rude and condescending.

  123. Terry says:

    So let’s say I’m a dishwasher, which I have been, and which is an interminably tedious and thankless task (alliteration intended).

    Now I’d be sore if I thought I was working my tail off (which dishwashers in general do by necessity), and some of the servers were slackers.

    I’d be peeved if the slacker servers were getting tips while the dishwashers were getting squat.

    Restaurant work in general pays poorly (unless you are a server in a high-end restaurant), and most of the people there work pretty hard.

  124. Claudia says:

    I’ve been a waitress and I always did my very best, I made very good money; sometimes, I got a larger tip than I thought I deserved! I see nothing wrong with #4, good incentive. I’ve had a few bad servers, one that was so incredibly bad as to almost unbelievable. We had to get the manager in order to get our drinks, again to get our food and again to get the rest of our order and again to get our bill. The guy had just disappeared and/or ignored us and everyone else he was serving. I gave him cash and he actually had the nerve to ask me if I wanted change. It would have been about a 50% tip! I doubt very much that he lasted working there past that night.
    If the place is super busy and the server is doing their best to keep up, I do not dock them ffor below par service if they are at least trying. I’ve worked alone in restaurants that seated over 200 and while not being easy, I kept up. Having been a waitress, I expect the same quality as I provided.

  125. Greg says:

    I will say, I personally don’t tip unless the service is absolutly exceptional. I have had many people critize this and I always tell them the same thing.

    Over my last 15+ years in the workforce I have worked many, many jobs. I have worked as a waiter, cook, cable technician, dishwasher, pizza cook, parking lot cleaner, telemarketer, butcher block clerk at a grocery store, factory worker, assistant (paper shuffler), retail sales, retail stocking, etc… and I frequently got very close to the same wage at every job (between state minimum and 1.50 higher) and the only job I ever received tips for was as a waiter.

    So explain to me how a waiter/server deserves to get tips when many of those jobs payed the same hourly wage and I worked MUCH harder to do them. I didn’t get tips to crawl under people’s homes, or to show up at 3:00 AM after a 12 hour day to get their internet back online (which was usually their fault anyway). I never got tips in retail, in fact the two jobs I worked in retail you were not allowed to take tips even if offered. It was a fireable offense, and they watched the video tapes daily.

    Why should I tip when that same person probably wouldn’t tip me? What makes them better?

    I will say, IF and ONLY IF I receive perfect service I will take the time to tell the manager/owner about the experiance. I consider perfect experiance to be: the server doesn’t make anybody at the table uncomfortable for any reason, our food arrives hot and correct, and (this one throws most people) my drink is never empty for more than 3 minutes (and I will time it). If you do those three things, I will take the time to thank you, and make sure your boss knows you did a great job. OCCASSIONALLY if somebody really blows me out of the water I will leave a tip, but I always hand it directly to them and thank them.

    If you really piss me off I will always leave 2 pennies, just like my dad taught me over 20 years ago. I will probably also let your boss, and sometimes their boss, know just how bad you did.

  126. Todd says:

    @teresa (#116)–I just had to chime in to say that I thought teresa’s was the best comment of all 125. Who knows what another person is going through or has gone through that day? To just try being really kind and friendly to them, to not adopt an attitude like “hey, you’re being paid to be nice to ME,” and to not resort to “stooping to their level” is a great approach.

    I’m only human, though, and if after all of this they were still actively rude or hostile—I just might be inclined to stoop to their level.

  127. busymom says:

    Thank you Greg (#124) for a perfect example of what I experienced when I was a waitress, which is that I found that rarely does tipping have to do with quality of service. I was an excellent and conscientious waitress and found that my tips really depended on the attitude of the customer — they were either generous, in the middle or just looked for any excuse to be cheap — “perfect service” indeed!

    Also, I had to tip out the busboys and food runners, and pay taxes on estimated amount of the tip based on the price of the bill. So tipping based on the price of the bill is important because if you are at a nice restaurant (the one in Trent’s post sounds like a dive) that waiter is tipping out fellow workers and paying taxes based on the price of your meal.

    We often get water to keep the price of our bill down, but I always tip for the service of having our water glasses refilled.

    And I agree with the others that in this case, Trent you should have talked to the manager. This waitresses behavior was outrageous and not good for the restaurants business and a bad tip does clearly let a waiter know what their weak points are and how they can improve. If this was a cheap restaurant, she may have also just had had it with the cheapos wanting “perfect” service.

  128. busymom says:

    Oops! I meant to write”a bad tip does NOT clearly let a waiter know what their weak points are . . .”

    And as a final note, to be a good waiter one has to to have some intelligence, awareness and sensitivity to the customer. People with these qualities expect to be paid well enough so they can pay their rent and live a life; so unless you would prefer to pay double or more for your meal so that the restaurants can pay good employees what they are worth, we have to rely on the tipping method. You are not going to get really good service for slave wages.

  129. Claudia says:

    One other time I did not leave a tip was the day my husband had surgery. His condition had been touch and go for several days before and his surgery had taken 11 hours instead of the expected 4. Due to stress, I had not eaten all day and decided after leaving the hospital to have a decent celebratory meal, that I had not been made a widow that day. The waitress clearly gave me the impression that she didn’t expect a tip as it is supposedly well known that women alone do not tip well. Her blatant nastiness ignoring me put a huge cloud on my “celebration” of my husband making it one more step. So, if excusing a server for negligence of duty because of a bad day, perhaps the servers should be aware that their customer may have had a bad day too.

  130. Christine says:

    @128

    I’m sorry you had that experience. As a server I have a great respect for people dining alone, especially after I got a comment card from one customer. She wrote that with her fiance being Iraq, she always felt uncomfortable with having to dine out alone but that my kindness that evening had made her feel very comfortable. In all my years of serving, I have learned that I know nothing about my customers, if they are having a bad day etc. I try to treat them all as if they are having a bad day and I can make it just a little better for them.

    @124

    If you were in my section, you would never have an empty drink. I always bring a refill (if it free refills) when the drink is 3/4 empty.

  131. J says:

    @Greg — It doesn’t matter one whit what you do for a living or what you have done for a living. In the United States, it’s common (and accepted) practice to leave a gratuity when being served at a table. This custom is also common the world over in many cases. That gratuity is typically 10-20 percent of your meal. It doesn’t really matter if you like it or agree with it. The world and all of it’s odd customs need not explain itself to you.

    The rest of your post is just an elaborate justification for being cruel and cheap, and ignoring the social custom of where you live. Especially the three minute water refill routine. Jesus Christ on a pogo stick. I’m wondering if you inform your server of the hoops they will need jump through to be worthy of you thanking their manager while leaving no tip. I’m betting if you did, you’d get the crappy service you quite honestly deserve.

  132. Brandon says:

    I felt like the service was mediocre for my Valentine’s dinner, especially since it was a nice restaurant. My water was empty more than once and several of the times that it was actually refilled, it was refilled by someone other than my primary waiter. After we finished dessert, it was an inordinate amount of time before he showed up with the bill.

    I still gave him just over 10%, but as I understand it, some people in this thread would think that is a grave sin. What sucks is that I personally feel he was inattentive towards us because we ordered relatively inexpensive dishes and drank water rather than spending $150 on our meal like some others surely did.

  133. gail says:

    I agree that Trent’s experience was awful, but that is the exception; not the rule. Honestly, it is WAY beyond time to abolish the practice of tipping and pay servers a decent wage. It is difficult, stressful, physical work with odd hours. In NJ, one of the most expensive states to live in, the servers are only paid $2.13/hour, so they depend on those tips. A server is always being “judged” by his/her performance, like a circus act!! I would LOVE to be able to pay others based on how well I feel they do THEIR job. Keep that in mind the next time you feel like leaving a penny tip on the table to teach someone a lesson….

  134. Linda says:

    Here, here! Tipping is not mandatory! I am a generous tipper, but will not be strong-armed into tipping for bad service. Rarely do I not tip, even for less than average service. But when the service is bad, for no reason, I will not leave a tip. Sometimes, I will complain to a manager, but sometimes I won’t (for lack of time, lack of energy, etc.). Tipping is a custom that I’m afraid is here to stay. But I would like to see it done away with and a decent wage paid instead. A talented server is worth a good wage to a restaurant.

  135. Tanya says:

    Lorraine – you talked about servers who didn’t want to deal w/children. I have friends who specifically would tip a lot more- 30% because their kids were with them. Their kids weren’t that bad either. I do 20%. Had a situation years ago celebrating a new job at a restaurant where I had 2 days earlier brought a group of 6 women who tipped well. My waiter never came to the table the night i went back w/my husband. I had rotating waiters bring everything. I called the manager over and told him why i wasn’t tipping and showed him the waiter who ignored us completely. He sort of apologized, but it left a bad taste in my mouth.

  136. Tanya says:

    BTW I have worked as a waitress and I have been STIFFED by big tables. Not fun, actually it really pissed me off, but I knew it was them, not me. I am not saying I haven’t made mistakes, I’m just talking about a specific situation.. 20yrs. ago… still remember those b@%$rds… ohh sorry, let me get back to my taxes!

  137. helen says:

    http://www.paywizard.org/main/Minimumwageandovertime/MinimumWageTIPRecevers

    Marti and Greg…. in many places the pay is far below regular minimum wage…In Virginia, they don’t have to pay you at all as long as your tips add up to minimum wage. Having worked my way through college for $2.13 and hour plus tips… tips are NOT optional unless I didn’t do my job. If you don’t like that, eat at home! please!

  138. Matthew says:

    On a cold rainy night,I was having a farewell dinner with my parents in our favorite steakhouse we having been going to for 25 years, the overly enthusiastic waiter spilled a very large tumbler of ice water straight into my lap. It was a direct hit and I was waterlogged, soaked through with cold water.

    I got up and tried to dry off.. but was still rather damp and cold. The waiter tried to make a joke of it, but I explained I would not accept a joking “I’m sorry” as my evening was ruined and could I speak to the Manager. I explained to him this was a special night and it had been marred as I was sopping wet…that sorry wasnt good enough and I felt the Restaurant should do something in mitigation. We were given gift certificates for another meal.

    I did leave 10% for the waiter….

  139. Anuj says:

    Well I usually check the bill to see if the restaurant has applied any sort of additional service charge or not before giving a tip.
    Regarding the amount, it depends on overall service and attitude of the server.Bad service means no tip at all.Good service feedback,I usually convey with a few words of appreciation along with a hefty tip.

  140. Maegan says:

    I see some people keep asking about why Trent would wait so long at all, why not leave? Well, if I may presume to guess…I have waited a considerable time for a meal, also. Often, if I go out to eat at a popular restaurant, I will go *just* before or after the rush, so I don’t have to wait to be seated. I know that if I got up after waiting 20 minutes for service…Suppose I got there at 11:45 for a lunch service. It’s now 12:10, get into my car, leave the parking lot. 12:15. Decide if I’m going to bother with another sit down restaurant, or do drive-thru. 12:20. Make a decision, and head off into the right direction…Depending on my location, this might mean a 2 minute or 10 minute drive. It is now approaching 12:30! Lunch rush is in full swing. Park at the new place (ugh, 3 times around the parking lot!), get out, get my name on the list. Take whatever I get handed that will beep, buzz, or light up when it’s my turn to be seated…Then sit & wait. With my children, who have now been displaced from their first table, put back into the car, and are waiting for a SECOND table. Spose there’s a 25 minute wait? My 11:45 lunch is now happening at 1pm! Then there’s the wait for drinks, order taking, food preparation, etc. It may be 1:30 before we actually eat. If I stayed at the original restaurant…I might actually have gotten to eat *something* before 1…and I didn’t have to bother with all the driving, seat buckling & decision making. …And I didn’t have to fight the lunch rush!

    Maybe in my single days…or if it were just my husband and myself I might have left. With the kids…Nah.

  141. Tara says:

    I have worked for a few restaurants where the tips were collected from the wait staff, “totaled up” and then “evenly split” between everyone. Though somehow no matter how much we all made, we all wound up with about $2 in tips apiece every night… I think they were DEFINITELY “skimming” off the top.

  142. Amanda says:

    I think I’d tip a lot more if I lived in a place that paid waiters/waitresses $1-2/ hr. Where I live there is minimum wage and it’s not different for different jobs.

    So really I feel like I shouldn’t have to tip at all! Though I give my 15%.

    I should find out about that before I travel to different spots in U.S.

    Some people tip on what means most to them. For instance, if I want a night off from cooking I don’t really care about the service. I’d be happy with take out. Maybe I should just get take out then…

  143. socialism/cccp says:

    You just described communism/socialism my friend!

  144. zoranian says:

    We recently started frequenting a pizza place about a half mile from our house. We don’t want to pay a $2 delivery charge, so we always order carry out. I’ve never heard of tipping on carryout, but my husband keeps getting dirty looks every time he doesn’t leave a tip. Even the last time, when we didn’t even “order” but just went in to pick up a “hot and ready” pizza.

    Of course, this place has horrible customer service, so I’m not sure why they think they deserve a tip. Usually there is one adult working there and bunch of high school kids holding signs or deliverying the pizzas. The adult is the one that expects the tip and he has the worst customer service of anyone. The first time I went in there I was 9 months pregant (I literally gave birth two days later) and the guy was on the phone when I walked in and completely ignored me, and our order was done incorrectly. Needless to say it was awhile before we even ordered from there again. I would just let them lose our business, but there isn’t really another pizza place close by.

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