Another Tipping Debate

iamthewalrus’s first post.

My response

iamthewalrus’s response.

iamthewalrus reduces his tip amount by the amount of the delivery charge when tipping delivery drivers. He also argues that if a restaurant were to start charging a fee for taking orders and pouring drinks and so on, he would be justified in reducing the amount by which he tips the waitstaff involved.

I argue that he is wrong to reduce the tips in these fashions for these reasons. See the above three (relatively brief) posts for the discussion so far.

My argument can be summarized as follows. (I won’t presume to summarize iamthewalrus’s arguments for him.) A tip is a transaction between a customer and waitstaff. A “pouring your drinks” fee charged by the restaurant would be a (ludicrous) transaction between a customer and a restaurant. The waitperson and the restaurant are two different entitities. It does not make sense to reduce the amount of the tip based on the fact that the restaurant has started charging a particular fee. This would be something like insisting on paying less for a phone from Target because your local phone company has started charging more for phone service. (There is the distinction that a tip is voluntary, while payment for a phone is not. But I don’t think the distinction is relevant. Though a tip is voluntary, it is nevertheless generally felt that there is some obligation to tip, and my point is that the obligation is not made less by facts about what the restaurant is charging for its services. Those facts are not relevant.)

iamthewalrus argues that a tip is “for” getting the drinks and taking your orders and so on. This misses an important point. A tip is paid to the waiter for the waiter’s service. But a “getting the drinks” fee charged by the restaurant is paid to the restaurant for the restaurant’s service. In other words, a tip is for the waiter’s service, while the fee would be for the restaurant’s service. Granted the waiter’s service and the restaurant’s service, in this case, supervene on almost exactly the same actions. Nevertheless, the services are separate. That the restaurant begins charging for it is irrelevant to the question of whether the waiter deserves a tip for providing it.

Discuss! :stuck_out_tongue:


What if a restaurant added a 20% gratuity automatically to your check - but waitstaff got none of it? Would you then decide to tip an extra 15-20%?

What service does a restaurant provide in refilling drinks? The waiter refills the drinks. That’s what I’m tipping for. The restaurant provides the liquids to be consumed, but that’s also paid for as a normal menu item. So, what is it that you’re paying the restaurant extra for?

If the restaurant decides to implement an additional charge for the drink itself, then they can do so by increasing the prices of the drinks in the menu. If they want to charge me directly for the service the waiter is performing, then why should I again pay the waiter for that service? They haven’t actually improved their service any, they’ve just asked me to pay for it twice.

In the case of pizza delivery, the tip is paying for the service of delivery. If I have to pay some other fee for the service of delivery, then why should I pay twice?

I think it really depends on what percentage the delivery guy or waitress gets. Without knowing that, it’s hard to know how much to tip.

I’m with you Frylock, for the most part.

I don’t tip delivery drivers based on the cost of my order, but generally give $2.50 - $3.00 regardless. I’m fairly sure that delivery drivers don’t make the same $2.00 an hour or whatever it is that waitstaff tend to make.

As far as the ‘fee for pouring drinks,’ it’s immaterial, because, like it or not, as a customer I become responsible for paying my servers directly. What the restaurant chooses to charge or not charge for has little to do with the fact that my server is still depending on my tip to make any sort of income at all.

I do agree, though, with iamthewalrus that if a restaurant did charge for pouring drinks, that I would question whether or not the value of a server was worth as much, since the restaurant is stating up front that they are charging me for a service provided by said waitperson that used to be free. If the waitperson was the one receiving that ‘pour fee,’ then I’d most definitely deduct that value from my tip. If the restaurant was collecting the fee, I’d still calculate my normal tip, and then probably not frequent that restaurant again.

I would decide either not to go to the restaurant or else to go and tip 15-20% (of the total of charges for food at least). I can’t see how one could justify going and not tipping.


As far as pizza goes the delivery drivers are paid at least minimum wage, if not more. The delivery charge that is added is the amount that the pizzaria gives the driver per delivery to cover the cost of gas. (Or at least that is the way it was when I worked there.) If you feel like taking that 50 cents or 1 dollar or however much it is in your area out of your tip you are welcome to do so, though the driver may not be appreciative of that.

I assume that if a restaurant were to start charging a pouring fee or something that it would be for the same purpose, to give the money to the waitstaff for providing the service, and would deduct that amount out of any tip I left.

It was always my assumption that an enforced gratuity (usually only on large parties) does go to the waiter, and it’s simply a way of making sure that a waiter stuck with one large party doesn’t get totally screwed. Obviously, you could tip a bit more as well.

Are you saying you’d pay the enforced gratuity + your normal tip?

The origin of tipping was for service over and above that deemed normal in a service situation.
It was NOT for somebody in a service industry just doing their job,you dont tip a supermarket cashier or a police officer.

It was Not to save skinflint employers paying a living wage to their employees.

I am quite happy for a restaraunt to up their prices and in return pay their staff a decent wage.

I hate seeing a waiter turned into a beggar and it spoils my enjoment of the experience knowing that I am being blackmailed into paying extra money over and above the agreed price whether or not the service is good.

America seems to be the only country in the world where legal begging is culturally acceptable so that companies can employ near slave labour.

You’re asking these question in order to argue that it would not be legitimate for the restaurant to charge in this way. I agree with you for the most part, but I do not see the relevance to the issue.

You are not paying the waiter “again” for the service. By tipping, you pay the waiter once. By paying the fee, you pay the restaurant once. Two different payments to two different entities for two different services. But you’re right that this invites the question “what service?”

I think the restaurant would hardly have a leg to stand on for charging a fee like this. Let’s say that this is correct–that the restaurant is in fact charging extra though it is providing no service additional to the waiter’s pouring your drink. This does not change the fact that by reducing the tip amount, you fail to pay the waiter for his service. If you pay the fee and also tip, you haven’t paid the waiter twice as you say above–you’ve paid the waiter once and you’ve also paid the restaurant once, unfortunately (under this hypothetical) for no service at all. But if you pay the fee and pay no tip, then you’ve paid the restaurant its unfair fee, and you’ve failed to pay the waiter at all. And that poor bastard is arguably the only one who deserves payment.

The tip is paying the delivery person for his service. The delivery charge is paying the pizza place for its service. Again, you can question whether there is any such further service the pizza place has provided for which it can legitimately charge a fee. Either there is or there isn’t. If there is, then it is clear that you ought to both tip and pay the fee. If there isn’t, then it is clear that you are paying a fee to the restaurant for nothing–not generally a good policy–but this has nothing to do with whether you should tip the driver. The pizza place is making you pay for nothing. Bad pizza place. But the driver has just delivered you a pizza. If you don’t tip him for that, you’re a little bit less of a good person. (Don’t read too much into that.)


By the way, I think an argument can be made that the restaurant is providing a service distinct from that provided by the waiter or driver. For the restaurant has provided several things the waiter has not–a place to eat, materials and equipment for eating, a system of delivery, workers to serve you during your stay, and so on. Analogous things can be said in the pizza case, though the argument’s a bit more tenuous.


I thought all this was settled!

Fluiddruid was asking about a hypothetical situation in which the waitstaff get none of the enforced gratuity.

In the case of enforced gratuities, I just pay the amount enforced plus however much it takes to add up to the amount I would have tipped without the enforced gratuity.


My presumption when I pay an establishment for a service is that the employee who carries out that service is being compensated for that work. I’m not sure why it wouldn’t be, except that, generally, waiters aren’t paid (much) by their employers.

But there are lots of services that are traditionally tipped, and sometimes have charges. And I claim that most people don’t tip when the charge starts to be included. If my car is parked by a “free” valet, I tip a few bucks to the attendant when he brings it around. If I go to a valet that charges, I pay the charge. If I have a bagger carry my groceries to my car, I’ll give him a buck or two. If I go to a grocery store where there’s a sign posted: “$1 charge for carrying groceries to the car”, then I’ll just pay that charge. I won’t pay the posted charge and tip on top of it.

Many people have often wished that restaurants would just put the cost of service into the menu and stop the practice of tipping (with all the emotional drama and associated message-board costs the practice adds to society). When I see a restaurant that’s charging for a service that would otherwise be covered by the tips, shouldn’t I assume that they’re doing just that? Obviously, if they are just pocketing the money, and the waiters really are getting stiffed, then they’ll soon either have a shortage of waiters or they’ll have to start paying them more base pay. Through it all, I’ll continue to pay a reasonable amount for service (about 15% of the cost of the food).

I live in a state that has a minimum wage that’s really a minimum wage. Employers are not allowed to estimate tips and deduct them, or set a base that’s below the minimum (in other words, there are no waiters in Montana making only $2.00 an hour).

This brings up two questions:

  1. How many other states have done this?

  2. Do you adjust tips accordingly? Should I tip less in Montana than I do in Wyoming, because Montana waiters get paid more?

CA does this as well. Our minimum wage ($8 per hour) is also higher than federal ($5.85)

From the CA Department of Industrial Relations…

I still tip 15-20%, but am more likely to reduce their tip for less than stellar service than I would in a state that didn’t have this rule.

If the 20% doesn’t go to the waiter/ess, then I would tip 20% in addition. However, that 20% charge by the restaurant would be included in my cost for the food. If that makes the prices too high in my estimate, I won’t be going there.

However, if they call it a gratuity (like for large groups) I will consider that part of the tip. I usually tip even more, but not that much more (unless the service was lacking).

However, if I was to find out that the gratuity didn’t go to the employees…I would be pissed. So pissed I would call the owner and inquire. If it was so, I state my opinion in no uncertain terms that I considered him unethical and that I wouldn’t be back.

Any restaurant that calls something a ‘gratuity’ and keeps it is being dishonest. It should be called a ‘restaurant charge’.

In California, it’s illegal. :slight_smile:

My only tipping question is do you tip an owner? A bar that has the owner sometimes fill in. He makes money off everything. Should you tip him too?:

Yes. Then I’d never come back, but that’s a ridiculous hypothetical anyway.

This is the case in Washington State.