Random questions about tipping (for Dopers who worked in restaurants)

  1. How common is it for patrons to round their tips up to a tidy number? (i.e., if the bill is $16.78, then the patron adds a $3.22 tip to make it $20.00)

  2. Is it true that many servers go about mentally calculating and pre-estimating their tip in their heads before the customer actually gives it? i.e., already calculating that they deserve a roughly $3-4 tip for a $20 meal?

  3. Generally, which categories of people tend to tip the best and which tip the worst?

  4. What happens if the tip and total are calculated incorrectly by the customer? i.e., customer’s tab is $22. Customer writes “$3” as the tip but then writes the total as “$26.” Does the server get a three-dollar tip or a four-dollar tip?

This view is from the position of a pizza delivery person, not a table server but may be a useful data point.

  1. Very common, near universal with cash payments, somewhat common with credit card payments.
  2. True in my case although I tried to estimate low. I considered myself lucky to get 10%.
  3. Middle aged, middle class parents. Younger, affluent customers usually tipped very poorly if at all. Elderly customers were a complete roll of the dice. Some were generous, some just told me to get a real job. Drunks watching sports were my best friends. Cans of beer frequently were offered to me.
  4. I can’t ever recall this happening but I suspect I would get the lower figure.

I have not worked in a restaurant but once this happened to me as a customer. The restaurant charged me what I wrote down as the tip and corrected the addition error.

  1. People like round numbers! Very common, cash or charge.

  2. It was more common for people to precalculate what they should make it tips as a per cent age of their total sales. So, watching sales numbers more than individual tip amounts.

  3. Older folks mostly always tip, but usually more conservatively. College kids are cheaper, as expected, but you can usually make that up in volume in a student bar for instance. Teachers are the worst, in my experience. They’re cheap, always want separate cheque’s, are very demanding and will use any trivial measure to decide they don’t have to tip. (When the teachers college is done for the year and they hit the bars, ugh, it’s not pretty for the servers. Not ALL teachers, The younger ones seem determine to break the mold, and often the separate cheques is so they can leave you a nice tip, knowing their mates are unlikely to!)

  4. If someone writes in $5 tip on a $20 tab, but totals it incorrectly we were permitted to correct it to $25. But these days it’s mostly on a device that does the math so I doubt it’s much of an issue any more.

  1. In the credit card era, I don’t round up to even it up. Usually, I round the bill before tax and then tip 18-20%

  2. I never did mental calculations of what my tip should be when I worked in restaurants. Sure I had an idea that two seniors drinking water and ordering inexpensive meals was going to be a bad tip usually and a group of 4 out celebrating with lots of drinks and expensive meals was likely a good one. But, most of the time, I was either too busy or else socializing with coworkers, we were all mostly college students anyway.

  3. Church groups are the WORST. First of all Sunday after church time sucks, some people in the restaurant inevitably call in with brown bottle flu, you’ll run out of food if it was a busy weekend, and some of the kitchen staff will hit 40 hours and the managers often didn’t want to pay OT and decide to handle it themselves. Church groups run you ragged and then barely tip, they also take up tables forever. Where I worked, Sunday nights were pretty slow, so you couldn’t often make up tips if a large party camped out in most of your section until after 3 pm. Also, many church groups wouldn’t drink, so the overall bill was often lower anyway.

  4. I saw this a lot when I worked at a bar, we would punch it in correctly as $25. For someone who’s been at the bar a while, I’d keep a close eye on the customer, not only so I could ask if the tip was wrong, but it’s also a stupid drunken mistake for them to sign the copy, add a tip, but then stick the signed copy right into their pocket!

As you probably know, the U.S. is still in the 20th century and does not use table-side credit card machines. For almost any restaurant with table service you get a paper credit card slip to add a tip and sign.

Its been a very long time, but

#2. I never gave it a thought. Always raked in the cash.

#3. This question is a minefield, and I won’t touch it with a ten foot pole with a ten dollar tip.

Also, I loved to work the counter in one café I worked. Very fast turnover, easy orders and everybody left at least a buck. Walked out with butt-loads of cash every night.

Haven’t worked in a restaurant, but the other day I had lunch at a restaurant that was more like a diner, eat in or take out, paper plates and plastic utensils and cups. What threw me for a loop was that because I paid by CC, the CC reader screen (a tablet), asked how much of a tip I wanted to add, 15%, 20% , other. Huh??? :confused: How do you expect a tip when you haven’t even done anything for me. I ordered my food at the counter, took my plastic cup to the soda dispenser and all the “server” did was bring my food on a paper plate and give me a styrofoam cup of water!

I suppose if I sat down, someone would have taken my order, (there were 5-6 workers there and I was the only customer), but even if they served me, I wouldn’t pay 15% for the ‘service’. :smack:

This is a cute (at least I, think it’s cute) story from my much younger days. In my mid-teens, I used to go to the bowling alley and have a burger. I’d always sat at the counter so I could talk to the girl (who was about my age) working there. A couple of times I left her a whopping $0.25 tip on a $0.75 burger! I always (I thought) walked away cooly and didn’t look back. She always seemed a bit friendlier the next time I ate though! :cool:

Here in Poland, and overall in Europe in general, it is extremely unusual to get a credit card receipt with a spot to add a tip, so when paying by card you need to remember to keep a little cash with you to leave your server.

It seems in more high-end places or spots that cater to a lot of tourists, the American tipping system is gradually encroaching, so a CC slip is more likely to include a line for a gratuity, but that is certainly not a given.

For what it is worth, as a rule native Poles NEVER tip in restaurants, bars, cabs or barbershops, so when I leave something at the end of the night, no matter how large or small, it is almost always acknowledged with genuine, heartfelt appreciation.

Do servers prefer cash or does it matter to them?

Most of the time I carry cash and leave that alongside the CC receipt. I figure a 5 or ten-spot is more useful to someone if they need gas on the way home, etc.

FWIW: I use a baseline of 20% and round up to the nearest 5 except for really small amounts.

That’s pretty standard in Canada for any place that isn’t part of a fast food chain, say. If you don’t want to tip anything, that’s what “OTHER” is for.

Ex-restaurant manager here… for #4, our policy was in line with what others have posted here. We punched in whatever was on the tip line. The rationale was that the customer was thinking of a certain amount for the tip, but didn’t do their math correctly. Nobody thinks “I want my total to be $x, and I will figure out the tip from that.”

Relevant article:

Incidentally - maybe I’m paranoid - but when a customer is required to decide how much of a tip to give *before *the food is even prepared, what’s the management/business logic behind that? By reversing the order of the tipping+service, is it almost something like an implicit threat - “if you don’t leave a decent tip, then don’t expect the food to be decent”? Or is the idea that the server gets to have his or her tip “baked in” in advance and hence doesn’t have to worry as much about performing?

What is the best thing to do for carryout food where you order over the phone or Internet and just go to the register to pick it up?

Receipt still has a tip blank on it, but I don’t feel like carryout deserves a tip (right?) I usually just draw a line through it and the total. Is that a non-dick way to handle it?

There are a number of U.S. chains that furnish tables with credit card machines.

Maybe they’re marginally useful for deterring fraud, but I find them to be annoying table clutter. As a semi-Luddite, I prefer interacting with machines and pseudo-humans as little as possible.

#2 is an interesting one. My experience was that many servers did this; they basically viewed each person they served as a monetary values. These servers would be the ones who would get angry and fume over bad tips and would complain about customers in the kitchen. To be fair, these servers were also usually fully supporting themselves from their service job.

Some of the other servers (myself included) usually took tips more in stride and just tried to provide good service across the board. I know some people have poor manners, tighter budgets, or are just having a bad day, and I tried not to let that become my problem. But I had the luxury of not relying on my tips to pay for my basic living expenses, so.

They have an option to pay by item which makes it pretty easy for large groups to split the bill up however they want without handing the server a stack of credit cards and pencilled notes about which apps are getting split among whom.

I try to tip like 10% on carryout. Mostly cause someone had to take the time to take my order, bag it up and get it to me. I don’t know if this is common though.