What are your thoughts on tipping?

I heard a small segment on the newsradio today that said standard tipping for waitstaff should go as follows: 20% for excellent service, 15% for average service, and 10% for mediocre service. Well…I respectfully disagree.

I will gladly give 20% for average service and have been known to give as much as 50% for service par excellence. However, if the service is absolute shit…I mean the only times I see the server are when I order my food, get my food, and get the check, and/or if he/she is rude and obnoxious, and/or if he/she throws my check (without request) on the table before I’m even done eating, hinting that I get the hell out of my table so I can get another customer in here, then I’ll unapologetically leave 0%. Sure, I’ve heard the argument that restaurant managers pay their waitstaff almost nothing…around $2.90 an hour, but hey, that’s not my fault. Managers shouldn’t continue paying them nothing on the pretense that society will oblige me to tip regardless of the level of service I receive. A tip is a measure of thanks for excellent service. Your manager pays you to do your job. I pay you to do it better. And if I get even a decent effort, I’ll tip very, very well.

Case in point: I once went to the Double-T Diner with a few friends late at night. The place was busy, but not overflowingly busy. We saw our waitress twice: Once, after half an hour of sitting without so much as a drink. She sighed and appeared impatient as we ordered. Second time was after an hour of waiting for our food. We even had to ask another waitress for our check. When we got it, it read, “15% gratutity included.” Hell no. I marched to the manager, told him about the crap service we got, and had him remove it from our bill. He even mentioned he’d been receiving complaints about our waitress all night.

Don’t get me wrong, though: I’m not the customer from hell. I know many of them work their asses off. I’m very respectful to the server, very patient about receiving another drink or side of mayo, and always thank them for their work when I leave.

So what are your rules for tipping?


I leave 20% to 25% tips for average and above.
If service if below average, I leave 15%
If bad 10%
If very bad, almost non-existent than 0% and I make a point of complaining to manager.
If gratuity is included, I complain. I explain I typically leave more than 15% but must reserve the right to leave less.

I tip as much as possible, any chance I get. People that do not earn a living wage are excused for shitty morale, in my book. However, I’ve never encountered 0% service from any given service person, so I don’t know exactly what I would do in that situation.

Including gratuity is just about the stupidest thing ever. If it’s going to be compulsory, then just raise the price on the damn food and give the waitress what she needs, directly. I hate tipping, but the idea of a “compulsory tip” is even worse. If it is compulsory, it is not a tip.

I’ve never left zero but I’ve left as little as five percent, for a night when it was not busy and we ordered easy food (breakfast) and it still took an hour and the waitress was surly. My usual tip factors out to around 15%; I think that is fair considering the type of food I usually buy (diner food). I leave more at night since I feel bad for people who have to work at night since I had to once. I tend to leave a higher percentage on cheap food compared to expensive food. I don’t like to tip change, so sometimes the tip will fluctuate based on that; if the bill is $4.15 I will usually pay $5 and tell them to keep the change, but if it is $4.75 I will usually pay $6 and tell them to keep the change. This system is much more fair to the second waitress, but I figure it all evens out on the great cosmic scales. I don’t really factor the tip right there on the table; I just estimate how many more dollars need to be added on to the “change residual” (in the above examples, that would be .85 and .25) to make it kind of around 15%. I am sure I’ve inadvertently under or overtipped a few times due to being bad at math, but that too will be evened out in the end.

Oh yeah, and I always tip in cash so the waitress doesn’t have to pay taxes on the tip.

At least 20%, closer to 33% for excellent service. 10ish for bad, although this doesn’t happen often to me.

It’s a necessary evil and something I would gladly see disappear but since it won’t, I generally leave a default two dollar tip for all but the most excellent (or cute) waiters and very rarely eat meals more expensive than $15 (but more typically in the $8 to $10 range) so that averages out to a 15% to 25% tip.

If the service is especially poor or non-existant, I will leave nothing or something like a nickel though.

20%+ for good service
15% to the penny if I was annoyed about some aspect of the service (didn’t refill my drink, slow service) but it was nothing worth complaining to management about.
0% - only happened twice. Ridiculously slow service from rude waitstaff, incorrect order, incorrect bill. Yes, I complained.

I always tip 15% rounded up to the nearest five. I don’t care if the service is crappy, I’ll tip anyway. I guess I fear a pantheon of server gods that will cast me back into restaurant work if I don’t.

Generally, I am a pretty generous tipper, but I have had my bad experiences.

The other day, my friend and I went to Red Robin to grab late lunch. The restaurant was virtually empty, as it was two on a weekday. The waitress rushed us over to the booth, threw the menus on the table, and scuttled off. If she would have waited, she would have known we didn’t need to look at the menu. Alas, she returned 15 minutes later…with no water.

We order as she is glaring and shifting her weight in an irritated manner. She goes to walk away, I stop her and say, “can we get some drinks? Water maybe?” “FINE!”

She brings the water and throws it on our table. As she walked away, my friend said, “Uh, what the hell is her problem?” Me (loud enough for her to hear), “Yeah, it’s not like she works a job that PAYS BY TIPS.”

Suddenly she was asking if we were alright and needed anything. We still didn’t leave her a tip. This is directed at her, but it goes for all waitpeople–She is a waitress, she is there to make my lunch/dinner lovely. That is her job. If she wants to be a bitch, she should call in sick. I’m not rewarding her for doing a crappy job.

Twenty percent quite reliably, for anything from mediocre/average to outstanding service. But for really atrocious service, I give either nothing or (usually) a pittance. I know it’s the done thing in some locales to tip well for even bad service, but I utterly refuse.

Oh, and I always tip an extra dollar or two to the occasional good-looking waiter who is non-creepily, mildly flirtatious and manages to do a good job serving at the same time. :wink:

I must confess, though, that I ignore those tip jars they have for the counterperson at Arabica et al. Come on, it can’t be that much harder than working at your run-of-the-mill fast-food place. Whenever they start having tip jars at Mickey D’s, I might consider it…

I’ll tip waitresses and waiters 20% for normal service and 25% for exceptional service. I tip doormen 15%. I will not tip people who hand me a cup of coffee at the walk up counter, and I no longer tip cows.

There is a good reason for tipping.

The waiter doesn’t really work for a restraunt. That wage is just sort of a way for the restaurant to make sure it has staff…kind of a minimum. The waiter works for you.

And this is a good thing. When the management says they spend too much on ice cream, it’s the waitstaff that throws in an extra scoop when nobody is looking. When the cook gets slow, it’s the waitstaff that makes sure your order isn’t forgotten in the rush. If you have a special order, it’s the waitstaff that makes sure it comes out right.

The managment of restaurants arn’t in it for their health, nor to make you happy. They simply want to sell food as fast and cheap as possible. It’s the waitstraff that makes sure this is a pleasent experience.

If you don’t want to tip, go to Taco Bell.

Well, I always make sure it’s between 2 and 4 am, and that I have at least three of my friends with me. And the car has to be very close by so that we can make a quick getaway after the cow hits the ground.

… what? :smiley:

I usually tip about 20% with some rounding up if it makes the math easier (yeah, yeah, 20% ain’t hard, but my attention is usually elsewhere).

Sometimes I do tip less than 20% but only if the server is being surly or not making an effort. If they’re just not very good at it but trying, I tip well. Of course, I waited tables in college and was quite bad at it–so they have my sympathy!

I’ve only given 0 when the server was outright rude to me. Like the time a waiter said “do you know how much fat is in that” when I ordered fettucine al fredo!

Couldn’t have said it better myself. :wink:


25-35% for good service. (Bar tipping is different; I go to the same bars and I get a lot of free shit so the tip at that point could get as high as 50-100%.)

15% for poor service.

I’ve never stiffed anyone. Period.

That’s probably b/c I’ve worked in the bar/restaurant industry for nine years, and I know there have been days where I’ve given probably awful service (service people have their bad days just like anybody else) and I’ve still been tipped by cool/understanding/sympathetic people.

So it’s like Tip Karma. Gotta send it out there in order to get it back.


Restaurant tipping is easy. It’s pretty clear what the rules are (20% seems to be the standard tip these days; work from there if service isn’t standard), and if you’re motivated to tip less or more than most people do, you know what you’re deviating from.

The part that I hate is all those tipping situations you run into once in awhile, where you’re not sure what a decent tip is, but you know you should tip something, but you don’t want to insult with a low tip, nor give away a lot more money than someone who knows what the hell they’re doing would.

If I list a particular example, of course, someone will come in and say, “here’s the rules for that tipping situation. It’s easy, see?”

And no, I don’t see. Because the next nonstandard tipping situation I will run into will be some other kind of tipping situation, and two years from now when I next run into the situation that’s just been explained to me, I will have forgotten what the rules are again.

The point of tippable services is to make one’s life easier. But being tossed into an unfamiliar situation involving people and money where one doesn’t know the rules invariably adds to the stress level of life, rather than detracting from it. Hence SmartCarts in airports, rather than skycaps.

  • I tip 20%-ish (usually rounded to the server advantage) for average service, meaning that my drink does not stay empty very long and the server is minimally pleasant and competent.
  • I tip 30% and higher for fantastic service and/or an especially charming personality. I know the charm part isn’t quite fair, but hey, that’s life.
  • I tip 18-10% for bad service (on a downward sliding scale), and nothing if it’s utterly abysmal.


  • I DO NOT EVER punish the server for the kitchen’s mistakes (if you’ve ever waited tables, you can tell).
  • When I can tell that the server is new and freaking out, I tip very generously no matter what happens, as long as s/he is trying.
  • If we are semi-regular diners at a place, I am excessively generous. Waitstaff are like elephants – they never forget. And don’t even THINK they aren’t talking about you in the back! This is enlightened self-interest, and definitely pays off. :slight_smile:

Like someone else, I don’t stiff people because I am afraid that I might have to wait tables again some unforeseen day, and I want lots of good karma.

Hello, preview? :smack:

I was explaining our tipping practices as a family, but changed it to myself alone and didn’t edit. I tip 5% for abysmal service, and my last sentence is true. I never stiff anyone. My husband has stiffed servers on very rare occasions, which is what I was referring to in the earlier post.

It’s 15% as a rule. Mostly $3 for home delivery stuff, regardless of percentage of total. If the service has been extra good, I’ll tip up to $20, regardless of percentage of total. If the service is lacking or poor, I leave nothing.

I do love the opening scene in Reservoir Dogs, though, mostly because Buscemi is so good at his “opinion.” (Note how Tarantino has him playing a waiter in Pulp Fiction as an inside joke.)