52 Comments

  1. Alas, we Brits seem to have the reputation of being bad tippers in the US. This come from the fact that a lot of Brits are bad tippers…

    I try to tip about 20% but will increase that amount if we have a fun time.

    Bad service gets you 10-15% and a reinforcement of the “Brits don’t tip” meme.

  2. On average, I tip about 20%. Sometimes I am more generous, if I can or if I have an extremely attentive server. If I get less than stellar service, which doesn’t happen that often, I might lean toward the 15% mark. I usually factor in things like how busy the server is, how often they come over to check on my table, etc.
    My boyfriend is a server at Red Lobster and makes most, if not all, of his income through tips. I think people forget that servers are only paid $2-$3 an hour.
    My boyfriend has reported that it doesn’t always matter how dedicated you are to the table… some people just can’t be pleased or don’t care that you make squat. Then there are those who are just stingy.
    Worse are the people who skip the check or those who have a $300 check and pay the total plus 20% tip in cash…..counterfit cash, that is.

  3. roughly 20%.
    When I first started going to restaurants on my own as a young adult I was still following my parent’s 10% philosophy. That lasted a few years until my friends noticed how cheap I was being.

  4. 15-20% dependent on service/type of food (not at the fast food court)

    min wage is about $8.80/hr here, I assume that’s their minimum intake. I dislike leaving tips for poor service.

  5. 15% is my minimum, even for lousy service. 20-25% for really good service. Up to 35% if I’m a regular at a place.
    Oh, and 5-10% for buffet style restaurants because it seems to me like the increase in the number of tables a person can handle doing drink service only far outweights a 50% reduction in tips. That’s my $.02

  6. 1. 20% is my baseline. It is easy to figure out. I also always round up the bill so I can leave a tip with no change.

    2. I never leave less than $5 (or try), so even if the bill is only $10, I’ll go ahead and leave $5 (or try to).

    3. I live in a very small town with very few eating options, but I eat most my meals out, which means lots of repetition. So, at the places I like the best, I leave much larger tips. When my wife and I eat, the bill will usually be $25-$30, and at our favorite places I leave at least $8-$10. Again, this is a very rural town in the South so our tips seem lavish.

    4. I hardly every leave a small (or smaller) tip, even if the service is bad. This is because I find that service is usually bad becasue the server sees my wife and me, sees that we are young and in t-shirts, and are not going to tip well. So if I don’t tip (because of the bad services) the server won’t think, “I should have worked harder” but “I was right!” Again, the small townness plays into it. You get the same servers alot.

    5. If service is SOOOOO bad then, yes, I leave small tip and I mean painfully small, and never go back.

  7. Usually 18-20%, more if the server is exceptional.

    I’ve had some terrible service before, but I can’t really bring myself to tip much less than 15%. Even if the server is surly/inattentive I somehow feel guilty about leaving small tips.

    I loved this aspect of Japan, no tipping but excellent customer service!

  8. Long-winded answer warning: 🙂

    Since my husband and I own a restaurant we tend to be big tippers – 30% or more if the service is good. Cop an attitude with me and you get 10% and chewed out and I am NOT nice about it – I have NO tolerance for piss-poor service. I just look for effort and willingness to do your best – mistakes are always forgiven. I know how hard a job it is. Oh, and anything under $25 I always leave a fiver.

    We salary our employees so they do not have to rely on tips (they make more than I do at my office job!). It makes them more empowered to handle anything and we also let them know the customer has no right to be an asshole – we’ve kicked a few jackasses out (called the cops once). And they know they can chew out a customer who thinks their 4 year old child can eat 5lbs of food for free – we charge such jerks! (I had one customer shove so much food in their 2 year old the poor kid puked all over the table. We kicked them out. After telling them a child is not tupperware)

    Don’t be hard on Brits. Try Indians! (My husband is Indian, thus our restaurant is Indian) A few of them get it and tip 20% if they like the service, most do 10% (which is fine) but many of them they just round off the dollar amounts. Thus we salary our employees – they’d starve otherwise.

    There is nothing worse than a table full of overly demanding jerky customers who leave $5 for a $150 bill. But we always remember the $150 is more important than the tip. And they always come back because our food is the best!

  9. I hit between 15-20% most of the time, but I have been known to leave at least some tip on the worst service. However, I was traveling over the past week, and I took my first taxi ride – do you tip a taxi driver? I wasn’t sure, but the first one assumed he was to keep the change. I tipped, but very low mostly because it was already so expensive to go not very far. You city-folk – whats the deal, do I tip the taxi driver?

  10. @-l I think proper tipping etiquette for cab drivers is 15%. The only time I use a cab is in Vegas and I usually tip 20% unless the driver tries to give me a runaround and takes me a longer route (ie takes me through the tunnel to get to the strip from the airport). Then I tip 0%

  11. @Chris, another good reason to tip more for breakfast is that even low-maintenance customers tend to want their breakfast Just So. “I’d like the No. 3 Special, but with Egg Beaters instead, bacon instead of sausage, and can I get the English muffins instead of toast? And hold the butter, please. And is your bacon crispy? Can I get mine extra-crispy?”

  12. I think everyone should work in the service industry for a bit. My room service days opened my eyes. Reading Waiter Rant also helped.

    around 20%, and I’m a broke ass grad student, if I can’t tip that, I shouldn’t be eating out. 15% for bad service. I’ve gone lower in extreme circumstances.

  13. 20ish% most of the time above because I have worked for tips before, also I never want to mess with people that get to see my food before I do!

    and I agree with Seth about having everybody work in the service industry for a bit.

  14. I tip one-sixth of the post-tax total, rounded up to the nearest dollar. So a 26.24 dollar check will yield a 4.76 tip.

  15. 1, or 2 euros, depending on the quality of the service, but at some lower-standard places (which is where I mostly go) one isn’t expected to tip, because there aren’t any waiters.

  16. Something everyone here should know:

    Waiters don’t make minimum wage; they often make $2-$3 an hour of actual wages, and everything else is tips.

    I was a waiter, and I tip close to 20%. Ranging between 15% and 25% in unusual circumstances. If my waiter has a billion tables and, even though he’s doing a good job and is cheerful, just physically can’t do a good job of serving us, I tip 15%, because he’s going to make a ton of money by serving many tables poorly rather than a few tables well. Don’t worry about tipping less in this circumstance, because the guy will make a ton of money anyway.

  17. Also, tipping 15% cash is as good as tipping 20% credit, since you can be free and easy on your wage reporting if there is no paper trail. Not that I would know anything about that…

  18. Baseline 20%.

    For every 5 minutes that my beer is empty, my tip goes down by 1%. Tip goes up for every instance of professional service (professional does not mean annoyingly happy). Snarky or cynical waiters get an automatic 5% bonus.

  19. I always tip at least 20%, and I love to tip more if the service merits it. As a general rule, I will always leave a minimum of $5 for a tip, I mean, leaving $3 is just kinda cheap…IMHO. I really do appreciate the service that is provided, especially because I would hate to have to do it myself. I can’t imagine…

  20. 20%+ if I think the server did a great job, even if the food is so-so.
    15% if the service is not bad and the food is good.
    10% if the experience isn’t a complete disaster.
    0% if there is nothing I like about the place and I don’t plan on going back.

    How much should a person tip if they ask for and get something that isn’t on the menu? I like strawberry banana smoothies enough to order them at sports bars (when it isn’t busy). If i get one, I add at least $10 to the 20%+ tip.

  21. Well I’m a New Zealander, so we rarely if ever tip in NZ or Australia because its not expected. This all works perfectly well because it is up to restaurant to pay and reward the staff appropriately to the service they want to achieve. So a good restaurant will have good service and if not you complain or vote with your (and your friends) feet by not going there anymore.

    I think NZers find it quite hard going to the states and getting the tipping thing right. It certainly complicates things.

  22. I generally tip between 15 and 20 percent.

    Maybe I’m ignorant because I’ve never owned a restaurant or been a waiter, but is there no one else that thinks it’s BS that we, as customers, must pay a majority of waiter’s salary? Why are restaurants the only business or service business that comes to mind, which the place of employment operates in this manner? Though I always tip because it has basically become the status quo, I personally feel that tipping should be completely optional and be based on your satisfaction with the service. I realize it is still optional except in certain cases, but there’s such a negative stigma against non-tippers.

    Maybe I’m just gonna move to New Zealand.

  23. I usually just round up (1s, 5sif it’s a really high total) which usually ends up in the 5-10% range, if that.

    It seems you’re quite the a-hole if you tip beneath 20% in the US. I like to think that restaurant employees being more dependent on tips in the US, generally earning less before tips. Maybe you guys are just more generous than us Europeans, I don’t know.

  24. if i dick around for several hours and only order a couple cups of tea i’ll tip almost as much as the bill itself, otherwise i’m a 20 percent man

  25. I’ve worked in the restaurant industry since I was 13, ten years now, and I’ve always tipped at least 20% out of industry courtesy. I’ve never really had bad service or had to stiff anyone. If service is extremely bad I still tip, but I feel bad about it forever afterward; perpetuating that server/bartender’s terrible behavior.

  26. @Terry

    Tipping works in the service industry because you see a direct return on your effort as server. Shitty servers don’t get tipped much, good servers get tipped more and usually stay in the industry.

  27. wow, call me a tight brit, but there’s no way I’d tip 20%, maybe 10% if you’re lucky. If you want to earn more than that ask your manager or change jobs, I’m not paying for your boss’s exploitation (and your acceptance of it).

  28. You can tip whatever you like, but don’t let the waiter know you are mad until you have your meal!

    I’ll usually double the tax (8.5% in LA) and round up. Crappy food still gets a decent tip if service is there, but good food and bad service can severely affect the tip.

  29. Where I live it’s normal just to round up – as with Lumpi – but I usually err on the ‘generous’ side by local standards. That means not less that 10%, usually a bit more – but only significantly more if the service has been particularly excellent. And less if I’ve been particularly displeased by the service or the food.

    I’ve never worked in a bar or restaurant (I’ve done worse jobs though!), but most of the people that I know who have have done table service said that the tips add up to seriously good money (especially for what is basically unskilled labour). It seems to be the antisocial hours and (where I live) the cigarette smoke that makes people quit, not the pay. Well, that plus the fact that most of them have been students or graduates who never really wanted to stick in a low-level job!

    I also know cafes and restaurants where the management pocket the tips. That’s seriously scummy.

  30. 20% unless service sucks then could be as low as 10% but only if it was the servers fault. I don’t penalize the server for the kitchens fault.

  31. Usually 15-20%, 15-18% for bad service. Less than 15% for horrible service, though I usually don’t go so far as to tip nothing at all. 18-20 for average service. For fantastic service I’ll go 25 to even 30%. At my regular bar, I will sometimes tip 50 or 60%, but that’s usually on a tab less than $15. And well, I know those guys.

  32. When the kids and I ate out a lot, I would make them figure the tip, both 15% and 20%. They learned some math shortcuts that way, and it was fun. Then I’d leave a round dollar number somewhere between the two figures, or use 20% if the service was really good.

    I always had a problem with serve-yourself restaurants, where all the waitresses ever did was refill my coffee. I know they aren’t making more than the sub-minimum, around $3 an hour, but how much am I supposed to pay extra for a coffee refill?

    Now that we have 6 in the family, we don’t eat out at all.

  33. If I have an average dinner for two, no special requests, and it comes to $30, 20% is $6.
    If I have an average dinner for two, no special requests, and it comes to $60, 20% is $12.

    What did the server in the second situation do to earn twice as big of a tip? Work in a more expensive restaurant?

  34. 20% for usual service, I’ll drop to 15% for not great service, and have gone down to 10% for some. one time, service was so bad on a forty dollar bill that I left the fabled “Grampa Two Dollars” which is what we called it when my wife’s grandfather would take us out to eat and no matter how many people or how big the bill, he’d throw down two dollars.

    Service at Red Robin was so awesome last time we were there that I left a 40% tip.

  35. I’m amazed at the gentleman who wrote that ” Why are restaurants the only business or service business that comes to mind, which the place of employment operates in this manner? Though I always tip because it has basically become the status quo, I personally feel that tipping should be completely optional and be based on your satisfaction with the service. ” . If you make a standard wage for servers there is no reason for them to do a good job . The service industry is one of few fields that is actually gaining jobs in this economy . You vote with your dollar and we remember it . I average around 21-22% and I literally run for my money . I am cheerful , I take interest in you , and I remember your preferences from day to day . If you think it’s that easy I’d suggest stop tipping at the businesses you goto and see how quickly your food and service go down the tube . Service isn’t built into the cost in the USA at most places so you do reward good service if you tip well . If you want your meal to be more expensive and have the lowest paid jerk treating you like an average McDonald’s customer then push for a flat 6 bucks an hour for servers . Personally I’ve seen servers quit because they were crappy ( ie made no money for bad service ) and I’m just fine with that . All in all , if you feel you’re being cheated by this system just pay a couple of bucks extra for your meal directly to the server and I’m sure he/she will take in straight to the management and won’t ever think twice about pocketing the money of someone who knows how a system works and rebels against it by picking on the lowest person on the food chain . Kick a homeless person or two on the way back to the office while your at it just so you can feel the world works just as you want it to .

    PS. Mr. “wow, call me a tight brit, but there’s no way I’d tip 20%, maybe 10% if you’re lucky. If you want to earn more than that ask your manager or change jobs, I’m not paying for your boss’s exploitation (and your acceptance of it).” . Then don’t eat out . I’m not forcing your hand .

    PPS . Everyone please take into account that the front of the house staff tips out around 4% to various other folks in the joint . When you stiff a waiter/waitress you are making them pay money for the pleasure of serving you . Don’t be jerk , or you’ll get the service you deserve ( and trust me , regulars who stiff tend to get extra VALUE for their purchase . )

  36. usually 10 %. i’ve never cared enough to be good at math so i just move the decimal over one and there you have it. and i kind of agree with the other guy. i’m not out of school yet, so money is important… in that i now have to think about it and worry that it will soon be gone, so i dont really feel the need to compensate servers for their employer’s failure to pay them minimum wage. maybe when money is of no consequence i’ll be a big tipper, but until then… go get a better job if you want the money.

  37. I’ve left no tip at all once or twice when the service was really really bad – but to make it fair, I told them exactly why. %15 for bad service? Good god, no wonder there’s such a dearth of good service in the industry! People feel very socially pressured to tip even if the service is bad. Especially in a group dining situation. No wonder there is a disconnect. And our expectations are so low! Take the order, bring the food, check back once (often 30s after you served the food), then collect the bill? Come on, there’s more to it than that!

    What do I consider good service? Promptness. Availability. Knowledge of the menu & ability to answer questions about the choices. Remembering who got what when bringing the food (JFC! draw a frickin diagram fo sh’ts sake!). Timing: I don’t want the main when I’m still eating the appetizer. Sequencing: Condiments come to the table before the food. Who’s the waiter?: don’t expect me to rearrange the table of previous course’s empty plates to make way for the full plate in your hand. That’s your job. Etiquette: Don’t barge in and interrupt a conversation at the table mid sentence – pause & wait for a break in the conversation for people to look up and acknowledge you. It’ll only take a few seconds for them to do so. Etiquette: dont’ reach across my plate to serve me or anyone else – especially when my fork is in transit to my mouth. Etiquette: don’t start removing empty plates until everyone’s finished the course. I could go on and on.

    I think a better factor affecting the tip should be the time you occupy the table, number of people & how much time they spent servicing you – among other things of course. The least factor should be how much you spend on food. Why is that a factor at all? It’s only an imperfect proxy to what should really matter. They don’t work any harder if I get the $60 meal than if I get the $20 meal. And just because a waiter works at a restaurant with $30 hamburgers shouldn’t mean they should get any more than a waiter at a restaurant that has $3 hamburgers. It’s a completely stupid system when you think of it – absolutely ridiculous.

    Glad I’m not a waiter. Can you tell I’ve never been one? Am I the customer from hell?

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