Squawkback: Do You Tip? How Much?

I got into a major argument with my “better half” last week on tipping. While in the city, we treated ourselves (and friends) and got 4 takeout meals at our favorite little restaurant. The total bill was about 50 bucks. My generous “better half” (never to miss a tipping opportunity) went and tipped the fellow who rung in our sale a whopping 8 bucks.

Doing the math, that’s a 16 percent tip for 3 minutes of work. Not a bad return for a guy who only handed us our food. Needless to say, I was livid. I am a firm believer in tipping for good service, but 8 bucks for picking up takeout? S$it.

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For interest, I looked up tip in Wikipedia:

A tip (or gratuity) is a unrequired payment to certain service sector workers beyond the advertised price. The amount of a tip is typically computed as a percent of the cost of the transaction before the addition of any taxes. These payments and their size are a matter of social custom.

Question: Do you tip? How much? Ever feel forced to tip?

Fox’s Answers:

  • Yes I Tip, BUT I tip when service is good and exceptional. I do feel a little upset though when forced to tip. It seems some establishments automatically build tipping into the total bill. What’s up with that?
  • The amount of tip varies. I usually tip 5-15 percent depending on the service. I tend to tip best to hair stylists and waiters, depending again on the service.

Do you tip? When do you tip and how much? Should we tip? Share your tipping tips by Squawking Back!

Your two cents:

  1. Carla November 23rd, 2008

    I never heard of a tip that was more than 20% (except what my FIL normally does: up to 30% because he knows he’s a pain in the butt). Is the rate of tips going up? Its been 17-20% since I started paying for my own meals 15 years ago.

  2. Bory Chung November 26th, 2008

    YES YOU SHOULD TIP! I worked as a waitress and the truth is getting food packaged & bagged takes just as much work as delivering hot food to a table- its doubly stressful because you also have to make sure there are correct sauces, plastic wear, napkins etc. I say tip should be whatever you would tip a waitress when you dine in. You may see the guy pick up the bag at the end- but you didnt see the 10-15 minutes he spent getting your bag ready. Unless its one large double decker cake or something- then I would leave 2-3 bucks.

  3. thekatiest December 7th, 2008

    I never, never, never tip for carry-out. What would I tip them for? Ringing me up? However, I tip 20-25% if I eat in.

    At work, we usually call lunch orders in and the receptionist picks it up. I’ve started going out for my own food because she insists on tipping for the food and doesn’t bring my change back.

    I get an elaborate haircut/color, so I tip my stylist generously (about 20%).

  4. ashley December 12th, 2008

    if you’re too frugal (or cheap) to tip well when you go out to have a good time, don’t go out to have a good time. that’s part of the deal.. people are involved in making sure you have a pleasant experience while you’re out and most times they’re not making much money either!

    i work in the service industry.. i have worked as a waitress, a cocktail server, a cashier/takeout person, and now as a front of house manager. legally, if someone’s making a tip, the state does not require them to make minimum wage. sometimes even after tips, a server is only making minimum wage (depending on how slow the restaurant is).

    i always tip at least 20% (or at least $5, whichever is greater) on all bills where i’m dining in. i tip at least $1 per drink (i only order cocktails when i go out) if i’m only drinking at a bar or lounge. i tip 15-20% on take out orders (because i’ve done that before and know they’re working hard too).

    i tip 15% to cab drivers, 20% or more to hair stylists, and round up and tip the change at starbucks (if it’s an independent coffee shop, on the other hand, i’ll tip $1 for my drink… baristas work harder to make your latte that a bartender does to open that bottle of beer you’re drinking. )

    things to remember:
    if you’re paying with a credit card, servers sometimes have to pay a certain percentage of their tip from you back to the “house” or to the state. this is because they either pay taxes on credit card tips (in most states) and/or they pay a processing fee for the credit card transaction (only in some restaurants do they do this.. it’s annoying for servers!).

    servers pay a percentage of their tips to the busboys, food runners, bartender, etc.. all of the people who are helping to make your dining experience pleasurable are taking part of the tip you’re leaving for the server.

    there is always a tip line on credit card receipts (no matter if you’re dining in or doing carry out) because that’s just how the software is. they don’t make a program to do separate types of receipts for separate types of credit card transactions (the computer can’t tell the difference).

    the servers that work during lunch hours often work the same amount – if not harder – than the servers during dinner hours. dinner servers have a lot more people helping them out (more bus boys, a food runner, a bartender) than lunch servers do.. time of day should not be a factor in how much you tip your server. service should.

    all of those things being said, i budget for this when i go out. i cut back on other things so that i can go out and have a good time if i need to, and treat the service people that are serving me well while doing it. like i said, if you’re not going to feel like you can actually tip someone for serving you, then you shouldn’t be going out in the first place.

  5. mr generousity December 30th, 2008

    Waiters in Utah only make 2 dollars and 15 cents an hour and are told that tips make up the rest. Most other states have higher minimums that are paid to waiters hourly. I just hate that every time I swipe my card there is a TIP line expecting me to pay a little extra for the sandwich or whatever I just bought. What, for ringing me up? Here, I will do it myself!

  6. DeliGirl January 22nd, 2009

    As a former waitress, I’ll tell you that that job is much harder than most anyone would imagine. However, having been a waitress for several years, I have common sense. I ask questions, never assume. I make suggestions, rather than expect the customer to know exactly what they want. I judge my waiters and waitress’ on these facts. Did they make any suggestions to me? Did they offer an alternative if they’re out of something. Did they ask how I would like my steak cooked? Did they ask if I wanted salt on my margarita rim(yes, of course, but so many DON’T like it.) I’m very particular. However, that being said, I tend to tip 20-30% for Great to Exceptional Service. 10-15% for Ok service, and Nothing for horrendous service that could NOT be blamed on the kitchen. Here in Texas, we only make $2.13/hr. The reason for this low number is simple. They expect us to make enough tips to cover minimum wage. If for some reason, minimum wage is not met for the work period, the company will pay the difference.

    I would like to say something to people with children. PLEASE do NOT let them run around the restaurant, mash their crayons in the table, stuff their food in the benches or throw their food all over the place. If this DOES happen, PLEASE compensate the server and the busboy for the trouble they’re now going to go through to clean up your mess. Also, the manners of your children speak volumes of you.
    Sorry for the rant. I just found your blog and love it. The post just made me want to talk!

  7. Pstephens May 7th, 2010

    I am a server at a casual dining restaurant. I try not to get too worked up over my tips but, it is hard. I work in Hampton Roads, Virginia. I only make $2.15 an hour, on top of that I have to tip out 3% to the restaurant for bussers and bartenders. I tip out that percentage no mater what I am tipped, or no one orders alcohol, and worse than that it is slow and they send the busser home early. I know a lot of people are ignorant to that. My restaurant only adds gratuity if the party is 10 or more. We add 18%, I only receive 15% of that because of the tip out. I only expect 20% even for great service. I consider myself a great server.

    More than the tipping I get annoyed when people treat me like I am not a person but, only the idiot that brings their food. If I say hello, how are you? sometimes the person responds with “sweet tea” without even looking me in the eyes. I can tell you right now that if you treat a server like this do not expect any hospitality. I will not go out of my way for someone who does not treat me like a person.

    I just wish that people would realize that I do not expect a tip but, I work very hard for them. I always try to be an excellent server that is friendly and efficent. I go above and beyond for my guest every day. Remember that I am the one that puts your order in right, I keep up with your diet coke binge and if something is messed up I am the one that argues with the kitchen to remake your food fast. If your appetizer does come right before your food because the kitchen is backed up and working straight down the line without reading the ticket I am the one that explains what happened to the manager and talks them into taking it off the bill or offering free desert. Be nice to us and any decent server will go out of their way for you.

    You think you feel pressured to tip, you have no idea. I feel guilty leaving anyone less than 20%. Almost like the bad karma will follow me to work. Even if I get the worst service and I wonder how this person pays their bills.

  8. Zhu October 8th, 2012

    No kidding, I think that was one of the biggest cultural differences I had to tackle when I came to Canada.

    In France, people don’t tip. At most, you leave some small change because you can’t be bothered putting it back in your wallet, i.e. cents.

    In Canada, I learned very quickly that you had to tip in the food service industry. My (Canadian) husband worked in restaurants so he is pretty generous. Even though I’m still not so great at calculating the tip (let’s face it, I suck at maths anyway :lol:) I would never NOT tip. That said, I usually tip around 15% (we typically go to casual ethnic restaurants and our bill is often in the $25-$35 range for two!), not 20% or more like Americans seem to do. Canadians don’t tip as much I find, but here we do have a minimum wage, our waiters aren’t paid $2!

    Now I’m still very uncomfortable tipping staff in other industries because I just don’t know where to draw the line. For instance, I didn’t tip hair stylists for about a year because no one had told me too and I really didn’t know I was supposed to. Same goes with RMT: this is a medical service I think, if I don’t tip my ob-gyn, why should I tip for a massage?

    Anyway, I wrote about the tipping dilemma from the point of view of an immigrant, if you are interested: http://correresmidestino.com/the-tipping-dilemma/

    (Please do remove the link if it bothers you, not sure what the etiquette is!)

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