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. Emily November 19th, 2008

    I tip waiters and my hair stylist. Waiters, I tip 15%. My hair stylist gets 20%. I do not tip for takeout. I even grumble at tipping for pizza delivery because now on top of the pizza cost, they build in a “delivery fee” plus I am still expected to tip. I just pick it up myself to avoid feeling like a jerk.

  2. neimanmarxist November 19th, 2008

    I tip waiters 20% unless the service is bad, upon which I tip 15%. I don’t tip for carryout and we never order delivery. I tip my hairstylist 20% as well. I tip cabs $1-2 per ride, epsecially if I’ve had luggage. I haven’t ridden in a cab in a few years, though.

    My better half is also too generous. I grumble at him sometimes!

  3. Kerry November 19th, 2008

    @Emily @neimanmarxist Ohh Wow. Looks like I’m under tipping my hair stylist at 15%. Dang. I just never know what is acceptable.

  4. Niki November 19th, 2008

    I never know the rules. lucky for us we don’t eat out much and never take cabs. My friend does my hair but I do give her extra. I recently went to Toronto and this would have been nice to know as I did eat out there and went in a few cabs.

  5. Jules November 19th, 2008

    Yes, I tip.

    I tip waiters/waitresses, cab drivers, hairdressers (on the rare occasions I go). If I order delivery, then the delivery guy gets a tip. The one time I was in a hotel with a bellboy (apparently they’re standard in Italy), he got a tip, too–but only after he helped with our bags. I may tip the bike wrench, depending on how complicated the job is.

    I do not tip baristas at Starbucks (sorry, but in principle they’re not that much different from your average cashier at a fast food joint, and nobody tips them). I don’t tip when I get take-out. As a general rule I don’t tip street musicians, but sometimes I meet one that’s just awesome.

    When I do tip, I tip at least 10%. In restaurants, I tip 15%, unless the service was REALLY bad. If there is no price (i.e., doormen and/or street musicians), then I give $1-2 (not much, but I don’t have much, either!).

  6. Unspender November 19th, 2008

    When I’m out with friends, we tend to tip more than I would if I were on my own. As a group, we generally tip 20% when dining out–sometimes more if the service is decent. The problem is that as young people, we often get bad service and yet, we still tip 15-20%. I get very frustrated with this and blogged about it here: http://unspending.wordpress.com/2008/07/28/tipping-poor-service/

    If on my own, I’d probably tip 15%–more if the service excelled.

    I just tipped 15% for my haircut, but it was a trim. I have tipped 20% if I think he did an exceptional job or did something particularly labour-intensive.

    What I hate doing, but have become accustomed to, is tipping $1 for every drink I order at a bar. A well-made mixed drink is deserving, but it seems excessive to me if all they have to do is stop flirting with a co-worker and open a bottle of beer.

  7. Jennifer November 19th, 2008

    Having worked in the service industry, I definitely tip.

    Restaurants: 15%-20% depending on the service. If it is bare bones service, then I do 15. If they are good 20. Also, if we go to one of those restaurants where you order at the front and your food is brought to you and they maybe refill your drink, I’ll do a dollar or two per person as the table.

    Bellman: 1-2 dollars per bag. Usually when I’m traveling alone it doesn’t matter because I don’t stay in places with a bellman. But for work we go to nice places where the bellman is a necessity.

    Hairdresser: If it is a regular hair cut, 20%. If it has been a much longer time between cuts and she has to do more to shape it up, maybe 25%. I also will do 25% around the holidays if I get it cut then. I really like my hair dresser though, so it might be a bit different if I went elsewhere.

    I don’t tip at Starbucks/coffee shops, with ONE exception – just because there is one I frequent and I’m sort of friends with the barista. Then I’ll give her a dollar when I go.

    I do tip delivery drivers. Usually 15%. Tip cab drivers.

    I do reccommend tipping for take out IF you are ordering an additional take out meal from your waitress to go home. (Like “hey we just finished eating here but I have to also order a plate for my husband).

  8. Hayden Tompkins November 19th, 2008

    $2 for takeout OR roundup the change to the next dollar and add a dollar. ESPECIALLY if you are standing right there to take it. I do it because I want them to grab 10 fortune cookies and not think twice!

  9. dandy rose November 19th, 2008

    I tip standard 20% for stylists and waiters. I usually tip coffee people by rounding up to the next dollar, or 50 cents, whatever’s appropriate.

    I do not tip for carry-out.

    I always tip pizza-delivery people 20% because they make minimum wage, gas prices vary (and they often foot the bill for gas), and they have an element of risk to their job: they often get jumped/held up, so the fact that they are risking their safety to bring me comfort food is enough for me to hand them a mere $2 tip.

  10. marci November 19th, 2008

    Take out does not require tipping, in my opinion.
    Around here we tip 15% usually.
    The haircut is $18, and I leave $20 – but it just works out with the change that way. Maybe I should rethink that :) I hadn’t thought about it til now, but it’s not 15%. hmmmm

    My daughter is a bartender (working her way thru nursing college while raising 2 kids) and I know how she depends on her tips – so I try to be generous with tipping if the service is really good.

  11. Kerry November 19th, 2008

    @marci So I wonder if tipping is also regional. I used to live in the city where tipping was a greater percentage. But living now in a small town 20% seems like a lot. Salaries just are not as sizable in smaller areas.

    I also wonder about the service industry: why don’t the employers pay their staff so they don’t have to depend on tips? I’ve worked in coffee shops where it’s nice to collect a little extra in tips, so I get it…but I’ve never worked in a restaurant.

    @dandy rose I too tip coffee people by rounding up to the next dollar. I love the tip jars.

    @Hayden Yeah, I too have tipped to get “a little extra.” :D

    @Jennifer Ohh, another fail on my part. The delivery drivers in my area are so rude and never want deliver to my door, in the middle of the forest. I do tip them, but after arguing over the phone to get them out here, I don’t feel overly generous to tip. Besides, I’ve already paid for the shipping and delivery, so I feel like I shouldn’t have to argue.

    @Unspender Thanks for sharing your post! Always something to learn.

    @Jules OK, you tip more to the percentages I can relate to. :D

    @Niki I never even thought of cabs in this post. It’s been so long (maybe 4 years) since I’ve been in one. When I lived in the city I always tipped my cabbies, depending on the driving. Some drivers are scary.

  12. Jennifer November 19th, 2008

    @Fox – We have nice delivery drivers in our area. If I had rude ones it would be different. Plus I generally don’t order from a place if they add on a delivery fee to begin with. Usually the delivery is not an extra fee from the places I go. If there were, I probably wouldn’t order from there or just pick up myself.

    Also – on the wait staff issue. When I waited tables I was only paid $3.95 per hour. The rest was based on tips. And at the higher end restaurant where I worked in college, I myself had to distribute some of my earnings as “tips” to all others involved. I had to tip 2% of my overall sales (not my tips, it was based on ticket sales) to the bartender and another percentage to the busboys, even though I also had to pre-bus the plates on the table…. So technically if I got stiffed on any tips, I LOST money, because I still had to tip out on whatever their ticket was. The best place I ever waited tables was actually at Denny’s – I got to keep ever dollar I earned.

  13. Susy November 19th, 2008

    Mr Chiot’s and I always tip generously at restaurants. We usually share a meal and only drink water, but we tip as if we each got a meal and drinks. So if our total bill is $12, we total up to $17-$20. We don’t tip for take-out and we live in the middle of no where so we don’t have delivery people (only UPS & USPS). At Christmas I made caramel corn and we take it in to the UPS for all the people working there (we use the USPS a lot for business). We also give some to our UPS driver who is awesome!!!

    I don’t get my hair cut to I don’t have to worry about tipping a hair dresser. We do tip valets & bell hops is necessary.

  14. Fabulously Broke November 19th, 2008

    I tend to tip a couple of bucks in any circumstance because you just never know.

  15. Jennifer (Danifer) November 19th, 2008

    This is a good topic. Being a person who was in the service industry for sometime, I can give you insight from both sides. When I was a cashier at a well-known Italian restaurant, I was in charge of take-out as well as ringing in the order, answering the phones and closing customer checks. What customers didn’t see was that when I was not at the register, I was in the back, packaging up the meal, making sure it was complete, had all of it’s condiments, utensils, etc. Sometimes, that was more work than when I worked as a server. I can understand not wanting to tip someone for ringing in an order and taking your money, that is crazy. But sometimes, the people that I presented the food to had no idea all the work that was involved. However, going to a deli counter, I don’t feel as inclined to tip, so I don’t really understand why I feel there is a difference, maybe because it’s not a “restaurant”.

    As far as servers, it depends on what time of day the meal is. Daytime is 15 – 18% and evenings is 18% to 20%. I guess because I know what is involved with serving, I tend to be a little more generous. But, servers have to be on their game with me, I am very critical since I know what is expected and how I should be treated.

    Bar staff should get a dollar a drink, minimum. Hairstylists/nail techs get anywhere from 3 to 5 dollars (I don’t pay a lot for a hair cut).

  16. Beth November 19th, 2008

    what about tipping for buffets?
    that one always baffles me.

    i tip 15-20% at a restaurant with table service. the amount i tip also depends on the calibre of restaurant (actually, it’s usually that fine dining usually provides exceptional service).
    having had worked in the fnb industry for a long time, i came to value my tips *a lot* — i was making minimum wage and could not negotiate a raise because the bosses would say, well, you make a lot in tips. sigh.
    i tip my hairdresser about 15% but i have heard that if your hairdresser owns the shop that a tip is not necessary. mine owns the shop, i still tip him.
    i tip a cab driver, usually no more than 10%.
    i tip delivery drivers, around 10%.
    i get annoyed with takeout places that leave a tip line because i feel like it’s pressuring people to tip when really there is minimal service involved.
    when i used to bartend/cocktail wait, a dollar a drink was the norm.
    also, i tip on the pre-tax amount.
    and, is anyone else annoyed when they go out in a large group where the tip is automatically added (usually 18%) and they still put tip lines on the bill? that one really irks me.

  17. Anne November 19th, 2008

    I am a generous tipper at restaurants and for delivery and subsequent visits to the same restaurants have almost always been met with outstanding service. It really is a matter of getting what you pay for.

    Now I have to qualify that statement by saying that I am a pizza delivery driver as a second job. It’s a rare pizza place that doesn’t charge a delivery fee these days, and in the store I work for it goes toward keeping food prices lower and defraying the cost of gas for the drivers to enable us to do our job. We are not paid the money directly and our tips are the difference between having a lowly minimum-wage job and being able to make a living. That said, I don’t blame anyone for stiffing a driver if they have given crappy service, but I also take into account if something beyond the person’s control has happened, such as a late delivery due to road conditions.

    I’ve always been a bit baffled by tipping hairstylists and the comments here have opened my eyes somewhat. I rarely get my hair cut and when I do it’s usually at a discount chain-type salon. I think the last time I took my daughter in for a trim I rounded up to the next $5, essentially giving about a $4 tip.

  18. HoneyB November 19th, 2008

    Thanks for stopping by my blog!

    I do tip and normally I tip very well if the service was good. My son has to basically live off the tips he makes as a delivery person and I think of him every time someone is waiting on me. If they do a crappy job, and that means, they pay no attention to me or are rude, I generally only leave the 10%. I have been known to leave 20% and even sometimes more when a great job has been done. Its not the employee’s fault the employeer can get away with paying them below minimum wage. I think all places should be forced to pay minimum wage at least and let tips be optional.

  19. Sagan November 19th, 2008

    I tip about 20% everywhere I go, unless the service is REALLY awful. I know that it varies from place to place as to how much waitresses and such rely on tips, but where I live their base salary is usually just minimum wage.

    Very interesting topic! When it comes to things like ordering take out, I never know how much is a “good amount” to tip (because they ARE just handing you your food). Tipping can sometimes be an awkward process- I like that in some places in Europe the tip is included in the bill. It makes things easier:)

  20. Belinda November 19th, 2008

    Both my Husband and I are good tippers. We generally start at 20% in our minds and judge the service and it may decrease by the time the bill comes around.

    We’ve found as a benefit to good tipping especially with places where we’re regulars that they remember us and we get faster service (like the pizza guy).

    I always tip my hairdresser well for she has literally got my head in her hands and she does a great job with my crazy mop. My hair never looks better than when I walk out the door, now if only I could convince her to do it everyday for me :D

    We don’t as a rule tip for take-out though.

  21. Vered - MomGrind November 19th, 2008

    I think tipping amounts largely depend on location, but when we sit down to eat at a full-service, non-fast-food restaurant, we tip 15% for standard service, 20% for great service and if the service is bad we still tip 10%.

  22. Liz November 19th, 2008

    As one who slaved away in the food service industry for all of my high school years and part of college… I always tip 15% when dining out. More if it’s good service. I tip 10% to delivery drivers. These people make shameful, below minimum wage salaries… they’re earning every penny and then some.

  23. marci November 19th, 2008

    @Squawk – The owners don’t pay more because they don’t have to. Simple as that. If they paid higher wages, then they’d also be paying higher payroll tax, SS tax, unemployement tax, FICA tax, etc… They skip all the extra money out of their pocket by Not paying more in wages.

    Yes – $1/drink at a bar – even for my soda pop :) And if it’s a comp. drink, (designated driver), then I still tip the $1. (My daughter the bartender told me to! )

  24. Kerry November 19th, 2008

    @marci I’m going to take your daughter’s advice!

    @Liz I’m really rethinking the whole delivery driver thing…and the amount I give to waiters. I need to get out more often. :D

    @Vered I think it’s interesting (and very generous) you tip EVEN when the service is bad. I’ve always thought of a tip as showing gratitude for good service.

    @Belinda I’m still a little bummed with my husband for tipping for takeout. Grumble.

    @Sagan I think you hit it. I just feel awkward tipping in general. I never know what is good, stingy, or accepted.

    @HoneyB My pleasure! Like many here today, I think you very generous to tip even when service is poor.

    @Anne You just made me crave pizza. :D

    @Beth I too am “irked” when restaurants automagically tip for groups. It’s like I have no say in deciding the level of tip based on service received. I wonder if anyone has ever not paid it.

    @Jennifer (Danifer) I was hoping someone would share what it’s like working in the service industry. Since I’ve only worked in a coffee shop, I can kind of relate. The coffee shop (more of a diner really) was hard work, lots of standing, cleaning tables. I really did appreciate the coinage left behind.

  25. Kerry November 19th, 2008

    @Fabulously Broke I hear yay. I just never know toooo.

    @Susy I too round up! Kinda takes the awkwardness out of it for me.

  26. Lorraine E November 19th, 2008

    I don’t tip if I’m picking up takeaway but will tip about 10% (mainly just rounding up whatever is easiest. In Australia it’s not a big thing, not everyone does it and it’s not expected. If I get bad service, definitely no tip!

  27. Annie K. November 19th, 2008

    Thanks for bringing this up. I’m a massage therapist, who has worked in spas and salons. I also did some restaurant work, as have many of my friends. So, yes, I tip.

    Salons: general rule is 10-20%, with most people coming in closer to 15-20%. At one time one didn’t tip the owner if s/he cut your hair, but that seems to have faded away. I tend to tip 20+%, but I am really picky about my hair and tend to see it as an investment in the client/hairstylist relationship. I’ve never, ever not gotten the appointment slot I want and have never been charged for a bang trim. I also tip the shampoo girl a couple of bucks because that’s what my mom taught me to do when I was very, very young. That said, if I’m getting a simple trim at a chain and have no relationship with the stylist, I tip closer to 10%.

    Massage therapists and facialists/estheticians – 15-20%, minimum. More if they done exceptionally good work or I’ve asked for a lot of extra pressure, etc. Please know that these folks often make only 25-33% of the total cost of your massage. The rest goes to the house to pay for supplies, laundry, front desk, spa attendants, etc. I know that many people used to assume I made most, if not all of the price of the massage. If your MT is working independently, obviously s/he is earning closer to 100% of the price and, honestly, I consider tipping optional then.

    Table dinner: 15% minimum. If the service has been lousy – nothing except a mention to the manager. If the service has been good, 20%. If I’ve lingered at the table (thereby slowing the turnover rate) I tend to leave a little extra to compensate for loss of income.

    Bars: I tend to tip $2-5 the first drink, then more like a buck after that. Again, I usually have no problem getting the bartender’s eye for my club soda the rest of the evening. I know others who start a tab immediately and then tip 20% of the tab at the end of the evening. This may or may not turn out to be cheaper by the end of the night while still treating the staff fairly.

    Location: yes, people tip differently in different regions. I’ve worked in Austin, Chicago and now Las Vegas. Certain nationalities simply don’t tip as much or as often. People (from all over) in Vegas tend to tip according to how well they’re doing at the tables. Or, if it’s a couples massage, according to how much they want to impress their date. (hee)

    Lastly, if it still really sticks in your craw that you are kind of expected to tip, if only because the business doesn’t pay that staffer enough to live WITHOUT that tip, you should look into the living wage movement, which is pretty self-explanatory.

  28. elyse November 19th, 2008

    hello! thank you for saying hi on my blog today! i did use painters tape. it made the job much easier! take care!

  29. Carla November 19th, 2008

    I tip 20% in restaurants and when I get pedicures, facials and my brows shaped.

    For takeout, it really depends. For counter service its usually $1-2 dollars.

  30. Natalie at FL Home Blog November 20th, 2008

    I sure do. As a bartender for many years I know how little people working in positions where they are expected to be tipped make for their hourly rate. And the amount of money you are expected to earn in tips is taken into consideration when your taxes are taken. For me, my weekly paycheck was nothing more than paying taxes with a couple of bucks left over. Now imagine if I didn’t make good tips that week, ouch!

    Many times the people working take out are still putting together portions of your meal for you: soups, salads, desserts, etc., and at certain locations they’re running in and out with your card, and food, or change, etc. I tip a few bucks whenever I get take out.

    This all goes out the window if they have a poor attitude or provide poor service no matter what the circumstance.

  31. Budgets are Sexy November 20th, 2008

    I’ve created a new rule the other month to keep me sane: TIP EVERYTHING 20% no matter what. Makes my life more peaceful, and i always feel good about it ;)

  32. Bonnie November 20th, 2008

    I usually tip 18-20 % at restaurants. I will tip 15% for, as Jennifer said, “bare-bones services” or even slightly less for bad, extremely unattentive service. At a bar, I tip a dollar per drink. My boyfriend is a hairstylist so I don’t have that expense, but I will say that he is very appreciative of his clients that tip him 20% and will bend over backwards for their schedules, etc. So hooray to all of you who give your hairstylists 20%. :) At a coffee shop, I’ll generally drop a buck or at least 50 cents into the tip jar.

  33. guinness416 November 20th, 2008

    I don’t get your points. You would prefer restaurants to include service, but don’t like it when they decide what the % should be (for groups)? Although that’s the conclusion that recent NY Times article linked everywhere made too.

    Jennifer’s post is something that people who haven’t worked in restaurants often don’t understand. In some places, the waiter has to tip out bartenders, busboys, expediters, sometimes line cooks too based on sales. That $10 isn’t necessarily going in her pocket.

    We tip 20% in restaurants, generally a buck-ish a beer in bars, three or four bucks at the local Indian buffet place, and usually only tip for takeout if our order is complex or we get exceptional service. No tips at starbucks! I’ve eaten out a lot over the years, but have only received terrible, consider the tip service twice (and one of them was the kitchen’s fault). We used to tip our building staff when we lived in Manhattan. Taxis are the one area I hate tipping – TO drivers are a danger to everyone around them – but usually it’s expensable.

    I’ll make the point I always do in these threads. Being a seriously stingy tipper may make you feel good but people will judge you. We had a boss who was a real arse in a restaurant one time, both being cheap and actually throwing a bit of change into a dirty beer glass to be fished for (if you don’t want your water refilled constantly – tell the damn waiter, don’t fume and undertip). His whole staff looked at him differently after that, and it became an anecdote that was repeated often, even to new staff members.

  34. Kerry November 20th, 2008

    @Lorraine E So happy to hear an Aussie perspective since tipping practices seem to differ across the world.

    @Annie K. In doing this post I was really hopeful someone with your experience would contribute. Thank you so much. I learned a lot from your comment – where to tip and how much. The living wage movement is also a new to me.

    @elyse My pleasure!

    @Carla 20 percent seems to be the going rate, across the board for everyone on this post. Wow.

    @Natalie at FL Home Blog Wow! I cannot image JUST making barely enough to cover taxes with a few bucks left over. I’m very much seeing tipping in a new light. But I can’t help but wonder how the service industry gets away with paying their staff next to nothing. Perhaps the US differs from wage rules in Canada.

    @Budgets are Sexy Based on commenter’s suggestions, it sounds like a 20 percent tip (across on the board on everything) seems like an excellent rule.

  35. Kerry November 20th, 2008

    @Bonnie Lucky you having a boyfriend who styles hair. :D

    @guinness416 I’ve always perceived tips as something earned, rather than billed. So to have a restaurant bill me a percentage of my meal as a tip does irk me. I feel this defeats the purpose of tipping based on “good service” and someone earning an awesome tip.

  36. Carla November 20th, 2008

    @Fox – yes, 20% is standard with us. I briefly worked in a restaurant when I was high school (hostess) and saw what the servers had to go through. That totally changed my perspective.

    Even my soon to be father in law who can be outright mean to the servers (his excuse is that he is in this 80s), tips sometimes 30%. That’s 30% on a sometimes $400 tab when the five of us go out. I guess he figured they earned it putting up with him!

  37. Kerry November 20th, 2008

    @Carla OK, I am sooo looking at tipping in a new way…regardless if I live in a small town. 20-30 percent! Wow.

  38. guinness416 November 20th, 2008

    Fox – what Natalie is referring to is the exception to minimum wage for tipping jobs in many US states. When I waited and bartended in the states, I can remember (very clearly!) that my wage was $2.13 an hour. I’m sure it’s higher now. And on a really slow night, it’s just about all you made. Ontario is definitely different, although my husband’s wages for his weekend bartending job still suck like you wouldn’t believe.

    I guess I’m not getting the small town reference. I mean 20% isn’t convention in every household, of course, nor should it be but if the wages are lower where one lives surely the restaurant prices are too? Tips are just a cost of going out to me, so if I’m stony broke at the end of the month, I just eat somewhere cheaper rather than cut the tip. Or skip the food and go straight for the booze ;)

  39. Carla November 20th, 2008

    @Fox – Though I’m in the SF Bay Area and my in-laws are in the NYC/NJ area, I’m not sure if its limited to big cities. My FIL can be a REAL pain in the butt so the servers have definitely earned their tips. I agree with guinness416, if I cant afford to tip, I don’t go out. We factor the tax and tip before we go out. If we couldnt tip, we don’t dine out.

  40. Kerry November 20th, 2008

    @guinness416 @Carla In small agricultural communities there are very few restaurants. :) People here seem to value the price of hay and feed and bartering for exchange in some services. Hailing from Toronto, this has been a big change. Hope this makes sense. But I do see regional differences in tipping practices.

  41. jatt November 20th, 2008

    I just found this blog, had really good tips inside it.
    Answering the question, yes i do tip.But, it depends on m y pocket money.

  42. Mélanie November 20th, 2008

    As a former waitress, I can say that in Canada, servers do get minimum wage, and the tax deductions are normally based on income, not sales. More and more restaurants are adding credit and debit card tips directly to the paycheque instead of paying out at the end of the night to please the taxman and reduce their chance of audit.

    Either way, servers in Canada don’t have it quite so bad as in most states. I think that’s why Americans tip so well. We loved seeing American tourists at the restaurant where I worked because they usually tipped 20% as opposed to the 15% we would normally get from Canadians.

  43. Bonnie November 21st, 2008

    Good point, Melanie.

    What about European tipping practices? The last time I was in Europe I tipped as usual, but my guidebook said that it’s unnecessary and sometimes insulting to the servers there…any thoughts?

  44. Carla November 21st, 2008

    @Bonnie – From what I understand, the “tip” is included in the bill. Not a tip per se but they actually get paid a living wage. I’m not sure about it being insulting though. Anyone else?

  45. Mehani November 22nd, 2008

    Twenty some odd years ago my ex husband left me with the house, our son, the car, and all the bills so I worked a second job waiting tables and tending bar at this combination sports bar/movie theater that also served food. I worked it out so I paid my babysitters with large pizzas and did this for a couple years.

    Servers had to claim 8% of their sales for income tax purposes, so if you got stiffed not only did you lose money because you still had to give a portion of your tips to the bartender and the busboy, but you still had to claim earnings you didn’t make. It sort of evens out in the long run though.

    There is one restaurant practice I abhor. Any time a server collects the check for you rather than when you walk up and pay a cashier, the server is carrying what’s called their *bank* and at the end of the night, you turn in your bank and get to keep whatever is left as tips.

    If a customer walks out without paying their check, and it happens often, the server has to cover the money, since it’s not there in the *bank* when it’s time to cash out. Our restaurant allowed one free walkout, so we’d cover the smaller ones so that if a $50 check walked out the door it wouldn’t be so painful. I chased a couple people down in the parking lot because I didn’t want to spend my entire shift trying to make up for having to cover their bill.

  46. rjleaman November 22nd, 2008

    I’m a pretty conventional 15% tipper by default in restaurants, but do tend to over-tip ridiculously when I meet up with good service. But tipping for takeout? I’m not sure about that. If my bottom hasn’t hit a chair in the place, does it count as a tippable service?

  47. mgm November 23rd, 2008

    All those carry out orders? You know the one you mentioned in your article that you didn’t feel deserved a tip for “3 minutes” work? Well the total of that bill is considered by the IRS as revenue and the IRS sets percentages(10% of sales) as what that person(who rang up your order) has to be taxed on. In one place I worked, at the end of the year they allocated tips. They took all the carry out revenue and divided it among the servers who had to pay taxes on that money that they were never tipped on.
    Bad service? Yes, it happens. But what do you consider bad service. I have had customers claim bad service because they wanted to order food we didn’t have. (I work in fine dining…..the three ladies wanted sandwiches and our menu at no time offers sandwiches…we don’t even have bread in house). Don’t claim bad service when you expect something the place doesn’t offer.
    If you can’t afford a tip, then order less or stay home.

  48. Kerry November 23rd, 2008

    @mgm As Mélanie points out above, the salaries and taxes in Canada are far different than those in the US.

    @rjleaman I guess it depends on your bottom. ;)

    @Mehani I’m happy to better understand the regional differences between Canada and US now when it comes to tipping. I had no idea servers had to claim 8% of sales, whether they get tipped or not. I only travel to the US every few years, but it’s good to know tipping practices in the US.

    @Mélanie Thank you so much for explaining the server wage and tip differences in Canada and the US. Very eye-opening and educational for those who travel. Your comment also explains why many US commenters tip more, and other nationalities see tipping with different importance.

  49. Kate@LivingTheFrugalLife November 23rd, 2008

    I rarely tip, just because I rarely patronize businesses where tipping is normal. When I do eat out, I tip 15% for normal to good service, 20% if the service was noticeably better than average, and 10% if it is noticeably worse than average. I once left a 5% tip for the worst service I’ve ever had. It was one of those situations where I would have liked to have left no tip at all. It was just that bad. I left something so that it was clear I hadn’t “forgotten” the tip, or that I was one of those people who don’t tip on principle. I wanted the small tip to be a clear message.

    I don’t understand why the normal tip is now creeping up from 15-20%. As restaurant food gets more expensive the tips should naturally get bigger. Why the percentage should increase is a mystery to me.

    I was once told that the standard custom is *never* to tip someone who is self-employed. Only employees are supposed to be tipped. But I’ve never been able to follow that one up.

  50. 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.

  51. 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.

  52. 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%).

  53. 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.

  54. 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!

  55. 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!

  56. 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.

  57. 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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