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When I am treated for dinner, I offer to leave a tip and my tip exceeds price of my dinner.

Has this ever happened to you? I knew beforehand that I was being taken out by a couple of acquaintances for dinner. I had done them a small favor but wasn't expecting anything. Still they said it was their treat and they wanted to try a restaurant they had heard about.

Everything was cool until the bill came and George looked at the bill and took out his credit card to pay. "Could I leave the tip?" I asked. George said okay. The bill was about $200 since my two friends were heavy cocktail drinkers so my tip was $40 and exceeded what I ate and drank.

This has happened to me on about three other occasions in the past. Am I wrong in asking if I should leave a tip if I'm supposedly being treated? I thought it was just polite to ask so as not to 'assume' everything is being taken care of. When I treat anyone I never let them pay for anything. Am I overly generous? Thanks for any insight.

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  1. Just like you....When I pick up a tab I don't want anyone pitching in for anything. I think your wrong in asking to leave the tip. Then to question your own judgemnet, and asking for others advise. If your overly generous, there are other ways to settle the score. I sometime will send a gift basket the next day to whoever picked up the check, or bring a nice bottle of wine or a dozen golf balls to them to say thanks.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Infomaniac

      the OP didn't need to send a gift next day, her aquaintances were taking her out as a thank you already otherwise there is a round robin of thank yous!

      I would agree that the OP did not need to offer to leave the tip, I sure don't mind doing it on a $15 for 2 breakfast but if someone is treating you then that includes the tip!

    2. Thanks for your comments. In the future, I probably won't offer to leave the tip if I'm being treated.

      In this particular situation, this couple were picking up the check to 'settle a score' (as you put it) for a favor I'd done them so I wouldn't have sent anything afterwards. It's like me thanking them for them thanking me. Kinda of gets complicated for what should be a simple situation.

      I will take your advice and not offer to leave a tip next time and just sit back. Now I understand why women seem to need to go to the powder room when the check arrives. They are the wiser sex I suppose! ;)

      1. In this case you probably weren't wrong because they accepted your offer. They probably did not realize that their acceptance negated them treating you.

        Were you expecting them to say no to your offer? These social rituals are different for everyone as you have found out. I would just keep doing what makes you comfortable & happy.

        1. I agree about woman being wiser....most woman I know go to the powder room before the check arrives.

          A situation that happeneds to me frequently when eating out at a friends resturant. My friend who owns the place picks up the check for me almost everytime I visit. Not a big deal, usually no more than $30 to $40 for me and my daughter when we go. I never know what to tip the waitress, so I usually leave close to what ever the bill comes to as the tip.

          6 Replies
          1. re: Infomaniac

            Infomaniac, that is awesome! I am frequently in the same situation, with the owner/manager of a restaurant comping a meal. But that always screws the waitstaff, who were probably extra attentive if they knew I was a "VIP." Leaving a tip close to the total of the bill is a classy gesture to the waitstaff that you appreciate their service as much as the comped meal. A tip of my hat to you, sir!

            1. re: Non Cognomina

              Do you mean that you tip based on what the meal would have cost, or that your tip is equal to what the meal would have cost?

              I think the first is pretty typical. The second seems a little excessive to me. The owner wants to comp you a meal. By giving the entire cost of the meal to the waitstaff, you are undoing his/her jesture. Let someone do something nice for you.

              1. re: Darren72

                I disagree that leaving a generous tip "undoes" the "jesture" [sic] of having my meal comped. If I eat a meal worth $50 that I would have left a $10 tip for, and end up leaving a $40 tip when comped a meal, I'm still "saving" $20, or 33% of the total cost. Still a deal for me, and it makes my servers day!

                1. re: Non Cognomina

                  Sure, that's an in between example of the two extremes I outlined. I was making the point that it doesn't make sense to me to leave a $50 or $60 tip in that situation, that's all. Sure, we all leave a generous tip when we're comp'ed a meal.

                  1. re: Non Cognomina

                    On the other end of the spectrum, I have dropped $500 tips when comped meals at Le Bernardin and per se.

                    1. re: Non Cognomina

                      As a server, THANK YOU. THANK YOU. THANK YOU.

              2. These acquaintances were reciprocating. In their judgement, a dinner at this restaurant was proportionate to your favor. The cost of dinner in a restaurant includes the tip. Why would you even think of offering to leave it?

                1. This might be the most salient flaw of offering to do something for the sake of "politeness" that we don't genuinely desire to do: people might take us up on it.

                  If we insist on making a pro-forma offer to do something for which we cannot muster enough enthusiasm to let go of the financial scoreboard, let's not kid ourselves that our hosts won't pick up on that vibe.

                  If we want to thank a person for a gracious gesture, a heartfelt and genuine "thank you" is a thousand times more effective.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: KTFoley

                    I think you're completely correct. When the guest offered to pay the tip, she did not expect her hosts to agree. But they did. In that instance, leave the tip and forget the calculations, remembering that it wasn't a good idea to offer.

                    I did notice that the original post indicates that this has happened more than once presumably not with the same group. I wonder if the hosts simply are not doing the mathematics to realize that the guest is paying quite a lot when they accept this particular offer. It's not an offer I've heard before, though I have treated people who offered to pay for pre-dinner drinks or have stepped away and arranged to send a bottle of wine to the table. While I would never agree to this tip proposal I have not sent the wine away, and I've used the same trick to contribute when someone has treated us.

                    Given the most recent result, as well as a few previous bad experiences the resolution seems simple; do not offer to pay the tip. If there is not an opportunity to privately arrange a small contribution to the dinner, like a round of drinks, then simply accept the treat and graciously thank your host!

                  2. I don't think you were wrong to ask. In the same situation, I would too. It feels like the polite thing to do, and I'm slightly uncomfortable with the whole being treated scenario anyhow. I do think it was wrong of your host to accept, though. Like someone else said, if I'm treating, I'm treating. I wouldn't dream of letting my "treat-ee" pay for anything.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Kagey

                      I agree, I would have offered to pay the tip as well...have done so in the past and was never taken up on it, except once and it was not a special occasion or a thank you and it was lunch.

                      In the reverse, I would never take anyone up on the tip thing...If I was treating , I was treating.

                    2. I've been in this situation too, and the frustrating thing for me is that then it's left as the other person treated and I "just got the tip" so I feel like I need to do something nice to balance the score.

                      1. Thanks to Kagey and the last fews replies to my post. I feel it balances out this thread a bit more.

                        I want to clarify the situation a bit more to maybe shed a little light on how this tipping situation came about. When I go out with my buddies and someone picks up the check, one or more of us offers to leave a tip. I was also raised this way and my parents also taught me to always offer to bring something to someone's house when invited to a party or dinner. This topic has come up here before. Some people say no that it's not necessary to do so. Well, that's how I was taught in Hell's Kitchen New York.

                        Tipping in general seems to be a very fluid practice and money is a personal quirky topic with people. Some people seem to know just what to do in any situation and they're the ones who write the how-to books. And the guys like me write to Chowhound and hope for nice responses from other hounds like you. Thanks :)

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Flynn1

                          I agree--you were taught to be polite and responded with kindness and consideration. Not everyone has your level of manners/consideration--kudos to you (and a SERIOUS boo to your "hosts").

                          1. re: Funwithfood

                            See, this is why the "this is how I was raised" defense always leaves a bad taste in my mouth. It implies that anyone who adheres to a different convention was raised poorly.

                            Frankly, I find it a lot more rude to offer something in the hopes that the offer will be declined (and clearly be a bit put out when that's not the case) than it is to not offer in the first place.

                        2. If you are gracious enough to offer to pay the gratuity, you should do so with grace. If you are concerned about the amount, don't offer. It should not come as a surprise, as you saw the menu and observed what was ordered.

                          As far as being raised polite, IMHO, it would be impolite to refuse a kind gesture like the offer to pay 20% of the total tab. If I offer to pick up the tab, and when I do so I expect to pay the gratuity, I hope that my generousity it graciously accepted.

                          1. Only offer if you really mean it. Seems to me you don't and that you resent being under any type of obligation.

                            As for comps, do tip out generously. That way you stay VIP to everyone, not just your friend the owner. There is a staff who don't care who you know and are providing services. And next time you are in this situation, take time to see who's doing all the running to make your table happy while the owner chats you up.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: TheDexter

                              "Only offer if you really mean it. Seems to me you don't and that you resent being under any type of obligation."

                              I really take exception to your comment. I wouldn't have offered to leave a tip if I hadn't meant it. Unfortunately, I hadn't seen the check beforehand and didn't realize their liquor bill exceeded the burgers and sides. I've learned my lesson on this one.

                              This reminds me a little of the old joke about the argument that everybody wants to lose: where everybody rushes to pay the check:
                              "Oh I'll get this one"
                              "No I'll get this one.
                              "Let me pay for this one."

                              Each person hoping to lose the argument. Well, I guess one of them really means it. ;)

                              1. re: Flynn1

                                Way to solve it: Say "I'd like to put $10 (or whatever amount) *toward* the tip."

                                1. re: Flynn1

                                  With all due respect, I don't think we can really provide any additional advice after the fact. You "learned your lesson" and I think the main point here is that one should take into consideration things may be more expensive than they first appear. What did you expect to happen with the bill when they were drinking that much?
                                  It reminds me of my complaint the other day after leaving whole foods. "I just spent $9 on grapes?" My bff responds "you saw the price when you bought them, didn't you?" yes, i did, but was still surprised and felt ripped off. I hadn't calculated the cost in my head and was suprised. However, I can't really complain about it, can I, after having paid and seen the cost beforehand.

                              2. I do this kind of thing, also. I would say, if there's no big obligation and your friend wants to pick up the check, offer the tip. If there's an obligation (you are being taken out to repay a favor), don't offer; just give effusive thanks for the meal- they probably expected to pay for everything but are taking your tip offer for your comfort.
                                I know how you feel, though. Been there, done that, am sure will do it again. Maybe I should check my own advice any time I go out with friends...

                                1. Fara, yes, of course, I've gotten the insight I was hoping for by posting this topic. However, I also believe by my posting that other hounds get something out of my experience. Others told me how they handled something similar or how they would not in the future based on being 'burnt' whether purposely or not. Tipping, splitting checks, and the like seems to be such a universal topic once we leave our homes and safety zones.

                                  I got a kick out of your Whole Foods grape story. They don't nickname that place "whole paycheck" for nothing! I'm sure the grapes weren't $9.00 a pound so you must have picked up a hefty bunch. Hope they were tasty.

                                  1. They offered to treat the OP for dinner, why offer to pay the tip? And if you are going to offer, then why bitch that it was more than you ate? The problem is you let the acquaintances eat and drink more than 4 times what you did!

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: observor

                                      Agreed. I'd only offer to pay the tip if I thought it'd be a fair deal in my mind financially (meaning I wouldn't walk away resentful).

                                    2. if you don't want to end up in this situation, don't offer to do things like pay the tip. If you offer, there's no impoliteness in the other party accepting, and you're kinda stuck with the hand you're dealt.

                                      You shouldn't have felt at all obligated to offer, but once you did - well, now it's all on you.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: jgg13

                                        indeed and then we get posts on offering to bring something to a party and get saddled with jello shots, desserts, or sides for 100!! Many of us need to learn to keep our mouths shut, I am finally learning in my mid 50s, don't offer just bring a hostess gift.

                                      2. I've been in this situation numerous time, and I've basically nailed it down to this:

                                        As the person being treated: I no longer offer to leave a tip.
                                        As the person doing the treating: don't take up on your guest's offer to tip.