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Sep 26, 2006 10:45 PM

Tipping: Settle this for me once and for all PLEASE it still 15% or is it de rigeur nowadays to tip 20% as a standard base tip?

I grew up thinking that 15% was the proper tip and have always tipped such for a perfectly "average" dinner service. More and more often, I am encountering in the media that 20% seems to be the minimum tip as long as nothing disastrous happens during your meal.

I've tipped 20% often for great service and don't mind doing so, but I see it as excessive as a general baseline to work with.

So, am I being a cheapskate or is this a case of restaurant workers trying to make something real by repeating it often enough?

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  1. If you do a search on this board you will find perhaps 10+ hours of reading on this subject. The opinions vary widely, but there IS a significant base that feels 20% is the "new 15%". Some of it seems to depend on how up-scale the restaurant is, though I personally don't see how that matters, other than that those dining upscale may be able to afford more.

    If the posters here have not had too much of this subject recently you should get a lot of opinions on this.

    1. I always tip 20%. But in all my restaurant-going years in Manhattan, I'ved never encountered bad service. (It also ensures that if you happen to inadvertently leave your eyeglasses on the table or your briefcase by your seat, your server will make an effort to return them.)

      1. One of the only things Zagat is useful for is info on average, local tipping practices. You don't actually have to buy one, just drop by a book store and read the first page of the guide. It's a pretty good indication of what the average person, in your area, who eats out often, tips. In the SF Bay Area it's somewhere between 17% and 18%. Personally, I usually tip %20 but I don't have a family to support.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Morton the Mousse

          The reason the Bay Area is 17% or 18%, we all double the local sales tax. No math involved.

          1. re: Janet

            And because those servers make minimum wage.

        2. You're in New York, which has the same tax rate as Los Angeles; double the tax, then round up to the next dollar for good service and down to the next dollar for mediocre service. (If you have bad service, you shouldn't tip nearly that much, and you should talk to the manager so the message that comes through is "your service sucked", not "I'm a [censored]ing cheapskate".)

          1 Reply
          1. re: Das Ubergeek

            The talk-to-the-manager thing sounds good in theory, but in my experience there is a vast nether region between fair-to-good service and talk-to-the-manager-bad service. I admit to being non-confrontational to a fault, but still -- probably 90 percent of my bad-service experiences would have sounded like whine-whine-whine if laid out as a complaint to a manager.

          2. 15% is an average tip, 20% is an above-average tip for above-average service.

            I suspect that any time the subject comes up online, all the waiters and their friends chime in with "at least 20%, you cheapskate!"

            1 Reply
            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              I'm a waiter, and I don't fault you for that!

              I write this a lot on these boards, but I really enjoy my job.

              If someone leaves me less than 20% I don't really care, I just work for the next table and the just goes. Sure, I could live in an ideal world where that happens, but I don't and I don't mind my job so I do it.

              Now, leave me ten percent and I'm shitty. That means I'm paying some extra taxes on my sales and not making the income to pay it...