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Sep 27, 2006 05:57 PM

Yet another tipping question - maybe from a different angle

Here's a tipping question from another angle. You're on a business trip and can pay for a meal up to (or something approximating Seamlessweb for delivery), say, $100(inc. tax and tip). This is a pretty hard ceiling (accounting will chew you out if you hit $101).

How much can one in good faith spend on food, before tax and tip? For some reason, this feels different me than the question of "how much to tip on a bill of $x."

Bear in mind that quality of service has no bearing here, because your total payment probably set from the moment you order. Under no circumstances can you go above $100.

For reference, about $83 plus 20% is $100, $86 for 15, and $80 for 25.

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  1. I'd tip what I wanted and if it went above $100, I'd pay out of my pocket.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Janet from Richmond

      Agreed. Don't fret about it or let it affect your ordering. if you want something and you hit your $100 ceiling, pay the remainder out of pocket.

      1. re: ESNY

        Agreed. I usually split the check between myself and the company when dining on business so I can enjoy the wine and food I'd like. Especially in a city where I want to hit somewhere new. I think about it as getting a great bargain on good chow.

    2. If you're going to tip 15%, and the tax is 8.5%, you can spend $80. If you spend $80, tax and tip will bring the bill to $100.

      I don't see the difference.

      1. Agreed. Why would _your_ expense limit have any logical bearing on the customary tip a server is "entitled" to expect? Would you expect them to excuse $3 of tax if your bill came to $95? If you're not willing to cover an overage, it's no different than walking into a restaurant with a $100 bill in your pocket.

        1. Maybe I was putting it the wrong way with the expense account thing. Just trying to see if one can work backwards to a tip, as opposed to forwards.

          Try this. You've got a $100 bill, they don't take credit cards, and no ATM is nearby. How much can you spend?

          1. The only way you can do it is if you always tip the same percentage regardless of the level of service, which doesn't make sense to me. If your order + usual tip = $100 and you get extraordinary service, it would be unfair to not leave more cash, even if that means going over your limit. So, either keep your order low or be prepared to pay at least part of the tip out of your pocket. Whatever you do, don't penalize your servers because of some arbitrary expense cap. At least not without telling them in advance!

            2 Replies
            1. re: Grubbjunkie

              If you've got a fixed $100 limit that you must not exceed for whatever reason, it seems to me that you should back into the number figuring on leaving a full 20% tip and paying the tax. You can choose to tip less than 20% if the service is merely sufficient, mediocre, or bad. If you consume so much food that you rule out the possibility of appropriately tipping a very good server I think you commit a breach of ettiquette and good sense.

              Even reading this scenario made me a bit squirmy because the idea of calculating a restaurant expenditure this closely makes me just plain uncomfortable. In this hypothetical, it seems to me that it makes far more sense to allow yourself a substantial cushion for miscalculation or the event that you want to leave a very good tip. Choose a restaurant where you know you can eat well without pushing the envelope and enjoy yourself without worrying about spending every nickel of the allocation. I would be far happier enjoying some excellent pizza than I would worrying about squeaking in just under a spending limit.

              1. re: Kater

                I must agree; it makes me squirmy as well. Since it is ridiculously complicated to try to figure out tax (a fixed amount, but differing from place to place) and tip (maybe fixed, maybe not, depending on your philosophy) beforehand, it would be best to lower your sights to a cheaper restaurant where you know you can afford to eat and tip and pay the tax, and spare yourself the worry. Of course, for those of us who aren't in a position to walk into a restaurant and pay whatever we might wind up spending (due to financial constraints or simple incompetence at estimating), perhaps we shouldn't be eating out at all. (That sounds a bit odd, as though eating out is not for those who need to budget - can that be right?) Eating out should be relaxing, and if we have to be able to calculate what we will wind up spending, we shouldn't even try to "squeak in" under a limit - we may make a mistake, and at the very least, we will feel tense. Pizza is good.