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When you leave a small tip...


Do you wonder if the waitstaff will remember you the next time you come in? My husband and I pretty much always tip 20% and hardly ever have service that we consider bad. We went to breakfast this weekend at a place we'd never been before, it's pretty casual, our bill was $24.00. My husgand had coffee and I only had water to drink and the waitress never refilled my glass despite coming by twice and saying she'd get me more water. My husband finally took our glasses to the area that had the water pitchers and refilled them. I was planning on leaving 15% but my husdand left 10%. The food was really good so I'm sure we'll be back, but I wonder if she'll remember us as the people that left the poor tip. So if you leave a small tip and don't talk to a manager about the service, do you wonder if you'll be remembered the next time you go to that restaurant?

  1. Hello.. Can you clarify: are you saying that the non-refills on your water were the determining factor in your (initial) inclination to subtract 5% and your husband's (eventual) decision to subtract 10% of the tip? If so, that seems unduly harsh; that would mean that you each left approximately $1.20 tip on your respective breakfasts, at a place where you actually enjoyed the food... And to answer your question, yes, I would guess that waitstaff (who need excellent memories to familiarize themselves with menus, orders, prices, etc) remember undue parsimony in their customers....

    15 Replies
    1. re: silence9

      Hang on a sec...a tip should reflect your satisfaction with the SERVICE, not the food.

      1. re: ricepad

        Hi... Quite right. But service (good or bad) most assuredly has great impact and effect on my enjoyment of the food, does it not? A waitperson who lets my piping hot lobster bisque sit to grow a surface 'skin' and grow tepid or cold on the service counter, eventually brings to my table a soup that I do not enjoy. How does one distinguish a 'fallen' souffle as being the fault of the chef vs. an inattentive or indelicate waitperson who manhandles my fragile dessert between oven and table? My dessert is ruined; to whom should the blame be parcelled or parsed, and how should I as the customer/consumer know how to go about assigning it? I just wanted hot soup or a fluffy souffle...

        1. re: silence9

          For the record - bisque is cream-based & should never be served "piping hot".

          1. re: finewineserver

            For the record - bisque is a soup, classically shellfish, thickened with rice. And all soups should be served piping hot, regardless of their dairy content, unless the chef is a hack!

              1. re: Cheffytown

                I don't like anything served to me piping hot. Then I'm just waiting for it to cool down so I can actually taste it.

                1. re: therealbigtasty

                  yes, but obviously you can wait for it to reach your temp, while
                  somebody who gets it cooler than they want, cant do much ...
                  or would have to make a major fuss. so it seems pretty clear
                  on they should err on the piping side.

                  same for salt and spice, although spice is a little harder call.

            1. re: silence9

              Most restaurants have runners that bring the food from the kitchen. You cannot blame a server for those types of issues. If you feel you are waiting too long for something, flag your server down (politely) and ask if s/he would please check in the kitchen.
              Servers do have some power speeding things along.

              1. re: momof3

                A slight difference of opinion. The server is responsible and if there are runeers the server should check or arrive simultaneously with the runner and the food. It's his/her table, not the runner's.

                1. re: jfood

                  I don't disagree with that at all jfood, as a server I do this as much as possible, but not always possible.

                2. re: momof3

                  I agree, however most restaurants have a policy that the servers share a percentage of their tips with runners, busboys, etc. since they are essentially "assisting" the server. Because of this, my personal opinion is that you need to hold everyone accountable when considering how much tip to leave. Having said all that, I typically never leave less than 15-20%, as it's very rare to recieve truly bad service. I also take into account how busy the restaurant is and how hard my server is working. If they're honestly trying to give good service but are running around and can't keep up, then I tend to have more tolerance. If they're standing around chatting...well, you get the idea.

                  1. re: wicked noodle

                    I don't see why one should be tolerant of bad service just because they are busy. What they lose in lower tip they gain back from all that volume.

                    1. re: Leonardo

                      I certainly didn't mean to imply that I'm tolerant of bad service just because they are busy. The point was that I'm LESS tolerant if it's because they're standing around vs. running around and at least attempting to accomodate their customers. It's my opinion that there is a difference. I tip less if I receive bad service, but even less than that if it's because they blatantly could care less.

                      1. re: Leonardo

                        Well, I disagree with you, Leonardo. I am much more empathetic of a wait person who is running around like a maniac and doing his or her best under crummy circumstances. If the restaurant is short-staffed it's management's fault, not the waiter's. Back in my distant youth when I waited tables, I remember one night that the restaurant was woefully understaffed and we had a rush all at once. I was running around like a track star, but still unable to handle my tables per my usual standards. Many years later, when I see the same situation happening, I don't short-change the waitstaff but do give the manager my thoughts on the issue. I believe under such circumstances a guest deserves a discount off the check, but should tip the waitstaff the usual amount if they were truly trying their best.

                        When service is below my standards, and it's a waitstaff issue, I tend to tip 15%, and my husband tends to tip 10%. I think 10% is too low (unless the waiter is truly, truly awful), a point my DH and I sometimes argue about. If I'm concerned he's about to short-change a waiter, I try to get the check before he does!

                3. re: ricepad

                  Exactly. You aren't tipping the cooks. you are tipping the waitstaff. You can tell that S9 is a waitor/waitress. As the client you shouldnt be expected to have to do anything, esp. get up and get your own water. That spells out poor service. And I would assume the person who waited on you will remember you next time, but hopefully took her 10% tip as a lesson. That is def. an experience ruiner, poor service.

              2. I can not sweat the small stuff. If the first 10% was justified I would have told the manager on the way out. If you did not want to play hall monitor and want to go back, by all means go.

                If you are concerned, tell the manager on the way in that you prefer not to be seated in XX section. I am sure they will comply. If you have the same waitress and she does not step up and do a good job the second time, you should leave her what you feel is appropriate and absolutely tell the manager the second time was as bad as the first.

                1. No, that wasn't the only reason, just the most annoying. The service was slow and the waitress was not very professional. She did a lot of leaning on our table and acted kind of scatterbrained. I was just annoyed that she said twice she would get the water pitcher and then didn't come back.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Boychucker

                    Well, if she couldn't remember the water, maybe she won't remember you, either! Hopefully you'll get another server next time.

                  2. To answer your question, I wouldn't expect the server to remember you after one visit, but servers DO remember repeat customers and their tipping habits.

                    1. I very rarely leave a bad tip, and only for very bad service. In those cases, I'd expect (probably wrongly) that the server would remember me, and I wouldn't plan on going back to that restaurant. Plenty of other restaurants without bad service/bad blood to go to.

                      1. I don't really care if they remember me or not, if i'm leaving a small tip (for whatever reason) I leave a small tip and don't sweat it.

                        If they do remember and again give bad service they will again get a poor tip, I'm tipping on the service they provide, if they don't do a good job it is up to them to step up a gear and ensure they get a good tip.

                        If you are any good at your job and have a certain level of self worth you would do the same quality of job for everyone regardless of if they tip well or not.

                        1. The funny thing is, servers almost always DO remember bad tippers. And it's often just a difference of a couple of bucks. If disappointed in the service but not so upset that I talk to a manager, I leave 15% if I want to go back. That way I'm average and not labelled as a 'bad tipper,' which will definitely guarantee bad service the next time. If the service is bad enough to cut the tip in half, you should talk to a manager.

                          42 Replies
                          1. re: mojoeater

                            One of the few reasons I like Open Table is that we can keep records of guests habits. Bad tippers are always noted---unless---they have spoken to me about the issues (if they havn't spoken to me, I won't know why they tipped poorly). If they had a bad time, I make note of that so that we can take extra care on their next visit to insure it doesn't happen again which over rides any tipping situation. We also make note of the customers who tip well and believe me, the staff make sure everything goes well for them on every visit.

                            As for the waitress you mention, I doubt she holds the job for long so I wouldn't sweat it, but........to insure you aren't labeled a poor customer, always relate your complaints to the manager.

                            1. re: Le Den

                              It seems like very poor policy to note clients as bad tippers when you don't know why they "tipped poorly". So the next time they come in, the server had an expectation of a poor tip, gives less attentive service, recieves poor tip. A self-fulfilling prophecy that could be avoided without presumptuous labelling.

                              1. re: babette feasts

                                How about a server who pegs you as a "poor tipper", as happened to us at an IHOP during the Senior half price Early Bird 2 fer 1 special. He asked us, "You'll leave me a tip, won't you>"
                                The {NERVE!} I should have asked for the manager and gotten a different server, but I wimped.

                                1. re: Anonimo

                                  That guy should have been fired on the spot!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                  I don't care if 99% of the people who order the early bird special don't tip you NEVER NEVER NEVER say those words aloud. I can pretty much put money on the fact that the server didn't last much longer.

                                  1. re: kimmer1850

                                    At IHOP ? I bet he will be the GM within 6 months (or when he turns 18, whichever comes first)

                              2. re: Le Den

                                I agree with Babette - that sounds like a very poor policy. No doubt it happens in other places as well. It's one thing to keep running tabs on good tippers, but also the bad ones?

                                1. re: Le Den


                                  Couple of questions:
                                  - At what point does a tipper go from normal to "bad"? is it less than 20? less than 15? less than 10?
                                  - Likewise the other way, at what point do the wait staff start to fall over themselves?
                                  - Why do you assume that unless the custo tells you about the service it is considered a "bad" tip. Do you give the custo the benefit of the doubt that maybe the wait staff may have not had their A-game?
                                  - Why do you tell the staff that the custo at table 22 gave a "bad" tip or a "great" tip the last time they ate at the resto. Wouldn't you want the wait staff to bring their A-game to every table? Seems to me that you are setting the "bad" tipper up for the same tip level and therefore may wrongly blame the custo versus the staff. Why not tell the wait staff that the custo had a bad experience last time (whether true or not) and see if the second trip can produce a better tip. It would be a win-win-win, the custo is happier, the resto may have turned a "I ain't going back" to a regular and the staff may get a good tip for performing.


                                  1. re: jfood

                                    Good questions.

                                    A bad tipper is labeled such when there was no indication that anything was amiss. No food complaints, interaction at the table by staff and management met with compliments and assurances that everything was wonderful and at the end 12% or less left taking into consideration wine cost (I think you should tip on the total of the check, but there are those who don't so this is considered--although if this is the case, that may be noted). Or the opposite. Constant demands, unreasonable demands, rudeness, rudeness to other diners, or serial bad tippers (repeat customers who tip badly).

                                    There is constant monitoring of all tables and no one is marked a bad tipper if there is room for doubt. I usually poll the hostesses and coat check to see if the guest complained to them about anything if we have no indication. A "bad tipper" report is not something that is taken lightly.

                                    But again, not everything can be watched so things may slip past myself or my management team. If there is a problem, the guest should speak up. Especially if you want to return and enjoyed all the other aspects of your meal.

                                    Back to the OP, I feel they had a legitimate complaint, but should have spoken to the manager. It would appear the waitress should have been pulled off the floor.

                                    1. re: Le Den

                                      I don't think that a tip should have anything to do with the food. It is about how the server handled the situation at hand. Whether it be and over cookd steak, or needing your water to be filled. Its how they handle your disatisfaction, and how they make you feel like a valued customer again.

                                      1. re: rookcook1

                                        The tip shouldn't have any reflection on the food, but that is often the case so we take it into consideration when looking at a poor tip.

                                        1. re: Le Den

                                          A good server, deserving of a good tip, should know when the food is not prepared correctly and tell the manager. It is then the manager duty to correct the situation to please the customer.

                                          1. re: RoyalArcher

                                            Could you be more specific? I could see how a server would be able to see if certain things are missing from a dish, or if it looks wrong in some way, but how would the server know if a steak is overcooked, or a sauce is too salty? If a guest has a problem the server should certainly take all steps to fix it right away, but how is a server to know when the food is prepared incorrectly (unless the guest tells him or her)?

                                            1. re: RoyalArcher

                                              I would venture to say that a good server, deserving of a good tip will be mindful of visually checking dishes for completeness (i.e. sauces that should be on the food, appropriate garnishes, all ordered foods and condiments present), but short of probing your steak with a finger tip and popping it into his or her mouth, I can't see how they could be responsible for the integrity of the food on the plate.

                                              Now, if they are not timely in picking up prepared dishes and bringing them to the table as soon as they are ready, that is another issue and completely the responsibility of the server.

                                    2. re: Le Den

                                      Le Den...

                                      ...I’m curious about something. You say you have a system for keeping track of bad tippers. Does that system also keep track of who is receiving those bad tips? If there is a server who frequently gets smaller tips then his or her colleagues, then perhaps it’s not the tippers that are “bad”....

                                      I’m not asking this to be a wise guy... I’ve worked in a lot of restaurants, but always in the kitchen. The front of the house has always been a mystery to me.

                                      1. re: Uncle Ira

                                        Every night, all credit slips are checked and a data report of tip percentage is registered (cash and credit card). We check for a number of issues including incorrect addition, missed signatures, theft (its a pool house). Some of this is done by the wait staff themselves (self policing), but mostly by management. We also have to report all tip income to the IRS.

                                        During service, if a server gets a particularly bad tip, they come to myself or one of my team to explain (they're English, they're from (name a state outside the pale) etc., he wanted something the chef wouldn't do, or I have no idea--everything went well.). We usually know in advance many of the guests to expect this from (its called profiling and it does exist everywhere--the difference is when you give the customer the benefit of the doubt and let them pleasantly surprise you rather than show themselves to fit a pattern) as well as those regulars who always undertip, but are otherwise good customers. If something seems totally out of line or irrational, I may ask if anything was wrong. If there was a problem, I want to know what it was so I can take action.

                                        At the same time, contract meals where the tip is built in is taken into consideration as well as when those guests add grat on top of the contracted amount--which happens often so an unusually high tip percentage doesn't mean they are free and easy.

                                        Currently, my staff average 20% across the board. Any staff member falling under that (18% or lower) is under scrutiny and if consistently under, we have a little talk.

                                        Every waiter and every restaurant have nights where the tips are lower for whatever reason. An off night, is an off night (within reason), but continual issues need to be addressed.

                                        1. re: Le Den

                                          Mr Le Den:
                                          I found your posting on "Tipenomics" interesting. I'd be quite
                                          fascinated to hear more about how you "profile" if you are inclined to
                                          discuss it (although any reticence there, would be easy to understand).
                                          Any other economic-type observations would be of interest as well ...
                                          is there a seasonal variation in tips ... people feeling poorer after the
                                          holidays or tax day etc.

                                          So I'm curious: now that you have this set of people flagged as Bad Tippers,
                                          what do you do with that info? Try harder? Give them a bad table? Adjust
                                          expectations for the servers who get their table ... so as not to "blame the
                                          victim" etc.

                                          ok tnx.

                                          1. re: psb

                                            I'm in NYC. The standard average here is 20%. It may not be that in the rest of the country and I always get shocked looks when I visit family in the mid west and leave my customary 20-25%.

                                            There is def a seasonal variation on tips. Christmas tends to be a little more tight, January (once the pressure is off) better. Tax time tends to lag in both business and tips. This disapears about two weeks after the 15th. Start of school brings on a lag as well.

                                            Don't get too bent out of shape over the profiling thing. Its not the same here as it is preceived to be in the rest of the country. Race, in my experience, is rarely an indicator of good or bad tippers. Neither is standard of dress, accent etc (with the exception of obvious European tourists who may or may not tip well). Its more an attitude that the diner carries as they deal with the hosts, waiters, etc. Thats why no one is "pegged" as a bad tipper until they prove themselves to be.

                                            Which amounts to a bad tip with no discernable reason for it.

                                            1. re: Le Den

                                              BTW, speaking for myself, I wasnt trying to draw you out about
                                              profiling for a hostile reaction. I was interested in two things:
                                              1. what the actual assumptions/sterotypes/generalizations etc were ...
                                              "men are better tippers tham woman, but also worse, i.e. higher
                                              mean and higher variance". obviously different behavior have
                                              different underlying explanations [place of origin with different
                                              norms vs pecuniary predilctions].
                                              2. after hearing about #1, speculating on the accuracy ...
                                              many studies have shown people overestimate their ability
                                              to make clinical judgements ... e.g. say deciding whether a
                                              potential juror is pro-prosecution or defense by reading their
                                              "body language" ... when the zip code they live in might
                                              be a better predictor. so in this case it's interesting to compare
                                              the "a priori" biases with the data you've accumulated.

                                              thanks for the observation about seasonal variation. the school
                                              one didnt occur to me [i dont have kids].

                                              1. re: Le Den


                                                Many thanks for the insight. It was extremely helpful.

                                                WRT your "talk" if a table or the average goes below 18%. I, for one. am a 15% and can go to 20% if above good service and have left 30% where I am a regular under certain conditions. If I have a good meal with unobtrusive service, things go smoothly and I have no issues with the service I leave 15%. So if you ask the server if everything was OK and he says "yes" and shrugs yet the tip was 15%, you should remember that there are many of us who still believe 15% is standard for good service.

                                                Since you seems to like data I thought a data point from the other side would be helpful. My feeling is that the nominal dollar increase to the staff has been captured in the rapid increase in menu prices and increasing the percentage plus this rapid menu price increase leads to double dipping on the tip side. Many may not agree and that's fine, but we all have our thoughts and indiosyncracies.

                                                Thanks again.

                                                1. re: jfood

                                                  If I read correctly, the average for all of his servers is around 20%. So, if one server's average is below that consistently, while his other servers continue to average 20%, I think he's right to interpret it as perhaps a problem with the server, not the tippers. No?

                                                2. re: Le Den

                                                  I agree greatly with your theories, all except the "profiling". Whenever a certain "type" of person the waitstaff makes a judgement makes a guess as to whether or not the person will be a good tipper or not. It could be a regional thing. But I def. think the server puts thought into the customers appearence, and sometimes race. Sounds bad, but it happens.

                                                  1. re: rookcook1

                                                    I agree it happens and we have to work it out of new staff who have just moved to town. There are so many regionalities in this country and I'm sure some of the arguments we are having over this subject would not exist if we were all in the same town.

                                              2. re: Le Den

                                                Most everyone that I eat with consider tip to be 15% not 20%. Now that I hear that if your employee is not on track if their percentage is less than 18% makes me feel bad for all of those that I have tipped at what I consider the average. I do tip more when the service is exceptional, but wow, you have a standard that they have to meet. That is interesting.

                                                1. re: justagthing

                                                  stay with what you feel comfortable with. If restos want to have a discussion with an employee, that's their right. I will not raise my standard tip to 20% because of any resto's opinion.

                                                2. re: Le Den

                                                  You assume that if the customer doesn't tell you they are disatisfied, that they had fine service but are a bad tipper (which I think it a faulty assumption, btw: some people just don't like confrontation or what they view as confrontation. Rather, they just won't come back)..and YET: if the server falls below 18% you have a little talk?? Huh? How do you know that server just hasn't had a run of bad luck with all of your poor tippers?

                                                  I really think your system needs to be completely rethought. Your servers can't win and neither can your customers. Everyone is getting set up here, imo.

                                                  1. re: susancinsf

                                                    Bad tippers are bad tippers. The chance of all the poor tippers ending up in one waiters section is nearly impossible.

                                                    And if the house average is 20% and one waiter is running consistantly at 18%, I think I'm right to question what is going on with that waiters service.

                                                    But you're right about the meek not coming back. It would still be nice if they said something.

                                                    1. re: Le Den

                                                      15% is not a bad tipper i hope. you will see that there is not consensus on the break point at 20%.

                                                  2. re: Le Den

                                                    During service, if a server gets a particularly bad tip, they come to myself or one of my team to explain (they're English, they're from (name a state outside the pale) etc., he wanted something the chef wouldn't do, or I have no idea--everything went well.).

                                                    So what percentage of the time when your servers get a bad tip do they admit it was their fault because THEY screwed up, or had a bad attitude, were inattentive, or otherwise provided substandard service?

                                                    1. re: pgym

                                                      I would like to believe that they tell the truth all the time. There's not much way around it as they never know if I have already spoken to the guest, if I had heard about issues from the kitchen etc. I tend not to show my hand until I have gotten as much information as possible.

                                                      Also, I'm not one of those to fire someone off the cuff. Good employees are hard to find and I would rather they learn from their mistakes than keep retraining someone only to dismiss them for a once off (depending). Its harder with new hires who are more afraid or have bad experiences in their past. But then we are keeping a closer eye on them as well.

                                                      My servers know that I will stand behind them, but that if they screw up, I will make them take the blame. We have an automatic grat on parties of 6 or more, but many a time I have refused to add it because the server had made serious mistakes at the table. They have to earn their money, its not a foregone conclusion.

                                                      btw, My staff turnover is less than 10% per quarter.

                                                      1. re: Le Den

                                                        Le Den,
                                                        Do you calculate the tips based on the total after tax bill or before tax?

                                                        When I write my 18-20% tip (based on pre tax) on the final credit card slip, it ends up looking like I've only tipped 15%,

                                                        1. re: eatfood

                                                          Your dinner checks must be huge. 20% on $100 pretax is $20. 20% on $100 post tax is $21.73. An emormous difference of $1.73. There is no way any one could mistake $20 on a check of $108.73 as 15%. (These are based on NYS tax of 8.625%. I don't think any state has taxes higher than 9%.)

                                                          I really hate that excuse. On a check of $100,000 the pre and post tax difference @ 20% is less than $180 which means a difference of $20,000 or $20,173. Again. Hard to argue that one looks 25% less than the other.

                                                          All tip percentages are taken on pre tax figures and since the majority of customers tip post tax.............this means the 18% waiters are REALLY not doing their job.

                                                          And while pre and post tax figuring is certainly your right, it is often used as an excuse to be cheap.

                                                          1. re: Le Den

                                                            Your last jab is a bit inconsistent with your first paragraph. If the difference is that de minimis as you claim in the first paragraph, then it's hardly a viable excuse to be cheap as you put it. Which, if any server thinks getting tipped on the pretax is cheap, they are guaranteeing themselves frustration, caused by an unfounded assumption they chose.

                                                            1. re: Le Den

                                                              I admit my original math is slightly off - I did not actually do the calculations and was just talking broadly.

                                                              Continuing your example of a $100 pre-tax bill.

                                                              20% ($20 / $108.73) becomes 18.4%.
                                                              18% ($18 / $108.73) becomes 16.5%

                                                              Using your system of categorizing tippers:

                                                              Someone who tipped 20% and is the "norm" (the norm for your restaurant, not NYC in general) becomes someone who is not thought about.

                                                              Someone who tipped 18% and does not stand out, now gets flagged for being borderline cheap!

                                                              But since you clarified that all tip percentages are taken on pre-tax figures, this doesn't really matter. However, my point that someone tipping well (18%) could be viewed as cheap (dropping to 16.x%) purely because they tipped based on the pre-tax amount still stands.

                                                              I don't know where you got the idea that I was using pre-tax tipping as an excuse for being cheap, I didn't bring it up so I won't respond to that.

                                                              I think most customers tip based on the after-tax amount only because it is easier. The norm has always been based on the pre-tax amount.

                                                              1. re: eatfood

                                                                in fact this thread is the first time in my entire life i've ever seen it suggested that you tip on the tax.

                                                3. re: mojoeater

                                                  The funny thing is that from your perspective servers are remembering 'bad tippers' rather than remembering that they performed poorly and did not earn a fully 20%!

                                                  A tip is left at the customer's discretion and the customer is NOT tasked with managing waitstaff. The idea that servers are owed 20% and that the establishment deserves an explanation if it won't be paid is absurd. If the manager doesn't even know that his servers are failing that is a terrible shame.

                                                  The entire point of tipping is that the server earns less money (enough to find a different calling if he is really lousy) if he does not perform well and more money if he is professional and efficient.

                                                  1. re: Kater

                                                    My husband and I are good tippers but we often go out with another couple who are lousy tippers. It has nothing to do with the service, they are cheap. They are also, of course, high maintenance and are never pleased with their meal or drinks as presented. At a couple of places where we are regulars the staff knows if this couple is with us, what to expect and it isn't pretty.

                                                    1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                      Yes, that's a completely different situation and we know a couple much like the one you describe (high maintenance AND lousy tippers - yikes!) so our solution is to try to stay in when we see them or to go to restaurants we don't really like. Also I sometimes managed to 'double back' and leave some extra money on the table.

                                                      But the OP asks about a situation where service was lousy and he tipped accordingly. That is very different than a situation where service is good and the guest tips poorly.

                                                      1. re: Kater

                                                        I was only refering to the assumption that if a person is a poor tipper, than there must be something wrong with the service (the criticism of the management keeping track of poor tippers).

                                                        1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                          That is not the assumption. The person is not labeled a 'poor tipper' because he leaves a tip smaller than 20%. Unless or until a distinct pattern is established the smaller tip is an indication of lousy service.

                                                      2. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                        JFR, what percentage do you charaterize as a "bad" tipper? just curious

                                                      3. re: Kater

                                                        In my experience the places where the managers will ask the customers if "everything was alright", they are only approached when the tip is 10% or less. There is nothing "wrong" with a 15% tip, its just that standards have changed. Waitstaff in NY state have a minimum wage that is around $5. per hour. They (we) work only for the tips and are at the mercy of the customers.

                                                        1. re: momof3

                                                          Fancy meeting you here! Hey mom - I know you from another forum.

                                                          I usually tip 20% unless the service is bad, but I would tend not to mention one time bad service to the manager out of respect for the server (if it seemed to be simple mistakes, not blatant disregard for the customer). Maybe I am think about this all wrong...?

                                                          My grandparents tip 10%. That's what they have always tipped. I would hate to think anyone considers them cheapm because they don't tip more. They simply don't know any better and as survivors of the depression, value eevry single dollar they have (and reuse their ziplock bags and paper towels, but I digress...)

                                                    2. If I skimp on the tip for unsatisfactory service, I make my reasons known. Diners who leave a small tip without stating their reasons for doing so are generally perceived by waitstaff as being cheap. They have no way of knowing that you normally tip well! They may well think that the service they provided was fine and that you always tip like that.

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: hrhboo

                                                        "Diners who leave a small tip without stating their reasons for doing so are generally perceived by waitstaff as being cheap. They have no way of knowing that you normally tip well"

                                                        Perhaps they should just assume that the service was unsatisfactory rather than assuming the opposite.

                                                        1. re: luniz

                                                          Agree with the latter proposition.

                                                          The kind of assumption (the 1st one stated) is the mark of a server with a lousy attitude & no insight. The kind of server who will never learn & improve from mistakes.

                                                      2. Always leave a standard tip, even in the face of bad service. You never know what's going on in the back. Mention what happened to the manager, however, if all was not to your liking. The "leaning on the table and acting kind of scatterbrained" sounds like someone needs a drug rehab session--all the more reason to tip. Leave a bigger tip if all goes well or better.

                                                        1. there is a confusion as to bad service from the server ie, inattentive, snippy, taking time to bring coffee or drinks for no good reason, and bad service from the kitchen, wrong food, wrong substitutions, under or over cooking steak when requested etc.

                                                          However, servers certainly do remember bad tippers. We have regulars who my servers know are bad tippers and maybe they just can't afford to tip better but they are regulars who are happy with their meal and service who just don't tip more than 10% no matter what. We can deal with those because they are bread and butter customers so we all smile and make nice and they come back each week. Others are known to be bad tippers who complain about everything but still come back. Shrug shoulders and deal with them.

                                                          Sad to say Europeans and Canadians are known to be bad tippers (I am a Brit so know it is true as we are used to 10% tipping).

                                                          I prefer to know why service was poor and try to rectify the problems with the servers for the future. So I prefer a customer to tell me why they tipped poorly. I do not want my servers to ask a customer who tipped poorly if there was a service problem.

                                                          18 Replies
                                                          1. re: smartie

                                                            I think the idea of Canadians being bad tippers has a lot to do with the fact that 15% here is standard. In Toronto, our tax is 14% and was 15%, and so we just added the total of the tip to the final bill. It was only after reading these boards that I realized others in States pay 18%+. Its not that we're bad tippers, its what is "normal" for us.

                                                            1. re: beany

                                                              Do not be convinced that 20% is normal this side of the border either. I am a 15% and have been all my life. I think there are those that normally leave 20-25% and it is also very regional. There are numerous threads about percentages on CH if you do a search.

                                                              1. re: jfood

                                                                I, for one, don't understand this push for 20% as the norm. The prices we're paying in restaurants has gone up, so 15% today is more than it was 10 years ago, there's no need to bump up the base percentage in addition. This bugs me more than I can effectively articulate.

                                                                1. re: abowes

                                                                  The prices have greatly increased recently esp for appetizers, desserts and drinks. We cant afford to order those anymore.

                                                                  Servers even at 15% are earning more now with the higher prices than a few years ago. This is esp so at mid to high-end places.

                                                                  1. re: tom porc

                                                                    I assume your wage has gone up as well- it's called inflation. And as far as your statement that you 'can't afford' certain things, well- eating at a restaurant is still a luxury, last time I checked- not a right. I just don't really 'get' the point...things cost what they cost, it is what it is.

                                                                    1. re: nummanumma

                                                                      Give a little leeway to the "can't afford" statement, please! While tom might well not be able to afford such luxuries, the phrase is often used because it's easier to say than "choose not to spend my money on" or "cannot afford to do that *and* still be able to eat out as much as I'd like". Imprecise, okay, but still, not worth jumping on - IMO.

                                                                      And, my original point was that with inflation, and with tip based on a % of the bill, the waitperson's wage has gone up as well - the percentage does not have to increase in order to accomplish that. I guess I don't like that the service industry might start expecting 20%, because I liked thinking that I'm a darn good tipper, but I'm not willing to go to 25% as my standard in order to maintain that status.

                                                                      Side note - I ate with a group of ~40 at IHOP last night, with one poor waiter assigned to the whole group! I just grit my teeth and prayed that he didn't get hosed by a bunch of 50 and 75 cent tips.

                                                                      1. re: abowes

                                                                        'I guess I don't like that the service industry might start expecting 20%, because I liked thinking that I'm a darn good tipper, but I'm not willing to go to 25% as my standard in order to maintain that status.'

                                                                        I think that this statement is really the heart of the matter.

                                                                      2. re: nummanumma

                                                                        Actually, that is inapposite. A percentage-based system guarantees an increase along with increased prices. Most salaries are not based on that system. Basic arithmetic.

                                                                        1. re: Karl S

                                                                          What are referring to as inapposite Karl?

                                                                          As for your mathematical insights...obviously we understand how we get paid. Not sure what you're after there...

                                                                          1. re: nummanumma

                                                                            Your argument here is not in parallel with the math. It fails.

                                                                            1. re: Karl S

                                                                              well, seeing as I was responding to this statement:
                                                                              Servers even at 15% are earning more now with the higher prices than a few years ago.,
                                                                              I don't see how my logic is failing. tom is saying servers, at 15%, make more now then they used to because prices have gone up. I'm saying that's what happens to everything...prices rise. Cost of living increases are considered to be 3% per year, so they should make more money. I understand that most of us do not get a fixed percentage of a cost for salaries, but most of us do get raises to reflect inflation- so should servers. Obviously it is a different system.

                                                                              1. re: nummanumma

                                                                                Uh, the math is that the servers automatically get an increase as menu prices rise. The denominator rises and that is all that is necessary to reflect the rise. Increasing the numerator is make the increase greater than inflation. That's what Tom was getting at and that you failed to understand. If anything, increasing the numerator gouges the customer disproportionately.

                                                                                1. re: Karl S

                                                                                  omg karl, you are being deliberately difficult- the statement was talking about the 15%...
                                                                                  I teach math and you are being very silly, explaining fractions to me as if I'm a second grader. Not appreciated - a larger denominator (say 1/6 instead of 1/3) is a smaller portion of the whole- your fraction lecture is ridiculous.
                                                                                  We are talking about the fact that 15% of a greater bill is in fact a pay rise. I was NOT talking about 20% (a greater percent) of a greater bill which is what you seem to be batting around- hence the disproportionate 'gouging' of a customer. Which is silly anyway, seeing as tips are choices.
                                                                                  In any event- i'm not discussing it any further.

                                                                  2. re: jfood

                                                                    I think that 20% as the norm is a regional thing. I waited tables in the South (some time ago, though), and 15% was much more standard than the 20% I was used to in the Northeast. I would say, though, that in the NOrtheast US, *especially* in/near urban areas, 20% is standard/good.

                                                                    Of course prices in restaurants have gone up in the past ten years, so have the prices of groceries, utilities, and rent. So while a server earning your 15% tip is getting more than he did ten years ago, it's not like he's getting a big raise.

                                                                    1. re: nc213

                                                                      I don't think it is our job to give the server a raise, rather the job of his employer. NO?

                                                                      1. re: justagthing

                                                                        I didn't say it was our job to give him a raise. In fact, my comment was based on the idea of tipping 15% consistently. I said that the fact that restaurants have grown more expensive in recent years didn't mean that servers were suddenly cashing in because the increase in prices comes with increases in expenses.

                                                                        1. re: nc213

                                                                          ah, thanks for the clarification, i didn't see that the first time, sorry...

                                                                    2. re: jfood

                                                                      jfood is right.

                                                                      I live in NYC and 15% - 18% is still considered the norm here. Clearly there are people that tip better, but I wouldn't consider 15% a bad tip.

                                                                2. I dunno.. unless I have a real investment in a place, I'm not generally gonna explain my tip. I normally tip 20+% (I've worked in the industry), but about one meal out of 50, I'll scale back to 10-15%. And I can't be bothered to track down the manager & articulate why; I'd prefer just to not go back.

                                                                  Maybe that makes me a free-rider on other people's diligence; if so, fair enough and I thank those who explain themselves. But honestly, I don't want to be the hall monitor (TM jfood), and the manager's getting paid to performance-manage; I'm not...

                                                                  To the OP's question - I agree with the poster who said that when you go back, she'll likely have already been fired ;-)

                                                                  1. If you go back, just request a different wait person if you think it'll be a problem. I think it's your prerogative to adjust your tip according to the quality of service. If you didn't, you are also not rewarding the staff who really are wonderful. It's just not fair for someone really good to make the same amount as someone really bad. I tip up to 25% for great service and down to 10% for really terrible service and hope that those at both ends of the spectrum remember.

                                                                    1. I agree with spigot. I reduce my tip and the server usu knows why. They can read our body language if I didnt speak to them personally.
                                                                      Searching for the manager to complain about poor service seems petty and not worth my time. I am grateful they have servers to take my order.
                                                                      Although, I have noticed more and more that managers will go around and ask if everything is OK giving you the opportunity to comment confidentially.

                                                                      1. When I leave a reduced, or no, tip and don't feel up for asking for the manager, I leave a note as to my reason... often on the receipt.

                                                                        9 Replies
                                                                        1. re: abowes

                                                                          Ditto. My norm is 20%, I go up for great service, or if I have been a pain in the ass, or if I have ordered cheaply, or if I am dining alone.

                                                                          Lousy service gets somewhere between 20 and 15%. I never stiff anybody for incompetence alone. If they are incompetent AND show me attitude, I write "poor service" on the tip line. (this has happened only twice that I can remember). Maybe I should tell a manager, but in these cases I have already been inconvenienced, I don't think it's my responsibility to provide management consulting.

                                                                          1. re: danna

                                                                            Your reply sounds how I feel.

                                                                            99.9 % of the time I tip a minimum of 25%, and if I get great service much more.

                                                                            However in the rare instance where service, and moreso the servers attitude, or lack of attention has warranted it I have stiffed a server, or left a penny as their tip. In these 3 or 4 instances I have also left a note on the check/credit card receipt letting them know why this has happened.

                                                                            I also feel that it is not my job to seek out the manager and waste more of my time telling them what has transpired, I have already had my time wasted by bad service, and just want to move on with my day/evening.

                                                                            I have more money than time, but I am not going to blindly tip someone for not doing their job, I have to do my job correct to get paid, so should they.

                                                                            Lastly I worked in restaurants for years, so I know when things are the servers "fault", and when the blame falls on the kitchen, etc...

                                                                            With so many quality restaurants in the Chicago area I dont have the patience to waste more than one meal on establishments with poor service. Sometimes one strike, and they are off my list.

                                                                            1. re: danna

                                                                              Funny - I had never actually thought that through before, but I too don't penalize too much for incompetence. Interesting. My tips only fall below 15% if I'm getting attitude; otherwise I'll give a minimum of 15% for trying.

                                                                              1. re: spigot

                                                                                I agree with you completely. "stuff happens" but there's no reason
                                                                                to be an ass or unfair (although I suppose there is a limit to tolerable
                                                                                incompetence and at some point it can affect your evening ... i suppose
                                                                                i'm tolerant of incompetence, and sensitive to obnoxiousness).

                                                                                I guess it's a bit tough psychologically to leave a good tip if service
                                                                                was ok but food was really bad and pricey. I mean it's one thing to
                                                                                confront a manager if they objectively screwed something up or did
                                                                                something obnoxious, but if you are hating the food but somebody
                                                                                pleasantly comes by and asks "how are things, are you enjoying dinner"
                                                                                I usually just mumble "it's ok, thanks".

                                                                                The unfair part of this is tricky ... an obnoxious comment from the waitstaff
                                                                                speaks for itself, but say somebody else walking in after you gets seated
                                                                                first or some such thing ... well there could be hidden exculpatory variables.

                                                                                I'm inclined to think if the restaurant is going to play favorites, they can rely
                                                                                on the favorites to drag upwards the tip %age from people being dissed ...
                                                                                at least in cases where the favoritism trods on the back of some neutral party
                                                                                [the person still waiting for a table] as opposed to a case where the cost is
                                                                                born by the restaurant [comping dessert, say].

                                                                                1. re: psb

                                                                                  If I'm hating the food, I say so. I don't take it out on the server (neither in attitude nor tip), it's not his/her fault, but I'm also not going to pay for &/or eat crap.

                                                                                  1. re: abowes

                                                                                    As I suggested, when something goes wrong in either the food or service
                                                                                    side, you need to take the exrta intellectual step to separate service issues
                                                                                    from kitchen issues. I try to do it, but it inflates the price of an already over-
                                                                                    priced meal ... in an SF context, say at a ridiculously overpriced tourist
                                                                                    trap. I think there was some place in Fisherman's Wharf which had an
                                                                                    $8 cannoli for example.

                                                                                    >going to pay for &/or eat crap.
                                                                                    well it's easy enough not to come back. are you saying you just
                                                                                    refuse to pay on the spot? again i'm not talking about something
                                                                                    objectively flawed like "this fish is stale ... take a whiff" and you
                                                                                    refuse to eat it. I'm talking about getting an $8 quality plate of
                                                                                    spaghetti at a $15 priced place.

                                                                                    >f I'm hating the food
                                                                                    so again in the case above, assuming the service is pleasant ... not
                                                                                    obsequious, or faux-warm, but honestly nice, but the sauce du can sucks,
                                                                                    you come right out and say "foodwise, you guys are losers" or "the food
                                                                                    is not up to my standards" or "you guys charge too much for what you

                                                                                    1. re: psb

                                                                                      Your examples, in my read, are neither "crap", nor "hating it". No, if I think they're charging too much for what it is, I simply won't return. But, I'm not going to pay for food that I can't eat. And, I'm not talking "I don't like it", but "I can't believe you serve this".

                                                                                      1. re: abowes

                                                                                        well if you cant eat it and leave 90% of the food on your
                                                                                        plate, that obviously speakers louder than any polite words.

                                                                                        1. re: psb

                                                                                          Good point. And if I leave a good portion of my meal untouched and the waiter doesn't ask if anything was wrong, it says to me that they are used to people leaving food untouched..............not a good sign.

                                                                          2. For the situation you described, I think 10% is fine. If that's how she cares for her customers then she is probably used to 10%. My boyfriend and I are known as good tippers at a local diner we frequent. It's amazing the difference it makes time and time again. By the time we are seated my boyfriend's coke and my iced tea are already on the table. New servers must have been privy to this info also because we get great service from them too. One thing I have noticed also... sometimes my boyfriend gets better attention from a female server and vice versa for me with a male. I enjoy observing this unconscious human behavior. We also do something around the holidays we call "Christmas Tipping". Even if we are dining in a new restaurant we tip 25% every time between Thanksgiving and New Years. And believe me, the servers remember all year long. One last note, I've noticed we get great service if when the server asks how are you this evening we reciprocate the question. Usually they're amazed anyone even cares.

                                                                            1. Why do you care if they remember, Boychucker? Are you afraid you'll get poor service again? If so, the server can be sure to expect a poor tip -- it hardly seems good business sense. Or are you worried, as bachslunch mentioned above, about the server tampering with your food for "revenge"?

                                                                              1. I've said this before on other posts. I dont tip a percentage of the total check. We are a quick and easy dining customer. It seems the server does just as much work with a $15 meal than a $50. So why not give the same amount to both? I give a set amount regardless of the check's total. So, as per Le Den, I am probably profiled as a bad tipper in the $50 place and a good tipper in the $15. Doesnt matter what managers think of me. Would they prefer I not dine at their restaurant? I have offered to leave after a server made a gesture over our inexpensive "early bird" order.

                                                                                And it is possible those that tip over 20% are doing more harm than good. Servers are soon going to expect 20-25% and service will decline if they dont receive the increased amount. The cost of restaurant food has risen dramatically in the last few years and so have the server's tip income and with the larger tip % may price out poor and moderate income families.

                                                                                39 Replies
                                                                                1. re: tom porc

                                                                                  At high end restos the house collects a tip-out (sometimes up to 8% of net sales) from the waitstaff REGARDLESS of what percentage tip you leave. If you got acceptable service you need to leave at least 15% or you are a bad tipper. Tipping a percentage of the bill is the established system (right or wrong). Ultimately you may be recognised as a bad tipper and politely escorted to the table by the kitchen or denied a reservation at 7:30.

                                                                                  1. re: nose_food

                                                                                    It's fortunate that I dont eat at high-end places.

                                                                                  2. re: tom porc

                                                                                    "And it is possible those that tip over 20% are doing more harm than good. Servers are soon going to expect 20-25% and service will decline if they dont receive the increased amount."

                                                                                    Perhaps you didn't mean to say so, but to me, this comment implies that servers are greedy, lazy, and need to be kept in their place.

                                                                                      1. re: nc213

                                                                                        nc213, I dont mean to insult. However, in my experience I find that service has declined and some servers have become greedy. After ordering an inexpensive entree invariably I get poorer treatment. Recently, overheard our server complain to another table how cheap we are. If you are going to talk behind my back at least dont let me hear it. Guess what kind of tip she got.
                                                                                        As for those that regularly tip over 20% --- In the past it was customary to tip 10%. Then it was 15%. Now its 20% and soon 25%. Servers, IMO, are doing no more to earn that extra money. I keep hearing ppl say that if everything went well and the server was good they leave 20%+. Why? What EXTRA service did they perform? Did they acknowledge you promptly? Pleasant? Patient? Attentive? These are things they must do. Its their job. If they dont perform this perfectly then they shouldnt receive even 15%. I cant think what a server can do to earn over 20%. Perhaps, some may think poorly of me but I have high standards. I expect it from others as they do from me. I certainly didnt mean to imply servers are lazy most are not.
                                                                                        And the "need to be kept in their place" comment is not far off the mark except its not with servers but the whole tipping culture in this country. I cant go anywhere without ppl expecting a tip (and more tips in addition to their hourly wages). I have seen tip jars at my pizzeria, deli, restaurant, butcher, fast food joint, mechanic, car wash, convenience store, and ice cream parlor. Plus the usual beauticians/barbers, therapists, hotel, airport, couriers, etc. It seems everyone now expects an even larger tip to give adequate service and this goes for servers also. They will quickly get used to 25% and expect it from all patrons. Waiters and waitresses in the tri-state area are prob relieved that I dont eat at their high-end places.

                                                                                        I believe Americans dont want to be considered cheap and therefore tip big. Being thought of as generous is a complement, although, it can have a haughty connotation.

                                                                                        1. re: tom porc

                                                                                          It is insulting. Saying servers are greedy is insulting them. If I said computer programmers are greedy or attorneys are greedy, I would be insulting them. And the idea that everyone who waits on you needs to be kept in their place is pretty appalling. People in the service industry are just hat, people. They're not inherently below you because you have a different job. I am very glad that I will never wait on you.

                                                                                          1. re: nc213

                                                                                            nc213, I totally agree with you.

                                                                                            tom porc, I am glad I live and work in the midwest and you won't darken the doorstep of the restaurant where I work. Since apparently my coworkers and I are children to be taught a lesson, or greedy pigs that need to be discouraged from certain behaviors.

                                                                                            Many people forget that when they are in their offices and they make decisions, they're already getting paid. You and your employer have an agreement that they will pay you, and yes, they expect excellent work and customer service, whomever that customer happens to be. In no other industry would people let their customers negotiate fees after the service has already taken place. Can you imagine the conversations? "Oh, well, I know you expect $200 for this design piece, but I just don't feel like you were friendly enough to me. I'll just give you $150 instead." You'd end up with nothing. In a restaurant, you've already had the food and the experience. You should pay for it.

                                                                                            As a server, maybe I should stay out of threads about tipping - I always lose a little bit more of my already flagging faith in humanity.

                                                                                            1. re: jnstarla

                                                                                              It was not my intention to insult. My apologies.
                                                                                              A waitress ridicules us to another table because we ordered from the less expensive "early-bird" menu and finishes by telling them, "I'll only get $4 tip." Is that not greed? We all cant order the $40 surf 'n turf plus full apps and dessert. Of course, the server didnt know that I dont tip on the total bill but the whole dining experience and I give more that $4 for a twosome if all went well. But in her case I didnt disappoint. I hope she spent the $4 wisely.
                                                                                              I refuse to accept that I must now tip 25% for good service. Evidently, from what I read on this board it is now customary and soon to be expected. BTW, why would a server not provide good service? An occasional off-day?
                                                                                              And, finally, I hear from LeDen that I am considered a "bad tipper" and, therefore, a bad customer if (for good service) my tip adds up to be only 15%. Now, who should be insulted?
                                                                                              Oh, one more thing. The big greedy thing that my prev post highlighted was that we now have to tip ppl who we didnt have to a few years ago. Please, tell me why I must tip the counter girl at Dunkin Donuts for handing me a donut? Or the guy at the garage for changing my oil? Or the kid at the pizzeria for giving me the correct change? And my favorite ... the hostess at a restaurant before being seated?

                                                                                              1. re: tom porc

                                                                                                you don't have to tip any of those people, tom. I think a lot of us just feel if we are treating ourselves to little luxuries, you can throw someone a quarter (doughnut) or a couple bucks and spread the love around.

                                                                                                But by all means, keep your money. But don't get mad when the counter girl decides to brew me fresh coffee...or the hostess seats me at a great table.

                                                                                                1. re: nummanumma

                                                                                                  Thank you. I frequent a little independent coffee shop every morning on my way to work. I have a travel mug and they charge me $1.50 to fill it. I always give the staff $2 and put the change in the tip jar. I get lots of good karma from that...sometimes that means a fresh pot of coffee, sometimes it means an extra pleasant "Good morning" when I've had a bumpy morning thus far.

                                                                                                  1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                                                                    Let's try to take emotion out and look at some of the questions raised on some of these sub-threads and some of the conclusions.

                                                                                                    - It is most unfortunate that every table is a performance review on the wait staff
                                                                                                    - It now appears and i believe it is also unfortunate that the custo now seems to be going through a performance review as the technology is here or almost here to track all tipping habits.
                                                                                                    - No one should look down on the other side. Snide comments about what people order are as uncalled for as denegrating a wait staffer.
                                                                                                    - There is a difference of opinion on the "standard" tip but its between 15-20% and may have some regionality.
                                                                                                    - There has been an influx of "tip cannisters" if lots of areas in which there never were before. Some of us do take offense at the constant open hand in our faces. Likewise when the opportunity arises, leaving some loose change does feel humane and can get that better coffee or better table.

                                                                                                    But at the end of the day the custo wants a pleasant meal and the staffer wants a decent living. Will always be a push-me pull-you.

                                                                                                      1. re: jfood

                                                                                                        Yes, very well written post.

                                                                                                        I esp liked the "open hand" comment. Although, I think, a discreet "keep the change" to the donut girl is better than a big, white, plastic tub marked "TIPS" in magic marker. Again, why do we need to tip in order to get fresh brewed coffee? Isnt that what you pay for? Why would anyplace not serve good coffee esp a coffee shop?

                                                                                                2. re: jnstarla

                                                                                                  I think, especially for older generations, there is a dissatifaction with the progression of expectations related to tipping. Here's the definition of a gratuity (which I am hoping we can all agree is synonomus with "tipping"):
                                                                                                  1. a gift of money, over and above payment due for service, as to a waiter or bellhop; tip.
                                                                                                  2. something given without claim or demand.

                                                                                                  There are still Americans out there who remember when perspective on tipping still reflected this definition. The problem from the diner's standpoint is that this tip, which started out as a gift, has become an expectation. In truth, the restaurants (and I guess wage laws as well) are actually to blame for this warped concept of a tip being an understood and required addition to the cost of a meal, not waitstaff or diners. Once restaurants realized that waitstaff were supplimenting their income on a regular basis with tips, the hourly wage for a waiter was capped, well below minimum wage. Now, if a tip is not given every time a waiter serves a customer, it is like they are being docked wages. Personally, I think the whole system is bad.

                                                                                                  With that said, I personally don't have a problem tipping 20% for good service. Most of the time I do, but then, most of the time, I get great service. If I don't get good service, I don't tip well. Bottom line. But I still feel bad for a waiter who goes home at the end of the night with nothing in their pocket to show for it. I hope though, that their empty pockets are due to their own inability to inspire their customers and not that their customers are cheap.

                                                                                          2. re: tom porc

                                                                                            I sort of agree with you. But I'm a 20%+ tipper (on the total after taxes).

                                                                                            But for my usual breakfast diner type places I tip a higher percentage... because as you point out, they're working just as hard, but the meal is much much cheaper. I can't see leaving 1.50 on a 6.95 breakfast. After they've brought the meal, the toast, refilled the coffee a few times, brought extra butter... etc etc etc. They get more than 20% on that.

                                                                                            1. re: tom porc

                                                                                              The government taxes me on the amount of my sales not on the tips I make. It goes something like this:

                                                                                              If I have a credit card receipt for $100 + $5.00 tax. You leave me $20 for a total of $125.

                                                                                              The next table has a cash check for $100 + $5. They leave me $10 for a total of $115.

                                                                                              My net sales are $200. Taxes are $10. 5% tax in MD.

                                                                                              I have to tip the bartender $6.00 (3% of my net sales), the busser $3.00 (1.5 %) and the foodrunner $3.00 (1.5%).

                                                                                              $35.00 (tip) - $12.00 (6% tip out) =$23.00.

                                                                                              I document my tip outs via the POS (cash register/ computer.)

                                                                                              I declare $23.

                                                                                              The Server Assistants also document their indirect tips through the computer. For a total of $12.

                                                                                              The government actually thinks I've made $28 and taxes me as such because they don't know the other table left me 15%.

                                                                                              Are you with me so far?

                                                                                              The government can (and does) track my CC sales and tip with no problem. They have no way to determine my cash tips so they ASSUME (rightly or wrongly) that I received the same amount (percentage wise) on the cash. They then take into consideration all the money that I've tipped out and subtract that.

                                                                                              They tax on sales not actual tips received. I sometimes pay taxes on money that I haven't made. (Or I would if I ever got audited.) It is up to me to document every penny I make. If I get audited the onus is on me to prove my income. I keep excellent records.

                                                                                              They government is really cracking down on servers. Those of us who are honest are constantly being penalized for the less honest among us.

                                                                                              In this day of computerized restaurants it is very hard (but not impossible) to cheat the goverment.

                                                                                              I guess that the point I'm trying to make is that even though I may not be (in your estimation but that's a discussion for another thread) be working any harder for a more expensive meal I may have to pay taxes on the net sales whether I'm tipped on them or not.

                                                                                              It's confusing to actually type this all out and I don't know if it helps but that is the law as I understand it. I was required by my employer to sign a contract with the IRS saying that I would declare ALL of my tips and I do.

                                                                                              1. re: kimmer1850

                                                                                                now that was very interesting. I have never worked as a server so this was insightful. Is this how it is done in all states? They keep a record of your 'sales' and they assume your tax. I always thought that if you paid the tip in cash, it was better for the server, but if you are taxed no matter what on how much $$ you sold of food, then it doesn't appear so...?

                                                                                                1. re: justagthing

                                                                                                  In NY (and I thought the rest of the country) it is the restaurant's responsibility to make sure that all tips are declared. After a distrastrous attempt to audit servers directly about 15 years ago, the IRS changed the onus to make the business responsible as it is much easier to track their earnings through the paper trail a business leaves. This is why Kimmer had to sign an agreement.

                                                                                                  Just as I watch to see if any server's percentage is under the norm, the government "assumes" that all the servers made such and such based on the sales of the business and taxes them accordingly whether they did or not. If a server is audited, they have to have the most ornate records to make their case and rarely do they win.

                                                                                                  Cash is great for servers in order to avoid the 3% the credit card companies charge and if the tip is greater than what the IRS assumes the server is making on the table. Otherwise, it doesn't make much difference.

                                                                                                2. re: kimmer1850

                                                                                                  Thanks, kimmer1850 for that info. I'm glad to hear you are honest with the IRS.

                                                                                                  However, I dont feel its the diners concern regarding the server's tax situation. We eat at restaurants to have a pleasant dining experience. Is it my responsibility that the server is taxed appropriately and honest with his reporting? At the end of the meal must I make sure that everyone is properly "tipped out?"

                                                                                                  I'm sorry if sometimes you are overtaxed. Do you then recieve a larger refund at the end of the year?

                                                                                                  1. re: kimmer1850

                                                                                                    Thanks for the details Kim. I'm trying to follow it, I have a couple of questions:

                                                                                                    In your 6th paragraph you say $35 tip. You meant $30, right?

                                                                                                    In your 10th paragraph you say the gov doesn't know the other table left 15%. You meant 10%, right? In that same paragraph you say the gov "taxes you as such". But you actually mean that if you get audited you have the burden of proof that you DIDN'T get $28 right? You are actually paying tax on the $23 that you report, right?

                                                                                                    Do you take the cash tips at home every night, or do you turn them in to the house and get them back on a weekly check? What about the cc tips? Do you get a check, and if so, does the house withhold for Federal income tax? And if so, at what percent?

                                                                                                    Thanks, just curious.

                                                                                                    1. re: danna

                                                                                                      Yes, Danna you are right. I had just finished a long shift and was a little tired. When I was done typing it all knid of swam in front of me. Yes, I have to prove that I didn't make $28 but if my records are consistant I'll be okay. I get paid in cash at the end of the night although I have worked in places where they held all CC tips and paid me by check every two weeks.

                                                                                                      To Tom, Of course your not responsible for my taxes. I was just explaining how it works. As for refunds, in Maryland I get paid $3.08 per hour so my entire paycheck isn't enough to cover taxes. Last year I paid $4000 to state and federal gov't. Again not your problem but there it is. I don't enjoy paying out a lump sum of that amount but since everyone pays taxes I can't really complain.

                                                                                                      1. re: kimmer1850

                                                                                                        Thanks. BTW, rereading my post, it sounds obnoxious, I didn't mean it to be - just trying to make sure I understood.

                                                                                                        So your whole base wage check gets withheld for taxes?

                                                                                                        The whole thing is confusing , but also interesting. My uncle owns several heavily cash-oriented businesses (like auto car-washes and self-storage units). When he got audited, instead of the usual way you would audit reciepts and deductions, they actually looked at what he and his family spent...to try to show that he lived higher than possible on the amount of income reported. As far as I know, he "won".

                                                                                                  2. re: tom porc

                                                                                                    My problem with your strategy is that the $50 person shouldn't be penalized -- it's fine and downright generous if you want to leave a similar amount for the $15 person (and I way overtip at diners since they do work damn hard). So, as per your question, why NOT give the same amount to both? Just make sure that you're basing the right amount on the right meal and tip them both as if you were tipping on a $50 meal, instead of tipping both as if you were eating a $15 meal.

                                                                                                    And reading back over your post, I'm curious: What DO you tip on a $50 meal? If you're tipping on $15, by your standards, a 30% tip, at $4.50, is overly generous. On a $50 bill, however, it's not even 10%.

                                                                                                    And finally, though I tip at diners generously, I would also argue that people who work at diners know what they are getting. Just like in most careers, if they want to make more, they'll move to a better place with a higher price point.

                                                                                                    1. re: bebevonbernstein

                                                                                                      I think servers at diners prefer the casualness and friendly conversations with their regulars. Sometimes they sit down with us and chat. I enjoy that. You get to know them as people rather than food carriers.
                                                                                                      To answer your question .... I have no simple answer. I look at the whole dining experience and then decide. Did the host(ess) greet us pleasantly? Was the table clean and comfortable? Did I have to wipe crumbs off the chair? Was the floor around the table clean? Are the french fries dropped by a previous 4yo boy still on the floor and now converted to mashed potato by my shoe? Water stains on the flatware/glasses? The waiter(ress) acknowlege us promptly? List the day's specials along with their prices (Important)? Were our water glasses kept full? (Ultra Important as we dont drink anything else and if I have to refill my own water, no tip) Better yet, if only water drinkers, leave the carafe on the table. Was the server patient and helpful? Did we receive the correct entrees? Was everything as it should be? Look over the food and fix problems BEFORE they reach our table. Dont serve me a cold baked potato. And serve the food before the sauce "gels." If we have to return food to the kitchen, were they understanding? Problem solved? Desserts offered at the proper time? Was the check brought promptly? Did they ask if I need change (big no-no)? Return change/credit slip very quickly as its obvious we wish to leave. Putting on coats is the givaway. All while host, server, runner, busboy, manager, etc treated us pleasantly and welcoming.
                                                                                                      So you can see that I put a lot of thought in the tip. Because the server has to "tip out" the other employees I feel the tip should represent how everyone performed.
                                                                                                      For the $15 two-sandwich meal I left the waitress $5. We were in and out in 35mins. She was fine and we had a 3 table conversation going. Very casual but enjoyable. Thinking back at a recent $33 entree-only lunch I left $4. He didnt refill my water glass. A month ago we (2) had dinner at a mid-priced Italian place. Waitress gave us complimentary pasta side dish so we could sample their red sauce and patiently went through the special and dessert list twice (she had a heavy accent). We asked for a quiet table and she made sure we were comfortable. Very professional yet caring, she anticipated our needs. Many trips with app, entree, dessert. $70 2hrs left her $12.

                                                                                                      1. re: tom porc

                                                                                                        $12 on $70 is a +$1.50 surplus over 15%. gee what other service
                                                                                                        would she have needed to provide to get you up to 20%, at $14.
                                                                                                        this seems kinda weird compared to the kind $5 on $15, unless maybe
                                                                                                        you would have felt silly leaving $19.

                                                                                                        i think the waiter was kinda upselling us a dinner today, which would noramally
                                                                                                        kind of irritate me but i wasnt sure and a friend put it on his card so i didnt get
                                                                                                        involved in the tip calculus. i guess i come from the low fuss/expectations but
                                                                                                        dont piss me off school.

                                                                                                        1. re: tom porc

                                                                                                          If I had been that waitress, I would have felt stiffed by your $12 tip. Sounds like she worked very hard, performed in a stellar fashion -- and gave you free food, natch. Likewise, the $4 tip on $33 -- the only reason for such a low tip is if you have a beef with something, which it doesn't sound like you had. You're just tipping on the number of trips to the table. You may be fine with your system, but it seems entirely capricious -- and you can't expect a server to feel good about you when you leave such low tips, regardless of your whimsical rationale for calculating same.

                                                                                                          1. re: tom porc


                                                                                                            To set the stage I am a 15% normal tipper and usually leave 20% if things go smoothly. But a gotta tell you, your list sets you and the server up for failure. Hey, your the custo and do what you like but a single mistake could lead to zero tip (a empty water glass), that's way too harsh.

                                                                                                            Most of your standards are just basic requirements, clean table and environment, but others do have levels of perspective. Couple that I suggest may be overly harsh.

                                                                                                            - Hostess attitude should not effect the tip. Usually the first job a kid out of school obtains and the turnover for this role is probably high. Plus (s)he does not know what you believe is a good or bad table. Not a mindreader
                                                                                                            - Next few sound like a diner setting with very high turnover. Server probably has high number of tables to cover. No one likes water stains, but if server comes over and notices when she says hello, and removes, what's the biggie?
                                                                                                            - I am a water-only drinker as well. "Full" is a tough standard. I sometimes find it intrusive when there is constant interuptions when the water glass is still 3/4 full. If you would like the carafe, ask for it, server not a mind reader.
                                                                                                            - I, like you would like to know the prices of specials, but i ping-pong on whether I want to know the price of all of the ones I have abxolutely no interest in. I prefer to read versus hear the special, with the prices. If you want to know the price, just ask for it.
                                                                                                            - Desserts offered at proper time. What's proper. Sometime I like a break, other times less time. Server not a mindreader
                                                                                                            - Check brought promptly. What's promptly. Sometime I like a break, other times less time. Server not a mindreader
                                                                                                            - Return change/slip very quickly. Now we have a higher standard. How can the server meet similar standards at other tables, so you can have your change very quickly. Should other water glasses, meals get delayed so you time sensitivities are met. Asking a whole lot.

                                                                                                            I think this list is way over the top and that someone who looks at these items. I think you are looking for a personal server at each meal so that (s)he can read your mind and have no others to assist. And I almost fell off my chair as you described a wonderful experience (including a free dish), that after two hours of service which met your "War and Peace" length requirements, you leave a miserly $12.

                                                                                                            I doubt if you will find many, if any, people who would describe this as a proper culinary partnership.

                                                                                                            1. re: jfood

                                                                                                              "I doubt if you will find many, if any, people who would describe this as a proper culinary partnership."

                                                                                                              And hence has perfectly "valid" reasons for screwing the server out of their living.

                                                                                                              1. re: tony michaels


                                                                                                                In my attempt not to get nixed by the mods I needed to be kind. I agree that some have established an impossible set of criteria to meet and the list leads to self-justification on the results. I was surprised not to see that the forks must be 1.234" apart.

                                                                                                                1. re: jfood

                                                                                                                  I think when someone says, "I pay the same dollar amount to the wait staff, no matter the amount of my check" then you can see that the "problem" is not with the wait staff. In a diner or coffee shop the table turn over at a much, much quicker pace than in a fine dining establishment where the wait staff may see no more than two seatings in an evening. In a small, casual place the waiter or waitress is not expected to meet the same standards as at a fine dining restaurant where the managment expects a much more polished and refined and learned performance. At a small place the wait staff is not tipping out a bartender, a runner and the bus boy. At a fine dining restaurant you have a uniform cost to worry about, you generally are traveling a greater distance to reach your place of work and you well may not be given any place to park - or you have to pay for your parking (at least here in LA). At a fine dining restaurant you go through real training mandated by the managment in order to be able to work there, for which you are paid only minimum wage. And on and on.

                                                                                                                  Waiters and waitresses work damn hard for their money. I don't see them rolling in dough or buying yachts and luxury automobiles. I certainly don't begrudge them the gratuity which I leave them at the end of my meal - which I knew was part of the deal before I ever stuck my fork in that first bite of food.

                                                                                                                  1. re: tony michaels

                                                                                                                    TM, Servers at diners work VERY hard. They move much faster and have more tables to cover than finer places. Always walking around filling coffee cups, etc. That's why I give them extra. For a $4 meal how could anyone leave just 80cents? They'd need to have 100 customers just to earn $80 minus tip-outs.
                                                                                                                    Yes, the servers at finer restaurants have different environments and standards but the cost of meals is far far higher. 15% of a $200 meal is $30minimum. They will earn more in 2 hrs than the other in an 8hr shift.
                                                                                                                    That's why I am more generous with the luncheonette servers percentage wise.

                                                                                                              2. re: jfood

                                                                                                                Good list -- but for the most part, it's highly subjective (which I'm saying proves your point). For instance, in many cultures, and in many restaurants in NYC, it's considered rude for a waiter to bring the check before the customer asks for it.

                                                                                                                1. re: jfood

                                                                                                                  The $4 tip on $33 lunch was because he didnt refill water even once and I was thirsty. They had no carafes to leave on the table. I asked when we sat down. He had 2 tables going so he wasnt busy.

                                                                                                                  Is it too much to ask to have clean forks? Cant the busboys check before setting the table?
                                                                                                                  And proper time refers to dont ask if i want dessert while I'm eating my entree. And when I hand you my credit card return promptly. If you disappear with it for more than 15 minutes I may assume you are stealing by purchasing something online or next door. Same thing with cash. It doesnt take long to make change. A&P cashiers do it in 10 seconds.

                                                                                                                  In my attempt to avoid the "War & Peace" I left out some details that I guess are now important regarding my $12 tip. What kept the experience from being "wonderful" was when the check came. She overcharged us. She added something to the bill we didnt order. She tried to fix it but didnt do it correctly but the difference wasnt worth having her try again. And I hate pointing out billing errors esp if they are small. There were no other employees to tip out. No bartender, runner, hostess, busboy. She got the entire amount which I paid in cash. Plus, she was the owner. That's why she could give us the complimentary side dish. And, finally, the meals were only so-so. Very mediocre. Disappointed. Not recommended. I didnt factor that in my gratuity.
                                                                                                                  My calculations come to 17% tip. What would you have given?

                                                                                                                  1. re: tom porc


                                                                                                                    I am sorry to say that I truly do not believe some people enjoy eating out and this post confirms that there are some that try from the minute they park the car to find fault. Then there are those that are like Linus in the Peanuts cartoon, this little dark cloud follow them in their resto-capades.

                                                                                                                    For me, it a time with my sweetie, family, friends, colleagues to relax, enjoy, kick it back and have some fun and food. I do have minimum expectations, like everyone, but I do not show up with a checklist and a stopwatch.

                                                                                                                    I wish you luck in finding French Laundry service at diner prices. The quest will be long and frustrating to you and many others.

                                                                                                                    1. re: jfood

                                                                                                                      Well said. Reminds me much of that post a little while back about the impact of attitude on dining... Wish I could find it right now. For the most part, I live under the adage that expecting good generally promotes good.

                                                                                                                        1. re: ElsieDee

                                                                                                                          Yes, thank you, that's the one.. My internet kept cutting out before, so I couldn't search properly. Lots of interesting comments, and so true, IMO.

                                                                                                                      1. re: jfood

                                                                                                                        Jfood, Respectfully diagree with the last statement. I find we get much better service at casual/diner places than mid-range. We dont visit high-end so cannot comment on those. Perhaps, we are more comfortable there.
                                                                                                                        If you noticed I left 35% tip at the brkfst/lunch place because the service was good and she was friendly and we had a nice visit.
                                                                                                                        And an unfilled water glass is unacceptable in a restaurant of that status. When lunch plates are $15-$24 I expect better. He had only 2 tables and wasnt busy. We had a quick (30 min) one course lunch. Anyway, the food was terrible .. not returning.

                                                                                                                        At the $70 meal place, the server who was also the Owner should have been more careful preparing the check. Overcharging customers and then embarassing them by asking for it to be corrected is not good business. When she didnt correct the bill properly, we left having overpaid for our meal so our final impression wasnt favorable thus only 17%.
                                                                                                                        I'm beginning to believe that the quality of food and service does not necessarily improve with higher prices.

                                                                                                                        1. re: tom porc

                                                                                                                          TP, Sounds like you have found your win-win situation and that's great. And if leaving $5 on the meal makes you and the waitress happy, double great, and I can't imagine how proud you would be paying $2 for a $1.25 cup of coffee, handing the waitress $2 and telling the waitress to keep the change (that's a whopping 60% tip and probably deserves a hug and a kiss).

                                                                                                                          So as long as the frechfries are off the floor and water glass is full, go for it bro, enjoy, relax and return.

                                                                                                            2. The worst service I have ever gotten was last weekend when I went to mexican restaurant for dinner. We all ordered margaritas. I asked for mine to be easy on the margarita mix, as I like my margaritas strong and not very sweet.

                                                                                                              Waitress: what kind of tequila?
                                                                                                              Us: your house tequila is fine. whatever is the cheapest (note: I just graduated college and am living in Manhattan. I can't afford to splurge on good tequila. Oh well, maybe someday!)
                                                                                                              waitress: (grimace) are you SURE? Our house tequila is Jose Cuervo. I HATE Jose Cuervo. It will definitely give you a hangover tomorrow. (Looks right at me) and it has a LOT of sugar in it.

                                                                                                              Oh and it didn't stop there. Along with other snide comments throughout the meal, we got chewed out by the hostess because two of us (out of 6) split dishes. (however, the dishes were each $11 so they wouldn't have made THAT much of a profit if we had each ordered our own, plus we ordered an obscene amount of alcohol, wich we figured would suffice. OR they could have charged us a 'sharing fee' if they wanted).

                                                                                                              This is the only time I have left an extremely low tip.

                                                                                                              I should also note that It was extremely crowded when we were leaving and we knew we were never going back, so nothing was said to management...we wanted to get out of there as fast as we could afer that belittlement.

                                                                                                              1. I have a friend who consistently leaves at least 20% even when the service is notably subpar, because 'I used to be a waitress and I know it sucks.' Well, I used to be one too, and I refuse to pay a bonus for bad service. I'm comfortable with 15-20% depending on the level of service and willingness to help. When I eat with this friend, she will invariably add a few dollars to the tip, implying the rest of us are all being cheap. I used to offer to put in more money, but now I just figure if she wants to do it, let her do it. I don't have to.

                                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: marmite

                                                                                                                  I agree marmite. The "I used to be a waitress" thing doesn't fly with me. It doesn't take much for me to leave a good tip. A drink refill, some extra napkins and I'm good. I don't even mind if there was a problem with the food, as long as the waitress doesn't give me attitude about it. If she's like, "no problem, I'll take care of it" I don't penalize her for a kitchen mistake. If I get a big sigh because I ordered my bacon crisp and it's limp forget it. 10%

                                                                                                                  My sister has a friend that I've always thought was kind of snotty and she's a waitress. One time I asked my sister how she does in tips. She proceeded to tell me not very well, and that her friend says people in Long Beach are "sucky tippers". I can only imagine what those people have to deal with sitting at one of her tables.

                                                                                                                  1. re: marmite

                                                                                                                    Right. My DH was a server, and every time a waitress gives us an excuse for something, he often tells me later, "no, she's lying, that's not how it works." Or if service is spotty he can quickly scan around and say "I get it, she's got too many tables." He's a pretty harsh critic, because he was tipped well and EARNED it, and doesn't hesitate to dock for poor service or what he perceives to be laziness and/or dishonesty (i.e. blaming the kitchen when you jsut forgot to pick up the order, etc.)

                                                                                                                    1. re: Covert Ops

                                                                                                                      <<(i.e. blaming the kitchen when you jsut forgot to pick up the order, etc.)>>

                                                                                                                      Agreed. I would prefer they just admit they forgot it, because everyone makes mistakes and when you're busy, it's easy to do. Honesty is always better.

                                                                                                                      I used to waitress in a café/ bakery, and my favorite tip ever was from an ancient woman who came in quite often for a drink from the cooler. One day she sat at her table drinking a juice box, and left me exactly 15%, which was 11 cents. :) I loved that.

                                                                                                                  2. I once ate in a restaurantand forgot to leave the tip, never dare to go back

                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                    1. re: monkfanatic

                                                                                                                      I'd go back to deliver the tip.

                                                                                                                    2. My question is this ...

                                                                                                                      Even if a waitperson remembered you as a poor tipper ... what do you think will happen if you return?

                                                                                                                      Do you think they'll give you poor service again?

                                                                                                                      Do you think they'll spit in your food?

                                                                                                                      Is the tip we leave a down payment on the service we're going to get next time? Or is it a commentary on the service we've already received?

                                                                                                                      Do I need to tip more in restaurants I plan to return to? Is there a converse to that?

                                                                                                                      23 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: PaulF

                                                                                                                        I've been a server in busy tourist-type restaurants for over 15 years now and have recently started to open one of our own. I make a good living this way, I enjoy what I do, and take pride in doing my job well. I personally feel your comments thus far only support the concept of customer profiling. In fact, I feel I can almost "picture" each one of you, based on your post. People want to be treated as just that; a person. I don't look down on them based on how they're dressed, what they drive, or what they order. I'll only throw attitude if I receive it first.

                                                                                                                        I personally hate the 'I used to be a waitress and I know it sucks.' approach. It really doesn't suck. It certainly does suck at times, but what doesn't? If you hate it that much, then get a new job; You certainly won't make money with that mentality.

                                                                                                                        As far as tipping percentage, I feel that it's mostly a regional thing. The northeast and west coast are the best tippers, in general (18-20%). The south and mid west lie on the lower end as far as the US is concerned (10-15%). Keep in mind this is just my experience. That being said, I would take a nice, laid back table at 15% over a snotty, needy 20% any day of the week. I find it's just more conducive to making money to be calm and happy. Whoever said that EU visitors tip consistently poor is correct. Brits, Germans, French all tip poorly. I find Asians are usually 15% on the nose.

                                                                                                                        The posters who point out that tipping well (and from the tone of the post, are genuinely nice people) is noticed and shared information are spot on in their observations. I can't tell you how often my coworkers and I will converse to the effect of "I had them the other night, they're really nice".

                                                                                                                        As someone who has both worked in, and now owns, a restaurant, I feel the approach of "the tip is made up for in the inflated price of the menu" is wayyyy off base. Some considerations for the price include many factors which have been steadily rising in price. Fuel (product transportation, lights, gas for cooking, heat for a building with a constantly opening and closing door, etc, etc) is a big one. Salaries are also on the rise (especially for those that are truly skilled) due to cost of living (fuel again!). This list could go on and on and on, but I think the point is: The inflated menu price is NOT just gouging the consumer. Think about a local establishment vs you local chain. The chain is much cheaper. If you want a giant pile of mass-produced food of questionable quality delivered to you by someone who isn't allowed to have more than 3 or 4 tables at once because they don't want complaints or stress, be my guest. I'll take the busy local joint, understand the service may be slower due to a lighter staff load, enjoy something that wasn't boiled in a bag, pay and tip well, and be happier for it, but that's just me. More often than not there is a menu posted outside the establishment. If it looks like it's not worth the money to eat there, then don't. Ordering from the menu and then not tipping (a minimum of) the customary percentage is a classless act. Anyone who eats out frequently can look at a menu and figure out how much the experience is going to cost them (food, drinks, tax and tip) pretty quickly. The idea that this cuts in to a lower/middle income family's ability to dine out is silly. If you can't afford to leave a decent tip, don't eat out. It's not a right, it's a luxury and deserves to be treated as such.

                                                                                                                        I especially enjoyed the posts about those with bad tipping friends. We all have them and know what it's like. It's embarrassing! My parents have friends like that (those with the separate checks and calculator on the table) and I refuse to dine with them now.

                                                                                                                        My own personal tipping style is just that: a personal reflection. I usually tip 20% + a bit more. For breakfast and lunch it's usually a matter of a couple of bucks and often goes very appreciated. I take comfort in that for under $5 I could make someone's day a bit better. In a fine restaurant it's a bit more, but still usually worth it for us. When we go out for a nice meal, it usually takes about 3 hours. For good service in such a setting $50 on $200 (vs $40 on $200) isn't much more either; It's not like we eat that way often (or as often as I'd like). I feel if we can afford $200 for dinner, $10 extra for a tip isn't the end of the world.

                                                                                                                        And to PaulF: I personally feel that if you like the restaurant and intend on frequenting it, tip better, even for poor service. I highly doubt they'll spit in you food, but you never know! When you return try not to get the server in question, but if you do, you may be surprised. Maybe they were having an off day, maybe they're just not a good server. If you do go frequently, you'll certainly find servers you like and can request them (usually this is a very common practice). I'll always make room in my station for a request. As well, once you develop a relationship with a server make sure to ask "who do I request if you're not here?". They'll certainly steer you towards someone who's friendly and will bring you hot food. I think the tip is a bit from each column: It is both a reflection of the service you received as well as a down payment on future patronage. I know it's not necessarily fair that the tip wields a dual meaning, but I see a few dollars to someone that doesn't deserve as just a "tax" to find a server you enjoy dining with.

                                                                                                                        In closing, a tip is just that: something extra for appreciation. Having some one cook something you ask for, bring it to you, and clean up after you is something that deserves a bit of appreciation, no? The benefit of the doubt and not sweating the couple dollars extra makes you a better person.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Shi Tawkae

                                                                                                                            "I had them the other night, they're really nice".

                                                                                                                            Or, "They were really nice while waiting for their table. They tipped really well at the bar." This news travels through the staff just as fast as "These people are a nightmare, watch out."

                                                                                                                            These are the people who get free midcourses, extra desserts, comp drinks and any other number of small courtesies. And you can be sure that every staff member and the kitchen know who they are and has them in mind during their meal.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Le Den

                                                                                                                              Your post made me contemplate the places where I get extra special service. A couple of places involve a history of good tipping, but it seems there is a lot of wait staff turn over at the places I frequent. For me it is getting to know the chef and/or owner that gets me the goodies.

                                                                                                                              I realized one of the places I get the most special treatment is Whole Foods, where everybody knows me because I'm there so much. No tipping involved, so apparently being "really nice" is just as important as rounding up from 20%.

                                                                                                                              1. re: Le Den

                                                                                                                                So true Le Den! I just thought of a restaurant I go to all the time. Whenever the waitress makes a milkshake for a child (in a small glass) she brings my boyfriend and I the extra in the can. Love that!

                                                                                                                              2. re: Shi Tawkae

                                                                                                                                It's funny, I agree with you for the most part. When I lived in the states, I was a 20% tipper and, of course, continue to be when I return. However, I will say that Europeans have not gotten the memo regarding the upgrade and expecting them to realise that the United States is fairly diversified (by region) is a lost cause. That is to say that if 15% is an acceptable tip in some regions, they shouldn't necessarily be held to the nuances. It's a lot to ask.
                                                                                                                                But one of the reasons I wrote was not to defend Europeans or the Brits, but to comment on the issue of tipping in general. To place a significant chunk of an anticipated dining out bill has a peculiar effect of laying the final responsibility for unaffordability of dining out on the server. If a restaurant charged higher prices but paid servers in a way that did not make tips or tipping out a component of income, it would change the relationship to servers. I'm not starting a thread on whether or not tipping should exist-- that's not my intention and I don't know how many times to say it to ensure that people don't assume that's what I'm saying. What I am observing is that the tipping aspect allows a restaurant to appear moderate and appealing in price and food while making the server hold the onus of final tally. The resto doesn't live up to expectations? FInd a way to take it out on the server since the restaurant has to be paid (legally). Not tipping a server generates bad karma, to be sure, but it's not illegal.
                                                                                                                                It's a kind of affective economics. The restaurant offers low prices because it doesn't pay servers a living wage, and thus makes the server appear as the unreasonable party with 'additional demands.'
                                                                                                                                Those of us who champion tipping in the states do so because we know these are not 'additional' costs but the savings of the restaurant. But what does it mean that the server must always make up for this and live with contingent income?
                                                                                                                                And OK, I KNOW servers can make good money. I've been a back of house person, but I know servers. But I'm just talking about the kind of relationship that gets built so that the server bears the onus of the restaurant's affordability.
                                                                                                                                Am I making sense? It's been a long day. I'd say it's been a long week but in fact, I've been working straight through so I can't even believe it's already Thursday,.

                                                                                                                                1. re: Lizard

                                                                                                                                  No, you are making sense. And I do agree. I especially agree with the part about having a bad food experience and taking it out on the server even if you have a good service experience.

                                                                                                                                  It always amazes me when people resent the tip but not the price of meal when the restaurant is making a profit but the server is getting paid way below minimum wage. It seems like the resentment is aimed at the wrong individuals. But sometimes people need to feel in control and since they can't control the price of the food, they exert that control in the leaving of the voluntary tip. Unfortunate but I think more true than people would like to admit.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: bonmann

                                                                                                                                    >restaurant is making a profit but the server is getting paid way below minimum
                                                                                                                                    it is my understanding some places do not have a tip credit, thus the
                                                                                                                                    front room people getting tipped do get the local min wage. i believe
                                                                                                                                    this is the case in san francisco, for example. as a result, the people
                                                                                                                                    who sort of got shafted by the recent min wage rise are the backroom
                                                                                                                                    people operating at or close to min wage, who are not tip-eligible.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: psb

                                                                                                                                      I strongly dissagree with your statement about servers getting paid below min. wage. Any good server is getting paid well above minimum wage - when I was in the business, I was always paid more then twice as much as min. wage per hour (and everyone I know now gets paid extremely well but they are very good - that's the difference). If you just bring food from the kitchen to the table, you may make minimum wage. There's sooooooo much more to a great server.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: lexpatti

                                                                                                                                        assuming you are replying to me, just to clarify, i am talking about the
                                                                                                                                        wage not compensation [i.e. wage + tip]. my understanding is there
                                                                                                                                        are plenty of cases [in SF] where the server's hourly wage is around
                                                                                                                                        min wage [which is relatively high in SF ... of course, so is cost of living],
                                                                                                                                        but their wage+tip compensation may easily be several times higher
                                                                                                                                        than the min wage.

                                                                                                                                        obviously the googlers-in-chief are "paid" more than a dollar, even though
                                                                                                                                        their salary is $1:

                                                                                                                                        it is unclear to me beyond that what you are "strongly disagreeing" with.

                                                                                                                                        anyway, you may wish to read this long "rawlsian" commentary by the owner
                                                                                                                                        of incanto, a well-regarded, moderately fancy, restaurant here:
                                                                                                                                        [btw, that post is perhaps the most interesting thing i've read on CH].

                                                                                                                                        "what should be the relative salaries of various restaurant positions"
                                                                                                                                        is a different question from "how do you analyze the impact of legislation
                                                                                                                                        designed to help workers of a certain income level".

                                                                                                                                        ok tnx.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: psb

                                                                                                                                          No, my misunderstanding sorry. I was replying to compensation (wage + tip) when I disagreed they are getting paid under min. wage. Sorry about that. I find these topics very interesting and I'm passionate about his industry - looking forward to reading your links. Thanks.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: lexpatti

                                                                                                                                            psb, I just read that link - your right - excellent reading, thank you. fascinating. And it goes back to some of my other comments on this thread that if you don't talk to management (when you like the place, the food and want it to succeed), you may walk away without contributing to fix a problem or in this case understand why a business does what it does.

                                                                                                                                      2. re: psb

                                                                                                                                        The issue of wage varies from state to state. The point I wish to emphasise is that charging little and paying the server (and other people) as little as possible (minimum server wage or minimum wage) with tip incentive allows restraurants to appear reasonable while making service the last line of opportunity to eat out. Can't afford to tip? Blame the waiter rather than the restaurant who participates in an economy that lays the responsibility of final tally at the feet of the server.

                                                                                                                                        Yes, we should all factor in the tip-- but what if the restaurant did it first? Then we would assume that is what it cost to dine out rather than blame the server for our inability to eat out where and when we liked.
                                                                                                                                        I'm not anti-tipping. And I have to say, service in the states ANYWHERE (restaurant or store) is better than it is in the UK. But I am still intrigued by the idea that this is an economy that makes us develop resentment towards service/labour rather than management/owners.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: psb

                                                                                                                                          Yes, I realize that In CA the minimum wage laws do include most restaurant staff but here in the Midwest a server's restaurant wages are below the minimum. I was trying (apparently unsuccessfully) to contribute to the Lizard's point that we resent the server for the additional money we have to pay them. When very often, at least in the Midwest, that money is necessary for the server to even reach minimum wage.

                                                                                                                                    2. re: Shi Tawkae

                                                                                                                                      Eating out should not be a luxury for a majority of Americans.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: tom porc

                                                                                                                                        I don't know about "should", I tend to think of eating out as a luxury.

                                                                                                                                        However, if you look around at what makes up the majority of the nation's sprawl, I would say that eating out IS NOT a luxury for a majority of Americans, in fact, it has become a way of life.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: tom porc

                                                                                                                                          I define a luxury as something you don't NEED. You certainly don't need to eat out. Go get a can of Chef Boyardee. Go get a sandwich or some fast food, you don't have to tip there. Point being, there's always OPTIONS. I find from the choices I make about eating out, the extra money for a "fine" meal is spent on ingredients, ambiance, and skill of the staff. If you're paying a lot for something that's comparable to fast food or beefaroni, well then I think that's your own fault. You should have known better.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Shi Tawkae

                                                                                                                                            "If you're paying a lot for something that's comparable to fast food or beefaroni, well then I think that's your own fault. You should have known better."
                                                                                                                                            You can bet I will send that Boyardee right back to the chef. It is impossible to know what every entree in every restaurant in Tri-state area tastes like beforehand. You try new places and experiment. Sometimes you win sometimes you dont. But you should still receive good value.

                                                                                                                                            I dont think the owners of Outback, TGIF and every luncheonette in America want to consider their places luxuries. Hard to picture IHOP and Mercedes S-class in the same picture.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: tom porc

                                                                                                                                              You miss the point. One does not NEED either the IHOP or s-class, but WANT is another matter entirely. Just because one is more attainable doesn't make it any more necessary. No matter where you eat out, it will cost more than preparing a meal at home, and "value" is in the eye of the beholder. Even if these owners don't consider their establishments "luxuries", the fact of the matter is, they are.

                                                                                                                                              I'm not suggesting you should know what every entree tastes like before hand, but I do believe that if it actually does taste like beefaroni, there's usually an indication that it will before you even order it; Especially if the restaurant is large. Less expensive entrees must be less expensive for a reason. In a large place there's a lot of overhead, so the cost of the food or the pay of those that prepare it must be lower. Through my experience, lower cost ingredients will always taste better when prepared by someone with skill.

                                                                                                                                        2. re: Shi Tawkae

                                                                                                                                          I would say that, in New England, 15% on the pretax total is still the norm except in places like Boston, Providence and Portland, which are dining meccas. My impression is that the 18% benchmark is relatively limited across the US, but in important dining areas that tend to be frequented by Chowhounds. So servers who expect 20% outside those areas are bound to be frustrated through no fault of their customers.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Karl S

                                                                                                                                            I'm in Richmond, VA and the norm here is 20%.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                                                                                                              Who would have guessed that you're from Richmond?

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                                                                You'd might be surprised at the number of people who think I'm from Richmond, CA <g>....that's why I specify VA unless I am posting on the South board :-)

                                                                                                                                      2. I strongly believe that tipping (and how much you tip) is our communication tool to our servers. How well you communicate to your server will determine how well OUR waitstaff performs in the long run. Hence, very good waiters and waitresses get paid extremly well (with our tips) while underperformers just believe their job is to bring you what you ordered (as best they can) (and bring home little tips). When someone is really outrageous - I step it up and let management know that this particular moron could be ruining their business. They should know about it - particularly if I like their food or enjoy their business and want them to succeed.

                                                                                                                                        So for all you people who pay 20% or more for average - that's where you've set your expectation level. And your lousy waitress will still be there because you haven't said anything or let her know that she isn't doing her job to your satisfaction.

                                                                                                                                        40 Replies
                                                                                                                                        1. re: lexpatti

                                                                                                                                          Excellent post.

                                                                                                                                          I would add that leaving a poor tip without an explanation becomes a morale issue which affects all other diners. Nothing sours a dining experience more than technically perfect service experience but from a waiter who is unhappy.

                                                                                                                                          On those occasions when I am able to query a guest who left a poor tip, I have heard everything from legitimate complaints which could have been dealt with had the guest alerted us to them when they happened to some very strange things. "Its not like my mother makes." "I don't like blonds." " My waiter is more handsome than I am." "I asked that no one else be seated close to me." Or my favorite which comes from ex-pat Europeans "Sorry, we don't understand your tipping customs." when you had to listen to them talk about how they have lived on the UES for the last 5 years and are now moving downtown to be closer to their job. That one I will call them on.

                                                                                                                                          And to comment on the arithmetic that happened in some posts. 10% is easy. 20% is easy. In NYC 17.5% is easy. All the other numbers take work which means it was done purposely.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Le Den

                                                                                                                                            I disagree with your last statement. How the heck do you know that a wierd number doesn't simply meanthat someone is math challenged, and THOUGHT they were leaving 15 or 20% or whatever but didn't? You'd be surprised how often people think they have it right but don't, especially after a glass or wine or three (well, I know I have to stop and think about it. and carrying a tip calculator would be really geeky.)

                                                                                                                                            Well, actually, I also disagree with the implication that someone who is unhappy about service should always speak up. If it is appropriate AND it won't upset my dining companions, I do. OTOH, if I am with someone who 'doesn't like to make a fuss', OR in a business situation where I don't want to distract from the business at hand or take a risk of making anyone at the table uncomfortable, I might not, and I don't think it is fair OR wise for you to build your business model on the assumption that I should.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: susancinsf

                                                                                                                                              You don't necessarily need to broadcast your VALUABLE comments to management in front of other party members that may be embarrassed by this sort of confrontation skills - there are other ways to deliver it. As a business owner, I always want to know when my employees may not be delivering the kind of customer service that I expect (when I'm not around). I'm in business to please my customers and I grow each year because I continue to please more of them. In the restaurant business, isn't it the food and hospitality? The back end and your front end. If your waitresses and waiters aren't making top dollar with their tips (communication from the customer), it's saying something and if customers aren't communicating to you about your servers when they don't fit the bill - you can't fix it.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: lexpatti

                                                                                                                                                geez, what ever happened to the concept that customers vote with their feet? What does it say if they don't communicate to you? That they must be wrong? Nonsense, it just means that they don't like your establishment enough to bother calling you and telling you later, or creating a fuss in front of others, or perhaps, it just means that the service was so bad they figure that you just don't care!

                                                                                                                                                I might call later, if I really liked the food. But sorry, if there was a food and service problem, and for whatever reason I don't want to address it at the time, I just won't go back. Why bother to get say, a free drink, a discount on a future business or whatever that I dont really want anyway?

                                                                                                                                              2. re: susancinsf

                                                                                                                                                Does this mean that in your business you prefer your customers not tell you when they have a problem with your product, just stop purchasing them without you ever knowing why?

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Le Den

                                                                                                                                                  Thank you, this applies in all businesses. If you get treated badly (or bad products) and don't do your part to inform, whose to say your mother, grandfather, sister, aunt, etc. gets treated badly the next time - why wouldn't you want to make sure this employee/product (whether it's a failed trained waiter or a misinformed salesperson, bad product or worse a scamming broker) is set straight so that you don't get them again or someone else you care about. A restaurant business's success is so heavily relied on two things: food & service. You can't just have one without the other. Tipping is your way of communicating the level of service you felt you received. On the same note, I also tell management when I have phenominal waitstaff and when I see that a restaurant front end is run so efficiently.

                                                                                                                                                  To Susancinsf - if people just stop coming by your business, you'll never know why and there could be many reasons - how in the world could you improve, grow, expand, increase revenue, etc. without knowing where your pluses are and where you need improvements.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: lexpatti

                                                                                                                                                    Oh, I will warn my relatives all right: by telling them the story of my awful experience....but I am sorry, I have no obligation to you, the business owner. If I paid my money and didn't get value, it isn't my job to fix it.

                                                                                                                                                    My point is simply that I think it is short sighted and unrealistic to put the responsibility to fix problems in a business on the customer.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: susancinsf

                                                                                                                                                      Well said, Susan. I feel the same way.

                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Le Den

                                                                                                                                                      Well, I don't own a business. But my point is not what I should or should not do, my point is about what people actually DO do. Apart from that, personally I just think it is ridiculous to impy that I have some sort of an obligation to help a lousy place get better for the sake of others! If I care about a place, and think it will help, I will. Otherwise, I might warn people saavy enough to read CH, but it isn't my job to help you fix it!

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: susancinsf

                                                                                                                                                        Agreed, if you read my first comments it was around the fact that if you enjoyed the food or cared about the business. If you have no intention of returning or care less about a fellow business or entrepreneur succeding - why bother to do anything for anyone for that matter.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: lexpatti

                                                                                                                                                          You know, I think your last statement may reflect part of the issue here: I think this is the third time you've referred to the idea of helping out a fellow business...But I DONT own a business! Therefore I don't have that sense that you are talking about that I should help you because I'd want you to help MY business! I don't have a business! You are NOT my fellow (or sister) entrepreneur and I don't even have a 'we are all in this together' motive to help you succeed.

                                                                                                                                                          I am a consumer, nothing more.

                                                                                                                                                          In my state (California) the largest employer is the State of California. The second largest employer is the University of California. Cal State University system is way up there also. As are big conglomerates such as ATT, and then there are all those Silicon Valley Giants.....

                                                                                                                                                          So the point is, many if not most of us aren't business owners. Rather, we are cogs in a big machine. Basically, we work for The Man....so, when we go out to eat we want to escape work and relax!. Perhaps unlike you we aren't looking around someone else's restaurants to try and figure out what they do that perhaps we could do at our place of business....And since we want to escape our own problems, the last thing we want to do is to confront you about the problems you might be having.....All of the wishing in the world that we would tell you about your problems to help you do better isn't going to change that reality.

                                                                                                                                                          So, perhaps you might want to re-think who it is you are serving, and thus your approach to them. Chances are, your customers are much less like you than you think they are.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: susancinsf

                                                                                                                                                            can't really comment, you have too many missunderstandings......sorry. Let's chock it up as either I haven't explained myself clear enough or you just aren't getting it.

                                                                                                                                                        2. re: susancinsf

                                                                                                                                                          It's not your job? You don't get paid to do that? I wish I did; It sounds like fun.

                                                                                                                                                          Of course you don't have an obligation. I think they were just commenting on what they think the owner/management would like you to do.

                                                                                                                                                        3. re: Le Den

                                                                                                                                                          Mr Le Den, lexpatti etc:

                                                                                                                                                          Feedback about your business has direct and obvious value to you ... you
                                                                                                                                                          stay in business, make more money, solve problems quickly instead of slowly
                                                                                                                                                          etc. For us customers, it has kind of a diluted value ... I have n+1 restaurants
                                                                                                                                                          to choose from, instead of instead of n.

                                                                                                                                                          As a result, i think if you want feedback, you have to do the heavy lifting ... it's
                                                                                                                                                          not even a case of meeting us halfway ... you have to go most of the way if
                                                                                                                                                          you want it. To me this like like a grocery store asking you to fill out a list
                                                                                                                                                          of everything you bought using the argument "well we can serve you better
                                                                                                                                                          by carrying what you want." But come on, this is really about improving
                                                                                                                                                          their operation and generating info for marketing, or to sell upstream etc.
                                                                                                                                                          So they need to do two things: 1. make it easy to give them this info
                                                                                                                                                          2. incentivize giving them this info. And thus the reward/club card was born.

                                                                                                                                                          I'd probably more than happy to give the management some feedback if the
                                                                                                                                                          manager walked up to me and said, "Hi, I'm the manager/owner ... we're always
                                                                                                                                                          interested in improving our service, here is my card with my email address,
                                                                                                                                                          if you have any comments about you experience, please feel free to send me a
                                                                                                                                                          note, and I WILL OF COURSE GET BACK TO YOU." [and you better mean that
                                                                                                                                                          last part ... If I send you a list of what I was happy/unhappy with, and I dont get
                                                                                                                                                          an "ok tnx" I will be really annoyed, and if all I get back is a one line "thanks for
                                                                                                                                                          your input", then I'll be slightly annoyed.].

                                                                                                                                                          The virtues of this system are:
                                                                                                                                                          1. it is optional
                                                                                                                                                          2. it doesnt put anybody at the table on the spot
                                                                                                                                                          (I've ingnored the issue of "incentives", but how many people would
                                                                                                                                                          use club cards if you didnt get 30cents off your eggs and OJ? ... i dont
                                                                                                                                                          know enough about restaurant operations and finances to guess what
                                                                                                                                                          might be reasonable here ... since I do suggest email as the primary
                                                                                                                                                          means of doing feedback, rather than on-the-spot, although if the customer
                                                                                                                                                          wants to volunteer it on teh spot, that seems fine ... also bowing to the
                                                                                                                                                          internet age, it seems like monitoring the WEEB is not a bad idea ... it seems
                                                                                                                                                          like manager of quite a few restaurants reach out to yelpers, bloggers etc.
                                                                                                                                                          that seems smart. and another case of the web democratizing what used
                                                                                                                                                          to be scarce [food reviewing positions])

                                                                                                                                                          While it does appear you sincerely believe this kind of feedback
                                                                                                                                                          would help both parties, the business and the customer, I think
                                                                                                                                                          your expectations are a little unrealistic. If I sought out the manager
                                                                                                                                                          after a non-extreme dining experience [nothing terribly screwed up,
                                                                                                                                                          nothig wildly above and beyond the call] and said my piece, at the
                                                                                                                                                          typical place I certainly have no idea whether his reaction would be
                                                                                                                                                          "I'm glad you told me" or "what a self-important ass". Only in a few cases,
                                                                                                                                                          [for SF people, notably at two now deceased (ironically) restaurants,
                                                                                                                                                          The Heights [$$$$] and Merenda [$$], did I get the sense the management
                                                                                                                                                          "really cared" about feedback from me personally [ok. maybe Campton Place
                                                                                                                                                          [$$$$] too].

                                                                                                                                                          I've been polled for feedback more on Singapore Airlines more than all other
                                                                                                                                                          airlines put together ... considering the resources the allocate to monitoring
                                                                                                                                                          and refinement, it's no wonder they always come up as #1 for inflight service.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: psb

                                                                                                                                                            But we do all those things.............Every check presenter has a comment card included. About 50% are filled out. Nearly 20
                                                                                                                                                            % of that amount have no email address included. Most are complimentary. The negative run 70/30 no email/email and the highly negative are nearly 98% no email. But at least those that leave negative comments give us some idea of what can be addressed and the positive tell us what is working.

                                                                                                                                                            We also try and have some interaction with every table. There are plenty of opportunities for a customer to make contact including business cards with the company email at the door. An address on the company web site to send comments............the only thing we don't do is hold the customer hostage until they tell us what they think.

                                                                                                                                                            My managers and I keep an eye out and try and recover every comment card immediatey because we want this information. We send a follow up email to every diner who leaves an email and add them to data bases to alert them to special events they may be interested in.
                                                                                                                                                            (ot--please write clearly when leaving an email address. I can't address your comments if I can't read your writing.)

                                                                                                                                                            Back to my original message. A bad tipper is when there is no discernable reason for the bad tip.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Le Den

                                                                                                                                                              I guess I should have said it seems like you/your establishment
                                                                                                                                                              does the "heavy lifting" but my impression is the typical
                                                                                                                                                              restaurant manager around here would have a "what the hell?" reaction
                                                                                                                                                              if on my way out i stopped to give the management my unsolicited
                                                                                                                                                              comments ... i think they'd listen expecting something dramatic
                                                                                                                                                              either in the postive or negative direction, but when it all boiled
                                                                                                                                                              down to "the food was fine and the service decent ... it would have
                                                                                                                                                              been nice to have been seated at 8:30 per rsvp, instead of 8:40, but
                                                                                                                                                              i understand ... and i thought you pot de creme was a little small for $8.
                                                                                                                                                              we appreciated the server's diligence keeping the ice tea topped up."
                                                                                                                                                              they would conclude 1. my this guy is picky 2. this guy is self-important
                                                                                                                                                              and some notably arrogant restaurants would probably think and say
                                                                                                                                                              worse behind my back. [i could list some restaurants in my area i think
                                                                                                                                                              would have a "if you dont like it, dont come back" attitude, but one never
                                                                                                                                                              knows what kind of specific comments may run afoul of the CH star chamber
                                                                                                                                                              moderator vangurd].

                                                                                                                                                              BTW, expecting me to put my email on a comment card is very different
                                                                                                                                                              from the scenario i present. i would frankly just assume that was to harvest
                                                                                                                                                              addresses for future spamming purposes [of course if it is a restaurant i am
                                                                                                                                                              favorably disposed toward, i might not mind getting email from them, but
                                                                                                                                                              that sort of begs the question].

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: psb

                                                                                                                                                                Whether I would agree or disagree with your comments they would be appreciated. You've told me much more than just how you felt about those three issues. Of course, they would all be relative to the night and situations in question.

                                                                                                                                                                For example: If you had been kept waiting when the table was ready, I need to speak to the hosts. If you were incomplete and not seated until all your guests arrived and they were the ones 10 minutes late, its your issue. If its a busy night, bad weather etc., another situation.

                                                                                                                                                                If the dish was brand new to the menu, this is the best feedback I can get (and I often go round to tables when we change a menu item to ask for direct feedback).

                                                                                                                                                                I can deal with picky if its not unreasonable and I wouldn't consider any of these unreasonable and it is always great to hear that a server has done a good job.

                                                                                                                                                                Yes, those emails are used for in house marketing. Some people like them, some don't. Just ask to be unsubscribed if they bother you.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Le Den

                                                                                                                                                                  I think 'we've established that YOU are interested in any and all feedback.

                                                                                                                                                                  Your point about being particularly interested in feedback on new/rotating
                                                                                                                                                                  dishes is interesting ... and makes obvious sense. Naturally you'ld prefer a
                                                                                                                                                                  sotto voce mention rather than find "and their desserts are over priced"
                                                                                                                                                                  in the google cache.

                                                                                                                                                                  I of course dont know what you're particularly lookiing for feedback on.
                                                                                                                                                                  If you came up to me in the "post prandial tableside feedback spiel"
                                                                                                                                                                  scenario above and said "dish X is new and we are pleased to you
                                                                                                                                                                  ordered it ... we're natually particularly interested in your thoughts about
                                                                                                                                                                  it" ... again that's the extra step that makes me feel like your are serious
                                                                                                                                                                  and not just saying what you have to say for customer relation reasons
                                                                                                                                                                  that "we are interested in your feedback". i dont know anything about
                                                                                                                                                                  running a customer business and i am sure it probably has some pretty
                                                                                                                                                                  dramatic swings, but the old saw about actions speak louder than words
                                                                                                                                                                  applies. it kinda annoys me when i call a business and I have to wait some
                                                                                                                                                                  crazy amount of time to get ahold of somebody and their opening line is
                                                                                                                                                                  "how may i provide you excellent service today" ... well you can start by not keeping me on hold half the day.

                                                                                                                                                                  BUT, do you really, really think most of your brethren want to hear
                                                                                                                                                                  "the tart tatin, should have been 10% larger" "i'd prefer 20% more ice
                                                                                                                                                                  in my water" "the iced tea was just a little too strong" ... what the hell do
                                                                                                                                                                  i know about running a restaurant? i can speak to my experiences
                                                                                                                                                                  but some of these critiques seem to go beyond that ... just like i think
                                                                                                                                                                  you have have tuned you "BAD TIPPER FLAGGING" algorithm too
                                                                                                                                                                  sensitively [i think 2-3% difference can be explaiend by rounding and
                                                                                                                                                                  bad math/math simplification, rather than carrying signal] ... similarly
                                                                                                                                                                  i think you have to accept that people are generally only going to comment
                                                                                                                                                                  on experience a couple of std dev above or beyond expecation ... not any
                                                                                                                                                                  and all comments"

                                                                                                                                                                  "I dind't appreciate being made to wait 30min after by rsvp" -> "our
                                                                                                                                                                  apologies". "I didnt apprecaite having to wait 5min" -> "who do you
                                                                                                                                                                  think you are?"

                                                                                                                                                                  in the incato/mark pastore posting i refered to above he mentiones
                                                                                                                                                                  "it's a cynical town" ... and maybe things are overboard here, but just
                                                                                                                                                                  saying "we care" isnt going to solve the problem across the board.
                                                                                                                                                                  i think restaurants need to do indivdual things to convey that.

                                                                                                                                                                  do you call all the "how am i driving? call 1-888-tell-me1" numbers?
                                                                                                                                                                  you might if the dood didnt something crazy, but you dont gratutiously
                                                                                                                                                                  burn cell phone minutes to say "you souldnt have rolled through the stop
                                                                                                                                                                  at X", or "i appreciated your letting me merge". [yes, i realize in some cases
                                                                                                                                                                  those might be some kind of legal scam to inform the driver is a subcrontrator
                                                                                                                                                                  and you're not responsible for his being a maddog driver].

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: psb

                                                                                                                                                                    does anybody local [sf] actually think restaurants like aqua, michael minna,
                                                                                                                                                                    zacharies, postrio really care about your feedback unless something
                                                                                                                                                                    pretty dramatic, positive or negative, happened?

                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: Le Den

                                                                                                                                                                    So I should tip 20%, stick around to give you a performance review, fill out a survey, give you my email address so you can spam me, and you're doing me a favor?


                                                                                                                                                                    Fortunately most of the places I go to don't expect this sort of thing. If the food is bad or barely acceptable and the service is poor, I will tip 10% - that *is* my feedback. It's up to you or in particular the server to rectify the situation. I'm not there to tell somebody how to do their job, I'm a customer purchasing food, not an employee of yours.

                                                                                                                                                                    Oh and figuring out 15% is just as easy as figuring out 10%.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: luniz

                                                                                                                                                                      >Oh and figuring out 15% is just as easy as figuring out 10%.
                                                                                                                                                                      do you count in binary, or something?

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: psb

                                                                                                                                                                        if you can find 10%, divide it in half and add it back to the original. that's not hard at all.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: luniz

                                                                                                                                                                          be careful what you start here, i tried replying with how I do my tip configuration and just recieved grief, mind you I appreciate your input...

                                                                                                                                                        4. re: Le Den

                                                                                                                                                          "I asked that no one else be seated close to me."

                                                                                                                                                          I've used this excuse for not returning to a restaurant. Hostess want to seat us (party of 2) next to a noisy 8. I asked for another table and got the "we need to even the waitresses workload" excuse. Another time the hostess seated a party of 6 next us (again 2). All other tables were vacant. It was the only table that could seat 6 so I asked why did you seat us here when this situation could happen?

                                                                                                                                                          Restaurants are cramming in too may tables as it is and it's impossible to have a private conversation anymore without having the hostess make such mistakes.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: tom porc

                                                                                                                                                            That's pretty funny, as a restaurant owner - your the type of customer I would choose to say "bye bye" to. Tables are there to fill up and make money - that's why they're in business. Maybe you should find more quiet and quant restaurants where they cater specifically to what you want, rather then trying to get a restaurant to change their layout just for you. :-) :-(

                                                                                                                                                            I don't prefer the new open concept kitchens where the place tends to be much louder, but many do.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: lexpatti

                                                                                                                                                              I am with Tom on this one: I don't patronize restaurants with table spacing that is too close, particularly if they refuse to move me to another, better empty table of the same size as mine. I had this experience recently when I was dining alone in a nearly empty restaurant, and they sat another single diner six inches (!) from me on a banquet when there where many other empty tables. Did they think I didn't want to dine alone and were trying to match me up with this guy? Since I was already two thirds of the way through my meal, I couldn't ask to be moved, nor did I complain. However, I DID like the place, so if I go back I will simply request one of the good, non-banquette tables that I made note of while I was sitting there.

                                                                                                                                                              Which I think illustrates my point above: why bother to complain? you would have just thought to yourself that I was being too picky, and not the demographic you wanted, and you would mentally write me off, as you just mentally wrote off Tom. And yet based on your posts above you think he had some sort of an obligation to let you know about his unhappiness!

                                                                                                                                                              I am sorry, but particularly after your post above your statements that I have some sort of responsibilty to speak up for the benefit of others appears to me to be just a rationalization.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: susancinsf

                                                                                                                                                                Your missing the point, I don't advocate complaining to management that their tables are too close or that their place is too noisy - you can see that when you walk in, you made the choice to sit down. You can't control where people will be sat around you - Come on!!!!

                                                                                                                                                                I agree with Tom too, I choose not to return to a restaurant that I found was too noisy because it's open and seats are very close, AND THE FOOD DIDN'T OUTWEIGH THAT NEGATIVE FOR ME.

                                                                                                                                                              2. re: lexpatti

                                                                                                                                                                Agreed. Get up and leave, don't just complain about it. I see one of two things happening here:

                                                                                                                                                                1) The restaurant is so busy, they don't care if you leave or not. They'll just fill the seat anyways, thus the "need to even the waitress workload"

                                                                                                                                                                2) They'll go out of business, since they only had a six-top and a duce crammed in a corner together.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: lexpatti

                                                                                                                                                                  "Maybe you should find more quiet and quant restaurants where they cater specifically to what you want"
                                                                                                                                                                  Absolutely! We try, but it seems more and more are open seating nowadays. We are eating more at chain restaurants because they have booths that allow private conversations. I am sacrificing food quality for comfort.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: tom porc

                                                                                                                                                                    That's a broad brush your painting. You might not be searching hard enough. I'm not sure I've heard that before - sacrificing food for comfort, and eating more at chains for the comfort of private dining. Hmmmm, new one. I think I might say the opposite - many chains to me have become the noisy places now, even the high end fabulous places like Flemings with their open kitchen concept.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: lexpatti

                                                                                                                                                                      Sorry, I cant enjoy my meal if I'm uncomfortable. Since we've established dining out is a luxury enjoyed occasionally I prefer places where the tables arent very close together. Chair not backing up against chair. And we can talk without the next tables overhearing us and us overhearing them. Its something we dont do often and we like to enjoy ourselves. We have left many places due to being ill-at-ease.
                                                                                                                                                                      I dont blame the restaurants. I understand they need to maximize the selling floor. It just doesnt suit us. We do try to go early (5:00) and eat quickly before the place fills up if we really want to dine there.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: tom porc

                                                                                                                                                                        I'm agreeing with you about the noisy places being uncomfortable and tables being too close, I also choose other places - I just dissagree with you that chains are the solution. Just the oposite. We dropped big bucks recently at Flemings (great chain) but couldn't speak a word to each other. If I return (because I do love their food), I will request a table in their more quieter section or ask when their slowest night is (and make a point to explain that last time was extremely noisy). Maybe, if enough people say something, they will install those panels in the ceilings to reduce noise. Many restaurants do when customers provide valuable feedback.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: lexpatti

                                                                                                                                                                          Many Americans now think that they aren't having a good time unless it's noisy.
                                                                                                                                                                          This may be a class thing.
                                                                                                                                                                          You may be in the minority wanting quiet. (me too -- I like to hear our conversation without shouting.)

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Kim Cooper

                                                                                                                                                                            It seems the quiet, intimate places are very high end. Out of our budget. They may need to make up the difference for having fewer tables or larger sq footage space.

                                                                                                                                                                            Whenever the alcohol flows, Americans have a good time (read niosy). The drinks are cheaper at the chains (read TGIF) so they are usu noisy places .... unless you request a booth away from the bar and tables of 6.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Kim Cooper

                                                                                                                                                                              Agreed, it is becoming more popular - is our society maybe against communication - NOT ME!!. More and more places have the open kitchen concept which contributes to the noise level rising. We went to a new place last night and first thing I noticed when we walked in was the open kitchen and was soo pleased when the hostess said "would you like to sit upstairs?" and of course I jumped in "absolutely, would you say it's more quieter too?" and she nodded in agreement.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: lexpatti

                                                                                                                                                                                I wonder if the hostess saw your look of unease at the scene before you and therefore made the suggestion. She did a great job of making you feel welcome and comfortable. I hope you enjoyed the food.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: tom porc

                                                                                                                                                                                  Could be. This is a small local chain in New England and had been to two of their other places so I do love their food - just never had been to this location and they are all very different - some in very old houses, this was in an old mill building. You just don't know til you get to a place, what they've chosen to do for ambiance and decor - and I do the best I can to communicate what is best for me within the considerations of their business. We had a fabulous night. Those people downstairs seems to have family's w/kids, which might work best for kids (noise + noise).

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: lexpatti

                                                                                                                                                                                    Every new place we try is an adventure of sorts.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Some we conquer others we flee.

                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: tom porc

                                                                                                                                                                        I feel your pain, though I wouldn't go as far as you do to avoid the feeling of being forced to dine with my neighbors. In San Francisco, many of the smaller ethnic restaurants actually have much better table spacing (and often are quieter depending upon the spot) than do some of the mid-scale and upscale spaces...It is not atypical for hubby and I as a two-some to be seated at a four top at those places and we seek them out when we are in the mood for some privacy.

                                                                                                                                                              3. It's easy for me to double the tax (SF = 8.5%) to obtain the tip amount. It's not easy to calculate 20% in my head, especially after a course of wine. How do others calculate 20% at the table?

                                                                                                                                                                7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: DezzerSF

                                                                                                                                                                      even easier, multiply by 2 and move the decimal point over, or round up, like we usually do

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: justagthing

                                                                                                                                                                        not to be a pedant, but for those who dont do fourier transforms in their sleep,
                                                                                                                                                                        the divide first should be easier ... although you lose precision.

                                                                                                                                                                        say your bill is $68.59
                                                                                                                                                                        option 1: 68.59 -> 6.9 -> 13.8
                                                                                                                                                                        option 2: 68.59 -> 137.18 -> 13.7

                                                                                                                                                                        the 4 digit multiply to get $137.59 is an expensive operation.

                                                                                                                                                                        20% is a "fifth" ... which is what i use ... thats $2 per every $10 of
                                                                                                                                                                        the bill and $1 per 5 ... beyond that, it is rounding to the dollar.

                                                                                                                                                                        anyway, just a comment ... your milage ... and tips ... may vary.

                                                                                                                                                                        This almost makes me wonder how often the "signal" read into a
                                                                                                                                                                        tip is a mistake because somebody made an arithmetic error,
                                                                                                                                                                        or was just lazy with rounding [which can explain a 2% difference].
                                                                                                                                                                        e.g. i'd round the above to $69+$14 = $83 as a working number
                                                                                                                                                                        and then go to $82 if unhappy and somewhere on the upside
                                                                                                                                                                        if quite happy.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: psb

                                                                                                                                                                          uh...your option one appear off to me, probably b/c you rounded it already. If you do not round it, then it would come to the same answer as option 2. but anyhow, how I would do it and yes it is my way, but everyone always defers to me b/c I can figure it out faster than anyone that I sit with usually.
                                                                                                                                                                          $68.59...I think to myself 6x2=12 plus 9 and 9, 1.80 that comes to 13.80. I then look at the total on the bill and round it so that it becomes an even number. If I have to divide it between fellow eaters, then I always err on the + unless the service was less than desireable, rarely happens. This literally only takes me seconds. Plus, it's easier to just say, move the decimal over instead of dividing by 10.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: justagthing

                                                                                                                                                                            >Plus, it's easier to just say, move the decimal over instead of dividing by 10.
                                                                                                                                                                            gee, maybe you can convert the total bill to base5, then shift the decimal
                                                                                                                                                                            over one and then convert back to decimal from base5, and voila ... 20%
                                                                                                                                                                            with no multiplication or division.

                                                                                                                                                                            68.59 -> 233.3 > 23.33-> 13.72

                                                                                                                                                                1. 20%, divide by five
                                                                                                                                                                  15% divide by six

                                                                                                                                                                  1. I think the easiest way (besides doubling the tax in 8.25% LA) is take 10% then double it.

                                                                                                                                                                    Bill = $68.00

                                                                                                                                                                    10%= $6.80

                                                                                                                                                                    Doubled = $13.60

                                                                                                                                                                    In this case I would just leave $14.00 or $15.00 and be done with it.

                                                                                                                                                                    Oh, I also forgot to mention if a busboy is constantly bringing drinks and clearing dishes, I'll personally give him a couple of bucks. (even though I've heard that they get a portion of the servers tips)

                                                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Oh Robin

                                                                                                                                                                      This is what I do also. And the only time I leave less than 20% is if the waiter/waitress is rude.

                                                                                                                                                                    2. Oh Robin mentioned the reason I don't under tip - no matter how bad your server is they are tipping out other people who may have done a good job. If the server is really bad and I am tipping under 15% I always give the busser or someone else who may have helped me instead of the server the rest and usually more of the tip. Trust me, news of that travels very fast as well and everyone knows why the server received a poor tip.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. This might be another thread...but curious as to what you base your total on? 100 is food + drinks. 113 is total with tax. Do you tip on the 113 or 100?

                                                                                                                                                                        34 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: tochipotle

                                                                                                                                                                          I tip on the total with tax. On a $113 bill, I'd leave $25.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: tochipotle

                                                                                                                                                                            You tip on the total BEFORE taxes, also discounts, coupons,... That has alway been the "standard".

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: RoyalArcher

                                                                                                                                                                              I disagree. Tipping should be on the total of the check either pre or post tax (its only pennies).

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Le Den

                                                                                                                                                                                It's not just pennies every time, depends on the check amount. I agree it should be pre tax. We don't want to be mistaken for good tippers now do we?

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: DezzerSF

                                                                                                                                                                                  I still cant get past the idea that I am a "bad tipper" if I leave less than 20%. And a waiter/ress may get counseled because of it.

                                                                                                                                                                                  No sarcasm intended. An honest question: Would you prefer we not dine at your restaurant and you're left with an empty table?

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: tom porc

                                                                                                                                                                                    As I've said several times, the "talk" comes when a waiters tip average consistently falls below the rest of the staff which you must admit, is reason for concern. I may ask why a particular tip is low, but there is no cause for alarm until it becomes a pattern. The only way you could cause a staff member to be cautioned is if you were the only customer they had every day.

                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: DezzerSF

                                                                                                                                                                                    In NYState, the tax rate is 8.625% On a $100 check that would mean a tip (at 20%) of $20 pre tax or $22 post tax rounding up. On a check of $1000 the difference between pre and post tax is under $18. If you are a 15% tipper, it is even less.

                                                                                                                                                                                    It is insignificant because if you can afford a meal at either of those price points, you can afford the paltry extra dollars to tip on the total.

                                                                                                                                                                                    You have the choice of tipping pre or post tax. Just don't try and use the excuse of "significant" amount of money to make your justification. Just own that you tip pre-tax.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Le Den

                                                                                                                                                                                      Which (tipping on the pretax total) is the long-standing custom, after all, so there is nothing whatsoever to be ashamed about and the server has zip right to be aggrieved!

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Karl S

                                                                                                                                                                                        I have no argument with you on that. I just don't like the pretense that post tax means a huge amount of money, which is a popular excuse.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Le Den

                                                                                                                                                                                          it's not a huge amount of money, but it may suggest how sensitive you
                                                                                                                                                                                          can be to reading "signal" into the tip differential. a buck or two on a modest
                                                                                                                                                                                          bill may often likely be better explained by math simplification [rouding or
                                                                                                                                                                                          other shortcuts like tax doubling] running out of $1 bills, problem making change
                                                                                                                                                                                          when splitting bill with others, being in a hurry [you leave nx$20bills and leave],
                                                                                                                                                                                          different assumptions of base amount [pre/post tax] etc, rather than a a
                                                                                                                                                                                          commentary on the service or your tipping propensity. do men and women
                                                                                                                                                                                          leave different sized tips? do you correct for that? etc. we've already covered
                                                                                                                                                                                          the easy-to-observe variable like might predict large variations in tipping [europeans] but smaller size differences might be correlated to other factors and should all be imputed to service.

                                                                                                                                                                                          anyway, i'm repeating myself. upshot:
                                                                                                                                                                                          my know-nothing-about-the-restaurant-business guess is "you can
                                                                                                                                                                                          read signal into 15% vs 20%, but 18% vs 20% at your likely sample
                                                                                                                                                                                          size might be pushing it" [yes, f you keep tip statitics for 2 months by
                                                                                                                                                                                          server with random inputs, it's possible that would carry signal, but
                                                                                                                                                                                          for daily tallying, with non-random assingment ... say a person with
                                                                                                                                                                                          seating discretion consciously/unconsciously routes likely good
                                                                                                                                                                                          tippers to one persons's space ... or people eating in different shifts
                                                                                                                                                                                          may likely have different tipping propensities ... i imagine the alcohol
                                                                                                                                                                                          dollars vary by dining time ... i think you may likely get statistical

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: psb

                                                                                                                                                                                            We don't even really notice the difference between pre and post tax unless there are some strange mathematics going on and then its more curiosity as to "What were they thinking to go to that much trouble?".

                                                                                                                                                                                            As for variables:
                                                                                                                                                                                            Manhattanites (and most of the people who work there) tip better than everyone else (except for the UES ladies who lunch and have never worked).
                                                                                                                                                                                            Weekdays have higher tip percentages than weekends when the city gets an influx from Jersey and the Island. But even then its not much of a drop.
                                                                                                                                                                                            Tourists tip the worst.
                                                                                                                                                                                            Male-female, race, age, alcohol, time of day etc., don't really figure (exception the above noted and possibly new parents, but they are easy to forgive.).

                                                                                                                                                                                            Poor/Insulting tippers are the 13% and lower (unless European and then they might have considered it a good tip--but its a hard sell to a waiter who gave the same quality service as the table that left twice that).
                                                                                                                                                                                            15-16% are cheap.
                                                                                                                                                                                            17.5% are easy and just doubled the tax.
                                                                                                                                                                                            18% and better are not taken into thought
                                                                                                                                                                                            20% is the norm
                                                                                                                                                                                            23% and higher get noticed and flagged. They get reservations when we are booked out, get special treats from the chef (if regular enough), etc.

                                                                                                                                                                                            When I talk about a waiters average falling to 18% or lower, that means they had a 16% for every 20% and a 15% for every 19% etc.rather than the 22% against 18% and 23% against 19%. Not just one table. A bad tipper is a blip on the radar. A series of bad tips is a problem with the waiter.

                                                                                                                                                                                            And I have tip statistics dating back to every waiters start. They are entered daily.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Le Den

                                                                                                                                                                                              And the norm for midtown and downtown Manhattan for Manhattanites has been 20% since I was in high school in the 1970s (when I remember being advised about the tip bump that was then unique to there but has extended in varying degrees over the past 15+ years to many other dining meccas). What's interesting to me is how midtown and downtown Manhattan have not budged since!

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Le Den

                                                                                                                                                                                                Wow! If you are this particular and tuned-in to the staff's tips, how are you with the decor and food quality?

                                                                                                                                                                                                "15 -16% cheap"
                                                                                                                                                                                                Call me cheap then :0)

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Le Den

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Thanks LD for the categories. I think your analysis has SO many biases that from a statistical point of view it really have no value other than given enough data over a same period, you might see some relevance to service quality versus customer habits.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Do you ask each custo to fill out a form for name address occupation, etc. so you can make such assumptions as UES women or the B&T crowd. Being from CT I would hope we uptick the weekend tip pool. :-))

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Although data is good remember the old saying "there are statistics, statisticians and damned liars."

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: jfood

                                                                                                                                                                                                    "...you might see some relevance to service quality versus customer habits"

                                                                                                                                                                                                    All of Le Den's posts about how they track their servers' tip percentages are based on the assumption that he's concerned with service quality, and that if a server is consistently below the average for his restaurant, 20%, that he talks with the server, attributing their tips to their service. The examples he gave in his previous post were to explain that there are variances between weekends and weekdays and different groups of people (yes, some of those arguments are easier to prove than others), but that *ultimately* since he looks at the percentages night after night and week after week and follows the trend, they come out to about 20%.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: nc213

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Understood, and in relationship to others in the same room, at the same resto, with the same number of statistically significant data points, it is a good proxie to how a server compares to others. But given the number of dependent variables in the equation, one must have a little diligence in the conclusions. Its a good indicator compared to the server's comparative set.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      For example, does the >23% regular get the same server all the time since they may have a good relationship with each other; does a particular server receive all the non-English speakers because (s)he speaks several languages. The former will have an upward statistical bias and the latter will have downward pressure.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      It's just one needs to separate causal and correlating factors when analyzing data.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: jfood

                                                                                                                                                                                                        We generally don't seat the same customers with the same server. We don't avoid doing it either and we certainly don't seat minorities with minority staff or try and seat foreign language speakers with like speaking staff. It would be far too troublesome to orchestrate the dining room that way.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        The only concession is that if a customer requests a specific waiter, we will do our best to accomodate them but the nature of the room means that the requested server will be able to stop by and say hello even if not seated in their section.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Right now, I only have one waiter who is consistently pulling in 18% or lower (this was collected over a 4 week period of 4-5 shifts a week). Everyone on staff knows what is going on and had warned the person that they needed to pull them selves together. They have had one sit down and the issues explained and discussed. We spent a great deal of time training this person and working with them to bring them up to the standard we expect and I don't want to see that time wasted so this is not taken lightly. We will see after another week if it got through. Everyone else ranges between 19% and 21% on a regular basis with the occasional spike higher. There is no preferencial stationing (we are a pool house) and not enough customer requests for specific waiters to tip the balance.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: troutpoint

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Yes. All tips from all servers are combined in a common pool and divided, usually on a percentage basis (waiters 10, runners 7, bussers 5, bar 10% off the top etc. for example). The idea is that no table is the sole responsibility of a single server, but everyone's.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                It also negates the " good section, bad section" situation. I actually worked for a short time in a restaurant (as a waiter) were the sections could be "bought" from the manager and the hostess "bribed" to seat certain sections over others. None of that is good for the customer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Pool houses also help keep service standards higher because the staff police themselves. If a staff member is not pulling their weight, you can bet I hear about it from the rest of the staff. One more reason why someone who if falling under the average tip percentage for the restaurant is on the line. It means that that one person if affecting the service to such a degree that the efforts of all the other back up staff are not able to make up for it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Le Den

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Our regular dining resto is obviously a pooled house. The service is fantastic to complement a great chef. Only ~70 seats and three waiters and 2 runner/busboys. M&M Jfood probably good for 40+ dinners a year.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Le Den

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    LeDen ... do you find most ppl order a bar drink? Is it standard to give the bartenders 10% of the day's tips?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Also, if a table gave a very large gratuity (35%+) to a server who did a great job, do you give them a "bonus" at the end of the week?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: tom porc

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Unless someone orders no bar drinks (and that includes wine by the glass, soft drinks, bottled water etc.) the bartender was involved. Some order much more, some less, rarely nothing (tap water only). Bar tip out varies from restaurant to restaurant with bartenders given points like a waiter at some to various percentages at others. Its all relative to the restaurant in question.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      If a waiter has a consistently high tip percentage or their customers seek me out to give positive comments (those comment cards come in very handy here) it is certainly taken note of. No bonus, but more leeway with schedule requests and the rest of the staff will certainly treat them with a higher degree of respect.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Le Den

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I'm torn between understanding this philosophy and not. On the one hand it truely makes sense and I respect it from a business owner but I was a waitress for years and know many people in the industry and I always made much more then my fellow servers so based on that - I would be bringing their tips up, they would be bringing mine down. That was always my reasoning for not working at a place that didn't pool tips. I have extremely high standards for how I did the job, therefore my tips reflected it. I know many fellow servers who didn't agree with the extent that I took responsibility of my guests. If everyone held that same high standard of excellent service and I was assured of it - I could be convinced that this works for the individual server. I can respect this for the business and everyone else involved as well. hmmmm, interesting.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: lexpatti

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I worked both as a waiter. In some, where the management and owners were weak, I made much more by being out of the pool. But at those restaurants with high critical and customer demand, pool was better. Customers get better service. You remove the "I've got a terrible section tonight....Not my section, I'll try and find your waiter...I'm new and don't know what I'm doing" sort of situations that can affect the customers experience.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        While it can be a little frustrating to always be the high earner, its great when you find yourself in the weeds and the troops come in to bail you out. It also gives you the chance to take a slower section on those nights when you are feeling a little under the weather or had a bad day without it affecting the customer as much....a cushion if you will. And I think it improves service all round as waiters are much more likely to interact with other sections and see how the other waiters are handling their tables. Sticking to only your section can lead to isolation rather than sharing of knowledge and ideas.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Le Den

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I can see the teamwork environment in this philosophy which I'm a big advocate of. great points, thanks. You've made a good arguement for it - when management, owners and training plays a vital role in the success of it working right. I should have done my homework and interviewed them better at those places that pooled their tips.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    3. re: troutpoint

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Thanks, troutpoint.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I'm too embarassed to say what I thought it was :0)

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: psb

                                                                                                                                                                                                          psb, your previous post has statistician/scientist written all over it. :0)

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: tom porc

                                                                                                                                                                                                            well in this case, it's more like an interest in "tipenomics".
                                                                                                                                                                                                            for example see the "bagel payment study" in the well-known
                                                                                                                                                                                                            book freakonomics.
                                                                                                                                                                                                            reasonable summary here:

                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Le Den

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I'm not making excuses at all. But for someone who judges tippers, I would think you would want to be more diligent with your calculations. It seems you are fairly nonchalant with this highly significant data.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: DezzerSF

                                                                                                                                                                                                        If restaraunts kept records of tip amounts and recorded all the values of the various other variables mentioned above (i.e., gender, time of day, time of week, tourist, European, and the like), one could run a simple regression analysis to determine the contribution of each variable on tip size. Unfortunately, such analysis would not be able to include the two most important variables--perceived quality of service and of quality of food. To include those two variables, one would have to initiate an expensive social experiment in which food and service quality were independently varied--perhaps, good, medium, bad--resulting in nine combinations to run against the other variables.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Not to mention that the tip amount be accurately recorded pre or post tax, not both. One could be confused with "not taken into thought" (18-19%) when they were actually being "easy" or cheap (16-17.5%).

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: tochipotle

                                                                                                                                                                                                The longtime custom in the US is to use the pretax base. You are free to use the total if it's easier for you.

                                                                                                                                                                                              3. Running a restaurant is like running every other business, there are overheads (food, staff, taxes, utilities, laundry, papergoods, equipment, rent etc).

                                                                                                                                                                                                The easy option to stop anyone having to tip is for restaurants to put their prices up 15-20%. Then they can pay the servers their tips out of the increases, then watch as customers complain about the price increases and vote with their feet.

                                                                                                                                                                                                The restaurant industry worldwide has always worked on tipping out servers who then tip out their bus boys and runners.

                                                                                                                                                                                                19 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: smartie

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I would love a restaurant that paid their servers a higher wage (i.e. an amount equal to the normal minimum wage plus 20% of the total food served) and didn't allow tipping. I would recognize that a $10 entree would be $12 but i don't need to leave a tip. I really would.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: smartie

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I'd MUCH prefer that. The way it is right now is like playing a childish game which I wish I did not have to participate. I consider myself extremely easy to please. Give me the menu, Come to take my order or answer my questions. Bring me food and water, and finally check. Great if you can do it with a smile, if not, just don't appear angry. That's all. Usually I only see my waiter 3 to 4 times a meal, sometimes twice. ( and no, that does not upset me, I am there to enjoy the food, not to socialize with the waiters, in fact I probably prefer it that way, heck I probably would not even mind bringing the food out myself; I have 2 functional legs and 2 arms, it really does not kill me to utilize them once in a while) all together probably less than 2 mins at my table. I really don't see what the fuss is all about. When I leave I pay 15 to 20 percent which apparently the restaurant is making me pay the waiter because it wants the printed meal price to appear lower.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: psb

                                                                                                                                                                                                      From my perspective any "retail" job has the same issue with dealing with the public. Any time you begin a conversation with the other side's view is "I want" there is the possibility for these "hard job" comments. It's just that this is a food site. If this were retailshopping.com, retail sales would be the hardest, etc. Just the nature of this site.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Everyone thinks their job on any given days is the best or the worst. That's life. People also feel that the pay of the waiter relates to the service. Well it does, but so does every retail job. Servers are paid as a percentage of serve and can range from 10-30%. Other retail salespeople, those on commission, have very binary pay, you sell you get paid, you don't you don;t get paid. Others are on salary but if they do not sell, they will not be there very long.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      So yes, servers have tough jobs, but then again almost everyone else does as well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: jfood

                                                                                                                                                                                                        My boss expects (and receives) 110% from me so I expect the same from others whether they are food servers, salespeople, etc.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: tom porc

                                                                                                                                                                                                          If you have a bad day at work do you get your pay docked?

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                                                                                                                            There are degrees of "bad days" at my job with different consequences. A bad day is one where we make a mistake either big or small.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            If its a minor bad day, we get counseled. Third counsel we're suspended. So yes, we lose 3 days wages after 3 small errors.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            If we had a very bad day and our error caused a sentinel event. Probable termination depending on the patient's outcome. If the patient dies, you may have worse issues than loss of salary. I work in a hospital laboratory and our current staff is very professional and conscientious fortunately errors are few.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: mimolette

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Fixed prices would, of course, decrease incentives for some servers to do their best and/or would allow poor servers to be "free riders" on the efforts of the better or more motivated servers. Likewise, the likelihood of Americans wanting to reward good service would be strong, in part because of their sense of equality and unease at having anyone be a server in the first place. The outcome, in such a case, could well be resumption of 15-20% tipping on top of 20% price increases.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                                                                                                                          It was true that in New Zealand, where it is customary not to tip, the service was, well, lax. It was laid-back. Friendly, but kindof slow.
                                                                                                                                                                                                          So, apparently, tips acctually are an incentive to give extraordinary service.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Service is almost always great in East Asia and there is no tipping involved.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: smartie

                                                                                                                                                                                                          "The restaurant industry worldwide has always worked on tipping out servers who then tip out their bus boys and runners."
                                                                                                                                                                                                          Sorry, I disagree with your statement. In some countries it is not necessary or even proper to tip. I enjoyed traveling and not having to worry about how much to tip.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: smartie

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Is there any other country in the world that has patrons tip the wait staff?

                                                                                                                                                                                                            No-tip policy increased meal cost. If it works in the rest of the world, it could work here.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: tom porc

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Tips are global.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              In Colombia, we get charged a service charge and usually tip on top of that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Do you mean that every country has a tipping procedure? I disagree. There are countries in which they do not allow a patron to tip. Maybe in the better restaurants in most all countries it would be more customary for the tourist to tip, but I am sure that those that live in certain areas and got to their local eatieries, do not tip. I also like eating at these type of places to get a real feel for the local food.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: justagthing

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Where are you talking about? Even in the old communist countries before they opened up to the West, I as "allowed" to tip. I've lived and worked just about everywhere, and have tipped everywhere. Or are you talking about "official" policy somewhere?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: justagthing

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I can vouch for this. I did a lot of travelling when I was younger and there are places where tipping is alien.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      On a light note, I lived in Africa for many years. The first time we went out to a nice restaurant for dinner, being Americans, we were confused when the meal took two hours to serve and eat (standard practice. meals are all night events and when you make a reservation, the table is yours for the entire evening). We were even more puzzled when, after eating our dessert half an hour went by and our waiter still had not brought us our bill. Every few minutes someone would stop by to fill or glasses and refill coffee cups and smile at us, as we, being unsure of the protocol, just sat like morons asuming eventually our waiter would bring us our bill. Finally, after overhearing our pathetic, puzzled conversation, the lovely British woman at the next table leaned over and whispered to my father that, should we be ready to leave, we need only signal to our waiter that we would like the check. Sure enough, the next time our waiter passed by and nodded to us with a big smile, my father raised his index finger in a writing motion and the guy was off like a flash, returning with the bill in mere moments. Less than five minutes later, we were standing in the parking lot, sheepishly giggling over our ignorance.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Nestra

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        When I was in the South of France, sorry can't remember exactly which city, but, we stayed in a Chateau and had dinner down in the village below. I loved that the table was ours for the evening. They don't have the turn and burn attitude that we so often encounter here, which i do understand why...but needless to say, it was so nice. Even in Paris, when my family and I were in Chinatown, we didn't feel rushed. I also remember hanging out in an Italian restaurant near the Arc d' Triophe (sorry I'm sure I mispelled stuff here), we hung out and chatted with our neighboring tables and had a wonderful time. Thanks for the vouching too!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: justagthing

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I miss it. Dining was truly an event where I lived. People still dressed nicely for dinners, there were five or more courses, even at less expensive restaurants, that were served at a very slow pace, the wine was excellent, service impeccable. Definitely more of an event. After a few times out, we were old pros and gladly relaxed for three hours, chatting away and enjoying each other's company. You hit the nail on the head, no turn and burn, unlike a lot restaurants in the States.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      When I was in Japan, I was told by many many people (American and native Japanese) that it is very rude to tip. When I was in London (and service charge was automatically added) my American guilt made me still want to tip. Go figure.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. As I mentioned above I tip pretty well, about 25%, 99.9% of the time. But have tipped less when needed. I also will compensate a hard working server/bartender if I see them get stiffed, or tipped .50 cents for a drink or something like that. I was at a bar and the bartender was doing a great job with myself and the other customer in there at the time, the guy ate lunch, and his drink glass(coke) was never empty. His lunch tab came to $17.00, and he left a .50 cent tip. I know because the bartender, who I know made a laughing comment about it. So When I paid for my drinks I made sure to include a few extra dollars to compensate for the cheapskate who stiffed her. I figure for that guy who stiffed her, what comes around goes around, and he will get his.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Also regarding people with an issue with people who tip 25% will cause raise the bar, and have servers expecting that much every time.. I tip what I feel like, and I believe if I have been blessed with a good job, etc, I want to help spread it around, and do my little part to keep the wheels of the economy turning.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: swsidejim

                                                                                                                                                                                                                You and I see this the same. Right now I am at a stage in life (unlike 20 years ago <g>) where I am blessed financially as well as non-financially and I like spreading the joy, so to speak. And I have found it has come back to me ten-fold in so many ways.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. As someone who working in the food service industry for many years, I can say that it is likely that you will be remmembered as bad tippers. Unless the waitress is brain dead. However, I had a few bad tippers in my time, and one guy later bagan tipping me very well. I waited on him for 5 years. When he learned I was leaving the restaurant, he asked to explain his bad tipping years. He said he didn't know any better until a friend of his began waiting tables, and tipped 20% therafter. Apparently, it was on his concience.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                So, she may remmember you, but you can easily redeam yourselves!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Wait staffs not only remmember your tipping habits, but your food and beverage habits as well. And they will absolutely relate all of these things to the rest of the staff. It's like any workplace that has clients.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. We usually tip average (California- double the tax) unless the service is unusual: less if it's bad or more if it's especially good. Once the service was really bad -- so bad that the hostess came over and brought us what we needed. We tipped her and not the waiter -- and told her why, very briefly. Once the service was so great we tipped 30% -- and were really sad when that restaurant disappeared (it had been there since 1961 so it had a good long run....)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Okay, if you are an "under-tipper" once... I'll wonder what I've done wrong. Twice and I'll assume you just believe servers get paid a living wage. This continues until you tell me otherwise. I'm sorry if this offend other servers. I'm a career server and I an good at my job. If you are unhappy with my service tell me. I don't expect you to educate me on the finer points of servive. I just need to know what YOU expext from ME.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. Unfortunately the server gets the brunt or the advantage of the overall dining experience.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Did the hostess greet the customers promptly, cheerfully, and take them to a table that was instantly approved. Then did the server promptly and cheerfully greet the customers, leaving the appropriate amount of time to say hello, read the specials, get a drinks order, return with bread etc, drinks and get the order at the same time as understanding the menu and helping the customers choose if needed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Then did the kitchen do it's bit. If the kitchen can't or won't make modifications this can reflect on the server. Did the meal come out correctly and within good time. Did the busser or server clean between dishes. Does water get refilled. Was the food good and worth the money. Were the desserts good. Is the place clean. Was the coffee good. Did the server get the check quickly and process it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Were the customers in a good mood anyhow.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      A great many things add up to how you tip as a customer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: smartie

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I dissagree, the majority of your tip is going to your server therefore your tip reflects your communication to the level of satisfaction of service you received. I agree with Kimmer above - if you aren't happy with the service, tell them why so you can get the kind of service you expect when dining. Kimmer is obviously happy with the level of service that she puts out (and the tips reflect that the majority of time), as I know is evident with many people I know that are professional servers and take pride in what their doing and continually improve with valuable feedback from customers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: lexpatti

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          That incident where we tipped the hostess rather than the waiter -- we couldn't possible have told the waiter what was wrong because he never came back to our side of the room. He hadn't left the building because we could see him across the way, gossiping with the bartender. I got up and refilled our water glasses myself, and the hostess brought us silverware when we flagged her down.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Ya think he didn't know what was wrong with his service?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          By the way, we were two females: I know there is a myth in the restaurant business that women don't tip well, but it's pretty much a self-fulfilling prophecy. We don't get as good service when we don't have a man with us.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Kim Cooper

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I totally agree with your action and wish more people would do the same. When the service/server is that bad, I actually leave a penny because that does communicate directly to the server how much I appreciated their service. There really is no point in communicatin to someone that bad. If you leave nothing, they could ignorantly assume you forgot and think you were the ignorant one and never get your point. I still think it's worth the effort to tell management how disgusted you were with this server - no one should get that kind of service.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. I'm more concerned with being remembered as a good tipper then with being recalled as a poor one. the benefits of being a good tipper are multitude.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. I always tip 20% (and sometimes more) unless the service is, in my opinion, not worth the extra 5% and then I leave 15%. However, whenever I leave 15%, I will explain either to the server or to the manager why I was dissatisfied with the service. If it's a few small things, I'll discuss it to the server. If it's a big problem or a lot of problems, I'll talk to the manager.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Either way, to me the extra 5% is a bonus, but the 15% is mandatory. After all, how many of you would like it if your pay was docked just because you were having a bad day? Since I will probably never know the underlying reasons why that particular server was not providing good service on that particular day, I prefer to err on the side of the server.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          And speaking as one who waited tables for years, you DO remember the poor tippers - you also remember the good ones. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: WhereForArt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I agree -- and I suck at waiting tables. I, too, think that 15% is the minimum, though I usually leave 20% (and more if service warrants it). Though I have to say, I probably end up paying more than I would if I WEREN'T a good tipper because I go out a lot by myself and sit at the bar. Of course, because I'm a good tipper, I am remembered, and gots lots of free stuff, which I then add extra (and usually extra, extra on to the tip)for.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            And yep, I live in NYC (well, technically in Brooklyn), and up until a couple of weeks ago, would pretty much go out every night, and my dinners would generally be at least $35 a meal (which I still don't consider high end).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            As for tipping poorly, I don't think anyone remembers you if you tip poorly once (they might remember if you left a "statement" tip of a penny or somesuch), but if you habitually come in and habitually tip poorly, yep, they'll remember you (I do remember that from my sucky waitress time -- and I did get great tips). And let's face it, if you didn't enjoy a restaurant, why would you really go back there anyway? There's too many choices, and it's gotten too costly to eat a mediocre meal (in the same way it's ridiculous to spend $11 on a movie up here).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            But I also have to say, in terms of service, I think oftentimes you get what you put out there -- if you're a surly, complaining, demanding customer, there's not a lot of incentive for your server to give you great service. If you're pleasant (which was my one great strength as a waitress), then you'll generally get pleasant service (and please notice my use of the word "generally."). Good service is part of the whole experience of eating out, and I'm very happy to pay for it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. if I receive good service I tip well--if I receive really good service I tip really well-if the service is awful before even ordering ie. rude,nasty I walk out-I don't have to eat there nor leave a tip I go elsewhere and avoid the rest

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. Just my two cents...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              There are a few different scenarios...
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1) The server felt she was doing a decent job, and didn't realize how upset you were by the lack of water refill, if you weren't getting at all "pissy." In this case, she might not understand the "bad tip," and feel like, "Well they didn't *seem* angry," especially if you grinned and beared it, and were still very polite. In this case, she probably won't be friendly if she waits on you again, still slightly resentful of you "cheap tippers," that she did her best on.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2) She knew that she forgot your water refills, and just didn't have a chance, and felt even worse when she noticed that you filled your own glasses. She understands the bad tip, and next time, she'll go out of her way to be a little more accommodating and attentive.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              3) She doesn't get why you tipped bad, but she's oblivous in general, and doesn't have a good memory, and doesn't plan to be a waitress forever, so she doesn't really zone in when she comes into work, and thus won't remember next time when she sees you or act any differently because when she leaves work, she leaves it all behind.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              That's my take anyhoo.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. I too am disturbed by the proclamations that "20% is the new 15%".
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                In real estate, because prices in certain regions have skyrocketed over the past ten years, commissions have gone from 6-7% (mind you this amount is split many ways) down to 3.5-5% depending on price and number of services offered. Resto servers get a raise when prices go up, and boy have they. If anything, tip % should be going DOWN!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                This all reminds me of a Chinese place. I was accompanied by a native Mandarin speaker who ordered. We specifically said "small to zero amount of calamari in the mixed seafood hotpot". We received the dish with about 90% calamari! The server was totally defiant, refusing to send it back or bring us something else. She claimed the manager wasn't in (it was x-mas). We placed a $00.05 tip on the charge. The cashier glanced at us but no one came over to see if anything was wrong. I won't ever return. I don't care if they have a "no return" policy or if they dock server for returns. A fish rots from the head down.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. once I was at BJ by brea mall, waited for helf an hour , didn't even get to order a drink. because I was a diabetie, my blood sugar got too low, so I told them I really need to order something before I pass out, waited another 15 minutes before I finally got a drink, never been back since nor did i leave a tip, don't think they deserve it

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. To the OP .... a 10% tip in this case was justified. The server failed twice to bring water esp as its the only thing you were drinking. Many ppl need to take their meds with food so it's important for each diner to be have something liquid available unless they decline.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    When you return. ask to sit in another section if you see your waitress around. If she remembers you, she can ask your new waitress what you tipped then she'll know that she did poorly during your visit.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. I will be your server on any given night and I just want to talk to you about service and gratuities in general, all of you. Tips are a funny thing, aren't they? When you are expected to provide a gratuity for service, and left to decide the amount on your own, you have to make some hard decisions. Money can be emotional. Some are generous, some cannot bear to part with an extra dollar or two. It usually evens out for me. Everything about being waited on is subjective, I might provide you "slow" service because I want you to relax, not rush, and enjoy your company. You might resent that because you're especially hungry, you have to be somewhere else, or you're just and eat and run type of person. On the other hand you might feel rushed if don't give you 5-10 minutes between courses, or bring your first course while you're still enjoying your first cocktail. Maybe you're annoyed because you just want to sit for a half hour and unwind before ordering dinner, and I keep asking you if you are ready. Let's face it, you and I are going to have a relationship, albeit a short lived one, and we need to communicate. I need to know what you want from me, and I want to give you what you want. That's a good place to start. Sometimes I need you to be patient and sometimes you don't have any to give Like every relationship, things don't always go smoothly. Here's a little about my situation: I have 16 guests at any given time, plus a barman, manager, host, busser, 4 other servers and chef that I need to communicate with. That's 25 individuals who all need me. I have 70 other guests in the room, and if they have food and drink that are prepared, I am responsible for helping get those things out to those guests also. Sometimes the kitchen or bar messes up, and sometimes I just forget things. I want you to know I'm truly sorry and I'll fix it as quickly as possible. I love this business, knowing good food and wine, dealing with people, it's my career. I don't have the luxury of negotiating a salary or schedule like many of you do in your career. I'm stuck with a very strange system of receiving gratuities in lieu of a paycheck. I work random days, late at night, without meals or breaks, without a single benefit and for poverty level wages. I accept that, I love my job and I make a good living. I am able to work under these circumstances because of gratuities. About that now: Unless you are tipping over 20 percent on that bill you are never tipping ME more than 15%. I am expected and required to tip the support staff a minimum of 5% of your bill, whether you tip me anything or not. Maybe you didn't realize you are tipping the bartender who made your drinks, the host who seated you, the cook who made your food, and the bussers who are bringing water and bread and keeping your table clean. My entire paycheck is taken for taxes that is assumed I have received. I actually get negative paychecks. Mostly, my wages are not even enough to cover the state and federal taxes and I have to settle up with Uncle Sam every April. I hope that you will work with me so that we can both have a great experience while we're together, and I hope you'll tip me at least 15% so I can continue to do what I love. I hope that you can consider the gratuity a service charge that is based on a system that is old and out of both our control, a system that not only supports me but all the the people I work with. I hope you will not think of it as a system to reward me or punish me based on things that are subjective. I hope you will tell me or my manager if you are unhappy about anything and allow us to do our best to fix it. Lastly, I hope I get to wait on you again and that you say good things about me and my food, and bring your friends with you next time you come in. Bon Appetit.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      27 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: TruDiner

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Well as James Madison wrote in F#51,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        "if men were angels, no government would be necessary."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        If all waitstaff were like you, we could almost just have a "mandatory" ~20%
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        added on all the time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        But the point is not everone is as consciencious or capable ... whether it be
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        the "inner angels of their nature" or understaffing by the restaurants soverign.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: TruDiner

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I think I love you!!! Marry me?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: TruDiner

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Very nicely said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Tip the cooks, too?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: tom porc

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Yup, I tip the cooks, too. In an average restaurant the waitstaff usually disperse a minimum percentage of the tips they receive in this manner. These percentages are based on total sales that include all transfers from the bar and sales tax. 2% for the busser, 1% for the barman, .1/2% for the hostess, 1/2% for the kitchen tip pool. That's 5% and it's the absolute minimum requirement. I always tip more. Also, for all the drinks/apps that were ordered at the bar and transfered to me, a 10% tip on the total of those drinks/apps is required for the barman. For those who tow the 15% line every time, know that I will only keep half of it. For those who are more generous, it allows me to be more generous and provides me with a better income. I thank you.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: TruDiner

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                It was my understanding it was not legal in SF to include kitchen staff
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                in tip pools. is that an SF/CA thing, or am i mistaken/missing something.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                i answer myself!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: psb

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Not legal in many areas.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Karl S

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Depends. If a service charge is added to the check (and arranged in advance or standard policy for the restaurant) it is legal....Per Se has this policy and most large party contracts allow for it but with percentage limits. Grats...i.e. tips added at the discretion of the customer can only be paid to the wait staff and service staff.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: TruDiner

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              On behalf of myself and my coworkers who I know feel the same way TruDiner.......

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: TruDiner

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                TruDiner, you sound like someone who would get at the very least a 20% tip from me and would see me several times a month. I have nothing but the utmost respect for servers who treat their job like a profession. It truly is, in my opinion, almost an art form. I know I most likely wouldn't have the skill needed to multi-task and commit to memory all the various details that good waitstaff diligently remember daily, nor the patience and intuition needed to deal with a wide assortment of customer personalities and needs.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                So often though, these kind of people are hard to find in your average chain restaurant where, let's face it, the majority of Americans can afford to eat. Most of us can't afford to shell out $50 per person for dinner three times a month. In fact, I would venture to say that most Americans can't afford to spend $20 per person for dinner three nights a week. So the fine dining establishments where stellar servers ply their trade are inaccessable to many of us as a general rule. Chain and cheap restaurants don't provide great service on average. However, one notable exception to this rule is, in my opinion - Waffle House!!! I have tipped more Waffle House waitstaff 100%+ because of their sincere desire to make my cheap, greasy diner meal a great experience. I truly believe it is because a lot of Waffle House staff see their jobs as careers and it is important to them to excel at it. I think that is the major difference between someone who makes their job an art form and someone who just clocks in, clocks out and counts their tips as soon as possible.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Nestra

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I dissagree Nestra, there are many professional servers who choose a diner, a fast pace chain over a high end fine dining establishment. It's up to the individual server and how they interpret their job/career and the resposibilities that go with it - same with any career. I can find excellent business brokers who give it their all, and others who sit back and do nothing and get the same commission. Same with real estate agents - all professions for that matter. I go to many restaurants up and down the scale and have phenominal servers in diners, chains and fine dining but also have lousy servers in those same places. I'm sure TruDiner would be an excellent server whether at a diner, chain, fine dining establishment or whereever because that's what he/she is............

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: lexpatti

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I agree with you regarding TruDiner, but chances are, he/she is the type of server who is in high demand, so would most likely not end up working in a chain restaurant, making less money. As a general rule, I think most people would choose not to run around like crazy for less money.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Obviously there are exceptions to the rules, but, my obsrevations are based on my personal dining experiences.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Nestra

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      It's a different set of skills to do diner vs high end, so it's a choice what you want to do. It's not always about how much money because it can be that rule of fast nickles or slow quarters. Some servers enjoy the casualness of a chain or diner atmosphere and many tables, vs the details of only a few tables and a more distant/refined relationship at a fine dining.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I've done both, enjoy both, made great money at both, know people at both.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: lexpatti

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Another fine post.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        If the diner/chain sells liquor that evens out things a bit. Cheaper drinks but more quantity. Greatly adds to the bill total.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        This is why I dont arbitrarily tip on the total. The servers at the lower priced places will get ridiculously low tips if you go only by the check.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: tom porc

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          But Tom? Your system is comPLETEly arbitrary! It seems to be based on water glasses, the number of trips to the table, a server's ability to read your mind on a given day (they want the check quickly/they don't want the check quickly). At the end of the day, the system which you disdain, which is the one practiced by everyone else, is based on a completely concrete premise: that one adds a certain percentage to the bill based on the total of that bill (including or not including the tax to be decided later) and voila!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I think everone on the board probably agrees with you on the diner service and tips more on those meals. And if that's where you're comfortable eating and what you're comfortable paying, then great. You've found your niche.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          But honestly? But your attitude toward more expensive places and the service you expect there speaks volumes -- probably before you even sit down for your meal. You seem to be impossible to please and, in fact, looking to find fault with everything around you. If I were waiting on you, I don't think that I'd expect a good tip from you either.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: bebevonbernstein

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            If everyone was to tip solely a set percentage of the total there is no incentive for good service. The server will expect it no matter how well they do. Restaurants might as well just add a sevice charge to the bill. If that happens the lower priced eateries will have difficulty keeping help as all servers will want to work at higher priced places. Or the diners will raise prices to attract workers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            As for the expensive places ... if you're paying those prices, the service should be excellent. I mean really! if a server is going to get 20 -25% of a $300 meal he should be prepared to work for it. More than plop the dish down for that $60/$80 tip.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            And who's asking anyone to read minds? I'm sure LeDen teaches his employees to be observant. if a patron is searching for his server or acting impatient, they need something quickly. If I'm putting on my coat and hat and generally preparing to leave the table, please return with my change/receipt in less than 15 minutes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Oh, and there have been a few posts how servers make "below minimum wage" and yet when I dine out I notice how busy the places are and the amounts ppl are probably leaving based on the menu prices I wonder how can this be. I recently met a waitress who as a single-mom singlehandedly purchased her first home solely by her tip income. And you know how expensive houses are these days. So servers can and do make excellent money and I'm happy for them. They work hard and deserve it but I will not tip generously for poor or even basic service.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: tom porc

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              <If everyone was to tip solely a set percentage of the total there is no incentive for good service. The server will expect it no matter how well they do.>

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Nope. It doesn't work that way in our jobs, and it wouldn't work that way with servers. You and I get a set amount no matter how we do; we don't need an "incentive" to do our jobs well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              <Restaurants might as well just add a sevice charge to the bill. If that happens the lower priced eateries will have difficulty keeping help as all servers will want to work at higher priced places. Or the diners will raise prices to attract workers.>

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Not true. The lowest priced places don't have problems attracting people now, nor do all diner workers eventually leave to work at Le Cirque.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              <As for the expensive places ... if you're paying those prices, the service should be excellent. I mean really! if a server is going to get 20 -25% of a $300 meal he should be prepared to work for it. More than plop the dish down for that $60/$80 tip.>

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              And if I'm going to go out for a $300 meal, I should be prepared to leave a good tip on top of it. More often than not, the service is commensurate with the price of the establishment. Also, I have met very few diner servers who have the capacity to work in a high-end restaurant.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              <And who's asking anyone to read minds? I'm sure LeDen teaches his employees to be observant. if a patron is searching for his server or acting impatient, they need something quickly. If I'm putting on my coat and hat and generally preparing to leave the table, please return with my change/receipt in less than 15 minutes.>

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I will agree with you on this point, to an extent. However, restaurants have a vested interest in turning the table, so on those rare occasions when I don't get my receipt back so quickly, there's usually a good enough reason for it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              <Oh, and there have been a few posts how servers make "below minimum wage" and yet when I dine out I notice how busy the places are and the amounts ppl are probably leaving based on the menu prices I wonder how can this be.>

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Unless you are there with your "counting cards" technique every shift every day, yours is a specious argument. You are making gross assumptions based on very little data (what you are able to observe in the hour or two you occupy a table). And if you paid as much attention to your food as to calculating how much your servers make, you might have a better dining experience.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              <I recently met a waitress who as a single-mom singlehandedly purchased her first home solely by her tip income. And you know how expensive houses are these days. So servers can and do make excellent money and I'm happy for them.>

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Again, you are grossly overgeneralizing on the basis of one person's experience.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              < They work hard and deserve it but I will not tip generously for poor or even basic service.>

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              You've already established that. I'm just glad I'm not ever going to be the person who's waiting on you.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: bebevonbernstein


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Although I disagreed with your comments below, you are completely on target with these comments. All i can do is shake my head sometimes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: tom porc

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                tom, I really don't understand your philosophy on tipping either. You should still tip on the check total. by using a percentage base you don't jeapordize good service unless you just always leave the same amount regardless of what kind of service you get. My orginal statements have always been that great service should get above standard % and really lousy service should get below standard % and really lousy service should be communicated to mananagement or at least your server so they know why they didn't get. But as I said, there are different skill sets that go with fine dining that go with that high price, therefore higher tip (based on % of that check). Someone working at a fine dining restaurant is working with less tables with more attention to details.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: tom porc

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  First, servers in fine dining restaurants do more than "plop down the dish." Most of what they do you do not see. They come in long before service and stay long after to set up and break down the dining room. They need to learn a lot about their restaurant, food, wine, and service. I don't know what your job is, but I would guess that whatever your boss or customer sees as a finished project, say a report, involves a lot more than typing it up and plopping it down.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Second, you have mentioned repeatedly that you met a single mother who could afford a house by waiting tables. That's great. I'm glad she is doing so well. However, her situation does not mean that all servers are doing well or can afford to buy houses. Do you understand that you cannot make generalizations about how well all servers are doing because this one purchased a house?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: nc213

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Thank you! There is sooo much more behind the scenes that goes on. Your diner server doesn't need to know the details of specials since they're bound to not be as complicated as a fine dining special (for one tiny example), in fact one fabulous place I worked - the chef actually cooked us the special so we knew what it looked like, smelled like and tasted like. I for example may get a bearnaise sauce, au prouve, diablo, etc. for my steak at a fine dining place which I would assume the server will know what I'm looking for if I get confused - most likely not at the diner and good chances I won't get that sauce either. I do pay for that difference in both the price and the service - and gladly do. I love both - they have their pluses. My great server deserves a good tip (% of the check) whether it's a fine dining or diner - that % of the total check shouldn't really change just because of the price you are paying for the meal - it should only change if you are overly satisfied or overly dissatisfied.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: lexpatti

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      "More often than not, the service is commensurate with the price of the establishment" --- I dont find this to be true, sadly. Perhaps, because I dont eat at the highend places but even at the mid ($25-$40 entree) I get less than great service. I know we are casual ppl and enjoy diner type places but I find the service better at diners.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      "that % of the total check shouldn't really change just because of the price you are paying for the meal" --- I dont agree with this hard-heartedly. I would never give a server in a diner $3 for a $15 check even if its 20%. I give more. Perhaps I overtip at some places and undertip at others but tipping is at the discretion of the customer. So far there is no law that I must give 25% for basic service although that is what most of you seem to do. That's your choice and I have mine.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      And my tipping philosophy is easy to understand. For great service I give generously (can amount to 35%) ... however for poor or even rudimentary much less.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Rudeness = poor tip
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Getting up to refill my own water glass = poor tip
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Serving me cold food = poor tip
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Asking if I need change = reduced tip
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Keep me waiting for change = reduced tip
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      For the servers who would like us to avoid them -----
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      My DC and I are the nicest ppl. We are pleasant and easy going. Dont complain or treat servers harshly at all even if you spill something on me. We are the easiest table for servers to handle. No drinks, apps, desserts we order quickly and leave within the hour. I dont mind chatting with the servers and them with me. Plus, we usu eat early when the restaurant is empty so we are a bonus table.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: tom porc

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Except, Tom, that the only time you EVER feel that you get great service is at a diner -- and that's the only time you ever tip 35%, let's be honest. You seem to have a bee in your bonnet (as my mom would say) about anyone working at any type of restaurant beyond that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        So yes, it is your choice -- and obviously you're never going to convince anyone else that the TP "system" of tipping is fair. Likewise, we're never going to convince you to change your "system."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I wish you a future filled with endless free coffee refills.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: tom porc

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          You may be the easiest table, but if you're not ordering drinks, appetizers, or desserts, I'm sure the server is disappointed. Those are their cash cows.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Oh Robin

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            They may be cash cows but more courses leaves open the possibility something could go wrong. And servers say they prefer fast, no complaint ppl than demanding lingering ones.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: tom porc

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              They may be cash cows but more courses leaves open the possibility something could go wrong.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Bingo. You are automatically looking for something to "go wrong". Hence your expectation that service at anything other than a diner-type atmosphere is bound to have something go wrong. Could be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: tom porc

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I once told a co worker:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Some people look at a water glass as half full;
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Some people look at a water glass as half empty;
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Some people predict the water glass will fall off the table, break, and get their leg.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I agree with LW, gotta uptick on the outlook.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: lexpatti

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  An added note, I have two people in my family that are servers: one who is in a famous mid chain (turns tables fast) and one that is in fine dining (less tables, longer stay, higher tab). Both enjoy what they do and believes the other works harder for their money. The one in chains wouldn't want the stuffyness of waiting on a high end customer, the demands they concider to be a tougher job. and vica versa the one in the high end rest. believes it's tougher waiting on chain type customers - so it really is how they define what they concider to be the job skills they bring to the job and what they want to be doing for the money they receive. They both enjoy the $$$ they receive for the job they do for the amount of time they put into it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. Until both the consuming public, restaurant owners, AND waistaff employees view this as a profession, things may never change. I spent many years and always took pride in making our guests feel as if they were the only people in the restaurant (and that was in quick service as well as more fine dining establishments). Oh yes, there were plenty of "one time shoppers" that left a paltry tip. But, the true bread and butter were the regulars that I knew by name, and had all of their likes and dislikes committed to memory. In some operations, we were fortunate enough to have staff in most/all positions that felt the same way end the end result was a restaurant that became the favorite destination for many diners. One thing, I learned, if nothing else, is that people like to be recognized. Calling a guest by name, sharing brief but relevant stories, and rewarding them for choosing to spend their Friday/Saturday night in our restaurant went a long, long way. I accepted some poor tips but they were usually from people that had a reason. For example, the 70 +year old couple that would come in EVERY Friday night at 4:30, split a $7.95 entree that came to $8.54 with tax and left $9.00 EVERY Friday. They were pleasant, appreciated the extra plates for sharing, and spent nearly $500 a year with us. And it wasn't all bad for the server as there was an agreement that the other staff members would each throw in a buck to whoever got the table for a net tip of around $8.46.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          These days I am the one being waited on and I appreciate "personalized" service. I'm not talking about the basic "steps of service" but those special touches I gave that garnered an average tip rate well in excess of 20% (often closer to 30% with nice "bonuses" around holidays). If more servers AND guests thought this way, the only downside would be that reservations would be tougher to secure !

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. A few months ago, I ate at the Applebees in Petaluma. The food was awful. I mean, downright awful. Additionally, the dishes were dirty and the service poor. We left a low tip after complaining about the matters. Anyhow, we got on the highway only to discover that someone in our party left their cell phone back in the restaurant. Needless to say - it was quite the awkward experience to have to return to the Applebees to fetch the phone. I guess what I'm trying to say is if you leave a low tip, make sure you don't forget anything at the restaurant. LOL.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: GermanShepherdPuppy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I have firmly resolved to avoid eating at Applebee's at all any cost. I have been to this restaurant in many areas of the country and they are all equal in their ability to ruin food and treat their guests with indifference at best.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I am happy to say that I believe they have a corner on the bad food, bad customer service market. At least we can all easily avoid bad experiences there.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: GermanShepherdPuppy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I have 2 things to add to the conversation:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Yes, Applebees is horrible. Food AND service. It's like they just don't care 100% about both things that make the chain a nightmare. But, that rant is for the Chain board here on CH..^__^

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The thing that I keep noticing is the US vs. THEM attitude. I've worked in customer service from the get-go (over 10 years now) here in Las Vegas at a major Strip resort. While I may not carry hot plates of food or wait tables, there are many parallels. Some members of John. Q. Public think that the world is out to "screw them over" and so they begin the interaction allready with a horrible, nasty, bitter attitude. They feel that the world owes them, for whatever reason. Hey, I -know- we are all human, and we do have bad days, but being in the job i'm in, I allways do my best to turn things around and "be the hero" so to speak. I want everyone I deal with in my 8 hours to be happy that they called, got me, and was happy about their experience.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Then, on the same foot..I have co-workers who just despise their job. They just have the totally wrong attitude, and for whatever reason- haven't been canned or quit. These people are a nightmare to work WITH, honestly. This would seem to paralallel the disgruntled waitstaff at a resturant.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I know I'm a cheerful, mostly happy person, so when I sit down at a resturant, I allways smile, make eye contact and do my VERY best to remember my server's name. Like others have posted, i'm having a short-term relationship with the waiter, and I want it to be the best for both parties. I pay attention if they aren't on their toes, or seem to "slack off" (I don't go below 15% on ANY tip, tho.) I have learned that being nice DOES pay off, for everyone. 9 times out of 10 I have a great dining experience, the wait staff makes a nice tip..All is good, no? For that one time that does turn out bad..I try and let the manager know..Not to get anyone in trouble, but so they are aware of what needs to be addressed. It's not too much for me to try and help others improve, in fact- I do it with the hopes of everyone benifitting. (this scenario has happened perhaps 2 times in my entire life)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                It's so sad that people are so paranoid about waitstaff or cooks "messing with returned food" like spitting in it. I would expect in higher-end establishments nothing like that would be allowed to happen. Maybe i'm a very nieve woman, but that stuff seems like it's from the movies. (Ok...maybe a dirty place like WaffleHouse could let that go)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                As far as tipping goes..I allways tip 15% standard, but if I loved the service, it will go to 20-25%. I do eat at higher-end places in LV, and I have to agree..If you can't afford proper tippage...Maybe you should stay home, and save your $$ so you CAN tip well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Karma...it does come back! I keep that in mind in allmost all I do, and so far, it's been a good way to live my life. It's all about having a positive attitude.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. Sure, prices have gone up, but most servers are making less than minimum wage - here they make $2.37 an hour. Whether it's right or wrong for customers to have supplement the income of servers when restaurants don't step up and pay them a decent wage is beside the point.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                If a server has a six hour shift where they only had a 15% average on $200 in sales (a very normal amount at a "typical" middle of the road restaurant with average volume at this time of year), they've made $14.22 in wages, plus $30 in tips. That means they've made about $7 bucks an hour (BEFORE taxes) for catering to your every whim. That means fetching your endless soda and coffee refills, probably making your dinner salads, soups and desserts themselves, making sure the order comes up correctly, and getting it to you while it's still pipping hot.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                If a restaurant is busy and the food takes a long time, it is most likely the kitchen, not your server. Your steak wasn't cooked correctly? Most likely not the server's fault. That's something they can't check when your food comes up. And, if the staff is running around, obviously caught off guard by being understaffed on a usually slow night, how can you hold that selfishly against them?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                And, unless you've done it, try to remember than waiting tables is not the easy thing that you think it is. Sure, maybe you're laid back at your table, but the server will most likely have several other tables - one with a demanding customer who sends them to fetch something different every time they drop by the table, one with a baby who spilled their sippy cup all over the place, cooks behind the line who don't care about how long you've been waiting, and a jerk for a manager. Besides serving you they are probably picking up the slack of one of their weaker coworkers, stocking toilet paper in the bathroom, running downstairs to get wine for the bartender, and the like.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Do you ever forget something your boss asks you to do? Have you never had a bad day?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                If your server forgot your water the first time you asked for it, it's not because s/he needs drug rehab or isn't any good at their job. Between your table and the kitchen, they probably came across a half a dozen other requests they needed to fulfill. I guarantee you they don't intend to forget your water refill - they *want* to give you good service to get a good tip. Even a 15% tipper (which I guarantee you most actual servers think is LOW) is going to get above the bar service if they are nice to their server. Conversely, even being a 30% tipper doesn't excuse being a jerk to the person who shows up at your table.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Where I work, we have several above average (read over 20%) tippers who servers will routinely pass on taking because the money isn't worth the abuse.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                And really, if something is so horrible that you feel you need to tip only 10%, you *need* to talk whoever is in charge. If the place is high volume, there is a chance the server won't remember you. But, more often than not, the server *is* going to remember you. Some times service is a matter of taste. I like to be checked on with some frequency, so I tend to think of *that* as attentive service. If you like for your server to be hands off, and you end up with someone like me, you're going to think they're annoying. It is perfectly acceptable to mention to your server the level of attention you expect. "We'll flag you down if we need you." or "I drink a lot of coffee. Can you check on it often?" or "I love this bread. Keep it coming."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                And if you pay by card, you should always try to tip in cash. Tips on credit cards can be headaches to servers where restaurants might have crappy policies about how long a server might have to wait to actually see their money.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: DemChick


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I am sure you are a good server and are proud of the attentiveness that you give to your custos. Unfortunately this sounds like many paragraphs of whining and you almost get the feeling that the roles are reversed at the table with the custo in the supporting role.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I am not trying to be antagonistic, i read the whole thing give me credit for that. Yes there are custos in everyone's lives that just ain't worth it, but they are custos. BTW, there are professions that work on commission only, and they can spend an entire shift working with custos who buy nothing. The math is pretty simple in those cases, $0 is absolutely less than minimum wage.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Keep up the good work and don't let the bad ones get you too down.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: DemChick

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    If the server is only pulling in $30 per 6 hr shift, is it because the cost of living is less and the money stretches further in your area. perhaps they have too many servers scheduled for the slower nights?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Or I'm misunderstanding middle of the road restaurant. Do you consider Outback or TGIF middle of the road? Even at TGIF a waitress must collect over $100 per shift.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: tom porc

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I'm not so sure about that. Although I've never worked in a chain restaurant, I've worked with plenty that have. Usually they mention the small number of tables you can have at once (3 or 4 if you're "good") on the theory that smaller quantity equates to greater quality of service. That drastically limits the potential to make money. I'm guessing that cap on tables allows about 8-10 tables per night; Maybe 12-15 tops (3 table section over 4 hours). That translates to about $75 as an average, before tipping out. Based on what people have told me about working in chain establishments, $100 seems to be a tough mark to get to.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Shi Tawkae

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        A lot depends on if you have 2-person, 4-person, ect tables and if drinks are ordered. And also if appears where in the country you live.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Using 12 seatings as an example. An $8 tip per table brings us to $96. And $8 is low for a 4 person drinking table. Probably would be closer to $15-$20.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. It's been interesting to read (most of) these posts. When I was waiting tables, if I got a bad tip I generally perceived it as my having failed the customer--especially when I went over their meal and realized some request hadn't been fulfilled. If your waitperson was unprofessional, she shouldn't mind getting a bad tip, and won't be able to differentiate you from any of the other people who have stiffed her. I know I always tried to improve someone's visit when (and if) they returned and were seated in my section.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. Before this thread completely gives up the ghost, it does seem that what becomes most important is what you do habitually. Like you, I am a habitually good tipper (20+ percent). If I'm disappointed, and it takes a lot to disappoint me, I'll leave only 15%. So if you tell me your experience was worth a 10% tip, I believe that it was. I don't think you need to worry about leaving an appropriately low tip and being remembered for it next time (if indeed you choose to go back); I think the ones they remember are the habitually bad tippers: the ones who come in time and again (and thus must like the place), but never leave more than 15% tops.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      21 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: bebevonbernstein


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        To be clear, there is still disagreement on the customary level being 15, 18 or 20, so please refrain from labeling 15'ers as cheap. Remember that servers need money not percentages so the 5-figure real dollar tips I have left in my 15-18% world is waaaaay more important than the occasional diner who spends a couple of thousand dollars a year and leave 30%. If the restos thought I was a "cheap" tipper they would not greet me with hugs and kisses, give me a table when none are really available and call me at home to see if the Jfoods are OK since they had not seen me in weeks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: jfood

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Awww, Jfood, that's because you are so sweet. Servers love personable people and don't judge always see you as a giant percentage walking through the door.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: jfood

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I'm talking about the ones who believe that 15% is a STELLAR tip. I'm guessing you're the type of person who leaves more than 15% for a superior experience (which is borne out by the fact that you say you leave 15-18%). I didn't say, nor did I mean to imply, that 15% tippers are cheap. I, too, think it's important to be nice and as I said in an earlier post, that goes an awful long way toward the type of service you get.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: bebevonbernstein

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Thx bebe. Depends on the circumstance. Last saturday, the Jfood went to a movie, out at 915, wanted just a two-app dinner at that hour. Went to one of our regular places that only has 2-3 tables still going at 11. Mrs Jfood had an salad and onion soup, Jfood, an onion soup and a tomato tarte. Bill was $45. Left $60. Out by 1030 with 2 other tables still going so we were not intruding on closing time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: jfood

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                To clarify further: there's a difference between feeling that 15% is the floor vs. it being the ceiling.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: bebevonbernstein

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  As far as my personal tipping goes, 15% is the absolute bottom. And that's for bad service.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Maybe it's because I used to be a waitress at a casual resto. I know what many of these folks are making, with and without tips. I know what they have to deal with in the way of customers and sometimes the kitchen. I know how it feels being stiffed by an 8-top after offering good service. So, sometimes I probably overcompensate my servers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  And yes, there is way more behind the scenes than the customer ever sees, not only in fine dining places, but in lower-end as well. Where I worked, I was required to set up and break down. Not only that, but I would be helping in the kitchen and with food prep before the actual customers ever entered the place. I'd help with the dishes after the lunch rush was over.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Sometimes there are people that you just can't please. I always tried to do my personal best for my customers, no matter how they treated me. My thinking was that if I was good to the good customers, they'd return and treat me well also. And if I was good to the bad customers, the good ones could see that. And the bad ones probably wouldn't come back anyway, because they just couldn't be pleased no matter what. So why waste my energy focusing negativity on them, when I could be sunny and chipper and not allow them to ruin my day. Especially because they were only taking up an hour of my time. The good ones always made up for the bad ones.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  And getting on to a whole other topic, I believe some people go out with a bad attitude, just looking for something to go wrong with their dinner. And it usually does. They are the people I'll never understand. Make the best of your situation, and remember...your server is a human being with feelings. I always say treat them as you'd like to be treated, even if they are nasty and crappy. You'll feel better for it. And maybe they will too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: QueenB

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    QueenB, thank you.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    When we were grad students back in the 70s, my then wife was a server at a pretty good Italian place. Ever since, I've tried to be a sensitive customer and more than a reasonable tipper. Your post is almost word-perfect in terms of the feelings I took away from my wife's experiences--all those years ago.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: QueenB

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Nicely said. I too had the same philosophy when serving but also in retail when managing. I would tell my sales folks on the floor "don't take these miserable people personally, they go through life this way, whether it's you or the next store, next salesperson - they are the same, can't let them affect you or your day or your next customer".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: lexpatti

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I always tell my staff..."You have them for 2 hours, they have themselves for the rest of their lives."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: jfood

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Wow! $15 on a $45 check. It's no wonder they greet you with hugs and kisses. But does your wife know?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: tom porc

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Mrs Jfood is a real looker and Mrs Owner gives us both hugs and kisses. The waiters are very smart as well and give Mrs Jfood a hug and just shake my hand and big pat on the back.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Wrt the tip, it's my pleasure, it's almost family and that $60 meal was as relaxing and as enjoyable as possible.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      But TP, this morning you posted that you sometimes leave 35% and this is only 33%, why is it surprising? The service & meal met even your list of musts. I know its not the NJ translation ('cause I grew up off exit 136), but many of us have read with interest your tipping policy and this morning's 35% comment was a real curve ball.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: jfood

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I'm thinking it's really not tp's tipping policy in question but in fact tp's budget. It's the $45 check! and then that you added $15 for the server! I agree with you jfood. I place alot of my tipping on how much my server contributed to me have a relaxing, enjoyable evening too. That's the kind of server I was by first reading my customers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: lexpatti

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          lexpatti .... certainly money is a factor. We all have monthly budgets. I wish I could throw fifties and hundreds for gratuities. When its warranted I am generous.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          bebe ... again I do expect a certain level of service call it a sophistication with higher price points (new learned word) and I dont consistently find it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: tom porc

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I agree, we're all on budgets but it appears that you don't factor in the appropriate tip when you go up the scale of a more expensive restaurant. Seems your tip % starts to go down as the check total goes up. Small check = big tip, big check = low tip. You appear to have a set amount of $$ that you going to spend and it should = check + tip, so I'm just saying you should stick with places that stay within a price range where you can give an appropriate tip rather then try to tell us you have a tipping policy. It's not a tippy policy, it's a set amount of money that you have to spend for the night.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: jfood

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          J, it sounds like the only time TP leaves 35% is at the diner -- I've yet to hear an example of a satisfactory meal in any other type of place that warranted even 20% (and sounds like most of the time, he doesn't even tip 15%).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: bebevonbernstein

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            bebe ... I only listed the extremes as I didnt think anyone was interested in my complete dining history. Perhaps I should start a blog.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: tom porc

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              It seems that you would get a lot of responses.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: tom porc

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                >I should start a blog.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The Passive Aggressive Diner?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Porc-n-Crushed Ice?


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: jfood

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I was surprised because you said previously that you usu do the 15-20% but in this case you used the TOM SYSTEM OF TIPPING!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              You had a great meal and pleasant evening and tipped without looking at the bill and doing the percentages. Thtat's how I do it. If I leave happy and satisfied big tip (remember my $5 on $15 = 33%+) and if I leave disgruntled (or gipped by the owner) less depending on prev stated factors.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: tom porc

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Sorry TP, totally off base on your conclusion.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I "usually" leave 15-20%. I travel on biz and eat 100+ meals on biz and another 50 or so personally. The biz is almost always 15-20%, lets call it 95%. I would say 75% of my personals fit in the 15-20% bucket as well as we dine with friends. So the math is 95 meals (biz) and 37 meals (pers) are in the 15-20%. So 132/150=88%. Yup, I think that qualifies as "usually."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I never said i did not look at the bill, nor have I EVER decided on the tip before seeing the bill, sorry. In fact in this case I specifically saw the total of $45, thought 20% at $9 was not sufficient and thought "round to $60, (a great inexpensive meal on a saturday night) 33% was justified as they are "family".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                But your Tom System of Tipping WOULD NEVER cross my mind in any way, shape or form other than to avoid at all costs.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I view restos as a place to relax, enjoy, kick it back, learn more about food and meet others, not micro-criticize, overly demand, and look for the minor of slip up to pull out my hall monitor card and say "Gotcha."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I enjoy a personal relationships with all the restos i go to in my leisure time with Mrs Jfood, know the names of all the owners, managers and servers. As I have said in other posts, when the Jfood do not show up for a few weeks they call our house to see if everything is OK.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  3. It seems to me that a lot of the perspective on this thread may be related to generation gaps as well. I would venture to guess that TP is of an older generation. I could be wrong, but that is my assessment. Here's how it is in my family:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    My grampa, who is the kindest and most gracious person I know, tips 10% for good service. It is what he has always tipped. He grew up during the Depression and, as I have said before, reuses plastic bags, and even sometimes paper towels. Nothing is wasted in his house, and tipping 20% would be a completely alien concept to him. Still, he isn't a stingy man. He gave me one of his older, but excellently maintained vehicles when I started college and gave my brother $2,000 to buy a "from here to there" car when he started college. He sends me, my siblings, parents, cousins, aunts and uncles, nice big checks for Christmas each year. If you asked for the shirt off his back, he would give it to you before you finished the question. But his life has given him a different perspective on the subtle line between being generous and throwing money away.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    My father tips 15% for good service (but never more than that) and is horribly embarrassed by my grandpa when they go to dinner and Gramps picks up the tab and gives 10%.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I tip 20% for good service (sometimes more if a server has really wow'ed me or if I am at a place where my meal costs less than $10) and am equally embarrassed by my father's 15% tips when we go out to dinner. I solve the problem by finding a way to sneak back to the table and leave a little bit more (same thing when dining with Gramps).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I am sure, some day, I will have a son or daughter who will make it a point to circle back and leave a couple of dollars on my 20% tip to make it 25%.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    In the words of my mother "That's the way the cookie bounces".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    40 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Nestra

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      i think there is some conflating of "bad tipper" simply as a classification
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      based only on the percentage "seen" and "bad tipper" in a judgmental
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      sense that comes with some kind of a theory to explain the the tipping
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      behavior ... "he is a bad tipper because he grew up during the depression"
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      "he is a bad tipper because he is from europe" "he is a bad tipper because he
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      thinks it is an easy job" "he is a bad tipper becuse he has unreasonable expectations
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      which are never met" "he is a bad tipper because he can get away with it in
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      restaurants he never goes back to" ... when you have a theory, some of them
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      may excuse the person [the "doesnt know better" theories], and some stand as
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      condemnations [the "is a jerk" theories]. but an external observer can conjecture
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      about the theories [did he have an english/german accent?] but untimately
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      only sees the final percentage, unless the customer makes an effort to

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      in some ways it's like an insurance company deciding who is a "bad driver" ...
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      they dont mean it personally, they just want to make a calculation of your
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      premiums based on how much they expect you will cost them. if you are a
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      objectively bad driver, whether it is because you yammer on the cell phone,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      drive too aggresively, have poor reflexes but only drive 2000mi per year,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      the insurance company may consider you a "better" driver than the driver
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      who is far better than you on a "per mile" basis, but drives +50k mi per year.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      so in the former reckoning, where you just set some threashold percentage
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      below which you are flagged as a bad tipper, your grandfather would in
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      fact be a bad tipper. in some cases you only care about prediction and not

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: psb

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        My boss says it all the time: perception is reality

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Your post does go back, I think, to the OP’s original question of will the server think of them as bad tippers even though they felt justified in the tip the gave.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Each of us has reasons why we left a certain amount for a tip and the server’s belief about what we left is also their own and however we justify our tip in our own mind doesn’t matter to our server.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Some of us leave a tip of 15% for good service and more for great service. Some of us leave 20% for good service and more for great service. How does the server know the difference between the 15% left to them for good service and the 15% left to them by the 20% tipper who was unhappy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        We can debate whatever we want but the length of this thread seems to prove that you are not necessarily sending the message you think you are with your tip. If you want the server to truly know how you feel about the service, tell someone, the server, the manager, the hostess, the owner. But I don’t think you can assume your tip is doing it for you.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: bonmann

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          What I have an issue with is someone who leaves the exact same amount for a meal whether it costs $35 or $100. In the case of the $35 meal that person might leave the server 30%, for a tip of $10.50 and their server would be thrilled. That same $10.50 tip on a $100 meal would be 10.5%. And this would be their game plan no matter what sort of scintillating service they had from the server during the $100 meal. That I have a BIG problem with. The server is actually losing money when you figure in the "tip outs" to the bartender, busboy, etc. on top of what the IRS automatically duns them come income tax time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          That is a system which is sure to get you labled as something highly pejorative out of the passive-aggresive lexicon family, (and may well get you a little something "extra" in your food if your server that evening has impulse control issues of their own, and sees you coming into their section for the 10th time that year).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: tony michaels

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I do too, I say it's a $$ problem but disguising it as a tipping policy. If you can't afford to dine and tip at more expensive places then don't. Keep going to inexpensive places where your server can make a living off your tips because your server in higher end places can't survive off your tips when you only brought enough money for the food at a higher end restaurant.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: lexpatti

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Hey, I'm guessing TP is the only one who follows the "one-size-fits-all" school of tipping, so I wouldn't get too worked up over it. I don't believe anyone else on this thread is advocating for anything close to that. It seems to be more about people who tip decently, who worry when they tip less than their average. I think it's also pretty obvious that most people respect servers and the work that they do.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: bebevonbernstein

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I think we will see this on SNL shortly,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Scroll to the bottom of this thread for some more:


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: bonmann

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            >Your post does go back, I think, to the OP’s original question of will the server think of ...
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            i was mostly focusing on mr. leden "bad tipper flagging system".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            i suspect his position is "we make a prediction, it's nothing personal ... i know
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            some people tip badly for 'good reasons'". but various people took this as a
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            judgement and then either got defensive or otherwise felt the need to
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            explain their philosophy etc.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            maybe some of these proximate reasons concern him ... "i tipped badly on night
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            X because the waiter forgot to fill my water glass" ... but i suspect he doesnt care
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            that much about all of the elaborate general theories of tipping unless it somehow
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            affect how he should read the tip as a signal to a problem at his end. so he's
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            basically looking to come up with a less biased signal than tip percentage which
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            is tip percentage left versus "tip likelihood". so he can read less signal into a
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            german's 15% tip than a frequent good tippers 15% tip. so he doest have to
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            waste time or cloud his analysis speculating about "known bad tippers".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            it's again like an insurance company combining "profiling" based on easy to
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            observe variables [age, zipcode] and individualized history [driving record,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            claims filed].

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: psb

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I do completely understand your point about the reasons behind the analysis of the trends he sees. And I believe that just like the insurance company if he has a big enough sample he is probably right most of the time. And if the bad tipper flagging system helps him be more precise in evaluating the trends good for him.</