HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >


Is it time to stop/reduce tipping? (moved from LA)

I'm starting to feel more and more like a chump when I go out, get poor service and then still tip.
Is it just me?
I eat out a lot and have for decades. I tip well, generally 25-30% of the post tax total.
I've worked in restaurants in almost all positions at one time or another. I know what the staff goes through
I realize that aside from very high end dining. Los Angeles doesn't really have good waiters, generally just entertainment types between gigs. Still, I want good service and at a minimun, my food delivered as ordered and basic requests handled in a polite and efficient manner. Is that too much to ask?
I'm begening to think I might as well quit automatically tipping . If the service is already poor? what's the point?
And Yes, I could also write pages about all the wonderful restaurant workers who go above and beyond their job and the great meals they have helped make. They are not who I"m writing about. I'm happy tipping even with just adequate service.
Have we all been "guilt tripped" into thinking we should tip no matter what? I know waiters are taxed based on assumed tips. Perhaps they shouldn't work with an assumed tip attitude?
Your thoughts?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I have no doubt whatsoever that tipping should not be compulsory. You get poor service, you give no tip. It's only common sense. The only thing I disagree with in your post is that you say "aside from high end dining, Los Angeles doesn't really have good waiters." That is not true. High-end dining does not guarantee high-end service, and more inexpensive dining does not mean poorer service. A good waiter/waitress does not treat customers based on the level of pay they receive or the rating of the restaurant. Some of the best wait staff are in the non-trendy places and some of the most sniveling, snide staff reside in the fancy ones.

    1 Reply
    1. re: monkuboy

      Yep, I may have been a bit broad. What I meant to refer to was waiters who are a professional waiter and not just doing it between gigs. I agree with your poing

    2. wow. 25-30% is mighty generous. 20% is my average.

      1 Reply
      1. re: steve h.

        Yeah, me too. And I'm more apt to give that (or a little more) at a low-end place where the waiters are working just as hard as those at high-end places for a lot less money.

      2. my wife and i eat out quite a bit. thanks to this website we have found many great places that were not known to us before. the quality of food is obviously important to us, but we both enjoy cooking and are quite good at it, so to go out, service and atmosphere are almost more important than food.

        my approach to tipping is very simple (i'm a simple guy!). everyone starts at 10% and can work their way in either direction. 15% is pretty easy, and, if the service is truly outstanding, 25-30% and even more is not out of the question. on the other hand, though it takes some effort, 5-10% does happen on occasion, and i have (only a couple of times) left 2 cents. when that has happened i have always let the manager know what has gone on, though one time i was dealing with the owner's wife!

        i don't think that tips should be "assumed".

        1. Trouble is, in some places waiters are paid much less than minimum wage with the expectation that tips will make up the difference. (I remember when we voted in Oregon to raise the minimum wage, the restaurant association tried to get the legislature to allow them to pay less and make up with tips, and it didn't fly. The restaurant association claimed all its restaurants would go broke. I don't think they went out of business at anything more than the normal rate.)

          Tips ought to be, in my opinion, a bonus for good service, not something waiters have to have in order to make a decent wage. But as long as that's the case, I'll tip reasonably generously. I've worked in restaurants, and I know it ain't an easy job.

          4 Replies
          1. re: revsharkie

            In CA, waitstaff is required to receive at least minimum wage.

            1. re: mojoeater

              Is that in all of CA or just SF? Just wondering because I live here and the argument of "you really should tip something" is because they are making a lot less than minimum wage.

              1. re: boltnut55

                All of CA: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/dis...

                In SF, minimum wage is $9.14/hr. The rest of CA, it's $7.50.

            2. re: revsharkie

              I've had the job too. I understand, but am begining to think too many waiteres dont care about their service and just assume the tip will be there so there is no incentive to actually work well.

            3. What caught me wasn't just the "generally 25-30%" but the "post tax".

              Regardless how generous one wishes to be, why would anyone ever tip on the tax?

              I haven't had many opportunties to dine in "fine" LA establishments, but I'm surprised that your comments indicate restos at the top end hire average to middling waitstaff instead of searching out and/or training professionals to their standards.

              1. Tipping is based on service. If you tip the same regardless of service, it defeats the purpose of tipping and make it difficult for the rest of us. "The guy tips 25 - 30% anyway, why bother with good service?" And your tip level is very high. I tip 15%, 20% for excellent service.

                17 Replies
                1. re: PeterL

                  Being from Oregon, a state with no sales tax, I too am mystified at the idea of tipping based on the taxed amount. Why are servers entitled to being tipped on the tax? Did they go through any trouble to serve me the tax? What training, attention, and skill went into them serving me said tax? Sheesh.

                  As someone pointed out on another thread: tipping isn't charity. Servers are not panhandlers, telethon hosts, or televangelists. It is the reward for good service. Good or bad service is usually the result of a team effort, so I don't care about the ramifications of the tip-out (not my problem!). And good service, based on pre-tax amount, is my sole criterion for devising the tip. For me it could be 5-10% as easily as 25-40%, with no pangs of conscience.

                  And since when did 20% become the new 15%? Doesn't inflation take care of increasing tip income? Double sheesh.

                  1. re: Leonardo

                    If you think about it, tipping on the whole amount after tax isn't all that much different than tipping on the pre-tax amount. Say if the tax is 10% and you tip 20%, its only another 2% that you are giving to the server. Whatever, its a couple of bucks per $100 - not much to get excited over.

                    1. re: LStaff

                      The biggest reason I tip after tax is it's the easiest number to see on the check. Really.

                      1. re: rednyellow

                        thank you RNY, jfood looks at the total, checks that the number of entries on the bill are correct and pays the tip. pre/post tax talking about 15-20% on 6%, who gives a hoot. On a $100 meal it's <$2.

                        1. re: jfood

                          And if you eat out once a week that amounts to another couple of meals during the year.

                          With 8% tax in PA, that 15% tip post-tax is 16%, the 20% tip is pushing 22%.

                          Yes, we're the kind of people who keep change jars around the house for whatever is in our pockets at the end of the day. That stuff adds up!

                          1. re: Panini Guy

                            jfood understands your concept but the math does not "equal another couple of meals during the year." He is not trying to be a flamer just likes square corners when it comes to numbers. drives the little jfoods crazy when he does this with them so please take it with the positive intentions jfood is trying to convey.

                            Assuming an 8% tax and a 15% tip rate, eating out 1/wk you have squirreled away 62% of one meal and at a 20% tip rate you have squirreled away 83% of one meal over the course of one year.

                            You probably save much more in your change jar than you save at the resto if you are anything like jfood.

                            1. re: jfood

                              I guess I'm not like jfood. It's pretty rare I'd eat a $100 meal, especially one w/o wine.. It's usually $100 for two. Then again, my last trip taught me many restos in SW CT get away with NYC prices w/o the quality.

                              So I'll grant you, my saving 20% off the tax gets us two meals at a BYO or we skip the apps at a full service. Still, it's another night out for the two of us. In Pittsburgh, anyway.

                              1. re: Panini Guy


                                The point is the same with a $100 meal (jfood meant for 2) or a $10 meal, the savings on pre- or post-tax tipping is linear. So if your average is $40 for 2 people then you sould still not have save enough for a couple of meals at the same price point.

                                1. re: jfood

                                  Never said anything about same price point. Now you're splitting hairs. 83% of whatever is still 83% of whatever. It's still another night out, even if I just get the burger at the 3-star place instead of the scallops.

                                  1. re: Panini Guy

                                    jfood is not splitting hairs so let him try again at a BYO.

                                    - You go out once per week and you spend $100 for you and Panini Gal. Jfood chooses that number from your thread above. Whether you order teo apps, five entrees, no wine, bottles of wine, whatever. Your food bill is $100, and remember this is your number. Now you add the tax onto the $100 and you have a post-tax bill of $108.
                                    - If you leave 20%, again your number you would leave $20 tip for for the pre-tax number and $21.60 if 20% on the meal plus tax. The total extra paid is $1.60.
                                    -Now there are 52 weeks in the year. If you save the $1.60 each week for 52 weeks that equals $83.20 which by your own assumption does not equal the cost of the two of your meal for a single night out.

                                    If the meal for 2 was $50, you would save $0.80 per week and multiply that by 52 and you have total yearly savings of 41.60, still not enough to purchase one full meal for the two of you.

                                    Whether it's Pittsburgh, Plattsburgh or Greenwich (jfood will ignore your remark on food quality in SW CT) you WILL NOT save enough money by not tipping on the tax to, as you stated in your opening post, "eat out once a week that amounts to another couple of meals during the year"

                                    1. re: jfood

                                      I want to let this go, I really do...
                                      You are correct in that $83.20 doesn't buy us two $100.00 meals. Unless we've got an Entertainment Book coupon. Which a number of perfectly acceptable places in lower Ffld Cty accept. One 20% coupon and we're talking $100.00 dinner.
                                      But even w/o that coupon, $83.20 gets a lot of food at a lot of places. It's still a night out.
                                      It's also about eight Colony pies with stingers. Maybe seven pies and a pitcher of cold Schaefer. Heck, that's a party.
                                      And you want I should just give that money to a stranger? Or 52 strangers as the case may be?

                                      1. re: Panini Guy

                                        alright you two, join hands and let's all sing...

                                        "Now, the world don't move to the beat of just one drum,
                                        What might be right for you, may not be right for some.
                                        A man is born, he's a man of means.
                                        Then along come two, they got nothing but their jeans.

                                        But they got, Diff'rent Strokes.
                                        It takes, Diff'rent Strokes.
                                        It takes, Diff'rent Strokes to move the world..."

                                        i bet you a dollar and sixty cents your server doesn't care about a $1.60 difference. seriously.
                                        i'm fluent in "serverspeak". if it's a decent tip we don't sit and calculate if you left us 23%, 20%, 19%, etc. it's "they left me just over X%" or "between Xand Y%"
                                        unless it's not a decent tip. then we calculate down to 4 decimal points. then we write it down and we keep a list with your name, phisical description, etc.

                                        ps- i'd rather get $8 that works out to 19.2% than $8 and whatever pennies to make it a perfect 20%. i never understand why people do that.

                                        1. re: excuse me miss


                                          No biggie, paws interlocked, kumbaya to all. didn;t see the coupon book coming.

                                          sorta reminds jfood of the discussion you and he had a few minths ago on percentages. At that point jfood said who gives a hoot about percentages, dollars pay the bills.

                        2. re: rednyellow

                          I am the same, I just look at the bottom number, and tip on that ammount as well.

                          1. re: swsidejim

                            ITA Maybe it's just me being lazy but unless I receive stellar service (or terrible service) my usual method of tipping is to double the first number(s) of the total after tax. I find this generally ensures a tip that is 18-22%. For example a $43 bill would be an $8 tip, a $110 bill would be a $22 tip.
                            I do however think that the OP over tips for whatever reason and I might be inclined to scale back especially on poor service if I were him.

                            1. re: SweetPea914

                              Ah, we found people who benefit from high sales taxes .... waiters.

                              Makes one feel sorry for those that work in sales tax-free states.

                            2. re: swsidejim

                              I do too. Based on what I have been reading here, servers are paid even less than I thought they were, so I'm glad to have been giving 20% for good service.

                              I guess I'm lucky to only have had completely rotten service at one restaurant, and then I didn't tip at all.

                    2. Here is a modest proposal: I think tips should be given BEFORE the meal.

                      Hear me out.

                      I think the diner should give X amount of tip before the actual meal begins.

                      If the service is extraordinary, then at the end of the meal the diner can add to the original amount, X+$ = tip

                      If the service is subpar, then at the end of the meal the diner can have the option of deducting the entire pre-tip from the bill, X-X = no tip.

                      If the service is as expected, then no adjustment is made at the end of the meal, X = tip.

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: ipsedixit

                        Ipse, I really like the general logic of your proposal - no one likes to lose what they already have - puts a little fire under their butts to keep things going well...

                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          Good theoretical argument but would have to push back for the following reason.

                          There is already a psychological "floor" of 15% that the server has in mind when (s)he says hello. If you now monetize that and give the serve $X you have probably changed his perception to a minimalist floor. The server (unless an A-Type) will serve to the level of $X. If your $X is at the 15-20% level can you imagine the conversation when you ask for $10 back and deduct from the bill. OMG jfood wants the videos of that to place on YouTube.

                          1. re: ipsedixit

                            And, I do believe that, that is how "the tip" started. It was a sum of money given BEFORE the meal or service "to insure prompt service"
                            Coud be wrong, but I have heard this story enough to assume there is some thing to it....

                            1. re: troutpoint

                              the "to insure prompt service" acronym is an urban myth.

                              1. re: nc213

                                Especially since the correct term would be "ensure"...thus, TEP...which, it isn't.

                              2. re: troutpoint

                                Yes, and I have heard the story enough that if I forward chain emails, Disney AOL & Microsoft will give me a million $, so it must be true.

                                The acronym is an urban myth, made up after the fact.

                              3. re: ipsedixit

                                In practice that is exactly what's happening. Since now it's standard to tip 15 to 20%, so essentially tips are given before the meal (pre-determined). The problem is when people don't deviate based on the quality of the service. They should erect an electronic score board at each table, starting at, say, 20%. As the quality of the service increases or decreases, the customer electronically signals up ticks or down ticks for all to see.

                              4. Look, I'm a long time server (and I have also cooked, washed dishes, bussed , managed, etc.) I have to say that as a server that I pays my money and I takes my chances. If I totally screw up your order and give mediocre/crappy service (provided circumstances beyond my control and I don't do my level best to make yor experience enjoyable) then you have every right not to tip me. Any indirect tips to bar, bussers etc.are my problem not yours.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: kimmer1850

                                  Thank you. That's how I look at it too. It's really a lot of burden for a customer to bear when eating out (this poor server gets $3/hour, has to pay the bills, tip out other people, pay taxes on what I was supposed to tip but didn't - egads!). I have to say that I rarely get bad service anyway... messing up my order is okay, lots of things are okay... bad attitude is really the only thing I can't handle because I am a people pleaser by nature, and it confuses me if I feel like I did something wrong to offend my server, when I just walked in or sat down and I don't know why!

                                2. i sort of agree that it sounds like you're tipping too much! 25-30% on the total with taxes! it's not surprising that you might feel like you're getting a bad deal for your money. so, to the original question, yes it's time to reduce your tips. 15% on the pre-tax sum for average service i always thought was the standard.

                                  i know that in some cities the expectation seems to be creeping up (like when you have a large party and they will add 18-20%), but i still think that average service deserves an average tip. it's not fair to guilt us into feeling like we're responsible for the wait staff eating. raise prices and pay them a living wage!

                                  1. I would only tip 25-30% where I am a regular, because then I am actually contributing to future good service- Why would you tip so extravagantly for mediocre/bad service?

                                    1. RNY

                                      Looks like you are already the captain of the good ship guilt trip. 25-30% regardless of service? ouch.

                                      tipping is based on service and if you blindly tip at this level regardless of service you have created your own monster. jfood starts at 15% and works up or down and usually in the 20+% range when all is said and done. Unfortunately there are the outliers the other way that get the 10% (fortunately a handful over the past 10 years). So tip according to service.

                                      Wrt your comment on high end service, not true. there is a bell curve of service at all establishments. jfood has had EXTRAORDINARY service from local dives to high end, and likewise has had deplorable at both. Not a good assumtion going forward either.

                                      1. sorry, but tipping 25-30% regardless of the level of service is completely out of whack.

                                        i've been in the industry for years and usually am generous with gratuities. i also live in a city with a serious dearth of professional servers, so i'm aware how difficult it is to get good people. if my service is lousy, i leave less than 20%. if something is really off-the-charts, i will tip minimally (for the rest of the support staff) and speak with management. chances are also very good i won't return.

                                        so, um, no we haven't all been guilt tripped into automatically over-tipping.

                                        1. Tipping on the taxes total may just be lazy. Here we have about a 10% on food. If the tax were two or three percent...maybe.
                                          A friend, a single woman who wasn't one of the beautiful people (still isn't) used to tip 20-25% if the waiter refilled her water or iced tea once. She was that used to getting ignored by waiters.
                                          Sadly, the waiters never remembered her as a good tipper. Often she got no refills at all.
                                          She was shocked when I would go up to the drink station, get a pitcher of iced tea, refill our drinks and any other tables on the way back to the drink station where diners' glasses were empty and where they wanted refilling. One waiter stood and watched as I did it. Came over to bitch. Unknowing that the manager was watching the whole thing. Manager then grabbed the iced tea and did the entire room. Some of us tipped the manager.
                                          Karma, with sweetened ice tea.

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: shallots

                                            sorry. lazy service doesn't warrant a public display of rudeness. if i was your dining companion, i would have been mortified.

                                            1. re: hotoynoodle

                                              Rude is when the only waiter in the room, seeing folks point at their empty iced tea glasses, gestures that it's not his table

                                              1. re: shallots

                                                rudeness + rudeness = you guessed it! rudeness all around.

                                              2. re: hotoynoodle

                                                While we may debate the decorum of taking matters into his own hands, I think we should direct our criticism at the root cause. The root cause, in this case, was a server's failure to provide water/tea to his assigned tables.

                                            2. As you have asked the question, no, not before restaurant owners start paying living wages to ALL of their staff. Then, YES, YES, YES. I just hate having to review a professional performance and choose how much to pay for it when all I want is a meal. It's the restaurant's job to pay its employees properly, and if they can do it in Europe, they can do it here. I'll gladly pay the difference (20%, if that's what it takes - I don't see why it would be more), rather than essentially having to pay twice - let the restaurant add the tip percentage onto the bill, and give me one, final, bottom line. There, I've said it.

                                              11 Replies
                                              1. re: Marsha

                                                Yes, thank you Marsha. Agreed on all points. Why aren't all employers required to pay a living wage to their employees?
                                                And if it's not permissable to hold back a tip for bad service, then why is tipping considered a reward for service well done? It's just become a custom.

                                                1. re: Up With Olives

                                                  Why aren't all employers required to pay a living wage? Because most customers would freak out at being asked to pay an additional 15%-20% for your chicken a la king or General Tsos or fajitas special, And you'd likely get worse service on average because there would be no incentive for any server to be extra attentive. You'd basically have a union mentality.

                                                  Is that what you want? I don't.

                                                  Wait staff at good (even decent) restos that do their jobs well rarely have to worry about making decent money. It's the people that work at crummy restos and who are crummy servers who generally are the only ones being affected by low tips in the long run.

                                                  1. re: Panini Guy

                                                    I think the service would suffer. I'd have no problem paying 20% more and not tipping if the service stayed good, but I dont think it would be as good. In europe, service is usually included and as a whole, service is not nearly as good as here.

                                                    1. re: rednyellow

                                                      I must respectfully disagree; I found service in Europe to be excellent. Much more businesslike, yes, but I like that. I didn't have to enter into a relationship with my server in Europe as I often find that I must here because the server has learned that tips increase when that extra interaction occurs.

                                                      1. re: Marsha

                                                        My exp in Europe, mostly Germany and Spain has been that in higher end rests, the service is extremly polished, and professional, but in places were the meal is around $20-$30, the service is lacking. On several occasions I'd have to wait for either the waiter or bartender to finish their cigarettes or cell phone calls before attending to customers and delivering very mediocre service.

                                                        1. re: Marsha

                                                          Yes, I appreciate businesslike service, too. At Fleur de Sel in NYC the waiter kept touching my shoulder. SHUDDER! As I got more and more annoyed I lost my ability to find something to say that didn't sound totally loony like "Don't touch me!"

                                                          1. re: Up With Olives

                                                            jfood is not a touchy-feely sorta person and under no circumstances can a server, or anyone else in the resto, touch jfood other than a handshake.

                                                      2. re: Panini Guy

                                                        well, I'm glad people in other professions aren't making 5 bucks an hour then provisionally getting "tipped' for good performance.

                                                        1. re: Blueicus

                                                          Some other professions do get compensated in similar ways. Sales is a good example. Commissions are dependent on sales, just like tips are dependent on good service.

                                                          1. re: PeterL

                                                            "Tips are dependent on good service."

                                                            Well, that's just one component. The *percentage* the server receives is dependent on the quality of service.

                                                            But the server is in fact a commissioned salesperson; the percentage is applied to a higher base if your server can entice your table into appetizers, desserts, an extra round of drinks, and/or more expensive entrees.

                                                            1. re: tubman

                                                              Ditto if the salesman can sell you the rally kit vs. the stripped down model.

                                                  2. We tend to leave 20-plus for good service when we go out. Only when the service truly sucks do we reduce that, but we always cover the 8% the IRS taxes servers on. One things we've developed is a Tipmeter. We make our index fingers into the steeple (as in here is the church and here is the steeple) and start each meal with it pointed straight up. As the meal progresses, so does the tip meter (No, we NEVER do it in front of wait staff.) When service gets especially awful, the tipmeter can dip quite far. Our friends who are servers love it, for some odd reason.
                                                    As to the argument that restaurants should pay living wages -- restaurants operate on razor slim profit margins it is, and the entire dining process would become much more pricey if you had to page the waiter's actual wages. And it's just not going to happen.
                                                    As a former server myself, I know there are so many things that are out of the server's control and I accept that as long as the server is polite and attentive without being too pushy (I'm NOT your new best friend).
                                                    But if you feel victimized, then perhaps you ARE tipping too much. It really is a process where the tipper has almost total control over the outcome.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: Fuser

                                                      why does everyone complain that if servers are well paid, restaurent prices would go up and that would be a bad thing?

                                                      Servers should be well paid. Even if that drives prices up. Otherwise, we are just eating at their expense. If we can't afford to pay those people for all their hard work, then we can't afford to eat out.

                                                    2. My husband and I don’t go out to eat very often, but when we do, we expect good service. Husband is an extremely generous tipper and does his best to engage the wait staff in an effort to get the service he desires. That being said, I will not tolerate poor service. I do understand that servers count on tips, but I come from the school that one must earn a living, you are not entitled to one. When we are dining and the service is less than desirable, I will address it with the server (my answer to giving someone a second chance). If there is no improvement, it will be reflected in the tip. On the few occasions, I elected not to leave a tip, I did leave a note stating why there was no tip. I am really particular about how I spend my dollars and will not work hard to put my money in your pocket…I’ve actually said that recently in a few stores before leaving.

                                                      3 Replies
                                                      1. re: Pawsinhand

                                                        I liken it to working a sales job that pays only commission. Salesmen who can't close a deal and produce sales, are they somehow entitled to a handout by the company nevertheless? If a waiter can't produce decent service (that's their product!) and can't make good overall tips (don't get hung up on that one bad table - look at the big picture - one waiter gets always 19% while another habitually gets 11% that certainly says something!), don't blame the industry in general, the resto in particular, or cheap customers. Maybe the waiter is working in the wrong place (bad fit), needs serious training, or doesn't belong in the business at all.

                                                        What's with all this sense of entitlement?

                                                        1. re: Leonardo

                                                          If I buy a car, should I refuse to negotiate hard for the best deal I can possibly get, knowing that by doing so it will most likely lower the salesman's commission? Should I insist on paying more than sticker price, knowing that others have gotten great deals and have unfairly & cruely impacted the salesman's income, and that somehow this becomes a wrong that is my responsibility to right? How is this any different from the world of tipping and the scenarios presented here by some?

                                                          1. re: Leonardo

                                                            My former boss told me that his car salesperson gave him the heavy accented, "oh come on. I'm just trying to make a living in this country" spiel.

                                                      2. For me tipping gets little thought, if a server is good, they get 20-25%, sometimes 30%. If they are bad(and that is very rare) they get 15%. I also figure my tip to include tax. A couple of dollars extra wont break me.

                                                        As for servers making a "living wage". I am not my brothers keeper, they have chosen this career path, most likely knowing they were not going to get rich working in a restaurant.

                                                        5 Replies
                                                        1. re: swsidejim

                                                          While I agree, swsidejim, that it's not your responsibility to provide servers with a living wage, your statement--"they have chosen this career path, most likely knowing they were not going to get rich..."--is problematic at best. First, there's a big difference between getting rich and making enough to survive. But much more importantly, your statement reads (to me at least) as if you're saying "if they're foolish enough to wait tables, then they deserve to earn less." The thing is, many servers do so while trying to move along their career paths--financing degrees or professional training. Then they get blasted on chowhound for not being professional servers.

                                                          1. re: nc213

                                                            Maybe it depends where one lives, but in LA, people who lay claim to the title of, "professional waiter/waitress," is rare. There are many places that have great waitstaff, but as you mention, most are on other career paths and consider waiting to be strictly a money-making proposition. And the reason they do so is because credentials or resumes are not needed at the majority of restos, the hours tend to be broad and flexible to not interfere with their other gig, i.e., musician, student, actor, etc., and the money can be good relative to the hours invested. Furthermore, the culinary perks aren't so bad either. No, they're not walking out with surf n' turf for the whole apartment complex, but staff meals can be very good (albeit simple).

                                                            I have friends who have waited tables at places that would be considered middle-of-the-road, like TGI Fridays, and have cleared $400 many times for a weekend's worth of work. Yes, they worked Friday nights and full shifts on Sat/Sun, and they were pretty tired afterwards, but $400 to a student is a pile of dough. And the point is, they chose to do it, they worked hard to make their tables happy, and they were shown the appreciation of their guests by way of tips - they earned every buck that came their way.

                                                            The market rules. Without incentive, companies, societies, and economies go either black market or flat. Yes, there is no perfect solution nor perfect economic formula that takes incentive, greed, fortitude and hard work, and combines this with parity, equal opportunity, entitlement and empathy as many of these ideals and traits are diametrically opposed. But it seems that pure capitalism is the least discriminatory and most effective and efficient of economic systems. It closest resembles the law of nature which has no rival in terms of efficiency and effectiveness when left uninpeded and unaltered, left in its natural fluid state. There will always be exceptions but understanding human nature requires there to be no free lunch. Entitlement to a living wage sets artificially high prices for labor in certain markets where it makes no economic sense when the same type of labor can be had for a much lower price in another area, be it geographic or otherwise. This skews markets, drives out businesses and ultimately ends up costing the consumer much more in so many ways.

                                                            1. re: bulavinaka

                                                              "Maybe it depends where one lives, but in LA, people who lay claim to the title of, "professional waiter/waitress," is rare."

                                                              It is actually not all that rare, especially in foodie towns/cities. It is however rarely respected and therefore alot of people dont mention that it is their profession. They are able to make great money, and genuinely want to be in the hospitality industry cause they like to be nice and helpful.

                                                              There is a new concept of the no tip rest. Usually with a sign in the window with the word TIP and a red line thru it.
                                                              Though, you should know, in a NO TIP place the cost is going to be higher because they have built the living wage into the prices.

                                                              1. re: marthayou

                                                                My point was that of the number of waiters and waitresses that work in LA, not many actually consider it to be their profession. So many are in transition to be something else and only work in this profession because no formal education, resumes or credentialsis required at most eateries in this town. And because the money can be quite good and because of the flexible hours, it's a slam dunk for most to gravitate to this type of work.

                                                                Maybe I'm different, but I really couldn't care less about other peoples' professions. What's important to me is how good of a person one is, and in this type of profession, it almost always becomes readily obvious.

                                                                As for No Tip restos, I would have a hard time justifying their logic behind this concept. If they can assure me of great service, and if I'm going to have my tip built into the prices of whatever I buy, then I have no problem with it. However, if service is not excellent, then I would insist on at least a partial refund. If that isn't the case, I will never patronize a place like that again.

                                                            2. re: nc213

                                                              Sometimes people need to work 2 jobs to survive, I had to before my own resume, and experience in my field led to better career opportunities. I worked in the restaurant field for a long time, that is why I tend to tip pretty well, knowing it is hard, and many times thankless work. I also know it is, as you mentioned, a job that is typically a stop in life on the way to a different career, and should be compensated that way salary wise.

                                                          2. I still tip 15%-18%, unless service has been extraordinary. And it's been awfully rare that I've encountered extraordinary service.

                                                            1. I strongly believe that if the service is horrible, you should not leave a 15% tip. Leave the tip based on what type of service you received. Simple as that...

                                                              1. I've heard that an old food critic trick to indicate bad service is to leave 11 cents, since not leaving anything could be misinterpreted as the customer being cheap, not the service being poor. I've never done this, though, as I always tend to tip pretty generously regardless (not as much as my husband, though). I guess having worked in customer service before makes it very hard for me to withhold the standard tip, even if service is bad, even though this has happened rarely.

                                                                1. It seems like people that have such issues with tipping, or do thier best to find reasons to reduce the tip they intend to leave are generally petty people, who are fairly cheap in all aspects of life.They also usually give of an attitude or a snotty vibe that usually in turn comes back to them in poor service or preceived poor service. If you are taking so much time deciding how much you should tip or if your water was filled the appropriate number of times or nit picking about everything you can find that is not 100% how you think it should be, how can you ever truly enjoy your dining experience. stop being so petty.
                                                                  If your service is truly so bad you feel a tip isnt warranted speak to a manager.

                                                                  No I am not a server

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: jvish

                                                                    I don't believe they reduce the tip they intend to leave. I think most people leave what they want to leave and sometimes look for justifications because that tip is lower than they think other people would leave. There are times when service is poor and not deserving of a "good" tip; that is certain. On the whole, though, my experience dining out says that virtually all service is satisfactory to good and sometimes excellent. Rarely is service bad or horrible.

                                                                  2. i am a server.
                                                                    when i dine, i tip the percentage of the bill that reflects the service i recieved.
                                                                    when i serve, i get tipped many different percentage amounts for many different reasons.

                                                                    i live in canada. americans- as customers- are known for being good tippers. so maybe, generally speaking, you (american customers) do have a mentality of leaving x% no matter what. that gets perpetuated by the government taxing servers on their sales (assuming tips) and allowing lower wages (again, assuming tips). servers never even learn the notion of "give better service=make more money". sounds like a viscious cycle. if you (customers) continue tipping no matter what, you're only perpetuating the cycle, in which case restaurants might as well evolve to just adding the tip onto the bill (like in some european countries).

                                                                    YOU get to decide what the service you recieved was worth. YOU get to choose to be either part of the problem or the solution.

                                                                    1. I was reading a 1930s NYC restaurant guide and tipping was recommended at 10%.

                                                                      1. Or how about the waiter who is rude and MIA most the meal, but all of a sudden becomes mr/mrs wonderful the last 15 minutes?
                                                                        I, too, live in LA and when I get poor service, the tip definitely reflects this. However, as a rule, I always tip 20% for decent service. Is my water glass filled in a timely manner? Has the waiter come and asked me if everything is allright? My feeling is this: if you have a service job, you need to have a good attitude about it as you are dealing with paying customers, if not, then work in the kitchen!!

                                                                        7 Replies
                                                                        1. re: WildSwede

                                                                          I would like to consider the reasons why the service was poor.

                                                                          Example: Food took forever: that is the kitchen, not the server, unless they forgot to put in your order

                                                                          did it take them forever to come over: look at the seating patterns, where they double or tripple sat, do they have a big table/party? etc.

                                                                          The absent server who is now all around you 15 min before you leave: Maybe they were really busy and in the middle of the rush for the beginning of your meal. Now most of their tables have ordered, have food in front of them, drinks are full. they get a moment where they are not running around and so now they are available.
                                                                          at pm-9pm they will be rushing around, by 9ish...they wont have as much to do.

                                                                          Lastly, if you are going to leave a bad tip, less than 10%, talk to a manager. If they were that bad, management wants to know.

                                                                          1. re: marthayou

                                                                            As far as the food not coming out in a timely manner:
                                                                            Waiter's job is to be my advocate and voice in the kitchen.

                                                                            Waiter too busy and overloaded with tables resulting in poor service:
                                                                            Good for him! The low tip per table ratio he makes that night will be offset by the greater volume of customers.

                                                                            1. re: marthayou

                                                                              What if the server and manager/owner were comparably bad, rude and obnoxious? There was no recourse, other than of course to tell the tale far and wide to any who would listen.

                                                                              Fortunately, this was only one restaurant, I have never encountered such horrid service again.

                                                                              1. re: marthayou

                                                                                It depends on the evening.

                                                                                Jfood is not looking to make a long-lasting relationship with the server but have a pleasant 2-hours meal with friends. The first 30 minutes is the first crucial touchpoint, getting jfood table set-up for the night. Drinks need to be efficient, specials explained, if appropriate, and the appropriate time allowed for the table to peruse and order.

                                                                                Next touch points are water people bread people and runners. jfood not looking for the server during this phase. After each course is served, jfood expcts the server to check-in to see if everything is correct and anything needed.

                                                                                After entrees, next touchpoint to see if the table enjoyed and whether dessert coffee and after-dinner drinks are desired. then the same do-loop as entrees.

                                                                                Then the check, and the dance ends.

                                                                                BUT, if there is something amiss, then the server needs to be available and within eye-site to address and correct. This is where the "bad blood" may occur. I.e. the server checks in when food is delivered without proper time to taste, and then there is something wrong with the dish and you stare at it, utensils on the table waiting, bad times. So the server needs to at least glance over to see if the dance of eating is occuring for everyone at the table. 3-eaters and 1-looker is a bad sign that needs immediate attention.

                                                                                But if done properly, the server need not have to suck-up to the custos for the last 15 minutes. In fact if everything received good reviews, the server can hurt himself by changingthe positive flow of the table. That's what separates a good server from a great server. THEY KNOW.

                                                                                1. re: jfood

                                                                                  I assume you didn't respond 'it depends on the evening' to my 'What if the server and manager/owner were comparably bad, rude and obnoxious?'.

                                                                                  There is no reason for rude obnoxious service from either the server or the manager/owner of a restaurant.


                                                                                  1. re: dolores

                                                                                    Oops, absolutely agree that there is never an excuse for rudeness by those you mentioned and likewise jfood would add the custo to that list.

                                                                            2. First of all, I think you shouldn't feel like you need to tip 25% - 30% tip. It may set up higher expectations for other customers! :-) I think my normal is to tip 15% of the before or after tax amount and then round it up to the nearest dollar... or 50 cents.

                                                                              I'm arbitrary on the before or after tax part. That might the only part where I'd feel guilted into doing.. yes, only 50 cents, $1, but it does add up eventually.