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another fun tipping thread :)

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Say I go to a brewpub. Order a draught beer and a burger. Happy hour so the price is $8 instead of $11. Don't feel like tipping $3 - it seems exorbitant. But service was polite and efficient, $2 on what could have been an $11 is enough but doesn't communicate that I was pleased. So I tip $2.50. Does the server think I was just too cheap to give her the extra fifty cents, that I'm a "cheap tipper" even though it's over 20%? Do servers go strictly by %, do they expect customers to round up to the nearest dollar?

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  1. I would think that any server would be appreciative of any tip that is over 15%. That is what they usually get (if they are lucky) and anything over that is gravy (sorta). Now, I would have never thought to tip on the basis of the Happy Hour price versus the regular price. I would have tipped on the $8 tab. Yet, if I have a coupon, or a gift card, I do tip on what it would have cost before the coupon was deducted, but it never occurred to me to apply that to Happy Hour. Hmmm . . .

    1. When I'm dealing with a tab totaling less than about $25, I tend to throw percentages out the window. (This applies to sit down service as described above, I should note.) For the situation you describe, I'd be more likely to leave $3 or $4. Once I'm above about $15 I'm more than likely going to leave $5 for polite, efficient service. This is especially the case when I go to eat breakfast as the server is normally refiling my coffee far more frequently than, say, my water would be refilled when I'm eating dinner. I also always seem to create complicated breakfast orders and most of the time the servers are great about making them happen without any issue or fuss. Long story short is I think many of these sorts of servers provide me with a more pleasant dining experience than I've had in several high end restaurants.

      9 Replies
      1. re: ccbweb

        oh I so agree. I sometimes go with friends to the local Florida delis for breakfast where you can get a full brekkie for between $2.50 and 3 bucks. I am so embarrassed when the check is $6 and my friend puts down $2 tip I always go back and throw another 3 down. Anyone I have been there with always tells me it's too much to tip and I say they did as much work as if the check was way more.

        1. re: smartie

          >>I am so embarrassed when the check is $6 and my friend puts down $2 tip I always go back and throw another 3 down. <<

          Why would you be embarrased when somebody tipped over 30% ?

          1. re: DanaB

            Because reasonable people appreciate life is complicated and
            the one line "tip = 15%" doesnt capture every possible scenario.

            on the flip side, search for "uncapped linear tips on wine".

            if i am actualy receiving table service at some ultra cheep place
            with a $2-3 plate of food, i dont begrudge the server of an extra dollar.
            in this case the dollar analysis trumps the percentage analysis.
            [similarly in the case of tips on high end wine, the dollar analysis
            should trump the percentages. same for tipping on pre/post tax
            amount ... typically this is so small, who cares what your norm is].

          2. re: smartie

            $5 tip on a $6 check?
            and even $5 on a $15 check? I find these both to be crazy tips. Although I can't remember the last time I went anywhere that was sitdown and had a $6 total. I might do it if rushed and didn't want to wait for change, but if I have smaller bills I use them

            1. re: SweetPea914

              I agree with some folks (eg early Emily Post) that there's a "minimum tip." A $.50 on $3 breakfast special is just cheap. On the other hand, a $5 tip on a $5.99 lunch seems a bit over the top. Where's the line now? I'd arbitrarily say that the minimum (assuming decent service) is $1 per person, 25% on anything under $5 per person, 20% on anything under $10, and 15-20% thereafter.

              1. re: alanbarnes

                That makes sense to me! I don't believe in leaving change as a tip and would leave a couple $'s for anything under $10 as well.

                1. re: SweetPea914

                  A Mexican restaurant I frequent has $3.99 lunch specials. With a Diet Coke and tax my tab is $5.51. They also have great chips and salsa, service is terrific and the food very consistent...drink, chip and salsa refills timely, etc. I always leave a $10 bill. It just seems right.

                  1. re: Janet from Richmond

                    See for me, $10 for lunch is fairly expensive. Bringing a lunch isn't really an option. There are times when I want to keep it to $7 or $8 for the total bill. So I'll look for a place that has a $5 lunch and leave a buck or two for tip, but since the whole point of going out was to get a cheap meal in the first place, doubling the price by paying a fairly exorbitant tip defeats the entire purpose.

                    I'm not surprised to see though that people will leave a minimum $5 tip no matter what. It is good to hear that people appreciate a 20% tip even if it only amounts to say $2.

                    1. re: luniz

                      There was a season of life were $2 was expensive for lunch and I was bringing peanut butter on saltine crackers for lunch every day and couldn't afford to go out by myself or with the office or get takeout with the office and the like. Now I am in a different season of life and have been blessed financially and non-finacially and am trying to spread the joy when I can. But I understand completely that is not feasible or practical for many people and don't think they are less worthy as a customer or anything like that.

        2. As a server I feel that anything over 20% is generous & much appreciated. I'd rather not receive $0.50 as I don't like to carry change & jingle all night long or have to reach in & out of my purse....That's just me though. You can round up or down. For me, I feel it all balances out in the end.

          I personally leave no less than $5 for a tip the majority of the time. If our breakfast is $17, I'll leave a $5 tip. Unless the service was barely there or unfriendly. I have to act happy at work even when I'm not & I expect that same kind of service in return.

          I have friends in the industry that will leave a 40-50% tip no matter how bad the service is. I have to put my foot down on that one. I work hard for my money & won't condone that sort of thing.

          8 Replies
          1. re: dbug31

            I work hard for my money too, and that's why I would never tip $5 on a $17 tab. But then I don't see servers as some oppressed group that somehow deserves extra money. And I guess I don't get what "sort of thing" you won't condone. Overtipping is okay, but massive overtipping isn't? I don't see the principle here. And I have to assume your friends "in the industry" aren't servers, if they can afford to leave gigantic tips like that! Nothing personal, but in my experience, those who tip in excess of 20% are often just making a big show about how much money they can throw around.

            1. re: MommaJ

              momma1
              Ask any Server. They'll be happy to tell you they don't mind any of their customers are "making a big show about how much money they can throw around" Many times I have eaten in lower priced restaurants where the standard tip percentage would not have reflected the level of service given and have been inclined to up the tip past 20%. I don't consider that showing off, just showing appreciation for a job well done.

              1. re: MommaJ

                it's not so much "the principle" but the accounting units. at low dollar figures,
                the percentage reckoconing doesnt make sense. if you have a $10bill and you tip
                $3, dont you think you would look odd to make a big deal out of "overtipping by a $1".
                that doest sound as extravgant as a 30% tip and if you try to make it sound extravagant, that's kinda leem.

                secondly, i just dont begrudge the servers at these kinds of cheep places a buck
                or two compared to say paying 300-400% markup on wine, and being expected to
                tip on that. the extra dollar here and there or rounding up to the higher dollar
                on these $5-$15 bills are hardly unearned windfalls.

                1. re: MommaJ

                  MommaJ:

                  I don't condone tipping 40-50% for non-existent service or poor service. Where as some people I know will. I tip well because I am a server & I know it's nice to receive a few extra dollars (or more) here & there. My friends in the industry ARE servers actually. We often tip that way because we get comps for being in the industry. We live in Vegas & comps are quite common. That's another topic all together...Hope that this reply offers some clarification.

                2. re: dbug31

                  dbug, I'm curious...so servers really hate to "jingle all night long?" One of my favorite noodle dives is priced so that when Hub and I have our meals and bevs, the tab comes to $xx.05. We pay in cash, out of respect to small merchants who pay for credit/debit card use. We leave all the coin on the tray, and add up to what would be 20%, with the coin on top of that. Are you saying our server might not appreciate coin? Shall we just leave 20% so the server does not "jingle?" I'm happy to take the coin, as we save it to cash in for holiday stockings for our kids (legal tender as it is). Is this really a problem for servers? I'm not being snarky; just want to know.

                  1. re: cayjohan

                    As a former server, I would be surprised if I got like a $5 tip on a $15 check. If I'm working somewhere where the typical check is $15, it's probably like a diner or something and I'm aware that I"m going to make my tips by turning the tables and working a lot of hours since the check average is generally pretty small.

                    I don't "expect" anyone to tip over 15%-20%. If they do, that's nice, but no matter the total I still expect similar percentages. If my bill was $100, I certainly wouldn't leave someone $40 or $50 unless I took up their table all night or they did something particularly unusually special. I would "hope" for $20, be pleased if I got $30 and think something was really unusual if I got $50, like the person couldn't count or they were trying to show off or something. Where I live, that would be really unusual. The percentage to me is the same.

                    That being said, I also I don't leave change, it just looks cheap no matter how much change you leave. If I go somewhere and the bill is $5.00 and the service was average but nothing special, I would have no problem leaving a dollar.

                    1. re: cayjohan

                      cayjohan:

                      I never said your server wouldn't appreciate coin. We're not all the same, as no two people are. I simply prefer not to deal with it that's all. Ocassionally, I will give coin change, but I generally don't have the time to go in & out of my purse to do so & don't want to carry around a change purse in my already crowded apron. ; )

                      1. re: dbug31

                        I hope I was clear; I leave all the coin, PLUS the 20%, which ups the tip by close to another buck. Would a server rather have the 5 bucks, or the 5.95?

                        r&r1 said " it just looks cheap no matter how much change you leave." Is that a matter of the *presence* of change, or the amount of the tip? ( I assume this means coinage.)

                        It seems that if the restaurant till is doling out coin for change on customer bills, the staff could turn that change back into the front till in exchange for bills and not have to jingle too much. The front office wouldn't have to run to the bank for more coins, and the staff would be happier with non-jingling.

                        The extra quarters I leave on the bill try are worth precisely one-quarter dollar per. Actual money. I ask again, just for clarification: would the server rather I leave only the bills, and not the coin which would increase the tip by nearly 20%?

                  2. I just don't see this as a percentage thing at all times. If my check comes to $8 which it did this morning I think $1.50 is mean to leave as the tip. The server still has to tip out bussers and was working as hard as if we had ordered a more expensive breakfast. I left her $4 which just felt right.

                    I am in the camp that the 15 -20% thing is not always right. So shoot me already.

                    1. I think under $10, you should stick to around 20% since it is so low, mainly b/c $0.50 is a bigger difference %-wise than it is when your bill is $40+ But for the most part, I think as long as you're in the 15-20% range, it's fine. You aren't going to be there very long for most places that charge lower prices like diners b/c of higher turnover. For happy hour, it's usually more people in the door and a high turnover, so lower prices work out in the end.

                      1. Assuming you're paying cash, I think a lot of the server's impression of your tip depends on the change situation. He doesn't know what you have available in your pocket (many of us have nothing but $20s thanks to the invention of the ATM), but he certainly knows what he brought you back in change.

                        To illustrate, let's say you get a beer from a bartender, and it's $3.75. You hand the bartender a $5, he returns $1.25 (a $1 bill and a quarter). Or you give a $20 and get back $16.25.

                        IMHO, leaving $1.25 (33%) is a nice thing to do and a lot of people do that on a low-end purchase. Leaving the $1 (27%) and keeping the quarter for yourself is also okay. But I can see where making the effort of reaching into your pocket for two quarters so you can leave exactly 75ยข on a low-end tab might make you look cheap in the server's eye, even though it's 20%.

                        Servers don't control the amount of change you get back when you pay in cash, but there is some obvious psychology as to how they decide to make the change as to how it relates to your tip. Consider this example: If a tab is $22 and you give $40 in cash, I find it's not all that unusual to be brought back a $10 and $8 in singles rather than a $10, a $5 and $3 in singles.

                        While there's always a chance you might want to give this server a $5 or greater tip, I think it's fair to say that 90% of the 'hounds here would tip $4 (which falls in the the 15-20% range) and the server knows this. He doesn't want you to feel pressure to tip (or be embarrassed to ask for change for) the $5, and he doesn't want to get shorted with the 3 singles he just gave you. So he makes it as easy as possible for you to leave him 4 singles.

                        I've found that cabbies and hairstylists do the same thing--making change in a way that makes it easiest for you to give the expected tip. Maybe those servers or others in tipped professions in the audience can back this phenomenon up.