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Jan 30, 2009 09:30 PM

Tipping/Cash Only Question

Random Tipping etiquette question. I was at a cash-only restaurant the other day, and when the time came to pay, I had enough cash for dinner and a not quite adequate tip (less than 15% - was a few bucks more expensive than I expected). Do I leave a small tip, or pay $3 to use the ripoff ATM in the restaurant (to add maybe $5 to the tip).

Similar question re: tipping when no small bills.

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  1. I wouldn't use the ATM.....does that answer your question.

    Only restaurants I go to where its "cash only" when the bill could be over $50 which is what I'm guessing your check was is Chinese restaurants. We all know the numerous reasons why its "cash only".

    As far as tipping if I have no small bills I ask for change from the cashier or the server.

    2 Replies
    1. re: monku

      I've seen cash only at a wide variety of places. I'm not sure what you're implying by saying that it's only Chinese restaurants and we all know the reasons why.

      Typically I've seen it's old-fashioned places owned by the same family for generations and this is how they've always done things. They're not out to cheat anyone.

      1. re: monku

        I don't find it entirely uncommon in Manhattan for restaurants, across all cuisines and price ranges, to be cash-only.

        I can think of a variety of reasons for this-- not having to pay credit card surcharges is a huge advantage, especially with restaurant profit margins so slim to begin with.

      2. Maybe it's just me, but IMO it's not the server's fault you don't have sufficient funds with you, so I see no reason to penalize the server. I think you have to deal with the $3 .. or... walk down the street, use a less expensive ATM and return with the rest of the tip (the graciousness of returning to complete the tip may bring you good things on a future visit).

        The cash only policy isn't of the server's doing -- and how the restaurant gets paid has no correlation to the amount of a proper tip (i.e. a server should still get tipped on comped items -- if the items were comped for any reason other than the server's incompetence).

        If you don't have small bills for the tip -- you get change at the restaurant.. again I see no justification for shorting a server for purely for your own convenience.

        1. I sort of have my own tipping scale...

          When seated I'm planning on tipping 20% if the service is good, if there's a problem with the food thats not the servers fault, unless it sat waiting to be served for an unreasonable amount of time.

          What I end up tipping may be more or less than 20% depending on the quality of service, never less than 10%. Cali4nia takes taxes, 8% of the total tickets a waiter/waitress serves per pay period, no service person should ever have to pay for my eating out.

          If the service was up to par, I'd pay the fee to use the ATM, lacking the small bills needed to tip, I'd get change.

          Thats just me.

          6 Replies
          1. re: Demented

            im not saying you are making this mistake, but I see it all the time. It is true that servers are taxed on tips(rightfully so) but its at the rate of whatever tax bracket they fall in. Lets assume that most servers are in the 15% fed they pay 15% tax on 8%(the feds guess at their tip) of their thats about 1% of their gross sales.

            1. re: nkeane

              Servers pay taxes on what they declare as tips. Restaurants report the sales, which are always underestimated, and nobody reports all of their earnings. I could be wrong, but there is no 15% bracket, is there?

              1. re: AHan

                Everyone pays taxes when they fill out their 1040 and submit in April. Everyone, including servers, have estimates withheld duringthe year.

                1. re: AHan

                  maybe not. My point was more that servers dont pay 8% of their gross sales in taxes, but that the fed. assumes tips to be 8%(a minimum, if you report more you get taxed on more......although I dont know who would do that?) and they then pay taxes on that amount. Like Jfood says below, its usually used to estimate witholdings from the servers paycheck. Some servers I know get no paycheck once all their taxes are withheld from their check!

                  work 30hrs@$8/hr, pay taxes on that, then have all your tip taxes withheld and you have either a laughable sum, or you end up owing!! good times!

                  1. re: AHan

                    "I could be wrong, but there is no 15% bracket, is there?"

                    Of course there is:

                2. re: Demented

                  They're not paying for you to eat out, they're paying taxes on income they earned. They don't calculate your bill based on your tax rate, why would you calculate their tip on their (purported) tax rate?

                3. What did you do? or is this a "what if"

                  1. Use the ATM. Your lack of cash and the fees at the ATM are not an excuse to shortchange your server.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: taos

                      Not only is your lack of cash not the server's fault, it's also not their fault that you ordered more than you could comfortably pay for and tip properly. I always check when a place is cash only that I have enough to actually eat what I want there. If I don't, I can leave and go get more cash and come back, order less food or use the pricy ATM on site and deal with the fee. One ATM fee is not going to make or break you, financially.