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Do You Tip Less in a Restaurant You Will Only Go To Once?

Do you tend to tip less when you are a tourist or at a convention and thus unlikely to return to any particular restaurant in the near future? Servers, do you think tourists tip less because they are unlikely to return to your city soon?

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  1. HELL NO!!! That's the most stupid thing I ever heard of. Anyone who does that should be shot at dawn.

    2 Replies
      1. re: c oliver

        Ditto, always tip the same. If good service I always tip well. Even bad service I still probably tip better than most.

        Do most people. Yes I think there are a fair amount of those who do tip less. Not foodies, and there are many out there. Working in a tourist town, yes it is about half and half. Some are great tippers, some are not.. I always tip well and above.

      2. Character is what we do when we think no one is looking. Tipping less in the circumstances you describe says a multitude about the person.

        3 Replies
        1. re: KTinNYC

          So much nicer said than mine :) And no one has to die!!!

          1. re: KTinNYC

            Couldn't have said it better myself.

            1. What if we flip the question around: do you tip more at places where you're a regular?

              I do. I'm a heavy (20-30%) tipper at places where I'm likely to find myself again in the near future, and just tip normally (15-20%) everyplace else. IMHO there's nothing wrong with being a little extra generous to the folks you've developed a relationship with.

              Now people who stiff their servers because they can get away with it? That's a whole 'nother matter. No reason to wait until dawn to shoot them.

              7 Replies
              1. re: alanbarnes

                I actually thought of your first point after my initial post. Yes, there is nothing wrong with being exceedingly generous with those you have a personal relationship.

                1. re: alanbarnes

                  I was going to say something similar - it depends on one's perspective.

                  I was going ot note that I tend to "tip more" at places that I know I'm going to frequent. This does imply that I "tip less" at other places in a technical sense, but I use that amount as my baseline anyways.

                  1. re: alanbarnes

                    Yes, I do tip more than the standard practice of 15-20% at places where I'm a regular.

                    However, there have been times when I or my friends have also tipped well above the standard in restaurants I've only been in once. It all depends on what type of service I've received at those single visit restaurants. If it's exceptional, I let them know by a higher-than-usual tip, and I try and let management know we had excellent food and service as well.

                    1. re: alanbarnes

                      We do tip more at places where we are regulars...probably 30-50% on average. We get lots of perks from getting a table anytime we need it, to stuff comped, to our favorite waitstaff, something prepared off the menu, etc.

                      But at other places we start at 20% and round up from there. Whether it's local or out of town.

                      1. re: alanbarnes

                        Looked at that way, then yes. Yes I do.

                        I have a standard practice that can be summed up four ways:

                        Place to which I'll return, standard to excellent service: Overtip.
                        Place to which I'll return, bad to poor service: Undertip or way undertip, with a word to the manager.

                        Place to which I'll not return, standard to excellent service: Tip standard or slightly over, usually depending on how good the food was.
                        Place to which I'll not return, bad to poor service: Way undertip, or stiff 'em.

                        In other words: What one does not give to Peter, whom one will never see again, one gives to Paul, whom one will.

                        1. re: alanbarnes

                          I'm glad you brought this side of the coin up. I was going to say almost the same thing.

                          While I still leave 20% and over for good service everywhere, I leave much more at places I'm a regular.

                          1. re: alanbarnes

                            Having worked ions ago at a low-end place that had a bunch of regulars
                            I can attest that not everybody is trying to endear the staff they see all the damn time.
                            They were virtually non-existent tippers because they considered the spot their clubhouse or birthright or something. Once in a blue moon a big ol ' $20 bill would appear, and he who plunked it down expected you to get excited. (I was not.)

                          2. Why would I do that? The tip reflects the quality of the service and food, not whether we'll be intending to go back. They only get a sucky tip if they really suck! If anything, we're MORE generous on vacation because the holiday spirit loosens the purse strings.

                            1. No. Certainly not one of my tipping criteria.

                              1. If the service and food are very good, I tip accordingly, it doesn't matter if it's my first and only time or if I'm a regular. Afterall, that waitperson is there to make a living.

                                1. As Alan and KT stated there are two things in play:

                                  1 - When jfood goes to sleep at night he sleeps like a baby. He does what he thinks is right 24/7. And KT phrased it best...Character is what we do when we think no one is looking
                                  2 - Alan adds an interesting twist as well. There is a tip and there is a thank you for being a restaurant friend. Jfood travels and most places are one-stop wonders. And he tips as he should. It does not depend on Mid-west, west coast, south. Now in his regular go-to places there is normally the added bump to the tip to (a) thank them and (b) keep the good servers in place.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: jfood

                                    Perhaps I am strange, but sometimes if one of those one-stop wonders turns out to be a hidden gem, and service is particularly good, I will actually tip more just out of a sense of gratitude for having found the local oasis...(and no fear of raising anyone's expectations that they always can expect 25 or 30% from me :-)).

                                    Hubby and I once had a wonderful dinner, with wonderful service, at the Cala Lily Cafe in Gibsonia, PA. It is a place (in a strip mall in a very small town) that deserved much more local attention than it was getting at the time (there were lots of locals in the bar, but no one dining, except us). Anyway, over a year later we found ourselves back in Gibsonia and went back for dinner a second time. As soon as we were seated, the server came over, looked at us, smiled and said, "I remember you two: the couple from San Francisco! Welcome back". When she was out of earshot hubby leaned over to me and whispered: ' don't feel too flattered that we are memorable: I am sure it was the tip". :-)

                                    1. re: susancinsf

                                      I've had similar experiences as you, Susan. I agree; the tip is probably what triggered the memory but you should be flattered that they remembered your faces after all that time. Maybe they remembered you because you ordered food! *grin*

                                      I've been a server in the past and tried to make a point about remembering something about my customers. Now that I'm old, I have a hard time remembering who my servers were!!! *evil grin*

                                      1. re: susancinsf

                                        Jfood thinks that goes without saying at any restaurant in bucket (a) in jfood's response.

                                    2. There are 7-11's I know I'll never visit again, but I don't rob them.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Veggo

                                        The security cameras at 7-11's are known to be very clear, your choice not to rob them is a wise one.

                                      2. Regarding the first question, NO.

                                        1. Would anyone really answer 'yes' to this question?

                                          It's designed to make us all argue in the negative - and agree with more or less vehemence. And if someone would be so low to actually tip less, do you think they'd have enough personal character to admit it here?

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: alwayscooking

                                            I also say at that there are few occasions in my life when I get to be righteously indignant. Feels good...and so superior :)

                                            1. re: c oliver

                                              CH is great for
                                              getting the blood circulating
                                              many many head shakes
                                              and more than one laugh a day

                                            2. re: alwayscooking

                                              i think you've unearthed the trick of the op. ;)

                                              i've been in hospitality for years, so yeah, i probably tip too highly in some people's opinions. bostonians average a higher tipping percentage than many other areas of the country, so perhaps the bar is *too* high here. however, countless verbal tips delivered with a regional accent from "elsewhere" and 10% on the slip bears this out.

                                              as for those from countries where the service charge is typically included? EVERY guide book explains this is not the case in the united states. yet they remain, on the whole, less than 10 percenters. this is not a flame. i will not single out countries that seem to be the most egregious offenders here. it's my long experience, that of colleagues and employees under me.

                                              so yeah, i think the op has a valid point.

                                            3. Of course not! 1) I was once a server myself. 2) I firnly believe in karma. 3) My parents raised me well. I do like the point touched on above regarding personal relationships at regular places.

                                              1. Jeez...I'm somewhere between nonplussed and appalled with this question. Why the heck are you asking this in the first place? Is this something you do?

                                                Tips are based on service provided/received; not the return factor.

                                                  1. We often stay at a relatively local resort hotel for weekends. We hang out at the tiki bar on the beach for lunch and frozen drinks. I am shocked to observe how many tourists visiting do not tip the bartenders/servers.

                                                    I guess they're not CH'ers.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: LJBTampa

                                                      Don't know about the Gulf Coast side of Florida, but in the Miami-Ft Lauderdale area it is common for menus to state "SERVICE IS NOT INCLUDED"
                                                      There are many foreign tourists who don't know that in the USA the patron adds a tip to the total on the bill.

                                                      Asan additional antecdote..................
                                                      In 1961 my family was in California on vacation. My grandmother had tea and toast at a lunch counter in Santa Monica. She left a dime next to the plate as a tip. It probably was a 50 cent bill.
                                                      As she was leaving, the waitress rushed after her and said "Madam you forgot your change"
                                                      We New Yorkers were the tourists and tipping was apparently not done at lunch counters in 1961 Santa Monica.

                                                    2. I think it depends more on whether you believe in game theory or karma.

                                                      Game theory would suggest that the highest payoff would be from tipping well at places you frequent, and tipping less at places you'll never return to. (I don't think that includes completely stiffing the waiter - that could get you covered in hot soup on your way out!)

                                                      Karma says tipping according to the service received is the best course.

                                                      There is, unfortunately, an entire class of people who live by the game theory method; we refer to them, alternately, as con men, door-to-door salespeople, telemarketers, or investment bankers (that's the short list).

                                                      Based on past experience (and excepting everyone here, of course), I would suspect that the number of GT people outnumber the karmic crowd substantially.

                                                      15 Replies
                                                      1. re: KevinB

                                                        Whoa, people. Take a chill pill. Or, as my daughter would say, slow your roll. I never proposed or even meant to imply that any one should undertip or stiff anyone. I just noticed that I personally am more apt to leave an 18-20% tip on average in an unknown restaurant, but in a place I go to often I usually tip in the 20-25% range for the same level of service, because I begin to know the people, and they me, and I see how pleasant they are and how hard they work.

                                                        I am truly astonished at the vitriol that this comment engendered. I'm wondering if someone "doth protest too much".

                                                        1. re: lattelover

                                                          "Do you tend to tip less when you are a tourist or at a convention and thus unlikely to return to any particular restaurant in the near future?"

                                                          That definitely reads "do you...tip less?" I think if you phrased your question "Do you tend to tip more at places you frequent" you would have received a different set of replies.

                                                          Furthermore, "tip less" CAN read "undertip." (Esp when you normally tip Restaurant A 25% and you give Restaurant B 20%, you're undertipping what YOUR normal is, even if 20% is more than the standard.)

                                                          And "unlikely to return" CAN read "where the waitstaff won't recognise you as being the cheap tipper."

                                                          A little research shows this topic discussed very recently: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/342115 -- Rules on tipping - Do you ALWAYS tip 20%?

                                                          1. re: OCAnn

                                                            I guess it's a matter of perspective. Rereading KevinB's post it's clear that he means less as in "not much", but I keep reading these things literally - I *do* tip "less" than I do at places where I'm a regular, but not in the way that some folks in this thread mean.

                                                            If my baseline is X% and X is in the normal range but I tip X+Y% at places that I frequent ... well the answer to the OP's question is "yes" but not in the way that others mean.

                                                            Anyhoo, as it applies to KevinB above, the extra Y% for me is totally due to the game theory and not karma. He provided no argument why that's a bad thing, although rereading his post it seems as if he's referring to people who tip X% at places they're regulars at and X-Z% at random one-offs.

                                                            1. re: jgg13

                                                              Ok...but I was replying to lattelover & her OP.

                                                              I'm not sure if I want to touch KevinB's comments and game theory, b/c tipping is not a game where someone must lose so that another may win (zero sum game), although as a social construct (a decision [tip] is made to get a desired result [better service]) it doesn't work b/c the decision is made AFTER the result....

                                                              1. re: OCAnn

                                                                Yah, but lattelover was replying to KevinB ;)

                                                                1. re: jgg13

                                                                  I think she meant to reply to her OP b/c (i) she doesn't address GT or Karma and (ii) her first line is "Whoa, people".

                                                                2. re: OCAnn

                                                                  Not all games are zero sum, and game theory addresses the gamut from zero sum to co-operative games. I think tipping is co-operative - if you give me good service, I give you a good tip, and we BOTH win. If you give me lousy service, I give you a bad tip, and we BOTH lose. This is not zero-sum.

                                                                  One huge difference in games is repetitive vs. single encounter games. In repetitive games (e.g. restaurants that you go to frequently), game theory suggests that the best course is to "co-operate" (tip well ) on your first visit, and thereafter tip according to the service you receive. In single action games, unfortunately, aggression usually provides the highest net payoff (i.e. not tipping very well - say, 10%). I make no claim that this approach is better as a moral choice; I'm just saying that's what the science says.

                                                                  As an ex-waiter, I'm acutely aware of the level of service I receive. If I feel my waiter/waitress is slacking off, not paying attention, or doesn't care, they get tipped appropriately. If they go the extra mile, seem to care, and are attentive, they get tipped very well.

                                                                  But, as happened to me a few years ago, I go to a place where I have to wait 15 minutes to get a menu, then ten more minutes before my waiter deigned to take my drink order, a meal that was delivered by someone else, no dinner check, and finally having to flag down the manager to get a cup of coffee and a cheque - well, I called my waiter over, asked him what he paid in tip pool, and told him I would cover that (5% BTW), but no more, because of the job he did. I'll never be back there again, but, hoping that karma exists, I truly hope that he provides better service to all customers in the future.

                                                          2. re: KevinB

                                                            I love how you automatically assume that the GT crowd are the bad people and the karma are the enlightened folks.

                                                            1. re: jgg13

                                                              could you give a contra-argument to support the other side?

                                                              1. re: jfood

                                                                I provided exactly as much argument as KevinB did to support his side.

                                                                1. re: jgg13

                                                                  The X+Y versus the X-Z is an interesting observation.

                                                                  The algorithm seems to be:

                                                                  (maximize Z at places where you frequent once so as not to invoke the bad karma) + (minimize Y at places you are a regular in trigger the special person status)

                                                                  1. re: jfood

                                                                    I'm just thankful there aren't any differential equations in this algorithm as I'm already having trouble following it all ;)

                                                                    Anyhoo, I don't see the problem w/ X+Y, but I can see the irritation with X-Z. My head hurts .....

                                                              2. re: jgg13

                                                                And, if you understand even the littlest bit of GT, you'd understand why. Look at the examples I gave: investment bankers who publicly touted stocks while bragging in emails that those stocks were dogs; used car salesmen who told you a car was great, when it was a complete lemon; telemarketers selling you "credit card insurance" - all of these are people who want to get your money from you, and offer you a spurious proposition in return, because they know they are unlikely to get repeat business from you (see my other post on single action vs. repetitive games) so they want to maximize what they can get from you on their only encounter.

                                                                As an ex-waiter, I've seen other waiters pad bills when they think the customer is so drunk he/she won't notice; I've seen management water down soup because they think customers won't notice. And I've seen waiters who tried to give their customers a beautiful evening, and get stiffed. There are a lot of people out there who think in a "one-off" situation, their best strategy is to try to make maximum advantage over the other person, which game theory suggests is the "optimal" strategy. Your comment suggests that you disagree with my belief that GT in these situations is, shall we say, not very nice. You are, of course, welcome to your own beliefs. I'll stick with mine.

                                                                1. re: KevinB

                                                                  KB, re: all the conduct you cite, and to borrow from Katharine Hepburn in The African Queen, "isn't that what we are here to rise above?"

                                                                  1. re: Veggo

                                                                    I don't know why so many people get the impression I'm defending the GT people; I think they're awful. Because they know they're unlikely to ever see you again, they try to take advantage of you. I don't live my life that way at all.

                                                                    That said, my point is that in many instances, in situations unlikely to repeat, aggressive action is usually a better strategy than co-operative action, in terms of getting a higher pay off. That's why I hope karma works - so the guy who sold me 500 shares in a worthless gold mine 20 years ago is (I hope) rotting away in a jail cell somewhere.

                                                            2. No! I tip based on service. Some tourists tip less because of their native customs.

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: salsailsa

                                                                Although I believe you're correct, not tipping due to native customs is no excuse.

                                                                1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                                  Oh, I totally agree with you. I think some people use that to get off cheap, honestly.

                                                              2. The only time I would tip less is if the reason I will only go to that restaurant once is that the food & service were awful. Even at that I would still tip at least 15%. Most times we tip 20% or more. And I would never stiff any waitstaff if I was a tourist in their town.

                                                                1. As a server at a restaurant a block away from a popular tourist hotel minutes outside D.C., YES!!! tourists tip way less!!! We used to almost argue about who had to take the 12 top of tourists because we knew that it'd be a lot of work for next to nothing... not that we gave worse service ever, but we knew that all our efforts would result in less.

                                                                  1. i don't tip less when it's a one off, or more where i'm a regular. I tip well everywhere, and the service would have to be really subpar for me to lower that

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: thew

                                                                      I tip less (15% v. 20%) if I go to a restaurant with sub-par service and food and decide I'm never going back. It has nothing to do with the location.