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Mar 6, 2010 07:17 AM

Discount tipping on early bird..a nuance

We recently took friends to an upscale restaurant. We ordered a la carte off of the menu. The meal and the service was excellent. When the bill came, the server explained that everyone who orders before 6:30 gets a 25% discount on everything and the amount, indeed, was deducted from the bill total. This was not stated on the menu and I was unaware of it. The question is this: certainly if I have a coupon that deducts from the total bill, or if I am comped in one way or the other, I base my tip on the bill before the discount. In this situation, my opinion was that this was, in effect, an early bird special which everyone is entitled to and I would tip on whatever the early bird special price was, not on the "pre-discount" price. Again, if lunch prices are less, I certainly would not tip based on the dinner menu. The other diners (who are best friends and OK to discuss these things) felt I should tip on the prediscount price. I tend to be a big tipper and feel if I can afford an expensive meal, I can tip well; nonetheless, in this case I felt a tip on the discounted amount was the correct choice. I did, under intense social pressure, including that from my wife, tip on the pre-discount price, but we agreed to see what CH said. If the restaurant policy (stated after the meal) is to deduct 25% for everyone before 6:30 does one tip based on what one actually paid or on the prediscount amount?

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  1. we had a similar situation last night, before 7pm drinks and appetizers are half price or 2 for 1and a small discussion ensued as to whether to tip on the before 7pm prices or the full price had we paid it. If a restaurant wants you in for Happy Hour and you specifically go there for that reason and it makes going out affordable then maybe we should tip on the check that arrives at the table not the one you would have got.

    1. i completely understand what both of you are saying, but i think it's important to remember that you're tipping the server, not restaurant management...and management makes the decisions to offer specials/discounts. so while it may not make sense to tip on the entire pre-discounted amount, if service is good i usually round up a bit so the server doesn't lose out too much on a bigger tip simply because i dined early or took advantage of a discount. i tip 20% as a standard for good service, so i might bump it up to 22% or so on a discounted bill.

      1. The smallest amout can make a server's night, let's say 20% is $8. and you leave $10. It is a tiny bit of money that makes the server feel appreciated. I don't want to start a war, of course, I only mean stellar service. In inexpensive places, even if service isn't that great, I always over tip. You know the random acts of kindness stuff.

        Addressing the topic at hand, I think it is expected to tip on the lowest total, not what it would have been.

        1. I would've tipped on the full amount, and probably then some, since you were prepared to pay the regular price/tip, and were given a discount.

          1 Reply
          1. re: invinotheresverde

            Agree....especially for a self-proclaimed "big tipper". You would still came out ahead tipping 20% on the full amount.

          2. Tip based on the full, pre-discount price. You're still saving money compared to what you expected to spend. Why turn a windfall into something negative and contentious?