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Fair amount of tip at a restaurant

I went yesterday at Vino restaurant in NDG. Excellent Italian food. But when I paid my bill, I was surprise that the preselected amount of tip on the credit card machine was 17% (after taxes)! So, I choose to put tip in dollar instead of percentage.

For me, 15% before taxes is a fair amount of tip. And when the amount exceeds 200$, I think 10% is fair. Am I wrong?

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  1. yes, that is very unfair.
    if the bill exceeds 200 dollars you should still tip what you normally would. waiters should not be punished because you choose to eat somewhere expensive. an expensive restaurant probably makes waiters serve fewer tables so you get more attention, and they have more experience.
    i always tip 15 percent after tax if service is good.

    edit: the only exception would be if you buy a 500 dollar plus bottle of wine, then I think you might tip differently....

    1. people have been tipping 15% since at least i was a child (40+ years ago) and i think that's low. i'm always a 20% tipper, unless the service is really bad. Little mom & pop places i'll even tip more. a few dollars extra when i eat out may make more of a difference to them than it does to me. and i'm not rich (actually, currently very underemployed). but i used to be a server.

      and i agree with Kpaxonite - why would a higher bill mean a smaller tip?

      1. Folks, before y'all pile on (as tipping threads tend to do, and the question the OP asks is ripe bait for such a fest), be aware that (1) the OP is talking Quebec, not Manhattan, and (2) he's posted twice at Chowhound.

        I will now hold my fire accordingly.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Karl S

          Here in montreal the average tip is still 15 percent, 18 at some high end business style places. And there is definitely no custom of decreasing tip percentage as the cost increases.

          1. re: kpaxonite

            good to know. and thanks Karl S., it is true - living in L.A./S.F. all my life means I'll have a different perspective.

          2. re: Karl S

            Yes, Canadians (including Quebecians) should be held to the same standard. I have worked in the industry for years (in Canada) and 10% is considered low.

            Remember this: MANY establishments are now taking advantage of their staffs tip earnings, requiring them to pay a house charge. The house charge ranges from 2%-5%, from what I've witnessed. I think it's wrong, but even when a server is not paying out to the house, 10% amounts to very little when the night is through. The "preselected" gratuity amount posted on the machine serves to subtley educate the patron about what is typically expected for satisfactory service. In Canada, the preselected amounts are generally between 15% and 20%. I'm not sure where people get the lower numbers from. We have very similar standards as in the U.S. http://www.tripadvisor.com/Travel-g15...

            I'm with kpaxonite on this one: If you are at an expensive restaurant, you should expect to tip more, just as you expect to pay more for your meal.

            When I decide to go out, I look at what I am able to afford - tip included. If you want to save money, there's always MacDonald's, right? :


            Cheers! Hope this helps.

          3. You are wrong.

            If everything is fine you tip 17% MINIMUM.

            If the service is good you tip 20% or more.

            If you are not particularly happy you leave just 15% and make a point of speaking to the manager to try to resolve your problem.

            The tip percentage never decreases based on the cost of the meal. However it is thoughtful to increase the tip percentage when you're in an inexpensive spot like a coffee shop.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Kater

              If you did not read up, the commenter is from Quebec and talking about dining in Quebec; tipping percentages in Canada have not been inflated as in dining meccas in the US (and US tipping customs are not instantly applicable outside our borders), and there's a different issue in terms of working terms between the nations, et cet.

              1. re: Karl S

                That would have no impact on the notion of tipping less in an expensive restaurant even if it were true.

                1. re: Kater

                  I was referring to your 17% standard that you shouted in all caps.

                2. re: Karl S

                  They have been inflated - I promise.

              2. If you think 15% is fair (and I'm in agreement with that) then tip 15% and screw everyone that says it should be more.

                1. The only issue I have is you tipping less due to a higer meal cost. Can you explain to us why you'd do that?

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: invinotheresverde

                    It's because with a higher meal cost, the wine is usually much more expensive. So why I should pay more tip because I take a bottle of wine of, let say, 80$? The service is still the same. But I might be wrong, and I start to think I should leave at least 15% all the time.

                    1. re: FoodieDan

                      The service shouldn't be the same, since it should be decanted, etc., but that's a thread for another time.

                      Also, not arguing here, but you chose to buy a bottle of expensive wine. Your server didn't choose it. You wouldn't tip less an, say an expensive steak versus a burger, would you?

                      Anyhow, Cheers!

                  2. Since you asked, I'll answer. I think that lowering the tip when the bill reaches a certain dollar amount is unfair. Servers are taxed on their tips no matter how much you spend. Plus, the more food, the more work.

                    But, I also agree with another poster who suggested that you should tip what you think is fair. We can't all think the same way, can we? Still, lowering the tip based on the amount of the meal seems unfair to me.

                    20 Replies
                    1. re: MinkeyMonkey

                      And what do you think about the fair percentage of tip? 15%-20%? Before or after taxes?

                      1. re: FoodieDan

                        I usually tip 20% after taxes but I did not pay attention to the different locale. I'm in the US and raised in LA in California on the coast. We tip high out there! My grandmother, from Ontario, originally from Quebec and a depression era child, never tipped high although she thought she was tipping very fairly. She would tip $1 for the two of us for lunch. One of the few times in my life when I lied was when, after each lunch, I'd tell her I was going to the restroom and then I'd add more tip. It made her feel bad to think her generosity was being frowned upon by me and I didn't want to hurt her. But, I couldn't leave a one dollar tip! My Canadian born father (moved to US when he was 12) has always been a 15% tipper unless it is a party of more than four or the service "knocked his socks off", then he would go up to 20% and I have no idea if he tipped before or after taxes.

                        I am poor. I can't afford to spend $200 dollars at one meal. When I eat out, I always spend what I can afford to and leave room for tipping because I like to pay those who serve me. I love it in fact! If I had never been laid off or if I could eat salt like a normal person, I'd eat out at least four times a week. We love to cook but we are both horrendous at dishes!!

                        I'm not judging the choice to spend lots on one meal or to spend lots on one bottle of wine, I just think that whatever I spend on a meal, the tip still needs to be what I think is fair and that means generous. I like being generous! I grew up wealthy and wonder if that has anything to do with it?

                        If you think it is fair to tip by lowering the percentage, then maybe that is just the right way to do things. There is no need to be uncomfortable with your spending.

                        One time, I decided to try to discuss the tipping percentage with my gram. It did not go well and I think I offended her. I hope I didn't offend you, I just don't agree with you.

                        1. re: MinkeyMonkey

                          You did not offend me at all. If I asked, it's because I want to know about that. As you have said, you tip high in California. I went to SF last summer and had a great time. But I didn't know that people tip more than 15%. It's good to know!

                          1. re: FoodieDan


                            I had just read a lot of another post and decided not to respond because so much of the discussion had turned to judging and correcting then re-correcting each other. Now that I think of it, you were just asking! But, I wanted to make sure that you knew I wasn't judging and I think that is due to some of the strange and lengthy posts I've read that seem more like an altercation than an argument or discussion.

                            Now I know better for when I go to Canada! I've probably been over tipping and didn't even know it!

                          2. re: MinkeyMonkey

                            It can vary.

                            Let us consider some "resort" areas, where there might well be 30% taxes onto the bill.Let's assume that the wine markup is about 400%, across the board.

                            The bill comes, and the food is US$400, with US$300 in wine, plus another US $210 in taxes. The service was good, but nothing stellar. Do you tip 20% on US$910?


                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                              I could not give an answer as I cannot afford to eat at those places.

                              1. re: MinkeyMonkey

                                With some of those extra taxes, it does become difficult, regardless of who the diner is.

                                In many, those extra "resort taxes" are added, to provide some public-works project, and the feeling is that "tourists" will always come and give up their $. Well, in some areas, it is not working.

                                In Phoenix, the "tourist taxes" are really hurting. Not sure how the restaurants are faring, but the auto rental agencies are having trouble. It costs more (by about 2.5%) in taxes, than the cost of renting an auto.

                                The general assumption was that "tourists will always be there," but now the locals are having to pick up the slack, as the "tourists" are just not coming. I expect to see many resort areas in trouble, and one of the first areas hurt will be the restaurants.


                              2. re: Bill Hunt

                                Why would anyone tip on the tax though? It's always pre-tax for us.

                                1. re: cutipie721

                                  have you ever figured out what the difference is pre and post? In my opinion it is far beneath worrying about.

                                    1. re: DGresh

                                      Not the case with Bill's example. $210 x 20% = someone else's entree, or even a dinner for two.

                                      For me it's a principle thing. If the service is great, I tip more based on what I have consumed. I just don't think the waiters deserve to pick up another $2 without providing any extra service.

                                      1. re: cutipie721

                                        For me, it's like a line from a Bob Dylan song, "my money comes and goes... and flows through the holes in my pockets to my toes." If I over-tip by US$2.00, the world will not end for me. Heck, I'll hand that to the lad at the entrance, who points me to the restaurant in the resort. Now, I would rather not over-tip by US$20.00, but that seldom happens.


                                    2. re: cutipie721

                                      It may be a matter of local custom depending on where in the world you are.

                                      Here in the UK, Value Added Tax (currently at 17.5%) forms part of the price one pays for goods and services, including restaurant meals. It is not shown separately. Although tipping here is always discretionary (and some folk choose not to tip), a tip would always be given on the basis of the full price paid.

                                      1. re: Harters

                                        17% TAX? Maybe you should start tossin' tea in your harbor!!

                                        1. re: gryphonskeeper

                                          It increases to 20% in January.

                                          Personally, I don't like regressive taxes like this and would much prefer to see them scrapped and progressive ones, like income tax, increased significantly. But that's another story.

                                          1. re: gryphonskeeper

                                            VAT is coming to the US probably later this decade (the reason Canada's not in such an awful state of fiscal affairs is that it prudently adopted a VAT), so it will be interesting to see how that will affect tipping in the US.

                                            1. re: Karl S

                                              I live in NH, where we have NO income, NO sales tax, I think taxes that high are just asinine. Seriously.... 20% That's abysmal.

                                        2. re: cutipie721

                                          I have a friend, who has a wonderful little HP calculator, and he's written a series of equations for tipping. He plugs in all sorts of variables, and then outputs an amount. He factors out taxes, and then has a dozen variations for any wine, based on some spreadsheet that he wrote. He can calculate the tip to the nearest 1000th of a cent.

                                          I just do the rough math, based on the entire bill, and factor in the service in my head. Though I do offer up more than he does, I have no problem, and do not need an advanced calculator to figure things. In the end, "It'll All Work Out in Dreamland." I just cannot be bothered with a $1.85 one way, or the other.


                                      2. re: MinkeyMonkey

                                        Old people are cheap. It has nothing to do with Canada. It seems these old people are still tipping the same numbers they did on their first date! It's definitely no indication of the norm.

                                        1. re: MissEElizabeth

                                          Tipping might well be a generational thing. Though quite old (especially by CH standards), I think that I tip pretty well.

                                          Now, some studies seen to indicate that women are not that good with tipping. Even with my wife, who is a high-level professional, I see that she's a few % below what I would have done. Not sure what can be inferred from those observations, if anything can be. This from a lady, who daily handles US$100M budgets! We are not THAT far apart, but there is a difference.


                                  1. I'll not get into percentages - as tipping customs differ depending on where you are in the world - but I wouldnt agree that you suddenyl change whatever is the "going rate" in your area because the bill is over (or under) a particular amount.

                                    1. Yes. You are wrong. I almost never leave less than 20% of the pretax total, regardless of where I eat or how much the bill is.

                                      1. i'm another one of those big tippers, for a number of reasons. my standard is 20%, and i don't drop below 15% unless the service is truly horrendous. having said that, it's absolutely your prerogative to leave a standard 15%, but i do disagree with the drop in tip if the bill amount exceeds a certain level.

                                        1. I usually tip 15 - 20% percent of the pre-tax bill depending on the service. I"ve gone higher than 20% and have gone lower than 15%. It just depends on the service and the situation.

                                          To the people here who seem to be in favor of the European and Candianian system of the VAT, how in the world is a VAT going to help the workers inv service industries that depend on tips?

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: John E.

                                            I do not see how that it will. Please do not confuse my prognostication that a US 20% VAT is coming, with it being something that I would embrace. Just to be clear.


                                            PS - though it should go without saying, I do not believe any respondents here are advocating that all should follow their tipping guidelines - more, or less. We are all just stating how WE approach things.

                                            1. re: Bill Hunt


                                              Apart from my above comment that, as political issue, I don't like regressive taxes such as VAT, my only other point was that in the UK we tip on a the tax inclusive amount, not tax exclusive as most folk in America would do. This is just our social custom - nothing more or less.

                                              1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                I don't recall reading a post of yours predicting a 20% VAT and I looked again. The reason I think a large VAT would hurt tip earners is because people would be annoyed at the high tax and reduce the tip accordingly.

                                            2. I really can't be bothered to calculate the exact percentage that I leave at the end of a meal, so what I do is look at the tax amount, double it and round it up or down so that the total comes to a whole dollar amount. It makes accounting easy at the end.
                                              so if bill is $109.75, with $100 being food and $9.75 being tax and, I tip $20.25; or 20.25% pre-tax
                                              if the bill is $110.85, with $101 being food and 9.85 being tax, I would tip $19.15; or 18.96%
                                              this way, what shows up on my credit card bill is $130.

                                              1. i'd say you need to tip more not less at a more expensive meal. if you can afford to eat a $200 meal then you can afford to tip well. If not, eat at cheaper places.

                                                1. In NYC, 20 to 22% always. Amazing how well you're remembered when you return/

                                                  1. Interesting discussion, I believe most servers tip out (bussers, bartenders and hosts) according to a percentage of their sales and pay taxes on their tips. Most servers try to get away with declaring as little as possible, usually 8%-12%, although legally everyone must declare 100% of their tips. So I believe if you have good reason to lessen the tip, you are only actually literally taking money out of the server's pocket if you tip less than 10%. However, like many have said, the price on the menu is for the restaurant's costs and profit, and a pair of hands and ears to take your order and hand out food, thats why you don't tip at Mcdonald's or the grocery store. Everyone here seem to be very well educated tippers, I wish more people I serve were like-minded. I believe that tipping over 10% should be based on the quality and proficiency of service, knowledge and helpfulness with the menu, great personality, personal touch, or whatever else you use to judge.

                                                    I kind of agree with tipping a smaller percentage on a higher total bill, especially with large amounts of alcohol. I think it also depends on the type and quality of the restaurant and type of dining experience. For example, a quick business lunch in the city at a mid-high range restaurant for two could be $50 with one course and perrier. At the lower end diner type of restaurant I work at, a two or three top will only run up to $50 with drinks, apps, dinner entrees and maybe even a dessert. The server has done way more work in the second instance and the table has been taken up for much longer than in the first instance. If the service was good, I believe the server should deserve a larger percentage tip. What do you think?

                                                    And another related question: do you tip more, less, or the same if the restaurant is busy? Assuming the service and speed were equal.

                                                    7 Replies
                                                    1. re: nicholas85

                                                      what do i think? honestly? i think people need to stop looking for ways to tip less.

                                                      1. re: thew

                                                        The tipping situation has gotten so far out of hand that everyone now wants a tip. My butcher now has a tip jar on his counter. Is he kidding me? He owns the place so why am I expected to tip him? For what? I owned 7 retails shops and no one ever tipped me or my employees. No one subsidized their salaries. And while I'm on soapbox, why on earth would anyone tip for bad service? Why are you rewarding waitstaff that treats you badly? I don't get it. The only message you send to them is that they don't have to give you good or even decent service since they're going to get tipped anyway. It just perpetuates bad service. There, I'm done.

                                                        1. re: The Drama Queen

                                                          i don't think i advocated tipping a butcher, or ignoring bad service. but to tip less because your dinner is more expensive is outrageous, to me. To tip less because you are dining alone,a s opposed to a table of 4 is likewise ridiculous. in nicholas' example perhaps one would tip more if the table seemed like more work than average - but i would not cut the tip down just because it was a simple job, or the place wasn't busy, or any other reason short of really really bad service.

                                                          a 10% tip, at this point is an insult.

                                                          1. re: thew

                                                            I agree with you. A tip for the waitstaff has nothing to do with whether or not a dinner is more expensive. It's the service you're tipping for not the price of the food.

                                                            1. re: thew

                                                              I completely agree. If I ever got a 10% tip, I would literally toss and turn all night wondering what I did that was so offensive.

                                                              Now, though, from reading various posts on these boards, I realize it may have been inevitable. Maybe the busboy was vacuuming - maybe I asked (horror of horrors) if everything was OK - maybe I wasn't invisible enough - maybe I was too invisible, ...

                                                              "Dear me, I had to ASK for my check".
                                                              "Goodness, she brought the check BEFORE I asked for it".

                                                              Even though different establishments have different protocols, and diners have different preferences, the solution always seems to be the same, of course, you should reduce the tip!

                                                              I assume a 20% tip is the norm, and factor it into the cost of eating out. Most times I go over and above. The only time I ever reduce a tip is if the server is flat out rude, and even then, I will speak to a manager long before we get to the tipping stage.

                                                              Why anyone would tip based on circumstance, like the number in the party, or because the meal is expensive, instead of the total of the bill, is beyond me and just plain lame.

                                                          2. re: thew

                                                            I think more people need to think about why they should even leave a tip in the first place. To impress company and/or guilt aren't good reasons. A good description of the dishes and great recommendations? Good reasons. Felt pampered? Great reason.

                                                            Half-full, half-empty.

                                                          3. re: nicholas85

                                                            Standard tip is 20% whether the restaurant is busy or not, high end or not (I really don't understand the smaller percentage on a higher bill). The tip is based on service--lower if poor, higher if excellent.

                                                            I agree with thew . . . stop looking for ways to tip less.