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I'm doing research for a future column (inspired mostly by tipping threads here on CH). I'm interested in your personal experience, either as a diner, or as a server.

What percentage do you usually tip (diners)?

What percentage tip do you usually receive (servers)?

Are there really diners (in North America) who NEVER tip?

Do you tip the same percentage, regardless of quality of service?

Diners, have you personally experienced poor service when you are part of a group where a stated percentage will be added to the bill for groups of X or more?

Servers, are visitors from other countries consistently bad tippers?

I'm trying to separate fact from urban myth. Please keep your answers short and to the point, AND CIVIL. CH has been a great resource for me in the past, but if this thread goes south (as tipping threads are wont to do), the thread will be locked in a heartbeat, and I won't get my info. Thanks in advance for your help.

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  1. I'm a diner and I usually tip 20%. If the service is REALLY
    fantastic, I go 25%. If the service sucks, I drop to 15. I'm too chicken not to tip at all and you never know what the server has gone through before you arrived.............Having worked
    in and around restaurants, I''m know how hard the job is.

    1 Reply
    1. re: amazinc

      I'm a diner. We'll tip 20% for great service. For outstanding, and for those servers we know personally - we'll go higher; 25-30%.

      I can recall once or twice we didn't tip. Service has to be AWFUL to not tip.

    2. I generally tip 10% of the bill, if the service was very great i add $5 to the 10%, if the service was really bad then I don't tip.

      1 Reply
      1. re: sanb4542

        I usually tip 15%. On the 2nd question: no

      2. I usually tip at 20%. Exceptional service and it goes up accordingly with a max of probably 30%. Tick me off a little and it can go to 15% pretty darn quick. Tick me off a lot and 10% is a possibility.

        Never noticed poor service going hand-in-hand with set gratuity.

        1. What percentage do you usually tip (diners)?
          ---Standard is 20%. I will go lower based on service that is SERVER related (not kitchen) but always talk to a manager on the way out when doing so

          Are there really diners (in North America) who NEVER tip?
          --I don't know anyone that has NEVER tipped but I do know chronic low tippers

          Do you tip the same percentage, regardless of quality of service?
          --no, as noted above. If the service is bad due to the server my tip reflects that but I will always talk to the manager on the way out. If it is a front of the house/kitchen issue but the server handles it? Tip will not be reduced. I will speak to the manager either during the dinner or on the way out.

          Diners, have you personally experienced poor service when you are part of a group where a stated percentage will be added to the bill for groups of X or more?
          --not necessarily "poor" service but have found that the service is often compromised at bigger tables. I usually chalk this up to the server and/or kitchen not being able to handle tables of 8 or more.

          1. There have been times I've tipped absolutely nothing. Waiting for food for over an hour, food arrives at different times, in a strange order.

            I live in California so the waiters get paid at least minimum wage anyway.

            Simply put, I tip 0-15%. Maybe 20% if the service is amazing and I order a lot, or have a large party.

            I have no remorse to tip at all for inadequate service. I worked at Home Depot for just over minimum wage. I'd easily walk for 20-60 minutes with a client, discussing this and that, showing product, and loading onto the cart. Never got tips for that. So I expect a waiter to do their job exactly how they're supposed to.

            1. Diner
              Great service 25% after tax
              Good service 20% after tax
              Adequate service 20% pre tax
              Poor service 15% pre service

              Have not noticed any service difference when gratuity is already established for a group.

              1. Going on the assumption that your questions solely refer to (sit-down) restaurants in North America:

                - anywhere between 18-25%, unless service is abysmal, but I
                think 15% would be my lower limit
                - n/a
                - maybe?
                - the quality of service is generally reflected in the tip amount
                - not that I can think of

                1. Q: What percentage do you usually tip (diners)?
                  A: 20%.

                  Q: Do you tip the same percentage, regardless of quality of service?
                  A: I often tip more; only less if service has been egregiously awful.

                  Q: Are there really diners (in North America) who NEVER tip?
                  A: 1. A friend of mine, when he was in graduate school, was so poor he couldn't tip. I was always double-tipping when I ate with him, or else I just took him out. Once he started working, though, he became an excellent, even lavish, tipper.

                  2. Speaking in generalities, when I was a server (30+ years ago), the Americans I least wanted to wait on were blacks. Fifty cents no matter how much they ordered. Worst tippers of all, as they knew it was expected and couldn't plead Europeanness. Things may have changed since then.

                  Q: Diners, have you personally experienced poor service when you are part of a group where a stated percentage will be added to the bill for groups of X or more?
                  A: No. In such circumstances, I assume any service problems lie in the logistics of feeding 18 people -- or 8 people -- simultaneously.

                  Q: Servers, are visitors from other countries consistently bad tippers?
                  A: I hated getting customers from England in particular. I liked French customers, because I would talk French to them, which surprised most of them, and I would manage somehow to work "You're in the USA, tip me, please" into the conversation. It was charming in French. I can be very charming, or at least I could when I was in grad school.

                  1. Why don't you set up a survey monkey and post a link here? You can ask more nuanced questions, take qualitative answers (if you want to), the results will be tabulated for you.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Just Visiting

                      Good idea. I've never done this, but will se if I can figure it out.

                      1. re: Just Visiting

                        reading these replies, i'd be interested in seeing where people reside too.

                        1. re: hotoynoodle

                          Well, for us, it's kind of Phoenix, AZ, but you can more often find us in a United Club somewhere else.


                      2. As someone who has never had such terrible service that they were compelled not to tip, I just double the tax and call it a day. I appreciate good service, but I don't tip better or worse because of it.

                        1. I tip at least 20 percent but I have tipped up to 50, I have never tipped below 15, and that was because of very poor service. I work at a restaurant, and the worst tippers are usually older couples, blacks and groups of older women. Tourists in general are either very generous or below average tippers. I feel it's mainly because they are not exactly aware of tipping standards here.

                          1. 1. 20% plus or minus 5% depending on particularly good or bad service.
                            2. Yes. See here http://www.lousytippers.com/
                            3. Not in my experience, and I have arranged quite a few large work-related group dinners. ETA - the group dinners have been in large cities that frequently host conferences - I don't know if that makes a difference, but it may.

                            1. My base is double the tax, which in California ranges from 17-19% (depending on local taxes). I'll adjust from there for really good or really bad service, as much as 5% either way. I have never left NO tip, but once I did leave a quarter for horrendous service.

                              It's been my experience when I'm in a large group with an auto-gratuity, service is quite good. I don't know if that's the norm, or if I've been lucky.

                              My experience as a server is probably not pertinent, since I"m now nearly 30 years removed from that life.

                              10 Replies
                              1. re: ricepad

                                Same here... double the tax then usually round up to the next dollar. If the service was bad I round down and maybe even take an extra dollar off, depending on how bad it was. I've never not tipped.

                                Side note: I often dine out using Groupons etc. I always am sure to tip on the full amount, not the amount after the discount has been taken off. I've heard many people do not do this.

                                1. re: juliejulez

                                  I've never used a Groupon of similar type deal. But I don't understand how would you tip on the "full" theoretical amount or how that would be calculated?

                                  1. re: olyolyy

                                    Groupons are like a gift certificate. Pay $10 for $30 type things

                                    So she pays $10 but considers the tax for $30

                                    1. re: olyolyy

                                      Groupons are often for a certain % or dollar off. They are sometimes buy one entree, get one free but most often its get a a $100 gift card for $50, Get a $50 gift card for $25, etc.

                                      In the gift card example if the total bill was $100 you would tip on the $100 even though the meal is only costing you $50.

                                      If it was the BOGO you would add the cost of one of entrees to the total and tip on that. ie if the bill was $100 and the entree you got "free" was $25 you would tip on the $125.

                                      If it was a certain % off the check will usually show the discount so you would tip before the discount, if not you can just average it by doing the math in your head.

                                      The key is the server is doing the same work even if you are getting a "deal".

                                      1. re: foodieX2

                                        I guess you could leave a Groupon for a tip. ;-)

                                        1. re: grampart

                                          Good ideas, LOL! However somehow I don't think the server wants to dine there on their day off….

                                      2. re: olyolyy

                                        Well for example, the one I used for dinner tonight at a Thai/sushi place was for $40... meaning I had $40 to use at the restaurant. I paid $10 for it, but the $10 was paid to Living Social (same as Groupon) a few weeks ago when I bought it. Our bill tonight totaled roughly $48 before the discount was applied. So the amount we owed tonight was only $8. But, we still tipped based on the $48 total bill. In this case I didn't double the tax, we just tipped $8, roughly 16% due to the service being pretty slow.

                                        1. re: olyolyy

                                          It's important for people to realize that they should tip the server on what the meal would have cost without the coupons. It is the restaurant management that decides to offer these coupons, but tipping on the reduced check amounts means the servers lose their basic income, even though they are serving the same food, working the same amount if it was full price.

                                          1. re: olyolyy

                                            The full price pre discount is usually shown on a check in such cases and if it's not there, I make sure to know what the meal would have totaled and I tip on the amount that was served to us.

                                      3. As a diner, I am normally around 20%, and that usually is on the total bill - food, wine and taxes.


                                        1. 20% or more, often higher, almost never less. Unless the server is personally offensive, this won't lower the tip. I'm a diner.

                                          1. I have been a server as well as a frequent diner.

                                            *What percentage do you usually tip (diners)?

                                            *What percentage tip do you usually receive (servers)?
                                            I tended to average 23% - this was last 12 years ago in a moderate priced venue

                                            *Are there really diners (in North America) who NEVER tip?
                                            Yep...that's why my average wasn't closer to 30%

                                            *Do you tip the same percentage, regardless of quality of service?

                                            No. 15% is for adequate service and I go up from there. Twice I have had such appalling service that I personally gave the tip to the bus person or other server who actually took care of me when the original server went awol. I also spoke to the manager and told him exactly what I had done and why.

                                            *Diners, have you personally experienced poor service when you are part of a group where a stated percentage will be added to the bill for groups of X or more?


                                            *Servers, are visitors from other countries consistently bad tippers?

                                            Yes. But it has improved from zero tipping to poor tipping.

                                            1. <<Are there really diners (in North America) who NEVER tip?>>

                                              i went on a blind date to a nice restaurant with a man who didn't tip the waitstaff.
                                              after realizing that he had been stiffed, the waiter came over and politely asked if there was anything unsatisfactory about the service. my date replied, enthusiastically, that the service was WONDERFUL.
                                              the maitre d then came by and asked if we enjoyed our food. my date told him that the food was WONDERFUL.

                                              i felt that if there really was a god s/he would have kindly caused me to evaporate right then and there.
                                              to say i was mortified, doesn't touch the level of embarrassment i felt.

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: westsidegal

                                                I've been known to surrepticously find a way to leave an extravagant tip in some way in such situations. Fortunately few and far between.

                                                1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                  it was years after that that i developed enough social skill to learn how to gracefully, and unnoticeably, slip cash to people.

                                                2. re: westsidegal

                                                  Wow, I thought that some older members of my family tipped too lightly, even as a "kid," but they grew up in a totally different time and place, than I did. Maybe tipping was my form of rebellion? Nah, it was to say "thank you" for great service.


                                                3. The US customary practice currently is:

                                                  Full service dining: 15-20% of pretax total inclusive of beverage (unless there's a separate wine steward service involved, which is rare these days). Toward the higher end in fine dining meccas (formerly, the lower half of Manhattan a generation ago, now in many major urban areas & resorts). Many servers and regular fine diners would like to advocate that it's become 20% across the board, but I would say that even years of tipping threads on this site have confirmed that this is not true in the indicative mood, shall we say...

                                                  Buffet service dining: 10%.

                                                  1. I usually tip 18-20 percent before tax.
                                                    If the service is awful,but I still plan to return to the restaurant in the future, I'll tip 15 percent, but sometimes mention the poor service to the manager on my way out, or in an email.
                                                    Most servers where I live tend to think a 10 percent tip signifies the customer is being cheap. I haven't heard any servers mention a 10 percent tip could be due to inadequate service they themselves provided, so I'm not sure how many servers would realize the lesser tip was a result of lesser service, rather than a result of a customer being intentionally or unintentionally cheap.

                                                    There are certainly regional variations re: what goes for a reasonable tip in North America. New Yorker friends tend to tip 20-25%, Toronto Chowhound friends tend to tip 18-20%, Toronto friends who are not Chowhounds and do not own restaurants tend to tip 12-15% and most Canadian over 50somethings I know tend to tip 12-15%.

                                                    Recently, I became aware of a stereotype while travelling out-of-province with a bunch of teachers.Apparently, teachers in Ontario tend to be light tippers. Luckily for our servers, my teacher friends were tipping in the 15-20% range.

                                                    1. I tip 20 percent of the total (tax and alcohol) all the time. I have only had a few occasions of terrible service where I didn't leave a tip at all and maybe once or twice of leaving a lesser percentage while complaining directly to the waitstaff about something. These occassions are rare.

                                                      I think leaving less than 20 percent for small service failures just makes you look like a cheapskate and doesn't send a message about service, so I don't do it.

                                                      I have never known anyone not to tip except for teenagers.

                                                      1. I tip 15-50% of the total, including tax and alcohol, with the majority of the time tipping between 18-25%.

                                                        When I waited tables 15 years ago, I usually received 18% of the total.

                                                        I have never stiffed a server.

                                                        As a server, I have been stiffed and sometimes knew in advance that I would be, as certain patrons were well-known for not tipping. As a side note, those who stiffed me always answered that they had had a lovely meal and did not make any complaints to me or management about any element of the service or food.

                                                        I have never been personally insulted by a waitperson (that being an instance where I might adjust my tip accordingly), therefore, my tip has never been reduced beyond 15% because of poor service. I have tipped slightly higher because of extraordinary service, however, I would generally like to tip as high as possible and the primary reason I don't always leave a 30% + tip is my personal financial inability to do so.

                                                        I have not received poor service as part of a group that was not easily identified as being due to an overworked server whose time/section had not been properly managed by management.

                                                        4 Replies
                                                        1. re: hyacinthgirl

                                                          <<I have been stiffed and sometimes knew in advance that I would be, as certain patrons were well-known for not tipping.>>

                                                          I don't want to go too far OT in this thread, but what were the signs, that a patron was likely to stiff you - just knowing that patron, or something else?"

                                                          Thanks, and just curious,


                                                          1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                            One of my children is a very, very clever person and successful as well. When he was in college, he waited tables on summer break at a seafood chain restaurant. He was proud of determining the tip when the people sat down, before saying what they were ordering. He got the check amount and the tip exactly correct the vast proportion of the time, still do not know how. It became one of his 'tricks' to entertain his friends.

                                                            1. re: Delucacheesemonger


                                                              Wonder how he did it?

                                                              I look around my table, and am almost always wrong, when we are splitting the tab. Oh well.


                                                              PS - sorry about Paris, but you cannot imagine all that happened. Next time, if we are fortunate.

                                                            2. re: Bill Hunt

                                                              I wouldn't have been able to predict the non-tippers from any visual clues, it was only because they had been in before and were familiar to the servers as non-tippers.

                                                          2. As a diner, I tip 20% most of the time. I'll add a bit if the server was particularly nice or did something out of the ordinary. At a bar, $1 per beer/drink.

                                                            There was only 1 time (MANY YEARS AGO) that I did not tip... it involved me not getting my dinner, the server flirting with my guest, and then getting overcharged on the bill.
                                                            Minor service issues can usually be resolved, therefore I generally see no reason not to tip.

                                                            Our group dinners are generally planned out and have auto-grat included, though we generally add a little on top of that anyway. No major service issues that I can recall, other than a minor timing or dish mix-up that was resolved.

                                                            1. %=20-25 l tip, my record was 70% on a expensive bill.
                                                              % varies due to circumstances as low as 12% if only barely
                                                              adequate service, very rarely happens though.
                                                              Have not seen service poor because stated % added automatically

                                                              1. Lifelong server (after the college degree). I always tip 20% after tax. I have had some instances where the server wasn't great and I have tipped 15% in those cases. If I am comped something on the tab I always tip 20% on what the bill should have been and throw in a little extra.
                                                                I do know that my father has a friend he will not dine out with because the guy never tips and always tries to get something for free.
                                                                I have not experienced poor service for a large table, but I do notice that some people don't understand that things take a little longer with a big table (10 or more).
                                                                I know some people think certain people tip poorly but I try to approach every table the same way. I find that works the best. On the other hand when someone clearly has the means it is frustrating when they tip less than 15%.

                                                                6 Replies
                                                                1. re: Missmoo

                                                                  <<If I am comped something on the tab I always tip 20% on what the bill should have been and throw in a little extra.>>

                                                                  This can be important, and also often overlooked. We get a lot of restaurant gift cards (say $100), and apply those to meals. I try to always remember what the bill would have been, without those cards, gift certificates, and if it's perhaps __ % off one entree, I will ask for what the total was, prior to the application of any discount.

                                                                  I have been with a very few, who wanted the tip applied AFTER the discount, gift card, etc.. I feel that is very, very wrong, and try to always urge the host (in a very nice way), to consider what it would have cost, and what it would have been tipped on, were it not for the card.

                                                                  Good point, and thank you for making it.


                                                                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                    Instead of tipping on whatever freebies I get, I just add the price of those freebies to the check - an extra couple of glasses of $10 wine would add $20 to the check. My husband cleverly suggested that this $20 should be in cash, not part of the credit card bill, although I rarely have cash in my wallet.

                                                                    1. re: LulusMom

                                                                      Re leaving the tip in cash, it is my usual (in fact only way) of dealing with the situation.

                                                                      1. re: LulusMom

                                                                        Because my entire life revolves around credit cards, with the exception of maybe our skycaps, and any hotel luggage handlers, I just calculate the "extras," and factor those into the tip.


                                                                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                          yeah, I tend to be cash poor too. Always try to stop at an ATM, but it doesn't usually happen.

                                                                  2. As a diner, it's usually at least 18-20% - whatever makes for an "even amount", if that makes sense (just for ease of using larger bills). If the service is superb, 25 or 30% (and a standard 25-30% at a restaurant at which I'm a regular).

                                                                    If service is extremely sloppy or non-existent or rude, the tip drops to 15-10%. And the FOH manager is spoken to, if I can find him/her to do so.

                                                                    re: poor service when part of a larger group AND having a standard service charge put on the tab - I try and take into account how many people were in the party, and how bad the service really was. I'm usually good with accepting a longer length of time to get all of our entrees on the table if we're a table of 8+, but if dishes go missing, I would try and remedy the poor service *before* the tab is brought by getting up and seeing if the manager could find our waitperson OR ask for a new one.

                                                                    1. We tip 20% pretax, rounded up or down depending on the quality of service. If it's perfunctory or casually rude - surprising how many people in service lack people skills - we might skimp it a bit, though seldom do. If the service was exemplary, cheerful and prompt, we've "rounded up" to maybe 25%, and made sure the server knew we were happy.

                                                                      1. I tip an average of 20% with the rate going up or down depending on the quality of service. If the quality is bad enough, I don't tip. A tip, like an allowance, is earned. If you don't do your job, you don't get a tip (or an allowance, just ask my daughter).

                                                                        1. I start at 20% and move up for better service.

                                                                          When I waitressed (many years ago) I averaged about 20%.

                                                                          I've never known a North American who didn't tip.

                                                                          Better service gets bigger tips, but I have only once left zero. I made it clear why the person was getting that.

                                                                          Yes, visitors from other countries consistently tip poorly.

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: LulusMom

                                                                            For me (and I consider myself a good tipper), I HAVE tipped less than 20%, but that was due to inadequate service - fortunately something that I seldom encounter.


                                                                          2. <What percentage do you usually tip (diners)>

                                                                            25%-30% The server will always know how much I appreciate their service with a note.

                                                                            <Do you tip the same percentage, regardless of quality of service?>

                                                                            Yes, with only an occasional variation and it's been far and few between. Sadly, a 'fine dining' experience last night at an opening of a much awaited restaurant was ruined by the server. A conversation with how much to leave ended up with leaving 15% and a long note to the manager with a request to the manager for the tip to be left with the outstanding, hardworking bus boy.

                                                                            1. I am beginning to see why us Canadians are known to be poor tippers. Standard (as a diner) is 15% before tax for good service. I have never failed to tip. but I've given 5 to 10 for crummy service.

                                                                              14 Replies
                                                                              1. re: kbdid

                                                                                Throughout Canada, the standard varies from province to province, city to city. Most people I know in Toronto tip 18-20 percent before tax most of the time, and one well-known restaurant critic in Montreal recently mentioned she always tips 15 percent before tax.

                                                                                1. re: prima

                                                                                  15% before tax is what it used to be here until somehow we got sucked into believing if you didn't leave 20% you were a cheapskate. I think we should all rethink it.

                                                                                  1. re: grampart

                                                                                    15 percent after tax (which is roughly equivalent to 18% before tax where I live, due to our 15 % tax rate) has become the norm thanks to the increasingly common portable credit card machines, which are calibrated to either add the percentage of tip after tax or a specific tip amount. Many are programmed with quick keys of 15, 18 and 20 percent tip, but the rates are applied after tax, so the pre-tax tip rates are considerably higher than the post-tax tip rates, especially in regions with higher taxes. If I feel like leaving closer to 15 percent pre-tax, I'll enter the specific dollar amount, or use 13% as my post-tax tip rate.

                                                                                    On a tangent, I'm curious. What's the current minimum wage for servers in most States?

                                                                                    1. re: prima

                                                                                      In the US servers do not need to be paid whatever the current minimum wage is in their state. When I was a server I was paid $2 an hour.

                                                                                      1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                        Thanks. That's too bad, that US servers don't necessarily get at least a servers' minimum wage, before tips. I'd think some of the light-tipping Cdn and European visitors would tip better in the States if they knew how little their US servers might be making before tips.

                                                                                        In Ontario, servers and bartenders are entitled to $8.90/h before tips ($8.55/h in QC, varies by province). Regular min wage for ON employees who do not get tips is $10.25.

                                                                                        1. re: prima

                                                                                          I think the problem with most travellers is that they wouldnt necessarily research the tipping culture in the country they are visiting. I do, because I'm interested in food/restaurants when I go on holiday but I suspect I'm a minority.

                                                                                          Therefore, I imagine most travellers are likely to assume that whatever is good in their own country is good in the country they're visiting. Here, in Europe, we have such a wide variety of tipping cultures that it's difficult to keep track of what's the norm even when visiting the adjacent country, let alone a country in a different continent.

                                                                                          To answer the OP:

                                                                                          When visiting America, I would usually tip at 15% and have done for many years. I do not buy into "tip creep" either in my country or in yours. If a restaurant wants its staff to gain more from a percentage tip, then increase your menu prices accordingly.

                                                                                          In my own country, where tipping is *always* discretionary, I would usually tip 10% for good service. Old fashioned traditional tipping is dying out here, I'm pleased to say. Many folk simply no longer tip or tip a small amount. An increasing number of restaurants are adding a percentage service charge to replace it, or from time to time, are simply including service in the menu prices. Either way, I regard that as being progress, leading to improved levels of service.

                                                                                        2. re: LulusMom

                                                                                          That is not necessarily true. Certain states DO require tipped employees to be paid normal minimum wages just like any other employee.

                                                                                          1. re: PotatoHouse

                                                                                            Ah, that's interesting, potatohouse - as it should then be possible to compare tipping culture between states where minimum wage means minimum wage and states where it doesnt. Do folk tip less in the "proper" minimum wage states or is it likely that serving staff have higher incomes?

                                                                                            It's not somethign we could easily compare in Europe as, not only are tipping practices different between countries, but other cultural differences may affect it.

                                                                                            1. re: Harters

                                                                                              I currently live in one of the states (California) where tipped employees must be paid the full local minimum wage. I tip exactly the same way I did when I lived in a state that did not, which is generally around 20%, but occasionally more and occasionally just a bit less (around 18%, arrived at by doubling the local sales tax) if the service is lacking. I've never had egregious service, nor have I ever not tipped.

                                                                                              I don't think people generally tip less around here because of that fact (if they are even aware one way or another), so yes, serving staff presumably have higher incomes.

                                                                                            2. re: PotatoHouse

                                                                                              There are six states that require full regular minimum wage (which varies by state and city/county; some places it's higher than federal minimum). Here is a US Dept. of Labor chart showing the breakdown in exhaustive detail by state: http://www.dol.gov/whd/state/tipped.htm

                                                                                            1. re: ItalianNana

                                                                                              Our harmonized sales tax(combined federal and provincial sales tax) in Ontario, Canada is currently 13%. The rate varies by province, depending on the provincial tax rate.

                                                                                      2. re: kbdid

                                                                                        Out of curiosity, does that pre-tax amount count wines, and/or drinks, or are those omitted?

                                                                                        Thanks for that clarification.


                                                                                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                          The pre-tax amount includes wine and/or drinks. In ON and BC, the wine and drinks are subject to the same rate of sales tax as the restaurant food.

                                                                                      3. OK,

                                                                                        Usual tip?- 20%
                                                                                        Never tip? - I tip 99% of the time
                                                                                        Same regardless of service? - Small variation for good,extra for exceptional, over and beyond and poor is a minus percentage of 5-10%

                                                                                        1. 15%, maybe 20%, in the US. If service charges are already included in the bill then no extra tip.

                                                                                          Where we live overseas tipping is not expected so we don't tip.

                                                                                          1. I never worked as a waiter, but in service industries (coffee shops, etc.), and all my friends and my husband have all been servers at one point or another, so I'm biased towards tipping.

                                                                                            Generally tip 18-20% (double the CA tax and then round up to the nearest dollar.) If the bill is less than $20 or so, I average 25-30% because getting $3-4 for a table just stinks. Excellent service can be up to 30% tip, though rare. Horrible service can be down to 15% - more common. I don't think I've ever tipped less than that as an adult, regardless of quality of service. And yes to those above, always tip on the value of your order, not what you paid, or add the cost of the item to the tip (comped glass of wine = waiter gets an extra $8-10 cash; Groupon discount = tip on what bill should have been, not what it was.)

                                                                                            I don't know anyone personally who never tips, but I know chronic shortchangers/low tippers, and my server friends know No Tippers.

                                                                                            I've never experienced poor service when part of a large group with percentage added, but I have experienced poor service at restaurants that add gratuity automatically for everyone.

                                                                                            7 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: thursday

                                                                                              On add the cost of the comped item to the tip, sounds like a kickback/way for waitstaff to steal from an establishment. Not sure I agree with this practice.

                                                                                              1. re: olyolyy

                                                                                                Many bartenders/wait staff have a discretionary amount they are allowed to comp favorite/regular customers. I always appreciate these comps since I know they don't have tons of them.

                                                                                                1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                  And I should have mentioned that many wait staff work off a "bank" which means they pay for the food and drinks themselves, and then you pay them (you never realize this, of course), so any drinks they give you for free they are actually paying for.

                                                                                                  1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                    I spend less time at the bar, than many do, but have had a few instances, where things got a bit strange. In one, we did a "wine tasting," before we were seated at the restaurant. During that, the pours were generous, and the discussions lively. During that "tasting," we had apps. that were very good to outstanding. When we were finally seated, I asked to settle up the bar bill. I was informed that it was all complementary from the restaurant. "What?" I gasped. "It is all complementary for our diners," was the reply. Well, the bartender, wine guy got US $50 for his efforts, regardless. I only wish that the bar-apps. of the Fried Flounder had been on the menu, as they were great.

                                                                                                    When anything is "comp'ed," I almost always tip above my normal 20-25%, and try to factor in, anything that WAS comp'ed. Now, if the comp'ing was due to a bad dish, things do change, but most often, those problems are NOT due to the service team, but to the kitchen.

                                                                                                    When the actual server is poor, but others in the team are good, then $ will most likely find a way into their palms, though the actual server might get only 15%. Stuff happens, and I try my best to make sure that the good receive some form of remuneration for their work. For others? Well, they are on their own.


                                                                                                  2. re: olyolyy

                                                                                                    re: olyolyy - It well may be that waitstaff comp me more than they should, but IMO, that's their ethics, not mine. If someone does me a favor/service that goes above and beyond the expected, I think they should reap the reward of it. Re: grampart - If the item was comped because of quality (the dish was unacceptable or something) I agree with you; but if they sent me a free drink or dessert, then yes, I think they should be thanked adequately.

                                                                                                    1. re: thursday

                                                                                                      Yep. If the sommelier offers me tastings of a dozen wines, they SHOULD receive a "thank you." Same for a bartender, who offers me tastes of some possible wines for their list, while sitting at their bar. They get more, as a "thank you." That is just the way that I look at it.


                                                                                                  3. re: thursday

                                                                                                    If using some sort of coupon, I always figure the tip on what the bill would have been without it. But including adding the cost of a comped item to the tip? I don't think so. I definitely don't think so! And if I knew I was in a state where the server was earning minimum wage? The tip would max at 15%, no question.

                                                                                                  4. I usually tip 18-20% on the total after tax. I give 15% if service was just ok/not great. Sometimes I've tipped more if the service was wonderful.

                                                                                                    I don't know anyone who doesn't tip, but my grandfather talks about how in his day, they only tipped if the service was good, etc. and he usually tries to tip less than 15% even for good service, which I hate.

                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: Solstice444

                                                                                                      I briefly worked for a rather famous man, who is about 80 today. He was very wealthy, but almost always tipped 10-15%. He wasn't miserly in other areas of life and he was worldly enough to know better, so I'm not sure why he persisted in this habit but it mortified me. On the few occasions that I was present at the meal, I'd pretend to go to the bathroom to find the server and surreptitiously hand them some more money.

                                                                                                      1. re: hyacinthgirl

                                                                                                        Possibly it was that he was from a different time and place. While not quite IN the Great Depression, he was very, very close. Things were very different then. I observed similar with my parents, just a half-generation earlier.

                                                                                                        With my mom, I would do, just as you describe, and add money to the tip, when she insisted on paying. Nothing wrong with that, at least to me.


                                                                                                    2. As a diner in New York City, I follow the usual guidelines: of 10% for subpar service; 15% for moderate/average/sufficient service; 20% or more for good service. I have also, in the past, left little, nothing, or walked out for poor service, and have left 30% or more for excellent service. I calculate the percentage on the final, post-tax sum.

                                                                                                      1. Here's a recent scenario: Say the server leaves in the middle of the meal, after accidentally dropping your entree on the floor right in front of you during delivery? She did cheerfully replace it about 10 mintues later, it didn't seem to phase her, like it wasn't uncommon. This was a small coffee house type place. We were sitting near the door and she breezed out about five minutes later, saying goodbye over her shoulder; it was obvious her shift was over exactly at 2 and she had somewhere she had to be.

                                                                                                        We waited awhile but no one else came by to take over, so we went to the cash register, had to wait awhile since the owner was on the phone placing a food order but eventually were able to get and pay the bill. Not sure that a tip was called for but it is so engrained in eating out......but who even got the tip I wonder? I usually tip 20%plus, but I just rounded off the check this time; however for some reason I felt weird. I mean we had a server, but not really either. For some reason, this has been bothering me, since it was such an unusual situation for me. OK glad I got that off my chest!

                                                                                                        1. My standard tip is about 18-20% for good service, a bit more (maybe 25%) on truly exceptional service. 15% for mediocre to okay service. I have never not tipped, though I have had a few times where I was peeved to the point of considering not tipping.

                                                                                                          Also, as someone else mentioned earlier, if I have a relatively small bill, I will tip a much larger percentage (up to 50%) to recognize the server had just as much running to do whether I got a bowl of soup vs an entree.

                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: jlhinwa


                                                                                                            So the difference between mediocre service and good service may be just 3%. Not necessarily much of an incentive to go out of the way to give good service.

                                                                                                            1. re: Harters

                                                                                                              Valid point, Harters. My personal view on this issue is that tipping less than the standard minimum (which in my area seems to be about 15%), is just not okay unless service is awful because servers depend upon their tips to make a livable wage. (Caveat: my personal view only, not judging anyone else.)

                                                                                                              If I knew servers were adequately compensated in their base pay, I would much prefer using a larger low-to-high percentage spread depending on service.

                                                                                                              In reality, the impact to me is not huge and I would rather err on the side of over-compensating than under-compensating. On a $100 tab, a 15% tip would be $15 and a 20% tip would be $20--$5 difference to me. I might go out on average 4 x month at that rate, which would add up to a difference of $20 total. It isn't going to break my bank, but $5/table x how many tables/shift will make a difference to the server.

                                                                                                              As has been discussed here many times, the US tipping model is very flawed.

                                                                                                          2. Pikawicca,

                                                                                                            We tip at least 20%, often more. We've only tipped less than 20% on a couple of horrendous occasions.

                                                                                                            About a decade ago up to about 3 years ago, H and I would frequent an "everyman" kind of golf resort. The food was plentiful, the servers were super patient, pleasant, and often run off their feet with drink orders. Dining was served family-style to groups of mostly all-male golfers. Occasionally you'd see wives in tow, or a group of female golfers.

                                                                                                            Everytime we'd visit, there would always be one table (not the same people) of six who would leave a 5 or a 10 on the table as a collective tip for service after having feasted like Vikings for an hour. The servers were pro's and handled it with aplomb and good humor, but wow. I'm glad to say that it wasn't the norm.

                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                            1. re: pinehurst

                                                                                                              It does all even out at the end of the night, especially at a busy place. Our servers used to sit down and go over the best and the worst, as a way of winding down at the end of the night.

                                                                                                            2. Many thanks for the great responses! My column appeared in today's paper and has been well-received. A couple of specific questions have come up, and I'd like your thoughts.

                                                                                                              1) Is it appropriate to tip for take-out, and if so how much?

                                                                                                              2) What about places like Panera, where you do most of the work, or Starbucks if you just order a plain cup of coffee?

                                                                                                              11 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                I usually tip at least a couple of dollars for carry-out at a regular restaurant, because I realize I'm taking up the time of someone who would normally be serving a seated customer.

                                                                                                                All I ever get at Starbucks is hot chocolate, and I'm usually meeting a friend so the bill is kind of big (say at least $6) so I stick a dollar in the tip jar. If I was just getting a regular coffee I might not, unless I went every single day - then I'd do it once or twice a week.

                                                                                                                1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                  No doubt cultural differences will apply, depending on where in the world the respondent is. I can only observe from the UK

                                                                                                                  1) No-one would ever consider tipping for takeaway

                                                                                                                  2) Whilst I think I may have seen a tip jar at Starbucks, I have never seen anyone put anything in it. In similar vein, I don't think I've seen tip jars at our home grown coffee chains, such as Costa or Caffe Nero. Certainly, it would never cross my mind to tip in places like these.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Harters

                                                                                                                    Cultural differences definitely apply.

                                                                                                                  2. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                    It is essential to tip for takeout.

                                                                                                                    Panera won't let you tip where I live.

                                                                                                                    Starbucks leaves out a tip jar, and I usually tip (same at all coffee shops where it is not officially precluded).

                                                                                                                    1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                      I don't tip at Panera - I believe they're being paid at least minimum wage. If I happen to go into a coffee shop, and get a bit of change back, I might drop it in the tip cup. But I rarely go into a coffee shop, as I'm not a voracious coffee drinker. I drink what I make at home, and that's it.

                                                                                                                      1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                        Take out is subject to heated flame wars because the issue is deeply equivocal: for folks who are used to getting take-out from restaurants with full table service, and whose take-out orders involve fulfillment by servers (who are not necessarily paid at least the minimum wage, and thus are tip-eligible), tipping is increasingly more expected than in more conventional take-out situations that don't involve those conditions.

                                                                                                                        Tip jars are still entirely an issue of self-interest (if you think it gets you better service, you are free to do so; but folks behind the counter are not in the same situation as waiters....) rather than widely agreed-upon custom.

                                                                                                                        1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                          I usually tip for takeout based on how service-necessary it is, that is, something that requires a great deal of arranging and packaging, let's say sushi, might get closer to a "standard" tip (though rarely more than 15% for takeout). Most takeout I add an extra dollar or so to the total.

                                                                                                                          Having worked at Starbucks for 6 years in my college and post-college days, I always leave a little something in the tip jar at similar places, unless they're truly surly. The pay is roughly minimum wage, which barely covered my portion of rent and utilities, and the tip money I received paid my groceries. Bad tip week? No food. I don't think it's obligatory, by any means, but I literally was able to survive because of tips, so I think of it as paying it forward. As an aside for anyone with the means to do so: want to make a barista's (or rather the whole crew) night? Put a 20 in the tip jar. We had that happen once every 6 months or so, and I still remember the absolute elation and gratitude we all felt - it probably evened out to about $5 a person for the night, but it was heavenly.

                                                                                                                          1. re: thursday

                                                                                                                            I charge my coffee at the coffee shop and rarely have cash, so I try to throw a $20 in the jar about once a month. And leave one at the holidays as well.

                                                                                                                          2. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                            tipping on take out has been discussed ad-nauseum and with great emotional investment on more than one thread. Some do, some don't, some do sometimes.

                                                                                                                            The general consensus seems to be that it is a nice thing to do, you don't have to tip as much as you would for table service (in most cases) but it is rarely mandatory.

                                                                                                                            do not confuse the rules for take out with the rules for delivery.

                                                                                                                            1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                                              <do not confuse the rules for take out with the rules for delivery.>

                                                                                                                              Delivery gets the biggest % from me (usually 25%), then eat-in (usually 20, maybe more, seldom less) then takeout (a couple of dollars).

                                                                                                                              So much more service is provided with delivery. I don't have to change to go out, plus the driver has to pay for gas money, wear & tear on the vehicle, etc.

                                                                                                                            2. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                              I don't tip at pizza places if I'm getting a couple of slices to go, but I do usually tip $1 at Chinese/Indian/Thai restaurants when I get takeout. I should probably tip $1.50 because that would be about 10% of the price I usually pay for take out for myself at one of those places.

                                                                                                                            3. If not in a large group where 18% is automatically added to the bill, I tip purely based on the service - not the food. I start at 20% pre-meal, and then the tip can go up or down based on service, ranging from 15-25%.

                                                                                                                              I've never left a 0% tip - if it's that bad, I've usually gotten up and left.

                                                                                                                              I tip 25-30% or more on meal that has been comped or didn't cost me anything.

                                                                                                                              1. I start at 20% on the total bill. In some cases, I will hit 30-40% or even 100% depending on the place and service (see: inexpensive lunch). I round up accordingly.

                                                                                                                                We have a few places where we are comped often (and for significant items) and tip on the value plus an additional amount as a thank you or will leave the value of the comped item itself.

                                                                                                                                I have good friends who are not good tippers & are insulted when tip is added for our group. I understand the policy of tipping for groups and do not penalize the staff for that policy.

                                                                                                                                1. As a server in a bar atmosphere, it depended on the group of people. People alone generally tip more, male or female. Maybe because of more one-on-one time? There was no percentage trend I could identify. I was a bad server but was great behind the bar. There are definitely non-tippers and in my environment it happened a lot. As for foreign customers tipping habits, it depended. No real trend there based on ethnicity. Basically the same as local customers. I must point out that I live outside a major military base. Best tippers? Men, aged 19-27 with a big group of friends. They like to impress everyone. Single customers are excellent if you can strike up a convo. The worst tippers were regulars. Now if I go back for an afternoon, they tip wonderfully. Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

                                                                                                                                  As a diner, the boyfriend does 15% as a standard rule. We have two younger teenagers so we can be difficult. If we were difficult or the server was phenomenal, 20-25%. If I'm out without him, I just pick a number that sounds good. No real percentage. At a bar, $1 per drink. More if I have a tab or they do something special. If they're willing to give me 'their' recipe for a drink that deserves a $1 tip too. When it comes to added gratuity it depends on the service. If it was good, they'll get more. If not, we just don't go back with a group that qualifies. I definitely understand why certain establishments add gratuity for a certain amount of people. A lot of times it takes more staff and you're not sure if the group will 'take care' or the staff. I can recall only once that we may not have tipped. It was the worst service ever. We may have tipped anyway but I can't remember for certain.

                                                                                                                                  1. SO tips one dollar per plate / drink. If we have breakfast and one coffee each, the server gets four dollars. Regardless of the check amount.

                                                                                                                                    I tend to over tip - I used to be a waitress and a dishwasher. Those are HARD jobs! Anywhere from 30% to 40%. We rarely eat out - maybe once or twice a month.

                                                                                                                                    Years ago, we went to a 50's diner and the service was so bad - Ok! We have pancakes! Can I possibly get syrup? Um, no. I borrowed one off another table. Can we get a refill of coffee? Um, no. I went up to the coffee machine to pull the pot off and was told, "We'll get your waitress" that never did appear. One penny was left for that poor lass and I did not feel bad. She could have gotten at least a four dollar tip. We've never darkened that door again. That's how bad the service was.

                                                                                                                                    1. For dinner - 20% normally. Sometimes more. On the rare occasions that bad service bothers me, less.

                                                                                                                                      I sometimes tip a much higher percentage on very cheap checks. For example, if I bought a pastry and a cup of coffee at a diner and got several refills on coffee, the tip will often be more than the cost of the 'meal.'

                                                                                                                                      Apparently I both under- and over-tip bartenders without worrying about it. I see nothing wrong with tipping $1 on a $12 glass of wine or liquor that took all of 3 seconds to pour. OTOH, if a bartender provides interesting conversation or makes a good recommendation, I'll sometimes tip $5+ on a beer.