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Bullied for tip at Best Little Restaurant Chinese in CT [Moved from Boston board]

My foodies & I just returned from a so-so lunch at Best Little Restaurant in CTown. 4 of us. $71 tab after taxes, $66.35 before. We estimated tip based on pre-tax amount and left $12,-- or just under 20%. My 3 mates had just walked upstairs to the street when I was accosted by a waiter with a pen in hand and $7 in the bill folder. In very very little English he started doing some math on a napkin, gesticulating and being loud about needing to leave a 18% tip. After a back and forth that was fruitless, I left another $5 because already other tables were staring at me, and not in a good way. Clearly he could not understand me, and I could not understand him. But I do know one thing: WE WILL NEVER GO TO BEST LITTLE RESTAURANT AGAIN!

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  1. I have seen this happen four times. Once at Kaze in Chinatown, another at Pho Le in Harvard Square and once again at the Rosebud Diner in Somerville. It also happened out of town once at Todai in NYC. I was a little irked by the whoe concept, but I don't think it would stop me from visiting again if I was hungry and that is what I was in the mood for.

    1. Any idea why there was only $7 in the folder if you left $12??? Your post seems to ignore that piece if info.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Midlife

        You're guess is as good as mine. I personally counted the money and know that we left $12. However, he was insisting that the tip be based on the total of $71. and on that we disagreed. Still, this kind of behavior is completely unacceptable. If I had had my wits about me, I would have grabbed the $7 and thanked him for his service and walked out! End of discussion.

        1. re: SuzieCK

          I don't think I'd have been as polite as you were given being sure of the tip amount.

      2. I have had tips mentioned to me by servers 3x in my life.
        I have then taken the tip back, told them to f.u.c.k off and never went back

        1. I have heard of such a thing happening but never witnessed it. I'm sure the others were probably staring at the waiter rather than you and I too would have been horrified but there would be no way I would haven given him any more money!!! What a shame.

          1. The same kind of thing happened to us at a place on Arthur Ave in the Bronx. A touristy kind of place that I won't name. I had a few glasses of wine, so I didn't get upset, but luckily our companion had not and made a big argument, proving the waiter was a thief and a liar. I was embarrassed though, because we had chosen the venue.

            1. Give the guy a break I'm sure he is working for tips only even though legally he is suppose to get $3-4 hourly rate, plus it might not be his fault if someone else nabbed the disputed $5. Sure it's your right never to go back, but mistakes happen in all restaurants.

              1. A waiter did this to Chris and Paulie in an episode of The Sopranos. It didn't end well.

                1. Sounds kinda screwy, I don't know what happened. But I can't relate to sweating a few bucks for restaurant workers.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Niblet

                    I'm confused: what do you think happened to the money you left? could you have made an error? while the waiter's behavior is unacceptable, you're the one with the disposable income who can afford to eat out - he's the one whose not even making minimum wage. seems to me something went wrong here that is different from the usual. I doubt that he hid the missing money in order to confront you.

                    1. re: Niblet

                      "But I can't relate to sweating a few bucks for restaurant workers" at a place where they work 14 hours a day and turn out some of the best food in Boston.

                      Weird, a bit offputting, but heck I'd a thrown him another $5 in a heartbeat.

                      1. re: StriperGuy

                        I've had that happen to me - and it's really offensive and does become not about the money.

                        I was at a bar in Tel Aviv (where the standard customary tip is 10%) with a bunch of friends. The service had been mediocre throughout and pretty poor once we tried to pay. Given the difficulty getting servers attention, we were keen to pay with cash and not have to wait to get additional change which meant when it came to a tip we got together 9-9.5%. Our server ran after the last friend of the group screaming at her about how tipping in Israel is 10% and that foreigners don't care about anyone but themselves, etc etc.

                        Given the quality of service (even by local standards), 9% was more than fair and to see someone treated that way. I don't care how little the server made, but that kind of behavior does not make me want to pull out my wallet.

                    2. Sounds like you figured 12 and added to 66.35 which would be a seven dollar tip. Can't blame the guy for being mad about that. Adding 5 to the 7 made it what you originally intended.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Missmoo

                        That's how I read the initial post as well. If that is the case, it all makes a bit more sense. Still the waiter was out of line. If the OP really felt bullied or ripped off they shouldn't haven't left another dime, however it they realized the tip was marginal to begin with then...

                        1. re: Missmoo

                          right. i suck at math, but the check was $71, so he got change back and was left with $7. in his head, a 10% tip.

                          yes, he was out-of-line, but it's kind of stingy unless the service was bad. an extra $1.25 each, ya know?

                          1. re: Missmoo

                            Plus, "just under 20%" on $66.35 would be $13, not 12.

                          2. Just a general question probably more appropriate for the Not About Food Board, but is it typical to tip before taxes? That never occured to me. I'd much rather err on the side of being overly generous unless service was atrocious, and then I'd probably leave a okay tip on the total and let a manager know what happened.

                            It was pretty unprofessional of the waiter to argue the point, though, and awkward for everyone including the customers who were still eating.

                            8 Replies
                            1. re: bear

                              There are any number of long threads on Not About Food on this topic - both sides of the question get quite heated.

                              the more I think about it the more I suspect that SusieCK's party may indeed have calculated the tip pre-tax (fine in my book, YMMV) but then added that amount to the pre-tax total rather than post-tax - i.e., they left $78.35 when they should have left $83. I've made that mistake myself when divvying up a bill for a large party. Luckily I've trained myself to count up everything after folks have chipped in their share of the pot to double-check the total, and make adjustments if necessary, so I don't *think* I've ever stiffed the servers.

                              1. re: Allstonian

                                from op:

                                "We estimated tip based on pre-tax "

                                1. re: hotoynoodle

                                  Right, I saw that and I'm personally fine with that practice. However, if you do that you still have to add the estimated tip to the POST-tax total in order to get the correct final amount.

                                  1. re: Allstonian

                                    yup. $7 is only 10% of the total and only 11% of the pre-tax total. krap tip either way.

                                2. re: Allstonian

                                  That's what I think might have happened,too. And I have made that mistake before....

                                3. re: bear

                                  It's more traditional and many people do adhere to that although the tides have turned a bit (along wiht what's the appropriate %age, etc).

                                  I don't think either side of that particular debate is "right", but some people will get their pantaloons in a knot over it.

                                  1. re: jgg13

                                    A can of worms has been opened, the genie is out of the bottle......

                                    1. re: jgg13

                                      I guess it just never occurred to me, although my husband does like to remind me that I don't need to put the servers first-born or future children through college when I tip.

                                  2. To sum up my feeling on this: outrageous to short-tip if the service was acceptable (unless, as suggested, this was a mistake by the OP) BUT even more outrageous, and totally unacceptable, for a resto employee to chase you and yell at you NO MATTER HOW MUCH YOU LEFT OR DIDN'T.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: Midlife

                                      i have worked for more than one restaurant where questioning a gratuity would be a fireable offense. if there is an arithmetic error, you may ask the guest merely to correct it, but nothing else.

                                      1. re: Midlife

                                        Absolutely. And as I've said elsewhere, unless waiters are going to start chasing down patrons who leave too much tip (I'll even be generous and say 30% or more), they have no moral right to chase down those who leave too little.

                                      2. This happened to 3 of us at an Asian restaurant in Lexington. The waitress came after us but politely. My friend had made an arithemetic mistake. We tip 20
                                        % but he had calculated 10%. We were glad to have a chance to correct it.

                                        1. OK. Enough already with this link which I began. I may have miscalculated since I do leave room in my universe for the possibility of being wrong, but his behavior was unacceptable. I will certainly be more careful in the future. However, I might direct people to a number of comments on Yelp which cited difficulties with an older waiter at this restaurant and his generally poor behavior. I am done commenting, but if people want to continue the rant-on, have at it. Personally, I'm done.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: SuzieCK

                                            I totally agree SusieCK - The waiter's behavior was absolutely unacceptable. The only time I've had a wait staff run after me was when I erred and filled out the bill + tip slip and actually TOOK IT WITH ME!! It was a drinking lunch and I was horrified when she got my attention as I was leaving. Regardless of the amount left - the behavior shown by the restaurant IMHO was abhorrent.

                                            1. re: JerryMe

                                              Years ago, an old friend was the manager of Chefs de France at DisneyWorld/Epcot. One night he had to deal with a waiter who was doing exactly this same thing, but in French. Witnesses told me that my friend, a large man, "escorted" the waiter through the dining area and kitchen and, according to legend, the offender's feet hardly touched the floor. Ended up outside next to a dumpster where he had a "talk" with him. My friend spoke little French. Also according to legend, the waiter was on a plane back to Paris the next day. My friend told me he just did what Paul Bocuse would have done.

                                              1. re: grampart

                                                I heard that same exact story, with the same vague ending. Only it was Disneyland and the waiter was Italian...

                                          2. It's a general problem with our tipping system: it introduces an extra decision and an extra calculation. So when the final amount falls outside of the range of what is normal, the server has no way to know if it was an intentional decision or a mistaken calculation. For a tip that's unexpectedly low, I can certainly understand that a server will wonder what happened, but I can imagine very few situations where it would be appropriate to confront the customer. And even then, only if the server has very very good communication skills, which was evidently not true of the OP's server (at least not in English).

                                            And we could wonder about the opposite situation: if I left an abnormally generous tip (either by accident or on purpose, again there is no way for the server to know), how many servers would chase me down to insist that I take some if it back?

                                            1. Was that really an accident tipping them $7 on a $70+ check? It's not rocket science, and it already sounds stingy shaving off the tax first... I would have just thrown down $15 and called it a day.

                                              16 Replies
                                              1. re: Atomic76

                                                Yeah, this "before tax" thing is a new one to me. As a matter of fact, I base my tip on the tax, since it's almost 9% here; I double it and round up. Makes it SO easy.

                                                1. re: coll

                                                  If you're doubling the tax and using that as your tip, you are tipping before tax.

                                                  Example: Check is $100. Tax is 9%, so with tax it's $109.

                                                  If you planned to tip 18% on the check with tax, you'd be paying $19.62 for a tip.

                                                  If you doubled the tax for your tip, you'd be paying $18 for a tip.

                                                  Now, you say that you round up and I'm not sure what you'd be rounding to, so this probably doesn't apply to you, but I don't think a lot of people do realize that if they use the tax to calculate their tip, they are "shaving off the tax" to use the previous terminology.

                                                  I usually tip before tax, because I'm tipping based on the value of the service provided by the restaurant, and the tax doesn't have anything to do with that calculation.

                                                  1. re: Chris VR

                                                    Never thought of it that way. My Dad taught me that trick. And I do round it up very generously, sometimes I do 30 or 40% if I'm feeling swell! My only fear is undertipping accidentally, so the tax helps.

                                                    1. re: coll

                                                      Tax rates vary nationwide in US. I prefer to do the 20% (move decimal and double) method that does not have anything to do with the tax.

                                                    2. re: Chris VR

                                                      Before tax, after tax, do whatever works for you. As long as you're not tipping 15% (which is about as low as you can go) before tax (which makes it even lower) and rounding down…

                                                      I don't think many servers are going to make a stink about a 1-2% difference. For example, in coll's case, the tip is either 18% on the pre-tax amount or 16.5% on the after tax amount. Either way, totally fine, even without rounding up.

                                                      1. re: DeppityDawg

                                                        Thanks, math isn't my strong point, as you can see by how I compute.

                                                        1. re: DeppityDawg

                                                          I don't get into all the details of math when tipping. On a 71 dollar total, I would have calculated 20percent of 70, so I would have left 14 dollars. Tax and alcohol are included in my calculation unless I order a wickedly expensive wine ( not often). If the service was not great, I might knock off a few bucks from my original calculation. Since this way of calculating always ensures a generous tip for typical great service, I can easily cut it in half if there was something really wrong. I have only had reason to do this a handful of times in decades.

                                                          1. re: sedimental

                                                            Sounds good to me! And after having a nice meal with some drinks, make sure that you add 71 and 14 together correctly and don't end up leaving $75 or $95… This is one reason why I prefer paying and tipping by credit card. The restaurant and the server may prefer cash, but with a card payment, there's a written trace of my math in case something comes up afterwards. And no chance of bits of cash mysteriously going missing…

                                                            1. re: DeppityDawg

                                                              Until I read this thread I never thought about money going missing. I had been feeling guilty about using the card but now I think I may prefer it.

                                                              1. re: melpy

                                                                I've gone through many expense reports/credit card statements for clients (I was an accountant in a former life). You might be surprised by how many wait staff change the tip and total on the credit card bill before it goes to the bank. Extra $10 and $20 tips all the time... That's on $20 or $30 restaurant bills...

                                                          2. re: DeppityDawg

                                                            Tip on the pre-tax amount and a 15% tip is nothing to feel ashamed about. That used to be the norm. What happened to elevate "acceptable" to 20%?

                                                            1. re: grampart

                                                              We've strayed way off-topic and are now just another in a long boring line of tipping/tip on tax threads. Yay!

                                                              1. re: Leonardo

                                                                It's the OP's fault for abandoning her thread to the undisciplined rabble…

                                                                In fact all the ingredients were there from the very first message: before and after tax amounts, 20% vs. 18%, bla bla bla. Was there ever the slightest chance that the thread _wouldn't_ turn out like this?

                                                                1. re: Leonardo

                                                                  I guess the "off-topic" and "boring" labels are assigned as soon as someone has the audacity to suggest that a 15% tip should be adequate.

                                                                  1. re: grampart

                                                                    REALLY? Are you guys that bored?

                                                                  2. re: Leonardo

                                                                    I warned you people up thread, cats out of the bag...

                                                        2. From what I'm reading I'm taking a few things away from this. First is this, as others have already indicate I'm inclined to believe the mistake was on your end, adding the 20%+- tip to the pre-tax amount, leaving a total of $66.35 + $12.00= $78.35

                                                          $78.35 is just $7.00 over the after tax, full check amount and would be the reason why he handed you back the folder with just $7.00 in it.

                                                          You should have taken the check and change up front and asked for a manager rather than having an argument at the table with the waiter, especially with a language problem. The way the numbers are working, I do feel this might have been your and your mates fault.

                                                          1. I have to relate an experience of being shaken down/accosted by an older Chinese waiter in a Boston Chinatown rerstaurant about 2 1/2 years ago.
                                                            I had had lunch with my daughter and two of her girlfriends in this particular restaurant (whose name I don't recall) and was taking them to a museum later that afternoon. We had ordered some traditional Chinese dishes-BUT not Chinese American food without paying attention to the menu. The service was indifferent at best, the waiter was not interested in filling glasses or removing empty plates.
                                                            At the end of the meal the check was presented and I left a 15% tip. The waiter was extremely agitated and started giving me lip that he arranged with the chef to make our special requests and that I owed him a bigger tip.

                                                            Well, as some on CH have read, youngest B daughter is from Guanzho, China. She's been ours since shortly after birth, dresses like a typical US teen and wearing her ever-present sunglasses, and dyed hair, it's not easy to tell she's Chinese. BUT, she's been taking Chinese language classes these past few years. Daughter opened a mouth to this ingrate in the Cantonese dialect and let him know tht she thought he was lazy and attempting to rip off the white man (me). We didn't order anything special that he had to convince the chef to make, but ordered dishes that all appeared on the Chinese language pages of the menu!
                                                            I was awfully proud of daughter for standing up for herself and me. Waiter was shocked that this young Chinese female would tell off and elder male. It was the perfect clash and melding of cultures. Needless to say I didn't increase the tip.

                                                            1. All I can say is that if we're Chinese eating in a Chinese restaurant, they will be happy if we tipped more than 10%. Our parents roll their eyes when we tip 15% like we're trying to be "white."

                                                              I don't know about all that math, and it seems like $5 "mysteriously" disappeared, but $12 tip for $71 bill is more than generous in any restaurant.

                                                              But that's not the point. Even if you undertipped, it is in bad form to complain to the customer. You suck it up and hope next time it'll be a generous 20-30% tipper like some folks are, which should be soon because there are apparently a lot of those out there!

                                                              Also, if one person gives in, then they know someone else will give in, especially if they play the "I'm a poor immigrant being forced to work her" card. I know some are, BUT you follow some of them around, and they are driving sports cars, have nice watches, have better phones than you, etc.

                                                              5 Replies
                                                              1. re: boltnut55

                                                                "........................... $12 tip for $71 bill is more than generous in any restaurant."

                                                                WOW!!! Just plain WOW!!!!! MORE than generous? Really??????

                                                                1. re: Midlife

                                                                  "More than generous"? Perhaps not, but adequate. Definitely adequate!

                                                                2. re: boltnut55

                                                                  the op made a math error and the server only got $7, not $12.

                                                                  no, he should not have said anything regardless the percent that was remaining after change was made.

                                                                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                    I agree, yes, and at the same time… in hindsight, if the customer agrees that she made a mistake (and we don't actually know this, because the customer chose to bow out of this discussion), I'm not necessarily unhappy that the server received the tip that the dining party intended to leave him. Let's be honest, mistakes have a strange tendency to work out, on average, in favor of the people who make them. So we can't just say, "don't sweat it, the next table will make a mistake in your favor and leave you more money than they meant to". In this case, I have no idea if the server thought the table made a mistake or if he thought they were just cheapskates, and in _neither_ case would it be appropriate for him to chase after the customer and demand more money. But, knowing what we know in hindsight, and given what the OP has apparently realized (causing her to withdraw from this thread in shame) , I am actually pretty OK with the fact that he got an "extra" $5 by saying something.

                                                                3. Funny, the only time I've been harangued in this way was at Changsho in Cambridge circa 1990, when I had appallingly bad service from a nearly invisible server, and left 10% after complaining to the manager, only to be harangued very loudly by the server before I got out the door. I never went back, nor recommended that place again.

                                                                  1. In general, the vitriolic threads on tipping that populate this board leave me shaking my head. The difference between a 15% tip and a 20% tip is a dollar per $20 of the tab. I would suggest that the number of restaurant meals in the vicinity of $20 or less is a majority of the total number of (non-fast food) restaurant meals purchased in America. If I can't afford a dollar more (or even 3 or 4, for a special occasion meal) so as to leave a tip that will make my server happy (and make me happy to have brightened his/her day), I really should not be eating out to begin with. For me, unexceptional service merits 20%, while an outstanding server will get at least 25%.

                                                                    55 Replies
                                                                    1. re: greygarious

                                                                      It's a dollar on top of the three dollars that make up the first 15% (assuming a $20 food/drink total). And for most people that I know, 3 is not equal to 4. And 15% is not equal to 20%.

                                                                      15% is an acceptable tip. Obviously, all servers would prefer for you to tip them 20%, or 25%, or 30%, or 6000%. And some servers will curse you — behind your back or to your face — for a 15% tip. But if you can afford a 15% tip, you can afford to eat out.

                                                                      It's the threads on tipping telling everyone that the minimum is now 20% or 25% that leave me shaking my head. Maybe the IRS should also start calculating employers' payroll taxes and servers' income taxes based on 25% cash tips.

                                                                        1. re: DeppityDawg

                                                                          Yeah what percentage is the IRS assuming now? I seem to remember like 8% or something?

                                                                          1. re: coll

                                                                            i don't know what world you guys live in, but most transactions these days, ESPECIALLY when folks dine out, are made with plastic. if servers want to get 100% of their tips, they have to enter everything into the pos to get paid.

                                                                            as for cash tips (which are rare) the irs assumes 12%. more than the amount left by the op. :o

                                                                            1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                              I agree that credit card tips are more reliably reported. But cash transactions still represent a significant proportion of restaurant sales (I imagine that the numbers vary widely depending on type of restaurant, price range, location, etc.).

                                                                              The IRS uses credit card tips to help determine if a server has reported all of his/her cash tips. I don't think they automatically assume a fixed percentage.

                                                                              1. re: DeppityDawg

                                                                                In NY it is a fixed percentage. It was 8% in the mid 1980s. I thought that was across the board, based on each server's sales. It eliminated a lot of paperwork for all concerned.

                                                                                1. re: coll

                                                                                  "In NY it is a fixed percentage. It was 8% in the mid 1980s. I thought that was across the board, based on each server's sales. It eliminated a lot of paperwork for all concerned."


                                                                                  i don't quite know what this means or why you're assuming that what happened 4 decades ago remains valid?

                                                                                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                    Why not? I was told the IRS just wanted the money, not extra paperwork, so they picked a lenient percentage just so they'd get something. Makes sense to me. Even if not true now, I though it was a good way to look at it.

                                                                                    1. re: coll

                                                                                      were you a restaurant employee? curious where did you get this info? if a restaurant reports 8% or less in tipped income that is a giant red flag to the irs.

                                                                                      the irs actually sent agents to a place i was working in the mid-late 80s. we had a mandatory meeting for all tipped employees.

                                                                                      they were working on a base of 12% on cash transactions and 14%on cc, but many places were under-reporting. they had pos data to prove the lack of compliance and threatened the staff AND the restaurant with an audit and very severe penalties if the behavior continued. this same meeting happened in quite a few local, high-end places.

                                                                                      anybody that works for tips now receives extra scrutiny at tax time.

                                                                                      every employee still gets a payroll check "stub" each pay period, declaring earnings and whatever deductions could be scraped out of their measly hourly wages.

                                                                                      i am finding it hysterical that you somehow think the irs is paper-work averse!!!

                                                                                      1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                        Let's not forget that, in addition to tips, they also have to factor in the cost of employee meals.

                                                                                        1. re: mucho gordo

                                                                                          not all places provide staff meal and in many places they're not free, so not quite sure what you mean?

                                                                                          1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                            If meals are provided, the value of them is considered part of the employee's remuneration and taxable, just like tips.

                                                                                            1. re: mucho gordo

                                                                                              it's been over a decade that i worked someplace where staff meal was "free."

                                                                                              does this also apply to offices that provide free water, pastries, etc.?

                                                                                              1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                                Meals provided are not 'free'. There is usually a meal 'allowance' of ,say, $10-12/day. That allowance is considered remuneration.

                                                                                                No, it would not apply to offices.

                                                                                                1. re: mucho gordo

                                                                                                  and since most servers get paid less than minimum wage, it makes perfect sense to count those chicken nuggets as part of their pay, but not factor such perks as pay for others more traditionally remunerated.

                                                                                                  last place i worked charged for staff meals. if you never ate it (which i did not because it was so vile), you still had to pay even if you were just drinking coffee or unsweetened iced tea. cheaper than cheap corporation.

                                                                                                  1. re: mucho gordo

                                                                                                    "No, it would not apply to offices."

                                                                                                    That doesn't seem fair at all. Most big tech companies (Google, etc.) provide lots of freebies. How could the IRS miss that??

                                                                                          2. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                            I was a manager at one of the larger chains. As I said I wasn't sure of the exact percentage, but I remember it being way below what they did make overall.

                                                                                            1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                              Same IRS shake down happened in Williamsburg, VA in the late 80's

                                                                                        2. re: coll

                                                                                          I don't know about the 80s, but today there is a rule for large restaurants that if the total reported tips for the entire staff fall below 8%, they have to do "tip allocation". [details omitted] This has nothing to do with the responsibility that each server has to report the _entire_ amount of their tips, no matter what percentage they correspond to. Many servers, however, are misinformed (for example, about the 8% thing) or they simply give into the natural temptation to shave a little off their declared income. According to this website, "the IRS claims that waiters and waitresses underreport their cash tips by an average of 84%."


                                                                                      2. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                        all depends where you are.
                                                                                        Daughter serves weekends at a 'hot' bar/resto in Fairfield County, CT/ Clientele is mostly under 35. 80% of her tips are cash. She and a couple of young, beautiful female servers are too embarassed to take the singles in to the bank (asks me to handle it) they don't want the bankers to think they work at a strip club!

                                                                                        1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                          ha! the "stripper singles" problem. had a job as a sommelier and the servers would tip me at end of night. my take was a small percentage of their night, so was mostly singles and the pile was usually too big to fit in the atm.

                                                                                          having worked at mostly expense-accounts places, i understand my answer was too a bit too broad, but people have this perception of servers as tax scofflaws and it gets me steamed.

                                                                                          1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                            where my daughter works, the owners have the POS programmed so that if a server enters a figure less than 12% of the night's sales as reported tip income it raises a red flag and needs a manager to override it and the server must sign an affidavit for the files. This was a decision made after a major IRS audit 18 months ago (before daughter worked there). IRS had been pushing for a higher amount after audited sales and intervoewing servers, BUT found that in similar places where servers 'tip out' bus persons, runners, bar backs and hostesses who set as well as seat, 12% was realistic. Many of those tipped out are not allowed to be paid the servers' sub minimum legal wage, so they don't get looked at as recipients of tip income. A server shouldn't be taxed on tip money that is tipped out to other workers.

                                                                                            Re: ATM, Bank of America and TD's ATMs can only accept 40 bills in a deposit. I don't want my daughter standing there at 3am making multiple deposits. I'm happy to give her twenties and deposit the singles during the day.

                                                                                  2. re: greygarious

                                                                                    Every decade, it seems that some people's tip expectations rise by 5% points.

                                                                                    1. re: Leonardo

                                                                                      have been working in the business since the 80s and tip percentage expectation remains the same -- 15-20%.

                                                                                      by your math i'd be wanting 35%!!! lol. it happens but is like winning the lottery!

                                                                                      1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                        Although when I was growing up it was always stated matter of factly to be 15% whereas nowadays many people matter of factly state 20%. And 10 years ago it was often matter of factly stated to be 18%.

                                                                                        Not industry insiders mind you, just when dealing w/ normal people. Perhaps not climbing at the rate Leo states, but it *is* climbing.

                                                                                        1. re: jgg13

                                                                                          Your post got me thinking. We always seem to discuss this issue of percentage, but we don't really talk about the relationship between trends in the cost of menu items over the past few decades versus trends in the cost of living during that same period (or at least I haven't seen it yet). If menu prices haven't been rising at the same rate, we should consider tipping more (or vice versa). I think tips do keep rising (and not just in the restaurant industry), but we can only get so far in analyzing what that means if we don't know the relationship between costs of services and cost of living. But someone much smarter than me is going to have to figure that one out.

                                                                                          1. re: Cachetes

                                                                                            To take this a step further, if you think about it, there is something irrationally arbitrary about basing a tip on the tab.
                                                                                            Is the server who brings me my crabcake appetizer, stuffed lobster entree, and cheesecake dessert doing anything more, or different, than the one who brings me a fruit cup, club sandwich, and dish of sherbet? No. Wouldn't it make more sense to base tipping on the number of things served and whether any of them involved extra table-side tasks, like opening wine bottles, flambeeing, etc.? That might be difficult to calculate, though. I guess it's another argument in favor of replacing tips with a standardized and appropriate wage, and raising menu prices to reflect that rate.

                                                                                            1. re: greygarious

                                                                                              Yes, this argument comes up typically in discussions about tipping on wine, and I think it is worth considering in that context. For the rest of the menu, though, I think I'll always be against any suggestion that makes tipping more complicated than it already is. The amount of service is roughly proportional to the amount of food ordered, and the amount of food is roughly proportional to the total food subtotal. So all in all, calculating the tip as a simple percentage of this amount is a close enough approximation for me.

                                                                                              1. re: DeppityDawg

                                                                                                The discrepancy in effort vs. price is glaringly obvious in the case of wine but I believe it is just as valid as regards the rest of the meal. In my upthread hypothetical meals, the first meal would cost an average of about $35 in my area, and the second about $15. The task is the same.

                                                                                                1. re: greygarious

                                                                                                  Just curious what the next step in your reasoning is. Are you suggesting that we should tip $7 on both of these meals, or $3? Or some other amount?

                                                                                                  1. re: DeppityDawg

                                                                                                    That would not be fair - as I mentioned upthread, I think it points to eliminating tipping and replacing it with a fair hourly wage.

                                                                                                      1. re: greygarious

                                                                                                        Places that have eliminated tipping have either replaced it with a service charge, which is still calculated as a percentage of the food/drink bill, or they raise all their menu prices by a certain percentage. In other words, the discrepancy you are concerned about is still present: you will still be paying more for service on an expensive dish, and less on a cheaper dish, even though the effort may be the same.

                                                                                                2. re: greygarious

                                                                                                  The only rational is that you can expect to make more (as a server) in an upscale restaurant than in a diner. You are expected to have more skill and "presentation" of yourself for the difference in money, due to the difference in clientele and prices.Tattoos showing, "hey guys, hows it going" vs black monkey suit, " good evening, welcome to chez spendalot". The job is not exactly the same, although the tasks are.

                                                                                              2. re: jgg13

                                                                                                i live in a very spendy city and have worked in in some of our most expensive restaurants over these years. as i said, my tips percentage remained in the same ballpark as the 80s. my cost of living has risen dramatically. my income has not.

                                                                                                (thank the heavens i am finally done working for tips.)

                                                                                                1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                                  We live in the same city.

                                                                                                  It's likely that working at expense account type places bias your viewpoint. Growing up in the 80s here I was taught (by osmosis, media, parents, family, friends, etc) that it was 15%. Now everyone says 20%. And there was a definite transition period.

                                                                                                  1. re: jgg13

                                                                                                    have you ever worked for tips?

                                                                                                    as i've said numerous times, my percentage of sales has remained pretty constant over all these years, regardless of what you felt was the norm back then vs. now.

                                                                                                    even if your assumption is true, have rents in boston only increased 5% since the 80s? t-fare? taxi-fare? red sox tix prices? health insurance premiums?

                                                                                                    1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                                      You seem to be under the mistaken impression that I'm arguing something beyond my belief that the expected tip percentage has changed over time. I can assure you that this is not the case, so I'll feel free to ignore the part about cost of living.

                                                                                                      However, back to the point I was actually debating - there is a 0% chance that 20% was considered the tipping norm in the 80s considering that even today the new norm of 20% isn't universally agreed upon (as witnessed by the oodles of tipping threads)

                                                                                                      1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                                        In fact, here's an article from the local rag of our city from a little over a year ago regarding how times have changed and the expectation has gone from 15 to 20%:

                                                                                                        Note that this isn't from 25 years ago, thus the implication is that 15% was the norm until recently.

                                                                                                        1. re: jgg13

                                                                                                          that link is no good unless you're a subscriber, but it starts with "waiters say they expect", lol. is there something more concrete presented in there? :)

                                                                                                        2. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                                          Completely objective observation - the menu prices have gone up since the 80's, though, right?

                                                                                                          Again, objective comment here, not commenting on tip percentages.

                                                                                                          1. re: Violatp

                                                                                                            there have been periods of time where certain sectors spent like drunken sailors, but that was averaged out and down when recessions corrected their hubris.

                                                                                                            check averages (for me) remained in the $100-$130 pp range over the long-term. so, no, not really.

                                                                                                            i'll be honest my income was no longer keeping up with the cost of living and i had to get out.

                                                                                                              1. re: Violatp

                                                                                                                A server's income hasn't gone up? And your point is...?
                                                                                                                I'm in a new profession working for a nonprofit. Soon as I get more licenses and experience, I'll move on to better pay elsewhere. That's how I get more income. Not by complaining, but by doing something about it. Servers complaining about tips? Change jobs or change careers!

                                                                                                                50 years ago 10% was standard. 30 years ago it was 15. Now it's 20%, but I even hear of 25% being expected. All the while, menu prices have gone down, right?

                                                                                                          2. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                                            Ummm.......... in the example given above tips have increased from 15% to 20% of the check as the "norm". I would pretty much agree with that statement. My calculator makes that a 33% increase in the amount tipped, not 5%. Just tryin' to keep things honest here.

                                                                                                            1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                                              Yes I have workled for tips (all through university many years ago)

                                                                                                              BUT tips haven't gone up 5%, they have gone up 5 percentage points...
                                                                                                              From 15% to 20%, That is actually an increase of 33 1/3%

                                                                                                              Example...$100 check, 15% tip = $15
                                                                                                              increase of 5% of tip = 75 cents-->$15.75 tip
                                                                                                              increase to 20% tip (5 oercentage points) = $20 Tip

                                                                                                              Anyways, I'm glad not to be tip dependent. Daughter works weekends as a server (to pay for grad school). Sat Night last week she averaged $45/hr. Sunday was a beautiful beach day, it cost her more in gas and parking than she made on her shift.

                                                                                                              1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                                $45/hr isn't going to get anlotnof sympathy from people. That's a lot more than most people make

                                                                                                                1. re: jgg13

                                                                                                                  not looking for sympathy, she pays $600- per credit hour for graduate school. It costs $8 in gas roundtrip to work and $6 per shift to park. So Sunday afternoon, she spent $14 in gas and parking and ended up getting $25 for her shift before taxes. That's taking the good with the bad.

                                                                                                                  1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                                    I'm not understanding the math here. How long was her shift? Dd you mean $4.50/hr?

                                                                                                                    1. re: jgg13

                                                                                                                      5 hour shift, restaurant pays her state allowed server wage of $5. They don't have to pay the difference to reach CT minimum of $8.25 hour by the shift, only by the pay period, so one dead shift in a 40 hour week, she only gets $25. Last week she worked 3 doubles and 2 single shifts=40 hours.

                                                                                                                      1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                                        You still don't get it. You said above she made $45/hr. 40 hours of which is $1800, not bad for a weeks work. I'm assuming that was a typo?

                                                                                                                        1. re: jgg13

                                                                                                                          I think he's talking about her pay for one night. "Sat Night last week she averaged $45/hr".

                                                                                                                          1. re: Hobbert

                                                                                                                            Indeed - and he followed that with "Sunday was a beautiful beach day, it cost her more in gas and parking than she made on her shift." Clearly on Sunday she did NOT average anything like $45/hr.

                                                                                                                            Just because you make a ton of money on one shift doesn't necessarily mean you make a ton of money on all shifts, and often the difference between one shift and another is out of your control.

                                                                                                                          2. re: jgg13

                                                                                                                            The $45 was the average for her Sat nite shift. Sunday, a beautiful beach day was a bust for her. She certainlky doesn't bring in $1800 per week, especially as she only serves part time to cover grad school expenses.

                                                                                                  2. I think I would have shrugged, pointed to my friends upstairs, and left.

                                                                                                    1. Okay after following this thread, I've got to jump in. I guess there was no part of you that had empathy for a man who had to approach you for "extra tip." Was it arrogance on his part because he thought he deserved more or was he just trying to make a living wage? I don't get the outrage for what it sounds like an "error" on your part.

                                                                                                      Sure, it was poor form on the waiter's part. But give the guy a break. Probably means more to him than it does to you.

                                                                                                      I have a friend who's father is a waiter in a Chinese restaurant in Montreal. Been working as a waiter since they arrived in Canada in the 70s. Never learned English or French. Scrounged and scraped their way through life. Now he is down right elderly still working in the Chinese restaurant because his choices are limited and it's that or poverty. There are no 401ks or RRSP, or pension plans in... Sucks, but that is the reality for a lot of people. Too many people, in fact.

                                                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: Apple

                                                                                                        I truly appreciate the points you are making here but my overall take is that tipping varies wildly, in spite of what some people see as the "norm". Elsewhere here I've spoken about a place I work that seems to send mixed signals as to whether it's a retail shop that sells some small plate food items and wine by-the-glass, or a winebar that sells packaged foot items and wine as well as wine BTG and small plate food. In addition, it's in a tourist area, so there's also come confusion of norms in other parts of the world.

                                                                                                        I've given up trying to understand why I could provide table service of identical type and bill amount, on two consecutive days, to two separate couples............. and receive a 7% tip from one and a 200% tip from the other. I've also gotten no tip at all, and tips in between.

                                                                                                        Tipping seems to be one of those things that defies any real attempt to explain it.

                                                                                                        1. re: Midlife

                                                                                                          I am absolutely with you. It does vary wildly. It is unfortunate that for us as the customer, we are expected / required to supplement someone's income... Instead of a tip providing a little "extra" for exceptional service, it is expected for crappy or mediocre. It is no longer serves as an incentive for superior customer service.

                                                                                                          1. re: Apple

                                                                                                            Thanks? I'd love to change a hundred or so years of tradition for you, but not really. :o)

                                                                                                            1. re: Apple

                                                                                                              I agree with you, and to add, the biggest part of the problem isn't that we are expected to supplement someone's income, but rather that we are expected to provide their income (b/c they make less than minimum wage). My tip is not a supplement any more than the weekly paycheck is that I get from my job. But I only have to satisfy my boss every week to make sure I keep getting paid a respectable income (which pretty much means I just have to be adequate). I can't imagine having to perform for hundreds a people a week, knowing that each one of them gets a say in how much I am going to earn that week.

                                                                                                              1. re: Cachetes

                                                                                                                You put that so well.

                                                                                                                If I was held to those standards, I might owe money at the end of the week. :) I have a job where people are rarely happy with me.

                                                                                                        2. Some times and i have seen it happen ,The Busboy will steal half the tip without the Waiter knowing, as to not look suspicious with the Waiter that's getting ripped. I managed many restaurants it happens all the time, Most times today when i tip i hand it to the waiter and not leave it on the table.

                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                          1. re: Waverider

                                                                                                            am assuming you fired all these thieving bussers?

                                                                                                            having worked as a sommelier, manager and server for over 2 decades it's not something i have experienced.

                                                                                                          2. At age 17 I once followed a table to the parking lot and threw the $0.65 tip they left on a $70 check at thier windshield. After that, I learned to shrug off the inevitable cheapskates, as it does average out. I also learned to profile, as all waiters do and give minimal service to tightwad types, when busy.

                                                                                                            8 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: JoannaNYC

                                                                                                              "as all waiters do and give minimal service to tightwad types, when busy."

                                                                                                              This is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Give poor service and you'll get a poor tip. It's demoralizing being a member of a "profiled" group and being singled out for different treatment.

                                                                                                              1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                Off topic, but reminds me of the time right out of high school, walking around a car dealership scruffily dressed but a wad of cash and nobody would wait on me. One guy took a chance and a small loan processed he had a sale and I a brand new truck. Profiling gone wrong for other sales sharks. I bet my guy laughed all the way to the bank and rubbed it in his buddy's noses. You never can tell about a customer.

                                                                                                                1. re: James Cristinian

                                                                                                                  bunches of times have been profiled when dining with female friends, all of whom have been restaurant workers at some point and many in wine/liquor sales now. it's so obvious it's almost comical, however, it's ultimately downright hostile so makes us never return + badmouth stoopid place.

                                                                                                                  1. re: James Cristinian

                                                                                                                    Exactly--the Julia Roberts' Pretty Woman scene. I had decided on a huge family room remodel, did the research, knew exactly what I wanted. My husband and I had a few minutes between running errands and were scruffily dressed, ignored by many but one salesperson who was wonderful. in half an hour, she had written up the order for a whole family room.

                                                                                                                2. re: JoannaNYC

                                                                                                                  Profiling doesn't always work, Example 1 My Wife and I had dinner at Favaloras in Pacific grove Ca. Because we were dressed casually and not like the wealthy our Waiter did not give us much attention and didn't even smile we knew he didn't like us we spent 75 dollars on food no drinks, before I was done I gave him a 35 dollar Tip, there was only 2 other couples eating there the whole time we were there ,After he got the tip he was super nice smiling constantly kissing my ass the other tables only left less than 10 dollars

                                                                                                                  1. re: Waverider

                                                                                                                    how on earth do you know what other tables left for tips?

                                                                                                                    eta: having just checked their website, nothing is over $25. how wealthy/fancy are the diners, really? lol.

                                                                                                                    maybe the waiter was giving suckface terrible service because his night was so awfully slow?

                                                                                                                    1. re: Waverider

                                                                                                                      Geez, given the circumstances, few customers, poor service, twenty would be a max for me. Why reward this guy for bad service?

                                                                                                                      1. re: James Cristinian

                                                                                                                        My wife always leaves a big tip, it was not my idea, but I made over 120,000 a year at the time, we stayed longer then the table next to us and saw their tip, We ordered a extra meal to take out for the hotel, we stayed at the Double Tree Hotel

                                                                                                                  2. I'm a college advisor and I've gone on a lot of trips with my students. I remember once, early in my career, when I ate dinner at a Chinese restaurant with maybe half a dozen students. The food and the service were perfectly adequate. When the bill came, as often happened, the students all left miserably small tips. I tried to cajole them into leaving something more adequate, but they just didn't (or wouldn't) get it. So I had a choice: I could make up the difference myself on the whole bill, or I could leave an adequate tip on my portion and slink quickly out the door. I wasn't so very far from being a poor student myself, and entry-level student activities jobs don't pay a whole lot. So I left my own tip and headed for the door before the server could pick it up.

                                                                                                                    One of the students stopped to use the restroom on the way out, while we waited for him in the parking lot. A few minutes later he came out, and his eyes were HUGE. He told us when he exited the restroom, the server was waiting for him, and she read him the riot act for that tip! She scared him so much, he dug out his wallet and left her the few dollars he had left.

                                                                                                                    I can't condone the server's rudeness...but I did have to give her credit for making her point. That's one group of students who I'm sure thought twice before they ever under-tipped again!

                                                                                                                    12 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: MsMaryMc

                                                                                                                      Yeah because college kids' wallets are just OVERFLOWING with cash and they can all afford to leave a $20 tip on $50 meal!

                                                                                                                      1. re: PotatoHouse

                                                                                                                        nobody is talking about leaving a 40% tip.

                                                                                                                        if you can't afford to tip, don't eat out.

                                                                                                                        1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                                                          The type of group described and its behavior justifies restaurants having a mandatory gratuity for large groups.
                                                                                                                          It avoids the mindset that each thinks: its a large group, the total tip will be large, no one will notice if I give a bit less.
                                                                                                                          The student advisor did a poor job advising. Tipping should have been discussed before entering the restaurant. Students come to college from all different areas with different tipping norms and economic backgrounds. When my eldest was a freshman, we took her and her three suitemates out to dinner in a 'nice' restaurant. One roommate was from England where service is included in the bill, one was rural poor from the deep south and had never dined in a non-fast food restaurant, and the last was from small town Connecticut with limited resources. The roomates were shocked that I left $50 on the table as a tip. The consensus was that they would turn down on campus workstudy and look for server jobs on the weekend...............

                                                                                                                          1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                                            It's been a long, long time since I was in college, but are student advisors supposed to teach students how much to tip? Perhaps if the students are from other cultures, but otherwise????

                                                                                                                            1. re: Midlife

                                                                                                                              Student advisors help students learn many things besides how to register for classes, and what to register for, and what kind of job that will get them. Think back--if you went to college at the traditional time of your life (age 18-25-ish), didn't you learn a whole lot in the process besides what was on your exams? That's what I'm there to facilitate--including how to behave in social situations so as not to embarrass yourself and piss off those around you.

                                                                                                                              These weren't international students, but most of them were from families without a lot of money, and many were the first in their families to go to college. Some of them probably had fairly limited experience going out to restaurants with table service. We're not born knowing the etiquette and expectations that involves, and we don't all learn them from socially-sophisticated parents who took us out to eat regularly from an early age.

                                                                                                                              1. re: MsMaryMc

                                                                                                                                many years ago, i bartended someplace that was very popular with kids at a big law school and a big dental school. there was a group of guys that came every friday, did not tip and generally acted like total d-bags after a few hours. i finally confronted one of them about why they behaved so badly when we were nice to them. his excuse was they couldn't afford to tip and i should be happy they were there at all. i had them all forcibly removed and banned. it was very satisfying when they were made to leave and also when they were refused entry the following week. :)

                                                                                                                                1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                                                                  Nice, I work at a mega retailer, tipping not involved, but we don't put up with a-hole belligerent customers and if security can't handle it, the police will. Good to see them booted out and told to never return, we do the same. The customer is not always right.

                                                                                                                              2. re: Midlife

                                                                                                                                This student advisor was not back in an office at the school, the advosor was with the stuidents and eating at the restaurant. It called for a preentry discussion.

                                                                                                                              3. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                                                Gee, bagelman0, I have a master's degree in higher education, I've been an college advisor for more than 30 years, but I had to come here to Chowhound to find somebody who could teach me how to do my job properly! Gosh, thanks!! </sarcasm mode off>

                                                                                                                                As I said, we DID discuss tipping, when it came up at the end of the meal--I just wasn't able to persuade most of these kids to leave an adequate tip. it wasn't that they thought that nobody would notice--they just believed that they were poor students, and they couldn't afford it, so that let them off the hook. I could tell them that wasn't okay--I couldn't snatch their wallets and take their money and leave a bigger tip for them. That's not my role.

                                                                                                                                You often don't see immediate results working with college students--and you shouldn't. They are young adults, learning to make their own decisions and find their way in the world on their own terms. The best you can do sometimes is to plant a seed, and hope that somewhere down the road, when they're ready to hear it, that seed will bear fruit. But I can tell you one thing that WON'T work, and that's insulting their new-found sense of themselves as autonomous adults by pedantically explaining tipping before we walked in the door of the restaurant. You might talk down to your kids and their friends that way, but that's not how I do my job.

                                                                                                                                1. re: MsMaryMc

                                                                                                                                  Having the discussion before entering the restaurant as a group is education, not talking down to the students.
                                                                                                                                  I don't talk down to my kids or their friends, but I do my best to see that they are taught to do the right thing.

                                                                                                                                  BTW>>>I have a BS. MBA, MAT and JD. But most importance is common sense.
                                                                                                                                  I have taught at both secondary school level and college courses (and still am an adjunct Law Professor). At the Law School, 1L students get an introductory class in dining out taught by advisory staff. It is a crucial job seeking/interviewing tool. Just as which piece of cutlery to use for which course, they are taught about tipping ettiquette.

                                                                                                                                  While you may not think this is part of your job, others might. A college advisor is there to help mold young personalities into responsible adults.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                                                    Ah, I see...your credentials explain a lot.

                                                                                                                          2. re: MsMaryMc

                                                                                                                            I will just say that it's very difficult in a group situation unless you have the means to pay for their "mis-steps", which you already mentioned that you couldn't. My husband was driving a group of young high schoolers home from a game one night, and they stopped off at a tacqueria for some and a Thai restaurant for others. He was driving the van, so he had a large group with him. Stopping off to get food before going home happens about 50% of the time, so it's not out-of-the-ordinary where he'd say no. He didn't think ahead to that they might go to different restaurants but parked and the 2 groups wandered off. He went w/the girls to the Thai restaurant. 4 of them wanted to share 1 dish. He decided to speak up (which he doesn't usually) and explained that they should get more than 1 item, even though they weren't that hungry. Finally, one 9th grader asked, "Mr. ___, why do we have to order more than 1 item?" So he explained that this is a business and that they have to serve, clean, operate restaurant, and in exchange, they need the business, so if they ordered 2 dishes, it would look minimally respectable for the 5 of them there. Luckily they had money to split; otherwise, he'd be stuck ordering a dish just to order. In the meantime, the girls from the tacqueria returned and ate their food there too. He didn't want to get into another lecture about not bringing food in from another place, although he might have warned them that they might get kicked out because of that. In the end, I think he ended up tipping more to cover for the inconvenience, but again, it's his money (he volunteered to drive because he was unemployed and had time)... and the tip probably went to the owners since it's a family business (they might have been the only customers there because of the time of day). But again, it puts the adult in a weird situation and sometimes unable to control.

                                                                                                                          3. Please god, make this thread stop! I get it. My mistake in doing the math. Bad waiter, too. Still, I will never return there. Enough said,