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Oh seriously... Not another tipping thread!

Yes...another tipping thread. And an honest question.

Recently I was a guest of my cousin for a lunch.

It was a somewhat busy lunch hour. We chatted away as she ate and I poked at my food (not a fan of this chain). The server was attentive and brought refills and breadsticks without the need of prompting him. He was better than average, especially given the venue and time of day... and we were there longer than most lunching diners would be.

When the bill was paid, my cousin under-tipped - gave something under 10%. Whether it's culture or age or something else, not sure. Not asking about that.

My question is, do you think it's OK to surreptitiously leave extra tip? And if so, what is the best way to go about it? I had some bills in my hand, and when leaving didn't see the waiter and couldn't think of a plausible excuse to return to the table. My cousin, I see a lot. I will probably not return to this restaurant soon (hopefully never). I rathered not offend cousin than waiter, but yeah, he got stiffed and I felt bad. Thoughts?

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  1. It's never wrong to add something extra to a low tip. The problem is how to do it with out offending the low tipper (assuming you are concerned about that).

    If there's really no way to get an additional amount to the server while you're still there, I'd go so far as to return on another day hoping to find the server to rectify the situation.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Midlife

      I agree. My dad is an otherwise nice guy, but is a terrible undertipper. I have returned the next day to make things right. Nowadays, I know it's coming, so I usually manage to find a way to get to the server before the end of the meal. I'm upfront: "My dad is a terrible tipper. Here, please take this, and thank you."

    2. you ask: <<do you think it's OK to surreptitiously leave extra tip?>>

      my opinion is that not only is it OK to leave extra money, it is morally/ethically required to find a way to leave extra money.

      to me, it is absolutely NOT ok to let someone who does a good job serving you do so without being adequately compensated.
      if i'm one of the people sitting at that table, then it is my responsibility, not legally, but morally/ethically.

      for all you know, not only did the server need to "tip out" other people at the restaurant, they may well be required to pay taxes on the tip percentage that the IRS has decided is the presumptive tip percentage for that restaurant. because of your decision to passively let this pass, the server may actually have taken a loss on their shift.

      1 Reply
      1. re: westsidegal

        Also, the server will be wondering if they did something wrong and that's why they got such a horrid tip. It's nice to let them know it's not them, it's your cousin.

      2. I can relate to that and I don't think there is a simple answer. Mostly it's a play-it-by-ear situation.

        If you suspect that the party that is picking up the check might undertip, be proactive and offer to pick up the tip while showering them with praise for their generosity. "Paying for the tip is the least I could do!"

        Sometimes an opportunity arises to add some bills to the check holder.

        Sometimes I just resolve never to dine with the same people again since I'm allergic to people who undertip their servers.

        On occasion, I just grin and bear it. If we go to a place where I get an Investor's discount for the party and someone pays saying "I'll pay, you got us the discount!" and I've overtipped that particular server considerable amounts over the years, I might not feel as eager get into the issue of tipping since I would feel that I would have paid my dues.

        Maybe you should have a diplomatic discussion with your cousin on the general issue of tipping if you see her ever so often.

        1. All very valid points. I don't live close, and have no clue who our server was or what his name was (and doubt I'd recognize him because every male server looked like the same college kid). It might be tricky finding him, but next time I'm in that town, I'll try. Thanks!

          1. I wouldn't go back to that restaurant, that's for sure.

            I'd be more proactive. Look at the bill and be like "hey Cousin, did you mean to leave only ____?" It could have been a simple arithmatic error.

            If Cousin did intentionally leave a below 10% tip, I'd say something. If that's not an option for whatever reason, I wouldn't dine out with that person again, as that behavior is rude, embarassing and reflects poorly on you.

            In this specific situation I would have gone back to the table with an "I forgot something". Your cousin forgot to leave a sufficient tip so it's not a lie.

            3 Replies
            1. re: LeoLioness

              "I wouldn't go back to that restaurant, that's for sure."

              Not at all sure how this statement squares with the rest of your comment. Do you mean that, if you couldn't find a way to supplement the tip while still there, you would just let it drop?

              1. re: LeoLioness

                Believe me, I could live the rest of my life without going back there. It's one of if not THE least favorite restaurant of both myself and my immediate family. In fact, I think it's the kind of place where the servers work knowing that they will not make a good tip every single time. Just a hunch about that... could be totally wrong.

                I did try an "I forgot" but she walked back to the table with me. That and "stop by the ladies room" are my go-to excuses with my dad, who is even worse. This time, I needed something sly. That's what I'm looking for... something creative when the standby doesn't work. Slip it to another server and ask that they pass it on?

                1. re: gardencook

                  Don't get it. Gardencook was the one who made the statement (unless I'm really losing it. You said "It might be tricky finding him, but next time I'm in that town, I'll try."

                  No biggee. I'm just confused, I guess