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TIPPING: "There oughta be an app for that!"

Based on the number of tipping questions/threads/confusions/concerns/complaints on this thread, it seems many of you share my sentiment; there really should be a great app out there to help guide tipping behavior, particularly at places new to you or in new or foreign locales.
1) Do you use a tipping app? If so, which one? What do you like about it, and what do you feel it doesn't do so well?
2) What is your relationship to the food industry? Diner, server, bartender, chef, cook, restauranteur, something else, some combination?
3) If you could design your own ideal tipping app, how would it work and what features would it have?

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  1. I find it really SAD that ADULTS need an app (or calculator) to come up with a ballpark figure of 15-20% of a bill!

    9 Replies
    1. re: kseiverd

      To be fair to the OP, the part about tipping in foreign locales would be helpful.

      1. re: kseiverd

        You might find that sad, but as someone who organizes a weekly dinner with a large group -- sometimes up to 16-18 folks, an app like that is mighty helpful.

        I'm pretty sure we could figure out the 20% tip on the bill, but nobody cares about having to do division with their tummies full.

        1. re: linguafood

          do you have an app you use/recommend, and if so, what's good about it and what's not so good?

          1. re: chartreauxx

            I use the aptly named (free) "tip calculator", and I love it. I honestly have no complaints about it at all: easy to use, and you can split a bill for up to 50 (!) people and tip up to 50%.

            1. re: linguafood

              wow that is one heck of a dinner party! O_o i don't think i have that many friends lol! thanks :-) i'll go download that!

          2. re: linguafood

            Not being snarky, but doesn't a calculator accomplish the same thing? And don't all phones come with a calculator?

            1. re: gourmanda

              I find this to be the easiest way, since the app calculates the tip, the total and the share everyone has to pay in one fell swoop.

              1. re: linguafood

                Gotcha. We rarely go out with a group that big so don't have much need for an app...but since you do (weekly!), then I can see it being handy.

          3. re: kseiverd

            actually, it's not necessarily about doing the math for me; it's about figuring out what is expected or appropriate at a given establishment, *based on the service and experience i had*. for example, if the service was mediocre to poor, what's appropriate? do people tip here at a place where it's counter service only? i had totally above and beyond service, is a 35% tip over-the-top and weird or indicative of my appreciation? and as lingua says, too, sometimes it's just a pain to do the math - less about being "able" to and more about the convenience factor.

            1. I rarely find tipping a difficult subject. I know what the tipping culture is where I am in the world and it's very easy to Google to find what culture might apply when I'm visiting a foreign country.

              9 Replies
              1. re: Harters

                But sometimes one does not have wifi access while in various places in order to Google and then an app would come in handy; plus, all the information is in one place.

                1. re: ttoommyy

                  It's just an integral part of the research I do before travelling to another country.

                  1. re: Harters

                    Yes, I understand that and I do a lot of research, believe me. Its just that you can't plan for everything and for some situations an app like the OP proposed might come in handy. Plus, said app might be a good place to store a lot of that pre-trip research. But of course, to each his own. Just stating my opinion; certainly not telling you or anyone else what to do. :)

                    1. re: ttoommyy

                      Yep, I'm sure it may well come in handy for some who may not have planned as well as you or I. If someone thinks they can make money on it, it's sure to be developed.

                      1. re: Harters

                        i guess i was just asking because i often find myself torn about how much is "appropriate" to tip. i frankly don't like tipping as a practice, i simply think people should be paid a fair wage for fair work, but as long as tipping is a thing (it sure is here, USA) i wouldn't mind some guidance!

                        1. re: chartreauxx

                          Understood, chartreauxx. I think that Americans get over-obsessed with the subject. I'm sure it's a cultural thing.

                          Tipping questions get asked here, often with some angst, that simply would never be raised on a European led board. I think we know different European countries have different tipping cultures and I'm sure that, when we visit, we just adapt to local culture or just carry on with whatever our own culture is. It's never seen to be an issue.

                          1. re: Harters

                            i wish we had a more european model!

                            1. re: chartreauxx

                              Me too. Meal costs in America contribute to making it a an expensive holiday - we can't vsiit as often as we'd like.

                2. It may sound like a good idea but trying to get consensus about the tipping culture in many countries is far from easy.

                  My observation is that cultural norms are being exported across the world so a lot of younger people will say you should tip in countries where older people traditionally don't tip. There is often a complete lack of logic to the position so maybe there is some oneupmanship or other psychological factor - Australia is a good example where tipping was rare but ask the question these days and you will be told 10% is standard.

                  I am also quite cynical about the impartiality of a lot of advice on tipping culture, the "I waited tables and everyone tips" type of input especially when it is also a comment from a foreigner about another country.

                  The US is one of the few countries with a very high, pretty much mandatory, tipping culture. I am quite surprised by the vitriol I see in tipping treads that is directed at the "cheap skates" who don't tip full freight, and the number of people who seem always tip at 20% - is service always that good or is it a habit?

                  The other observation I have is the tipping inflation in the US, when I first visited I recall 10 to 15% as a standard tip, it now seems to be 20 to 25%.......when will it head to 25 too 25%...?

                  But the app would be good to help us foriegners to work out the tipping culture in places like Miami where it seems to be included in the bill automatically at 18%. My assumption was we just paid it but was I correct....?

                  An one other suggestion, maybe an App that identifies the value of money when it is all the same colour may help us tourists avoid overpaying/tipping ;-))

                  1. I think there are just too many variables to write an app that gives subjective advice on how to tip. You'd be poking at your screen for ages, ignoring your dining companions in the process, to input all the information to spit out a number. I think it's better to keep Alzheimer's at bay by using the grey cells to come to a tipping conclusion on your own rather than having some 20 year old app developer figure it out for you.

                    1. Maybe I'm a moron, but I'm pretty sure that if you drop the digit on the bill farthest to the right, you are left with ten percent of the tab. (For example, a dinner check of $325.77 becomes $32.57 when you cross off the final seven.) If you double the resulting number, you arrive at twenty percent. That's some fuckin' abracadabra shit right there, huh? I've even managed to pull this trick off after more than a dozen drinks and a coupla bathroom breaks for bat hits - though I may have rounded off a bit.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: MGZ

                        If you read the whole thread, the proposed app would do a lot more than just calculate 20% of the bill. There is talk about tipping customs in foreign countries, splitting the bill and tip, and other tipping-related information.

                        1. re: ttoommyy

                          The difficulties would arise regarding foreign countries.

                          We generally know the customs in our own country but I have a sense that reaching unanimity on customs elsewhere would not be easy. For example, Spain is the country I visit most often and I read varied advice in guidebooks and on reputable websites that ranges from 10% to a few coins. By the by, I take my guidance from my Spanish relative and leave a few coins. Belgium is another problem area for me - does it have a universal tipping culture or does it follow language - with a few coins being fine in the French speaking area, following custom in France, or in the Dutch areas, the 10% that would be the norm in the Netherlands. Not easy this tipping lark. Not easy at all.

                          1. re: Harters

                            I agree. But perhaps this "fantasy" app would have this type of information all in one place for the user and allow the user to decide for himself; but at least the user would be a bit more educated thanks to the app.

                            1. re: ttoommyy

                              Ah. I like that idea. An app designed to deal with confusions, that doesnt :-)

                        2. re: MGZ

                          This is EXACTLY what was going thru my brain when I posted above :0

                          1. re: kseiverd

                            Well, if you read the rest of the thread you'd realize that this is about more than 'just figuring out a 20% tip' (which I believe most of us could do without the help of an app).

                        3. I use "Tip 'N Split" for the Android (I'm sure there's an iPhone version as well), and I love it.

                          What do I like? You enter the cost of the meal and then you choose what percentage tip you'd like to leave. Finally, you note the number of people in your party and it tells you how much they each owe.

                          Once you've added the basic information, if you decide you want to leave a larger tip or want to round something up or down to the nearest dollar, you can play with each of the individual inputs to get whatever output you want.

                          I have no relationship to the food industry, I'm just hungry three times a day :)

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: mwk

                            Golly, that sounds much like something I once heard of... calculator I think they called it.

                            (I'm being cheeky... just couldn't resist. Please don't take offense. It's about the app, not the user. Cheers!)

                            Our portable app is our 11 year old that has to figure out the various ranges of tips. A bit more expensive to raise a child to just calculate tips, but they can be useful in other ways. ;)

                            1. re: gardencook

                              I won't take offense. But, it's more like a spreadsheet than a calculator, if you want to make a comparison. The great advantage of a spreadsheet is that you can change one input in a formula and see how it will change all the outputs all at once.

                              For example, if I figure a tip with everyone as individuals, and then people decide to pay as couples, I can change the number in the party from 6 to 3, and round up to the nearest dollar so that it's easier for everyone.

                              Oh, and my grandfather would be making fun of anyone that needed to use a calculator for anything. When I was a kid, we got our first electronic calculator and he was confused why anyone would need that if they had a pencil and paper handy :)

                            2. re: mwk

                              Well, mwk, I am downloading Tip N Split as I type, so I thank you for the, uh, tip about it. Not sure I'll use it much (don't go out with big enough groups often), but looks handy to have in case.

                              Nice that my snow day Chowhound lurking is turning a bit practical.

                              And I also remember when the introduction of calculators was destroying the the youth of America.