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When there is no "tip" option on the credit card receipt....

There is a new bakery/restaurant near our house that is quickly becoming a favorite. Most of their sales are to go, but they do have a kitchen and food can be ordered from the counter and enjoyed there. (There are at least 10 tables and restrooms, so presumably they are planning on people eating there).

Anyway, a few days ago we stopped there for a late breakfast/early lunch after a morning of shopping. It was totally impromptu: we were hungry; we drive past this place on our way home from anywhere, and suddenly our plans of eating at home seemed silly (especially given their low prices and good food).

Neither one of us had a penny of cash on us (remember, it was an impromptu decision to stop). And DH went to pay with a credit card, and realized as he was signing the receipt that there was no way to add a tip. I suppose he could have asked them to add a tip to the total if he knew there was no option on the receipt, but at that point it was too late. So DH came back to the table (its an "order at the counter" place) and asked me if I had a few dollars for a tip. Nope.

We were embarrassed to sit there and eat, knowing that we had no way of leaving a tip. I figure when they set up the account the credit card processor must have assumed it was a bakery where most people take the goods home, and thus no tip line was necessary. But as I said, the place is clearly expecting folks to eat there with that many tables, and clean public restrooms.

I wanted DH to explain the lack of the tip to the owner, but he was embarrased and just said "We come here all the time; I'll just leave them extra cash next time" (I confess; I was embarrased too).

I hope they give us good service and good food the next time we go, which will surely be soon enough that they will remember us. This is an ethnic establishment and family owned and operated, so maybe they don't expect tips?

What would you guys do? Say something? gently remind the establishment that they might get bigger tips if there is that option on te credit card receipt? Leave it alone? My suggestion was to rush home, get some cash, and rush back to leave it for them....but DH was having none of that.

Curious what others would do, but mostly just venting here. I know there are folks that own similar establishments that frequent chowhound...let this be a warning to you: think these things through before opening!

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  1. I hate that too, makes you feel cheap. I almost never have change on me so it is a concern. Say something for sure.

    1. I'd make a point of carrying cash with me when I dined there. I'd also cheerfully say to them, "hey, there's no tip line on my receipt!" hoping they'd get the hint.

      1. Where I am in the world, it is increasingly commonplace for restaurants to set their credit card machine not to prompt for a tip. If you know that this is their practice then there's no problem - you just ask them to add x% or a cash amount. However, there is no way that you can be sure that this is going to find its way to the staff.

        If you don't know that this is their practice, you need to be prepared to have some cash with you assuming you intend to leave a tip.

        The solution is simple, as an increasing number of places have found - simply replace old-fashioned tipping with a % service charge. It's relatively rare these days, except at the bottom end of the market, to come across places that don't have service charges.

        8 Replies
        1. re: Harters

          I have a problem with the automatic service charge. It is up to the establishment to pay their staff. The tip, for me, is for service over and above. Forced service charges leave no incentive for the worker.

          1. re: Bigjim68

            Many north Americans seem to have an issue with service charges (although many north Americans seem not to vary their level of tipping by very much, regardless of standard of service). It's not an issue where I am and I would disagree entirely about the no incentive for the worker argument (not least when I compare American and European styles of service).

            1. re: Harters

              There is one thing about tipping in the United States that ALL folks should understand, whether they live here or not. (and many do NOT understand and may not have learned here unless they've read through every post on tipping).

              Many if not most restaurants in the US pay their workers LESS (in many cases far less)than minimum wage and expect the workers to make up the difference with tips. Some cities have disallowed this practice, I believe, but it is true for many places around the country. This may be why North Americans have a problem with service charges (they are afraid the workers are being short-changed at the expense of management) and why tipping levels may not vary much despite service). For example, my niece is a server in a well-known sports bar chain in a college town; an establishment that I know does good business. And in fact she is paid well through tips. But her ACTUAL wages are something like 3 bucks an hour, and barely cover her taxes. So if for some reason (say a nasty snow storm) very few people come in on a given day she is expected to be there but not well compensated. For this reason I always feel badly shorting a tip: after all, I might be causing someone to receive less than minimum wage that hour. I've gotten to the point where I expect to pay 18 percent no matter what. Yesterday we went to a restaurant that happened to be the only one in a small town open on Easter Sunday. They were slammed and clearly understaffed. The waitress made several errors (forgetting our drink orders, and then when reminded she brought me the wrong drink). DH insisted on paying only 15 percent tip because of the screw-ups...and I felt guilty. I probably shouldn't, because she was plenty busy and I'm sure made good money that morning...but otoh it WAS a holiday at least for some and she was working her tail off.

              1. re: janetofreno

                I think your post provides some evidence to support my point that American tipping patterns do not provide an incentive. You and your partner's difference between a "normal" tip and a tip for poor service is just 3%. I often read similar stories whenever tipping is discussed on the board.

                1. re: Harters

                  "I think your post provides some evidence to support my point that American tipping patterns do not provide an incentive."

                  They do if you know how to game the system, and bigger tippers can actually save themselves money and get better service at the expense of lesser tippers. But most people are clueless about that and just argue about decorum. Is it 15, 18, or 20 percent? Not going to make a huge amount of difference when it comes to the level of service.

                  1. re: Harters

                    "I think your post provides some evidence to support my point that American tipping patterns do not provide an incentive. "

                    That's because Janet is a nice person. The problem is servers know if they mess up badly enough, they can be totally screwed. Not given a tip at all.

                    Call me a commie but I think restaurants above a certain amt. of gross revenue (and chains, obviously) should just have to pay servers minimum wage. Or, since they aren't even getting paid minimum wage, the IRS should say their tips are non-taxable "gifts" we are giving them because we feel sorry for them!

                    1. re: Fin De Fichier

                      Wouldnt regard your view as at all left-wing.

                      In most westernised countries (and even in some American states) minimum wage is wage minimum. Tips, service charge payouts, annual bonus, etc are all regarded as "extra". By the by. where I am, most restaurant servers get paid above minimum wage (albeit many by not very much) and we have a general custom of a 10% tip level (although it is always entirely discretionary and many people tip less or not at all).

                  2. re: janetofreno

                    You're right about that, janetofreno. Many of my friends worked for years as servers. They made something like 2-3 bucks an hour and no health insurance. It's a tough job.

                    My husband and I probably over tip but that's ok. Our minimum is 20% + $1. Not sure how we came up with that formula but it works for us.

            2. I just assume that this is done on purpose and that the establishment either does not accept or does not expect tips. To use a couple chains as an example, Nando's Peri Peri and Corner Bakery are both places that you order at the counter but that actually have someone delivering your food to you as opposed to you picking it up at the counter. Neither of them have tip lines on their receipts, or even actually have you sign the receipt.

              1. They know this because that's how they've set up their system. If it's counter service then they likely neither expect nor will accept a tip.

                What makes you think they didn't think it through? They probably thought about it heavily and decided you shouldn't have to bribe someone to get decent service.

                2 Replies
                1. re: acgold7

                  The OP notes that it's an "ethnic" restaurant so I'm sure youre right that, in their culture, you don't need to bribe someone and they've brought that to America with them. Good for them!

                  1. re: acgold7

                    Well, actually I was thinking that a bank or a processor set up the credit card system for them, and just assumed that they were not actually serving food there since it is a bakery. And it is a Mexican bakery. Now, admittedly its been a while since I lived in Mexico, but I seem to recall that tipping is customary in that country (and at least when I lived there so were bribes, but that's a whole other topic:-) What I meant by the ethnic comment is that maybe tipping is only customary in their part of the world in establishments that are primarily restaurants and not primarily bakeries...

                    Actually, maybe they intended originally to just be a bakery, and then decided to add food service later. After all, the store was a restaurant previously, so maybe the tables and restrooms were already there. And it is true that they have yet to have an actual menu...just hand-printed signs with specials and not always those. So maybe the food service WAS an after-thought. Still, I felt badly at leaving without a tip, especially considering our food was brought out on real plates (no paper items...)

                  2. Sometimes this situation is a factor of the business using a type of computer point-of-sale system that doesn't accommodate tips. They may not want to add the cost of a separate credit card reader/printer at this point. They could create a line item for tips on request, but that would be awkward and would require bookkeeping to separate out and apply to individual staff as would be required by law.

                    I'd ask about it next time. In all likelihood it's that they didn't expect to be needing that flexibility and haven't figured it out. I'm sure any staff they have would appreciate the gesture.

                    1. Go back again and tip double in cash.

                      If I order at the counter, get my own food there, carry it to a table myself, then I don't usually figure I have to tip much. We've got a great restaurant around the corner where you order at the counter, but food and drink are delivered by a waiter. They have a card on the table suggesting a 5-7% tip. That's more service than you got.

                      If there's no line on the cc receipt, I don't think they are expecting tips. I seem to be the only person who pays cash any more.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: 512window

                        Actually, the food and drink WAS delivered by the same person who took our order at the counter. It was brought to our table. And it was on real plates, not paper, so we couldn't clear everything by just throwing it away. So I consider that the same service as what you describe above, not less.

                        1. re: janetofreno

                          So, the going rate is 5-7% for that kind of service. Return and leave a big tip. Be prepared with cash this time.

                      2. Do you tip at McDonalds which is also counter service with tables available?

                        9 Replies
                        1. re: Bellachefa

                          Here we go! There are certain types of business models that result in a very confusing message to the public about whether or not tipping is what to do. I've gone on and in about it on this board because I work in one.

                          I find that an essentially 'retail' business (bakery; or what appears to be a bakery) makes it easy for people to conclude that tipping is not 'required' or 'necessary'. Another (where I work) is a wine and high-end packaged food shop that also does food and wine service, but doesn't really feel like a bar or restaurant.

                          Yesterday a very nice, mature couple came in and I made up a house sangria for her and gave him a taste, then a glass of our house red wine, after explaining our small bar food menu to them. They sat at the bar for nearly 30 minutes with me talking about wine and life in general, though having to stop a few times to make retail sales. They were presented with a traditional check in a folder, then a credit card slip with a tip line. The bill was around $22. No tip was left.

                          I suppose one could suggest that my service was lacking, but I'm not the only one this happens to there, and it happens often. To me it's a non-traditional business model and there are people for whom the top decision is based on things beyond the simple concept of ''tipping for service'. That's just the way it is. Some people tip quite well there, others minimally (10%?), others not at all.

                          1. re: Midlife

                            In an environment such as yours, I'd presume that $11 each for 2 glasses of wine would include appropriate compensation for the staff. If there was a food order involved, which required some sort of preparation (i.e., presentation on a plate), then I'd probably tip 10%. If no treatment of the food by staff was required, I'd probably just leave the change, or round up to the next dollar, for a credit card.
                            It's a retail store. isn't it? I don't tip for advice at the china or cookware shop, even though I expect that the staff have a high degree of product knowledge.

                            1. re: KarenDW

                              I really hadn't thought of this relating to the perception (discussed here a lot) that staff receives a minuscule base wage and depends mostly on tips. Maybe that's it, even though we're in a minimum wage state where that is the case in all bars and restaurants too.

                              1. re: KarenDW

                                I thought about your comment "it's a retail store isn't it?". Truth is I think people aren't really sure what it is. Visually, half the space is tables. Many people walk in and say "oh, you're a restaurant!" Basically, for me, the service I described is tip-worthy ...... Period. There are reasons for confusion, and that's where the issue is.

                                The specific couple I mentioned asked what we are and "retail" was the last of a half-dozen things in the explanation. Sometimes I think, even though we are more a WineBar than a traditional winery tasting room, that's the link for some. They wouldn't tip at a winery, of course.

                              2. re: Midlife

                                This is a little grey for me. In theory, I would almost certainly assume that it being a retail shop, you aren't making a server's or a bartender's below minimum wage hourly pay like at a restaurant, but being that I was served a drink and a tip line was included on the credit card slip, I would probably still tip, although not as much as I would at a restaurant. Probably no more than $4 on the check in your post.

                                I work in event planning and I have to from time to time travel to the conferences. I routinely have to print out badges, assemble them all with my own 2 hands and give them to the attendee. I receive no tip for this! The shame! Jk, but I get paid an adequate salary. I feel like that is where the difference lies. Why when food or drink is involved is it all of a sudden different? If you're getting paid an adequate salary. And this is coming from someone who generously tips in a restaurant or bar.

                                1. re: SaraAshley

                                  Actually, lower % tips I can understand, although all bar and restaurant staff in this state earn a 'normal' minimum wage and I'm not aware of this having the impact it seems to have in this particular environment. NO tip is something that continues to elude me, although it just is whatever it is.

                                2. re: Midlife

                                  <beyond the simple concept of 'tipping for service'>

                                  I tip for service. The 'very nice, mature couple' received your very time consuming and thoughtful service…
                                  Cheapness comes in all forms, doesn't it?
                                  If there's a tip line then there's a tip given. Leaving nothing is cheap.

                                  1. re: Midlife

                                    Midlife, the business model is confusing and more and more in WA, OR, and CA, there are these "hybrid" wine places that it is really hard to tell what to do. My daughter works in OR tasting rooms in wineries... and many of them are now offering (limited) food. There are no "servers", they don't get tips for providing tastings normally, but they sometimes run out food to tables, or deliver an app plate across a counter, or pull the focaccia sandwiches out of the case for you to take outside with your wine, or sell you some cheese,.... they also sell wine and wine "stuff". She thinks it is awkward too and doesn't know what to think about tipping.
                                    Of course, tipping would not be rejected by the staff and certainly it would not insult someone to leave a tip....so I take that as my default if I put any food in my mouth when tasting!

                                    1. re: sedimental

                                      I agree completely. I'd really love to be able to ask people why they tipped or didn't. Not going to happen, of course.

                                3. <Curious what others would do>

                                  I would have gone back home (being it's near your house) and brought back a tip within the next 24 hours.
                                  I'd have found the owner/manager, given him/her the tip, and explained what happened and why.
                                  You say the restaurant/bakery is near your home and IF you plan on returning then this is the way I'd handle it.
                                  Even though this is an 'ethnic establishment' I can't think of one 'ethnic' establishment I've eaten at or had services done where there's not a tip appreciated.

                                  1. I still can't get my arms around anyone ever leaving the house without any cash, unless your putting out the trash. I don't get it! Don't really care if you tip or not, or if your cheap or not. If you're getting in your car and leaving your driveway, bring cash. Unless of course you're putting your trash out with your car.

                                    14 Replies
                                    1. re: CocoDan

                                      Really? I go weeks at a time without cash. There's just no need for it.

                                      1. re: Hobbert

                                        Just the opposite, I don't have any credit cards, just cash and a debt card.

                                        1. re: jrvedivici

                                          Crazy! I carry a credit card and a debit card.

                                        2. re: Hobbert

                                          I live in a large city.
                                          Carrying cash is a must.

                                          1. re: latindancer

                                            I'm outside DC. Plastic just works for everything- the parking meters are paid via an app, people charge absolutely everything including a pack of gum, and I rarely valet. There's just no one to tip who I can't tip with a credit card. I keep some one's and quarters in my Jeep for the toll road (ugh) but that's about it.

                                            1. re: Hobbert

                                              I agree with what you're saying, I hate valeting because my car generally comes back like out of a scene from Ferris Bueller. However, on the rare occasion I'm forced to, I just hate the thought of not having the cash for the tip.
                                              You're right. These days plastic works just fine in any given situation but I continue to hang on to the cash mentality.
                                              What if someone delivers flowers to me? My panic button engages. Oh yeah…and what if that young kid, after asking nicely if I need help to the car with the 12 bottles of wine, stares at me with a look of a lost puppy waiting for a small morsel?

                                              1. re: latindancer

                                                I do keep cash in the house for deliveries. Sadly, I now live in an area where food delivery is limited but I always have cash on hand for appliance deliveries, furniture, the kids who want to shovel snow, etc. I just don't find I need much cash when I'm out. My husband, on the other hand, deals strictly in cash. It's crazy to me. I finally made him an authorized user on my credit card for his rare online purchases but he just has such a different mentality about cash and credit.

                                                1. re: Hobbert

                                                  <I do keep cash in the house for deliveries>

                                                  I do too…I was being somewhat playful in my response.
                                                  My father-in-law kept stacks of 1's, 5's, 10's, 20's and 100's in the closet next to the front door. He also carried at least $1,000 in the same denominations in his pocket.
                                                  He bought everything in cash including his home. I do think there's a different mentality now with the freedom to access cash on every street corner through the technology we have. So, in my case, I'm sort of carrying on his tradition. There really isn't a need to carry cash, as you say. I used a couple of 100 bills at a large retailer the other day and they looked at me like I was an alien. They had to run upstairs to get change for my purchase.

                                              2. re: Hobbert

                                                I am the same Hobbert, I never carry cash in "daily life". I almost never find I need to use cash for anything. I could always run to an ATM (on any corner, it seems) but the only cash I ever need is to pay misc "odd job" workers around my house at times. I also stopped carrying a checkbook for the same reason.

                                                Of course, traveling or vacationing is different.

                                                1. re: sedimental

                                                  Oh my gosh, yeah, I never have my checkbook on me. I can't remember the last wallet I had that even had a checkbook insert.

                                                  Vacations are totally different, though. On international trips, my first stop is an ATM. I'm always worried that a credit card purchase might not go thru so I try to stick with cash.

                                                  1. re: sedimental

                                                    My very good friend was a victim of identity theft.
                                                    She now carries cash and writes checks.
                                                    It scarred her to the point I'm not sure if she'll use credit cards again for a long, long time.

                                                    1. re: latindancer

                                                      That is the reason I only use credit cards (not debit). They guarantee fraud protection on many credit cards now. I was refunded 15k on my visa from fraud a few years ago. The bank told me that if it had been on debit....I would be out of luck! That incident completely changed my debit card usage.
                                                      I now only use credit cards that guarantee me against fraud and I sign the receipt!

                                                      No problems.

                                                      1. re: sedimental

                                                        Yes, I agree and understand. It's happened a couple of times with credit cards as you're describing.

                                                        This particular situation was with credit cards, driver's license, all personal information and actual ID theft.
                                                        A complete personal violation.

                                            2. re: CocoDan

                                              I am with you 100% on this. I cannot imagine leaving the house without cash on me. Cash means security to me I guess.

                                            3. DH never carries cash, so when he pays he ALWAYS says that he wants to add a tip - either they'll add it, or they'll tell him to write it in himself... that way we're always covered. I agree it would be horribly embarassing to be caught out without a way to give one...

                                              If you really want to make them think nicely of you, go to the closest ATM or corner store and get some money, then go back to the bakery and tell them 'I'm sorry we didn't have any cash on us, here's your tip for X day's meal.'

                                              Different but similar situation - on Easter Sunday I found myself at church without my checkbook because DH had taken it out of my purse to pay a bill over the phone and he never puts it back again... and I had zero cash, so I couldn't put anything into the offering plate when it came around. Nobody was pointing and staring, and I'll just put in extra next Sunday, but I felt bad about it all the same!

                                              1. Where I am in the world, few places still take cheques.

                                                4 Replies
                                                1. re: Harters

                                                  whenever i am behind a woman (always a woman) wanting to pay for her groceries with a check my teeth get itchy.

                                                  debit cards have been around for how many decades now?

                                                  you knew you were coming to the market and would use a check to pay, couldn't you at least have started the check with the date and name of the establishment to save EVERYBODY some time?


                                                  if this is a local place you like and you want to tip mention the lack of tip line next time you go in. it's an easy fix from a pos perspective, but entirely up to the owners if they want to deal with the bookkeeping.

                                                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                    I can tell you from my own experience that it is NOT an easy POS fix in many cases. I've been through it twice. Both times we had to get a separate tip-including printer and figure out how to integrate it. It's doable, but not "easy".

                                                    1. re: Midlife

                                                      fair enough, it depends upon the system.

                                                    2. re: hotoynoodle

                                                      <couldn't you at least have started the check with the date and name of the establishment>

                                                      How about the damn signature?
                                                      One of my biggest pet peeves EVER.

                                                  2. janetofreno,

                                                    What you refer to in your other post is "tip crediting", which is illegal where I live in California. Restaurant owners are not a protected class of business owner here, and must pay their employees the state mandated minimum wages. That's how it should be.

                                                    There is a sandwich shop near where I work (an order-and-pay-at-the-counter place) and their credit card machine does not offer the option to add a tip.

                                                    It's *WONDERFUL*

                                                    You don't feel like a jerk for pressing "$0", nor do you feel emotionally extorted to pay for service that you have not yet received. (How in the world is someone supposed to judge the level of service if you haven't finished your visit? The "tip jar" is just a few steps up from panhandling, in my opinion.)

                                                    Since there is no expectation of tip, there is no expectation of service, and I will of course bus my own tables at places like this. That seems only fair to me.

                                                    I'm all for tip abolishment. Restaurant owners need to charge what they need to charge in order to make a profit. Leave the emotional anxiety out of the equation. It does nothing but leave a sour taste at the end of the meal.

                                                    Mr Taster