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How much do I tip? How much should I tip? How much do YOU tip? etc.... [moved from Ontario board]

Riffing off the Summerlicious discussion re: tipping, and resigned to the fact that tipping seems expected, here is what I do, and I'd be interested to hear what you think I SHOULD do and what YOU do in respect of this interesting and never-settled debate!

a) I don't feel the waiters' and auxiliary helpers' financial well-being is my responsibility. First and foremost it is theirs, with a close runner-up being their employer's. I regard my tip as a small extra reward for good service, with a variance upwards for especially good service and downwards for lousy service that stems from the waiter's performance, not from screw-ups in the kitchen and so forth.

b) The near-ubiquitous existence of tips' being pooled bothers me. I don't refer to the passing along of a small proportion of tips to busboys and maître d's and so forth, but to the massing of tips so that the same portion of the loot is divided among the front line wait staff. This destroys the most human (not always the most admirable, true) incentive for waiter X to try extra-hard to please my table, in hopes he will receive an extra reward. To me this is no different than a the bonus pool at a bank or law firm, and numerous other examples in business and professional life.

c) Paying an ever-higher tax to the nanny state I cannot avoid, but since it has nothing to do with the quality of the wait staff or for that matter of the meal or anything else within the control of the restaurant writ large, then I don't see any reason whatsoever to tip on anything other than the pre-tax total.

d) In a typical restaurant without a sommelier, I think of part of the waiter's routine duty is to open, allow me to taste and then pour the wine. Some restaurants' style is then to leave the wine on the table or in the bucket for the patron to pour. Obviously kudos goes to the waiter who re-fills the glasses as appropriate - which does not mean topping them up every few moments in hopes of selling me another bottle. So for a $30-50 bottle of wine the resulting additional tip is relatively trivial. But for more expensive wine - and for a restaurant employing a sommelier - I become more conscious of the 200-300 % markups over retail typical of such establishments, and think that the service of the sommelier and the provision of nicer crystal is rightly the norm along with other things for which one undoubtedly does "pay" in the cost of the menu items but for which one does not tip: say linen napkins or a stool for a lady's purse A particularly helpful sommelier who has spent time in selecting the right wines should have a few bucks pressed into his hand. But if I have chosen myself two bottles of Sr. Castellani's excellent Amarone thereby swelling the coffers of Le Select by $310, for wine that retails at the LCBO for $55 a bottle, thus $110, I don't see any reason to tip any percentage on the extra $200 that appears on the bill. The waiter still will - or won't - attend to the topping up of the glasses; and unless one believes the tip should be some sort of a sin tax on the basis that only "the rich" (which I am not) would order such wines, then I think the realistic conclusion is that his additional labour is nil. This becomes even more true imho when a truly "rich" patron orders several bottles of a $300-500 wine.

e) So given the above ruminations and conditions, and presuming I occupy a table for a couple of hours and order a typical several-course meal, I tip 15% of the pre-tax total, perhaps rising to 18% for truly great service or cheerful fulfillment of unusual requests, perhaps going a definite slice below for (rarely seen) truly bad and incompetent service.

Over to you...

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  1. I generally tip more generously than 15% pre tax - but resent when I'm handed a machine and 15% post tax (sometimes as high as 18 or even 20 percent) is default. This was an issue at origin Liberty village for me. Service was often mediocre, save for one server in particular, and the default tip was 18 or 20 percent post-tax (I can't recall exactly), which is pretty significant. When an increased amount is expected and service is not up to par, I lower the percentage. Generally 15% pre-tax is the lowest I will tip, and sometimes my tip will be much higher - 50 or even 100% - if the bill is modest enough, and the service is outstanding.

    However, my preference, by far, would be if tips were split evenly among BOH and FOH. Both represent equal value to me. I would then consistently tip higher. I occasionally buy BOH rounds as my tip, and lower my FOH tip.

    Regardless, everyone should be able to tip what they're comfortable with - and really, that's all there is to it.

    2 Replies
    1. re: justxpete

      Last month Marben handed me a machine with one preset amount - 20%. That didn't bode well for the server. I changed the percentage and checked the receipt....sure enough it was also post tax.

      1. re: justsayn

        Precisely my issue! So incredibly presumptions to assume a 20% tip - especially given poor service.

        My whole point is many don't understand how significant the norm - 15% pre-tax - to the occasional 20% post-tax (by default) is.

        Huge difference!

    2. Tips are always pre-tax. Anyone who tells you differently is just trying to reach into your pocket.

      1. Points....

        A. you do not care or feel responsible for a server's financial well being...yet you have no problem having them serve you.

        B. you are bothered by the pooling of tips.

        I stopped reading after that....because you should care about A, and not about B....since the latter is none of your business how tips are distributed.

        18 Replies
        1. re: fourunder

          I can't agree that how tips are distributed is none of the guest's business. While it may be out of my control, I most certainly would like to have a way to reward a particularly special server and know that the 'extra' is going where I want it to go. The idea that it may not is troublesome.

          1. re: Midlife

            Servers agree to the house rules and policies when they accept a position. If they accept it, that's all that counts. It balances out when others receive good tips and share the wealth. It's ridiculous to believe that only *I* should have a say in where my tip goes.... and you are the only one giving good tips....this is in general of course, not picking on you in this case.

            1. re: fourunder

              I appreciate the non-personal disclaimer, but I think you inserted the word "only" into a thought that was not intended to convey that. I suppose this all leads to a rolled up bill transferred in a handshake on the way out. Not foolproof, and hard to know if necessary, but would hopefully address my concern. I certainly don't want that special server to lose out on whatever portion of my tip they're signed up to get, so I'll continue to tough it out.

              1. re: Midlife

                appreciate the non-personal disclaimer, but I think you inserted the word "only" into a thought that was not intended to convey that.
                Well, I did not intend to single you out, but apparently you did for me. The OP has the same feelings on where the tips should be go...only in one's pocket where *I* intended it to go.

                1. re: fourunder

                  Not personal, but not sure you're getting my point either. What I'm troubled by is that "I" have NO say at all if tips are pooled, unless I go out of my way to try to slip the server something extra.... and hope it stays with the server. When anyone makes a statement like " It's <RIDICULOUS> to believe that only *I* should have a say in where my tip goes" I would respectfully disagree regardless of whether you're addressing me, the OP or anyone else. I may not be ABLE to control where it goes, but I really think I SHOULD have a SAY in it, if possible. If I don't, and can't get around that, it takes something out of the satisfaction of being able to reward a special service. Again, not personal, just examining and hoping to clarify the words you put in your post.

                  1. re: Midlife

                    "If" tips are pooled and you slip a server or anyone else in the establishment cash in a handshake or other clandestine method.. and they do not share that money with the rest of the "pool" then that is usually considered to be the same as them stealing that money and they may be fired with cause.

                    1. re: Midlife

                      midlife: you will only likely get a legitimate say in this IN YOUR DREAMS.

                      other than in your personal view, this is not considered the purview of the customer. different restaurants have different policies. i've NEVER heard any restaurant taking a poll of customer preferences on this issue.

                      your desire to have control of this issue as a customer would be considered OUT OF LINE to most folks in the business.

                      but, i guess you can WANT anything.
                      i WANT to be tall, blond, thin, an heiress, and to be able to balance in spike heels.

                      1. re: westsidegal

                        Wow! And I thought I had qualified the hell out of my opinions and desires on this. Just this evening I spoke with an acquaintance who has been a server for 15 years. Her take was that an extra hand-delivered gratuity would be accepted.and that reality was it would never be disclosed regardless of policy. She went on to add that she'd refuse to work anywhere that denied a server such a specifically personal and directly delivered extra gratuity. Oh well. Whatever.

                        1. re: Midlife

                          ive never heard of a restaurant allowing that

                          1. re: kpaxonite

                            Do they really have to allow it for it to happen?

                            1. re: Midlife

                              Let's say a server's family comes in to a restaurant where s/he is employed. At the end, they pay for their meal and leave a ginormous tip. The server takes the gratuity and adds it in complete amount as given to the tip pool. They do this because it's policy.....now do you think it's right for others to stuff any amount of a gratuity given to them for their service, and not add it to the tip pool as required.

                              If not, It's called stealing from your peers.

                              You can feel whatever you wish, but once you give the tip, you've done your part. You should not expect how it is received other than gratefully and expectations on how it is handled and dispersed is like you are giving it with conditions. The simple truth is tip pooling is common. If you give it within the confines of any establishment, it should be handled as expected by the house and staff....not the guest giving it.

                              1. re: fourunder

                                Not sure why you all think I don't understand this. I'm not arguing the rules, I'm saying that reality doesn't always follow them. I just find it very difficult to believe that pooling rules are inviolate and no one ever bends them or turns their head. Note to self: don't go to restaurants where tips are pooled. Your tip doesn't go where you'd like it to go.

                                1. re: Midlife

                                  Its rare for people to break the rules because most people dont want to risk being fired or worse...and the other staffs incentive to report them is high.

                                  1. re: Midlife

                                    In "reality" banks get robbed, that does not make it right to rob a bank...

                                    Some people in the world are thieves. As is your friend if she takes tips that belong to the "pool".

                  2. re: fourunder

                    I might add here that the server I spoke with said she wouldn't work where tips are pooled, but "tipping out" is completely different and not an issue for her. She feels that pooling rewards people who don't always deserve it and limits her income. I'm wondering what the relative use of the two methods is in the industry.

                    1. re: Midlife

                      Scenario #1.... after shift, Waiter A makes a
                      $100 and Waiter B makes $50. The scenario kind of repeats the next evening, only B makes $100 and A pulls in only $40. I'd rater take $75 and $70. While the amount overall would be the same....what happens on the third day?

                      Scenario #2. due to seniority, Waiter A gets the best station and more tables for the evening, let's ay 6, Servers B & C get only 3 tables for the evening. Do you think B & C are going to be happy? It makes more sense for the house in fine dining to implement a pooled tip policy. It's more equitable, everyone makes the same tips and there are no disputes and labor issues. Everyone completes a shift and no one gets set home early. They all work together. It's why the best restaurants use a team system.

                      1. re: fourunder

                        It's exactly why the best restaurants use a team system.

                        And, in those countries like mine, where service charges have significantly replaced old-fashioned tipping, many then work to a team system, right down to the neighbourhood bistro type place. As, indeed, is often the case in countries where there's a no tipping culture.

                1. - the difference between pre and post tax tipping is tiny
                  - if you are buying 300-500 bottles of wine you are rich

                  21 Replies
                  1. re: kpaxonite

                    This. To be honest, I'm surprised the pre/post-tax tipping is such a huge point of contention (on both sides). On a $100 bill, the difference is only about $2. On $500 it's $10. Are these amounts really such a big deal if you're shelling out for a "fine dining" meal?

                    Similarly, if you're a server and $2 on X% of covers a night means the difference between life and death, maybe you should consider a change in careers. As evidenced by the difference in opinions here, it's not like all diners will tax before tip, so what's the big deal?

                    1. re: GeeDee

                      Incorrect... The range being considered is from 15%, pre tax to 20% post tax. On a $100 bill (after tax), it becomes a range of $13-$20, which is almost a 50% difference.

                      1. re: justxpete

                        15% of 100=15
                        15% of 115=17.25
                        You are wrong.

                        1. re: kpaxonite

                          Lol.. Math is not your strong suit.

                          Rounding to the nearest dollar, the pre-tax amount on a $100 bill is roughly $88.

                          $88 x 15% pre tax = $13 tip.

                          $100 x 20% post tax = $20

                          The range is $13-$20.

                          1. re: justxpete

                            Why are you comparing different tip percentages though? 15 vs. 20 percent and pre-tax vs. post-tax are two separate issues.

                            1. re: Michael N

                              Because some restaurants ask as much as 20% post tax by default (or as an option), as mentioned earlier. It's a relevant consideration - and some might not be aware just how significant the difference is. Hence why I brought it up as part of this discussion.

                            2. re: justxpete

                              I think that comparison is ridiculous... mixing two issues together simply for the sake of showing a larger difference

                              1. re: kpaxonite

                                I wasn't. The post you were commenting on (my comment) was a post about the ranges of pre/post tax tipping. The content was there before your response. It's what you were responding to.

                                The OP also mentions a range of 15-18 percent in his original post, and pre and post tax... So I'm not quite sure why you're so confused.

                                1. re: justxpete

                                  To compare pre-tax tipping to post-tax tipping, you have to hold the percentage constant. So you compare 15% pre-tax with 15% post-tax and see the difference that pre and post tax make. It's not much.

                                  If you're going to tip more when it's post tax, then the post tax tip is going to be much larger than the pre-tax tip, but that's being driven by the increased size of your tip, not the pre/post distinction.

                                  Really, just assume that all machines are post-tax (I haven't seen one that's pre) and adjust accordingly. As we've seen, it doesn't make much difference anyway.

                                  1. re: BigBabyYeezuS

                                    But I'm not making that comparison. I'm generalizing as to which practices are currently in use in restaurants right now.

                                    On the machines, some calculate pre-tax tip and use 15% as default. On the other end of the spectrum, some use 20% post-tax as default (though fairly rare), but I've commonly observed 18% post-tax as the default tip amount.

                                    1. re: justxpete

                                      But it's not the pre-post distinction that's driving the difference, it's the default amount. Anyway, I've never seen a pre-tax machine (or, mostly, I don't notice).

                                      All machines let you confirm the final amount. That's what matters - if the tip ends up being more than you expected, press correct and adjust downwards (or upwards, if you thought it was post-tax).

                                      If these minor differences matter so much, but you're unwilling to check and adjust the final amount, it's hard to get much sympathy.

                                      1. re: BigBabyYeezuS

                                        I think you should read my initial post on this subject.

                                        Secondly, the point of contention that I'm making is that most don't realize the wide discrepancy in practices. It's an even more significant issue when the service is mediocre. Never mind stating the obvious about how one can navigate a credit machine.

                              2. re: justxpete

                                Help me understand your case. I'm basing my calculation on a $100 pre-tax bill, and whether one tips before or after tax, holding your tip percentage constant. After all, whether you choose to tip 15% or 20%, the choice is really whether to tip before or after tax. (Or at least that's the point I was trying to raise.) I concede that the difference increases as the tip percentage increases, but the difference is still not all that great.

                                For instance, a $100 pre-tax bill comes out to $128 with 13% tax and a 15% pre-tax tip (100 * 1.13 + 100 * 0.15), and $130 with a 13% tax and a 15% post-tax tip (100 * 1.13 * 1.15). The difference in earnings to a server is therefore $2 (130 - 128). As a percentage of the pre-tax bill, the difference is about 2% (2 / 100).

                                The same pre-tax bill comes out to $133 with a 13% tax and 20% pre-tax tip (100 * 1.13 + 100 * 0.2), and $136 with a 13% tax and 20% post-tax tip (100 * 1.13 * 1.2). The difference is therefore $3. As a percentage of the pre-tax bill, the difference is about 3%.

                                I'm not trying to debate what tip percentage is appropriate, but I'm raising the point that whether there's such a big difference between pre- and post-tax tipping once you've chosen the appropriate percentage.

                                1. re: GeeDee

                                  Hmm... I'm not sure I understand your math, but... On a $100 pre-tax bill, the post tax amount would be $113, of course.

                                  The 15% pre-tax tip on $100 would be $15, and the 20% post-tax tip (on $113) would be $23 (113 x .2).

                                  So an $8 range between 15% pre-tax and 20% post tax.

                                  1. re: justxpete

                                    Ah. Now that I've had time to go back and re-read your post (and check your math) I get what you were trying to show, now. You're strictly referring to pre and post tax amounts (with equal tip percentages), while I'm stating that you have to take in to account the percentage as well, and in conjunction with the calculations - as 15% is, or has been the norm, but is becoming less common - and given where some restaurants are now asking 20% post-tax by default, it's a significant difference.

                          2. re: GeeDee

                            It's the principle that bothers people who want to tip pre-tax, not the amount of money in the tip.

                            Some people tip pre-tax at a higher rate than others tip post-tax. It's only about the money if you're talking about the same rate pre or post-tax (for example 15 % pre-tax vs 15% post-tax. )

                            I tip pre-tax. I can't think of a good reason to tip a NYC or Calgary server less than a Toronto server, which would be the result if I tipped at the same post-tax rate in Toronto, Calgary and NYC, whereas the servers would receive the same tip if I tipped pre-tax.

                            1. re: GeeDee

                              I Dont care if the difference is 2 cents. My tip is based on pre tax and I feel the restaurant that calculates it for me based on post tax is ripping off its patrons. Period.

                            2. re: kpaxonite

                              We were at a place last week that had two "gratuity" line items on the bill; one for a tip and one for a charitable donation to the Bocuse d'Or. I rather like that idea.

                              1. re: kpaxonite

                                not to mention, if you are plunking down for $500 bottles of wine, then how much you tip is probably not top of mind when dining out. . .lol

                                1. I think it's interesting that in Canada and the US we tip similar amounts (15-20%) on average and yet there is a massive discrepency in server wages.

                                  Just to illustrate an extreme example you could be making $2.13/hr in a given state compared to $9.55/hr in Ontario.

                                  That said, I tip whatever I think is appropriate.

                                  1. I always consult with my wife. I think of the work that the server has done and all the other interfaces with the staff. Then I tip dollar amounts -- no calculations involved.

                                    A fine dining place offers more interfaces, thus a higher dollar amount.

                                    This usually works, and I end up tipping phenomenally high at the summer/winterlicious lunches we eat because the service is worth it.

                                    Equal tip for equal work.

                                      1. re: Bkeats

                                        Ah, but this one has a Canadian spin to it.

                                        Although I may throw in what we do in the various countries here in Europe just so it gets really confusing. Until somebody again effectively tells me that I'm a foreigner and my comments are unwelcomed. At which point, I'll throw my dummy out of the pram and have another tantrum.

                                      2. I would not try to be a "regular" at a restaurant in the U.S. by tipping 15%.
                                        Go for it and throw down a few dollars more, being a waiter is a difficult, physically /mentally demanding job. Mentally demanding primarily due to obnoxious customers.
                                        What difference will it make 50,000 years from now; as the burned out cinder, that was planet Earth, tumbles through dark space?
                                        Here is a little nugget from a famous quote "always over tip the breakfast waitress", breakfast servers work very hard for small check amounts, on a $10.00 plate of eggs, I leave $5.00, again what does it matter to you in the long run. If one has a problem with that, stay home and make your own breakfast. Just my way of thinking.......I really dislike/dispise folks who make it a practice to see how they can screw a server by seeing how little they can leave as a tip.

                                        9 Replies
                                        1. re: ospreycove

                                          I have a problem with tipping 50% and no I wont stay home thank you very much.

                                          1. re: kpaxonite

                                            When I have breakfast at my regular spots, I am almost always served by the same people. I like three cups of coffee with cream...not 2, not 4, not with milk or H &H. These people ll know this. I don't have to look or ask. The coffee appears and is refilled without having to ask or look for any persons.

                                            That's worth 50% ...and then some for me.

                                            1. re: kpaxonite

                                              Well, there is the "hang up", what difference does it make to you to tip a few dollars more, we are not talking about $50.00 tips here, just another justification for, figuratively, screwing the breakfast waitress

                                              1. re: ospreycove

                                                Its not screwing the waitress to tip a normal percentage!

                                            2. re: ospreycove

                                              "What difference will it make 50,000 years from now; as the burned out cinder, that was planet Earth, tumbles through dark space?"

                                              "If one has a problem with that, stay home and make your own breakfast."

                                              These "nuggets of wisdom" are becoming tiresome.

                                              1. re: grampart

                                                Gramps there are a lot of uneducated out there.........More so than I want to believe!!!

                                                1. re: ospreycove

                                                  Well, the 50,000 year theory can be applied to anything and everything in life and the "if you can't afford to tip x% then you can't afford to eat out" is just plain wrong....and way over used.

                                                  1. re: grampart

                                                    Not really, eating out is, for the most part not essential to one's existence, it is considered a "nicety" not usually a necessity. When the statemant is made "I skimp on the tip, because I just can't afford it", one is directing hard earned resources in the wrong direction. When I,once, found myself, in a condition of extreme budget imbalances, drastic actions were taken, i.e. pare expenses to the bone, including entertainment (restaurant), expenses. Folks currently seek immediate gratification and social elevation way beyond one's means, as evidenced by the macro consumer credit balances in the U.S., including credit cards, housing mortgages, automobile loans, financing of vacations, wedding pagents, and other frivolous or beyond one's financial reach purchases. So, I will stick to my 50,000 year theory.

                                              2. re: ospreycove

                                                I don't tip much (in my country you don't) and I use the money to eat out more often. Isn't this better as it employs more people?

                                                Over 50,000 years this effect compounds resulting in full employment and removing many many people from poverty and desperation.

                                                It seems to be a far more altruistic approach than cooking my own breakfast.

                                              3. I don't put that much thought into tipping. Service has to be verrrrry bad for me to tip below 15%. As in downright rude on purpose. I try to understand that everyone has bad days and I try not to hold that against a server.

                                                Standard for DH and is usually 17% pre-tax, post-tax if service is really good. Then it increases depending on service. For great service, we usually tip about 20% pre-tax, sometimes post-tax.

                                                I think ones outlook on life and social responsibility may effect tipping. How much does one feel the need to care for others in society? .......and so on.......

                                                1. Well, I didn't anticipate quite so much emphasis on math, and perhaps more on what is or feels right. And I was thinking of the Ontario scene - sorry if I posted it incorrectly but the Summerlicious thread folk seemed to have at some point diverted to this issue.

                                                  Anyway, to clarify a few points - I did say that my thoughts centered on a typical meal of several courses with the table being occupied for a couple of hours. Obviously if one patronizes a coffee shop one might give a waitress 50 cents on the buck's worth of coffee, and the percentage/tax calculation becomes irrelevant.

                                                  What I do find singular is the high moral tone adopted by some posters, suggesting that one's "outlook on life and social responsibility" should guide one's tipping and the implication that I am somehow deficient of same by writing I feel no responsibility for the staff (again the Canadian/ON minimum wage vs the generally much lower wages in the US plays into the discussion here).

                                                  Also someone wrote that I "have no problem with them serving" me, as if I were somehow countenancing indentured slavery or a demeaning, cruel occupation.

                                                  That discussion becomes inflamed by the modern p.c. usage of "server" instead of my preferred "waiter." To serve has come to be seen - in many quarters - as somehow demeaning, Giving service in an honorable and proud way (witness the butlers and most domestic staff in Downton Abbey and Upstairs, Downstairs) is not a concept with which many N. Americans are personally familiar.

                                                  Here's the thing folks. I know of lots of other job holders who "serve" me and you, and make pretty low wages. You'd be surprised perhaps at what a bank teller starts at, a young realtor, an apartment super or janitor, my apartment cleaner, the clerks at the drug store including their franchised post office outlets that abound in Canada... lots of these people make a more significant difference to my quality of life than a restaurant employee. For many of the services they provide, I have no (reasonable) choice to go elsewhere, unlike the proliferation of restaurants. But I don't think their well-being is at all my responsibility unless by that one means to treat them civilly, try to smile and respect the often-tedious nature of their work. I don't tip them, though I might slip a $50 and a nice note to the janitor or cleaner come Christmastime. If the janitor needs a higher wage, the rent will go up. Canada Post just raised its first-class domestic stamp by 30%. Etc. So if a restaurant owner needs to pay his employees more to get qualified and pleasant staff, I will expect that to be reflected in the menu prices. It may be my social responsibility to advocate for a higher minimum wage, though there are plenty of economists who say it hurts the very people it seems as if it would help.

                                                  But to say that a restaurant employee alone is in a special category of employment and thus somehow deserves my special consideration is imho hogwash. If anyone does it's the lady who throws my stinky socks and underwear into the machine, or the janitor who cleans up the barf left by the ingress of rowdies from the sports bar next door. But I am limited both in mental capacity (as in time to think and judge) and bucks to take on the burdens of the world. And to me buying a burger and a coffee for the homeless man outside Mcdonalds probably reflects a more compelling need coupled with a definite positive result than the advice expressed by the would-be arbiters of conscience on this thread. Just sayin' !

                                                  16 Replies
                                                  1. re: Bigtigger

                                                    "some posters, suggesting that one's "outlook on life and social responsibility" should guide one's tipping and the implication that I am somehow deficient of same by writing I feel no responsibility for the staff "

                                                    My statement was a general answer to your post and not at all directed at you personally. Also, I said "may effect" not "should guide".

                                                    To be clear, what I meant was that everyone has a different opinion on tipping and many things in our lives guide those opinions whether it be money, personal values, service of course and many other factors. I hope that makes my statement more clear.

                                                    1. re: Bigtigger

                                                      Tigger - I found this post fascinating, especially how the US tipping culture has extended to Canada despite the more regulated employment conditions for severs there.

                                                      Just to add to the debate. Research indicates that tipping actually has no impact on the service outcome for most diners. It only really impacts the regulars who go to the same place all the time.

                                                      Most diners are transient so servers have no clue if they will be a big or low tipper so they need to give great service to all tables so as not to risk the tip. So the table that under tips suffers no adverse consequence as a result, and the generous tipper only benefit will be self satisfaction with their generosity (and maybe a happier afterlife).

                                                      So the best advice for the socially responsible (in Canada) is to not tip at all, not become a regular and use the money saved to eat out more often.

                                                      This will lower the individual pay for waiters (however they get a reasonable minimum wage for their skills so that should not be a cause of concern) but by spreading out the income it will enable the restaurant industry to employ more staff, lowering unemployment, which will be for the greater good of the Canadian economy and help more people. It's a far more altruistic and socially responsible strategy.

                                                        1. re: kpaxonite

                                                          It's as logical as many of the arguments for excessive tipping....!

                                                          And the part about tips not being an incentive for good service is very true.....especially as most people only vary their tip % minimally based on service quality.

                                                          1. re: PhilD


                                                            Certainly agree with your point about American tipping patterns not materially affecting the service quality experience. You only have to read a few Chowhound tipping threads to see how little Americans generally vary their tip, even in situations where very poor service has been given (which in many other tipping cultures would result in a zero tip). Servers know this and have no significant financial incentive to do better.

                                                        2. re: PhilD

                                                          Servers and taxi drivers in Toronto sometimes let you know what they think when they feel they've been under tipped. I wouldn't suggest leaving no tip while visiting Canada, unless one wants to experience the consequences. ;)

                                                          While there is a provincial minimum wage for servers, it is lower than the minimum wage for jobs where there are no tips. Canadian servers still need their tips, to bring in a wage that equals (or is higher) than the non-server minimum wage.

                                                          At least some servers in Canada work under the table, for cash. While they might not be declaring their income, I'm sure they appreciate their tips.

                                                          1. re: prima

                                                            Most provinces do NOT have a different minimum wage for tipped vs non-tipped workers, and in those that do the difference is less than a dollar. It's not like the US where food servers can be legally paid less than $3 an hour.

                                                            1. re: quof

                                                              What I was trying to convey in my reply to a Chowhound who is based in the UK, who suggested not tipping at all (quite possibly tongue-in-cheek), is that provincial governments have a lower minimum wage for servers because it's expected that they'll make up some of their income through tips. I stand corrected. 4 of 10 provinces (which happen to be the 4 most populated provinces: Alberta, BC, Quebec and Ontario) have minimum wages for their servers which are lower than general minimum wage.

                                                          2. re: PhilD

                                                            "Most diners are transient"

                                                            I think this is nonsense. While it might be true for places in Miami Beach or on Waikiki and some destination restaurants, there are plenty of neighborhood places frequented by people who live nearby. Or what about that place next to your office where you stop by every day after work for a bite to eat?

                                                            "the generous tipper only benefit will be self satisfaction with their generosity"

                                                            I don't buy this one either. People who are at a place they may never come back to tend to be concerned with decorum. They want to conform to what's customary. If you read any of the many tipping threads where plenty of Nervous Nellies ask whether a tip should be 18 or 20 percent, you realize that a lot of people go through life like sheep without an independent thought in their heads mostly concerned with adhering to societal norms rather than leaving whatever tip they fell like giving.

                                                            "So the best advice for the socially responsible (in Canada) is to not tip at all, not become a regular"

                                                            Never becoming a regular has severe downsides if there is a restaurant you like near where you live or work.

                                                            Besides, being a regular can be very interesting if you're a good tipper. I remember when a new place opened up a couple of blocks from where I lived. Initially, I went there almost every night, tipping well of course, and as usually happens, I became friends with the bar staff and most of the FoH people. And they opened up to me giving me the straight dope on what was happening in the restaurant, not in some varnished diplomatic fashion they would probably use with any customer that would ask a question, but more in the tone of how industry people talk to each other.

                                                            One day I look up and the Mayor of San Francisco is standing a few seats away trying to alert the bar staff that he wants a drink. They seem not to notice him, which I thought was strange given that the bar wasn't very busy. But since they noticed me, I called one of them over and suggested that maybe the Mayor wanted to order something. Afterwards, the Bar Manager came over and explained the situation. He said: "Willie comes in here almost every night wanting a comped drink, but he never leaves a tip so we just ignore him."

                                                            1. re: nocharge

                                                              nocharge: of course all your points are right on.
                                                              i eat out at least 5 meals a week, often more.
                                                              i'm a good tipper and have a regular rotation.

                                                              anyone who thinks that folks like us aren't treated better than cheapskates is deluding themself.
                                                              (even to the point of stashing a bar stool in the kitchen so that when the restaurant is full, a seat magically appears for me.) this is not just the servers/bartenders--the managers are in on it.
                                                              one restaurant owner once told me:
                                                              "the most valuable asset this restaurant has is our contingent of regular, generous, congenial, customers. this is why i never rent out the whole restaurant.
                                                              i NEVER want to turn away any of my good regulars.
                                                              they are the main reason the restaurant pulls a profit year after year--NOT the one-time rental nor the unpleasant, cheap, crowd that tries to get away with happy-hour games, table camping, etc.

                                                              a consistent, generous, customer base keeps the best servers and bartenders working for ME.

                                                            2. re: PhilD

                                                              Yes, and all professions get the same pay,( Medical docs, university profs, waiters, and garbage collectors), housing is free for all, as well as transportation........"From each according to his ability, to each according to his need".

                                                              1. re: ospreycove

                                                                But interestingly whenever the subject of waiters pay comes up there is always a set of comments that say they are poorly paid, the minimum wage is far too low etc etc and good tips are deserved and earned i.e. like the professions. Its illogical generosity most servers are pretty unskilled (students, travellers, resting actors/models etc) who simply write down an order and carry plates.

                                                                The reality is the pay reflects their value....but there seems to be a sense of guilt they are underpaid. And this is reflected in the convoluted logic used to justify tipping.

                                                                1. re: PhilD


                                                                  I presume your observations are about comments made on the North American experience, rather than a wider scenario in countries where restaurant staff may well be engaged in a permanent career and, indeed, may have undertaken courses of study leading to nationally recognised qualifications. In my own town, in the UK, the local college has a hospitality department training kitchen and serving staff. They operate a training restaurant, open to the public, so the students can undertake part of their training under real experiences.

                                                                  However, whilst it might be a permanent "proper" job, it is not well paid - although most of our restaurant servers are paid more than minimum wage.

                                                                  1. re: Harters

                                                                    John - yes mainly US based but Aldo true in other countries. And whilst the UK does have courses I suspect that many of the "beautiful" people waiting tables in the hot spots of a London etc have not gone to college. Nor have the young people in all the gastro pubs scattered throughout the country.

                                                                    I don't know much about the college courses but I thought a lot of the FOH ones were in hospitality management where service is a module rather than a course in its own right.

                                                                    1. re: PhilD

                                                                      Phil - the college does do hospitality management courses which are more for FOH hotel workers but there are NVQs specifically for servers:-

                                                                  2. re: PhilD

                                                                    I think I understand your basic premise here, but have to say it comes off as rather elitist. There are many, many professional servers (admittedly most working at 'better' establishments) who provide a quality of service that would seem to require experience, knowledge, and education far above what sounded rather dismissive in your post. "simply write down orders and carry plates"???? Really?

                                                            3. I've always tipped on the total bill, never even thought about pre or post tax.
                                                              10-15% for meh service
                                                              20+ % for great service
                                                              0% for shit service...

                                                              1. I have sat on all sides of this fence for several decades.

                                                                I honestly believe it is the restaurant's responsibility to pay a wage that allows a server a good standard of living. It is not the responsibility of each individual diner to 'maybe' make up for short comings in wages, based on their personal experience, through tipping.

                                                                When the onus of tipping to provide someone a good living is lifted and the restaurateur is forced to pay a decent wage then tipping becomes what it was meant to be. An appreciation of good service beyond what was is expected.

                                                                It is your responsibility as a diner to support the restaurateur and pay prices for food that allow them to become a responsible employer.

                                                                Add 20% to menu prices and let's start there.

                                                                5 Replies
                                                                1. re: Mila

                                                                  "It is your responsibility as a diner to support the restaurateur and pay prices for food that allow them to become a responsible employer. "

                                                                  Which is odd, isn't it? Because I can't really think of another business or profession where it's the client's responsibility to make sure staff get compensated fairly.

                                                                  And there are many low-wage jobs about which people have no concern for the employee's wages and do not attempt to supplement them with tips.

                                                                  Is the person who brings you a pizza and a beer worth more than the person who stocks the shelves at your local grocery store? In Canada and many other countries they make the same minimum wage. Why is one worth more than the other?

                                                                  1. re: hal2010

                                                                    I think its the personal interaction and belief (IMO mistaken) that the more you pay the more you get (service and freebies). The poor shelf stacker has a limited ability to "add value".

                                                                    That said when I lived in Paris the it was rumoured that the garbage collectors "would forget" to collect your bins if their christmas box was not full. Weirdly, we didn't have individual bins, but everyone believed the myth.

                                                                    1. re: hal2010

                                                                      I believe your reference to Canada's minimum wages being applied equally among all "lower paying" jobs (at least in the hospitality industry), are incorrect.
                                                                      For example: in the province of Ontario, the legal minimum wage for all occupations is currently at $11.00/hour
                                                                      gross income. There are a couple of exceptions, one of them being wait staff who serve liquor in a licensed establishment. The legal minimum wage for such employees is $9.55/hour.
                                                                      I believe that the standard minimum wage of $11.00/hr applies to all other non-servers in any given restaurant. This is where I base my own personal opinion on tipping my waiter/waitress. Not even considering the ripple effect a busser, line cook, or host/hostess can have on a patron's experience and take-away impression of the wait staff, the fact that the wait staff makes a significantly lower hourly wage than their colleagues serving other functions, but at the same time, interact directly with patrons cheerfully and respectfully... the wait staff will also be the ones to be on the direct recieving end of the patrons' complaints about quality of food, cleanliness, ambience, food allergies, menu prices, restaurant policies, and even the annoyances created for the patron as a result of an infant at the next table who has been crying and screeching for over an hour, and whose parents would rather choose to ignore it, than cut their meal short and head home, in order to address whatever is causing the infant to act out in such a disturbing manner.
                                                                      The main take-away from this is (for me, at least):
                                                                      - The wait staff are expected and called upon to ensure the patron's dining experience is positive and ensure return/new business as a result
                                                                      - in Ontario, at least (all provinces in Canada set their respective minimum wage legislation), wait staff are legislated a lower hourly wage, under the assumption that THEIR (not all the other staff), income is supplemented by TIPS, therefore each should be entitled to ALL of the tip they earned
                                                                      - the other restaurant staff's behaviour, competency and enthusiasm can directly impact the patrons' overall experience, but if they all get a share of the tips, there is no incentive for improvement, genuine effort, or interest in the patrons' experience.
                                                                      - it is unfair to simply dismiss the tip debate, saying that these people who are employed as wait staff, are willing to accept the terms and conditions of this aspect of the job, and to place the onus on the employee not to accept these conditions if they are unhappy about it. Many people (esp. youth, disadvantaged/marginalized groups and elderly) do not have the luxury of higher education, social or entepreneurial skills, self-esteem etc... which is generally required to secure employment in an uppwardly-mobile and progressive position/firm and are limited to the choices they have as far as job options available to them.
                                                                      Such persons with the intrinsic motivation, values and goals to work hard (and they DO work very hard) should be rewarded and respected for their honorable efforts, by refusing social assistance, crime or other anti-social manner of procuring funds, rather than be "punished" for having been percieved as somehow less valuable and deserving of recognition for their station in life.
                                                                      As for the concept of automatically adding tips to the bill, I don't agree with that at all. It only serves once again, to minimize an employee's motivation to create a positive dining experience for patrons, and once again, puts the wait staff in the undesirable position of having to endure their customer's expressions of frustration at having lost their right to choose an appropriate bonus for their wait staff which is commisurate with the quality of service.

                                                                      1. re: kchameleon1971

                                                                        We're talking less than 10% difference in minimum wages in Ontario. I can't see how that justifies a gratuity of 15-20% of your bill. In order to make up the difference a server has to sell about $10 an hour, assuming a 15% average tip.

                                                                        All of your arguments about the benefits of motivating people with tips could apply to any job involving serving the public: cashier, retail worker, garbage collector. They don't get tips. I guess the extra $58 a week makes up for that. And why am I supposed to be the one motivating someone's staff?

                                                                        If they were paid a living wage and benefits then they should have the incentive to do a good job. Instead we have this vaguely coercive system where tipping less than a certain percentage is "tacky" or grounds for food sabotage or poor service on a repeat visit.

                                                                        I've actually found service to be more professional in countries where they pay staff a reasonable wage and they are properly trained. The manager of a restaurant has less incentive to ensure his staff are doing a great job if they aren't really paying their wages.

                                                                        1. re: kchameleon1971

                                                                          Ah yes, but the difference between the server's "significantly lower hourly wage" of 9.55, and regular minimum wage of $11, is $1.45.

                                                                          So logically, the moral imperative of a diner, or a table of diners, should be to equalize that, right? If a table of 4, dining for 2 hours, leaves a tip of $2.90 - why, did they not ensure that the waiter's wage would no longer be "significantly lower"?

                                                                          My goodness, if each individual diner in that foursome left $2.90, regardless of what their bill was, they may well ensured that their waiter's hourly wage was now "significantly higher" than their BOH compatriots'.

                                                                          And that's just one table.

                                                                    2. a) I can't help with that.
                                                                      b) Ditto
                                                                      c) you are correct, pace whining to the contrary (that is, there's no credible entitlement to being tipped post-tax; I get that servers may grouse about it, but any entitlement they feel about it is not well founded)
                                                                      d) wine tipping has changed because it's included in a server's total on which tax is withheld. It used to be that wine was a 10% tip, given to the wine steward rather than the server if the former handled all the wine-related matters. That model has all but virtually been superseded.
                                                                      e) in the USA, the currently customary standard tip for full-service dining is 15-20% of the pretax total, including beverage - at the high end in many (but not necessarily all) urban dining meccas (that is, neighborhoods that are destinations for dining)* and resorts, at the lower end in many other places. [Percentages tend to skew higher for full-service breakfast places, given the low denominators often involved.] Buffet service standard is still 10%.

                                                                      * A generation ago, this was true in the lower half of Manhattan. The geographic scope of its prevalance has grown, but is *far* from universally obtaining.

                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                      1. re: Karl S

                                                                        "there's no credible entitlement to being tipped post-tax"

                                                                        Since when are there any "entitlements" in this area that are not specified by law? The reality is that some people tip pre-tax; some tip post-tax; some tip 15 percent; some 18; some tip 20 and some even more. Often people have a variety of opinions about what is "right".

                                                                        But "entitlements"! That idea is about as silly as can be. Does a server have an "entitlement" to receive a 15 percent gratuity? I don't think so. The legal entitlement is exactly zero percent.

                                                                        1. re: nocharge

                                                                          d you know what entitled means? Its how many servers feel...

                                                                          1. re: kpaxonite

                                                                            So how do you translate "credible entitlement" into tipping percentages and who gets to decide what is "credible"?

                                                                            Most servers attitude towards tips is simply "more is better". No need to try to invent nonsensical concepts like "credible entitlement". If a server feels he deserves a 20 percent gratuity, would that represent a "credible entitlement"? Personally, I wouldn't give a rat's ass.

                                                                      2. IS 25% THE NEW TIPPING STANDARD???

                                                                        Nowadays, 15 percent isn’t an average tip – it’s a way of registering displeasure with the service. (READ ON AT LINK BELOW)


                                                                        6 Replies
                                                                        1. re: ospreycove

                                                                          This was originally posted on a Canadian board- tips are lower there.

                                                                          1. re: ospreycove

                                                                            "Tip creep" my ass! No one should feel ashamed to leave 15% for regular service.

                                                                            1. re: ospreycove

                                                                              That story is a good example of click-bait. It's not based on facts, but breezy statements that pose as facts.

                                                                              1. re: Karl S

                                                                                There is more to the story,now everyone is looking for a tip.


                                                                                1. re: ospreycove

                                                                                  They can put any spin they want on tipping but the end result is that it has gone too far. Tipping 20% is the norm? My ass it is. It is what they want you believe and do. The new norm is closing on 25%? Sure, for the people who have no sense of value but for the majority of people 15% is tops.
                                                                                  Let the silent majority, who spend the most, respond loudly......in tips.

                                                                                  1. re: genoO

                                                                                    I thought the section on the psychology of tipping was interesting.

                                                                                    Most don't want to be cheapskates so they tip the average. Others want to feel good about themselves so tip more thus raising the bar and creating the new normal (the implication is that the high tip is more about their personal self esteem than rewarding waiters).

                                                                                    Reading between the lines I think you can see a lot of this displayed in the comments posted here.

                                                                                    Has tipping always been such a hot subject in the media - threads here plus all the other links. Or is there maybe a bit of a backlash against tip creep?

                                                                            2. Hobbert,

                                                                              I noticed that, I think now this discussion has morphed into a general practice/ethics/need for tipping. Just adding a little fuel!!!!