Thoughts on Tipping?

DT18-P About a year ago, I spent a week walking around New York, awkwardly asking strangers if I could interview them to ask about tipping. I spoke with 123 people in total, all working in professions that involve being tipped and asked them a bunch of questions about how much they’re tipped, how often, how large a portion of their income tipping made up, etc. The goal was to get answers to the “Wait am I supposed to tip here and how much?” questions that infiltrate the lives of Americans and cause unending awkwardness.

I supplemented my own findings with a bunch of more professional data from the website of a tipping expert and put everything together into this post. In particular, I put the meat of the numerical findings into this chart:


The post made quite a splash. Apparently this is something people have opinions about.

So we decided to make it the subject of today’s dinner table. Here’s the plan:

People with jobs that involve tips (either currently or in the past): What’s your experience with tips? How much do people normally tip? What portion of your income comes from your tips? Any good stories? And how much do you think someone in your profession should be tipped? Do you agree with the info about your profession in the above chart?

Everyone: Do you consider yourself to be a good tipper? How much do you tip waiters? Food delivery drivers? How about when you get coffee and there’s a tip jar on the counter? Bartenders? Valets and coat checks? Are there any situations in life where you find yourself unsure of whether to tip? General thoughts on the custom of tipping? Thoughts on the American system where waiters don’t receive salary from the restaurant and the entire burden of paying the waiter is on customers? Given that, is it a moral obligation to tip at least 15%, even if the service is bad?

People not from the US: What’s the deal with tipping in your country? Which professions are tipped? How much are you supposed to tip in those situations? What do you think of the American system?

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  • František Ficek

    For me, tipping is something that I volutarily do, if I’m satisfied and happy with the service I recived. I usually don’t tipp if I for example order just one coffee in a coffee house and I have to pay in advance, because I don’t even know how the beverage and services will be. If I’m in a pub and have to pay for every beer separately, I only tipp with the last one, because at that point I’m able to evaluate how everything was.
    I’m really happy that in my country we don’t have the same tipping system as in the US, where it seems so forced and pushed away from the concept of giving some extra cash as a reward for good service.

  • HardFacts

    Canadian here, we tip the very same. I’ll say this is a great guideline and understanding of this importance of tipping but I must add a stipulation. that being: this is only a good guideline for the system **as is currently is** I remember having my hair cut in London England in 2012 and tipping the guy a 5 afterwards. He seemed offended until we got to talking and he told me that you aren’t supposed to tip there, that it’s included in the price of the cut sort of and their take home wages are fair. It’s the same for servers there and in most of Europe. He saw my tip as an insult as If I were saying that I was better than him cause he just cuts hair and I can just toss money around like pity money for him. So the question is… which system is better? I would god heavily in favour of most of Europe. I think the concept of tipping is so powerfully stupid that it needs to be eliminated all together. If you want a service then you need to pay for all that goes into the service and all factors should be included in the price. All wages for all jobs should be fair without tips and I’m 100% alright if that meant the price of everything had to go up 15-20%. There can be no bad tippers if there is no tipping.

  • Jonathan Zieg

    Can we please stop with the tipping system in general? I’ll gladly tip when needed, but we should really just make businesses pay their employees.

  • TheBadTipper

    A Kenyan here. Tipping is not a requirement here, but a good practice, I guess. I normally tip waiters at restaurants. If I convert it, it is usually about $1-2 here (Which is a lot of money here!). And the American system is very complicated. Requires some serious math to be done. And it’s awkward if you make a mistake with numbers. Plus it is strange for me that tipping is a requirement.

  • Martin Nick Smolík

    I am from Slovakia, but I live in Prague. Here we are not really expected to tip, but majority still do it. Here you only tip in restaurants and bars (almost always, standard tip being 10% or however much it takes to make the total a round number) . I am a poor university student so I don’t have much to give, but if I get good service, I always try to spare something (usually about 5-10%).

  • Scott Pedersen

    I’m in the US and I haven’t had a job that involved tips (currently a software engineer. Previously had a couple of jobs like scrubbing toilets at a summer camp for less than minimum wage.) I always try to be a good tipper, 20% typically, sometimes more, especially the pizza delivery guy when its raining. I usually toss some money into tip jars to, if I have anything on me smaller than a $20.

    I never know how to tip professional service people who aren’t on the list above. Do you tip tow truck drivers? How about the people who shredded a half-dozen boxes of my old paperwork? Carpet cleaners? AC installation?

  • In Brazil we only “tip” in caffes, restaurants, and bars, when it its the 10% they include in the bill. It is also quite common to leave the change (when is between less than 4 BRL) to taxi drivers similar workers. To delivery I tend to give a 2 BRL to delivery. In hairsalons, and other places where there is a lot of people working around you, its polite to give 2BRL each. But exept in the 10% tip (which is included in the bill, its optional, but you have to ask to be take out), no one is going to wait you tip, or appear angry.

  • Wousje

    In the Netherlands all tips are included in the price for beverages and food in bars, restaurants etc. However; I do tip the pizza delivery guys, bar personell and the waiter in the restaurant if the service is good. Usually around 10%. Others who receive tips are the paper delivery guy around Christmas (around 10 euro’s if service was good), taxidrivers ( but only because they make you feel it’s obligated, they already ask way too much), guides in musea, bus drivers of outings (at the end of the trip). How much always depends on the service. Is service is bad, a tip should not be expected.

  • Talia

    I’m from the US. I was a waitress/barista for a year, never expected anyone to tip when customers came to the counter to pick up an order or order a drink to go. Always pleasantly surprised when they would tip but never took it for granted. I remember one time, with a large party (about 15 women) came for lunch, one of them insisted on picking up the tab and left no tip! I had no shame to approach one of the ladies lagging behind saying I’m “sure it was just an oversight”… She understood and made a generous tip.
    Now I try to tip fairly, usually about 18% at restaurants 20% if it’s really good service, very crowded or seems like a hard day.

  • Artyom Karapetov

    Tipping should be optional, as it’s a token of appreciation and not extra $$$ you have pay. Seriously, employers taking advantage of this and paying next to nothing to their employees (esp. restaurants, bars, etc.) forcing their customers to “tip” is plain wrong. By now tip is not a “tip” but an extra mandatory bill to pay a worker’s salary, cause, you know, the boss wants all the dough for himself/herself so why not keep all the real money and force consumers to pay extra as a way “to show their appreciation”?

  • Matt

    I’m from Australia… While tipping is often done, it isn’t expected. If I were to go out for dinner with friends, we’d usually round the bill up so a value that is easy to split amongst us, and the extra becomes the tip. If we got particularly bad service you can bet we’d be asking for the change. If we got really great service, then we’d make a conscious effort to tip more.
    Outside of restaurants I can’t think of anywhere where you would tip… Perhaps except a taxi driver where I’d say ‘keep the change’, if, say, the fare was $12 and I gave him a $10 and a $5 note.

    What puzzles/annoys me about the US system is that resturants owners etc are passing the responsibly to pay the staff on to the customer…and no one seems to care!! I wouldn’t say that resturant meals are any cheaper than here in Australia, or many European countries I’ve been too, so clearly the restaurants in the US are making a lot more money than their counterparts in other countries because they don’t have to pay there staff. Quite often having to tip makes the meal ridiculously expensive (and don’t get me started on the fact that tax is then also added as well! Why not include that in the price on the menu!), a $20 meal on the menu ends up being closers to $30! Honestly, I’d feel so much better about the situation if the menu said $30 for the same item, but that included the tax and the fact that the resturant paid their staf a decent wage.

    As for other professions that ‘require’ tipping – most are just down right ridiculous…. It’s their fucking job! Why am I tipping them for doing something they’re employed to do? Again, this drives up the price! I just paid $50 for a haircut, and now I have to pay another $10 as a tip for something they’re paid to do in the first place?! Why? And who decides which professions should get these tips? Why don’t I tip the bank teller when I go to get some money out? Especially if “it was a large sum and they had to count a lot”?

  • Jamie McKie

    Scottish here and I hate to say I live up to the stereotype of a tight tipper. I’ll be honest, I hate doing it. I loved time I spent in Japan where the service was embarrassingly good (ie it embarrassed me to try way harder when I am providing service to anyone) and you never tipped – it was insulting to do so.

    Needless to say I am not a fan of the US and similar systems. My eyes popped out when I looked at the tipping stats table.

    Saying that, I always tip 10% when eating out in the UK if the service is good. 5% if just OK and nothing if it’s poor.

    • Tracey G.

      OK, I also find restroom attendants to be really strange. We don’t often have them in Canada, and I feel really uncomfortable having them lurk around when I’m just there to do my business and leave. Um, pretty sure I can grab my own hand towel and find the basket for my used one, but thanks.

      • Nemo

        Yea so awkward! And I don’t usually take my bag to the restroom.

  • Tolls

    From Denmark here, where we basically never tip. It’s always included and a typical waiter probably makes at least $25 per hour. I always find it both awkward and complicated to tip when I travel in the US. I know I have too because waiters are not paid a decent wage, and it’s just the system, but I hate it nonetheless. I’m not saying the European system is necessarily better because service is usually better in the US – there is really no incentive for good service in Europe and sometimes it shows. An attentive waiter is rewarded in the US. I prefer the EU system, but maybe just because it’s what I’m used to.

  • nyc

    from new york city. two things new yorkers use a lot: taxis and seamless. in taxis, when it’s time to pay, you get tip options for 20, 25, and 30%, or you can manually type in your tip. obviously hitting one of the buttons is easier and you feel guilty taking an active step to type something lower in, so most people end up doing 20 for cabs. i’ve talked to drivers who don’t expect the 20% minimum, and others who are appalled if you don’t. seamless also sets the tip at 2 dollars and it goes up if you order more. so we get subtly socialized into thinking it’s terrible not to tip, and it kinda is terrible not to, so, whatevs.

  • Matt

    I’m from Australia… While tipping is often done, it isn’t expected. If I were to go out for dinner with friends, we’d usually round the bill up to a value that is easy to split amongst us, and the extra becomes the tip. If we got particularly bad service you can bet we’d be asking for the change. If we got really great service, then we’d make a conscious effort to tip more.
    Outside of restaurants I can’t think of anywhere where you would tip… Perhaps except a taxi driver where I’d say ‘keep the change’, if, say, the fare was $12 and I gave him a $10 and a $5 note.

    What puzzles/annoys me about the US system is that resturants owners etc are passing the responsibility to pay the staff on to the customer…and no one seems to care!! I wouldn’t say that resturant meals their are any cheaper than here in Australia, or many European countries I’ve been too, so clearly the restaurants in the US are making a lot more money than their counterparts in other countries because they don’t have to pay their staff. Quite often having to tip makes the meal ridiculously expensive (and don’t get me started on the fact that tax is then also added as well! Why not include that in the price on the menu!), a $20 meal on the menu ends up being closers to $30! Honestly, I’d feel so much better about the situation if the menu said $30 for the same item, but that included the tax and the fact that the resturant paid their staf a decent wage.

    As for other professions that ‘require’ tipping – most are just down right ridiculous…. It’s their job! Why am I tipping them for doing something they’re employed to do? Again, this drives up the price! I just paid $50 for a haircut, and now I have to pay another $10 as a tip for something they’re paid to do in the first place?! Why? And who decides which professions should get these tips? Why don’t I tip the bank teller when I go to get some money out? Especially if “it was a large sum and they had to count a lot”?

  • Innocent Bystander

    I hate the tipping system for everything. Just build it into the price already. I don’t want to have to do extra math or think about carrying cash with me.

    I also must mention that I don’t like that waiters are tipped as a percent of the bill. This makes NO sense. It should be based on how many plates they bring, not how expensive the food is that is on the plate. It takes them no more effort to bring me a filet mignon than it does to bring my kid chicken fingers. Bonus for making table-side Caesar salad or de-boning fish. Definitely should be a system based on quantity and difficulty, not percentage.

    Having said all that, I did read the WBW post a few months ago. I learned that I was on the low tipper side of things. Knowing that the system will never go away or significantly change, I decided to up my game. I’m definitely a MUCH better tipper now. I’m lucky that an extra $1 or $2 makes little difference to me, but may to the person I’m leaving it for. And I actually feel so much better in doing so.

  • Tracey G.

    I live in Ontario, where the average tip (i.e. the basic amount) is 15%. I consider that to be the baseline, the absolute lowest I will tip, even if the food or service is really bad. My average tip when dining out is 20%. Note: I make just above my country’s mean income ($42K before taxes)–not a high roller over here, if it matters. If I receive outstanding service or feel that the staff went out of their way to make my meal/experience memorable and delicious, I will tip more. In Ontario, if you are dining with 6 or more people, there is an automatic 20% gratuity added to the bill before tax at most restaurants. I found out through asking someone in restaurant management that it is customary (i.e. “the right thing to do”) to tip another 20% on top of this, to which I have sometimes taken exception. I understand that, in a larger party, there is more service needed to coordinate meals and satisfy multiple diner requirements. As well, larger parties take up more seating real estate that might otherwise garner more tipping opportunities for the staff, so 20% added to the bill makes sense. However, more often than not, when I’ve dined with a larger party at a more casual restaurant, something has inevitably gone wrong–someone waiting for their meal well after everyone else, a meal not cooked to request, drinks delivered late, appetizers served with entrees, etc. In these circumstances, I do not feel compelled to tip beyond the automatic gratuity. When service has been seamless and has met the majority of needs, sure, I don’t have an issue kicking in a bit more, but I do think that expecting a tip on top of a tip creates a dangerous precedent that suggests service is negligible in the face of “the right thing” as far as tipping goes.

    I also think diners need to take a healthy dose of perspective when considering how much to tip. Was it the fault of waitstaff that your meal was not cooked to request, or is that the kitchen’s issue? Did the waitstaff do everything they could to rectify an issue? Should they be penalized for another area’s mistake? I also think being able to ‘read’ people is important in giving due consideration. How new is the person taking my order? How busy is their section? I would like to think that, when I’m having a bad day, those with whom I come into contact will give me a bit of consideration when our paths cross. I worry that failure to do so creates a really abrasive ‘on-demand’ attitude that says more about the people who can afford to eat out or take cabs than it does to those who are in service roles. OK, sure, they have a job to do, I get that, but I do think that kindness and understanding go a long way in not only receiving solid service, but also in treating others, regardless of their role, with kindness and understanding. Like my dad says, “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.”

    When I waitressed, I worked hard for my tips. Sure, there were those customers that tipped peanuts, if at all, because they were jerks, but, by and large, I received tips that reflected the service I gave to my customers. 15-20% was my average, and I do feel as though I truly earned that.

    As a last note, I have a ton of family in Scotland and I try to get over there at least every other year. When I was old enough to pay for “grown-up’ meals out, I was shocked to be told, by my waiter, no less, that tipping was not the way things were done over there. I received a bill, paid and tipped my usual 20%, then had the waiter come back with the bill, looking both embarrassed and a bit cross, to tell me my tip wasn’t necessary. In Scotland, tips are built into the bill itself (though I failed to see that line on the bill), and staff won’t hesitate to tell you so. I wonder if they inform of no tipping to keep themselves from incurring more income tax.

  • SiliconScribe

    I worked my way through college on waiting table and during a very low point in my career I picked up serving again to help ends meet. That said, I’m a strong supporter of tipping but within reason. Because the restaurant industry gets to account for tips against pay the average server gets below minimum wage except in some states. Knowing that, I rarely tip below 15% – Even if the service was sub-par. Mostly because often if the service wasn’t good it’s often because the server is overwhelmed with too many tables and or a slow kitchen – Trust me, they WANT to do good and make you happy but sometimes it’s out of their control.

    Here are a few interesting things all waiters know about you – and whether or not this is YOU this is what most server think when you arrive. * I don’t agree with all but, again, they are not far off my 7 years total wait staff experience. And some of this has been backed by studies:
    * A group of men – Low effort, easy going, great tippers, will fight over the check and tip 20% or better, higher if server is female.
    * A group of women – hard work, all want water they will not drink, will modify orders, send food back, will ask you divide their check per person (I’ve had a part of 20 ask for separate checks) and will barely tip 10%
    * College students – waiters fight over who has to take them. No tip. The worst are the obviously rich ones who don’t tip.
    * Families with little children – 50/50 could be great, could be awful. Parents who have control over their children and a plan often are the best tippers. Those who have awful children who make a mess and run around upseting other guest – well you get the picture.
    * There are stereo types in this mix as well. Certain races get labeled for being poor tippers.
    * Worst tippers on average – First dates – can’t explain why this is…
    *** Both great tippers and crappy ones are remembered.

    Finally, I would LOVE to see us move towards a fair wage system and remove tipping all together. I made a good income from it but it was hit and miss and often it didn’t matter how good my server was or wasn’t.

  • TongueSten

    When it comes to food delivery, bartenders, taxis, etc., I pretty much always tip 20%. I think it’s because I’m black and I don’t want to perpetuate the stereotype that black people don’t tip. I rarely have cash on me, so I don’t usually put things in tip jars unless it’s change I’m trying to get rid of.

    A friend of mine is a host at a restaurant and he always complains when people don’t tip him. I never realized you were supposed to. He also expects tips when people pick up their food for carry out.

  • kelly

    Worked in canada thru post-secondary and then some for the best part of a decade and ‘tips’ were the reason it was a wonderful income. servers pay,(which is controlled by the govt. btw just like minimum wage. so it isnt actually a reflection of a cheap owner but that the owner understands the customers will essentially make up the difference. Good set up or bad? hard to say. what i do know is that i worked like crazy for my tables in order to (hopefully) secure a good tip, when your service dictates what the table might leave, youre on your game. (At least I was.) It also was an experience that made me, truth be told, a fairly stingy tipper myself. Only because i knew how hard i worked for tips at my bar and if i was at another bar and the service wasnt as good, or even close, to what i was used to at my job, well, i would offer that observation in my tip. Finally, what drives me nuts (again as a customer, not as a server, as a server the following worked to my advantage, but…) is tipping 18-20 percent on the TOTAL. Now you are tipping on taxes!! similar to an earlier comment taking offense to tipping on the total even tho carrying a plate to the table is the same effort whether it steak or a kiddie dish, I hate the expectation that the tip should be on the total rather than sub-total. Cheers!

  • RF42

    When I was in college, I worked at a Perkin’s restaurant (a 24/7 place) where I was paid far less than minimum wage at the time since they expected that a good portion of my “salary” would be in tips. In fact, at the end of each shift, you had to total your sales receipts and calculate 15% of that amount to declare for tax purposes as tip income. Even if you didn’t make 15% on every check, you still had to pay taxes on that amount. It totally sucked. I don’t know if things are the same these days, but there has to be a better way.

    As far as tipping, I wish it would go away. Mostly this is because what use to be a fairly simple “tip your waiters and hairdresser” thing has become a “tip every single person who serves you” thing. Too, it no longer has anything at all to do with acknowledging exceptional service but something that is expected as a matter of course. I’d much rather these people just get paid a decent wage and not have to rely on tips. If I get bad service, I’d just stop patronizing a shop because as it stands now, if you don’t tip because of bad service, people just decide you are a penny pinching jerk and not that it was perhaps a reflection on their service. Don’t even get me started on the Tip Jars that adorn all of the counters of the coffee houses and ice cream shops where you order and pick up all at the same window.

    That said, I don’t think tipping will ever go away in America because so many generations do it as a matter of course. We’d have to slowly phase it out, and still everyone over the age of 25 would probably continue to do it.

  • Emily

    I live in New Zealand. Tipping doesn’t really exist in this country, I have never come across it in my time. One thing that people sometimes do is ‘keep the change’, or they put their change in the tipping jar, but this is not particularly common. Employers here legally have to pay the minimum wage to all employees, from 1 April 15 this wage is $14.75NZD, which converts to just over $10USD.

  • Joanna Rene Rasmussen

    Just the other day, I tipped 25% to my waitress. She got my entire order wrong. I even posted about it on facebook. I described her as “adorably flawed”. My rationale is, you never know where you stand in the long line of assholes that came before you and helped screw up your service person’s day and/or attention span. I’ve spent enough time in the service industry to know how stressful it is. A lot of people are just dicks and serving them is, at times, demoralizing.

    But, working for tips, isn’t really fair and, yes, taxes have to paid on a certain percentage of sales. And, in most places, the wait staff still forks over a percentage to the kitchen crew. I would be down for a mandatory 18% added to each check.

    In addition to food service, I fall into the high tipper category on your chart and usually for no good reason, just because.

  • Suzanne

    I must eat gluten free. (No comments, please, attacking this life sentence … because if I could chose not to, I certainly would choose not to.) BUT, that said: I have to ask a LOT of any waitron serving me, no matter where I eat out. I have to ask so many questions, in order to stay safely GF, and sometimes I even have to ask the person to go back to the kitchen and clarify something with the chef. I’ve heard that gluten-free customers are the bane of all restaurant staff … maybe so. But I cannot tell you how appreciative I am when a waitperson clearly has their head in the game, and isn’t resentful of (often even sympathetic to) my plight. If I am treated like a human being, and not given any attitude about my special requests, I never tip less than 20%. We do not have a lot of money, so this is sometimes a tough call for me, but I do it anyway. I’d rather order less food (tho, granted, I often don’t have a lot of choices!) than stiff my waitperson, especially if they clearly have my back, and aren’t throwing shade in my direction.

  • Kelly

    I listen to a podcast called “Awesome Etiquette,” and they recently talked about tipping. They say that –at least the way the system is now– when you go to a restaurant, you enter into a “social contract” that you will leave a tip because of the way their pay is structured. I personally would prefer it to be included in the price of the food, but I like that take on tipping if you accept how it is now, rather than tipping based on your dislike for it or what you wish it would be. The other thing they said, that I think is very important, is to never use your money to talk for you. If you didn’t like the service, leave maybe a 15% tip (whatever is the lowest acceptable % in that situation) and then speak to the manager. A small tip or a penny– that won’t change the service and it just makes you look bad, ultimately.

  • Suzanne

    I have a tipping QUESTION. Due to caregiving and disability issues, we frequently order groceries online, delivered to our home. The purveyor of said groceries charges a significant delivery fee (plus, of course, groceries are slightly more $ than if one were to buy them in a local supermarket). Depending on how much the total bill is, the delivery fee ranges from $7 to $10. BUT, it is clear that protocol is to also tip the delivery driver, as there is a big TIP empty line item, right there, to be filled in when you sign off for your grocery delivery. The company offers no guidelines about what to tip.

    Now, the guys who deliver the groceries are fantastic! There are a lot of bags and careful handling involved, and often dealing with inclement weather. Plus, they are always super nice and respectful. But, I also figure that I’ve paid a fairly “decent” amount for the privilege of delivery, and I also expect that these guys make a good salary (since they drive trucks and are clearly vetted to be good employees). In doing a little research, it would seem that these drivers make a minimum of $12 an hour (minimum wage in our state is $7.25), and probably receive company benefits. It is a very physical job, and often takes them a minimum of 10-15 minutes to offload and deliver all the grocery bags to the house. I want to be fair, but what portion of the delivery fee do these drivers receive? I assume none.

    I’ve been tipping $7, for what usually amounts to an average of $100 of groceries on any given delivery. This would be in addition to the $7 delivery fee and up-priced grocery items. $14 (in total) seems like a lot to pay for delivery, but I don’t want to unfairly take it out of the drivers’ salaries.

    What seems right, on both sides of this equation?

    • Jim Dugan

      I say $15-$20 on $100 worth of groceries!
      I’m agreeing with you. You’re at $14, you’re good!

  • Ana Rocha

    From Brazil.

    I often find tipping abusive, since waiters over here seldom serve happily. They do it as if it weren’t their obligation to smile and be nice.

    I’m a teacher, hence, I work with public. If I teach with a straight face, students will feel as if they were bothering me or something. And that’s how most waiters act. As if we were there bothering their free time. When were really there giving their job.
    If there were no clients, they wouldn’t need their jobs.

    Now, I know it’s nobody’s dream career to serve food to people, but if it’s the thing you’re doing either temporarily or to support a family, do your part. As we say it over here, “wear the tshirt”

    It’s not mandatory to tip over here, but they often include the amount to tip on the bill, and if we pay any less, they complain. So, we have to point out that that amount is optional.

    I am strongly against tipping when you get a salary b very month, just like in other professions. I only do it if the person was nice enough and when I feel like I was a difficult customer at some point.

    I do it when I feel they deserve it. I work hard for the money I get, even at home. Because I chose this profession, so I have to deal with it or change jobs if I think it’s not worth it anymore… .

    • Jales Naves Júnior

      Depende, viu… Gorjeta aqui no Brasil geralmente nunca é dividida entre os garçons, fica pro dono do estabelecimento. E, aqui em Goiânia, os garçons são muito simpáticos. Mas eu acho o sistema de tipping péssimo. Se você está nos EUA, acha que gastou “X”, e depois os trabalhadores do estabelecimento vem com cara de tacho ou gato pidão querendo mais 20%.

    • Leonardo Carneiro

      Hi Ana,

      I was scrooling the page to find anyone from Brazil. I also from here and also currently living in Rio de Janeiro.

      The big thing with the waiters, like you said, it’s like they’re doing a favor in serving you. This seems to be a major trademark in Rio: waiters treating you like shit. However, it’s not sooo big elsewhere. In other parts of the country, like the southern states where I came from, or northeast states, the waiters are generally nicer. I can’t tell for other regions.

      I’m not a pessimist with Rio. I have a nice time living here with my wife. But services are of very low quality and very overpriced, making me in no mood AT ALL to give any tips.

      It’s the same with waiters, pizza deliveries, plumbers, doormen etc. You said exactly what I feel. It’s like if I am bothering in their free time.

      In places where I was particularly poorly attended and refused to tip, often I was rudely questioned about why I would not tip. This is outrageous. This people forget that the tip is a benefit of a good service, and not a acquired right.

  • Merp

    I work at a restaurant in a very touristy part of Hollywood, CA. My experience with tipping is frustrating to say the least. While the majority of people tip at least something, it is usually under 15% (typically closer to 8%). This is often due to foreign people visiting and not understanding the tipping culture here, and ultimately my coworkers and I understand this and accept it as the way things are. The frustrating part is when people who are born and raised in this country decide that they aren’t able to tip because they “can’t afford it” after spending all of their money at the overpriced tourist attractions surrounding our restaurant. Our restaurant is a specialty themed restaurant. The food is expensive and the experience is very unique. If you can’t afford to tip, you can’t afford to eat here. Go to one of the many fast food restaurants just down the street and save your money.

    What most people don’t realize when they decide whether or not to leave a tip is that servers almost always have to tip out the rest of the staff (this usually includes hosts, bartenders and often the kitchen workers). My job does this automatically at the end of the night. The computer calculates a certain percentage of the sales (not tips, sales) and this gets taken out of our tips and goes toward the hosts and bartenders. This means, that if there’s a bill of $100, five dollars of our tip will go toward the non-serving staff… if you don’t tip us, this money comes out of pocket. It’s automatic. I once owed the restaurant 87 cents after serving for three hours and not getting tipped enough to cover tip share once.

    I find that a lot of people don’t tip because they “don’t believe in it” and believe that servers should be paid more. I agree, but as of this moment that isn’t the way it is. Making a statement by not tipping doesn’t do anything but hurt the server. If you want us to be able to make a sustainable living, keep tipping us and fight your battles in the courts, not your neighborhood mom and pop restaurant.

    • Anonymous Guy

      How about servers fight the battle themselves? If you’re willing to work for an unsustainable wage, that’s your problem. If my employer tried to make me earn 50% or more of my take-home from customers who felt like supporting me, then a) I’d be struggling bc our clients are rational self, interested beings and b) our immediate work stoppage would nip that nonsense in the bud.

      • Vic

        can’t even name a word that expresses how stupid your comment is.

    • This sounds totally illegal. How can the your employer arbitrarily subtract money from your paycheck? Unfortunately, I can’t fight that battle in court, but it sounds like maybe you and your fellow employees could. I realize that a legal battle with your employee is probably not what you are hoping for…

      Sorry you have to deal with this situation – it sucks!

      I tip because I realize the reality of how it works now, but I hate the whole thing, especially how unfair it is to waiters like you.

  • Anonymous Guy

    Tipping is such a waste of time. The business should simply pay more to deliver the experience to the customer. Don’t put this tipping issue on the customer or the worker. Pay up.

    I often get terrible service bc I’m black and the service providing employee doesn’t expect a good tip from me. So, do I tip well to try and combat the belief that blacks don’t tip well? Do I reinforce the belief by not tipping due to terrible service? OR, do I tip despite the terrible service? This is what happens when the business owner decides to leave an unspoken negotiation up to the workers and the customers.

  • I work as a musician at bars/restaurants, and I get tips on top of a stipend and (usually) free drink/meal from the house. Tipping makes up 40-60% of my income. I often have mixed feelings about tips, because people tend to tip me $5-10, then turn around and leave $1 for the bartender or waitron (thanks to commenter Suzanne for that unisex word).

    I love getting big tips (I often NEED big tips to balance out a bad week or what have you) but the service I provide takes faaaaaar less effort than what wait staff provides, and what we’re each given in tips is vastly disparate proportion to the effort we’re putting into our work.

    In my experience it all comes down to feelings — music makes people feel a lot different than being served food or drinks, and those feelings tend to be highly positive for the former and generally a crap-shoot of good/apathetic/negative for the latter. Happy people leave bigger tips, and I tend to be the recipient of that.

    I don’t have any profound opinions on the institution of tipping in the US, but I’m certainly making the most of its existence. In the end, I hope that by making people happy with music, I can influence how much they tip the person working their ass off in service…

    • Sorry man, but that whole thing about effort is a complete load of crap. I’m also a musician, and it compels me to ask one question: How much of their lives do you think the wait staff has spent practicing waiting tables? That’s something that any rube off the street can come in and do (maybe not well, but hey). If you’re even just a decent musician, you worked hard for a good long while to get to that point, and saying anything less short-changes yourself.

  • Berdy

    I agree that the American tipping system is a huge nuisance to both servers and customers. But do you think that doing away with it might have the unintended consequence of turning American servers into the unsmiling, unfriendly, unhelpful, I’m-doing-you-a-favor-by-serving-you servers that you encounter in other countries? American servers are the best in the world and I think our painful tipping system may deserve some of the credit.

    • N00less Cluebie

      Wow. Really? You think if we gave our service people a fair wage and eliminated tipping they wouldn’t give good service? That seems ludicrous to me. Service wouldn’t decrease in quality for the same reason it doesn’t decrease in other sectors–people want to keep their jobs and do well at them. Most people would still find pride in their workmanship even if you didn’t have personal control of how much extra (or less) they were being paid. If waivers gave bad service they’d be fired.

      Do you think your heart surgeon would do a better job if over half his pay was determined by tips????

      This logic is demeaning to service providers.

      • Matteo

        Here in Italy servers have a fair wage and there’s no tipping. The service is much worse on average

        • Sabrina

          I’m Italian too. I totally hate the tipping system. I like to read on the menu exactly how much I have to pay for each item. I already have issues with the fact that you have to add taxes on the prices, why should I requested to calculalte the final price??? Absurd. Also, I don’t particularly like the “intrusive” style of service you get in the US and also in upscale restaurants here in Italy. I don’t need a waiter to pour me a glass of wine every 5 minutes, I can do it myself when I feel like. I want to receive what I ordered and be free to enjoy it with the people I choose to spend my time with. I agree that sometimes in Italy the service is slow but I 100% prefer our system to the US one.

      • Berdy

        There’s nothing demeaning about pay for performance. That’s how employees are paid in many industries and professions. The Freakonomics podcast you link above says that servers perceive that their tips are related to their performance (even though it’s actually not true). And yes, I think my heart surgeon might do a better job if he was expecting an extra 50% in pay if, say, I didn’t need another heart procedure for at least 5 years after he operated on me.

  • Kory

    I tip better now that the WBW post on tipping made me realize I could go from being an okay tipper to a great tipper for less than $100 per year. We eat out maybe once a week, and $2 more makes a difference to the percentage. But $100, even $150 a year, isn’t enough for me to notice the difference.

  • jabberwicked


    10% is usual with deliveries and restaurants, sometimes bars. 15% is for extraordinary service. 20% is outrageous. Automatic gratuity is usually not socially accepted – the price should cover food and service costs.

    Hairdressers/barber shops? Older people sometimes tip, but it’s not customary. Valets, cab drivers, other “posh” services – usually yes, again more than 10% is very generous.

    We find it weird to make as much fuss about it as Americans do. Seriously, it’s just a way of showing gratitude, at least it should be just that.

  • Bettie Bedford

    Tipping is all about power. It’s a way of giving the diner the ability to reward or penalize the server. That is why it is filtering into more and more businesses.

  • N00less Cluebie

    Check out Freakonomics podcast on this issue.

    Take-away: there is NO CORELLATION between tip and quality of service which was the original point of tipping. Now it’s simply a way for business owners to underpay their workers, to falsely-advertise the cost of goods and services, and to cause service employees to have an unreliable source of income.

    The only upside to tipping? Being a math teacher and having an answer for the “Yeah, but will we ever use fractions or percentages in REAL LIFE?” question…

  • Joshua Warhurst

    When I’m in America at a restaurant, I tip 20% on the final price (tax included), rounded up to the nearest dollar. I usually do about 10-15% for my barber. I usually tip on takeout, a habit formed after my mother would send me to pick up Chinese food and leave about $20. I almost never take a cab, see a hotel bellman, see a valet or apartment doorman, but because I don’t often, I’ve never thought about it. I definitely tip at a bar, but I usually don’t tip at coffee shops. I don’t go often, but now I feel guilty about it. I’ll probably do it in the future.

    That said, I live in Japan now, and there’s no tipping. None. If you leave money, they’ll chase you down. This goes for every single job listed above. I can’t even think of a job where there’s tipping here. The other part of food culture is that waiters and waitresses will only come over if you call them (or press the button when they have one). So it’s almost never intrusive.

    I’m fine with either system, but I prefer the Japanese system any day of the week. No extra math involved. The price you see is the price you pay. And dinner is about the people at your table, not the people working there. I guess you could argue that the places lose that sense of “family”, but the extra effort that goes into the atmosphere of the places makes up for that. And really, any local place will talk to you if you talk to them.

    So, yeah. Japan does it well.

    • Sooty Mangabey

      So you don’t need to tip a Japanese bellhop? My mom & I stayed a night once in Tokyo and we both felt very conflicted about tipping the bellhop who helped us with the luggage. We weren’t sure if he might take it as an insult.

      • Joshua Warhurst

        I definitely wouldn’t feel guilty about not tipping him if that’s what you did. The fact is, you can be pretty assured he’s at least being paid a decent amount normally. He wouldn’t take your tip if you did give it to him. I actually just asked a coworker about it, if there was ever a situation in which you would tip in Japan, and she said “no, never; only if you go abroad”.

        Speaking of coworkers, the work culture in Japan is all about working hard, even if that doesn’t translate to efficiency. Even if the bellhop looked like he was desperately trying to help, it wasn’t because he was looking for a tip. Rather, if there’s -something- that can be done, he’ll probably try his best to help in some way. If someone is just standing around when there’s something (even if that thing doesn’t matter) that can be done, then they’re perceived as lazy. Case in point, if there’s a box that needs lifting, and only one left, but there’s seven people, you can bet they’ll all try lifting that box.

        Anyways, point is: you don’t need a tip a Japanese bellhop. But, of course, be kind to him, and don’t hesitate to thank him. 🙂

        • Sooty Mangabey

          Good to know. Strangely enough I don’t remember if we ended up tipping. It happened several years ago. The conflicted feelings conjured up by the incident ended up standing out more.

  • HB

    I had my nails done in New York. The girl chatted away to her friend in their own language the whole time. When I gave her a $5 tip (I’m from UK so wasn’t aware of the tipping etiquette) she pushed it back to me saying “In America we tip at least 20%” I replied “In the UK you don’t spend the whole time chatting in a foreign language to your friend” and walked out, with the tip.

    • Lua Cooper

      EXACTLY the same thing happened to me (and the manicure was not good either), except she quite literally wouldn’t let me leave and blocked the doorway saying I had to give her more money!

      As a Brit – when we tip, it’s because of good service – but regardless, nobody would ever demand or expect a tip. I find it pretty rude actually how ballsy and demanding they are out there, even if they didn’t make much effort. It makes me not want to tip anyone all…you’d feel much better about it if it was something you wanted to do, rather than something you HAD to do (for fear of repercussions or confrontation).

      • M.B.

        Ha, there’s no chance in hell I would even consider tipping if i’m not satisfied with the result or if I was treated rudely. What a rediculous tipping culture over there!

  • K

    I work as a ski instructor at an East coast resort, (the big Utah/Colorado ones work differently) and we occasionally get tipped. What I think no one understands is that we are getting paid minimum wage ($6.75/h where I work). There is no expectation that you tip your instructor, but many people I work with go above and beyond what is expected of them. We often stay after our shift is over, work with groups of 10-15, or work with kids who simply do not want to be there. Our job is to make sure everyone is happy and everyone can ski by the end of a 1:00 lesson. If you’re the parent of a kid throwing a screaming fit, or if your instructor stayed late to help you, it is polite to tip them. I understand that you might have payed upwards of $100 to be there, but we don’t get much of that money.

    • Sooty Mangabey

      $6.75/hr for teaching a skill???

  • Peter Brown

    Another Australian

    I’d imagine that the move to paying everything by card here has seen that creep towards tipping in restaurants drop away here in Oz. I never add a tip if I pay by credit card in a restaurant (nor should I have to here either, wait staff are paid well). The minimum wage here is a decent wage. Sadly at least one of billionaires, the evil Gina Rinehart, is trying to talk our govt into lowering the minimum wage (the price of iron ore has plummeted).

    The only people who ever get a tip out of us are taxi drivers. They work shit hours, get abused by half the people they carry, and lots of them get ripped off by the owner of the taxi they’re driving.

    We’re on our way over to the States in a few months. We’ll tip as expected while we’re there.

  • Bryan

    I was a pizza delivery driver for three years in a relatively affluent area in Raleigh, NC. I would say that, on average, at least 90% of our customers tipped, and of those who tipped, at least 75% were what I would’ve deemed “good tippers” (i.e. $5 or better per order). One thing that people don’t seem to know is that delivery drivers’ base wage is far below minimum wage (for example, where I worked, the base wage for delivery drivers was $3.85/hour). And that delivery fee that gets tacked onto your order? At least half of that fee goes to the company to offset the cost of insurance that they have for their drivers. Some companies will reimburse drivers for gas mileage, but most don’t (the company I worked for didn’t reimburse mileage until after I quit), so drivers end up having to shell out a lot of money for gas, maintenance, and repairs. Then you also have to factor in that automobile accidents are the fifth leading cause of death in the US, which statistically makes delivering the third most dangerous job in America (behind taxi drivers and police officers). Bottom line: When you factor in the sub-minimum wage, the cost of operating an automobile, and the risk involved, your delivery driver deserves a tip, especially if you live in a remote area, if you live more than a couple miles away from the store, or if there’s any kind of bad weather. Otherwise, seriously, just go pick it up yourself.

    • rresaff

      I did not know the delivery charge didn’t go (more) to drivers. I figured the restaurant would keep a little for the “handling” of the order but the bulk would go to the driver for the “shipping” since you do have the most costs. I also thought drivers got minimum wage, but that might be a state thing. I do tend to only get delivery when the weather is bad and I’m desperately starving so tip about half a tank of gas in gratitude. Or if I have guests and we all chip in a bit.

  • Billy Ngai

    TIL: American waiters don’t have base salary.
    I live in Hong Kong and to the best of my knowledge, every profession here has base salary which is the vast majority of their income, it is surprising to me that someone can make a living just from tips.

    Here’s the deal in Hong Kong: Most of us do tip to waiters and delivery, but a significantly smaller amount, my family is not the wealthiest, we usually only tip HK$2-5 (US$1 = HK$7.8). Besides, most restaurants charges extra 10% of the total price as service fee which is compulsory for customers to pay, so tipping is kinda discouraged, but some people will tip on top of paying the service fee as well.

    I really don’t think Americans should be obligated to tip at least 15%, or at all if the service is bad. The thing with using tips as salary is for the owner to reduce the cost of controlling the quality of service provided by the staff. It is the customers’ responsibility to reflect the performance of the waiter in their tips, so bad waiters are forced to quit.

  • Matt

    So I work for dominos in Australia and would like to voice some things that annoy me about thier system. I’m sure to an American it might not make total sense but other Australians should understand. The in store workers (pizza makers) get a better minimum wage than the drivers. The in store workers are generally between 12-16. The drivers are usually 18-25 sometimes older (in my store most drivers are over 30.) We get $2 per delivery to ‘cover fuel cost’ which it doesn’t. So the delivery drivers earn far less than the CHILDREN working in the store who all live with their parents. The drivers have bills, rent, rego, insurance and food to pay for and earn less than a fourteen year old. So tips are a major reliance for us. Typically we get the change from whatever the customer handed us (“keep the change”). Normally that’s between ten and fifteen cents. Sometimes a dollar. But; good tippers will leave five or ten dollars and those people are great. So tipping (around ten or fifteen cents per delivery with occasional outliers) makes up around 30% of my weekly pay. We get no holiday rates in dominos. We get $4 per delivery instead of two. That’s our version of double time or double time and a half.

    Please tip the dominos guy. He/she has it tough.

    • Matt

      EDIT: dominos also has a $10 delivery surcharge standard. The drivers see none of that money and, I know this because I’ve been through their systems, the driver insurance per run is less than 50c per run. So the make a killing of the delivery staff. Paying less and charging more.

      • Guest

        I’m pretty sure you have to be over 13 to get a paid job in Australia…

        • Kelly Benson

          It’s 14 & 9 months I think

    • Kelly Benson

      When I order pizza delivered I do it through the app so I pay by credit card which means no cash and no tip. Sounds like the delivery surcharge needs to be shared around a bit more.

      • Jeff Lewis

        Why no tip if you order online? Do they tell you not to give one, or do you just not have any cash on hand for when the delivery guy shows up?

        • Kelly Benson

          I pay for most things these days by card so I don’t usually have cash on me. And we don’t really have a tipping culture, if you’re paying a delivery driver or a taxi you don’t actually tip, just sometimes be like ‘keep the change mate’ and that’s usually just because you can’t be bothered waiting around for them to fiddle around looking for change.

  • SoundMerc

    So I tip my waiters appropriately. It’s the right thing to do. If they did a great job (they usually do) I’ll throw in 20% or close to it. I do also tip drivers, it’s a dangerous job and the parking around my place is a nightmare. The tip jar, no. Sorry. ‘Fraid not. Bartenders I tip the extra buck per beer, reluctantly. I never go to bars.

    Overall, I hate the tipping system so much. I hate the concept of dangling one’s wages over their head to make them perform better. I hate that someone could make less than their average week’s wages for something that in the end is really trivial. Everyone makes mistakes. But on the flipside we’re seeing a rise in the minimum for tipping. Didn’t 15% used to be the average and not the minimum? Now I feel like an asshole if I don’t have enough for 20%. Restaurant staff will be quick to tell me that if I can’t afford the tip I shouldn’t go out to eat.

    And so I don’t. It’s a rarity for me to go out. I’m surrounded by appetizing restaurants but I have visited less than 1% of them. I should say that the tipping issue is –definitely– not my biggest worry, but it does affect my decision, i.e. I have an extra $50, and I’m looking through a menu and see that my lady and I will probably spend around 40ish…because the “ish” part is a grey area (drink costs aren’t listed often, people change their minds, prices change, etc.) I would not end up going in this situation since I may not have enough for gratuity.

    Oh, and for places that only do valet parking, don’t even get me started. When I’m not given a choice to drive the car I drove to a parking spot I get so mad. I may not make the best mocha latte. I probably would not get pizza delivery, serving, or any of the above done 100% correctly on the first try, but I Certainly can park my own damn car. It was especially embarrassing when driving an old beater that only I knew the quirks to, so every time a valet would start driving it, I’d hear the very expected stall-out. The parking lots that do it right just direct you to where they want you to park, and I’m sure that if you did a shit job they’ll tell you to try again.

    I personally would like to see a world where gratuity is automatically included in the bill at restaurants. Wishful thinking I know.

    • Sooty Mangabey

      What if service sucked and you still had to pay a gratuity? It can be that way in Singapore where I’ve lived. Sometimes restaurants are so understaffed you have to either wait a long time or service yourself but either way you’re slapped with a mandatory service charge, whether or not you actually received any kind of service.

  • Sooty Mangabey

    I don’t consider myself a great tipper (15% unless service is spectacular, virtually non-existent or I’m already being charged a gratuity) I’ll tip food delivery drivers for the trouble (more if they’re delivering in bad weather). Don’t tip at the jar, bartenders (unless I’m 1 of 2-3 patrons) or the coat check (since I now live in the tropics). But I tip shuttle/cab drivers for helping me with luggage. I’ve always been unsure about whether to tip when I get takeout. Someone suggested I should but I just don’t see the rationale. On the overall custom of tipping: the burden should be on the resto to pay their servers decently, especially if they’re established and doing well. We could make it a custom to tip restos that are starting up but I think you should start giving back to your staff when both your customers and staff have been integral to your success. Perhaps restaurants could set up some kind of profit-sharing system with the staff as shareholders? This could be an alternative incentive for returning customers and staff retention.

  • DeeDee Massey

    I often wonder if there could be a better system. I don’t have all the answers, but I do have similar awkward feelings as a customer that many other commenters have expressed, so I won’t go all into it.

    I’ve never worked for tips, but I know so many people who do and it seems very frustrating to them, even though they keep doing their jobs because they actually like, or don’t mind, the work. I just see how difficult it can be for some people to maintain a predictable income – it’s harder to budget – and how discouraging it can be for them to ever bother going OUT OF THEIR WAY to please a crabby bad tipper. I’m generally a decent tipper.

    I have, however, worked on a commission basis. And that, for me, suuuuuuuuuckkkkksss.

  • Thomas Wilson

    I always tip well. 25% is usually my minimum, actually. Half the time I just calculate 20% and then throw in whatever extra feels good at the time. My rationale is that for a measly couple bucks I could possibly make the server’s day, even if the service wasn’t good. And if it was truly fantastic, you bet that 30% will be on the table when I leave. Besides, as you mentioned, Tim, $100 a year could make me a great tipper and affect a good number people in a positive way, while it hardly affects me at all. Do I make a lot of money? No- actually, I’m half-unemployed. But if I’m going out to eat then I am prepared for the cost.

    I think this habit began when I started to go to a particular restaurant after rehearsals (I teach several after school music programs) up to three times a week. I got very close to the staff there- to the point that I was a “regular” and they would see my car pull up and know what to start cooking, haha. Over time, I just began tipping really well, and it certainly showed in the strength of my drinks. Even if I hadn’t been back in a little while, my first drink would be quite good. One day the bartender even bought my party and I drinks on him, because he respected our business and our tips so much!

    All in all, I feel better leaving a restaurant having given a hefty tip. I’ve felt that I really reap what I sew here- my restaurant experience is unbelievably positive, no matter where I am. Maybe it’s luck; or maybe servers can tell when someone is going to tip well 😉

    If there is a jar, and the person was at least nice or had to do something special for me, then I tip. I tip at Subway. I tip takeout drivers well, especially in adverse weather. The reason? At very little cost to me I can put a smile on someone’s face. That’s enough.

    • rresaff

      I too plan for the cost of a tip when going out.
      My sister is a good tipper and likes to go out for drinks with friends but at only 110 lbs when the bartender responds with a strong drink she is totally hungover the next day! Where she regularly goes they do know to go easy on the alcohol and instead give her free sodas when she alternates, a lot of servers do pay attention and respond appropriately.

  • D.T.

    A few years ago, I visited a friend in DC. We went to a nice restaurant where we were waited on by a older gentleman, I’d say in his 50s. The service was fine. Not the best I ever had but fine. With a cocktail, my meal was over $40. I left a tip of 15%, what I felt was an adequate tip for the service I received. My friend, a DC native, left 20%. After we paid, I excused my self to use the ladies room while my friend waited for me outside. As I was walking out, my waiter approached me and asked me why I wasn’t pleased with his service. I was sincerely confused as to why he was asking and assured him I enjoyed my meal and the service was fine. Then he asked me outright why I didn’t leave him a 20% tip if that was the case. I went from stunned, to embarrassed, to angry. I told him he was out of line and kept on my way. When I told my friend, she was nonplussed. I asked her if she thought he was a 20% server and she admitted he wasn’t, but that was the DC way. Well, it wasn’t my way. Based on his tone, I know my server wanted me to feel embarrassed and wanted to confront me; had he genuinely wanted to know why I didn’t leave 20%, he’d have come at me differently or gotten a manager to ask about the service. It’s a sad state when eating a meal out turns into a compensation debate.

    The system we have where tips supplement pay sucks. And frankly, I hate that business owners put the burden of adequately paying their employees in my lap. Going out, eating, paying for food–that is MY role. Service, food, staff, compensation–that is the role of the business owner. But as long as the system exists, I won’t give 20% to everyone–all service isn’t equal. I’ve had phenomenal service where 20% wasn’t enough, and on most occasions have had service where 15 to 20% was adequate. I was led to believe 15% was for “fine,” 20% or more was for “great” and the in between was the in betwwen. I loved living in Germany where servers had a wage and tips were not accepted. So on those occasions when the service sucked–it wasn’t left up to me and my tip to manage the wait staff.

  • wobster109

    I will generally tip a bit over 20%. However, tipping is straight out of hell. Here’s a heuristic. If you’re putting 85-100% of someone’s livelihood on unspoken rules, it’s straight out of hell. If you’re judging someone’s subjective performance, something that is subject to racial and gender biases, it’s straight out of hell. And if you’re financially incentivizing servers themselves to act on racial and gender stereotypes, it’s straight out of hell.

    Let’s all just have the tip built into the price, or if restaurants don’t want that, then have 18% or 20% or whatever added to the bill automatically. I get that restaurants don’t want to have menus look expensive, and that’s fine. A line of text printed at the bottom, “20% gratuity is automatically added to the bill”, would be totally fine with me.

    • mckillio

      Completely agree, it’s basically a bait and switch.

    • Totally agree that tipping is crazy, ridiculous, and harmful and we should stop.

      However, disagree that restaurants should be able to add gratuity on after the fact. The cost of eating at the restaurant includes the cost of paying the people who work there, and that should be included in the prices you see.

      What if the restaurant had a menu, but in small print at the bottom said: “20% surcharge for restaurant’s rent added on.” That would be ridiculous, because you assume that when you pay for something, the price includes all the sellers costs – materials, labor, rent, etc. Why would they leave some costs out of the listed price but then add them on to the bill?

      • Jeff Lewis

        The problem’s what to do in the current situation if you’re one of the restaurant owners wanting to do away with tipping at your restaurant, while maintaining competitive menu prices with other restaurants. I agree that the best thing overall would be to just include the full cost of the service in the price of the meal, but in the meantime, I don’t have a problem with restaurants tacking on a mandatory service fee under the assumption that there will be no tip.

        • Ah – I see. As a restaurant-by-restaurant interim solution rather than an ultimate goal. Yes. Agree!

          But as a final (utopian?) goal, all businesses would just include all their costs in their prices.

  • TheCosmin

    I live in Romania and have a larger than average income. I will tip in 99% of the situations, whether it’s taxi, restaurant/bar/pub or food delivery at home. The 1% accounts for situations when the srevice is very bad and I feel that it does not deserve the tip.
    I usually guide myself after the 10% rule of thumb – I must have heard it a long time ago and stuck with it. However, it often revolves around 15-20%, depending on the actual situation. Another example is a very short taxi fare ($2 for example), when I can go as high as 100%.
    I also noticed that the tipping % increased in my case as my income increased. Having a higher income translated also in larger tips.

  • Michael

    On the one hand, tipping is nice, and I’m generally a good tipper.

    On the other hand, tipping is really stupid. Why feel sorry for people who voluntarily accepted a bullshit paying job? I, myself, have never accepted such a bullshit paying job. They explained I would be making less than minimum wage, unless variables, and I declined the employment. Everybody else had the same choice.

    The more I think about it, the more annoyed I am by the whole system that has such bullshit paying jobs in the first place, and with the people who take them, then expect me to feel guilty for not ponying up.

    Moreover, the whole system is comparable to the way the Catholic Church has amassed an absolute fuck ton of wealth, but they expect working schmucks to pay to feed the poor and stuff. Rich people don’t have scruples like this. That’s why they’re rich. The most successful guy I know categorically refuses to tip more than $1 ever. He has a hot wife, six hot girls trying to kill each other to compete to be his mistress, and 10 times more money in savings than me. I’m a nice guy, and I’m fucking a dumpy woman who let herself go, and all my prospects for strange are other dumpy women who let themselves go. I don’t even exist in the same universe as hot chicks, but this ruthless, selfish asshole is covered up with them.

    Why does he have that? Because he takes care of #1 first, and fucks everyone else over. Everyone who was ever really successful in this world from Bill Gates to Barack Obama already figured this shit out. They expect guys like me to do as they say, not as they do, and it’s bullshit.

    I should be fucking hot mistresses instead of tipping worthless shitass barely competent waitresses 20% for doing practically nothing. If she wants to make better money, she should drag her useless ass down to truck driver school and get a real job, exactly the same way I did. But no, most of the waitresses I know would never make it as truck drivers, because they couldn’t smoke weed. Weed is a very important consideration to those who have the shittiest jobs in this country. Weed doesn’t help them cope with their misery; it’s their excuse for not doing more to succeed.

    • Jacob Nestle

      Long story short you’re a bitter man in your, what, forties? Who doesn’t have the moral backbone to care about people.

      You really could’ve left out at “tipping is stupid” and we all would’ve been fine.

      • Michael

        Crap. Stupid browser.

        • Jacob Nestle

          If you actually had a good point in there, I missed it. Sorry

          • Michael

            I was in the early stages of formulating a reply when I accidentally hit the post button.

            How much of that rant above was me, and how much is the influence of this asshole friend?

            Some of it was me. I think it’s bullshit that I have to sit there 15 minutes and wait on someone to wait on me, instead of just refilling my own drink. I hate full service restaurants, and avoid them.

            I tip 20% or more as a rule, and this is mostly out of genuine compassion for the hard working people who are just trying to earn a living. I’ve been on welfare, and I’m getting into the tax bracket now where tax refunds are a thing of the past.

            At the same time, I can agree with my asshole friend that this compassion isn’t well placed. I’ve worked nothing but service jobs my whole life. I’ve never worked for less than minimum wage. Why do I have to subsidize minimum wage, just because some pretty girl wanted a job as a waitress instead of a cashier?

            I have to do it, because those are the social expectations, and I don’t actually think that much of this part of my duty under the unwritten social contract. I never really thought about any of this until my friend started ranting one day. Tipping is just what decent folks do.

            The source of the bitterness you correctly point out is that getting to know my ruthless prick friend has taught me that evil PAYS. It is hard for me to continue being a good person when I see how lucrative it is to be a horrible shit, and yet it is not in my nature to be a horrible shit, no matter how hard I have tried to emulate him.

            What I’m left with is continuing to be a decent guy, but feeling stupid and foolish about it, like Charlie Brown trying to kick that damn football over and over again, and always falling on his ass. I’ve always been a really sweet, trusting, loving guy, and this fact of my nature has been exploited selfishly and ruthlessly by a great many people over the years. I’ve managed to get more street wise, but at the expense of becoming cynical, and bitter.

            I don’t like being cynical and bitter any more than any of you like reading me being cynical and bitter. The bright side is I have ways of coping with this, and I’m going to go engage one of those mechanisms right now, and put all this crap out of my head.

    • Kay

      Seriously? I really hope you typed this for shits and giggles. Otherwise, you are the idiot.

    • Adam E.

      Wow, this is shocking and appalling. I can see your self loathing right at the top. Sentence number three, you perceive people who work in tipping professions to have voluntarily accepted a bullshit paying job??? No one accepts that unless they think it’s the best they can do. And believe it or not what you “believe” is not as much in your control as you think. Read and then think about what you just said.

    • Deirdre

      Hahaha, this CANNOT be real.

  • Coolidge_

    Here in South Africa, as you might imagine we have a few “tipping jobs” which you wouldn’t likely find in the developed world, and which are quite unusual:

    Car Guard: Valets are not very common here. However if you go to a restaurant, mall, the beach, or generally any public space, the parking areas are almost always accompanied by ‘car guards.’ These industrious individuals are often unemployed immigrants from other African countries, and the general idea is that they find a local parking lot, don a luminous safety vest, and stand there ushering you into and out of a parking space, looking after your car while you’re away.

    They’re not usually employed by the carpark, but can have a positive impact on reducing petty crime/ window smashing in those areas, if only because of their physical presence in the parking lot rather than their amazing martial arts skills. Tipping is obviously their only form of income, but what’s interesting is that the thought-process behind tipping/not tipping them can generally be divided into two categories: their service, or a sympathy-tip:

    Reasons for tipping a carguard:

    – He’s looked after my car and it’s not been broken into (service)

    – He’s guided me into and out of this really tight parking space in a busy parking bay (service)

    – I feel sorry for him because he’s unemployed and from a poverty-stricken country (sympathy-tip)

    – At least he’s not begging, I’d rather someone make an effort being a car guard than beg at a traffic light (sympathy-tip)

    – It’s raining and he’s been standing here

    Reasons for NOT tipping a carguard:

    – My car has been broken into/stolen

    – I was only here for 2 minutes while I ran in to buy milk

    – This parking lot is quiet and in a safe neighbourhood – there’s really no need for him to be here

    – He wasn’t anywhere near my car, he just ran over from the other end of the parking lot to try guilt-trip me into a tip, there’s no way he was actually looking after my car and he didn’t help me with the parking.

    My reasons for tipping carguards generally fall into the sympathy-tip category; as it’s unlikely they’d actually risk their life to protect a car that they’d receive a R5 (50 cents) to R10 ($1) tip for. However there’s always a slight feeling of guilt if you don’t tip them because you felt like they weren’t doing anything, and rain is a definite amplifier of tip-value here.

    Petrol Station (Gas Station) Attendants:

    So in most of the developed world, when a person needs to refuel they pull in to the local gas station, idle up to a pump, put in the desired amount of petrol (gas), and pay via cash or card. Not so much here in South Africa: here there are Petrol Attendands, whose job it is to put the desired amount of petrol in your car for you, and hand over the card machine/receive your cash when payment is due.

    Petrol Attendants are given a basic salary, and then rely on tips for washing your windscreen, filling up your water tank, or pumping up your tyres. Here, it’s custom to tip them if they offer to do these things for you, and it would make sense therefore not to tip them if they can’t be bothered to do any of those things, but the guilt-factor also pays a role in their receiving a tip even though they simply filled up your tank.

    South Africa’s income disparity, high unemployment and historical transgressions have all influenced the tipping landscape. Yet the strangest thing is that while the US’s custom practise for tipping a waiter at a restaurant is 15-20%, here in SA it’s 10% as a standard and only more if they’ve given really good service. That’s the common practise, and it makes no sense! Folks, I give you the African Tipping Paradox (ATP for short).

  • 115v

    I am from Germany. I never visited the US so i am quite confused when i read the wbw-articels on tipping.
    In Germany service is included in what you pay and e.g. the waiter gets a normal salery.
    Tipping is completly optional, you only tip to show how satisfied you are with the service.
    Anyway it is quiete common to tip but typically in the 10%-Region or rounding up to a smooth amount.
    I admit i am a bad tipper, i usually tip much in locations which i visit regulary, or if the service was really outstanding. If i know i probably never see the person again and the service was standard or below i only round up. If the service is really bad i don’t tip at all.
    I tip pretty much at the hairdresser because i know the are typically underpayed here in Germany.

  • Wim K

    I’m from South Africa, and here our tipping situation is actually very similar to the US. It’s generally expected that you give waiters tips (the going rate is 10% here). They do receive a wage, so tips aren’t the only income they’re getting, but they do receive far more in tips than in wages. If you tip more than 10%, the waiter gave really good service and was really friendly. If you tip less, the waiter was really incompetent, or you’re an asshole. Same goes with delivery drivers.

    If I order a coffee, I usually pay with a R20 note (coffees are usually between R10 and R15), and I’ll throw the change into the tip jar. At a bar, I’ll usually tip a bit more – but believe me, if you don’t tip at a bar here, you’re not getting served any time this year. As for other professions, we tip hairdressers, cleaners, tour guides, drivers, and a lot of other professions. We also have car guards (I see another South African explained it here earlier), and it’s kind of expected to tip them a few coins as well.

    I feel like I really don’t mind tipping people – a lot of them could really use the money, and a few coins aren’t going to bankrupt me. I’m also completely spineless when it comes to things like this – I’ll give a beggar R20 just because he guilted me with a sob story. But most South Africans really don’t care either way about tipping. I’ve never really understood why it’s so polarising and controversial in the US. It’s an incentive to give good service, and if you’ve ever worked in the service industry, you know how much shit they have to take from customers.

    • Deirdre

      Wait – it’s equivalent of 8 to 12(ish) usd for coffee, there?? Ohh! It’s not even that much in New York. Brutal.

      • Wim K

        Nowhere near that much! One dollar is equivalent to about R11, so a coffee in South Africa would be between $1 and $2. I’d never be able to survive if I had to pay almost R100 for a coffee!

  • mmKALLL

    Nobody tips anyone around here in Finland. Thus, the American system seems fairly alien to me, but I suppose it’s a cultural thing that has just persisted. Kinda like using a nonstandard system involving units like “feet” and “inches” in the 21st century.

  • Jeff Lewis

    I leave tips because I know people in some service industries depend on them as part of their salary, but I think it’s a stupid system. I was going to write up something of my own explaining why, but here’s a good article that does that already, written by a guy named Jay Porter who runs a no-tip restaurant. He argues that his quality of service actually improved once he got rid of tips.

    Here are two good excerpts:

    Before I started working in hospitality, I worked in the tech industry, making fancy software for television set-top boxes. I was part of a skilled team in a challenging field, and we were expected to do our best work. Our compensation system followed two basic patterns. First, we negotiated our pay rarely, typically only at the beginning of a project (for freelancers) or once or twice a year (for salaried workers). We weren’t interrupted every hour or so with a trickle of payment that was supposedly based on how well were perceived to have done a recent task. Second, we were compensated by, and we negotiated with, the organization that employed us, not the consumers who benefited from our work. We didn’t have to call up the end customers of our products and ask them to pay us for our work. (“Hi, Mr. Jones, I hope you’ve enjoyed using the auto-record feature on your cable box. You know, it took me like three weeks to write that code and I was wondering if I could get some payment for that.”)

    and the second:

    I can hear your objection now: How could servers be motivated to do a good job without tips?

    This is a common question, but it is also a silly question. Servers are motivated to do a good job in the same ways that everyone else is. Servers want to keep their jobs; servers want to get a raise; servers want to be successful and see themselves as professionals and take pride in their work. In any workplace, everyone is required to perform well, and tips have nothing to do with it. The next time you see your doctor, ask her if she wouldn’t do better-quality work if she made minimum wage, with the rest of her income from her patients’ tips. I suspect the answer will be a version of “no.”

    And if the Slate article’s not enough, here’s an entire series he wrote on his no-tip experience:

    • Jeff Lewis

      Here’s another reason I don’t like the current system – it’s discriminatory (at least per the limited number of studies on that particular issue). Here’s a quote from a paper on tipping ( ):

      Very little research has examined customer discrimination in tipping, but a few studies have examined the effects of server sex and race on tipping. Server sex does not affect tipping in every study, but in at least some studies waitresses receive larger tips on average than do waiters (Davis, Schrader, Richardson, Kring abd Kiefer, 1998; Lynn & McCall, 2000). Server race has also been shown to affect tipping. Black cab drivers receive smaller tips on average than do white cab drivers (Ayres, Vars & Zakariya, 2003). This is true regardless of the race of the tipper – both black and white tippers give white drivers larger tips than black drivers. The studies examining these effects are too limited in number and in diversity of settings to support broad generalizations about customer sex and race discrimination in tipping. This is another issue in need of further research. However, the existing studies do suggest that such discrimination occurs at least sometimes and in some places, so at least some service firms may be subject to adverse impact, employment discrimination lawsuits.

      • James

        Everyone knows boobs get you better tips for worse service, unless its a bachelorette party 😉

  • Vysakh S

    I’m from India and I am fairly certain we only learned the practice of tipping from the West. So basically most people barely bother with it, unless it’s a restaurant of high standard. Even if we do tip, we do not calculate the exact percentage of the total bill, instead just tossing some spare change. And this is pretty much the same case here in the United Arab Emirates, where I am residing right now. I have always assumed that tipping is just a nice thing to do and nothing more.

    So yeah…the whole practice of tipping sounds ridiculous to most of us. Restaurants not paying the waiters their salary is just atrocious. Why should the burden be on the customer to pay their salaries? Steve Buscemi’s character does put forward an interesting argument in the beginning of Reservoir Dogs regarding this but personally, I would be forced to bow down to this system if i was in America. Coz it just isn’t nice to not tip in such a situation.

  • Saraj

    When we traveled to Costa Rica the guide book said we didn’t need to tip on food or drink because it was included in the prices. However, the locals seemed used to American tourists and were pretty insistent that we tip them.

    • mckillio

      That does seem to be a increasing trend and I’ve even heard of countries discouraging Americans tipping because it’s changing expectations for locals as well.

  • jubileu

    I’m Portuguese and here we pretty much never tip. From what I know, most waiters only get tips if they work in a fancy place or if they attend foreign tourists.

    I even find tips weird, although that’s more of a personal rather than a generalized opinion. Why tip a waiter but not a cashier? Why the pizza delivery guy but not the mailman?

    • rasto

      In the US, waiters get a special much lower minimum wage, and pizza delivery guys use their own cars.

      • EdHandy

        Whether waiters get a special much lower minimum wage depends on the state; a large handful (notably including California, which while only one state is about 1/8th of the population just there) disallow the tip credit to minimum wage. Even there, technically under the federal law if the reported tips don’t come up to minimum wage, the employer is supposed to make up the difference.

        As for tipping the mailman, they’re prohibited by law (as federal employees) from accepting cash/monetary gifts. When I was a kid, I heard in the past it was normal to give your regular mailman a non-monetary gift around Christmas, but it had already fallen out of favor by the 1980s at least where I was.

  • laura

    I’m never sure how much to tip when at a buffet, but I tend to default to a 20% tip. I’ve had some conversations with others who think that this tip amount is too high, as they argue that there’s less service at buffets than the standard restaurant experience. Any thoughts on tipping for buffets?

    • Jeff Lewis

      I tip about the same at a buffet as at a regular sit down restaurant. They’re still providing all your drinks for you, and usually busing your table several times per meal when you go to get seconds, thirds, fourths, etc. Those multiple busings make up for the single visit to take your order and the single trip to deliver your food.

  • mckillio

    Living in the US, I think tipping is ridiculous. I strictly do it out of social pressure and I tip right around 20%, I figure out what the 20% is and then round down or up. I shouldn’t have to make up for an employer’s inability to pay their staff well. It’s a bait and switch, here’s the price on the menu and then you get your bill and you “have to” tip in addition to it and of course you have to figure out how much.

    I’m not really sure how we can solve this, we can require that all employees, no matter what they do, have to make at least minimum wage but we would still need to tip some (given our current minimum wages) to make sure that staff are paid enough to ensure that we get good service (very subjective, I live in Denver and think the service is basically crap every where other than upscale restaurants). Not tipping isn’t an option, you couldn’t get enough people to go along with it and you wouldn’t be able to be a repeat customer anywhere.

    • Jeff Lewis

      I think it’s more complicated than ‘an employer’s inability to pay their staff well’. Restaurants don’t have high profit margins and are very competitive. Even if one restaurant decided to do away with tipping and pay their servers higher wages, the money would have to come from somewhere – higher food costs. Granted, the total cost there would be the same as a similar restaurant once you included the tip, but their advertised prices would be higher, hurting their business. Some restaurants do mandatory service fees, so that their menu prices can be competitive, but the tip wages are fixed and guaranteed, but a lot of people don’t like the idea of mandatory service fees.

      • Patricia

        That is not exactly true. Most restaurants in Europe work just fine and pay their employees well. Tipping isn’t common, nobody feels the pressure to tip. The price of the food is normal and competitive as well since all restaurants have to pay decent wages to their staff. In the US the restaurant business just gets away with this responsibility and abuses of a tipping culture.

        • Jeff Lewis

          I don’t entirely disagree. The difference is that in Europe, all your potential competition operates with their particular business model, while in the U.S., all your potential competition operates with a different business model. Since your competition in the U.S. would be other restaurants that rely on tips for wait staff salaries, you’d be hard pressed to have competitive menu prices without also relying on tips for your wait staff salaries.

          Now, if there were new laws or regulations that changed the rules for all restaurants, then no-tipping could become the norm, and actual total cost for a meal would be about the same. The problem’s in trying to be a lone restaurant operating that way in a sea of competition operating differently.

          • Anthony Churko

            “…their advertised prices would be higher, hurting their business.”

            By itself, yes, it would hurt their business. However, if they ALSO advertised that “tips will be refused”, that would more than make up for the business lost due to higher menu prices.

            If I can find a restaurant that advertises that tips are not necessary, then I as a consumer will choose that restaurant over another restaurant with 15% lower menu prices.

            • Jeff Lewis

              Unfortunately, the research doesn’t bear that out:

              Research on behavioral pricing has found that presenting the price of a product or service in separate parts rather than a consolidated whole can reduce consumers’ perceptions of the total cost. That principle suggests that restaurants which charge separate fees for their food and service whether by voluntary tipping or an automatic service charge may be perceived as less expensive than those that include service charges in the form of an all-inclusive price. An internet-based simulation testing that idea found that participants rated restaurants with tipping or automatic gratuity policies as less expensive than restaurants that built the costs of service into menu prices. Furthermore, participants ordered more expensive meals when automatic gratuities were added to the bill than when the costs of service were built into menu prices.

          • voscerote

            It’s true that it would be difficult to compete in the American restaurant market without a staff that earns only tips. Part of that reason is that mostly when we think of a restaurant, we think of a big one–chains dominate the market. A mom and pop business model can support a family, but “restaurant” owners don’t want that. They want an infinite growth business model/ they want to push the limits of capacity for their restaurant based on how many people can be crammed into the building and how much food can be churned out. They want to be able to endlessly franchise the business and eventually put a Crabshack or Olive Garden in every town and shopping center. It’s the American way. The wait staff is indispensable at that point of growth, but really just an afterthought in terms of hiring.

            If you want to open a business it should be your responsibility to manage it and be there every day that it’s open. If you can’t serve 80 customers at once without unpaid interns helping you, don’t seat 80 people. When you need slave labor to pick up the slack, there’s a flaw in your business model. If restaurants were still a humble family-business there would be no need to tip the wait staff because you’d be tipping the owners who are just there running their business from the ground up like they should. They would still appreciate it, but it could go back to being a courtesy and a generous gesture of community like before instead of the underhanded, sleazy, bullshit labor practice that it is.

  • Lucy Conley-Smoucha

    I work as a bartender, so tipping is integral to my income. This graphic is awesome! It’s all well and good to hear that “tipping makes up most of your wages, right?” but as a patron, you have to realize that this means we make $4/hour, and anything on top of that is variable. It’s frustrating to be a person who is dependent on tips, because I happen to agree with people who think tipping is ridiculous and complicated and awkward. So, here are a few points on tipping I will share:

    1) If you have a bad experience at a restaurant that had nothing to do with your server, it’s not really fair to take it out on him or her. You aren’t punishing the restaurant, you’re punishing the poor person who has the misfortune to work for the place.

    2) If you walk out on a bill, there’s an 80% chance that your server will have to pay for it out of pocket. There goes all of their income for the night, because you thought it would be funny to dine and dash. (Okay, that had nothing to do with tipping…)

    3) I try to leave a dollar any time I see a tip jar, especially if it’s a place where the workers make minimum wage. If everyone did it, they might manage to make a living wage! It’s just a nice way to say “thanks for serving me!” Let’s face it, are you really going to miss that dollar?

    4) For almost all other tipping situations (except cab drivers and salon workers) I really struggle if there is no tip jar. I find that it feels demeaning to press cash straight into somebody’s hand. I never know how to do it smoothly, so it is always rushed and awkward, and I always feel dirty afterward. Guilty if I do, guilty if I don’t.

    • Springs1

      “1) If you have a bad experience at a restaurant that had nothing to do with your server,”

      What a bunch of LIES, here’s why:

      Ask yourself these questions as a server:

      1. WHEN do you put in my order? Do you wait or do you go put it in immediately after taking it? If you are double sat or triple sat, you can still go put in each order into the computer after taking each table’s order. By not doing that can result in a much longer wait and that would be YOUR FAULT.

      2. FORGETTING to put in an order. My husband and I have experienced this for REAL that servers ADMITTED to our faces they have FORGOTTEN TO PUT ORDERS IN. All of them were appetizers, bar drinks, and a cup of soup.

      3. Did you put in the order CORRECTLY into the computer? Have had many times servers ADMITTED to our faces they did not do that correctly. Have had wrong entrées before due to our server putting in the order wrong. Have had wrong bar drinks too due to the server putting in the order wrong.

      4. Did you FORGET ANYTHING I ORDERED such as a SIDE DISH? We have had this happen a number of times as well.

      5. Did you DROP anything I ordered? Luckily, we have not had this happen, but I have seen a server once drop some fries from a plate before and I did have a waiter spill some margarita martini when pouring into a martini glass. In other words, it is possible, not likely, but very possible.

      6. Did you remember to GET my food? We have had a server do that before. Also, we have had a number of servers forget bar drinks.

      7. Did you bring out my food obviously correctly if you bring my food out? Do you realize how many times OUR OWN SERVER brings out DUH mistakes like the side dish is wrong, the entrée is wrong, something obvious is not correct bacon that isn’t covered up isn’t extra, extra crispy when you can clearly notice that it isn’t without touching anything, etc.? Every DUH mistake you bring out is YOUR FAULT I am waiting for what I did order by you wasting my time bringing me the wrong item or wrongly prepared item or forgot something. While we all make mistakes, I would have to say a good 90% of the time, servers NEVER COMPARE THE WRITTEN ORDERS TO THE FOOD, because they are TOO LAZY and DON’T CARE!!

      8. Servers DO wait to put in entrée orders when appetizers, side salads, or cups of soup are ordered. THAT *IS* THE GOD’S TRUTH! Sometimes it’s TOO LONG THEY WAIT! If it’s another server, it still doesn’t make it the kitchen staff’s fault I have the wrong side dish for example since that is something that’s obvious. It’s either my server that didn’t put in my order correctly or this other server that didn’t compare the ticket to the food or that this other server did compare the ticket to the food, but just missed it(HIGHLY UNLIKELY, but possible).

      9. WHEN do you come to GET MY ORDER? That part is covered in #2 below.

      10. WHEN do you DECIDE to LET ME ORDER? That part is covered in #4 below.

      11. WHEN do you decide to DELIVER MY FOOD? That part is covered in #1 below.

      12. Do you, because they are out of something, decide to assume everyone wants the closest thing so you do the ordering for me? That part is covered in #3 below.

      1. Once, we had a Red Lobster waitress had our 2 entrées on the tray as well as 2 side salads that were for a couple that wasn’t even there when we ordered. Anyway, instead of bypassing their table to hand us ours first since WE DID ORDER FIRST(common sense would tell you that it takes more time to cook food than it does to fix a side salad anyways even if it wasn’t our server that delivered our food, but it was our waitress that delivered our food), she decided to hand them theirs first off the tray. THAT IS SOMETHING THAT IS IN THE SERVER’S CONTROL TO HAND OUT THINGS OFF THE SAME TRAY IN THE ORDER IN WHICH IT WAS ORDERED IN!!

      2. Once, we had a waitress that greeted us which we ordered an appetizer as well as our drinks when greeted. I saw she tucking in chairs at empty tables and pretty much doing everything but coming back to get our entrée order. Well, I found out what happened. She brought out our appetizer and when I asked she said that she wanted to wait to put in our entrée orders. The thing is, that delayed us more by not at least coming to GET our orders. That way, when the appetizer was ready, we wouldn’t have gotten delayed eating our appetizer since we then had to give our entrée orders when we could have given our entrée orders WELL BEFORE THAT and we would have gotten our entrées faster due to that she could have just left to put our entrée orders into the computer after delivering our appetizer instead of taking time to order when our appetizer was sitting in front of us. The point is, SHE delayed our entrées as well as to be able to start eating our appetizer because she could have at least TAKEN our entrée orders and then when our appetizer would have been brought out, could have immediately gone to the computer to put our entrée orders in. What she did was make us wait while our hot appetizer was sitting in front of us, we couldn’t touch it, because we had to order our entrées and could have done that wayyy before that. She also delayed our entrées because we had to spend extra time AFTER our appetizer arrived to give her our entrée orders when we could have done that wayyyy before that.

      3. Once, we had a waitress that assumed that because they were out of raspberry topping for a cheesecake slice when we had ordered dessert that she’d bring us strawberry. Turns out, she knew when she put in the order that the computer had it the manager told us. So she did it on PURPOSE to be so lazy and uncaring as to not come to ask if we wanted the next closest thing. We didn’t, we sent it back, so she had MORE WORK. Also, she didn’t even think about what if someone is allergic to strawberries. I just honestly can’t believe someone would do that. If they are out of something, common sense would be to come to see if the next closest thing is ok. Not everyone wants the next closest thing. So it wasn’t like it was just getting the order wrong by accident or by not verifying the written order with what she was bringing or putting in the order wrong by accident, this was on PURPOSE to be LAZY and to ASSUME. I didn’t know at first that she did that. I thought at first she just was that stupid(or truly just messed up(highly doubt it)) to bring us strawberries on top of a cheesecake when we ordered raspberries.

      4. Your server delays coming to get your order or delays you ordering due to personal conversation. We have had that before as well. Once, we had a waiter that we didn’t know after waiting 15 mins. for a table on Mardi Gras day ask us BEFORE we ORDERED ANYTHING “How’s y’all’s Mardi Gras” “Go to any parades.” See, I don’t mind chit chat with a stranger, but be considerate to do it AFTER we have our orders into the computer so you don’t take up our time.

      We have also had servers not come to get our order due to playing around. Sometimes taking a long time or a longer time has A LOT to do with the server: My husband and I have had 3 TIMES where servers FORGOT to put food orders into the computer. We also have 7 times servers forget to get bar drinks from the bar. Once a waitress forgot to put in a bar drink into the computer. Two of the 3 times it was an appetizer and the servers ADMITTED doing so. The third time was a cup of bisque which is normally served before a meal just like a side salad is. My husband and I also have had delays due to that the servers delayed putting orders into the computer when they COULD have such as deciding to buss a table first or decide instead of a mini-greet(I’ll be right with you all), one waiter I saw decided to take a party of 6 people’s drink/appetizer orders instead of putting in our food orders into the computer. I can understand if they call you over, but if they don’t, you should be putting that order into the computer not delaying our food. The longer you wait to put in orders, the LONGER WE WAIT!! So truly think about that MOST of the time when you wait a LONG TIME for your food or bar drinks even, it could be the server’s fault. 9 times out of 10, your server had *SOMETHING* to do with the delay in most cases! That’s the GOD’S TRUTH!

      90% of the time it’s the SERVER’S FAULT:

      1. They can put in the order wrong into the computer or if it’s a written ticket they submit, they could have written something down wrong or hard to read.

      2. They could have forgotten to put in the order in the first place.

      3. Servers can also misunderstand what the customer is saying such as 2 times when I ordered 2 sides of bbq sauce and the stupid idiot servers thought I didn’t want bbq sauce on my ribs when I NEVER ONCE SAID I didn’t and I didn’t say “ON THE SIDE”, I SAID SIDES, which means extra. One of those times I said extra even.

      4. Most mistakes with food are visible:

      A. Condiments of any kind regardless of who brings out the food can be brought out by the server ahead of time.

      B. If someone orders extra crispy bacon with their pancakes, then the bacon looks limp, not stiff, and you can even see some white fat on it, guess what? MY SERVER COULD HAVE SEEN THAT TOO AND TOLD THE COOKS IT WASN’T CORRECT, TO RECOOK IT INSTEAD OF BRINGING IT TO ME WRONG IN THE FIRST PLACE!

      C. Any wrong side dishes or entrees are the fault of the server if they bring out the food even if they put in the order right. You can tell the difference between a baked potato and mac n’ cheese, yet, a waiter at Logan’s Roadhouse was so stupid as to bring me mac n’ cheese when I ordered a baked potato. I noticed it within 5 seconds of the food hitting my table. Like DUH a baked potato looks completely different from mac n’ cheese.

      D. Any MISSING side dishes, appetizers, condiments, or entrees ARE the server’s fault if they bring out the food as well. Have had that happen a few times or so. Our servers aren’t blind, so they can tell if something is missing or not.

      E. I have seen a red steak delivered to someone before at Outback which means let’s say the customer ordered their steak well done, that the server could have noticed the color difference as in someone’s example “Steak cooked rare instead of well done ? It’s not your server’s fault, they didn’t cook it, it’s the kitchen’s fault.”

      F. If something LOOKS burnt such as a piece of bread with the food and the person didn’t order it burnt, my server is at fault for serving me that.

      G. If my server forgets an item that an entree or appetizer comes with, that’s their fault if they brought me my food without the item such as a side dish or ranch.

      H. I have ordered at Outback my fries “lightly cooked” “Not overdone and yellow not brown.” I have had their fries before cooked the way I like them before many of times before this time I am talking about. This stupid waitress decided to blame the kitchen staff for REALLY DARK BROWN FRIES as if she was blind or something and my husband even told me he could see that they were really dark. My husband may not agree with me on every subject of course, but with that, you could EASILY tell just by LOOKING that those fries were overdone and very dark. She said she put in the order correctly. I am thinking, SO? I wish I could have said “Are you blind?” That was HER FAULT she DECIDED TO SERVE ME THOSE FRIES THAT WEREN’T CORRECT. I noticed the mistake within 3 seconds of my food being placed in front of me.

      You can tell in this picture above the bacon is very crispy just by simply LOOKING at it.

      You can tell in this picture above the bacon is NOT CRISPY, just by simple LOOKING at the bacon.

      While the server didn’t “COOK” the bacon, it’s obvious to the *SERVER’S* EYES that one batch of bacon is crispy and the other isn’t to decide to BRING the food to the customer wrong or not. It’s my server’s fault if they decide to bring me the bacon that’s like in picture 2 if I ordered it crispy that she or he didn’t tell the cooks it was wrong and get them to cook the bacon more instead of SERVING it wrong. WHY bring it out only for the food to be sent back?

      You can clearly see the fries are overdone in the picture above if the customer ordered them “NOT OVERDONE, lightly cooked.”

      In this picture above, you can see the fries don’t appear overdone and the bacon is NOT CRISPY. If a customer asked for their bacon to be crispy, I would REFUSE to serve it and I would have enough CARING and COMMON SENSE to get that fixed **BEFORE** I brought it to the customer only to have the customer send it back or leave me a bad tip for not caring about their food.

      My server’s job isn’t just to bring out what the kitchen staff gives them, it’s also getting the order OBVIOUSLY correct to the table as much as possible in order to get that good tip. As someone said on a blog or forum “They just want to be tipped well and will do pretty much anything reasonable to get your money”, which that IS VERY REASONABLE to think OUR SERVERS ACTUALLY CARE ABOUT THEIR TIP TO GET THINGS RIGHT TO HAVE A BETTER TIP!!

      Get what I am saying here? MOST of the mistakes happen due to either your server if they bring out the food or another server that doesn’t compare the ticket to the food(assuming the order was put in correctly by the original server of course).

      You also can notice if someone has wing sauce “On the side” vs. “On the wings” themselves. This isn’t rocket science.

      Most of the things that are wrong with the food can be caught by the server if they bring out the food, even if they didn’t cook it. If it’s another server, they can catch obvious errors on the ticket and menu(such as menu states the item comes with bbq sauce and the ticket doesn’t say “no bbq sauce”) if the ticket was correctly put in by the original server that took the order. Condiments(in bottles or on the side in containers) can always be offered to be brought out ahead of time REGARDLESS of WHO brings out the food to the table.

      So most of the time when the food has something wrong with it, chances are, your server or another server could have caught the mistake before it got to you in most instances. I NEVER said ALL, but in most cases, it can be caught BEFORE bringing out the food(unless another server brings out the food with the ticket wrong), because then the original server that took the order is at fault for putting the order in incorrectly into the computer.

      There are few rare cases where the food being wrong is the kitchen staff’s fault such as raw food(such as raw chicken), slightly undercooked or overcooked food that you’d have to CUT into to know if it was under or overcooked, or anything the server cannot see with their eyes unless they were to TOUCH the food. Things such as a pickle under a bun the server can’t notice unless they lift the bun, so unless they put the order in wrong, they wouldn’t be at fault, but in general most food mistakes can be caught BEFORE bringing the food to the table.

      What I am saying is, MOST mistakes ARE PREVENTABLE by the SERVER if they bring your order to you that they can NOTICE things wrong by comparing those written orders to the plates of food.

      Once a waiter at Chili’s said “The kitchen forgot” when I had ordered 2 sides of mayo and 1 side of mustard. The thing is, my waiter brought out the food, so NO, HE HE HE HE HE FORGOT, the kitchen staff didn’t step out the kitchen to bring me my food and forget obvious missing containers from my plate that aren’t covered up by anything. MY WAITER DID THOUGH!!

      You walk in one room in your house with a plate of food, but forget the ranch. Even if your mom or significant other plated your food, which you even told her you wanted a side of ranch for your fries, but you bring it to another room. HOW IS THAT THEIR FAULT? It’s YOUR FAULT YOU LEFT THE ROOM WITHOUT THE RANCH AND DIDN’T NOTICE IT SINCE IT’S SOMETHING OBVIOUS YOU DON’T HAVE TO *TOUCH* TO NOTICE THE MISTAKE!!

      Even if he didn’t bring out the food, that waiter could have prevented that type of thing from being forgotten since it needs no cooking to bring it out ahead of time. It is always the person bringing out the food that is at fault for any type of mistake that you don’t have to TOUCH the food to notice the mistake, unless of course, the order was put in wrong by the original server that took the order with another server bringing out the food. Of course unless, the kitchen goofs up, making it correctly even if the ticket is wrong, but that’s highly unlikely scenario.

      I cannot believe you honestly think that the server is not at fault for most food mistakes. WE LIVED THROUGH THE “DUH” MISTAKES, SO WE CAN SEE WITH OUR EYES WHO WAS AT FAULT!!

      We had a waiter once admitted he grabbed the wrong entrée from the kitchen. It was just my husband and I. This waiter not only admitted he didn’t compare the WRITTEN ORDER with the entrées he was bringing out, but also we saw he had other entrées for another table that he didn’t ONCE get his pad of paper out to see WHICH ENTRÉE WENT WITH WHICH TABLE!! So 2 times he could have caught his mistake, but didn’t *****TRY HIS BEST AS HE SHOULD HAVE, because that’s HIS JOB**!!

      He admitted that he grabbed the wrong entrée from the kitchen. He brought my husband fried shrimp w/fries when he ordered crawfish au gratin w/baked potato. Those items look NOTHING A LIKE, but yet THAT WAITER WAS TOO LAZY AND UNCARING TO VERIFY *WHAT* HE WAS BRINGING US!! We still left him 17% BTW, just to let you know since he profusely apologized TWICE and FIXED THE SITUATION IMMEDIATELY just about. We honestly shouldn’t have though, because that really didn’t make him LEARN anything. If I had to do it all over again, I would have tipped 13%. It’s because since that happened(a number of years ago, maybe like 4), me and my husband have had some terrible experiences. We have had good ones too of course, but the servers need to LEARN that they can’t just hand you ANYTHING like McDonald’s cashiers do. They are there to EARN a tip, NOT to just hand you anything.

      It’s very rare that it’s not the server’s fault. Things like if I order no pickles if you took my order and brought out my food, which there are some pickles under a bun that you’d have to lift it to see it, unless you admitted putting in the order wrong, I will assume it’s the kitchen staff that is at fault and probably is.

      Things like raw chicken tenders aren’t the fault of the server.

      A slightly over or undercooked steak if the order was put in correctly is not the server’s fault.

      Also, some people assume things as well, that end up being wrong.

      If another server brings out a wrong side dish or if they are missing items other than condiments, no it’s not the server’s fault if they put in the order correctly, but it still counts against the tip. It’s part of the service.

      Why also is it when you say “no pickles” or “ONLY lettuce and onions”, they still have a pickle on the plate? WHY you servers can’t understand that if the customer states they don’t want pickles, that means on the plate, because otherwise, they’d specifically state they would have wanted it “ON THE SIDE.” Think about it. WHY do I keep having servers bring me some pickles on the plate when I ordered no pickles? NO SERVERS ARE BLIND OR ILLITERATE that they cannot determine any of the obvious errors that don’t have to be touched to notice the mistakes or mistake.


      If the customer can notice a wrong price, so can the server.

      Also, what about servers that don’t try their best like not writing down request like boxes, bags, checks, containers for condiments, refill request, THEN FORGET THEM.

      You are such a LIAR! WHY do you want to LIE, huh? Most issues are because of your server or some other server which is part of the service you are tipping BASED ON the **SERVICE**, NOT only WHO came to your table in your service that made it miserable, but everyone that was at your table is part of the tip.

      “it’s not really fair to take it out on him or her.”

      It’s fair in that if the person or people serving you were actually at fault it is.

      • At the risk of feeding a troll here… What the flaming heck was that post?!?

        Life’s too short for that sort of nonsense, go for a bike ride.

      • Linz

        Um…you are a very angry person. And servers usually have many tables to wait on so you can’t really expect them to remember that your order was ‘crispy’ and not ‘not crispy’ when they are bringing to you

        • Springs1

          “And servers usually have many tables to wait on so you can’t really
          expect them to remember that your order was ‘crispy’ and not ‘not
          crispy’ when they are bringing to you”

          I cannot believe you are saying “remember” LAZY IDIOT! A hard worker would COMPARE THEIR ***********WRITTEN ORDER TO THE FOOD****************YOU STUPID IDIOT!

          WHY would they have to “remember” that? I wouldn’t expect that you dumb idiot! I would expect them to do just as you do when you go to the grocery store, you compare your written list with what is in your cart, if it all matches, then you head to the check out line. HOW THE HELL IS THIS**********ANY***************** DIFFERENT************** than being a server serving food that you can ***SEE***** **********WITHOUT TOUCHING THE FOOD****************, huh?

          I expect them to get it right since I am **********TIPPING************ THEM YOU DUMB LAZY IDIOT, DUHHHHHHHHHHHH! THAT’S THEIR JOB!!!

      • Katie

        Holy shit.. you should never eat out at another restaurant again.

        • Springs1

          Why, because I am telling the GOD’S HONEST TRUTH?

      • urs

        I think I know why you’ve had so many bad experiences with wait staff.

  • rresaff

    My mother worked as a waitress in the 1980s and liked tipping because it was untaxed, under-the-table
    income. I know the IRS expects waitstaff to list tipped income now, so the
    regular customers her restaurant had who always tipped poorly and were rotated through
    the staff would be a burden now. She worked the evenings and watched my
    siblings and me in the day; my dad worked the day and watched us in the
    evenings so the schedule couldn’t be beat despite the low wage. She worked in a
    small town restaurant so even at more than 20% tips would not compare to
    minimum wage today… not that minimum wage could cover childcare even now. My
    dad in the 1970s worked kitchen prep, received no tips but whose work the
    waitstaff were judged on, so that caused some personnel friction that I hear
    still exists today. I worked a year at Dunkin’ Donuts in the early 2000s when a
    large coffee was $1.85, most people left that $0.15 and the volume a high
    traffic morning rush hour(s) shop could handle was phenomenal. I got minimum wage
    (I think it was $6.75, maybe $7/hour) but took home from $15-18/ hour. I was
    just passing through but several single mothers used that as their permanent
    full-time job because (by lying to the IRS) it gave them a decent income and
    allowed them to watch their kids in the afternoons and evenings. Most had
    another family member or friends get their kids to school, a couple hours in
    the morning being a not-too-burdensome request.

    From all that experience I tip everyone who gets minimum wage a little bit at least, even if I pay by
    credit card and have to leave a dollar on the counter at a bakery or something,
    and low-salary staff a minimum of 20%, about 25% if they are efficient and
    attentive, never less than 18% even if they are new or untrained, only once can
    I recall leaving about 10% when the server wasn’t just incompetent but angry
    and rude.

    I’d love for the system to change, but I understand why big earners
    at fancy restaurants want to keep things as they are. Plus, inertia.

  • Gokhan Arslan

    “I applied pressure with my foot on the gas pedal for 12 minutes and guess what, he didn’t tip. Can you believe that?”

    America is really weird about the tipping customs. In Turkey, the waiters/waitresses and food delivery guys are tipped. It is not mandatory and you won’t be called cheap if you don’t. For the equivalent of $25 pizza delivery, you even get thanked if you tip $1.

    Not tipping valets and bellmen is weird, but I don’t interact with them on a daily basis –a couple of times in a year maybe– so I don’t worry much about the logic behind it.

  • Beebles

    America’s tipping system is ass-backwards, just like it’s university tuition costs, refusal to use the metric system…

    • M.B.

      You hit the nail on the head to be honest.. the last sentence made me chuckle 🙂 Stubborn americans eh?! haha.

  • Pretty much everyone here hates tipping. At best it is ridiculous and at worst it is totally unconscionable to let an employer refuse to pay a worker basic wages. Someone who works shouldn’t be dependent on personal whims and cultural pressure to pay them for their work. What if clothes retailers depended on customers to choose whether and how much to pay their suppliers for the materials they used to make the clothes? That would be insane, right!? The seller of a product is responsible for paying to have the product made and delivered, and then charging the customer their costs plus a profit margin. Why do we let restaurants, hotels, and other businesses shove their cost of labor onto customers? Why is it the customer’s job to figure out the business’s cost of labor and then pay it for them? Insane.

    But there is a straightforward fix. Change the law. Eliminate “federal tipped wage” ($2.13/hr) and require that everyone who works gets paid minimum wage ($7.25/hr. Still not living wage, but that is another battle).

    7 states already require all workers get paid minimum wage.

    If all states required this (and if minimum wage were actually enough to live on) then the burden of paying workers would be on employers, where it belongs. We could all go out to eat and know that the price on the menu is the actual price we need to pay, and not go through the ridiculous process of deciding how much to pay a worker because their employee is legally able to not pay them.

    • James

      A “living wage” may sound good in theory, but any kind of minimum wage introduces too many inefficiencies to the economy that it actually worsens the labor market and will increase unemployment.

      • M.B.

        Based on pure speculation james… I suggest that you look more indepth into the whole thing instead of just repeating what some politican tells. I am absolutely amazed that there’s no minimum wage in so many states in the US. Here, it’s been law for decades (since 1968, I come from the Netherlands) and the effects have been reasonably positive. 21 of the 27 members of the european union have minimumwage laws. The countries without minimumwage laws are definately not outperforming the other countries.. although I guess thats by far not the only relevant factor to consider in that regard.. but still.

        I wouldn’t even want to go to work when I am not guaranteerd a certain pay.. How can people live with such uncertainty? I feel for those people who work in the service industry, not knowing each month if they can pay their bills. It’s a faulty system.. based on ideals that are unrealistic and unfitting for todays world.

        • James

          I agree service industry employers should pay their own labor costs and not pass them on to the consumer through tips, but minimum wage is a whole other topic.

          I have a degree in economics, I’m not just regurgitating what politicians say. A minimum wage is a price floor, which is an artificial price not determined by the free labor market. A free market is always more efficient. An employer won’t pay a wage you’re happy with? Don’t work for them. This will force them to raise their wages to a satisfactory level. If EVERYONE stopped tipping tomorrow, all the workers would immediately quit work because they would refuse to work for 2.14$/hour, forcing the service industry to pay higher wages in order to retain their work force.

          Its supply and demand

          • L

            Dude. You need to double check the ideology in your statements. A free market is always more efficient? Really? Then what the f happened with GFC? Also, please come check out what is happening in Australia where we have super high minimum wages – admittedly it just means that many people in the hospitality industry get hired to work less hours – but seriously, $20 for a five hour shift per week for $100 vs $3 per hour for 30 hours and only getting $90, I know what I prefer. Not everything can be simplified down to free market trumps everything.

            • James

              You’re looking at it from a personal level, economics is concerned with the whole picture. You may prefer having a guaranteed higher pay, but what about when employers can’t afford it and lay off employees, including you? You obviously don’t understand economics, which is completely fine, but don’t try to argue against something you have no idea about.

            • You may recall from your economics class that free markets are only efficient when lots of conditions–perfectly transparent information, perfect competition, no externalities, and more–are met. If you look back at your notes you will see that “inequality of bargaining power” is on the long list of market failures. People can only bargain for better wages–either by negotiating a better wage or by walking out on a job that only pays them $2 an hour–if there is a better job for them to go to. Even in the most robust economy (which we are not now in) most low-wage workers do not have that bargaining power, meaning that low wages are not a perfect reflection of supply and demand, they are a product of a market failure.

              If a business truly can not continue without someone else (government welfare or customer tips) subsidizing their employees, then you’re right, they should go out of business.

              But real-world experience with minimum wage indicates that most businesses can pay employees more, they just won’t do it unless they have to.

    • ljoire

      I agree with your sentiment about requiring states to eliminate the tip wage — ie, letting tips account for a certain portion of the hourly wage. That’s is absolute nonsense and leaves a portion of what should be a steady wage, up to the whims of the customers visiting the establishment. And on slow days where tips are lower, the waiter/waitress is essentially being underpaid!

    • cl23

      Though paying everyone minimum wage seems like a straightforward fix, it may not be. Think of how your service might be if the money a server receives does not depend on providing helpful friendly service to you. This system is in place so that servers and bartenders are on their best behavior to provide you with an excellent experience- their money depends on it. If you eliminate this factor, service may not be as good.

      • You are assuming the system works like this: customers pay more money to waiters who give them better service. Waiters now that and are motivated to provide better service.

        Unfortunately, the reality is quite different.

        1) Waiters tips are much more dependent on the bill than on service. Say you get bad service at a nice restaurant where you spent $50. You tip the minimum–15%–your low-performing waiter gets $7.50. You get amazing service at a diner where you spend $10. You give a huge tip–25%–your amazing waiter gets $2.50. You would have had to spend 4 times as much time for your amazing waiter to come out $2.50 ahead of the low-performing waiter.

        2) Many restaurants don’t let waiters keep 100% of their tips. When i waited tables, all tips went into a jar and were evenly distributed amongst all wait staff (waiters all got the same amount as each other, and bus boys all got the same lower amount). Where was my performance bonus? There are other examples in this thread of how restaurants redistribute tips. All this shows is that tips are often treated as a wage, not a performance incentive.

        3) Tips are more dependent on appearance than performance. You know which waiters get tipped the most? The black man who is attentive, quick, and friendly? Nope. The white, blonde, slender, large-breasted woman.

        • cl23

          Though I see your point on all accounts, and you are not incorrect, these factors don’t necessarily make an argument for making a flat wage.

          1) A nice restaurant and a diner are still going to pay different flat rate wages should that be the system in place. Whether you are a waiter at a nice restaurant on either system, you’re still going to make more money than someone who is a waiter at a diner. This is just simply where you’ve chosen to be employed. That aside, there is still a large portion of the tip that is determined by the waiter’s performance.
          2) So the waiter pulls tips. There’s still an incentive to get more money into that jar as that jar will be distributed however it is distributed, and you will receive your share. The more money in that jar= more money to disperse between coworkers. I disagree that there is still not a performance incentive aspect to this type of distribution, because everyone is just counting on the other service employees to have better performance.
          3) Who is going to get a better tip, the black man who is attentive, quick and friendly or the black man who is lazy, slow, angry, and messes up your order?

          A flat wage system is going to make service employees a lot less motivated and a lot less attentive, because their actions do not effect what they’re getting in return. Many service employees often gripe about the side work and things they aren’t “paid for” and their motivation would be at an all time low if they were not tipped on performance.

          • You can still tip a minimum wage worker. Paying everyone minimum wage just means the tip becomes a tip, not a wage. Customers have the option to give a tip if they got great service, but they aren’t obligated to pay the waiter’s base wage because the employer pushed it off onto them.

      • Have you ever been to the Container Store? They provide amazing service–friendly, attentive, knowledgeable, genuine. Why? Because their employer treats them well and rewards performance, meaning the employer can hire people who provide better service, reward those who perform well, and fire those who don’t. It is the employer’s job to provide the customer with great service, including curating, rewarding, and motivating their employees.

        Why would it work better for a restaurant to hire any old person, pay them $2/hour, and then leave it up to the customer to try to evaluate and incentivize their performance? Especially when customer tips are, at best, lightly correlated with employee service and more correlated with how that customer feels about tipping overall, this is an extremely poor way to incentivize employee performance.

        Evaluating, rewarding, and motivating employee performance should be the employer’s job. Customers could then pick the establishments that provide consistently good service.

  • wobster109

    I still take issue with this chart:

    You can tell just by looking at it that perception =/= reality. On the chart, “women” are a tiny smidgen above average, while “men” are solidly above average. What’s average then? How on earth can men and women both be above average? Is there a surprisingly large population of gender-neutral customers balancing it out somehow?

    To put another way: if a poll found that women were slightly above average and men significantly above average in HEIGHT, that would be obviously wrong.

    • Christopher Cassady

      Well, do keep in mind the chart is based on a rather small sample of population, and likely the amounts were reported by the people receiving tips, leaving room for quite a bit of error. I much broader study would be interesting to see.

  • AJ

    Here in Australia, you only tip if you receive exceptional service. Tips are not expected but appreciated. This applies to all professions.
    Everyone is paid properly too and even the minimum wage can support a decent lifestyle.

  • Zlata Zolotovitski

    Somehow nobody mentioned housekeeping in hotels/motels, although, it’s an extremely hard job with minimum wage and very low and rare tips. Usually, housekeepers are immigrants with almost no language at all, so they cannot find any other work, even as waiters.

    When I just immigrated to Canada, I use to work as housekeeper for 3 months, as well as waitress, hairdresser and sandwich maker later, so I know the difference. Housekeeping, especially in motels, is, probably, the closest thing to hell on earth – hard, dirty work, lots chemicals, nonstop cleaning, physically demanding (try to change linen on 30-40 beds a day with heavy mattresses with maximum speed and immaculate accuracy). So, tips there are exceptionally important and highly appreciated.

    There are some tips on tipping in hotels:
    1) if you are staying for more than one night, leave tips each morning instead of giving one large amount at the end of your stay (very often you’ll have different housekeepers who clean your room, and middle stay cleaning is harder than end-of-stay cleaning (15 min instead of 30 min per room, need to deal with your stuff instead of empty room, etc.), besides that, end-of-stay cleaning very often assigned to more senior staff who gets all tips, and “juniors” nave to live just on minimal wage with no tips at all. So, if you want to have your room really clean and tidy, and be appreciated for your kindness, please, leave some tips.

    2) Leave tips in local currency!!! Banks do not accept coins from other countries; and, come on, who wants to go to the bank after 8 hours of hard work to exchange tips that could be equivalent $1 minus banks fee? You would not do it yourself, so, have some respect for people who make your stay comfortable and enjoyable.

    3) Be generous – it’s a really hard work with the only satisfaction in form of minimal wage. There is almost no communication like in other customer service positions, no positive emotions, and, often, there is a quite mean supervisor (who, sometimes, collect tips from end-of-stay rooms – another reason to leave tips in the middle of your stay). Sometimes your tips can make a huge difference in somebody’s life.

    4) Leave Thank You note with your tips – you’ll make a day for your housekeeper 🙂

    I quit that job in 3 months, got pretty nice career, immigrated to USA, earned an MBA, have my own business. Important things that I’ve learned on this position are to leave good tips and make housekeeping easier for others.

    • Boris Bogdanov

      Oh… Somehow I didn’t ever think about tipping housekeepers in hotels. Thanks for your story, I’ll remember it for next time I stay somewhere. =)

    • lampkinscane

      Never knew about the end of stay thing with tips – good to know! I usually leave $5 a day. But agree – of all the services mentioned, I was surprised housekeeping was not mentioned

    • Sampietri

      I concur with the others, as a frequent traveler I really hadn’t thought about this. Thanks for your valuable “tips”.

  • M.B.

    In the Netherlands, it’s common to tip in restaurants, or food delivery people, but the tipping doesn’t go anywhere near 20% on average. If I get a 19 euro tab, i’d round it up to 20 but thats it. The waiters/waitresses get paid a minimum wage, which isn’t very high so people tend to leave small tips but it’s not very weird to not tip at all – although people might think you’re a little cheap.

    If I’m out dining with a big group, and the bill comes and it’s around 200 euro, there’s no way we’re leaving a 40 euro tip (20%). It would probably be 10-15 euro but that’s it – and thats fair in my opinion. Everyone leaves 1 or 2 or 3 eur and be done with it.

    Funny to read all the different customs concerning tipping around the world though. 🙂

  • Red

    In Japan, tipping is seen as an insult because they do a good job because it’s their job. If you leave money, the staff will chase you to give your money back.

  • hepcatbflat

    i think that Mr. Pink answered this question in Reservoir Dogs

  • ljoire

    I’m 30, and over the last few years I’ve been slowly reducing the amount of tips I’ll pay. If I have a raucus evening in the local pub with friends and the waitress was good to us, she’ll get a healthy tip for sure. But if I go down there for a meal and a pint after work, I’m not tipping 20%. The waiter is doing their job, they brought me my food and drink and went away again, I don’t really see the need to give them $4 on a $20 order. Ditto when I go into a coffee shop and ask for just a cookie, or brownie, or a drip coffee. Maybe I’ll tip 20 cents, but come on, they reached into the cooler, grabbed the snack, rang up my bill, and I left: where is the service here which requires tips?

    Why do we differentiate between service workers who deserve tips and those who don’t? We don’t tip the guy who helps us with a TV purchase in a big box store; we don’t tip the gas station attendant; we don’t tip the girl who sells us the movie ticket at the theatre: “hell no, that’s crazy!” Well then why tip waitstaff for bringing me a beer (which the bartender handed them) which I decided on, asked for, will pay for, etc?
    Funnily enough, I DO tip on take-out, because I know the kitchen staff had to work and stress over my meal, and they deserve something for their efforts. Sure, maybe 80% ends up in the waitstaff’s pockets, but that’s a little bit more to the kitchen crew than they could have received.

    • cl23

      We differentiate between who we tip well because of their salaries. The guy who helps you with a TV is undoubtedly paid an hourly salary whereas the waiters and bartenders are receiving typically around $2.83 per hour. Also, the waitstaff tips out bartenders typically, so the bartender is receiving their portion of that server’s tip.

      • Sooty Mangabey

        $2.83/hour is beyond criminal. Where on earth would this be besides say Myanmar??

        • urs

          Here in Kansas they can start you at $2.15/hr. You might get a raise to $3 eventually, but not a lot of places pay more than that, or the actual minimum wage, to waiters and/or bar staff.

          • Sooty Mangabey


      • James

        its $2.15/hour here

  • Chick cop

    I live in one of the states in the US that requires everyone, including people in the service industry, to be paid at least minimum wage (none of this $4/hr stuff). While I would say that eating out is more expensive here than in other states, that may be due to most food having to be flown or driven in (Montana doesn’t have a great growing season). Because people in the service industry are still paid at least minimum wage, as small as that may be, jobs that incur tips are pretty highly sought after in my fair town. Usually, in a restaurant, tips are split evenly between the waitstaff and the cooks. If you $8/hour job actually pays $14-16/hour, that’s a pretty decent wage in this state. I started my career job, that I had attended college for, getting paid less than that.

    That being said, my husband and I still tip a minimum of 15% at all times, going higher for good service. I had a great server the other day who was so bloody fantastic that we tipped him 50% of our bill.

    We work tips into our budget with the idea that if we can’t afford to tip, we can’t afford to eat out. This is partially because we live in a college town, and most of our service staff are students trying to get a degree. We’ve both been there, and know how hard it is to make ends meet as a college student, so this is a small way we can give back to our town and “our” students. Not only that, it may help make up for the people that didn’t tip at all.

  • wobster109

    Another thing that’s weird is tip being a percent of the bill. It’s the same amount of work for the server, so why does it even depend on that?

    • It’s a short hand so people don’t have to think that hard about what they are doing. I relish the ease of figuring with percentages (Bill is $26.37… so 10% is about $2.60ish, so double that and round up to $6, done!). Maybe there’s an easier way but I don’t know it…

      • wobster109

        $5 per person per sitting. Add on for good service, subtract for bad service.

        • micmaster1

          So if a couple spends $100 on their dinner, your plan is to tip the server $10? Really? You’re either a total simpleton, or you know nothing about the restaurant business.

          Speaking of which….the percentage is important because a server gets taxed on a certain percentage of their sales, whether they actually make that money in tips or not.

          • wobster109

            Why am I the simpleton? Suppose I spend $10 on dinner (same restaurant, but I ordered the cheapest thing). The server still has to bring me water and bread sticks. They still have to write down my order bring my check. I still spend an hour there. Why does my server get paid so much less for the same work? If we tip by percents, your server gets $20 and mine gets $2 for the same work. Isn’t that weird?

            It seems to me that taxing servers based on sales is weird, random, and unfair.

  • I live in Washington State where folks get a high minimum wage ($9.47/hr and going up in some places) in addition to their tips and I still regularly tip 20% or more.

    Partly it’s my deep and lasting laziness in partnership with a desire to be loved by everyone (The Monkey-Mammoth Tango), but also because I have family that still works in the service industry and I know how much those tips mean to them.

    I never try to figure out anything more than 10% increments because, well, math is hard, but 10% I can do. If a waitress or waiter is openly rude more than once, exceptionally negligent, or tells me to go screw myself (when I didn’t deserve it), only then will I think about leaving a 10% tip or less.

    Just like Tim said in the post, it really doesn’t add up to much more over the course of a year to be a bigger tipper and you get the benefit of feeding your ego while helping someone who just might really appreciate it.

  • Sampietri

    Interesting the posts where tell us how tipping rules are in other countries. In USA, as Mr. Pink noted very well, we are is supposed to tip in practically mandatory way even if the server doesn’t deserve it. Very interesting article, congrats.

  • Jon Lizarraga Diaz

    I am 100% against tipping. Don’t get me wrong, I never tip less than 20% but every time i feel like I’m being robbed.The way I see it it’s the employers responsibility to give his/hers employers a decent salary. Yes, they are serving me, and that service should be paid, just not by me but by the person who hired them to do that.

    I’m from Spain, where waiters get at least minimum wage, and if you tip (which is not required or even expected), you leave a couple of euros, or round up the bill to an even number. When I move to New York and found out about this tipping madness I felt I was being scammed. The fact that neither taxes or tips are included on menus is one baby step away from lying.

  • Matthew

    In the UK you’d usually only tip in a restaurant, and sometimes there’s a notice on the menu/cardreader that a gratuity has been included in the price. Generally low tippers give 20%. This is normally totally based on how good the service was. Sometimes tips go into a jar and are distributed evenly to servers, which nerfs that a bit.

    This is very different to 15-20 years ago when no one ever tipped anyone. I remember by the time I was doing my GSCEs tipping was still fairly new and 10% was standard, but it’s crept up. Even more alarming are tips jars in coffee shops and cafés. I’ve noticed as well that more people expect tips in London than elsewhere- taxi drivers, hairdressers, etc will all expect tips there (especially North London) whereas elsewhere it’s just restaurants.

    It feels sometimes as though The Guardian tackles this subject from a British perspective every other week (spoiler: they’re not fans of tipping):

  • Sampietri

    Raise your hand those of you that hate a waiter returning again and again to ask you “is everything ok?”. Most of the time you have a mouthful of food! Somebody told me that this is because they need you to leave the restaurant as soon as possible.

    • James

      No, its not. They are just trying to do there best to give you good service and be available for anything you need, instead of making you wait too long for something like ketchup or ranch or water. The key a good, experienced server will be able to do this intuitively without bothering you and asking everytime. But they are just trying to give good service, they’re just trying to do their job.

  • Sampietri

    And one tip about tipping: If you don’t tip at least 15% at a restaurant in USA my advise is not to return there in the near future…just in case.

  • sportibus

    As somebody from Austria, I’m in a quite interesting position. In most places in Vienna you would tip 10%, however if you are not happy with the service (because it took ages for your food to arrive, or your coffee was cold) it is socially acceptable to not tip at all. Also we have this thing, where when it comes to small amounts you just round up to the next euro (which at times is 20%, at times only 5%) disregarding the service completely. Of course there are fancy places where you’d expect a waiter to be rude (that’s why you go there – we find overly nice waiters creepy)and still tip well.
    i have to say I quite enjoy the freedom of deciding if and how much I’d like to tip (I have to admit, our waiters can live off their minimum wages) – though if you grow up with that system, going to the US is quite a change.

    I understand that one is expected to tip 20% in the US – simply because it’s part of the deal and some waiters couldn’t earn their living otherwise – still I feel it should be the employers responsibility to pay their staff enough money, that the customer can decide how much the extra effort was really worth.

    • James

      waiters being nice is creepy? I’ve never heard that one before, mind elaborating the thought behind this?

      • CorbecJayne

        This is generally a different mindset of Central European countries (I’m from Germany). People don’t care much about casual interaction with strangers, even if they are very sociable among people they know.

        This is also the reason why stores like Walmart haven’t really set off in these countries, while no-frills services and products (removing of non-essential features to keep the price low) are more popular.

        Psychologically, if Walmart tried to go to let’s say Germany, people might be greeted as they come in and think “get out of my way, leave me alone, I just want to buy food, not talk to random strangers”. A grocery bagger (they don’t exist here) might try to help them and they will get annoyed “Stay away from my stuff, I just bought this, and I can bag this myself”.
        Also, even if I might find it sort of nice for employees to greet me, logically, I think “Okay, but this is an actual quality that costs money. I don’t want to pay money for people to be nice to me at stores, I have enough friends, and I know they are just doing it because that’s their job. Also, I would rather pack my own groceries instead of paying someone for such a personal task.”

        This also applies to waiters at Restaurants. If an employee of the Restaurant is very kind to me, that’s usually not genuine, but a part of their job. If I offend a waiter, I want them to tell me, not play nice and spit in my food later.

        Different countries, different mindsets.

        • James

          Thank you for elaborating, that’s actually really interesting. As someone who hates insincere small talk I would love if we were more like that. But maybe not to that level. I do think people should be pleasant and courteous to each other, especially someone in a customer service role. Not because they have to because they’re getting paid, but just as a human being. I’ll keep these things in mind next time I’m travelling to that part of the world.

          I grew up in Japan but I’m American. In Japan the culture is the polar opposite. Everyone is super polite to strangers, ESPECIALLY customer service roles. You won’t be treated better anywhere else in the world. The thing is, it is normally very insincere but you’re expected to put up the front. You can only be yourself and express what you’re really thinking with people you’re close to. I could go really in depth but I’ll leave it there.

      • Carolyn Ridout

        I think they mean when they are artificially nice, like trying too hard/fishing for tips. I find that sometimes in stores with commission, people are almost harrassing you with service

  • Dimitri Aiello

    Here in Brazil, some restaurants automatically include a 10% tip on the bill. This tip is later distributed evenly to all employees, but they all must receive a salary (labor laws are pretty rigid here). You can give a higher tip to the person who served you, but that’s not usual and never expected (unless maybe if you are a tourist and don`t speak portuguese and the the person really tried to understand you, which is pretty common). If the service sucks, you can ask to remove the tip from the bill, but that could be awkward, sometimes the manager is called to ask you what happened. So, if you insist to not pay the tip you must have a very good reason.

  • meregoround

    Tipping is the stupidest thing I have to deal with day in and day out. There are so many reasons that tipping is inefficient, discriminatory and just plain annoying.

    Firstly, if someone gives you a discount (say a waiter when your food was late), you tip based on the original price (in theory, that’s the unspoken rule anyway) and the business loses money but the waiter/assistant doesn’t. Servers are supposedly meant to declare their tips on their taxes, but at the very least they’re going to under-declare and I’m guessing most of them don’t declare it at all. Sure they earn a shit wage, but I’ve worked minimum wage jobs were I got no tips (ski rentals – why don’t people tip 15-20% there, if I do my job wrong it’s going to physically hurt you!), and I couldn’t misdeclare my earnings to minimise my taxes, because it was all written down on my cheque exactly how much I earned. Why does the server get the majority of tips and not the cook? If I get food poisoning cos my chicken wasn’t cooked, I’m not blaming the server and yet they get such a small percentage. And the dishy?! God, that’s such a shit job, but they also see so little of the tips. Tipping is inefficient for the tax system and just unfair.

    Secondly, it’s been proven that tips are not in fact linked to service (a 2% correlation is weak to say the least), but it IS linked to big boobs, blonde hair and white skin ( And that tipping and corruption ARE in fact linked.

    Thirdly, tipping is just plain annoying. The splitting the bill at the end of a lovely dinner, calculating the tax and tip on top of the final number is one way to bring a nice dinner back to the business of money. The feeling of guilt if you don’t tip “enough” but really you’re earning minimum wage (or close to) as well. Dinner with guilt for dessert, no thanks. Also, we’ve all had that awkward moment where someone has asked you for tips and it makes you want to tip even less. Such a strange phenomenon.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      the worst thing now is that tipping is automatic, people will give a minimum of 10-15% for shitty service. that practice undermines the entire idea behind tipping in the first place.

  • meregoround

    I’ve been living in Canada for over two years, orginally from Australia, and I think I’ve finally got it sorted how much/when I’m meant to tip but this article just made me realise that when I got my car fixed on the weekend I didn’t tip my mechanic, but I did tip my hairdresser. WTF, that doesn’t make sense. There was no option to tip my mechanic and yet I put my life, not my hair, in his hands.

  • I own a bar in New York City, and although I believe the tipping situation in the US has gotten out of hand – often creating an almost adversarial relationship between servers and customers – it completely baffles me as to how to change it without a national law being passed. Studies have shown that adding a flat service charge, or saying “we pay our staff well so tips aren’t necessary” does not work well in the marketplace. The prices will necessarily go up, and if the restaurants or bars in the vicinity are not doing the same, people will gravitate toward the ones they see as “less expensive,” even if they are not once the tip is added. It’s psychological. Now if tipping was banned country-wide, prices would then be fairly consistent, removing that barrier. Without this, there’s no incentive for the average business owner to change the system.

    You also have to factor in that many in the service industry feel strongly that the success of their night depends on their giving good service. This is true despite the fact that studies have proven there is only a minimal correlation between good tips and good service. Combine this with the fact that a decent server job will absolutely make you more in tips than a regular wage and there’s very little incentive for ANYone in the industry to want to change the status quo.

    It will be interesting to see how the increases in minimum wage play out in this state. That could be a game changer. Based on what I’ve seen and heard we can probably expect a lot of mom and pop-type shops to close, or suffer from slower service as they can afford fewer staff. And as there also seems to be a growing focus on tipping in general (I’m seeing a lot more articles like this and the comments lean heavily – even aggressively – against the imperative to tip), perhaps a more sane system can be implemented over time. But it’s gonna be a bumpy ride until it gets sorted out.

  • Linda Rusty Russ

    Hi there,
    I am from a small town in rural Australia. We don’t have to tip for anything as wages cover everyones jobs accordingly. However, atvrestaurants there are sometimes tip jars and it is not an ecpected

  • DrSuess

    I’m a Canadian, and our social riles on tipping have ended up roughly similar to the US, but.

    (ps…. how has no-one posted the link to Resovoir Dogs???

    For me… it’s about the frequency that I go to a particular establishment. If it’s a one-off visit to a place outside my neighbourhood, I go very much by job performance… which can range from 0% to 20%.

    BUT, if it’s a place that I’m a regular, I tend to tip very well, as a means of improving future service. The guys I play hockey with go to the same bar after our games every Thursday at the same time (12 -25 guys). We have a big tab and tip about 25%. The waitresses fight over who gets our table. They memorize our orders. One young lady who served us for the better part of 4 years remembered our birthdays. It was a win-win for everyone. We got fantastic service. She got paid well.

    My wife and I went to France and Spain the other year, and we tipped like we do at home. The servers looked at us funny and some were out and out uncomfortable with it. They are paid well, have the dignity of professionals, and didn’t really expect it. A couple refused to take it.

    I guess, long story short, is that tipping is very specific to local culture and economics. Don’t be a dick and assume your local rules are “right,” and when you travel find our what is appropriate, and as R.A. Heinlein says, “rub mud on your belly and do as the locals do.”

    • Sooty Mangabey

      I guess I’ll be watching Reservoir Dogs pretty soon. Good dialogue 😀

      • Terry McG

        There will be some parts of the film you’ll remember by ear.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      probably because we’ve all seen it

  • Jim C

    I never know how a pricy (by my stds $60 and up) bottle or two of wine affects the tip. Also, it’s not a big deal, but does one include tax when tipping?

  • korakys

    I am from New Zealand and the only time I have tipped people is when I have been in other countries.

    I consider tipping to be a form of corruption and immoral. Even if tipping culture came to New Zealand I would never tip, it’s a slippery slope that will lead to bribery I think.

    When I am in other countries that are not my own though I sometimes tip to avoid difficult situations arising where I may be out of my depth.

  • R

    First world problem?

    • Rusty Shackleford

      US problem.

    • gerber

      Yep, so in the US tip 20% on the total amount. Done!
      If you are going to dine with a group try and pick a place where you order/pay at the counter. Best option, then you don’t have to worry about seeing what others tip or about the people who “forget” about that glass of wine they had.

  • MiyuEinzbern

    Never knew tipping existed (I knew of bribery tho) during my first 12 years of childhood in a 3rd world country. Still find it most incopetent,ridiculous and unfair a system as I thought it to be the first time a waitress brought the dam bill back asking me sweetly to contribute a tip to the 25$meal I ate (my tip was a measly 25cents since that’s all the money I had left in my pocket after the food payment)

    • Avis Brodess

      I find it an insult to our Country and Americans that you as a foreigner would post such a critical comment with regard to tipping. Firstly, what we know about you from this post and I will make assumptions because I don’t know you. You have managed to have all your meals paid for as a young adult and never had to worry about tipping. You have never had to work as a waitress and depend on tipping to support yourself nor you’re family. You have money enough to own you’re own computer, you are comfortable enough to travel by taxi to an airport and I might add pay for the flights as well. You are taking advantage of our educational system yet complaining about you’re pressured in-country college years. How can anyone possibly take you seriously?

  • Nc

    I am from the U.S. but have traveled to many countries that do not tip. I am GLAD we tip here and that earnings depend on tips. The service abroad is TERRIBLE!!

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