Monday, August 13, 2007

Tipping is Mandatory but a Five Buck Co-pay is Infuriating

I read at MSN money that 20% is the new 15% in terms of tipping:

I used to feel generous because I tipped 20% in restaurants. It was a shout-out, I thought, to my brothers and sisters on the wait staff: Been there, done that, so glad I don't have to anymore.

But it's not just my imagination that 20% isn't considered all that generous anymore. It's become standard....

One thing I won't do is skimp on tipping out of a false sense of economy. I feel strongly that if you can't afford to tip properly, then you need to curtail the activity that leads to the tipping. In the years when money was tight, I saved by eating out infrequently, going to cheap places to have my hair cut and taking public transportation rather than taxis. I didn't try to save by stiffing the folks who provided me with services I opted to purchase.

I have always been a fairly generous tipper; like the author above, I have worked in a number of restaurants during my time to pay for school and living expenses--so I have some empathy for wait staff and others. However, the best tip I got was from a woman who came up to me at a healthfood restaurant who said, "You better get a better attitude if you want to make a career of this work!" I left shortly afterwards, realizing that what she said was true--with my personality, I had no future in waitressing.

Anyway, I digress, the point I wanted to make in this post was that "yes, tipping can be important," but it should not necesarily be considered standard. I tip for a job well done and if I am treated poorly, I see no reason to pay for the privilege. I have also noticed that hairdressers and spa services charge more than psychologists get for an hour of psychotherapy from Medicare, our share? 67.00 per 60-75 minutes. I went to my hairdresser yesterday, and was there an hour and a half--my total bill: $110.00. You could say that the poor hairdresser has to pay for being in the spa, but try the overhead of a professional office, it's probably more.

Anyway, I totally disagree that if you are on a budget that you should have to give up riding in a taxi, going to get a haircut at a spa, or a massage if you are stressed just because you can't leave a whopping tip. If doctors and professionals can deal with people who balk at having to pay a five dollar co-pay for their care, then massage therapists and hairdressers etc. can tolerate not getting the whopping tip they think they deserve each and every time. Or perhaps the real lesson here is that many of those who snootily tell others that they owe whopping tips for service whether it is good or not, underneath it all think that luxury services are more important to pay for than healthcare.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I tip for a job well done and if I am treated poorly, I see no reason to pay for the privilege.

That about sums it up for me. And if the service is particularly egregious, which restaurant service sometimes is, a small token tip is better than none. Then the offender cannot rationalize that you "forgot."

11:21 AM, August 13, 2007  
Blogger Peregrine John said...

True, that. For the beautiful they sing, a tip is a tip, a gratuity with all that word's etymology implies. It's not in the bill. They no earn it, they no get it.


11:34 AM, August 13, 2007  
Blogger Derek said...

My "foreign friends" think we're nuts for the way we tip. I tend to agree. Worst of all, for me, is the belief that a large party justifies a mandatory tip. Just because there're more of us doesn't mean that the service was tipworthy - particularly when we could easily have sat at different tables to "beat" the 8-person limit. I have seen people speak with the manager about the fact that the service didn't justify the "automatic tip."

Personally, I tend to stay around 20% these days, as the kids in tow make bigger messes. When it's just the wife and me, I'm back to 15% unless service is good.

11:44 AM, August 13, 2007  
Blogger Mercurior said...

in the UK, we dont generally tip, unless they staff have gone far and away more than they needed, it made me smile the way so many people expect tips in america, when rowan was here she kept asking do i have to tip this person or that person.. no.. you dont, tips are in addition to the wage. maybe you will tip them if your going back later, builds up a bit of good will.

but to automatically expect 15-20% just for being there and they can treat you like shit, and they get it.. well..

of course some bars at nite, have a tip jar, everyone all the staff who gets a tip, puts it in the jar and its split at the end of the night.

11:59 AM, August 13, 2007  
Blogger DADvocate said...

What's weird about this is that a 15% tip for a meal is larger now than it was 10 or 20 years ago. The cost of the meal has gone up, thus forcing the tip up. The 15% is automatically tied to inflation.

And the 8 person limit is ludicrous. A couple of weeks ago 9 of us from work went out for lunch. The service was average at best and the waitress said she was "super sorry." She got her 15% because there was 9 of us. She would have gotten more if she had provided the necessary refills for our drinks. I've seen some restaurants that take 15% for 4 or more.

12:04 PM, August 13, 2007  
Blogger Mike said...

When I was in college, I had a waitress just steal part of my change. It was supposed to be something like $4.32 out of $10 for a sundae at Outback. She figured that as a college student I wouldn't tip well, which is ironic since it's generally the elderly that are misers in college towns, not the students.

So I let her keep that $0.32 as her tip. It was ironic because I would have left her $2.00 since all I ordered was that sundae, but who am I to quibble with her that her service was only worth $0.32?

I am serious about that comment about the elderly. Every acquaintance of mine who worked in any food business in college hated dealing with them. They'd order $20-$25 worth of pizza for example, and tip maybe $2.00 when gas was on the rise. College students on average gave 15-25% for such services.

1:08 PM, August 13, 2007  
Blogger Joe said...

I tip based on service, but generally go with 15-20% rounded to make my bill even. However, I hate the entire concept. It makes no sense and is terribly inefficient. It continues to exist mainly for tax purposes.

(One big frustration is not knowing the tipping policy of an establishment--do the tips go straight to the wait staff? Are they split with the kitchen? Are they pooled and then reapportioned? In a recent case, the waitress was trying her best and the kitchen kept messing up my order. I felt bad for her [she was almost in tears] and asked if I left a tip if she could guarantee the kitchen wouldn't see a dime of it--turns out at that place, all of the tip went to your waiter, so my wife and I were very generous to her.)

1:29 PM, August 13, 2007  
Blogger Earnest Iconoclast said...

I think that someone who couldn't afford a tip would probably not pay $110 to get their hair done... My barber gets a generous tip... usually $6-7 on a $15 bill.

I wish any business that used tipping would publish a tip schedule and how the service personel are being paid. Most of the time, people who are paid in tips aren't paid as much and so "normal" service should get a certain level of tip.

I really wish that the costs were just rolled into the price, but that's not going to happen.

1:51 PM, August 13, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder when tips became "mandatory?" My impression is that, at one time, people tipped in order to a) get special or extra service, b) reward better than usual service, or c) show the world that they were high-rollers and bigshots.

I haven't heard about 20% being the new 15%. I'm still a %15 tipper, more if service is exceptional, less if it's poor. Why? It's just how things are done.

3:10 PM, August 13, 2007  
Blogger Unknown said...

Pet peeve with tipping is when the waiter/tress asks if I need change. This not only drives me crazy (the assumption) but I always leave less of tip when they do that and explain why.

3:52 PM, August 13, 2007  
Blogger SGT Ted said...

As the joke goes; You want tips? Work at the circumcision clinic.

Otherwise, the tip is a voluntary act of gratitude rewarding prompt, attentive service, not an entitlement for carrying food plates from the kitchen to the table.

3:54 PM, August 13, 2007  
Blogger Serket said...

I agree with you. I think you should tip for great service, but you shouldn't be expected to.

A man can get a simple haircut for about $10 in Utah.

5:06 PM, August 13, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sgt ted - Here's a tip: Don't play with matches.

I think that's Three Stooges...

8:33 PM, August 13, 2007  
Blogger gs said...

I wonder how well the new "standard" 20% will hold up in the next recession.

9:14 PM, August 13, 2007  
Blogger Alcibiades said...

I try to avoid going to restaurants whenever possible.

I'm not a "people person" so I usually avoid all tipping situations.

10:13 PM, August 13, 2007  
Blogger pst314 said...

Funny how often we find journalists telling us what to do with our money. As if they have the knowledge and wisdom to pontificate on anything at all. Arrogant little busybodies, aren't they?

10:39 PM, August 13, 2007  
Blogger Unknown said...

pst 314: Most reporters are like Talking Barbie. They think math and science are very, very hard.

I tend to tip well on the rare occasions I can afford to go out. It's hard not to tip a little bit more for a waiter or waittress who is so dead to the world that the eyes start to cross when you put in your order & you're debating whether to order from the desert menu or call 911.

But that's the world I live in these days.

Helen, points for bringing up healthcare. This is hardly an academic matter, as you know. It's proving devastating for young boomers & older Xers alike. And the answers aren't high school debate club simple, like some people want them to be.


1:27 AM, August 14, 2007  
Blogger Troy said...

I tip 15% for a standard job done. I tip more if the service is better or if my kids make a bigger mess and it makes more work. I tip less if I can see the bottom of my Coke glass and it's not busy.

In TX the wait staff was exempt from minimum wage so they really relied on tips to make salary. Here in CA I think they're making minimum $8/hr. plus tips so I stick with the 15% since everything is jacked up here. A Coke at Claim Jumper is $2.75. Now I know it only costs maybe 40 cents (if that) a beverage so....

2:58 AM, August 14, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If it's a college kid trying to make ends meet, when we both know they need to be studying, I tip 20% even if the service isn't that good. If it's a kid living with the parents who just wants a loud muffler and subwoofer for his hot rod Civic, the service needs to be exemplary for 15%. And if he gawks at my daughters, he gets another kind of tip altogether. I can't blame the waiter / waitress if the food is not up to par, but I let them know the tip is for their service, not the food. But I have learned not to expect too much from McDonald's..........

5:11 AM, August 14, 2007  
Blogger The Frog Queen said...

I'm of the opinion that if you can't afford to tip, you can't afford to eat out, go to the salon, get a drink at a bar.

And seriously, anyone who can afford to spend $110 dollars on their hair better be leaving a tip. I think you forget that the service industry is in the lower income of the working class population. Without tips, it's nearly impossible to get by.

I'm also of the opinion that people who receive poor service, do so because they are ignorant, arrogant and look down at people in the service industry as though they are inferrior human beings.

I think some of you people need a less in humble. It doesn't sound like you understand what it's like to live at the bottom.

11:36 AM, August 14, 2007  
Blogger The Frog Queen said...

I'm of the opinion that if you can't afford to tip, you can't afford to eat out, go to the salon, get a drink at a bar.

And seriously, anyone who can afford to spend $110 dollars on their hair better be leaving a tip. I think you forget that the service industry is in the lower income of the working class population. Without tips, it's nearly impossible to get by.

I'm also of the opinion that people who receive poor service, do so because they are ignorant, arrogant and look down at people in the service industry as though they are inferrior human beings.

I think some of you people need a less in humble. It doesn't sound like you understand what it's like to live at the bottom.

11:36 AM, August 14, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can't be serious.

12:29 PM, August 14, 2007  
Blogger SGT Ted said...

I am of the opinion that cammy should EARN her tips and not expect free money from strangers for doing her job, for which she is already paid.

I think cammy also needs to project less and imagine that those paying customers keep her and other wait staff employed, even if they didn't leave a tip, because they frequent the business at all, as opposed to staying at home.

Cammy is free to find other forms of income rather than relying on those of us who are arrogant and ignorant for her bread.

I think cammy should mind her own damn business as to whether or not I take my wife or family out. If cammy wants to issue orders, she is free to get a cat.

I think cammy should show gratitude for those customers that frequent where she works, whether they tip or not. They don't HAVE to go there. They could all stay at home and then cammy could get let go because they listened to cammy and didn't go out to eat for want of tip money.

12:48 PM, August 14, 2007  
Blogger The Frog Queen said...

I'm not a waitress. Just so you know. I'm an EOD International Sales Rep. I happen to have a lot of respect for people that do thankless work for people who make huge percentages more a year. The people who work in the service industry keep everyone making the big bucks afloat and no one should ever forget that.

1:18 PM, August 14, 2007  
Blogger Midknight said...

Heh... as a former busboy I often tipped 15- 20% if the service was provided with a good attitude, and since around here, the waitstaff is living off tips, I don't mind. If the service is exemplary they get closer to 25%, and if they flub simple things but still do an okay job, I tip less. If the service really sucked, they get a nickel. I want them to know exactly how I feel and that I didn't "forget" or "stiff" them.

What drives me nuts is the number of places where they don't even bring out food or drinks to the table (Moes, Coldstone Creamery, etc.) where there's a tipping jar out..

What the heck? I'm now supposed to tip you for standing behind a counter and assembling an order only slightly more complicated than McD's or Wendy's?

1:33 PM, August 14, 2007  
Blogger Helen said...


You are way off the mark thinking that all of us using these services make "huge percentages"--whatever that means. I am sure that my hair dresser makes more than I do at my job as a psychologist so according to your logic, she should be tipping me. I know waiters in some area restaurants here making $80,000 per year. The average psychologist in my area? About 54,000 for more hours and some pretty thankless work. Where do I sign up? BTW, I save up for two months to make my hair appointment once every two months and yes, I do save for a tip but I can sympathize with those who cannot do so and think they should go get services anyway.

There are salons in my area where they welcome people who are scraping by who want to buy a nice gift certificate or personal service for a friend or others and can't afford to leave a tip. You apparently think they should be sitting home unable to participate because they can't tip--that is ludicrous and prejudicial. I'm glad some businesses are not as snooty as you are or else none of us who have ever been on a budget would be able to have a nice haircut, meal or beer.

1:38 PM, August 14, 2007  
Blogger The Frog Queen said...

Helen, thanks for twisting around my words.. oh and calling me prejudicial. And quite frankly I'm not snooty. It's obvious to me that there is a huge different between us. I don't go to a salon to cut my hair. I cut it myself. I believe that if you can't afford to tip then don't go to that expensive restaurant, go to one you can afford.

What kind of waitress/or makes 80 thousand a year? You must be speaking of Los Vegas or something, cause when I waitressed I made less than 20,000 dollars a year. Thats full time, making 6.50 an hour and being tipped anywhere between 10-20%. Perhaps your idea of a meal at a nice restuarant is far more expensive than mine. But no matter where I go, I'm always going to tip well. I never receive poor service because I treat the person waiting on me, like a person.

1:44 PM, August 14, 2007  
Blogger Helen said...


You state: "I'm also of the opinion that people who receive poor service, do so because they are ignorant, arrogant and look down at people in the service industry as though they are inferrior human beings."

That's not prejudicial?---please. Take a look at what you are saying. Did you ever stop to think that the wait person might treat people poorly for their own reasons. I have many examples if you would like some, here's one. I have always received excellent service from most restaurants but one day went in with a disabled friend and received crummy service since the waiter assumed we wouldn't tip. The crummy service included waiting on all tables around us but not us, not taking our drink order, and finally, not even bothering to pick up the check so that I could get change to tip him. I finally left a 20 on the 19.82 meal so that I didn't have to wait any longer.

BTW, I agree with your point that it is important to treat people well who wait on us. I always do and think it is a sign of poor manners when people are dismissive or rude to wait staff. In fact, you can tell alot about a person's character who treats those who are assisting him or her with rudeness. That said, there are circumstances where the waiter or waitress does not deserve a tip and it is not always the fault of the patron.

And yes, here in Knoxville, we have some waitresses and waiters making that kind of money--they must be excellent at what they do.

2:00 PM, August 14, 2007  
Blogger The Frog Queen said...

they must work in high-class restaurants.

2:05 PM, August 14, 2007  
Blogger Unknown said...

Yes, cammy, they do. Not all of them, but some.

Both my daughter and her husband work food service. My daughter is of the opinion that crappy waitresses don't deserve a damned thing. It's their job to be pleasant and efficient and if they fail to do so, they don't deserve a tip.

Know what they call older clients? Cotton-heads. And they presume they won't tip and some treat them like crap. My daughter talks with the women, mock flirts with the men and drags home 200+ a side cash at times.

You get what you deserve most of the time. Both ways.


gra·tu·i·ty n., pl. -ties.
1. a gift of money, over and above payment due for service, as to a waiter or bellhop; tip.
2. something given without claim or demand.

Note number two.

3:00 PM, August 14, 2007  
Blogger Helen said...


You said, "I never receive poor service because I treat the person waiting on me, like a person."

Really, so why do have a blog where you go to what I perceive as expensive restaurants and say this?

"For my main course I had a really wonderful piece of halibut with muscles and sweet potatoe gnochi. It had a beautifully light butter sauce on it and garnished is some light greens. We also split the cheese plate which was wonderful. I am a cheese fanatic.

I was very disapointed by the service. The waitor took one look at us two young looking gals (who by the way made reservations) and I guess he figured we would stiff him on his tip. He neglected us most of the evening. We waited so long for our bill that I had to go up and ask for it. We also noticed that he didn't seem to be neglecting other peoples drinks like he neglected ours. In the end we still tipped 20 % just to prove that we weren't broke kids, although he didn't deserve it. But if that ever happens to me again at this restaurant, I will make a formal complaint.

Main Course: $26
Cheese Plate: $17
Glass of Wine: $ 8.50"

Seems a little hypocritical to berate people who get bad service in restaurants for being ignorant and arrogant when you yourself are going to expensive restaurants and getting poor service. Were you arrogant and ignorant or just treated poorly because....waiters and waitresses actually do that sometimes? Frankly, for your $50.00 meal, it seems like you would have expected a little more.

4:30 PM, August 14, 2007  
Blogger Ill Tempered Cur said...

I've noticed that here in SoCal, the general level of service from waitstaff has deteriorated in the last decade. Still hasn't impacted the 15-20% that I regularly tip, but I find that I've started to resent it a bit. It tends to be the college students that do this, and it's galling. I've been to so many places in the last couple of years where the waitstaff appears to be dosed on thorazine. Now, I don't mind waiting a lot longer for a coffee refill when the restaurant is busy, but if they're standing around gossiping or chatting....

I don't mind the "need change?" or "need 1s?" questions, but it really irks me when I go to the trouble of counting out change to get back a $10 bill, but I get back a boatload of $1s. Especially when I can see in the cash drawer that they have a huge stack of $10s.

7:31 PM, August 14, 2007  
Blogger The Frog Queen said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8:51 AM, August 16, 2007  
Blogger Helen said...


You are not welcome on this blog--all further comments from you will be deleted.

2:04 PM, August 16, 2007  
Blogger kentuckyliz said...

I tip at least 20% because I'm really crappy at head math. It's easier to double 10% (and round up to whatever matches my cash or makes the math easy on the credit card slip) than to calculate 15%.

I'm really pleasant and polite to wait staff, so I get treated well.

I tip well at restaurants because I'm leisurely. It's table rent.

I've worked in I sympathize with the staff. I have abundance, might as well share the blessings.

I tip my hair guy 20%, even though it's not officially required because he's the salon owner; and I pay up front when I come in (including tip). He teases me that pre-tipping is a big risk! I told him that it's an investment and a signal--I'm expecting a good haircut/weave/whatever. TIPS: tipping insures professional service! This hair guy is so good, you have to book a whole year of appointments in advance, as soon as he opens his next year's calendar; he's voted the best in the region annually. And, because I tip him well, he has never raised my rates. I can't tell what I pay, because he charges everyone else a lot more.

Tip stooges don't get any respect from me. Poor character.

Cammy, it doesn't surprise me that you are young. You still have that attitude and chip on your shoulder. Thanks for providing us such rich entertainment.

2:10 PM, August 16, 2007  
Blogger Derve Swanson said...

I agree if you can't afford to tip for a job well down, you need to move down the scale to a more affordable meal or service.

Often, whether a tip is received or not, the server is taxed on those presumed wages. If you want to be cheap, you shouldn't do it on the back of the service provider, presuming they are indeed providing the proper service.

5:08 PM, August 16, 2007  
Blogger Derve Swanson said...

For example, massage schools offer a discounted rate. Restaurants often offer lunch specials.

No one is entitled to a massage or meal at a fancy restaurant if they can't afford to provide the expected tip that the service providers rely upon -- because their straight wages are often correspondingly low with the common cultural assumptions that a tip will be received. Again, see the tax code.

5:09 PM, August 16, 2007  
Blogger SGT Ted said...

I agree that the tax code is asinine to force payment for money that may not even have been received. The tax should be abolished.

I remember reading about this tax quite a while back during the initial attempt by the Government to grab some more money but I was unaware that this was actually happening yet. It must have been while I was out of the country.

7:06 PM, August 16, 2007  
Blogger SGT Ted said...

I just read the IRS site.

But I also reiterate that tips are earned, not an entitlement.

7:10 PM, August 16, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In technicals sales, your pay is a percentage of the sale. You are responsible for that sale, for explaining the value of the product sold, its installation, care and feeding (maintenance) and future trouble shooting should there be a problem up the road. You get paid once, for the initial sale only. The drive to work can be 30 to 400 miles, one way. Or 500 to 3000 miles one way by air. Sometimes across large expanses of water with language barriers after arrival. Ordinarily, you are gone from home 3 to 5 days per week, or weeks. During installation or trouble shooting, working round the clock.

The applications of the product run the gamut of any and all industries. And you have to know all applications, in all industries, know the individual problems and the solutions to them better than the customer who sees it every day. You have to know much more than the daily specials, and the learning curve never flattens out. Not to mention dealing with all kinds of personalities where you have no choice but to first understand, and then be understood, even if a fist fight appears eminent if not handled well.

Sorry if I have little sympathy for a mediocre waiter / waitress.

8:10 AM, August 18, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The last sentence meaning someone doing a mediocre job still expecting a 20%, or higher, tip. Not meant as an attack on someones job, situation, abilities. I need to read my comments before I push publish sometimes.

However,I wish my commission was 20%.

9:14 AM, August 19, 2007  
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