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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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216 Responses

  1. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune February 6, 2013 at 6:53 pm |

    How is this a thing that needs fucking saying? Half the reason my family doesn’t eat out/order in that often is that it feels weird to tip less than 15% (and we usually tip more like 20) and if we can’t afford to tip, we don’t go out to eat. And it’s not like we’re rolling in it by a long shot.

    1. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune February 6, 2013 at 6:55 pm |

      Also, personally I don’t find it that annoying when the waitresses clear one plate off our table if whoever is done eating, but we always go to one of the same 3 places and we know them and they know us, so I guess it’s a familiarity thing. It just feels like saving them time/effort, so it doesn’t bother me.

      1. Donna L
        Donna L February 6, 2013 at 7:58 pm |

        I only find it annoying if I stop eating for a couple of minutes halfway through, and turn my head, and when I turn it back my plate is being whisked away. Apparently there’s a rule at some places that you’re not allowed to stop eating until you’re done.

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune February 6, 2013 at 10:23 pm |

          Wurgh. No, thankfully that’s never happened to me (at the regular places, anyway). And that would definitely mean a reduced tip from me! WTF, server person, I paid for my food, not half of it and a grab-and-run.

    2. karak
      karak February 8, 2013 at 12:05 pm |

      Go to reddit, where the people there proudly say they refuse to tip because it’s a “sucker” thing but believe they should have perfect service if they walk in three minutes before close.

      I work in a tipping industry, and I’d say about one out of every 5-10 tables doesn’t leave a tip.

      1. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune February 8, 2013 at 12:07 pm |

        Well, reddit is a cesspit. Frankly, it’s gotten to the point where I even give IRL friends the stinkeye for being on there, just because Disgusting By Association.

        That said, jesus, a whole lot of people here are really asshole about tips, it seems.

        Me? I just see it as the bill’s for cooking me food, the tip’s for dealing with me to serve it. *shrug*

  2. Miguel
    Miguel February 6, 2013 at 7:13 pm |

    What we should have is no tipping at all and a just pay servers a decent wage. As it happens, countries with the most tipping are also the most corrupt.

    1. amblingalong
      amblingalong February 6, 2013 at 7:15 pm |

      I hadn’t seen that study- that’s fascinating.

    2. elena
      elena February 7, 2013 at 9:45 am |

      I don’t know… The one benefit of this system is it actually is the closest thing to a “meritocracy” for servers. There are still a lot of problems with it, but as a young waitress in New York, I would never ever be able to make a living off even $12 an hour – rent is just too high.
      When you’re a good server, better restaurants hire you, and at those restaurants servers can WALK with $300, even up to $500 in one night. But, you have to be damn good at what you do, completely flawless and able to orchestrate drinks, apps, mains, desserts, checks, and all the clearing/if someone wants ketchup with their sirloin between a good 10 to 15 tables. So 20-35 people.
      I’m still getting the hang of this skill, as it IS really difficult to manage 12 tables at once and know exactly when one of those 30-some people are done eating, which are in a hurry, and which want to take their time, so my job is more middle rung at $130 a shift, on a decent night.

      Point being – a job with a wage would come nowhere near paying my bills. And as you get better at doing this, your earning can and do increase, if you play your cards right and look for the correct place to work. But it is a difficult, tough skill, and the only people who make that kind of money have been doing it for 8+ years. At least in New York.

      1. robotile
        robotile February 7, 2013 at 11:52 am |

        Wouldn’t it be better, Elena, if people actually got promoted and had titles like “senior waiter,” or “waiter for high-end restaurants” etc. in order to clear more money, rather than an informal system with tips?
        Personally, I hate the fact that tips exist. I always tip more than 15% and usually closer to 20% (though I strenuously object to the claim that 20% is standard, as in, the average of what people give nowadays).
        But I resent the fact that my interests (eating what I want) are always in conflict with the interests of the waiter, who wants to increase the total bill in order to earn more. I often go at down hours and don’t want a full meal, or have two events scheduled in one night and only want to eat appetizers at one place so I can eat dinner at another. That means I end up either (a) ordering food I can’t possibly finish just so the waiter thinks it’s worth their while or (b) tipping way over 20 percent so as not to seem cheap, even though that is in essence a false signal, i.e., one that suggests superior service where none occurred or (c) feeling like a jerk.

      2. Sheelzebub
        Sheelzebub February 7, 2013 at 11:59 am |

        Elena, I found that in general, the service was good in countries where tipping wasn’t a thing. Maybe it was something about waitstaff being free of the stress of having a customer taking a bad day out on their take-home pay, maybe it was the effect of customers having to take grievances to managers instead of stiffing waitstaff without actually saying why.

        I’ve seen people take it out on waitstaff who were working in a place that was short-staffed and busy. They can do their very best and it won’t necessarily be good enough, and then they’ll get stiffed because they “aren’t doing a good job.”

        1. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve February 7, 2013 at 12:09 pm |

          What there needs to be is a system like France, where a 15% service charge is automatically added to the bill, not optional, like sales tax, and then extraordinary service can be rewarded by ‘tips.’

        2. amblingalong
          amblingalong February 7, 2013 at 12:20 pm |

          What there needs to be is a system like France, where a 15% service charge is automatically added to the bill, not optional, like sales tax, and then extraordinary service can be rewarded by ‘tips.’

          This. Tipping should be what it was originally meant to be; an incentive for good service, not a requirement for survival.

        3. Synna
          Synna February 8, 2013 at 3:34 am |

          Fat Steve,

          Um no. A tip is a bonus for good service. Mandating a tip and calling it a ‘service charge’ or whatever takes away from it being a voluntary bonus for good service. If you have to charge a ‘service charge’ why not just increase the price of the meals to cover it?

          I can see the point of the USA people (and others) who’s society fails to pay minimum wage, but I’m Australian, and don’t eat out much, so the nuance may be lost on me.

        4. tigtog
          tigtog February 8, 2013 at 5:03 am | *

          In Australia the situation is very different, Synna: absolutely agreed. When I worked as a waitron in my university days the tips were brought into the service area to be shared with all the staff, not just the waitrons. At least minimum wage for all of us was a living wage: back in the early 80s I was earning A$7.50 per hour before tips (in a trendy part of Sydney), so if a customer was an arsehole I felt absolutely no need to suck up to them just for the sake of a tip (I wouldn’t be horrible, I’d just be neutral/professional compared to my valued regulars with whom I would trade banter and naturally be that little bit more aware of).

          I worked in a few restaurants over my studying years back then, and we also didn’t have a system of assigning a waitron to just one table – we were all supposed to pay attention to all the tables, which was one of the reasons for pooling the tips (also the idea that the cook(s) shouldn’t miss out on a share of tips just because the customers didn’t interact with them directly).

          According to a current website, Hourly Rate AU$9.99 – AU$19.86 is the going wage right now (cf cooks). It’s not necessarily great money, but at least it’s not entirely insulting for what the job entails.

      3. debbie
        debbie February 7, 2013 at 12:00 pm |

        Right, but it’s not just being a good server that gets you hired in more expensive restaurants. It’s also having the “look” that high end restaurants are looking for (and if high end restaurants in NYC are like high end restaurants in Toronto, that means generally white, thin, able bodied, and meeting a certain definiton of being attractive). I’m not trying to diminish the work and skill of experienced servers, just noting that the ability to make a decent income through tips is also dependent on a lot of privilege.

    3. Darcy
      Darcy February 14, 2013 at 10:34 am |

      Some U.S. restaurants are finding ways to opt out of tipping and still pay workers well — until the stupid “less than minimum wage” rule is phased out, I hope this catches on: Casa Nueva in Athens

  3. igglanova
    igglanova February 6, 2013 at 7:15 pm |

    My personal litmus test for assholery is how a person treats servers or other service workers. Cheap tippers and other inconsiderate customers save me the bother of my continued company.

    1. theLaplaceDemon
      theLaplaceDemon February 6, 2013 at 7:27 pm |

      Agreed. Treating waitstaff poorly is a major red flag.

    2. Bonn
      Bonn February 6, 2013 at 8:04 pm |

      Apparently a member of my family witnessed a mother telling her child not to “encourage” the staff of a retail store by being friendly to them. I guess if you’re rude enough they’ll get fed up and “find a real job” or something. Even though most of us already have the education … there’s just no job for us (or we’re currently in school, which makes working full time, regular hours awkward).

    3. ks
      ks February 7, 2013 at 1:27 pm |

      Same here–if someone is not treating wait staff, custodians, secretaries, etc., well, then they’re probably just not a nice person and I won’t be wasting my time.

  4. FashionablyEvil
    FashionablyEvil February 6, 2013 at 7:17 pm |

    I think tips in restaurants are more like service charges. Would you refuse to pay your plumber because he was late or surly?

    1. Lolagirl
      Lolagirl February 6, 2013 at 7:44 pm |

      I might not stiff him, but I might very well try to get the bill knocked down if the work done was with enough bad attitude or evident lack of professionalism like extreme tardiness.

      We actually had some extremely shoddy plumbing work done by our contractor when we had our kitchen and bathroom remodeled a few years ago. When the kitchen, bathroom and part of the basement were flooded as a result of the badly done plumbing you bet I refused to pay for the additional work needed to fix the problems.

      I agree with Jill’s post about tipping, though. I generally tip 18% to 20% at a restaurant, depending on the service. Servers work way too hard already as it is for the wages they get, and I know they depend on tips to make up for that. The few times I’ve encountered really bad service, I still have left a tip, albeit more in the 10% to 15% range.

    2. robotile
      robotile February 7, 2013 at 11:55 am |

      Except that service forms the bulk of a waiter’s job, whereas service forms a smaller percentage of the plumber’s job. And if the plumber was rude or surly enough, I certainly would negotiate a lower bill.

  5. KayAy
    KayAy February 6, 2013 at 7:46 pm |

    Reminds me of the song Waitress by Live. Anyway this part shocked me until I realized what it actually meant:

    I have not tipped once in my life.

    Anyway we try to give 20% because wait staff usually make crap.

  6. theLaplaceDemon
    theLaplaceDemon February 6, 2013 at 7:49 pm |

    I used to wait tables in the summers when I was in college. I am pretty sure it made me a better person.

    Waiting tables is HARD. You are on your feet moving for hours, you need to keep track of a lot of small details at once, and you need to do it all while being smiley and cheery.

    Even if the service is bad, if that person brought you food and drinks, they deserve more than the ~2.50 an hour they get paid an hour by the restaurant. Especially if you 1) got multiple drink refills, 2) took forever to order, 3) asked for something complicated and not on the menu, 4) have a party of six or more people. Even if your server was rude to you, even if they forgot your water refill or your extra bread and butter, they still deserve a 15% tip.

    They tithe comparison is just…ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous. Those to things are NOT RELATED. Yes, the expected tip amount as risen (as the Slate article about all of this harped on), but that is the equivalent of a wage increase, because tipping is how severs make their money.

    1. minuteye
      minuteye February 6, 2013 at 8:13 pm |

      I’ve lived all my life in Canada, and it used to really confuse me how deadly serious Americans were about tipping practice. Then I found out it’s legal to pay a waitress in the states 2.50 an hour…. just, wow. It still blows my mind.

      1. Meaghan
        Meaghan February 7, 2013 at 9:01 am |

        Ditto. This whole issue had been really confusing to me until I read that. Mind blown.

      2. Andie
        Andie February 7, 2013 at 10:19 am |

        Yeah, even though our servers wage is lower than minimum wage, I think it’s still something like 7-8 bucks an hour now. Which is why 20%+ kind of blows me away as well. I thought 15% was going rate.

        1. gingerjen
          gingerjen February 7, 2013 at 11:03 am |

          Try $4.80 an hour (at least in AZ). And that’s up from when I served, it was $4.20 a couple years ago! I served for many years, and it’s the tips we rely on, not the paycheck. Often times, after taxes I got a $0 paycheck. At our favorite bar, if you brought in your $0 check you got a free drink, so I suppose it worked out!

        2. minuteye
          minuteye February 7, 2013 at 11:39 am |

          I think the lowest one is currently Quebec, which is $8.55 for servers.

        3. Andie
          Andie February 7, 2013 at 11:57 am |

          Gingerjen.. yeah, I was referring to the minimum wage in Canada, which to the best of my understanding, is quite a bit higher than in the U.S.

          The gist of the thread is people being unaware of the ridiculously low server wage in the U.S.

          In most of the provinces in Canada, the wage gap between regular minimum wage is only 1-2 difference.. Minimum wage is between 9.50 and 11 bucks an hour. Servers wage, as minuteeye pointed out, is $8.55 at the lowest, and around 9 bucks for provinces who actually have a separate wage for liquor servers.

          So tipping, although still recommended (I mean, it takes really horrible service that can’t be attributed to extenuating circumstances for me to not tip) is not quite the same matter of survival for some non-USians and the idea that it was came as a bit of a surprise, is all.

      3. Niall
        Niall February 7, 2013 at 3:24 pm |

        I’ve lived all my life in Canada, and it used to really confuse me how deadly serious Americans were about tipping practice. Then I found out it’s legal to pay a waitress in the states 2.50 an hour…. just, wow. It still blows my mind.

        Yeah. But while I’m glad I don’t live in the U.S, I’m surprised that tipping is an expect practice here. We’re *supposed* to be a much kinder, generous, and more socialist and caring than our mean spirited, greedy and selfish neighbours to the south. So what’s it going to take for the governments to legislate this. (Waitstaff, to my knowledge, aren’t unionized here) I wonder how the Aussies did it. Or has it always been the case there that tipping isn’t necessary? Maybe we could learn something.

      4. Kasey Weird
        Kasey Weird February 8, 2013 at 10:13 am |

        Totally with you on this. I’ve always been confused by “oh holy shit you are morally obligated to tip your server because they make such a shitty hourly wage” when that same obligation is not extended to fast food workers (of which I was one for four years), retail workers, or any other minimum wage job I can think of. But the fact that servers in many places don’t get minimum wage as a base-line, and are actually paid less than those other workers makes it make so much more sense.

      5. Saby
        Saby February 9, 2013 at 4:29 pm |

        Same here. I mean, I always tip 15%, which is standard Canadian tipping (servers usually earn, what, $7/hour before tips? something like this?) and it took several trips to the US before someone finally asked me why I was tipping so low. And then I was absolutely appalled at how low the serving wage is.

    2. SophiaBlue
      SophiaBlue February 6, 2013 at 8:23 pm |

      They tithe comparison is just…ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous.

      Right? It might be an apt comparison if God only made $3.50 an hour, but otherwise…

    3. Sheelzebub
      Sheelzebub February 7, 2013 at 11:43 am |

      Dear followers:

      I actually don’t need money. I made the fucking universe, y’all. So I’m good. Tithe for your churches, sure, but don’t skimp on the tip. It is a sin to stiff the waitstaff.

      Sincerely,

      GOD

  7. Amanda
    Amanda February 6, 2013 at 8:05 pm |

    AGREE! At least in the US.

    In most states, there is a separate minimum wage for servers, often far lower than that for other jobs, specifically because the calculation assumes a certain level of tipping. Even in CA, where servers make the same state-wide minimum wage as everyone else, minimum wage is less than living wage.

    Other countries have far more reasonable laws in this regard, and far better minimum wages. As such, cultural differences exist, so check when you travel. Example: in New Zealand, people feel insulted when you tip because the message they take from it is that you think you’re somehow better than them or that they need your handouts.

    1. Laura C
      Laura C February 6, 2013 at 8:26 pm |

      Definitely when you go to another country you have to either have researched tipping practices ahead of time or just plain ask a waiter the first time you eat out. The latter can start some good conversations, actually.

    2. seisy
      seisy February 6, 2013 at 8:46 pm |

      But pretty much all service jobs pay less than a living wage, so at least in California, serving doesn’t suck as much as it does elsewhere, and the tips are an advantage over some of the other service jobs.

      Being a Californian, I used to kind of wonder at the etiquette columns and posts and etc that would insist that minimum tip for any service was 20% and good service should be 30 or 35%, because that seemed insanely high and completely non standard to what I was used to seeing both as a customer and as a waitress. I also used to wonder how restaurants elsewhere could be so much cheaper.

      But it all made sense when I read about the $2/hr wage thing, which is horrific. Unfortunately, the states that mandate paying servers something within spitting distance of minimum wage are very few. I’ve decided that whenever I’m not in one of the minimum-wage states, I’m going to tip 30% as the starting point.

      1. robotile
        robotile February 7, 2013 at 12:01 pm |

        Yes, at most of the restaurants I go to, the waiters and waitresses here in Cali clear substantially more per hour than I do, when you include even a cheap average of 14 percent tip — and a lot of it can wind up being sorta kinda tax free, if waiters don’t report. That’s because the average cost of food here (and I guess I tend to go to spendy restaurants when I do go out). Also, waiters get health care subsidized by their restaurants. I’m not complaining as I know it’s hard work. But I think the standard should really depend on the economics of the situation, which vary state-by-state and by restaurant. So at a high end restaurant I may only tip 15 percent if it’s not great service, but I’ll always tip more than 20 at a cheapo place.

    3. Hrovitnir
      Hrovitnir February 7, 2013 at 5:06 pm |

      lolwut? I’m a NZer and I’ve never encountered any service staff that would be offended by a tip. In fact, many cafes have tip jars now (not that a lot of tipping goes on) – and everyone I know that’s got a big tip from a USian has been ecstatic.

  8. Robert Cooper
    Robert Cooper February 6, 2013 at 8:29 pm |

    Kiss my ass ‘gender issue’. It is just a damned reasonableness issue. Yeah, there are bad waitrons, but talking about a waitron a sports bar during a game isn’t about the service. Barring gross incompetence, that ‘service’ isn’t the waitrons fault. They are at the mercy of the service bar and kitchen both likely paid (majority) hourly.

    But if you’re in a lot of states, tipping your waitron poorly or not at all **costs** them money. They make $2-4ish an hour that is intended to all be withheld to pay their taxes and FICA. The restaurant usually auto-claims they make at least $13% of sales in tips whether they claim it or not. So if you tip less than that, or not at all, the 15 to 30 minutes they spent assembling and ferrying your order turns into a -4% tax they pay because you are a fuckstick. Your $60 dinner you waited on, not because of your server, ends up being $3 AND their time you took away from them for trying to serve you.

    1. FashionablyEvil
      FashionablyEvil February 6, 2013 at 9:29 pm |

      The restaurant usually auto-claims they make at least $13% of sales in tips whether they claim it or not.

      Is this legal? In the restaurants I’ve worked at, you were required to declare your cash tips at the end of your shift and of course they knew what you got in credit card tips. We got paychecks (such as they were) every two weeks.

      1. gratuitous_violet
        gratuitous_violet February 7, 2013 at 12:35 am |

        Unfortunately it is all too common in places that pool/end-of-month their tips. Actually now it’s so common I’m not sure if its strictly legal, but servers and restaurant staff are some of the least protected employees in the country. A friend who worked in SC as a server once got stiffed on tips for his one shift that week…and after they withheld at a projected 15% gratuity rate he was presented with a paycheck for 25 cents.

        But hey, treating servers and bussers like shit lets USians pretend places like Ruby Tuesdays are “cheap!”

        1. robotile
          robotile February 7, 2013 at 12:04 pm |

          This, however, is about the restaurants treating their employees like shit, no?

    2. not strictly serious
      not strictly serious February 10, 2013 at 8:08 pm |

      Are waitrons robot waiters?
      Sillyness aside, well said.

      1. Pseudonym
        Pseudonym February 16, 2013 at 7:18 am |

        That was my initial reaction too, but I suspect it rhymes with “patron” rather than “Voltron”.

  9. Bacopa
    Bacopa February 6, 2013 at 8:58 pm |

    Tip well, y’all. Not so much because waitstaff don’t make very much money, they often make more than retail managers, who are another group of service employees you should be nice to. The main problem with waiting tables is that income is unsteady. A few good tips or a run of bad tips can make or break a month.

    Tip 15-20% at high end places. Tip a little higher at places like IHOP or Denny’s.

    And are women more likely to get stiffed on tips? I hadn’t really thought about it, but it makes sense that they might. Anyone got links to studies or personal accounts?

    1. Ashley
      Ashley February 6, 2013 at 10:03 pm |

      I’ve been a server at Denny’s, Texas Roadhouse, and a local hole in the wall, and it was pretty well known at all 3 that the guys made more money than the girls. I could never figure out why considering often the guy in question was not as good as most of us and, to be blunt, boobs. But this was before I really understood sexism.

      1. klaym0re
        klaym0re February 6, 2013 at 11:12 pm |

        more anecdotal evidence, I have a lot of friends who work as servers / baristas at starbucks across the country. Most of them claim the girls make more (the gender split on those friends is almost 70% cis woman 15% trans women 15% dudes).

        For what it’s worth, just about all of them attribute this to boobs.

      2. amblingalong
        amblingalong February 6, 2013 at 11:31 pm |

        Anecdotal: I worked as a bartender for a while and, while the whole staff split the tip jar at the end of the night, the female bartenders brought in probably three to four times as much in tips as the guys.

    2. gratuitous_violet
      gratuitous_violet February 7, 2013 at 12:40 am |

      I’ve been a barista and a server at a few different caliber places. At the indie coffeehouse us ladies were tipped better…except we earned that money through creepy propositions and endless anecdotes from the shiftless and/or doddering.

      At both national chain and nice family-owned places it was generally even…except exactly what the post was talking about: my male coworkers’ bad days were not held against them, and they didn’t constantly have customers complaining that they weren’t smiling. YOU try smiling while carrying a six-entree tray through a crowded goddamn restaurant sometime, people!

    3. Niall
      Niall February 7, 2013 at 3:41 pm |

      Tip 15-20% at high end places. Tip a little higher at places like IHOP or Denny’s.

      At a restaurant chain that has a reputation for blatant and overt racism? Like making black customers wait for a table while whites get seated promptly or insisting that black people pay up front while the nice decent, respectable white folks don’t have to until after they’ve eaten or being ignored by waitstaff for no other reason that having the wrong skin colour?

      I choose NOT to eat at such establishments rather than risk encouraging racists, no matter how hard working they might be.

      1. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune February 7, 2013 at 6:54 pm |

        Wait, which one is this? Denny’s? I’ve never been in an IHOP but I’ve been to Denny’s a couple of times (in Canada, not the US), and I’m squicked at the idea I’ve contributed to that. Even if we stopped going for unrelated reasons. Ack. Fuck. >.< That's disgusting.

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune February 7, 2013 at 6:59 pm |

          …everything I can find about Denny’s is pretty old, though. Like, 6-7 years old. I thought I remembered something about Denny’s, so concluded that was the one you were talking about…now I’m not so sure.

        2. Niall
          Niall February 7, 2013 at 7:32 pm |

          Mac,

          I’m in Canada as well. I’ve eaten at Denny’s on occasion and as far as I know, there’s been no (documented) accounts of such overt racism at any Denny’s here. The incidents I’m referring to happened in the U.S were first reported back in the mid to late 90s. The unusual thing is that these incidents weren’t limited two one or two branches in one region of the country. They occurred at a number of different branches across the U.S. The chain received a lot of negative publicity because of these incidents and they did their best to try and repair their reputation. But apparently that hasn’t been the end of it, with the same kind of incidents like this one and and this one still occurring pretty frequently.

          Like I said, I’m not sure if they’ve happened here or not, but I’m not going to take chances, based on what I already know.

  10. Links for Sexy Feminists: Vulvas, Sheryl Sandberg, Chelsea Welch, and more

    [...] speaks out in a new piece. Jezebel on the social justice aspects of tipping, and Feministe on the unacceptable service side of not tipping. Share this:ShareEmailFacebookPrintStumbleUponDiggReddit Filed Under: News Tagged With: Beyonce, [...]

  11. Ashley
    Ashley February 6, 2013 at 10:02 pm |

    I’ve been a server before and hated it. I know firsthand just how awful and hard it is. That said, I’ve twice left no tip.

    #1 was at a Perkins where I ordered “the french toast.” You know, a plate with 5 pieces of french toast and some bacon on it? Waitress brought me a single slice of french toast. I of course immediately complained, she said she’d have to charge me for the extra slice, I negotiated her down to bringing me 4 more slices and the bacon and charging me full price.

    #2 was at an IHOP. The server started hitting on me pretty blatantly. Shortly after ordering when he was trying to chat me up for the 3rd time I mentioned that I was waiting for my fiance to get out of a class. He immediately turned around, got someone else to serve my food, I got no refills and when he dropped off the check he didn’t say a word or even look at me. It was truly appalling.

    Otherwise we tip at least 20% every time.

  12. Drahill
    Drahill February 6, 2013 at 10:18 pm |

    Let me also add this – if you can, when you tip, tip CASH. Even if the bill is being paid by card. Lots of restaurants have a habit of taking the merchant processing fees that credit and debit companies charge out of the tip. They’re not supposed to, but they do. The best way to prevent that is to tip cash. So if you can, do it.

    1. robotile
      robotile February 7, 2013 at 12:10 pm |

      this is shocking. Why is this not more well known? arrrgh. that makes me so fed up!

    2. Sheelzebub
      Sheelzebub February 7, 2013 at 12:12 pm |

      I had no idea! I’m tipping in sweet, sweet CASH from now on.

    3. seisy
      seisy February 7, 2013 at 8:25 pm |

      I hadn’t heard of that. I know a lot of servers who liked getting tips in cash because it was easier to not report them; I tended to prefer credit cards because it seemed to me that cc tips were bigger.

  13. klaym0re
    klaym0re February 6, 2013 at 11:13 pm |

    taking away one person’s plate while others at the table are still eating

    Is this a thing? Like, bad table etiquette or something? I’m asking because I legitimately have no idea.

    also + this for bars. As a single guy with a job in a college town I’m constantly watching kids leave no tip or really tiny ones (or this new fad, pieces of paper with “good karma” on them <_<). It's especially annoying when this happens at nicer bars (aka places where kids go and get 1 drink cus its a bar crawl but cant really afford to stay there and drink if they wanted to), especially since I usually tip the ever loving SHIT outa my bar tabs. Not necessarily for the reasons Jill mentioned but because any idiot can pour a little from bottles A and B into glass C. A proper bar tender can give you beer or wine selections based on your pallet, or tailor a cocktail to satisfy a craving for a flavor you can only explain.

    … and to me at least, that is a premium service, one I will gladly pay to have done right. Otherwise ill go to the store and buy a bottle of whisky and some whiskey rocks and be done with it, as you should if you can't afford the bar.

    1. Datdamwuf
      Datdamwuf February 7, 2013 at 11:32 am |

      it is a thing, I prefer my plate gone when I’m done with it so I ask the wait person to remove it when they come by. And that leaving a note thing instead of a tip? that’s crap.

  14. Foxy
    Foxy February 7, 2013 at 5:15 am |

    This article is problematic.Most working class people cannot afford to give large tips.

    1. speedbudget
      speedbudget February 7, 2013 at 9:59 am |

      So eat somewhere cheaper, somewhere that doesn’t require tipping, or don’t eat out. If you can’t afford the entire cost of the meal, you should find another place to eat. I don’t go to Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse for that very reason.

    2. Sheelzebub
      Sheelzebub February 7, 2013 at 10:13 am |

      And servers are working class people who are often living hand to mouth. Odd how you forget about them.

    3. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune February 7, 2013 at 10:30 am |

      As a working-class person who eats out and budgets tips before doing so: uh, no. No, we don’t believe in screwing over waitstaff just to have a marginally better meal. So we go to the local hole in the wall instead of the Keg and tip 20% like decent human beings.

    4. OutrageandSprinkles
      OutrageandSprinkles February 7, 2013 at 1:22 pm |

      I work part time retail and am a freelance artist. My fiance works his ass off in a plane parts factory. Is that working class enough for you? If we can afford a thirty dollar breakfast, we can afford to add on an eight or ten dollar tip. If we want to go out to eat but can’t afford a place that tips, we do fast food.

    5. karak
      karak February 8, 2013 at 12:09 pm |

      Then they need to not eat out. Being poor does not give you the right to steal from someone poorer.

  15. karak
    karak February 7, 2013 at 5:23 am |

    Tipping…

    I’m going to say a thing: if you are not from the country you are eating in, research tip practices. If you are moving to a new country, fucking researches tip practices.

    My current town has a Very Large Corporate Conglomerate that brings in people from all over the world to train and work for them. These people come to my restaurant and do not tip my waitresses (I’m a manager).

    Of course, last week a party of 25+ people, all clearly born-an-bred-here Americans, bought several hundred dollars worth of food, were obnoxious, demanding, and with clever sleight-of-hand convinced everyone that they’d given the tip to someone else, so when we all got together at the end of night, we realized we’d been stiffed. Fuckers.

  16. James
    James February 7, 2013 at 6:37 am |

    Its astounding to me how many people dont realize that if you can’t afford a proper tip, you can’t afford to eat out.

    My rule of thumb is 15% for poor service, 20% typically, and more if the server is really good. I’ve never experienced anything like Jill, but in that case I agree no tip (or like a penny to show dissatisfaction) is appropriate.

    But I disagree that this is a women’s issue. Women make MORE in tips than men, not less, for the same level of service. This is pretty common knowledge among servers and studies back it up (too lazy to look up study links right now.)

    Also, in general younger folks tip better than older folks, and men tip better than women. Ex-servers and current servers are great tippers but very unforgiving of ‘bad service’.

    It could be that women receive better tips because men are more often the ones paying… and yes, I think boobs do go a long way toward increasing tips (not saying this is right – just an honest observation.)

    But all that aside…. I wish restaurants would charge more per plate and not accept tips but just pay a decent wage.

    1. Andie
      Andie February 7, 2013 at 9:20 am |

      I think it disproportionately affects women because a disproportionate amount of women work in the food service industry.. not because women get tipped less.

    2. rain
      rain February 7, 2013 at 5:47 pm |

      But I disagree that this is a women’s issue. Women make MORE in tips than men, not less, for the same level of service. This is pretty common knowledge among servers and studies back it up (too lazy to look up study links right now.)

      Hope you get motivated to find those studies, since elsewhere on this thread, it’s been claimed that men make MORE in tips. Also, one study I found that said women make more looked only at evenings. Why? I dunno, I only read the abstract.

      Anyway, I’m highly skeptical of the “same level of service”. In the same way that, in the workplace, something said by a man may be seen as confident and assertive while the same thing said by a woman may be seen as aggressive and bitchy, our perception of interactions with wait staff is coloured by our biases and expectations of how men and women should behave. For example, someone here has mentioned how the female servers are expected to smile, but not the male servers. Maybe women make more (if they do) because they are more accustomed to adopting a servile attitude and customers expect that in wait staff. But I don’t call throwing in a little extra servility because you know that’ll get you a bigger tip to be “the same level of service”.

    3. Bruce From Missouri
      Bruce From Missouri February 9, 2013 at 5:56 pm |

      Actually my understanding is that women may get better tips at middle and lower end restaurants than guys, but they can’t even get hired at real high end restaurants. The 4 and 5 star restaurants around here have mostly or all male waitstaffs.

      As far as attitude, I find the male waiters always try too hard to be my friend and hold conversations, sometimes to a creepy level, while female waitstaff come by, smile, ask if everything is ok, clear my plate, and leave, which is actually what I want them to do. I hate how male waiters interrupt the conversation… dude, I don’t know you, you aren’t my friend, and I was already holding a conversation with my dinner partner.

      That said, I always tip at least 20%, even to the annoying ones.

  17. Wendy
    Wendy February 7, 2013 at 9:45 am |

    I tip well as long as the service is good but if it’s not then I’m not leaving a tip. I don’t think that makes me an asshole. They are called ‘tips’ for a reason.

    1. Wendy
      Wendy February 7, 2013 at 10:13 am |

      If you want a tip then as a server do your job adequately and I will tip you. I will not pay extra to be treated badly no matter how poorly you are paid.

      1. EG
        EG February 7, 2013 at 10:20 am |

        So you think that it’s reasonable to have somebody hovering near you while you work, assessing you on a minute-by-minute basis according to your level of affability, efficiency, and prettiness, and adjusting your pay accordingly? Because that’s not how I want to my pay calculated.

        1. Wendy
          Wendy February 7, 2013 at 10:34 am |

          Customers don’t hover near servers. Servers come to the customer and take orders, make refills, and check to make sure everything is ok from time to time. A server’s affability and looks don’t factor into the tip for me, I can’t speak on that score for others. As I said before I do tip and I tip generously as long as the service is adequate. it’s exceptionally rare that a server is so bad that I don’t tip but if the service sucks then I don’t pay. I work hard for my money too.

        2. EG
          EG February 7, 2013 at 11:59 am |

          Oh, you work hard? Well, gee, it’s different for me. My money floats through the front door whenever I open it to go for a walk.

          No individual customer hovers near a waitperson, but waiters are constantly under scrutiny by somebody, and constantly blamed for things not under their control. You may not be doing the monitoring 100% of the time, but you’re doing it part of the time, and it’s happening 100% of the waiter’s time. And I have bad days at work, when I’m clumsy and cranky and forgetful, and my pay doesn’t get docked, because my pay is not tied to my minute-per-minute performance. I don’t think that being a waiter means that you should have to pay for having a lousy day just like every other human being on earth.

          It’s great that you don’t factor in looks or affability and that you tip well. In which case, if it’s not about you, it’s not about you.

        3. speedbudget
          speedbudget February 7, 2013 at 1:09 pm |

          They are called “tips” so assholes can feel justified stiffing someone for not living up to their unreachable expectations. Unless you achieve absolute perfection in every facet and every second of your job every single day, you should be tipping an adequate amount for the privilege of going out and having someone serve you. Serving is a hard job physically, mentally, and emotionally, not least because in the back of your mind you know that no matter how perfectly you do your job, a problem with the kitchen or management is going to give some asshole an excuse to stiff you.

        4. piny
          piny February 7, 2013 at 1:30 pm |

          Yes, exactly. I don’t think this is about service or professionalism. This is about parity. Servers should not have to live with this vulnerability, because most workers do not. You don’t get to dock the cashier’s wages if she’s slow, or take a few dollars off a salesperson’s paycheck if she doesn’t help you find what you want. I think that tipping should be obligatory, even if the service is terrible, because customers should not have that unique level of control over this group of employees.

        5. Wendy
          Wendy February 7, 2013 at 1:51 pm |

          Speedbudget: it’s not a privilige if I’m paying for it that is why it’s called a service.

        6. Sheelzebub
          Sheelzebub February 7, 2013 at 2:02 pm |

          Wendy, as has been pointed out several times, often “bad service” is due to things beyond the servers control. I’ve been out to eat with people who had completely unreasonable expectations of the waitstaff and took it out on them when it came to tipping.

          But fuck it. Since we’re all so convinced that waitstaff are magical beings who control everything in a restaurant, and that if they work hard and smile enough they make millions of fucking dollars, I propose we dock everyone. It will increase all sorts of productivity, apparently.

          I pay for all sorts of things that I don’t get enough of, and for subpar performance and service. I pay for service in stores and so I should be able to dock the sales people if they ignore me or don’t do the job according to MY personal specifications. I pay for the service from my electric company–perhaps, when I call about an issue and I’m kept on hold too long, I can dock the admin or operator who was the front line person, no matter what else was going on? How about doctors? I don’t get seen in a timely manner, can I dock the doctor? How about their staff? Hey, cable TV sucks. I’m paying for it. I should be able to dock whoever the front-line person is, right? And if my lawyer doesn’t provide good service according to my specifications, I should be able to dock them, no matter if the work was technically done or not.

        7. antigone_ks
          antigone_ks February 7, 2013 at 2:09 pm |

          Part of paying for the service is paying the tip. If you don’t pay the tip, you aren’t paying for the service. In some circumstances, if you don’t tip the server is actually losing money on your table. Why should it cost them money if they’re having a bad day/some other employee is causing a delay/you don’t like the cut of their jib? Do you lose wages at your job for those reasons?

        8. EG
          EG February 7, 2013 at 2:09 pm |

          Clearly my students should be able to dock me whenever they decide I haven’t made a class entertaining enough, or informative enough, or about the things they’re interested in. They’re paying for it, right? And it’s a service, right?

        9. a lawyer
          a lawyer February 8, 2013 at 7:41 am |

          Folks ask “why should a server be penalized for having a bad day?” I answer: “because they work in a position where their bad day can have a big effect on what I get for my money.” If I save up for a meal out and spend $100, I expect to tip $20. I also expect to get a certain level of service for that money, because poor service significantly degrades the value of my meal.

          That. Is. The. Job.

          If you DON’T want to work at a job where you have an enormous effect on the ultimate satisfaction of the customer, don’t wait tables. If you DO work at such a job, then consider this: If you’re responsible for a real degradation in how someone enjoys their $100 meal, because you’re having a bad day or unskilled or inattentive… why shouldn’t they tip you $5 instead of $20? You probably made the meal “worth” a lot less than $100 from their point of view. OTOH, if they significantly increase the value of the meal by great service then you leave a really great tip.

          (and out of curiosity, are y’all ignoring the OTHER side of the tip issue? You know: the one in which we make money that we DIDN’T earn? You know, where folks pay the waiter an extra $10 if they order the $80 wine instead of the $30 wine, even though they require literally the exact same amount of work.)

        10. Briznecko
          Briznecko February 8, 2013 at 10:14 am |

          If you DON’T want to work at a job where you have an enormous effect on the ultimate satisfaction of the customer, don’t wait tables.

          You know some people don’t have the luxury of that option, right?

        11. EG
          EG February 8, 2013 at 10:49 am |

          Folks ask “why should a server be penalized for having a bad day?” I answer: “because they work in a position where their bad day can have a big effect on what I get for my money.”

          Are you under the impression that my bad days don’t significantly affect the educational experience my students get? Is there any job where a bad day doesn’t affect the labor and its value?

          If you’re responsible for a real degradation in how someone enjoys their $100 meal, because you’re having a bad day or unskilled or inattentive… why shouldn’t they tip you $5 instead of $20?

          Because they’re not petty assholes with no sympathy for other people having lousy days?

          are y’all ignoring the OTHER side of the tip issue? You know: the one in which we make money that we DIDN’T earn?

          I’m ignoring it because I don’t have a problem with it. Waiting tables is so stressful that I think that waiters deserve every penny they get. Lots of people make money they don’t “earn.” Better waiters with an extra ten bucks for a pricey bottle of wine than bankers raking in cash for no reason at all.

        12. karak
          karak February 8, 2013 at 12:17 pm |

          @ a lawyer:

          You’re an asshole, and I guarantee if you return to a restaurant where you stiffed the waiter on a $100 dollar order because you desired to be emotionally fellated at the table, they will remember you, and treat you with the disrespect you deserve.

          If you’re lucky, that’s all they’ll do.

      2. Fat Steve
        Fat Steve February 7, 2013 at 4:23 pm |

        I tip well as long as the service is good but if it’s not then I’m not leaving a tip. I don’t think that makes me an asshole. They are called ‘tips’ for a reason.

        As I said before I do tip and I tip generously as long as the service is adequate. it’s exceptionally rare that a server is so bad that I don’t tip but if the service sucks then I don’t pay. I work hard for my money too.

        @Wendy

        You’ve gone from saying that you only tip ‘good’ service to saying you only tip ‘adequate’ service in the course of one comment…impressive

      3. number9
        number9 February 7, 2013 at 9:50 pm |

        I don’t think it’s a coincidence that every single person I know who says things like “servers should work for their tips. It’s called a ‘tip’ for a reason!” experiences a high incidence of what they consider to be bad restaurant experiences. People like that fall into two categories – either they are cheap-asses who are making up excuses for stiffing the server, or they are projecting such a passive-aggressive vibe of douchery that the servers end up reacting to them negatively.

        Seriously, if you waste the 1-2 hours you spend in a restaurant scrutinizing your server’s every move to determine whether they kissed your ass sufficiently enough to “earn” their tip, I feel nothing but contempt for you. Well, wait, I also feel sorry for you, because your restaurant experiences must be joyless and filled with a sense of constant paranoia about your waiter trying to get away with not working hard enough to please you.

      4. khw
        khw February 8, 2013 at 6:05 pm |

        a problem with this logic is that there are other factors – such as what happens in the kitchen – which can affect how the wait staff do their jobs…

    2. elena
      elena February 8, 2013 at 10:21 am |

      @A lawyer

      “If you DON’T want to work at a job where you have an enormous effect on the ultimate satisfaction of the customer, don’t wait tables. If you DO work at such a job, then consider this: If you’re responsible for a real degradation in how someone enjoys their $100 meal”

      Do you have any idea how much this smacks of privilege? Nobody WANTS to be a waitress. Don’t work the job? Are you kidding me?
      I’m a 23-year-old artist living in New York who is starting to get shows in San Francisco, here in the city, and in Paris and London. The ONLY job that will allow me to pay for all the framing and shipping costs is waiting tables. My fellow employees are in similar positions – retail isn’t going to cut it and there just aren’t any other jobs available to fill the need.

      Just please consider this for one moment – I have a fellow employee who is trying to get through NYU for her masters degree. Her boyfriend broke up with her via text message right in the middle of our rush, and she had 10 tables. Between her running to the bathroom and crying, and trying to get us through this tough time in the restaurant, one table was forgotten. Unfortunately, this guy waited 30 minutes for his food because she got his order in 10 minutes late and the kitchen was overwhelmed, a sort of perfect storm situation that happens all too often. He proceeded to call over the manager, scream at her, and of course she just burst into tears. He didn’t leave a tip either, and considering how badly this girl could use the money for her tuition, it was the icing on the cake.

      This asshole was incapable of looking beyond his own narrow view of “his experience” and the value of “his meal”, and clearly couldn’t see that the restaurant was swamped – nor could he just understand that sometimes things don’t go precisely as you want.

      And you know what? Anyone who uses that excuse is failing to recognize that their “server” is also a human being, with life problems and faults. You’re putting a principle on a pedestal above reality in saying that servers should be on point 100% of the time (OR NOT GET PAID).

      Shame on you. Seriously.

      1. EG
        EG February 8, 2013 at 10:52 am |

        You’re putting a principle on a pedestal above reality in saying that servers should be on point 100% of the time (OR NOT GET PAID).

        And also, that principle that’s being put on a pedestal? Is such a narrow, small-minded, selfish notion that it barely deserves the name of “principle.” It’s more like a whine: “what about my dining experience?

        1. Briznecko
          Briznecko February 8, 2013 at 11:11 am |

          Because Bootstraps!

      2. a lawyer
        a lawyer February 11, 2013 at 11:53 am |

        Do you have any idea how much this smacks of privilege? Nobody WANTS to be a waitress. Don’t work the job? Are you kidding me?

        That’s odd. I know plenty of people who choose waitering jobs over other positions and their choice is entirely voluntary. Mine sure was. For that matter, so was the choice of pretty much every waiter I know.

        Sure, I didn’t “want to be a waiter” in the same sense that I “want to be a highly paid rock star” or “want to be a professional photographer,” but so what? that’s like saying that I don’t “want to be a lawyer,” because I’d rather do my favorite job for mad money than work as i do.

        I made more money waiting than I did in some other jobs so I chose to wait tables; most people who are waiters are in that category.

        I’m a 23-year-old artist living in New York who is starting to get shows in San Francisco, here in the city, and in Paris and London. The ONLY job that will allow me to pay for all the framing and shipping costs is waiting tables.

        Cry me a fucking river. Your career choice is almost the ultimate definition of someone who is doing precisely what they want. Hell, if you don’t like it, go do something else.

        When you imply “I don’t choose to be a waiter, it’s forced on my by my aaaart” you’re being ridiculous and ignoring the fact that you don’t have to be an artist, either. Sure, you can’t be an artist AND ALSO do everything else that you may want. So what?

        My fellow employees are in similar positions – retail isn’t going to cut it and there just aren’t any other jobs available to fill the need.

        Right. So as I said, there ARE other jobs available. They’re just different jobs with different requirements and benefits and pay scales. And you seem to acknowledge that waiting tables pays more.

        retail might or might not “cut it.” It might not “cut it” in the context of your other competing choices: for example, retail might not permit you to be a 23-year old artist who lives in NYC. Perhaps you might have to commute from Jersey, or put off your career for a couple of years. So what? that’s not a life ending proposition.

        You and they may not want to work retail and/or waiting for whatever reason–money, pride, convenience, politics, etc. But the fact is that you’re getting what you want (the ability to pursue your chosen career) and it’s not the fault of waiting tables that it’s imperfect.

        Just please consider this for one moment – I have a fellow employee who is trying to get through NYU for her masters degree.

        Again: All power to you if you want to go to school. I worked for quite a while before I had enough money to do it. But getting a master’s degree is generally in the “want” category and not the “need” category.

        Her boyfriend broke up with her via text message right in the middle of our rush, and she had 10 tables.

        Should I? Shouldn’t I? Oh, what the hell:
        This is why people don’t check their cell phones in the middle of a rush, right? See also: this is why people don’t check their cell phones in the middle of a trial, or as they’re arresting someone, or….

        And why are you concluding that everyone is in the wrong here EXCEPT your friend?

        Between her running to the bathroom and crying, and trying to get us through this tough time in the restaurant, one table was forgotten.

        OK.

        Unfortunately, this guy waited 30 minutes for his food because she got his order in 10 minutes late and the kitchen was overwhelmed, a sort of perfect storm situation that happens all too often.

        no, no, no. Let’s call it with a nod to reality:
        She screwed up his service. She forgot his table.

        Now, you may feel like she had the RIGHT to check her messages, and react as she did, and not get coverage, and hide in the bathroom, and forget his table.

        Therefore you may think she had the RIGHT to screw up his service. You might also think that he had no right to expect quality service in the first place. But let’s not blame this on anyone else but her.

        He proceeded to call over the manager, scream at her, and of course she just burst into tears.

        Don’t know if you’re the most neutral reporter here, but obviously one shouldn’t scream at anyone else. One can express displeasure, though. Calling over the manager is A-OK.

        We don’t know what was up with him. Maybe he’s an unsympathetic fool who just likes to yell. (Maybe he didn’t “scream” at all, and your friend was feeling unusually sensitive.) Maybe he’s working a 24-hour shift at the local criminal defense network for poor minority immigrants, and he only had an hour to eat, and he asked before he sat if he could get food out fast, and now your friend’s action means that he either needs to go through the rest of the day hungry (which affects his work), or risk getting yelled at by his boss. Maybe he would have happily left and gone somewhere else.

        He didn’t leave a tip either, and considering how badly this girl could use the money for her tuition, it was the icing on the cake.

        Why WOULD he leave a tip after she screwed up his service? Because he should feel sorry for her? Perhaps she should get the tip from her boyfriend, or her cell phone provider, or the other waitstaff who didn’t cover her table. They’re the ones who caused it, right?

        And what does her tuition have to do with it? What she needs /= what he is obliged to give.

        And since you discussed your unwillingness to work retail, I’ll continue to ask the as-yet-unanswered economic question: In what world would she be able to provide that bad level of service AND ALSO avoid tipping risk AND ALSO be able to find a waitressing job AND ALSO have the pay for that job be so much higher than the pay for retail?

        This asshole was incapable of looking beyond his own narrow view of “his experience” and the value of “his meal”, and clearly couldn’t see that the restaurant was swamped – nor could he just understand that sometimes things don’t go precisely as you want.

        Um, nor could she. Right? And since as of right now tipping is linked to service, stiffing her for really bad service seems pretty standard and doesn’t make him an asshole.

        But the difference is that “understanding that sometimes things just are going to suck” is not usually what paying customers of a short-term business relationship, who are paying for service are expected to do. Just the opposite, in fact. ONE of them had an obligation to do a certain job and provide a certain service. She didn’t do it.

        And you know what? Anyone who uses that excuse is failing to recognize that their “server” is also a human being, with life problems and faults.

        You do recognize that Joe Customer is also a human being, right? Who may have had his day ruined to an equal extent, right? Imagine that Joe Customer can cause a random 1/2 hour delay in the middle of your next really busy day, and you can see how it goes.

        How you call him an asshole for complaining about what is acknowledged to be shitty service, and exempt her for causing it… well.

        You’re putting a principle on a pedestal above reality in saying that servers should be on point 100% of the time (OR NOT GET PAID).

        Did her other tables stiff her? Did she do an equally bad job for them? If not, didn’t she get paid?

        ON AVERAGE, working as a waiter is still going to pay more. If you are on point 100% of the time you’ll maximize your income. If you’re on point 50% of the time you’ll be poor. But if you’re less than 100% there is still a lot of room at which you can make money, albeit LESS money.

        Every profession has ways of accounting for human error. The more risk you take on yourself (be it waiting tables or busking or working as an independent service provider or whatever) the more of the benefits you get to keep if you do a good job. The less risk you pass on (be it working at a salaried job or buying insurance or whatever) the more that your benefits go to your employer.

    3. karak
      karak February 8, 2013 at 12:14 pm |

      “Good” service usually depends on things out of the waiter’s control. I work at a restaurant. Sometimes, our kitchen drops an order and we’re all fucked. The dining room is full with a line out the door. The toilet floods and we have to pull a server off her tables.

      I’ve seen servers come in with mono, after car accidents, after breakups and deaths to put on their makeup and a happy face.

      You got a problem with what happened, you talk to the manager and you get your meal comped, then you leave a fucking tip anyway. You are stealing from some of the poorest people in the country because you want them to pleasure you while you eat. Get over yourself.

      1. khw
        khw February 8, 2013 at 6:07 pm |

        thank you for saying this in a much better way than I did above!

  18. elena
    elena February 7, 2013 at 9:54 am |

    Also, I feel compelled to add one other thing against people saying servers should have a wage: my 2 roommates both have full-time jobs that pay $12 an hour. They’re sharing a room and sleeping on a bunkbed now because they can’t afford to pay rent for one room each.. They’re both trying to become waitresses because they’re sick of it and they need to make more money.
    Tips really are the only way servers can make a real living.

  19. John
    John February 7, 2013 at 10:22 am |

    I agree you should tip your server. Most of the time I tip quite well. Once in a while I will tip a little low depending if the service sucked. However, for quite a few years while in the service my wife and I didn’t eat out much and our kids thought McD’d or BK lounge was the spot. Now when we go out I try really hard to tip very well. Now for those who don’t tip or don’t tip well, Flogging isn’t enough. There should be a law making everyone equal in pay reguardless of what their job is. Serving someone or working at a store. Then tipping ontop of that for good service. And yes I know its a very hard job and I really try to view it in the best possible light before tipping! God only knows how many times my wife or friends have said something to me about how large the tip was!

  20. AndrewJenny
    AndrewJenny February 7, 2013 at 10:25 am |

    Please don’t forget to tip your hairdresser, either. And please tip a reasonable amount: I used to tip $1 (on a $10 haircut) because that’s what my mom always did when I was younger. After I learned more about how hard it is for hairdressers to make ends meet, I started tipping $5 (on a $12 haircut). I just go to Great Clips, so I don’t know how it works at more upscale salons, though.

    1. Dan_Brodribb
      Dan_Brodribb February 7, 2013 at 4:36 pm |

      What is the standard for reasonable in Canada, re: tipping on haircuts? I’ve talked to a few people and heard wildly different things. I usually round up to the nearest bill, but that’s getting harder as the price goes up (used to be 17$, so I’d leave a twenty)

      1. number9
        number9 February 7, 2013 at 9:56 pm |

        I’m not sure about Canada, but what I’ve always done Stateside is tip depending on what I’m getting done. So, if I’m just getting a trim or a cut, it’s 20%. If I’m getting cut and color, it’s 30%. Much more work and time goes into cut and color, and the stylist has to spend more time on her feet with me, and inhale dye fumes, and wash my hair more than once to get the dye out. I usually call up a salon and get their price list, and then if I can’t afford the 30% tip on top of their list, I just find a cheaper place.

  21. Angie unduplicated
    Angie unduplicated February 7, 2013 at 10:32 am |

    Sad fact is that food service businesses which gross less than $300,000 annually do not have to pay minimum wage to anyone. This means that your indie burger and breakfast joint may be paying everyone tip wage or below, and that your wait staffer may be splitting tips with cooks as well as bussers. In some infamously corrupt places, the owner/manager will take a cut.
    After an incident of sullen inefficiency where I found out from a family member that the s/i was pulling 30 hours straight on 2 jobs and school that day, I tip everyone, never mind the screwups. We have no clue what disasters may be unfolding in a worker’s life.

  22. Phil
    Phil February 7, 2013 at 11:20 am |

    Er, so, you should tip no matter how poorly the job is done?

    Don’t most states have laws that say the restaurant has to at least pay the waitstaff minimum wage if the tips don’t make up for it? So, it’s not up to you to tip in that case because the restaurant is supposed to cover it. I realize it may not happen, but if there’s a rule in place…

    Anyways, I would say if the person is working and needs that money to live they should do a good job. I would be in favour of a fair wage. But saying you should tip regardless of how bad the service is seems unreasonable. If you need that money to live and you need to get that money from other people you better do a good job and do what the job requires or what the customer expects; no other job is any different.

    1. Sheelzebub
      Sheelzebub February 7, 2013 at 11:39 am |

      Waitstaff minimum wage is not actual minimum wage, let along a LIVING wage. And considering some of the shit I’ve seen servers get blamed for–the cook fucking up, a crowded restaurant and a short staff, etc.–it’s pretty fucking shitty to take it out on the server by not actually paying the tip. Most of the time, it’s not a blatant act of rudeness like in Jill’s example it’s just an overworked server who’s getting blamed for the fact that the kitchen staff didn’t get the food out to her or the cook who overcooked the meat or whatever.

      I really do think that servers should be paid a living wage, full stop. Maybe then if the service was bad people would complain to the restaurant owner/manager about the cold food or short staff instead of feeling satisfied about taking it out on the person who has the least amount of power in this equation.

    2. EG
      EG February 7, 2013 at 12:04 pm |

      If you need that money to live and you need to get that money from other people you better do a good job and do what the job requires or what the customer expects; no other job is any different.

      No. In most salaried jobs, to lose money, you have to do a bad enough job on a consistent enough basis that you get fired, and there are more legal worker protections in place, dependent on what state you’re in and whether or not your job is union, regarding getting fired. Your pay does not fluctuate day by day based on your performance.

      1. robotile
        robotile February 7, 2013 at 12:18 pm |

        seems like being a waiter is sort of like being a freelancer. Only you have less control over your schedule and have to deal with more people day to day.

        1. james
          james February 7, 2013 at 12:47 pm |

          Exactly. In theory, it works to everyone’s advantage because the sever has an incentive to make the customer happy, and stands to do very well if they’re good at what they do. Good servers can make pretty good money.

          Unfortunately, the trend now is toward pooling tips and redistributing them ‘equally’. Which totally defeats the point.

          Restaurants need to do away with tipping, charge more, and pay a standard wage. I think most customers would actually prefer this since it simplifies things. (At least the ones who aren’t stiffing servers currently.)

        2. james
          james February 7, 2013 at 12:54 pm |

          I just wanted to add the tidbit that at one time, it was not unheard of for servers to actually have to pay to work at some swanky joints. (Similar to ‘tipping out’ at adult clubs today. ) Back then they were much more like freelancers or independent contrators than they are today. Its because that has changed that our tipping norms are outdated.

      2. a lawyer
        a lawyer February 8, 2013 at 10:06 am |

        EG 2.7.2013 at 12:04 pm | Permalink | Reply
        No. In most salaried jobs, to lose money, you have to do a bad enough job on a consistent enough basis that you get fired, and there are more legal worker protections in place, dependent on what state you’re in and whether or not your job is union, regarding getting fired.

        That really isn’t true.

        Only a very few employees are union. Almost everyone else is an “at will” employee, subject to immediate termination without notice, for ANY REASON other than a protected one (you can fire a disabled jewish POC woman who has taken FMLA, but you can’t fire her BECAUSE she’s a disabled jewish POC woman who has taken FMLA.)

        There are almost no “worker protections” of the type you mention. There are wage laws (which are routinely violated; I represent a lot of employees in wage suits) and there are harassment laws (which apply to waitrons as well and which are also routinely violated.) But there’s no right to keep your job.

        Your pay does not fluctuate day by day based on your performance.

        …..unless you’re working at one of the many, many, jobs which pays on a commission, or per-piece, or production, or referral, or billable, or collectible, or other basis which DOES fluctuate day by day based on your performance.

        Are those also supposed to be viewed as unethical? Do tell.

        Waitrons have fluctuating tips because it permits them to make MORE as well as less. If they’re good at it, that is. That’s why good waitrons usually hate tip-pooling arrangements, and that’s why bad waitrons usually love them.

        There are a lot of careers out there! Waiting tables happens to be one where you get paid for performance. And waiting tables happens to be one of the jobs where, if you are good at it, you can make a relatively high wage compared to your education and formal training.

        But if you don’t like that deal, and if you can’t handle the fluctuation of income, then you can do any number of other jobs which don’t have fluctuating income.

        If you’re a 19 year old with a GED then you may end up in a call center working for $8/hour. If you work at the local Applebees then you might have bad shifts where you bring home $30 and good shifts where you bring home $150.

        Overall good waiters make MORE MONEY than they do elsewhere, which is usually why people wait tables in the first place.

        1. EG
          EG February 8, 2013 at 10:40 am |

          …..unless you’re working at one of the many, many, jobs which pays on a commission, or per-piece, or production, or referral, or billable, or collectible, or other basis which DOES fluctuate day by day based on your performance.

          Are those also supposed to be viewed as unethical? Do tell.

          Pretty much, yes. I don’t think one’s standard of living should be dependent on whether or not one has a lousy day. And no, not all of those jobs have to do with minute-by-minute affability. I know plenty of freelancers, and they don’t get judged day by day; they get paid according to the final product, the hours they bill, and all too often whether or not their clients happen to have the funds. And that last one? Is unethical, yes.

          Only a very few employees are union. Almost everyone else is an “at will” employee, subject to immediate termination without notice, for ANY REASON other than a protected one

          No shit. But due to the pain-in-the-ass of looking for and training a replacement in many, many jobs, it takes more than having a grumpy off-day to get fired (and in the situations where it doesn’t, you can damn well bet that I find that unethical–no, downright immoral). But it doesn’t take more than having a grumpy off-day for some self-righteous selfish asshole to decide to dock your pay by not tipping. The issue is that most people don’t get their pay docked for having the odd off-day.

        2. Sheelzebub
          Sheelzebub February 8, 2013 at 10:42 am |

          Actually, we’re not taking about being fired (either with or without cause), we’re talking about someone arbitrarily withholding your pay. Nice attempt at a derail, though.

          You still continue to miss the point. Unlike the other jobs you’ve mentioned, waiting tables means you only get “paid” according to the whims of each customer. If I sell something and I get a commission, it’s not a tip. The customer doesn’t actually get to decide that they will withhold it from me because they didn’t like my service, or I didn’t smile enough, or I didn’t laugh hard enough at their jokes. If they buy the product I get the commission.

          If I’m doing piecework, I’m still getting paid for the work that I am doing. I am not getting pay withheld by various customers, each who have arbitrary standards of what a good job is. I work for one supervisor and one company and the pay is supposed to be based on what I produce (another issue, but not the same as tipping).

          You’re conflating jobs that still have to pay someone a salary according to their performance (with agreed upon parameters and that is decided upon by a consistent party, not by random customers) with a job that depends on various customers’ whims to pay a server.

          Some customers are reasonable and others are not. I am sorry if you feel terribly ripped off if a $100 dining experience is marred by a server who isn’t on point, but most servers do not work in places where $100 dinners or $80 bottles of wine are the norm. And since there is a huge variation on what customers deem a server’s job is and what constitutes a good job, servers can and do get blamed for things beyond their control.

        3. a lawyer
          a lawyer February 8, 2013 at 11:04 am |

          Sheelzebub 2.8.2013 at 10:42 am | Permalink
          If I sell something and I get a commission, it’s not a tip. The customer doesn’t actually get to decide that they will withhold it from me because they didn’t like my service, or I didn’t smile enough, or I didn’t laugh hard enough at their jokes. If they buy the product I get the commission.

          True. Although unlike waiting tables, the customer also has the option of refusing you as a salesperson. Once you get your food order in and your waiter starts work, that’s not really an option.

          They’re different risks, but similar in scope and effect. Both commission and wait service tie in to whether the customer likes you.

          I notice that you keep skipping the two crucial facts that (1) the ability to use skills to affect income is APPEALING to many people, and (2) waitering is by no means the only job out there.

          I am not getting pay withheld by various customers, each who have arbitrary standards of what a good job is.

          Well, that’s more like freelancing or working as an independent. But it’s pretty common.

          If part of your job is “make the customer happy or you don’t get paid” then surprise! You need to make the customer happy to get paid.

          Some customers are reasonable and others are not.

          Sure! Unreasonable customers suck. But the response should be “don’t be unreasonable!” not “you’re a tightwad unless you pay 20% or more even if your server does a bad job.”

          I am sorry if you feel terribly ripped off if a $100 dining experience is marred by a server who isn’t on point,

          I don’t know the last time that I spent that on dinner. It’s just easy math. It applies at the lower end, too, in theory–although the service expectations are low enough that it shouldn’t happen very often.

          but most servers do not work in places where $100 dinners or $80 bottles of wine are the norm.

          If you go to Applebees and have an entree and a couple of drinks you’re up to $20/person; table of five is $100 even without expensive stuff.

          And since there is a huge variation on what customers deem a server’s job is and what constitutes a good job, servers can and do get blamed for things beyond their control.

          Yes, and that stinks, and I’m opposed to it. But you and others are taking the position that it’s wrong to blame or penalize servers for things WITHIN their control. That makes no sense.

          If you’re a good waiter then you’ll probably make more money than you would doing something else.
          If you’re a bad waiter than you won’t make much and you should probably do something else.

          What is so unethical about that?

        4. Sheelzebub
          Sheelzebub February 8, 2013 at 11:39 am |

          You seem to think that shitty treatment of servers always balances out with good tips. We’re pointing out that this is not, in fact, the case all the time. And that while it’s nice that YOU are reasonable and YOU feel that shitty customers suck, there is nothing to protect the server from getting financially penalized by someone who is taking out their bad day or basing their unreasonable expectations upon them.

          You seem to think that as long as the server does a good job, they will get paid well. But this is not the case, necessarily. Doing the job well when everything else is going wrong will often mean a reduced tip, even if it is not the server’s fault. Because contrary to your assertion, many customers do think that there are things within the server’s control that actually aren’t in their control.

          Also, what constitutes a server doing a good job for you may not be the same for me. Some people require that the server act familiar with them and be all happy all the time, others would prefer someone who is polite but distant and business like. Some people base their tips on someone’s personality even if the service was prompt and courteous and the food was good. Yes, you probably think that’s unreasonable. That’s reality. And that’s unethical.

        5. Sheelzebub
          Sheelzebub February 8, 2013 at 11:51 am |

          Also:

          True. Although unlike waiting tables, the customer also has the option of refusing you as a salesperson. Once you get your food order in and your waiter starts work, that’s not really an option.

          You can ask for a different table, or leave and go to a different restaurant. Also, if the salesperson starts fucking up in the middle of the sale but I still buy the product, they still get their commission. I don’t have the right to withhold it from them. Yet I can do that with a tip when it comes to waitstaff.

          I notice that you keep skipping the two crucial facts that (1) the ability to use skills to affect income is APPEALING to many people, and (2) waitering is by no means the only job out there.

          Telling someone “just get another job then” is disingenuous and entitles people to act like assholes. Perhaps we should tell Walmart workers to take their labor elsewhere when they’re forced to work overtime with no pay?

          And I don’t care that it’s appealing to some people–that is neither here nor there. That’s great. It’s still crappy to not tip when people are not necessarily at fault for what is going wrong.

          Which brings me to this: if we’re going to talk about the points being missed/refused to acknowledge, YOU seem to dance over the point that servers’ tips are based on the whims of customers, and that many of those customers are not necessarily reasonable. It’s not as if we are living in Rational Economic World where everyone agrees what constitutes a good job. Again, I have seen people stiff servers over things that were beyond their control. You thinking it’s wrong doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen or that it is not an issue. Other servers (you’re not the only one on the thread who has worked as a server or who currently works as one) have also pointed this out.

          I don’t know the last time that I spent that on dinner. It’s just easy math. It applies at the lower end, too, in theory–although the service expectations are low enough that it shouldn’t happen very often.

          Perhaps, but considering the fact that I don’t eat at expensive places and I’ve seen the waitstaff get screwed (and that people feel freer to abuse them because the places aren’t high end), I’m skeptical.

        6. karak
          karak February 8, 2013 at 12:30 pm |

          People don’t tip because they believe they shouldn’t have too. I wait tables at my job, and we had a party of 35 people come in and, as one, walk out without tipping, because they were motherfuckers and I didn’t have a stun gun handy.

          If you don’t like what you got for dinner, you talk to the manager. The only reason not to tip a waitress is if she cussed you out or was racist or something unbelievably egregious like that. Anything else, you talk to the manager, get it fixed, and then tip.

          No one else has a “pay option”. Other jobs you get for the work. You say you’re a lawyer–what kind of law do you do? When a client isn’t happy, do they get their money back? Or, when a client IS happy, do they not pay you because “they don’t do that”?

          This whole thing was set off by a person who refused to tip on the grounds that they “didn’t do that”. It’s fairly common.

        7. a lawyer
          a lawyer February 8, 2013 at 12:56 pm |

          People who don’t tip servers for unreasonable things are wrong to do so. But looking at the thread, the proposed solutions fall into two categories:

          1) Compensating servers differently and paying them straight time. This will generally screw over waitrons who make decent money and will make the positions more like working at WalMart.

          I think life is better if people can choose between DIFFERENT types of work; therefore I think it’s a bad idea to try to make all waiter jobs flat-rate.

          2) Overtipping servers for normal work and/or failing to reduce tip for people who do a bad job.

          I have yet to be convinced that it’s reasonable to expect folks to pay extra because OTHER folks may pay less. The solution is to go after the other folks, not the normal “the service wasn’t good” people.

          And yes, customers vary in what they want. Why is that a problem? I appreciate a smiling waiter over a surly waiter. Again, it’s truly bizarre to suggest that I shouldn’t be able to pass that information on to the waiter through a tip, whether to reward unusually nice people or to penalize unusually surly ones. Especially when the other option is to pass it on to the manager, which will mean that they may get fired.

          karak 2.8.2013 at 12:30 pm | Permalink
          No one else has a “pay option”. Other jobs you get for the work. You say you’re a lawyer–what kind of law do you do?

          All sorts but a lot of consumer-side and employee-side litigation.

          When a client isn’t happy, do they get their money back?
          Or, when a client IS happy, do they not pay you because “they don’t do that”?

          Absolutely yes, if they’re unhappy enough. They will either refuse to pay or will threaten to file a bar complaint if they’re dissatisfied. For small bills this basically forces you to refund their money, because the insurance cost of even a merit-less bar complaint are greater than the bill.

          I don’t have that happen very often (and have never had a complaint filed) because I’m fairly good at what I do and I’m good at client selection, but even so I lose well over $5,000 per year to refuseniks; I’ve had years where it was many times that amount.

          It’s worse when you don’t know how to do a better job screening clients. But sure, I’ve lost six figures (no joke) that way over my career.

          This whole thing was set off by a person who refused to tip on the grounds that they “didn’t do that”. It’s fairly common.

          yes, i know. It’s common, and bad.

          And if the response was “ALWAYS tip at least 15% for decent service; 10% is reserved for lesser service!” as opposed to “ALWAYS tip 20% unless you get called a racist name and have and water poured on your head” then we wouldn’t be having this argument.

        8. piny
          piny February 8, 2013 at 3:37 pm |

          No, you’re wrong, a lawyer.

          There’s a third option, which is to not exercise this unequal option. You can tip your servers to the extent that the tip makes up their wages as it’s designed to, and offer extra money as an optional reward.

          That way, they get treated like every other employee and you pay just like you have to for every other service. And if the service is truly terrible, you can either (a) refuse to pay for your meal and see if the restaurant owner allows it or (b) pay the charge with the tip but complain about the service and see if the employer brings standard consequences to bear on their employee. That’s equitable.

          Incidentally, how many times have you refused to pay for your food, or insisted that you be allowed to discount the price of the meal because it wasn’t satisfactory?

          This doesn’t have anything to do with the justice of rejecting bad service. This has to do with the fact that we have a class of employees who do not have any right to be paid. The solution to that isn’t asking restaurant customers not to be [redacted]s–i.e. not to steal labor–but forcing them to treat waiters as workers with rights. No group of employees should have to accept a certain base level of theft of service.

          And this also has nothing to do with the cost of the service–it’s part of what you get when you go out to eat, and so it’s something you must pay for.

          And your comments about people making “more” money as waitstaff are specious. It’s sometimes a more lucrative job than minimum wage, but that’s no reason waitstaff shouldn’t have a reliable pay structure. It’s still a difficult, low-wage job.

        9. piny
          piny February 8, 2013 at 3:39 pm |

          And as “a lawyer,” you should know better than to compare the difficulty of squeezing money out of clients who refuse to pay to having no legal right to demand compensation.

    3. wanttobeanon
      wanttobeanon February 7, 2013 at 3:48 pm |

      Don’t most states have laws that say the restaurant has to at least pay the waitstaff minimum wage if the tips don’t make up for it? So, it’s not up to you to tip in that case because the restaurant is supposed to cover it. I realize it may not happen, but if there’s a rule in place…

      This is technically correct, however: if you do not make enough in tips to scrape up to minimum wage, the restaurant will usually fire you, because if you didn’t make enough in tips to get up to minimum wage, you must be a lousy server. They may need to label you a troublemaker and find a different official reason to let you go, but they’ll find a way.

  23. Datdamwuf
    Datdamwuf February 7, 2013 at 11:43 am |

    So with this discussion, how about delivery people and when you pickup food from a restaurant? I tend to tip 10% to these folks. I have had delivery people be so shocked that they got a tip so I’m wondering if I’m weird?

    1. Sheelzebub
      Sheelzebub February 7, 2013 at 11:45 am |

      I tip them.

    2. miga
      miga February 7, 2013 at 12:23 pm |

      I’ve never tipped when I pick up food, but for delivery people I usually try to throw in a couple of dollars depending on how long it takes for my food to arrive (2 for normal service, 1 if it takes a while/food is kind of cold, 0 if it takes over an hour or they’re really awful to me on the phone). I’m surprised at how often delivery folks in my neighborhood will just walk away and I have to call them back to get their tip.

    3. speedbudget
      speedbudget February 7, 2013 at 1:17 pm |

      I tip when I do the carside thing, because the poor soul has to traipse out to my car to get payment then back in to get the food, etc. I’m tipping them for taking the trouble to allow me the convenience of not getting out of my car. I will sometimes tip when I pick up myself, depending on the difficulty of the order. I do tip delivery drivers, but generally less than I normally would, since I used to work at a pizza place and they added a dollar or two onto the cost that went to the driver, and this was standard when I talked to employees at other pizza joints.

      1. karak
        karak February 8, 2013 at 12:35 pm |

        That dollar cost DOES NOT to go the driver at most chain pizza places. You need to call and speak to a manager and ask if it does, otherwise you are shorting your delivery drivers.

    4. karak
      karak February 8, 2013 at 12:32 pm |

      If you live in the US, 10% is NOT sufficient for delivery! You should pay 15-20%. Delivery drivers pay for their own gas and car maintenance and largely rely on their tips, it’s also a very dangerous job–one of the most dangerous outside being a fire-fighter or cop.

      1. EG
        EG February 8, 2013 at 1:29 pm |

        Not arguing–I usually tip 20% for delivery–but I believe that in NYC most delivery is done by bicycle. Parking is just too difficult to warrant a car.

        1. Donna L
          Donna L February 8, 2013 at 2:00 pm |

          Right. I’ve never heard of deliveries, at least in Manhattan, being done by car rather than by bicycle or on foot; most restaurants that deliver do so only within a specified distance of the restaurant.

          I usually tip delivery people 20% too. At restaurants, I usually tip 20% (unless the person is unspeakably rude), although sometimes I just double the tax, which in NYC adds up to about 16 1/2%.

        2. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve February 8, 2013 at 3:00 pm |

          not to be contrary, but they’re also done on vespa/moped

    5. Bruce From Missouri
      Bruce From Missouri February 9, 2013 at 6:09 pm |

      In St. Louis, which is cheaper to live in than NYC, you tip $3.00 or 10%, whichever is larger.

      The $3.00 minimum is mentioned because pizza places have free pizza promos all the time, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t tip on your free pizza. I can tell you from experience that delivery drivers HATE taking out free orders because of the extraordinary amount of cheap a-holes who see that as an excuse to give you 10% of nothing.

  24. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub February 7, 2013 at 12:09 pm |

    It’s quite simple:

    If you cannot afford to leave a tip when you go out to eat in a country where tipping is part of the server’s pay and they aren’t paid a living wage, then don’t go out to eat. Those servers are working their asses off. Telling them to “do a good job” if they want to make enough for a living wage is so much bullshit–I’m not docked if I have an off day.

    If the service was that terrible, speak with the manager and tell them exactly what the problem was. A lot of the time it is NOT actually the server’s fault, but they’re the ones you’re dealing with. If it was an issue with the kitchen, being short staffed, etc. that is something the manager can address. Just stiffing the server on the tip doesn’t send a message. There are enough bullies and chintzy fucking assholes where the message sent is “don’t bother trying because people stiff you for any old reason.”

    So tip, and don’t be a cheap, entitled asshole.

    1. wanttobeanon
      wanttobeanon February 7, 2013 at 3:56 pm |

      I would add: tip, and don’t be a cheap, self-entitled asshole, and really think it through before you decide to speak to a server’s manager, reserving that action for profoundly, inexcusably terrible service, because you can get the server written up and maybe even fired, even if the source of the problem lies with the kitchen or shitty management practices resulting in the place being short-staffed. A lot depends on the manager and the restaurant, and a ridiculous amount is expected from servers these days.

    2. yes
      yes February 8, 2013 at 5:46 am |

      In my past experience, I’d take being stiffed gladly over the simultaneous humiliation and risk to my job of having a manager called over because of poor service, even if it’s not my fault. It doesn’t take too many of those before you’re just not worth booking hours for or keeping on.

      And that’s not even counting places that have an actual policy of firing people after a certain number of complaints in a span of time.

    3. a lawyer
      a lawyer February 8, 2013 at 10:44 am |

      Don’t you folks get the economics here?

      Sheelzebub 2.7.2013 at 12:09 pm | Permalink | Reply
      Telling them to “do a good job” if they want to make enough for a living wage is so much bullshit–I’m not docked if I have an off day.

      Suitably anonymize your answer of course, but: what do you do, how good at it are you; what’s your training, and what do you get paid? If you’re good at what you do, I’d bet you dollars to doughnuts that your salary is decent, but is lower than you could make if you were working at some equivalent fluctuating-pay job.

      In other words: risk can also bring reward, and security costs money. Surprise, surprise.

      The fact that you don’t get docked for an off day and that you are is already included in your salary. Security is a benefit to the employee because they get paid no matter if they don’t perform. Security is a cost to the employer because they’re obliged to pay wages (and/or unemployment) even if the employee does a shitty job. Therefore security brings a lower salary than non-security.

      Using my own career as an example: If you ran a law firm, you could hire a new lawyer at $30k/year, and they’d have to work 40-50 hours/week. Or, you could hire that same lawyer on a percentage basis: you bill them out at $150/hour, and they keep 33% of their billables.

      Some attorneys prefer to work for $40k.
      Other attorneys prefer to take a chance on the contingency: they correctly realize that if they can bill more than 12 hours/week they will make more money.

      Same with people who are, say, making the choice between working as waiters and working as a stocker at the local Stop and Shop.

      If you paid a fixed wage to your average waiter, they’d probably make the same as they do at Stop and Shop.

      1. Sheelzebub
        Sheelzebub February 8, 2013 at 10:56 am |

        Do you not get the fact that unlike with other jobs, working as a server means that you’re not dealing with one standard set of rules as to what makes you a good server, but the whims of each set of customers? Some of whom just don’t tip?

        Also? I’ve seen very highly paid professionals act like royal shits, be off their game, and have bad days. However, their clients couldn’t unilaterally deny them pay.

        They can with servers.

      2. EG
        EG February 8, 2013 at 11:21 am |

        Suitably anonymize your answer of course, but: what do you do, how good at it are you; what’s your training, and what do you get paid? If you’re good at what you do, I’d bet you dollars to doughnuts that your salary is decent, but is lower than you could make if you were working at some equivalent fluctuating-pay job.

        You’d be dead wrong. Adjunct professors get shit pay for teaching twice as much as salaried. And then, of course, there’s the matter of health benefits…

    4. Tyris
      Tyris February 9, 2013 at 7:01 pm |

      a country where tipping is part of the server’s pay and they aren’t paid a living wage

      As far as we can tell, tipping doesn’t count towards the minimum wage in the UK, but in finding this out we’ve also discovered that said minimum wage is not a living wage (that is, if you’re on minimum wage at forty hours a week, you’re unlikely to be able to pay your bills).

      The going rate here is 10% at restaurants and 0% at pubs. We’re gonna have to try to push that up.

  25. Balancing Jane
    Balancing Jane February 7, 2013 at 12:25 pm |

    There has only been one time when I didn’t tip. We were on vacation and went to a restaurant without checking reviews (mistake). When we got in, the entire waitstaff was rude and took several minutes to seat our party of five in the nearly empty restaurant. We ordered drinks, and the two of us who got water were told that we couldn’t have water unless we bought it bottled (which I don’t even think is legal) and then waited forever for the drinks to come. The waitress finally brought the drinks out and prepared to take our order. Two of the people in our group weren’t going to eat and just wanted drinks. The waitress took our order and placed it. Five minutes later (AFTER placing the orders), she came to our table and told us we couldn’t sit there anymore because only three of us ordered food. She moved our party of five to a table that seated four. Seriously. Didn’t even bring an extra chair or anything and she just pointed to the other table while we carried our drinks and silverware with us. The two people who didn’t order food left.

    I should have walked out with them, but since the food was on its way to the table I felt weird. We ate mediocre food and then waited FOREVER for our check (in the still empty restaurant where no one sat at the larger table we’d left the entire time). I told the server it was the worst dining experience of my life, and she got indignant and said that she was just following her boss’s orders: no apology, nothing. She didn’t get a tip, and I don’t feel bad about it.

    Other than that, though, I always tip.

    1. robotile
      robotile February 7, 2013 at 12:41 pm |

      The one time I didn’t tip was when we went to a restaurant, started to order, and then the “waiter” said he didn’t have one of our dishes. We ordered a second (lentil soup!!!), he said he didn’t have that either. Then we tried a third time, and he said okay. It took another forty five minutes, then the waiter says “sorry I don’t have X person’s dish” either. We tried to walk out but he got very angry when he told us he was cooking our food and we had to stay. We then overheard him and another person at another table arguing in Russian. It turns out the waiter was actually the owner, his cook had called in sick, and rather than closing the restaurant, he was keeping it open and just selling all the cold dishes that were already prepared the night before. Gross. So yeah, we didn’t tip then.

  26. Miss S
    Miss S February 7, 2013 at 12:25 pm |

    I’ve waited tables for a long time, and I agree with this article and Laura’s. A few things:

    I made $3 an hour at my last waitressing job. My checks were pieces of paper that said “THIS IS NOT A CHECK” and $0.00 on them, because that $3 an hour goes straight to taxes. After my training, I received nothing in the form of a paycheck.

    Restaurants are supposed to make up the difference between your earnings and minimum wage if you earn less. I’ve waited tables on and off for 12 years and I’ve NEVER seen this happen. They can get away with it because 1. there’s high turnover and 2. people don’t want to speak up and lose their jobs.

    Most places I’ve worked declare a percentage of your sales as your income. That means I pay taxes on what you order, even if you don’t tip me.

    The story about the woman and what she tithes really pissed me off. It also doesn’t make sense- 20% of your bill is not the same as 10% of your ENTIRE INCOME.

    Most people will say that religious people can be the worst tippers, and I agreed until I worked in a somewhat rural area. The religious people there were 20% tippers. In an urban environment? Forget it.

    All this to say: tip your servers.

  27. Miss S
    Miss S February 7, 2013 at 12:38 pm |

    As for women making more or less- I suppose it depends on where you’re working. I’m sure women make more as cocktail servers (I’ve never seen a guy one) and places where the clientele is mostly men. At the last place I worked, a sort of touristy place, I don’t think women servers made more. The two people that seemed to make the most were 1. a black gay man, and 2. a white man. I don’t know why.

  28. a lawyer
    a lawyer February 7, 2013 at 12:48 pm |

    And you need to tip even if your waitress isn’t as pleasant as you’d like, and even if the service is imperfect.

    That’s ridiculous. And yes, I worked for many years (4, to be precise) as a waiter.

    Service matters. To everyone.

    If you’re paying to go out to eat then it’s a special occasion which costs a lot of money. You can, and should, expect to have competent and polite service which meets the standards of the restaurant. If you’re not being a total PITA then you should get good service.

    And the fact that you can afford a restaurant meal doesn’t oblige you to give a large tip (15% is still standard, ya know) in exchange for barely-minimal competence.

    Also, your scheme won’t benefit the waitstaff.
    Right now, bad service >> low/no tip; average service >> average tip; and great service >> great tip.

    If service is essentially unrelated to tipping, then (a) folks won’t have any incentive to leave bigger tips for great service; and (b) the remedy will be “leave a 20% tip and make a comment to the manager.” Nobody’s perfect: waitstaff will sometimes do a bad job. Frankly, when I did a bad job on a table I’d happily take the 5% tip over a complaint about the “unjust” 20% tip for shitty-ass service.

    It is a gender issue,

    I don’t think it is, at least not as you suggest.
    Tipping generally is something that has a nearly-universal application, in which there are a lot of women working. Tipping badly because people won’t flirt with you is a gender issue; tipping badly because they don’t do a good job is not a gender issue. The outcome doesn’t make the process sexist.

    Yes, 20%, even if the service was mediocre.

    No way. If I have to leave 20% for mediocre service, then it’s just like every other charge at the restaurant. And do you want to go there? if I get great food, I compliment the chef; if I get a raw chicken; I complain.

    1. Sheelzebub
      Sheelzebub February 7, 2013 at 12:59 pm |

      And a lot of people, if they get raw chicken, stiff the server who didn’t actually cook the food. That same server who’s running around, bringing you your food and busting their ass to do a good job has to split their tips with other staff, even if the other staff’s fuckups (or management’s fuckups, or just general bad circumstances) made for an unpleasant dining experience for the customer who takes it out on the server’s tip.

      Because here’s the thing: not everyone is reasonable about tipping. (And 15% is chintzy as fuck.) Some people really do expect the one server working an entire dining room while others are out with the flu to do everything for everybody at once, and will take it out on their tip. Some people really do think that the cold meal is the server’s fault when often, it’s the kitchen staff not getting it to them. I’m glad you’re so sure you’re reasonable but a lot of people aren’t. Those same people would screech to high heaven if they were docked for making a mistake, having a bad day, or not being productive due to things that were completely out of their control.

      1. a lawyer
        a lawyer February 7, 2013 at 3:03 pm |

        And a lot of people, if they get raw chicken, stiff the server who didn’t actually cook the food.

        That’s wrong; the server doesn’t cook. But I’m not going to overtip bad service to compensate for people who undertip for reasons unrelated to service.

        That same server who’s running around, bringing you your food and busting their ass to do a good job has to split their tips with other staff, even if the other staff’s fuckups (or management’s fuckups, or just general bad circumstances) made for an unpleasant dining experience for the customer who takes it out on the server’s tip.

        yes, I know. I have, as I said, spent quite a bit of time working as a waiter. I don’t know if you have as well, but you don’t need to lecture me about what it’s like.

        Those same people would screech to high heaven if they were docked for making a mistake, having a bad day, or not being productive due to things that were completely out of their control.

        Yeah, and those same people would be making minimum wage. And in many jobs they’d often be fired for having a bad day.

        The BAD part of being a waiter is that sometimes you get shit on for things which aren’t your control. And that you sometimes make less money for reasons which have nothing to do with you.

        But the GOOD part of being a waiter is that you can (if you’re fairly good at it) make a shit-ton of money relative to your skill value and general employability; and that you also end up with a relatively high level of job flexibility because you can work as a waiter literally anywhere. And of course you occasionally get a great tip because someone gets engaged at your table or something.

        You can work a 12 hour shift as a waiter or a bartender and take home $300: where the fuck else do you make that kind of money without a college degree or some real skills or experience?

        The good and the bad go together. A lot of people are waiters because they have minimal skills and/or no alternatives and/or need odd hours and/or want unusual flexibility, etc. Some of them make far more than they could make at their alternate career(s). Some of them will make less. But on average it relates to how good they are.

        1. Sheelzebub
          Sheelzebub February 7, 2013 at 3:09 pm |

          I’m not “lecturing” you on what it’s like, I’m pointing out that not every customer is reasonable or has a good idea of what the work entails and that they still blame the server for things that aren’t their fault. And that sometimes, you can bust your ass do the best job in the world, and you’ll still get stiffed.

          But then, I’m one of those terrible anti-capitalists who think that we should just pay people a living wage because I am deeply skeptical of the “we should just pay people according to the level of service they provide.” Certainly, I doubt that any one here would be okay with it if their daily take-home pay was suddenly subjected to the whims of the people they came into contact with.

        2. a lawyer
          a lawyer February 7, 2013 at 4:59 pm |

          If you’re one of the folks who wants a fixed wage and who doesn’t want to be paid according to the level of service you provide, then the solution is not to work at a variable income job. IOW, get a job as a dishwasher, floor mopper, prep cook, or front desk instead of working as a waitron. You will get the same amount, though you’ll rarely get a raise and you may be fired if you don’t perform.

          OTOH, if you’re one of the folks who wants to be paid for performance, work as a waiter.

          Certainly, I doubt that any one here would be okay with it if their daily take-home pay was suddenly subjected to the whims of the people they came into contact with.

          Sure they would. In fact, welcome to my life and the life of many of my friends.

          Variable-income jobs have a huge range. You can make less than fixed income or more than fixed income. Sales; waitstaff; at-home web design; independent solo lawyers and doctors and massage therapists and housecleaners and bookkeepers all work at variable income jobs.

          You can get a fixed income job if you want, but instead of making $25/hour as an independent bookkeeper you’ll get $10. Instead of keeping the $75 for your hour-long massage, you’ll get $25. Instead of keeping the $350 in tips you got when you did a kickass job on an unusually busy day while you were the only waitron on staff, you’ll get a straight hourly rate of $10, because “working hard is part of the job, you know.”

          Guaranteed income for a fixed rate job is always less than maximum variable income for the equivalent job.

        3. Sheelzebub
          Sheelzebub February 7, 2013 at 5:33 pm |

          If you think that working as a server is anywhere near the same thing as owning your own business and charging for services you provide, you’re really fucking naive. I don’t care that you claim to have worked as a server, if I work as an accountant and I get stiffed for services rendered, I can actually take them to court and report them to credit bureaus for not paying. A server does not have that option.

          And busting your ass and doing a great job doesn’t always get you tips. As has been pointed out. Repeatedly. Surely, the other servers who have posted here are just fucking lazy or some such shit for not getting bucketloads of cash for busting their asses.

        4. piny
          piny February 7, 2013 at 7:57 pm |

          If you own your own business, you can get people arrested if they refuse to pay, depending on the circumstances. You can certainly force them to pay. You also get to charge what you want and refuse service if you want.

          In this scenario, the server must provide you with a service, but you can decide not to compensate them for it. You don’t even have to provide a reason! You can choose to cheat them of their wages. You can force them to work for you for free. That’s a terrible status quo, and the fact that some people can use it to make bad employees suffer for being bad employees is no reason to excuse it.

        5. MaMu1977
          MaMu1977 February 10, 2013 at 5:35 pm |

          There are plenty of jobs in which acting like a wild jackass (or worse, or even *better*) can get your pay docked. When I was active duty, I supervised 6 airman at two facilities. In my first year as a supervisor, I received at least 3 minor complaints and 1 serious complaint a month about ny troops. After that year, I had to write paperwork (and have the pay docked) for 3 separate people on a bimonthly basis (and to be clear, two of the three were receiving <$1000/month.) I'm reading about people getting mad that their 8-tops are leaving them with no tip, and I'm reminded of having to take $300 per month for 3 months out of an Airman's check because a Colonel's wife felt "disrespected". I'm reading posts that say that people should tip 20% or more unless their waiter verbally assaults them, and I'm reminded of suspending a divorced Airman's promotion to E-5 because he walked into a birthing room and the expectant mother cried embarrassment. He needed the extra money from his promotion to buy plane tickets to the States to see his kids (at the time, the extra $800 that he would have earned that month post-promotion would have paid for a round trip flight and a rental car and a couple days out), but punishment *had* to happen to keep the patient happy.

          Life isn't fair. If it's hitting you that badly, wear a helmet. You're going to have days where 6 patrons are going to leave $1 each (even though each of them bought $30+ of food), and you're going to have days where an engagement goes well and you receive an 100% tip. You're going to have days where someone runs you ragged and leaves you nothing, and you're going to have days where a customer sits down, smells his food when it arrives and says "Dude, cardamon *and* rosemary in the orange sauce? Chef Jeff must be working here!", and he leaves $15 on a $35 meal (with a note telling Chef Jeff to meet {customer name here} at {high class bar} to reminisce, "And bring the cool servers too!") You're going to have days where Ms. Ice Queen Lawyer (who wants one cube of ice per glass of water, changes her order thrice and complains about the "youth" of her wine) drops a $50 tip on a $40 meal because you "remind her of herself back in the 90's". You're going to have days in which a dozen guys in (obviously brand new) uniforms order the daily special (at $18 each), then leave $10 each on the table *and* a 20% tip on their credit card receipts because they just got promoted and all of their higher-ups said that *this* restaurant was the place to celebrate. You're also going to get days when a big talker decides to pay for his four friends to eat, but the friends have to chip in for the tip because he was raised in an orphanage and hes never *had* more than $50 to his name before (so the idea of leaving extra money on an $85 bill is incomprehensible.) It's how the business works. If it's *that* intolerable, it's union time.

          P.S. all of those stories are real. Lived them, worked with them, etc.

    2. EG
      EG February 7, 2013 at 2:06 pm |

      If service is essentially unrelated to tipping, then (a) folks won’t have any incentive to leave bigger tips for great service; and (b) the remedy will be “leave a 20% tip and make a comment to the manager.”

      Or, say, if you’re not unreasonable, the remedy will be “leave a 20% tip, accept that sometimes people have off days, and go about your business.”

      I tip at leas 20% no matter what the service is like, because there are plenty of people out there who don’t tip enough no matter how good the service is, and why should the waiter/ress suffer for that?

      1. Alyson
        Alyson February 7, 2013 at 6:25 pm |

        Agreed. I tip slightly more than 20% pretty much across the board (“slightly more” because I round the bill up to the next dollar, calculate 20% on my phone, then round that tip up to the next dollar). I have only not tipped once, and the situation was similar to the ones Jill and others discussed. That was more than four years ago; since then, there hasn’t been a time that I’ve gone under 20%.
        However, there have been several times in the past year where I have tipped in the 30% range, and once I left a 50% tip. Why? Because the service was quite simply great. My partner has a bunch of dietary restrictions, so we have to choose our restaurants carefully and we don’t eat out much (we also shouldn’t eat out much, wallet- wise), but when we do (usually when we’re on the road), it can be difficult and we usually need to ask a bunch of questions about ingredients and preparation, and/or make substitutions. So when servers handle this really well (and they usually do)? Of course I will leave a bigger tip. Because it is completely possible to both reward GREAT service and also give decent tips on a regular basis.

        1. Fishing for Insults
          Fishing for Insults February 8, 2013 at 7:34 pm |

          You’ll get the same result if you round the bill up to the next $5 increment (in other words, if the bill is $21, round up to $25) and then divide by five. The math is easier and you won’t have to get out your phone.

    3. piny
      piny February 7, 2013 at 4:13 pm |

      So if the food isn’t particularly good, do you have the right to take, say, thirty percent off the top? If the meal is good but not the event dining experience you expected from the review, can you deduct ten percent? Can you refuse to pay your newspaper subscription fee for a week or two because of that inaccurate review? If you’re seated at a bad table, can you take a few dollars off the total? If your babysitter is a quarter of an hour late, can you tell her at the end of the evening that you’re only paying half her wages?

      This is not how transactions work. You don’t get to partly withhold payment because you’re partly dissatisfied, and you don’t get to unilaterally place a monetary value on your dissatisfaction. So you shouldn’t do that to your server, even if you can.

  29. gwyllion
    gwyllion February 7, 2013 at 2:08 pm |

    THANK YOU for this – as a former waitress i KNOW how fucking HARD that job is – my dad (bastard) LOVED to go into restaurants like he was Henry VIII and order the waitstaff around, send shit back, have ‘tastes’ before paying etc etc etc – LOVED making sexist comments about women wait folk (look at the ‘hogans’ on THAT one!) I spent adolescence lingering after my family left the table to apologize, and later to TIP them. Refused to EVER eat out with my dad as a full fledged adult. BASTARD.

  30. A4
    A4 February 7, 2013 at 2:28 pm |

    In a feminist utopia, no one would be coerced by economic circumstance into working a job where the majority of their pay is provided by customers on a discretionary basis. Waiting tables would be considered an interaction that both people freely entered based on the pleasure of consuming food or providing sustenance to another person.

    Anyone who frequents these exploitative food establishments is supporting the view that waitstaff are objects whose services can be bought, and they are anti-feminist scum.

    1. Niall
      Niall February 7, 2013 at 5:23 pm |

      WTF?

      So anyone who eats out at any restaurant whatsoever, regardless of how well they tip and how sympathetic they are to servers is automatically anti-feminist

      I guess my sarcasm detector isn’t working as well as it should.

      Either that or you’re just trolling.

      1. A4
        A4 February 7, 2013 at 5:33 pm |

        I am simply using the same argument that Jill used for sex work on this discussion of food service that immediately followed. It’s interesting how obviously ludicrous and nonsensical it is when applied to any other service industry.

        1. A4
          A4 February 7, 2013 at 6:53 pm |

          The only thing that will get me to tip less than 20% is if I spend a significant amount of time gazing at an empty water glass, looking around for a waiter, and then gazing sadly at the empty water glass again. I like spicy food.

          You gotta water the guests.

        2. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune February 7, 2013 at 7:01 pm |

          You know, 90% of the Indian restaurants I’ve been to in/outside India just leave a giant jug of icewater for people to serve themselves. I have never ever understood why this isn’t a general policy, but I guess Western cuisine isn’t as generally spicy, and so wouldn’t require it? *shrug*

        3. Sheelzebub
          Sheelzebub February 7, 2013 at 7:09 pm |

          Water does not help with spicy food. Yogurt, plain rice, or bread will help. But water doesn’t actually help.

        4. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune February 7, 2013 at 7:11 pm |

          Sheelzebub, I’m aware of that. But it’s good for cooling the throat at least, and I don’t think a bottomless supply of yogurt (particularly with Indian food omg) is as doable financially as water. Some middle-end chains in India serve large portions of yogurt on request, but the high-end ones (and the holes in the wall) don’t give a damn and can’t afford it respectively.

        5. A4
          A4 February 7, 2013 at 7:20 pm |

          Water does not help with spicy food

          Water vastly increases my enjoyment of spicy food and your pseudo-scientific facts do not change that.

        6. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve February 7, 2013 at 7:40 pm |

          Water vastly increases my enjoyment of spicy food and your pseudo-scientific facts do not change that.

          It’s not pseudo-science that oil and water don’t mix, which is the principle behind which people say that water is ineffective at washing away the heat from foods. Surely claiming that your enjoyment has any relevance on the properties of water is far more pseudo-scientific than Sheelzebub’s facts.

        7. A4
          A4 February 7, 2013 at 8:55 pm |

          My statement wasn’t phrased as a universal. Sheelzebub’s statement was. It also didn’t say anything about the hydrophobic nature of capsaicin, your little “oil and water” factoid there. But if you want to talk about the science of eating spicy food, you need a little bit more I think. Many foods contains emulsifiers, and do you know what emulsifiers do? They allow for the mixture of immiscible liquids. You know what else is an emulsifier? Lingual lipase, an enzyme that is part of human saliva. So since I enjoy spicy food, water is an excellent way of providing a quenching contrast and a lessening of heat intensity without completely removing the taste.

          But you’re right. Oil and water don’t mix. And raita is great.

        8. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune February 7, 2013 at 9:04 pm |

          The intersection of the tastes of aloo paratha and pineapple raita is one of the few purely good things in life.

          Great and now I’m craving Indian food :P Indian food I do not have the hands to make.

        9. shfree
          shfree February 7, 2013 at 9:08 pm |

          Sigh, I only WISH I could eat Indian food. So, so tasty. So, so upsetting to my digestive tract.

        10. A4
          A4 February 7, 2013 at 9:11 pm |

          Me too Mac, me too.

        11. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune February 7, 2013 at 9:22 pm |

          Yeah, A4, we should crave together…

          shfree, if you want Indian food that’s easier on a sensitive gut, try googling “sattvic recipes tarla dalal”. Sattvic (or satvik) diets are basically low-oil, low-spice (thus way less hurty on the gut), and Tarla Dalal’s really good about adapting recipes to suit all kinds of food sensitivities.

        12. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve February 7, 2013 at 9:32 pm |

          I was at a Bangladeshi place today and I can confirm that despite it being a very low end place where you get an enormous styrofoam plate filled with food (1 meat and 2 veg over rice) for $6 there were pitchers of water on all 5 plastic tables. (I opted for two Diet peach Snapple Iced teas.)

        13. Sheelzebub
          Sheelzebub February 8, 2013 at 8:53 am |

          Mac, I know that yogurt’s expensive! It’s just. . .every time I have spicy food with someone and they think it’s too hot, they reach for the water and the freak out because it doesn’t take the spice away for them. I used to do the same thing (ma po tofu is the best) until a Chinese friend recommended plain rice or yogurt. So I at least make sure I have plain rice or bread just in case.

          A4, I didn’t say that to attack you. I don’t know where your hostility towards me is coming from, but if a one-off comment is upsetting you so much, perhaps you need to step away from the internet for a while.

    2. amblingalong
      amblingalong February 7, 2013 at 5:45 pm |

      I don’t know, seemed to be a pretty spot-on extrapolation of your beliefs.

  31. Bonn
    Bonn February 7, 2013 at 2:52 pm |

    There were two times I went out to eat and didn’t tip. And both were recent.

    I don’t have a lot of money. I’m a student. I make poverty wages working retail part time, my loans don’t cover cost of living, and I don’t eat out very much anyway because of celiac disease. Kind of limits my options.

    There was this girl I was sort of friends with, and she wanted to go to a thing later, but she wanted to eat at the mall first. I thought we’d just be going to the food court or something, but she decided she wanted to go to a more expensive, tourist-trappy kind of restaurant. She ordered $30 worth of food and drinks and I ordered a side item and a water. My portion came out to less than $4. I only had my debit card. The girl (whose parents sent her money every week–long story here–so she didn’t even think about things like money) said she’d cover my portion and I could pay her back later. I didn’t have cash and my portion of the tip would have been less than a dollar anyway. She paid. She didn’t tip at all. I felt horrible. The end?

    No.

    I went out to eat with her again. Stupidly. With another girl. This time it was worse. The place we ate was really expensive (once again I had no say in where we went). Again I ordered one tiny little side dish–about $6. But I had cash this time. The girl from before, A, ordered, again, probably about $30-40 of food. The other girl, B, ordered about $15-20.

    The bill came and we pooled our cash. I gave $10 to cover my portion of the bill + tip, figuring I’d get a little money back. But when we were “finished” pooling the cash, it was barely adding up and there was still no tip. Apparently Girl B had added up EXACTLY what she owed and was going to give no more. Girl A said, “I’ve already given enough!” even though obviously she hadn’t. And all I could do was sit there and think, “I just paid nearly 2x the cost of my food, which I couldn’t afford, and wtf there’s still no tip!” It got sorted out, but there was still no tip, and once again I felt horrible.

    On the one hand, it was really out of my hands. On the other, I grew up with parents who always tipped generously, and before I was so, so poor I always tipped well. I grew up in a state where the minimum wage (not for servers–for everyone) was less than $3/hr until just a couple of years ago. (Of course, a lot of places paid federal, but not all of them.) I knew people who made that much per hour and relied on tips in places where hardly anyone would tip at all (Pizza Hut comes to mind). Rural areas + high poverty = poor tippers. So I understand the importance of tipping and really wish … I could have done something. Servers ’round here get stiffed a lot due to tourists from Asia (who don’t have a tipping culture) anyway without getting stiffed by lazy, selfish college students.

    And of course, I didn’t go out to eat with that girl ever again.

  32. Bonn
    Bonn February 7, 2013 at 2:55 pm |

    I should clarify–when I say “it got sorted out” I mean that someone came up with the rest of the bill. I still paid $10 for my $6 “meal.”

  33. McMike
    McMike February 7, 2013 at 3:35 pm |

    Tipping shouldnt be required, who works for his money should make a wage he can live on to begin with.

    1. Sheelzebub
      Sheelzebub February 7, 2013 at 3:50 pm |

      Or, you know, SHE. Ahem.

      1. McMike
        McMike February 8, 2013 at 6:59 pm |

        But of course sweety <3 :)

        1. Sheelzebub
          Sheelzebub February 11, 2013 at 9:12 am |

          Thank you, schnookums.

  34. hotpot
    hotpot February 7, 2013 at 5:50 pm |

    Once I went to a diner, I was by myself, and I was reading a book. I ordered a sandwich and drink and ate slowly as I read. I didn’t seem to have one waiter or waitress; one person came and poured my water, another came to deliver my drink, a third person to deliver my food. They were all very quick and curt and barely looked at me. I didn’t really think much of it at the time. Well, after finishing my food I was waiting for the check but it never came. I just kept reading for about 3 hours until the book was finished. By then the place was nearly empty and I was ready for the check and pretty infuriated that they’d forgotten about me. Well, I asked the waiter why I didn’t get my check, and he told me, that since I didn’t spend a lot of money and sat there for a long time, it meant that he didn’t get paid. I told him I had no idea (there were always plenty of other tables open, so it wasn’t as if I was keeping other customers from being seated) and then left him a massive tip, but I was still pretty peeved. Ever since then I’ve avoided going to restaurants alone, and even if I’m going with other people I tend to make sure that we don’t sit around for too long before high tailing it out of there.

    For the people who work in food service, is this generally how it works? Like, you don’t get assigned another customer if the one before is sitting at their table, even if they’ve already paid, so the longer someone sits there ,the less you get paid?

    1. Bagelsan
      Bagelsan February 7, 2013 at 7:01 pm |

      That’s what I’ve heard, at least. Once I ate out with another woman and we spent basically twice as long as normal on our meal — we were discussing something and it went long — so we ended up essentially doubling the tip so that the waitstaff could have the money they would have received from a second group. Making the poor guy wait on us for 2 hours instead of 1, it only seemed fair to pay for that.

    2. seisy
      seisy February 7, 2013 at 8:39 pm |

      It probably depends on how the restaurant is assigning tables. But if there were a lot of empty tables in the restaurant, I can’t imagine a sane set up that would have really cost that waiter, especially because a good host/ess will be aware of the situation and will seat people accordingly. Or s/he will hear about it endlessly from the server in question.

    3. Alexandra
      Alexandra February 8, 2013 at 5:28 am |

      I often go out to 24/hour diners to study: there’s something about a chemistry textbook that makes it magically comprehensible with a bottomless cup of coffee.

      When I go, I make sure to order my food and pay for it as soon as I’m done eating, including tip, even if I’m planning on continuing work (and coffee-drinking). This way, if my server (almost always a waitress) finishes her shift before I leave, she gets her tip. And I tip in cash when I leave, a second time. When I first realized that by not paying my bill promptly I was potentially stiffing my server, I started to pay up quick!!

      I have the privilege of being able to afford not just the food, but the service; I try to pay well for it, and have received no pushback. Indeed, I’m recognized now as a “regular”, and the service I’ve received has always been friendly and courteous, and often quick.

  35. CartoonCoyote
    CartoonCoyote February 7, 2013 at 11:39 pm |

    One thing I haven’t seen mentioned yet: I’ve heard from too many waitstaff that if there are nightly promotions, coupons, etc., people will tip only on the subtotal, not the value. If it’s 1/2 price nachos, don’t be an asshole: Tip on the full price.

  36. Alexandra
    Alexandra February 8, 2013 at 5:32 am |

    I tip at or above 20% almost all the time (never a waitress, but plenty of time in food service to give me empathy), but I will admit, I am surprised to hear that 20% is now “normal” and 15% is as someone else said upthread, “chintzy.” Certainly I was raised believing that 15% was for normal service, 20% for good service or for having an unusually large or cumbersome party.

    Is there a rationale for the shift in norms? Is it that because of the decrease in real wages due to inflation, and no increase in official minimum wage? Interested to hear the reason.

    1. Sheelzebub
      Sheelzebub February 8, 2013 at 8:55 am |

      Is there a rationale for the shift in norms? Is it that because of the decrease in real wages due to inflation, and no increase in official minimum wage?

      That’s my thinking. I mean, the price of meals have gone up (unless you get specials, etc.) but not by enough to offset the cost of living and relative lowness of minimum wage/server’s minimum wage.

  37. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub February 8, 2013 at 11:02 am |

    There seems to be this idea that tipping encourages great service. It doesn’t. I tip and tip well because here in the US, servers get paid dogshit. However, I’ve lived in countries where tipping was not a thing, where waitstaff were just paid a living wage. I found waitstaff performed just as well.

    If a restaurant is run well, chances are you’ll get good service, since all parts of the operation will be seen to and managed well. Letting the waitstaff be the scapegoats is shitty.

    1. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune February 8, 2013 at 12:12 pm |

      There seems to be this idea that tipping encourages great service. It doesn’t.

      I’d argue that it does, in tipping economies. I’ve seen waitstaff give returning non-tipping customers serious stinkeyes, and I can see the difference in the way they treat me when I go back.

      1. jennygadget
        jennygadget February 9, 2013 at 2:47 am |

        This is why I think tipping can make sense…when it’s done at the start of the service/transaction.

        And also why I think it makes no sense at the end of the service/transaction. (maybe I’m odd in this, but I don’t eat out often. And when I do, it’s usually a treat and an attempt to try new places when I am traveling.)

        Also, in either case it should be on top of a living wage, not part of a non-living wage.

    2. shfree
      shfree February 9, 2013 at 4:18 pm |

      There seems to be this idea that tipping encourages great service. It doesn’t. I tip and tip well because here in the US, servers get paid dogshit. However, I’ve lived in countries where tipping was not a thing, where waitstaff were just paid a living wage. I found waitstaff performed just as well.

      Ayup. I work in a deli of an unnamed grocery store, where we can be fired if we take tips from customers, and yet we are still expected to give good customer service with a pleasant demeanor. This holds true of any service job, tipping or no.

    3. McMike
      McMike February 11, 2013 at 12:25 pm |

      Its an incentive to be polite to the customers and make an effort even if you dont feel like it. 20% on everything you serve without any overhead (rent power etc.) is pretty nifty really.

      I would be curious to know how much a waiter makes with that arrangement compared to a country like Germany, where waiters earn more, but tipping varies widely.

  38. jennygadget
    jennygadget February 8, 2013 at 3:35 pm |

    I would also like to ask that everyone use their words.

    A comment to the waitstaff or manager is much more helpful for improving service overall than lowering one single waiter’s tip that one night. How is anyone supposed to know you are making a statement other that “I am an asshole” if you don’t use your words?

  39. baiskeli
    baiskeli February 8, 2013 at 6:07 pm |

    “So tip! Yes, 20%, even if the service was mediocre.”

    OK, I feel like a [redacted] but I do have to disagree somewhat. Some background. I tip, and always tip well. If I tip less than 18% it’s because I have had some spectacularly bad/rude service. I’m black, and I know the perception that black people don’t tip, and for the longest time, I tipped 18% – 20% even with really crappy service. My wife (who is white), jokingly calls it BMG (Black Man’s Guilt) and says it makes no sense. She waitressed in while in college. She told me that she made a lot of money by actually treating her black customers well. They would request her and tip well. Her gain, the others servers loss.

    What I’ve come to realize is that being black and going out to eat can be a crapshoot. It doesn’t matter where I go, whether a cheap place or a really upscale place. One of the places I received really bad service was a $400 bill for 2 people (and I still tipped $80). I’ve had kingly treatment at a place where the bill came to $30 (and I tipped $15, or 50% because that is how out of the world good the service was). I’ve also had an instance where we went to a restaurant and our bill came BEFORE the food arrived, and it had an 18% tip already attached. It was just 2 people. We leaned over and asked the white couple at the next table over whether they had to pay before they ate, they hadn’t, and an 18% tip wasn’t automatically tacked on to their bill. They didn’t. We asked for the manager and never really got an answer, we paid (I don’t know why we did this) minus the 18% tip and left, our food un-touched.

    The realization I came to is no matter how much I over-tipped, it had no effect on how I got treated. Nowadays I have my list of restaurants I go to, places I’ve gone to before and been treated well. I tend to tip 18%-30%. Every time I try a new restaurant it can sometimes be a crap-shoot.

    So there are some servers who do not deserve a tip, and while I can forgive a lot of things, I’m less inclined nowadays to forgive racist/rude service, especially if it is clear to me that we are getting different service from the white couples around us. I don’t begrudge people, especially minorities, the right to make a statement about how they have felt they were treated.

    It might sound like I’m joking, but I have my list of black and interracial couple friendly restaurants in the Boston area.

    I also don’t know whether this is a regional thing. We spent a long weekend in Montreal and got treated decently every place we went for food, whether cheap or expensive (though one place did try to rip us off by transposing $145 as $451, and then charging my card twice, 4 hrs apart, thankfully I caught that when I was going through my credit card at the end of the month).

    1. seisy
      seisy February 8, 2013 at 10:16 pm |

      I swore at my computer screen, reading that. That’s awful, and I am sorry and disgusted that it’s something you have to deal with. I don’t blame you for not tipping. And hell, in the case of that bill-before-food thing, I’m not sure I could bring myself to blame you if you’d set the table on fire.

    2. igglanova
      igglanova February 8, 2013 at 11:17 pm |

      I’ve also had an instance where we went to a restaurant and our bill came BEFORE the food arrived, and it had an 18% tip already attached.

      D: D: D: !!!

      Yeah, I can definitely see how that original statement – “So tip! Yes, 20%, even if the service was mediocre.” – can gloss over issues of discrimination by the servers themselves. And what especially sucks is that (barring blatant examples like the one above) you often don’t know for sure if lousy service is due to misfortune or bigotry – so you end up having to guess if leaving a good 20% is simply a kindness, or some sort of capitulation to an asshole.

    3. Saby
      Saby February 9, 2013 at 5:06 pm |

      That’s terrible! I’ve never heard of someone getting poor service because of their race. (Then again, I live near Montreal, so maybe it is a regional or at least Canada/US thing…) I do have gay friends who say that they sometimes get worse service when out as part of a couple, especially in small towns. One friend in particular says that his standard response is, if he hears the server make a homophobic comment, he will leave only a single penny as a tip, so there’s no question that he’s making a statement and didn’t just forget to tip. Although, as a caveat, servers in Canada make a bit more than in the US.

    4. PrettyAmiable
      PrettyAmiable February 9, 2013 at 7:58 pm |

      OK, I feel like a [redacted] but I do have to disagree somewhat.

      Don’t. Refusing to tip when you’re confronted with bigotry is a kindness; they’re lucky you didn’t get them fired or put them on blast on the internet.

      1. scrumby
        scrumby February 13, 2013 at 7:43 pm |

        That’s assuming the bigotry isn’t coming from the top down. I had a manager that used to throw a fit over the Mexicans who came into the diner I worked at. He was always pushing the staff to be as inhospitable as possible in the hopes that they wouldn’t want to come back. I wouldn’t have been fired for playing along, and the people who did didn’t fell any repercussions when there were complaints.

  40. David
    David February 11, 2013 at 3:14 pm |

    For me the issue is pretty clear.

    Minimum wage jobs should pay minimum wage.

    If a server doesn’t make enough tips, then the employer should make up the difference. That is the law in the UK, and I see no reason why it shouldn’t be the law in the US. Paying someone less than minimum wage is illegal.

  41. Glass
    Glass February 11, 2013 at 10:19 pm |

    I worked food service. It’s a hard way to earn money to survive and you get treated like shit by a lot of people from all over the economic spectrum.

    I tip well when the server is clearly trying and I tip very well when they go above and beyond. The staff at my favorite eatery know me now and treat me great. They are on top of my food allergy issues so I show my appreciation.

    What gets recognized gets repeated.

  42. Victoria
    Victoria February 16, 2013 at 6:37 pm |

    Okay, so all of this talk of tipping has reminded me of a question that I’ve never had answered, which is whether or not it is socially inappropriate to go over 20 percent with a tip. My mother has suggested that it was, and always only gives an even 20, but she never explained her rationale. She just said that she’s heard it’s patronizing and could be misconstrued. I’ve never worked in a job that involved tips, but if I did, I feel like I would only be put off by a tip over 20 percent is if someone was excessively leering at me or making suggestive remarks, because there would be an element of harassment at play, but I would still shrug it off and consider it payment for having to put up with that person’s s***. I have had servers who have gone beyond their job responsibilities to insure that I’m not exposed to foods to which I’m allergic. I think that deserves recognition beyond a 20 percent tip. Thoughts?

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