View Full Version : Tipping (as an act of kindness)

Float On
3-24-12, 10:05am
I know as frugal/simple types most of us don't eat out all that often but when you do how do you handle the tip? Are you strict with the 15%, 18%? Or sometimes do you just go all out and do a 50% or more tip?

Last night our son wanted to take his girlfriend out to eat (neither of them are interested in getting their licenses yet) so we dropped them off at their restaurant and we went to a different one.

We live in a tourist town. The evening rush at restaurants can be crazy because most people are trying to get a quick meal before heading to a music show - tempers flare and waitstaff is rushing, kitchens back up, people get mad and of course blame the waitstaff and leave lousy or no tips.

It was one of those kind of nights. You could tell the whole waitstaff was just waiting to get through the night and when your working for not much more than $2 an hour plus tips that can be a long night. There didn't appear to be a manager on duty, there was only one busboy so tables weren't getting cleared fast enough, a line out the door waiting for tables, plates dropping, children crying, etc...etc...

I knew our waitress was having a bad night and trying not to let it show. She was so sweet and I saw her yelled at twice by tables upset that their meals hadn't been served and they had to get to their shows.

I left over 50% tip.
As we were walking out towards the lobby she caught up with us and gave me a huge hug and a 'thank you, you made my night' before rushing back in to the mess.

Anyway, I just want to encourage everyone to be observant, be kind and make a difference.

3-24-12, 10:22am
You could not pay me enough to work in the service industry. I always tip 20% or more and have been know to tip as much as 100% in unusual circumstances. Of course, I am treated extremely well at the restaurants I frequent. What comes around, goes around. :)

I also generously tip the woman who cuts my hair. Somehow I never have a problem getting an appointment even during her busiest weeks of the year. :D

Miss Cellane
3-24-12, 10:30am
About once a month, I go out to eat with a couple of friends. One of them is a hairdresser, and kind of relies on her tips sometimes. She's very insistent on tipping 20%.

One night, our waitress had another table that was just awful. Lots of snarky, mean demands for more water, soda refills, two dishes were sent back to the kitchen, complaints left and right. We were kind of puzzled, because we'd eaten there several times before and never had a single complaint about the service and the food was always good.

After the people at that table left, we heard another waitress ask ours about the tip--they left nothing.

We didn't even really discuss it, but we left about a 50% tip, because waitressing is hard enough, without having to deal with people like that. And like the OP, the waitress caught us as we were leaving and thanked us.

3-24-12, 10:34am
I tip at least 20% for restaurant meals. Most servers do a very good job. I'm extra generous (and pleasant!) to servers in the situation you described.

I go to one of those cheap places for my haircuts. The cuts are $13 and I always round it up to $20. I'll tip more if the stylist spends extra time on my hair (they don't have to).

That's about the extent of my tipping. I cannot stand those tip jars at takeout counters. I don't get it. A tip for ringing up a purchase?

3-24-12, 10:36am
When I was 16 I worked as a waitress for about a month of weekends. I was badly (BADLY) suited to the work, not being much of a multi tasker and easily overwhelmed by worries that I wasn't doing well. One night a very young couple (well, older than me!) left me a little business card with a prayer on it and a handwritten note that said, "We think you are doing a good job!" and a ten dollar bill. Mind you, this was in 1972 and at HoJo's so that was a whopper tip. It made me cry, made my night, and also made me leave to get another job that was more my speed. Since then, though, I have always had a very kind eye for servers and tipped as generously as I could. Of course, I don't eat out much, either, and when I do it is usually at diners so a generous tip is still not huge. But I second cdttmm: I am enormously grateful that I don't have to work in that industry.

3-24-12, 11:20am
That was really nice of you Float On! And I'm sure she meant what she said......that you salvaged her otherwise rotten night!
We usually give the amount we feel they deserved. If they were rude to us, they get nothing. The base is 15% if they did very little and weren't very attentive. Usually we give 18-20% if they do a fairly good job. We give more, if they really go out of their
way or if they're being abused by other customers!).

One time, long ago, we ate at a really fancy restaurant (The Ritz Carlton). We had a really nice waiter. He worked really hard. Next to us was a big table full of what appeared to be a boss and his underlings (about 8-10 of them). If you wanted the apricot souffle.......you had to order it at the beginning of your meal. Well, after dinner the waiter came out with all the souffles and the boss said "We don't want them now. You were too late!" You could tell the others at his table were really embarrassed. The boss was an *ss and was just trying to look like a powerful person. The "boss" refused them.
We felt so bad for the waiter! He had been running his butt off and was so kind.
Needless to say, he got a huge tip from us!

3-24-12, 11:31am
Do the wait staff really get paid that little where you live? That is so low.

3-24-12, 11:49am
Do the wait staff really get paid that little where you live? That is so low.

I worked in F&B for about 10 yrs in about 15 or so restaurants across the country:
$2.13 an hour -- this was in the 90's

And the more screwball places:
- I had to pay the 3% Amex or MC/Visa percentage fee out of my tips
- One place required that I tip out manager on duty although he was salaried
- Another place required that I tip out - hostess, kitchen, dishwasher, bussers*
*always a good practice to oil the wheels of those whose services you depended on to make your own money, but I resented being dictated to whom and how much no matter the level of their work

But it was fun work, low commitment and great money for the hrs. worked.
And actually did a great job for preparing me for my future career - most jobs I've had I have to do about 20 things at once, most of which don't go as planned and you have to move forward anyway..... and be nice about it.
A night being in front of the house in a restaurant is like being pelted in dodge ball and having to smile the whole time!
A total rush.

3-24-12, 1:28pm
I always tip at least 20% or more for the reasons stated above and because many of the restaurants are family owned in our area. The extra money helps them to stay in business and compete against the chains.

3-24-12, 1:43pm
I definitely lean toward generous tipping, starting at 20% for an adequate job - cab drivers, hair stylists, wait persons, etc. I'm grateful that anyone is willing to do those jobs and do them well.

3-24-12, 1:58pm
We are generous tippers, also, with pretty much a minimum of 20%, and quite often much more, especially if it is an inexpensive restaurant, since the waitstaff works just as hard, and often harder in those places, for FAR less money, since check totals for meals are so much less.

Maybe it's because when young, I worked at waitressing type jobs, and maybe because both my kids at various period in their lives, did as well, but it's also because we are comfortable financially (although we were just as generous tippers when we weren't), I am grateful that I don't have to work on my feet like that, and we've always believed in "when in doubt, choose generosity".

Those are HARD jobs, and often the people they have to deal with get THEIR jollies and feelings of "being somebody" by mistreating the people serving them. I like to think that we have brightened someone's day, instead.

We tend to tip especially well in "tourist type" places, where most customers are just passing through, because we've noticed that those areas tend to have the largest percentage of people who try to "save" on their vacation costs by tipping miserably or not at all, since they'll "never see these people again".

What goes around, comes around has always been how we operate our lives. It's worked for lots of years now, so don't have any idea of changing. Besides, our feeling is that when we go out to eat, if we don't think we can afford to tip well, we have no business going out to eat in the first place. ;-)

3-24-12, 2:29pm
I routinely tip 20% because it is easy to figure. I also tip on the total bill (including tax) not just the food portion as suggested. One particular restaurant we go occasionally now automatically adds 18% gratuity to the bill (food portion only) which I said is fine but I would have tipped 20% (on the total bill) had they not done it for me. I sometimes tip more depending on situation and service.

Float On
3-24-12, 5:07pm
I'm not exactly sure what the base rate is for waitstaff anymore but I know when I was a server in the early-80's at a really nice restaurant it was $2.01. I don't think its gone up that much.

If I pay my bill with a credit card I always leave a cash tip just incase the management doesn't drawer out every night or tries to charge the waitstaff the credit card fee (that should be illegal but I've heard of it happening a lot).

I've also told my boys that their first job can not be as waitstaff. It did nothing to teach me about budgeting because my thought was always "sure I can buy it, I'm working again tomorrow so I'll have more tip money".

3-24-12, 5:18pm
I've also told my boys that their first job can not be as waitstaff. It did nothing to teach me about budgeting because my thought was always "sure I can buy it, I'm working again tomorrow so I'll have more tip money".

I remember when I waitressed briefly in college. I was terrible at it. I think I was way too self-conscious and uncomfortable approaching people. My tips were OK, but not great. Anyway, I used to go out with friends after my shift was over. All my tips were usually gone that evening. :)

3-24-12, 6:03pm
Waitressing, chamber maid and gardener at an inn paid for my education and I worked hard with wonderful support from the very professional staff so I tip generously usually 15% and our Canadian wages are at least $6-10 per hour. I compliment good service as well.

3-24-12, 9:50pm
It seems it pays to be a server on the West coast:

State Minimum Wage

Some states have different rules regarding the minimum wait staff rate. The federal rate sets the minimum any United States wait staff employee can be paid; however, some states adopt legislation that exceeds the minimum federal rate. When this happens, the higher state minimum rate prevails. For example, some states, such as Washington Oregon and California, do not allow employers to include tips in the minimum wage determination. This means the base rate of wait staff employees in these states is the same as nontipped employees. A wait staff employee in Oregon earns $8.50 per hour plus tips.

3-24-12, 11:19pm
Minnesota also has most servers making minimum wage. I think there are a few exceptions but this came up in the last gubernatorial campaign. The Republican candidate proposed changing that law so that servers would NOT be paid minimum wage. Boneheaded move on his part campaign-wise.

Anyway, this has the effect that if we truly get poor service and it's CLEARLY the waitstaff's deal, we will tip less. I also try to do the 20% mark because sometimes people have to split the tips with the cooks or hosts/hostesses.

What a hard job . . .

3-25-12, 4:05am
We don't eat out very often, but when we do we usually always tip 20 percent unless the service was terrible. And even if the service was terrible we always pay attention to if there is a reason for it, such as they are short handed or extra crowded, then we still tip 20 percent if we felt the wait staff was doing the best they could do considering the circumstances.

Float On, that was so nice of you! :) Whenever we are in Branson, we have noticed many restaurants are very understaffed and wonder why that is....

3-25-12, 9:06am
We tip 20% standard, but have been known to tip a lot once in a while. A few weeks ago we left a $20 bill for a $9 check. The waitress wasn't especially harried or anything, we just felt like it.

My grandfather used to leave $100 tips when the service was good. That set an example for me, I think.

3-25-12, 9:51am
Not intending for my post to come across as though I'm going against the grain, however, if service isn't up to snuff, our gratuities reflect, and if service is sullied, no gratuities. I do not buy the idea of an automatic percentage left behind for service, regardless of the level of service provided.

You wouldn't afford a bonus to a contractor who built a home for you with substandard overtones, and the same should hold true for the food-service industry.

3-25-12, 1:32pm
Not intending for my post to come across as though I'm going against the grain, however, if service isn't up to snuff, our gratuities reflect, and if service is sullied, no gratuities. I do not buy the idea of an automatic percentage left behind for service, regardless of the level of service provided.

You wouldn't afford a bonus to a contractor who built a home for you with substandard overtones, and the same should hold true for the food-service industry.

I agree that poor service does not deserve monetary reward and service has to be pretty bad for me not to tip something but one time I did not leave a tip. The service was deplorable. Too much so to give details. I don’t know what the problem was with the wait person but I addressed it with the manager. I told the manager that I did not leave a tip and why. I said I did not know if this was her normal behavior, if she was sick, mad or whatever but he needed to address the situation with her or they would lose business over extremely poor service. There was nothing pleasant or cordial about the experience.

3-25-12, 1:40pm
I am pretty sure everyone in BC gets a minimum of $9.50 or thereabouts, so tipping is great, but not as absolutely vital as when you are making a lot less. I can't believe anywhere is allowed to pay their waitstaff that little. That is rather incredible.

Float On
3-25-12, 2:16pm
OK, I found this on a Missouri Labor site. So apparently it is now $3.625. But if you have a dead night -no tables or tips - then the employer must kick in to meet the minimum wage of $7.25. Its nice to see that there are so many states that do require the minimum + tips.

"Compensation for a tipped employee must total at least the minimum wage rate which currently is $7.25 per hour. Employers subject to the provisions of the law are required to pay tipped employees at least 50 percent of the minimum wage of $7.25, or $3.625 per hour. Employers of tipped employees must pay more than 50 percent of the minimum wage rate to tipped employees if it is necessary to bring the employee′s total compensation up to at least the minimum wage rate per hour. In other words, the employer is required to make up any difference between the minimum wage amount and the actual base wage and tips received by the employee."

3-26-12, 9:26am
Goldensmom. We seldom do the restaurant thing, but a few years ago (after an extended hiatus away) we planned a restaurant outing (while away for a couple of days), and egads, service was terrible! We waited an hour and half for our meal! And in the hour and half while we sat patiently waiting, the server visited our table just twice, and both times (after taking our drink order) she never returned with our drinks. Terrible. Needless to say, no gratuities, and happy to do so.

4-3-12, 10:35am
DH is a particularly good tipper, sometimes to the point where it irks my frugal sensibilities. I always try to tip above and beyond at lower cost places for the same reasons as LC...those servers are working as hard, if not harder, than upscale places, and for much smaller tips.

I wish we paid our waitstaff more in the US, but I know it my state it is less than $3/hr and thus the tipping culture is engrained here. Once traveling internationally where the waitstaff were paid little and literally survived off tips and I was talking to a bartender...a group of Europeans (Brits maybe, can't remember) next to me left with out tipping. He and I discussed how he loved the Americans because they were good tippers (the hotel catered mostly to Europeans). But, in Europe servers don't have to worry about tips since their wages are enough already, and so most visitors didn't realize he wasn't making a wage, just tips. However it is done, I hope that servers get fairly compensated for their labor whether that is through a salary or tips.

DH and I usually split Christmas between families and a couple years ago ended up with a long drive Christmas day. We stopped into a diner (it had to be a Waffle House, not much else open on Christmas) and I gave the server a $50 tip. I think I had heard it on Dave Ramsey's show that he did that occasionally, and I thought it was a good idea. I don't usually throw that kind of money around but I figured it was the least I could do...I figured no one would work on Christmas unless they really needed to. We snuck out really quickly and we could see her really excited when she found it. DH and I decided if we had to eat out on Christmas again we would definitely always do that. It made us feel good and could have made the difference in that person's holiday.

Edited to add - I did want to mention if service is very bad I will definitely reduce my tip. If something is wrong with the food however, I will bring it to the attention of the server but I would not blame them for what happens in the kitchen. I definitely tip more for exceptional service. I was in the airport recently and some no name restaurant that I thought was just going to be blah and I had an amazing server. He recommended a fabulous local beer, was super friendly, told us where the free wifi was and gave us a coupon for a free app. That kind of stuff, in what was a boring, have to eat situation made all the difference in the experience.

Mighty Frugal
4-4-12, 4:39pm
In Ontario wait staff get less than min. wage (which is currently $10.25 per hour) I think they get about $9 or $9.50 but am unsure.

I am so happy to read we have a lot of big tippers on this board! I did a lot of waitressing and bartending in my teens and 20s and believe me I LOVED getting those big tips!

I am a generous tipper as well-20% for satisfactory and more if they were stupendous. Because I normally go out to eat with a group of women it is easy for each of us to throw in another dollar or two to make a super big tip for our wait staff

If the bill is very low I give about 50% as well.

This is something I think I may like to get back into in years to come-work lunch shift at a local greasy spoon-you make pretty good money, it's fun and no need to go to a gym to exercise!

4-4-12, 4:48pm
That's so cool that a bunch of frugalista's dig deep to tip people who work hard to earn a living in the service industry.

I must admit, that I am a 20%-er for sure. My son works as a server in a restaurant, but in addition to that, I know that servers and taxi drivers and housemaids need those tips to survive.

if I get terrible service, I'll still tip, but maybe 10%. If I enjoy my ride in a taxi, definitely 20%. And I always give $5 a day to those unsung heroes, the women who clean the crap out of our tubs, when I'm on the road. It burns me up when we're quick to give a (male) bellboy a couple of bucks for touching our suitcases but a lot of people don't think to leave something for people who have to take care of all kinds of nastiness in our hotel rooms.

Float On
4-4-12, 7:56pm
It burns me up when we're quick to give a (male) bellboy a couple of bucks for touching our suitcases but a lot of people don't think to leave something for people who have to take care of all kinds of nastiness in our hotel rooms.

I agree. I tip well in hotels too - and it doesn't have to be a 5star rated hotel either, any hotel we stay at I leave a nice little Thank you note and a good daily tip. Even if I meet them at the door and just want fresh towels, I tip. Some people wait till the last day and leave one tip but I can tell you that whoever cleaned that day will take the whole tip, they won't split it with whoever cleaned your room the other days.

5-23-12, 12:31am
I despise the expectant tip.

I have been tipped twice in my service life as a mechanic for a total of $155 over the past 10 years of service.

The $5 was for staying 2 hours past closing to make a hydraulic hose for an owner/operator of a machine. I tried to decline it, but he told me to buy dinner with it....OK!

The second tip was a gift certificate for $150 onboard my Snap-On tool dealers truck, from a customer that I rebuilt his log truck engine and finished it on Saturday so that he could test it on Sunday and haul on Monday. For an owner/operator that can mean up to $1000 per day on a good paying haul.

I have also been the target of complaints and un-needed stress inflicted by managers that lied about parts arrival times, and I stayed late and waited for parts only to have the customer utterly suprised by the fact that his truck was done early!!

I do tip when service is above the mark, and when I do I don't use a formula I use gratitude and hand the employee a paper bill of at least $10. Because then it is a real thing that shows them that the extra does matter.

Tip #1: First Hill Seattle at about 10:30 at night....a homeless mentally ill lady came into the IHOP and was talking loudly to herself and any employee that walked by about getting some COFFEE!!! The lead server for the night came up to her and was very pleasant and told her that she needed to leave and he would happily give her a coffee in a to go cup...she tried to get irrate but the guy was very kind and mellow. She left and my wife and I finished our meal. He got a $20 bill as we left and a thank you for his being nice to the lady. The bill was maybe $35?

Tip #2: At a local tex-mex restaurant the waiter knelt down to take my wife's order because when she looked up at him the sun from the window was directly on her face. He got a $20 and a thank you. That bill was $65 and my wife gave a tip on the debit card as well.

All in all I know some people depend on tips for their wages to be decent, but I don't belive that it should be expected. If it is expected then up your stinking prices 20% and pay the servers more!!! BUt anymore a tip on the reciept is not getting to the server that did the good job, it is split, then it is taxed.

I have worked in multiple industrial service jobs and the job is much more difficult than serving food and the jerks are generally much more brash and rude when you do make a mistake, but I still do everything I can and never expect a tip.

small & friendly
5-23-12, 1:12am
My Mom and I have worked in the restaurant business as have two of my sons. It is HARD work! So, I always overtip. Even if the server is not the best, I still tip generously. They make almost no money other than the tips and sometimes they share with the bus boy. If my friends and I sit and chat extra long, then I'm all the more so inclined to tip really, really well.

9-4-12, 11:31pm
Float on, I didn't see this post before, but that was the kindest
that you did!

iris lily
9-5-12, 12:24am
I routinely tip 20% because it is easy to figure. I also tip on the total bill (including tax) not just the food portion as suggested.

Agreed, I always tip 20% because it's a little easier to figure than 15%. Also, I've waited tables. DH (and has never waited tables) cheaper, he will usually tip 15%. But if I'm alone and having something small I usually tip $3 dollars which can be equal to or a little less than my food bill.

9-5-12, 12:48am
As someone who spent four summers in high school/college busing tables I tend to tip generously. The bottom line for me is that the work sucks. By the end of every shift I was physically exhausted, mentally tired of being abused by the customers, the management and occasionally (but rarely) the servers. I praise buddha every day to thank him that I was able to finish college and end up in a white collar setting that I actually enjoy for the most part. It has its own stresses but not a bit worse then the stresses I felt busing tables. And the pay is much much better.

Average service at a restaurant will get at least 15% from me even if it's a place we're only going to once, such as on vacation. Above average service 20-25% of the total bill, including tax. I usually pay in cash because restaurant food and drink is part of my discretionary budget, so my tip is in cash as well. We only eat out Friday night, for the most part, but it's usually one of about 5 or 6 restaurants that we go to regularly, so we get remembered. We tend to get really good service and polite chitchat, asking how our week was or whatnot, so we always tip well in those cases. And at christmas we make a point of specifically tipping a few special servers/bartenders that know us well and treat us well extra because it's christmas. There are only 3 or 4 people on that list but we'll give them each an extra $25 or $50, usually in a christmas card addressed to them specifically.

For me eating out is very much money that I spend because of the social aspect of it, not just the fact of wanting food. A server that knows us and treats us well because (s)he knows us helps make it a really enjoyable time for me. I'm happy to tip them well. The tip is just part of my discretionary entertainment budget. If I couldn't afford it I'd rather stay home and cook for myself.