Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Friends Didn’t Leave a Tip”

I had a disagreement with a friend this weekend. I had been with friends at a bar watching basketball all day. Our waitress had our booth of between 6-8 people for around 3-4 hours. I was not drinking, but everyone else was. There was no disagreement that the waitress in question provided good service while we were eating, drinking, etc. — to the point where when one guy spilled some of the jager bomb she was bringing over, she went back to the bar to get the bartender to top it back off.

One couple asked for their checks as the rest of us were signing ours. The waitress took his card, ran it and brought back the book. When my friend opened it, his bill was there but his card was not in the
book. Keeping in mind the couple was a little drunk, the guy’s girlfriend was quite distressed. The couple told the waitress who grabbed two hostesses and began looking for it between our table and the waitress station (literally about 15 feet apart). Five minutes later — at the most — the waitress brought the card back and handed it to the girlfriend.

The boyfriend went to pay for the tab, which was over $100, and put down a $20 bill as tip. His girlfriend immediately grabbed the twenty and started telling him not to tip her because she lost his card and didn’t “say sorry” when she returned it. At this point I said something because: 1) I think the waitress deserved to be tipped for the work she did. Nothing was actually lost (I think the card was in her apron pocket); and 2) I and the boyfriend frequent this restaurant/bar frequently, and I don’t want to be associated with someone who doesn’t tip.

So my questions on tipping are this:

1) Do most people feel obligated to tip? Do you start off assuming you’ll tip between 15-20% and go up or down from there based on service? Or do you start at 0 and only tip for satisfactory/good service? I believe that you tip not only for services rendered, but if you’re in a place you go to frequently, you’re tipping based on future expectations. The girlfriend in question thinks that you tip solely based on services rendered that time, and that a tip is a “bonus” and shouldn’t be expected.

2) What are offenses that would keep people from tipping? And do you tell the waitress or manager why you didn’t tip or just leave nothing? — Tipped Off

The girlfriend in question is one tacky hot mess. Was she raised in a barn? Or, perhaps Europe (where tipping isn’t as customary as it is in other parts of the world)? Otherwise, I cannot fathom how she has made it to legal drinking age without understanding the rules of tipping, which are thus: ALWAYS TIP! I mean, what kind of cad doesn’t leave a tip after hours of loitering? There’s no excuse! Servers work damn hard for their tips, without which they typically don’t even make enough to cover the cost of their commute to and from work. Unless a server is entirely out of line, as in: spits in your food in front of you, calls you or your friends names, or sexually harasses you, a tip is always expected. Generally, a tip of 18-20% is customary, with the lower end going to those servers who aren’t as attentive and the higher end going to those who are fast with refilling water glasses, taking orders, and carding you when you’re a 35-year-old mother of a newborn who hasn’t slept in 10 weeks and just ordered a glass of Pinot.

So, what do you do if you happen to be with a group of people and the check comes and your lame ass friends don’t leave enough of a tip? You call them out on it. You count the bills and announce, “We’re five bucks short. Did everyone make sure to leave 20% for the tip?” If no one ponies up — the cads! — you shame the jerks. You sigh, dig into your pocket or wallet, fish out a fiver and say, “Fine, I’ll cover it this time. Our server was great and doesn’t deserve to be shorted.” Then, the next time you’re out with said friends, ask for separate checks.

In your case, LW, since you frequent this bar regularly, I would have approached the waitress after your friends left, handed her a 20 and apologized for your comrade’s bad manners. Even if it weren’t a bar that you frequent regularly, the right thing to do would have been to urge your friend to please leave a tip since you all know how hard the waitress worked serving your drunks asses all afternoon and that the lost credit card was a simple mistake that anyone could have made, especially after a long day of dealing with a bunch of obnoxious drunks, and it didn’t cost anyone anything except five minutes of anxiety. If they refused to leave an appropriate compensation for a job well done, I would have left it myself and then have been sure to not go out with those friends again.

In the event that the service sucked, you could opt to leave a smaller tip (say, 15%), and/or ask to speak to a manager about the server’s behavior.

For more information about tipping (how much and to whom), here’s a handy graphic. This is also a helpful tipping guide.

Readers, what are some of your more memorable tipping experiences (either as a tippee or a tipper)? Have you ever not left a tip on principle? How have you handled bad service? Have you ever been out with friends who were stingy with the tipping?

*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at [email protected] and be sure to follow me on Twitter.

334 comments… add one
  • avatar

    Taylor March 20, 2012, 9:10 am

    I always tip 20%+ unless someone is downright rude, and then it’s 15%. When I’m in the Netherlands and servers get a liveable wage and benefits, I go with the regional custom of leaving change on the table.

    Any groupon users on here? I’ve been to a couple of places where I have a groupon where the server was downright hostile about it, and I don’t get it. The point is to bring in new business – I know to tip on the full amount, not the discounted amount, but after weird rudeness, or being left at a table for 30 minutes without anyone speaking to us, I don’t particularly want to tip well. Which would only further the hostility for the next groupon user.

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    • leilani

      leilani March 20, 2012, 9:16 am

      I hate it SO much when I feel like a server ignores a group of people because they don’t feel like they are going to tip well—because then, obviously, I don’t want to tip well after you were just rude and dismissive towards me for an hour, but I don’t want to prove you right either. These kind of servers need to realize its a self-fulfilling prophecy….

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      • avatar

        rachel March 20, 2012, 1:21 pm

        Definitely a self-fulfilling prophecy. Back in December my boyfriend and I went to a bar so I could watch a football game. We only ordered dessert, and were obviously staying for a while, so I guess the waitress assumed we were just taking up space and were not going to tip well. But then she spent most of the time talking to her friends on the other side of the bar and never came back once to refill our water. I mean, I could understand being annoyed if the place was packed and we were taking up a spot that could be filled by other, higher-paying people, but it was a Sunday night and pretty quiet. She didn’t expect a very good tip, and I could not give her a good tip since she never filled my water! I had planned on giving her a really good tip in the beginning because I know as a former waitress it’s annoying to keep checking on a table you know will be there for a long time.

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    • Dear Wendy

      Wendy March 20, 2012, 9:18 am

      Yes! It’s one of the reasons I don’t buy Groupons anymore. In fact, I am using my last one tomorrow (for a mani pedi, which has been downright impossible to schedule because there are all these stipulations about when a Groupon can be rendered and the people at the salon have been such assholes about it) and then I am done forever.

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      • TaraMonster

        TaraMonster March 20, 2012, 11:12 am

        Groupon is the WORST. And LivingSocial is not much better.

        Wendy- Scoutmob is SO much better. I think you need to have a smartphone app to use it, though. But Scoutmob deals are coupons that you use when you’re ready to pay rather than something you pay for in advance- generally 50% off or $25 off, whichever is less. I have tried so many new restaurants, cafes, and nail salons with Scoutmob deals and have only once been given an attitude (Nail Salon in the West Village).

        Plus, I know you live in BK and I see a million Scoutmob deals for BK.

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      • avatar

        jakdrake March 20, 2012, 8:29 pm

        Groupon still new in where I live, and it quite good to get restaurant food for 30%-50% discount (score if it for buffet/all u can eat!). And I live in south east Asia which have no tipping policies.
        Actually, I prefer bar, restaurant and other similar places raise the food/drink/services that they provide and paying their waiter/waitress and other personals better. I think it more fair that every crew that involve in the business get more share, not only the waiter or waitress. Especially in restaurant when the skill of the chef is the greatest contributor of the quality of your food.

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      • avatar

        jakdrake March 21, 2012, 4:20 am

        I mean raise the PRICE of the food/drink/services and include it all in bills (or named it service charge).
        So customer do know how much they must pay, without have to calculate how much to give to the servers.
        All in all, I think is more fair that the chef, manager, and all that work hard to give you enjoyment of fine dining get your tip, not only the waiter/waitress. Especially the chefs and cooks that must work very hard to make the food that you enjoy (some food need extensive preparation and many chef must very come early and work hours to make everything ready when you order it).
        Chef and cooks also often injured by repetitive motion injuries and by scalding of hot food. So I think we diners are owe them the most.

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    • avatar

      GatorGirl March 20, 2012, 9:24 am

      I’ve gotten poor service due to having a coupon many many times. Most people don’t tip on the price before the discount (as you should) so it’s understandable that servers/bartenders would be irritated when they see a coupon.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest March 20, 2012, 9:41 am

        I don’t know how Groupon works, but with a regular coupon, just don’t show it til the bill comes. (thats ok, right?) Then you will have normal service.

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      • avatar

        GatorGirl March 20, 2012, 10:21 am

        On some coupons it says let them know before ordering, and I always follow the instructions. Usually with Groupon or Living Social it says to let them know before ordering. I’ve also experianced the server/bartender get very stand-off-ish during the bill paying process once they see the coupon.

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    • Leroy

      Leroy March 20, 2012, 9:34 am

      Apparently Groupon users have developed an absolutely horrible rep among servers for being cheap, rude, and generally scummy. I’ve never used it, so I don’t know, but I got an earful at a party about a year ago where a lot of the guests worked in food service.

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      • avatar

        SherBear March 20, 2012, 10:27 am

        I use Groupons all the time and I’ve never experienced any hostility or rudeness – in fact quite the opposite, I’ve gotten coupons for future visits, had managers come over and say hello, etc. But perhaps it’s because I live in Chicago which is the birthplace of Groupon, maybe their value is better understood here? (since there is a lot of resturant competition). I personally always tip 20-25% when I have a Groupon just to give us Grouponers a good name!

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      • CatsMeow

        CatsMeow March 20, 2012, 10:45 am

        I haven’t had any issues, but I’ve noticed that they usually remind us ahead of time to tip on the original amount.

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    • avatar

      iseeshiny March 20, 2012, 11:40 am

      I’ve had a couple of places add a gratuity for a party of four when they see the groupon. Which I’m totally fine with.

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    • avatar

      jlyfsh March 20, 2012, 1:01 pm

      I haven’t had an issue but with most of the places I’ve purchased groupons for their is a little blurb at the bottom of the description saying that an 18% tip will be added before the discount is taken. I guess since they know they’re getting a tip they’re not as upset by it?

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    • Cymepkee

      Cymepkee March 20, 2012, 5:56 pm

      I haven’t really had too much issue with Groupon use, and I love saving money so wouldn’t stop if I got rude service a couple of times, but I can understand the frustration. Even though Groupon tells you right there on the coupon to tip on the original amount, it wouldn’t surprise me if people still didn’t do it. If the waiter gets a bit standoffish, I like to let them know I worked in food service and will definitely tip well. Mostly, though, I’ve found that restaurants put an automatic 18% of the original amount on the bill to avoid any douchiness.

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    • avatar

      pamplemousse March 20, 2012, 11:26 pm

      I’ve experienced the Groupon weirdness/hostility. I have previously returned a local deal (our local newspaper’s version of Groupon) because I called probably 10 times to schedule an appointment and was either spoken rudely to or ignored. In fact, I called to book another such deal today at a salon and later received a call reminding me about my appointment today rather than tomorrow as I scheduled it, and when I told them I had confirmation it was tomorrow, they told me I was wrong (who tells a customer that – ever?). Needless to say, I will be returning that deal as well.

      Another thing I’ve noticed about Groupon deals that is deceiving is that the description says you are receiving say, a manicure worth $40. The $40 manicure on the company’s website looks awesome, but when you show up, you find that the “Groupon manicure” is actually only polishing your nails, or some crap like that. So you’re basically not getting a deal at all.

      Ok, rant over.

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  • avatar

    bluesunday March 20, 2012, 9:11 am

    I’m from Canada, and I always thought a 15% tip was customary. Oh no am I a cad??

    Also, do you tip on the pre or post tax amount?

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    • avatar

      Muffy March 20, 2012, 9:21 am

      This past weekend I tipped a waitress only the tax (13%-from Canada) because it took her over an hour to bring our food. Normally i would think it was the restaurant but in this case she forgot to ring our order in and said nothing about it at all until we asked her an hour later even though tables that came after us were getting their food before us. Plus she was stingy with the water. And didn’t bring us our bill for another 15 minutes when we asked for it.

      That being said, I think anywhere between 15-20% is a good tip. I usually tip 20% unless the service was crappy like this weekend.

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    • avatar

      MissDre March 20, 2012, 9:27 am

      Yeah, same here… Usually I tip 10% and 15% if I thought the server was really good.

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      • avatar

        Hope April 10, 2012, 1:02 am

        I have to say that as a server 10% is an AWFUL tip. I would be offended and certainly wouldn’t bother to give exceptional service to someone who came back in after giving such a bad tip.

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    • Roxy_84

      Roxy84 March 20, 2012, 9:30 am

      I’m from Canada as well, and yes, I think 15% is considered adequate here. I usually tip 15-20%, just rounding to whatever is a convenient total bill in that range. Unless the service is particularly good or particularly bad. If particularly bad I tip exactly 15%, for great service I’m happy to tip 20% or higher.

      When I lived in NYC, I tipped 18-20% as a minimum. I think that tends to be more standard there.

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      • avatar

        bluesunday March 20, 2012, 9:42 am

        I’m actually reading below that minimum wage in the states is $2-3 an hour for servers. In Ontario, it’s $10.25 plus tips. I guess a higher amount is necessary in the states to ensure an adequate living wage, whereas here it’s really just a bonus for good service.

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      • avatar

        AllegroFox March 20, 2012, 11:15 am

        I’ve always heard that 15% is what’s expected in Canada, so that’s what I give. I used to just double the tax amount – it was so easy to remember! And then our taxes went down to 13% and it screwed up my whole system. Ugh, math.

        Funny story: my first time through Europe, I didn’t realize that they usually add a small gratuity onto the bill there (along with always including the tax in the price.) I left what I thought was a smallish (about 12%?) tip for a waitress in a coffee shop (I think it was in Austria?) and got these looks on the the way out, like, who is this crazy lady, let’s thank her profusely and get her out of here before she changes her mind! I only found out later that there had been a gratuity included, so I had basically given her an extra tip she hadn’t expected. I like to think that I was perpetuating an idea of Canadian generosity…or something.

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    • avatar

      bethany March 20, 2012, 9:33 am

      I think the expected ammount in Canada is different than in the US– I always tip on the post tax ammount. It’s just easier!

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    • Betsy

      Betsy March 20, 2012, 9:53 am

      I had never even thought to tip on the pre-tax amount. A friend of mine was complaining about this guy that always did it, and I thought “that’s a thing?” It seems so petty.

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      • avatar

        jennifer March 21, 2012, 11:16 pm

        I learned that you tip on the pretax amount. It wasn’t supposed to be ‘petty’ but correct from the way I was taught.

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    • avatar

      Flake March 20, 2012, 10:13 am

      I tip 15% when the service has been below average, but there are good reasons for it – rush hour, one waitress, or if there’s been a minor mistake with the order. The few times that I git really crappy service, I always wanted to leave no tip, but always ended up leaving the equivalent of the tax (13%-15%). I may have stiffed people a few times, but only after outrageously rude service. Great waiters get 20%-35% depending on the total amount of the bill.

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    • avatar

      Pamplemousse Rose March 20, 2012, 11:02 am

      I tip on pre tax – partly because I don’t think you should have to tip on the government’s cut, but mostly because in Alberta where GST is 5% (and figured on the pre-tax total, obvs) it’s easy to just triple or quadruple the tax… depending on service. If service is abysmal (like taking over an hour from when I asked for my bill to actually get it) I still leave something esp because there can be extenuating circumstances… Generally 15%, less for poor service/take out but 20-25% for excellent service.

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    • avatar

      Red_Lady March 20, 2012, 9:13 pm

      I usually do about 15%, pre-tax ($1.50 tip for every $10 on the bill, then add an extra dollar or two for the amount over a multiple of ten). If service wasn’t too hot, I do 10% If I have a discount and service was good, I do about 20% of the price before the discount. If service was awesome, they get 20%.
      I always base the tip off the pre-tax price though, b/c that’s what I’m paying for the food.

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  • leilani

    leilani March 20, 2012, 9:13 am

    I always tip 20%. I might reduce it if it is legitimately terrible, but that is extremely rare. However, if they give me free things, I increase it :). I have a friend that reduce her tips drastically for minor things, and it just embarrasses me. The funny thing is, she is also my richest friend…she just feels like servers are obligated to cater to her every whim in order to earn a normal tip.

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    • avatar

      java82 March 20, 2012, 9:19 am

      I totally have a friend like that.

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    • avatar

      cookiesandcream March 20, 2012, 9:49 am

      Your friend doesn’t really surprise me because I’ve heard that wealthier patrons tend to be the worst tippers because they don’t understand what it’s like to work in the service industry. On the other hand, I’ve heard that the best tips come from lower income people because they’re better able to empathize with their waiters/waitresses.

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      • CatsMeow

        CatsMeow March 20, 2012, 10:55 am

        I think everyone should be a waiter/waitress at least once in their life. I did it for about a month, and I won’t hesitate to admit that I was HORRIBLE. I’m surprised I got any tips at all! I think people felt sorry for me because they could tell I was flustered.

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      • avatar

        ape_escape March 20, 2012, 7:26 pm

        I am a waitress at a pretty popular pub, and I can definitely tell you that those corporate guys who come in for happy hour and pick up the tab for all their work buddies and/or clients? Lookin like big high rollers? DEFINITELY some of the stingiest tippers in the world. OOOh that drives me crazy – like, you want to show your buddies what a big man you are, and then you stiff the waitress? What a bag of dicks. And you’re so right – you can tell they’ve never worked a minimum wage job a day in their lives.

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  • avatar

    AndreaMarie March 20, 2012, 9:18 am

    I kind of see tipping a little differently. I think it has come away from its original intention which is to give the server extra money for exceptional service. It’s come to the point where we are obligated to not only throw a tip down but a 20% one regardless of service. It really heats me up when they already add the tip to the bill. For example, I was out with my boyfriend last week at a resturant in NYC. Even though it was a Saturday night the resturant was not crowded at all. It took the waitress quit some time to come over and ask for our drink order. We then asked for 5 more minutes to decide on food. Well, 25 minutes later, all while the our waitress was flirting with the bar staff and we attempted to wave her down, does she finally take our order. After the food came out we saw very little of her. We have to grab other waitresses to get more napkins, a refill of wine, extra plate, etc. Then the bill finally comes alone and the 20% tip was already included! ( and may I also add, how many times does a resturant do this and you dont even realize and then leave even more $$). Anyways, needless to say we were alittle pissed. I didn’t feel her service deserved the 20%. I would have thrown her $10 on our $150 bill and would not have felt ashamed of it.

    Don’t get me wrong, I support tipping but it shouldn’t be an obligatory amount. It is truly meant as an added bonues (and incentive) for excellent service. It should be the resturant/bar’s job to pay their servers livable wages. It shouldn’t be up to the customer to suppliment their income.

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    • avatar

      Kristen March 20, 2012, 9:23 am

      $10?? I know it’s just my opinion, but that’s pretty low. As I said in my post below, servers only make $2 or $3 an hour. Without tips, a server would only walk out the door with about $20 for the whole night (before taxes!).

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      • avatar

        AndreaMarie March 20, 2012, 9:26 am

        That was my point. It should be the job of the resturant/bar to pay the servers well. Not the job of the customer. I feel that it should be left to the customers’ to decide on the tip. it should automatically be added. That was the xample in my story. Our server didn’t deserve the 20%, she wasn’t around at all. We had to ask other servers for assistance. In my opinion her service deserved no more than $10.

        The amount of tip should be depended on quality of service, not amount of the bill.
        I’ve tipped $5 on a $1.50 coffee before.

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      • avatar

        Kristen March 20, 2012, 9:31 am

        Right, but even though it would be nice for restaurants to pay their servers $12 an hour, they just don’t. So if you leave a 6% tip because that’s the way it “should” be, nothing gets fixed, and the server leaves with no money. In my opinion, if you make the decision to eat out at a restaurant instead of cooking at home, you should just factor that 20% into your budget ahead of time. It’s part of eating out.

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      • avatar

        Flake March 20, 2012, 10:22 am

        Yeah, but waiters still accept those conditions. Why should the customer foot the bill??

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      • avatar

        Kristen March 20, 2012, 10:25 am

        Because they decided to go out to eat, knowing that’s how the current system works.

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      • avatar

        Flake March 20, 2012, 10:39 am

        Again, the waiter accepted a job which pays $5/hour+OPTIONAL tips. If a person wants more money per hour, there are other jobs.

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      • honeybeenicki

        honeybeenicki March 20, 2012, 10:46 am

        Are there? I work in a workforce development and most of the job openings available are higher level, so people who can’t qualify for those don’t have a lot of options.

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      • JK

        JK March 20, 2012, 10:47 am

        Or they could do their job well to get better tips, no?

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      • avatar

        jaybro March 20, 2012, 11:53 am

        But if nobody wants to receive such a low wage and everybody gets office jobs or retail jobs with higher paying wages, then the real question is WHO IS GOING TO SERVE ME BREADSTICKS AT OLIVE GARDEN!?!?

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      • TaraMonster

        TaraMonster March 20, 2012, 11:24 am

        I’m sorry, but that’s just offensive. Some people don’t have a lot of other options based on their education level, the are they live in, the fact that there are no jobs available, etc. In a perfect worked we all “make choices” based on having an abundance of options, but that is just not the case in our economy right now- and frankly even when the economy was better.

        Also- this is not to say that some people don’t choose to wait tables because they enjoy it and feel it can be more lucrative than other jobs, but it fires me up when people start talking about “choices” like everyone in this country has the same opportunities as others. That’s just not the reality of it.

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      • bagge72

        bagge72 March 20, 2012, 10:49 am

        Would you pay a contractor their full wage if they only built half of your house, and it took twice as long?

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      • avatar

        Flake March 20, 2012, 10:53 am

        I don’t get that either. At any other area, the only way to show your dissatisfaction with the services rendered is to withhold payment. Why is this so different?

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      • bagge72

        bagge72 March 20, 2012, 11:01 am

        Yeah people are acting like she is this terrible person for wanting to leave the appropriate tip for absolutely terrible service. Maybe if she was allowed to do this the employees would give better service, and the restaurant would actually be busy on a Saturday night. I think there should always be gratuity added to larger tables, but smaller tables should be able to decide what to give on the lever of service they provide, and they would still tell a manager about it, which usually doesn’t do anything anyway, but makes the customer feel better.

        I personally start at 20% and usually go up or down from there, but I have never given under 15%.

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      • avatar

        Nadine March 20, 2012, 11:36 am

        Talking to the manager is WAY more effective. Then we know what we did wrong. Not tipping just makes us think you’re forgetful, selfish, or a dickhead.

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      • bagge72

        bagge72 March 20, 2012, 11:47 am

        Not tipping is me thinking you are forgetful, selfish, and a dickhead, so I guess it just makes to people not like each other.

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      • bagge72

        bagge72 March 20, 2012, 11:48 am

        two

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      • avatar

        Flake March 20, 2012, 11:54 am

        That is not true more often than not. At none of the places that I have worked, nothing was ever done to the offending waiter. One restaurant I worked at, most of the waiters (me included) were good friends with the management, and one waiter was so rude to customers that you wouldn’t believe. He received at least a complaint per shift (not day – shift). He would laugh in people’s faces when they asked to see the manager. Lot’s of free food and drinks had to be given out in compensation. And at the high-end restaurants, there are unions that no manager wants to deal with. So no, a complaint to a manager is, more often than not, completely useless.

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      • avatar

        Flake March 20, 2012, 11:56 am

        *At all of the places

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      • avatar

        Nadine March 21, 2012, 7:15 am

        I cant reply to Bagge directly, but you are proving my point. Not tipping is fostering an environment of unease, whereas talking to the manager is direct, makes your issues known, and the server is not left to woner if they did something wrong, or if the customer is not a tipper. I think this thread proves servers cannot expect consistent tip action.

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      • bagge72

        bagge72 March 21, 2012, 9:06 am

        I pretty sure I said in my thread that they should still tell a manager about it aswell.

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      • bagge72

        bagge72 March 20, 2012, 10:47 am

        AndreaMarie, probably did factor in that amount, she is just saying that the waitress didn’t earn that amount by the poor services she provided, so she should be able to adjust what she gets. Basically the waitress becomes her employee, and since she cant fire the waitress, her only option is to dock her pay.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest March 20, 2012, 9:47 am

        I agree your server didn’t deserve a *great* tip, but $10 on $150 bill?!
        I also wish it were quality of service leading to the tip determination, but the fact of the matter is that it is not that way. They make like pennies on the hour. Just because you think its the job of the restaurant to pay their servers doesn’t mean they do, or that its the server’s fault they don’t.
        Also, keep in mind that usually that tip is split between all the people that helped you, not just the waitress. That makes me feel better about leaving a good tip that wasn’t deserved.

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      • avatar

        caffeinatrix March 20, 2012, 3:10 pm

        Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think the wages a server makes vary. Some states allow businesses to pay their servers less than minimum wage and expect them to make up the difference in tips, but not all states do. I don’t know if it varies just by state or by county as well, but when I last worked in that kind of service job (which, granted, was about three years ago, it might have changed since then), I was paid the state-required CA minimum wage. It’s still not nearly enough to live on, but if a barista or waitress were paid $3 an hour in California, they’d be living in a cardboard box.

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      • avatar

        TMSC March 20, 2012, 5:29 pm

        Back in college (which was over 10 years now) I worked as a waitress in Boston at 2 different restaurant/bars, and made about $2.50 per hour. I loved waitressing, and most people were very generous. But if people didn’t tip a decent amount – I would have also been living in a cardboard box.

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      • Moneypenny

        Moneypenny March 20, 2012, 7:04 pm

        Minimum wage in my city is $10.24! It just went up from $9.92 at the beginning of this year.

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      • Moneypenny

        Moneypenny March 20, 2012, 7:06 pm

        Oops, actually it went up in January of *last* year.
        Cost of living here is 62% higher than the national average…

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        GatorGirl March 20, 2012, 10:28 am

        It would be great if it was the “job” of the resturant to pay the servers well but wages/tax law isn’t written in that way in the US. If one resturant tried to pay their servers $10 an hour they would quickly go out of business because of the prices they would have to charge to cover the higher wages. Most people would not go to a restuarant with a $20 burger on the menu even if tipping wasn’t expected…because they could go somewhere else and get a $10 burger and add a $2 tip. Most restaurants are not rolling in money- especially small family owned places.

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      kerrycontrary March 20, 2012, 9:24 am

      See I would’ve spoken to the manager about something like that, and your bill probably would’ve been reduced.

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      • avatar

        Kristen March 20, 2012, 9:26 am

        I agree. Leaving a low tip is just a passive aggressive way of saying you weren’t happy with the service, and it doesn’t do anything to fix it for next time.

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        lets_be_honest March 20, 2012, 9:51 am

        Yes, if it sucked that much, talk to the manager but still leave a tip.

        I also write down my list of disappointments and criticisms on the back of the bill. Example:
        too slow to take order…………minus $.50
        annoying voice……………….minus $3.00
        food slightly under 55 degrees…..minus $1.00
        ice cube not perfectly square……minus $.50
        bad hair dye job……………………minus $2.00
        😉

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      • honeybeenicki

        honeybeenicki March 20, 2012, 10:06 am

        I like how the worst offense was an annoying voice 🙂

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        AndreaMarie March 20, 2012, 10:10 am

        HAHAHA that’s excellent. And may I just add, we didn’t leave her $10 because the 20% was included into the total bill. So she was fine.

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    • Dear Wendy

      Wendy March 20, 2012, 9:25 am

      Oh wow, you don’t get it.

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      • avatar

        AndreaMarie March 20, 2012, 9:30 am

        No, I get it. I think I tip well. But I usually tip based on service and not total amount of the bill. As I said above. Ive tipped $5 on a $1.20 coffee. Ive tipped $15 on $40 lunch. My point was that the customer shouldnt be held to a certain amount regardless of service and a waitress/waiter shouldn’t feel like their are already entitled to the 20%tip (like in my story where it was included in the bill).

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      • avatar

        AndreaMarie March 20, 2012, 9:36 am

        I’m certainly never a dick about anything, and I was just pointing out a different side of the argument. May I add that I live in NYC and I think the resturant/bar culture can be a little different than other cities. There are alot of times when the servers are there more to “support the scene” then actually provide good service. And the bills are pretty high. I had a waitress at a lounge once who basically ignored my group and spent all her time flirting with a group of older men. I basically had to go up to the bar and order our drinks and food. When I complained to the manager he told me that her behavior was completely appropriate since it was the “atmosphere” of the bar. Huh? Anyways, again, not being a dick, just showing a different side of the argument 🙂

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      • avatar

        Nadine March 20, 2012, 10:25 am

        I just sort of noticed that you have complained twice now about waitresses “flirting” instead of helping you. although this may in fact be a legitimate complaint, can I just say that as a girl who (for the first time) is currently working in hospitality, men have tended to be MUCH more likeable and open to chatting to women. They also tip more. So, yes, I will spend more time with them, enjoying a bit of banter and paving the way for a hefty tip, than I will with people who count every penny and don’t want to talk to me anyway.
        I’m not a waitress, I’m a ‘hostess’ so I don’t actually serve anything, but customers still manage to be rude to me.
        Oh and being in London I get a liveable wage 🙂

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      • avatar

        AndreaMarie March 20, 2012, 10:53 am

        I agree. Especially with bartenders, you need to be friendly with the customers and that means flirting sometimes. I didn’t mean for both examples to have the flirting in it but these were over the top. Like instead of asking if we needed anymore drinks she was actually sitting in the booth with the men!

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      • avatar

        Nadine March 20, 2012, 10:59 am

        Ok, I totally see there is a line there. The line was clearly a dot to this waitress. But whether right or wrong, men have tended to tip better, or at least they do for me. So I do spend more time on them as customers, as long as they are not sleazy.

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    • avatar

      GatorGirl March 20, 2012, 9:30 am

      I agree with the other posters, this is an instance where something should have been said to a manager.

      In FL where I live, the minimum wage for a tipped employee is $4.65 and a lot (if not most or all) of restuarants/bars pay employee’s only the minimum wage…an then taxes are taken out of the $4/65 per hour. So a lot of times the server/bartender’s take home pay on a check is $20. Tipping may have developed as a way to thank someone for going above and beyond…but today tipping is how servers/bartenders make there wages. (I do agree you should not be obligated to tip on just plain old bad service like you described in your post)

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      • Dear Wendy

        Wendy March 20, 2012, 9:37 am

        Absolutely. Tipping is part of the expense of going out. Just as you pay the restaurant for the food, you pay the server for his or her service. Yes, you get to decide how much to pay said server, but don’t be a dick about it. If you can afford a $150 dinner out, it’s atrocious that you would even consider tipping less than 18% for decent service (and if you don’t get decent service, then ask to speak to a manager). Tipping — at least in a restaurant setting — is not a “thank you,” like it may have once been. It’s payment for a service. If you don’t pay, the server basically worked for you for free.

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        AndreaMarie March 20, 2012, 10:20 am

        We paid the 20% on the $150 since it was automatically charged.

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      • avatar

        Jessibel March 20, 2012, 10:55 am

        And in some cases, if you don’t tip well, your server may technically end up PAYING to work for you, due to taxes and gas.

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      • bagge72

        bagge72 March 20, 2012, 11:10 am

        But would you pay for your food if they brought out the wrong thing? Say you ordered a vegan meal, and they brought you out a hamburger, would you pay for it? Just because you planned to spend a certain amount doesn’t mean you have too, if the situation doesn’t warrant it. Would pay for an oil change if the only put air in your tires? I mean it shouldn’t be any different for waitresses, if they don’t give you good service, they don’t deserve to get paid a high amount. Why hold them to different standard then everyone else in the service industry? I can personally tell you in some places talking to a manager does absolutely nothing. They say things to make you happy, and might give you some free ice cream when you wouldn’t have ordered it anyway, but nothing happens to you waiter.

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        iseeshiny March 20, 2012, 11:47 am

        But in that case you speak to a manager. They’ll apologize, they’ll probably comp some of your food, and meanwhile you still don’t have to cook the meal or clean up after yourself, get up to refill your own drinks, etc. That doesn’t mean the server wasn’t working for you.

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      • bagge72

        bagge72 March 20, 2012, 12:02 pm

        I’m not saying anything about the server in that situation, I was just responding to what she said about how you would always pay the restaurant for your food, I was giving an example of when you might not, because everything isn’t so black, and white.
        I was just saying you wouldn’t pay for something you didn’t order, so why would you pay for service you didn’t get. When you go out you pay for more than just somebody to plop a plate in front of you, and to refill your coke, and there are different ways to handle each situation. If you don’t get the right food, you ask them to bring it back, and bring your correct meal without spit in it, if somebody ignores you for 4 hours, because they are at a table they think will pay them more, then they only thing you can really do to justify the situation right then and there, is to pay them what they earned, not what they were suppose to earn.

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      • avatar

        iseeshiny March 20, 2012, 1:16 pm

        I gotcha. But if the person is so offensive or terrible that you feel the need to stiff, you should be speaking with their manager about it. And someone is still cleaning up your table when you’re done… someone getting paid in tips. I think that a couple bucks are still in order.

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    • avatar

      lets_be_honest March 20, 2012, 9:55 am

      You must see how people who tip $10 on a $150 bill are the SOLE REASON some restaurants add the 20% tip.

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      cookiesandcream March 20, 2012, 9:55 am

      A lot of restaurants have a policy where they add tip to the bill automatically, especially when there’s a large group of people. It’s common practice to add a 18-20% tip when there’s a group of 6 or more people. Also, it sounds like you were at the restaurant during peak hours, so your waitress was probably just really busy at the time. If you don’t like your waitress you can always ask for a different one and ask to speak with the manager/owner. The manager/owner will want you to be happy and make sure you’ll want to come back, so they’ll probably do something about it.

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    • avatar

      Flake March 20, 2012, 10:20 am

      I agree. In my experience, when the tip is added automatically to the bill, the waiter has no motivation at all to provide a decent service.
      And the second point is, people choose this work. Most are not exactly forced into it. So they clearly accept their salary and the fact that every once in a while they will get stiffed on tips. Although I have never met a waiter who made less then 10$ an hour (tips included) and that was 10 years ago at a hole in a wall.

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      • avatar

        Nadine March 20, 2012, 10:27 am

        Oh god. People do not always choose this work. Some have decided that this job is better than no job, ok?

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        silver_dragon_girl March 20, 2012, 11:03 am

        It’s still the nature of the job though, and if you’re going to do it you need to accept it. I can’t tell you how many crappy-ass retail jobs I’ve had. I hated doing it but couldn’t find anything else that would hire me because I had no experience. So I sucked it up and was polite to every single asshole customer I dealt with. Because it was the nature of the job. And I accepted the fact that no matter how polite and helpful I was, people were still going to be assholes to me.

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        Nadine March 20, 2012, 11:12 am

        But you did for a reasonable wage, no? Thats what tipping seems to be in the US – making a wage reasonable for the server. Not expressing the personality of the tipper.

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        silver_dragon_girl March 20, 2012, 11:16 am

        $7.00/hr. isn’t what I’d really consider “reasonable,” but I guess.

        My point is that you do the job you have to the best of your ability, period. If you give shitty service you don’t deserve the same tip as someone who busts their ass to serve every customer to the best of their ability. It’s the nature of the job to be dependent upon others for your wage, which SUCKS, I know, but it is what it is. So if you’re going to do that you have to accept it.

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        Nadine March 20, 2012, 11:41 am

        OK, I get where you’re coming from but I guess it irks me there is no other industry where this is acceptable, and the only reason it is acceptable in hospitality, is because typically low-income or uneducated people work in it. When it becomes ok for the individual to decide on the wage THEY personally, with their history and prejudices and ideas of what good money is and what people deserve, would like to pay someone in one industry and the case is not the same in any others, I think we have to look at the bigger, class-system structure of the whole thing.

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      • avatar

        iseeshiny March 20, 2012, 11:51 am

        I made 2.50/hour while I was working, plus tips.

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        GatorGirl March 20, 2012, 10:38 am

        No. Absolutely not…sure some people chose to be career servers…but a lot of people working at restuarants are trying to put themselves through college or grad school, under/over qualified for the few jobs there are out ther, etc etc etc. I waited tables to put my self through college and for the 9 months after that I was looking for a “real” job. Did I want to spend my days cleaning up other people’s dirty plates? Hell no! But it paid the bills. My BF is working on his Phd right now and bartends on the side- because his graduate stipiend isn’t enough to live on. Does he *want* to make drinks at a crappy hotel until 2 in the morning every Thursday and Friday night? Hell no! But he does it to pay the bills.

        Waiting tables/bartending is one of the few jobs that is flexible enough for students or people who have a full time job but need suplimentary income. And I will never EVER except being stiffed on a tip. Ever. I know I give the service that deserves a tip.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest March 20, 2012, 10:42 am

        Totally agree. I think there are very few people that do this because they love it and plan on it being their career. Its decent money and flexible hours.

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      • avatar

        Flake March 20, 2012, 10:50 am

        Exactly. It is the most money you can make in the shortest amount of time, combined with flexibility. So it is not all that bad.

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      • avatar

        Flake March 20, 2012, 10:47 am

        BTW, I have worked as a waitress for 7 years, starting at a hole in a wall that I mentioned above, and ending up at a 5 star hotel, while going to college. I started at about 5$/hour, never walked out with less then 10$/hour cash, when my friends’ office jobs paid 8$-9$ per hour less taxes and benefits. And I have never expected a customer to pay for my living. I do agree that in Canada the hourly rate is a lot better than is US, but still, when you choose a job where your pay depends on the ”kindness of strangers”, you have to accept the fact that some people will not be kind.

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        Nadine March 20, 2012, 10:56 am

        I’m not arguing that when expecting tips, one may at times be disappointed. I take issue with your “people choose this job” attitude. I’m not going get into an argument with someone on the internet, but I dont care if you were once a server or not. People dont always get the job that suits them down to the ground. People often have to work low income jobs that they hate. I dont hate my job, but I’ve been doing it for under three months so who knows? The point is, I needed a job and although I am qualified, I have very little experience in my chosen field. I’m lucky I am doing it in a country that pays me a living wage, but do not try and tell waiters that they chose their job. You just dont know.

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      • Budj

        Budj March 20, 2012, 11:00 am

        I may be splitting hairs…but I doubt waitressing was the ONLY option…it is just what they would prefer to do over the other options they’d rather not do…

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      • avatar

        Nadine March 20, 2012, 11:14 am

        So if they “chose” waitressing over hotel cleaning, they deserve to be happy with an unliveable wage?

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      • avatar

        silver_dragon_girl March 20, 2012, 11:19 am

        Of course not, but that doesn’t mean everyone should tip well for poor service just because they feel sorry for the poor unfortunate soul who’s stuck waiting tables for a living.

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      • Budj

        Budj March 20, 2012, 11:20 am

        No – but they chose their job….and I doubt that hotel cleaning is the only other option.

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      • bagge72

        bagge72 March 20, 2012, 11:37 am

        They don’t deserve an above average wage for something they suck at.

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        Nadine March 20, 2012, 11:44 am

        we aren’t talking above-average…. we are talking liveable……

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      • avatar

        Flake March 20, 2012, 11:28 am

        But they do. I agree that sometimes it is the best option available, but it is still an option that you choose. It has nothing to do with not liking your job. People get paid hundreds of thousands of dollars at some jobs, but that doesn’t mean they love their jobs or even that the job ”suits” them. You simply do what you have to do and you choose the job that will respond to your immediate needs. If schedule flexibility is your biggest concern than you go for waitressing. The downside of having flexible hours, in this case, is shitty pay. You want more reliable salary? You can always work at McDonald.
        The waiter is not doing me a favour. He is doing his JOB. And I expect him to do a decent one. I did not walk into his house and asked to be served. It is a place of business where I expect to be treated with more than a minimum of respect. I work hard for my money as well, I want to get value for it.

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        GatorGirl March 20, 2012, 11:44 am

        Do you honestly think someone working at McDonalds would make the same amount of money (in the same length of shift) as someone working at say, Applebee’s or the Olive Garden? Absolutely not.

        Waitstaff is expected to provide good service (as it is their job) just as the person purchasing the service is expected to compensate them appropriately for it.

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        kare March 20, 2012, 10:24 pm

        I love how people are defending waiters for their job but the suggestion of McDonalds is horrible. I had a relative that worked there because where she lived it paid $8.50, higher than anything else she was qualified for. Of course it wasn’t where she wanted to work, but it paid better than anything else. There are always job options. It’s not just waitress or hotel maid. Suck at waiting tables? Try being a host. Be a barrista. Work retail. All are kind of around the same pay level. Of course everything is taxed when you aren’t getting cash tips. Or maybe try a different restaurant that’s meshes with your attitude.

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        GatorGirl March 21, 2012, 8:24 am

        I didn’t say anything bad about working at McDonalds. I’m sure it’s a perfectly fine job. My BF worked at Chic-Fil-A all through high school. But, in my experiance, waiting tables has averaged out to closer to $10 or $12 per hour and McDonalds, even at $8.50 which I find to be surprisingly high, comes in less.

        There is no shame in working in fast food, waiting tables, cleaning hotels- what ever. But it is your job there for you should do it to a satisfactory level and be compensated approprietly.

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      • TaraMonster

        TaraMonster March 20, 2012, 11:38 am

        “You can always work at McDonald’s”

        Oh goodie, can I?! ::eyeroll::

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      • avatar

        Firegirl32 March 20, 2012, 3:36 pm

        I made $2.50/hr. plus tips.

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      • avatar

        OneSpiritEternal March 20, 2012, 3:42 pm

        Some people choose this work. Others have no other choice. And I, personally, am very grateful for the individuals in this profession. Not everyone can be CEOs, or managers, and some of them are quite likely in the management track. Additionally, I know there are many restaurants where all the servers have to pool their tips and it gets evenly distributed among wait staff, table clearers, and dishwashers. When you think about that, the individual who served you has to split his/her tips between several people, and I am not so sure that’s right either; however, clean dishes, cleared table, those things are also good. Personally, I start off ready to give 20%. If the service is really excellent, I’ll give upwards of 30-35%. I am not independently wealthy, but I certainly believe in rewarding someone for a job well done. I never go below 15%. Everyone has a bad day, and I have no idea what that person is going through at any given moment. He or she could have a child or a parent they have to take care of; could be working themselves through school to get a better position, could have just received some bad news. The point is that we don’t know. I’m sure you all know the saying that goes something like treat all people the way you would like to be treated. I’d like to be treated with respect and kindness. I do my best to try treating others the same way.

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      • avatar

        slamy March 20, 2012, 6:02 pm

        People who don’t tip are shitty people. No offense to the shitty people or anything!

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    • avatar

      va-in-ny March 20, 2012, 11:54 am

      I was at a bar in NYC once (I’ve lived here for almost 4 years) and the waitress wrote in a $5.00 tip on an $8.00 bill for one beer and when I asked her about it, she said that was “how it’s done in New York City.” I was a part of a large group and wanted to leave early, so I paid for my single beer – she thought she’d get shafted by the group so she started writing in her own tips!

      I ended up speaking to a manager and letting them know that even though I had a NC license, I was very aware that was not the procedure “in New York City”. The beer ended up being “taken care of” by the management, but I dropped a couple of bucks in the tip jar at the bar on my way out. Some people can take it to the extreme and that’s not fair to those who would actually tip appropriately.

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        iseeshiny March 20, 2012, 8:37 pm

        Wait, she filled in her own tip??? That’s straight up stealing and it’s sooooo not okay.

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    • sobriquet

      sobriquet March 20, 2012, 6:08 pm

      The reason fancy restaurants often include the tip (as well as parties of 6 or more) is so that people like you can’t just leave a 5% tip. Maybe it should be the restaurant’s job to pay the servers, but that’s not how it’s done in this country.

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      • avatar

        Flake March 20, 2012, 9:15 pm

        Well then they better guarantee a fancy level of service. Because I sure as hell will not be leaving a 5 star tip for a 2 star service.

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    • avatar

      quixoticbeatnik March 20, 2012, 9:58 pm

      I don’t mind the automatic 18% tip on a bill if I get it, but it would be nice if the restaurants told you about it beforehand. I think that’s what really bothered you, correct me if I’m wrong? I went out a few months ago with my boyfriend and I was really surprised to see that this place had added a 18% tip onto my bill because they hadn’t told me they would do that. It was just my boyfriend and I, too. I think it might have been busy that night, but still. I wasn’t told before and that’s what bothered me. It actually didn’t work out so well for the waitress because I would have tipped her more, but I didn’t.

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        quixoticbeatnik March 20, 2012, 10:00 pm

        Like if I have a groupon or certificate, the added gratuity doesn’t bother me at all, but as long as I KNOW about it.

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    java82 March 20, 2012, 9:18 am

    Yeah, here in Canada (Montreal), we tip the tax amount. I guess I give more or less depending on the service–but even if the service sucked, I give the standard 15%. I never NOT give. I even give a dollar or two when I go pick up take-out; the guy at the cash hardly did anything but ring me up and hand me my food (I’m the one who made the trek all the way to the restaurant to pick up my food), and I still hand over a couple of dollars. I just think it’s a nice gesture.

    I remember when my fam when to Greece a few years ago–tipping is really not customary over ther. They were super-grateful when my father handed them a tip, and super-nice.

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      AK47 March 20, 2012, 10:34 am

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t waiters/waitresses get a much better wage in Canada? I grew up on the Canadian border, and when we would go out there they always seemed to be impressed by our 20%+ tips, since wait staff in my state were only paid about $4.50 an hour.

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        Courtney March 20, 2012, 10:56 am

        Yes, servers are paid $8.90 in Ontario (general minimum wage is $10.25). It is customary to tip minimum 15%, and if you tip below that you’re considered cheap. 20%+ for great service. While I have considered tipping less because of awful service..I do give the minimum 15% because tips are generally shared. Its best to speak to a manager if there’s an issue rather than tipping less.

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    Kristen March 20, 2012, 9:18 am

    It drives me crazy when people act like they’re doing the server a favor by leaving any tip at all. For some reason, people don’t understand that the hourly wage for servers is so low that tips are how they make their money.

    When we go out, 20% is standard, but we tip extra for great service (or for our favorite/regular servers). I have a friend who is a server at a steakhouse, and she once got tipped 73 cents on a $79.27 bill. The people thought “they’d be nice” by rounding up. She was furious because they had spent the entire night telling her how great of a job she was doing and being really friendly. It’s like they just had no clue.

    I completely agree with Wendy that in a situation with low-tipping friends, you should first speak up, and then if they refuse to pay, just cover it yourself. It’s frustrating, but at least you’re doing the right thing.

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      Jessibel March 20, 2012, 11:01 am

      I always loved the people who would gush about my service and then say they’d “take care of [me]”…and then leave me $12 on a $300 tab. I once stayed 3 hours extra past the time I was supposed to leave because I knew these folks were going to run up a hefty tab. The end result definitely wasn’t worth it.

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        convexexed March 20, 2012, 5:54 pm

        Yeah, everytime a customer claims to be a good tipper, usually with a wink while they’re asking for something unreasonable, they are lying. Whenever a customer even mentions tipping well, what they actually mean is: ‘I tip shitty, but I think tipping is unnecessary, and I kind of oppose it, but if you make this uncommon, super difficult accommodation for me and my party, we will generously leave you 1 dollar on 10, or a 5 dollar tip on a 200 dollar tab, or 10 dollars on a thousand. Aren’t you f-cking lucky, you lazy moron, you’re getting rich tonight, adding my one dollar tip to the 2.83 you made this hour that you spent most of running around for my table and our needy demands.’

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        ape_escape March 20, 2012, 7:42 pm

        THIS EXACTLY.

        I once got $15 on a $400+ tab, when they were my only table and I had nothing else to DO but treat them like effing kings. I wanted to scream.

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        Britannia March 20, 2012, 10:46 pm

        Honestly, I just want to ask those kinds of people – How much would it cost someone to convince YOU to kiss their ass and wait on them hand and foot? How much would they have to pay you in order for you to act like their indentured servant, instead of a waiter whose only real duty is to clean the restaurant and bring you your meals? Would you do that for approximately $7.50 an hour? No? Oh, well then…

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      Amanda March 20, 2012, 1:02 pm

      I witnessed this phenomenon when I was working as a server in undergrad. A very small subset of people seem to think that if they are nice to their server, then they can leave a crappy tip. Thanks, but I can’t pay my rent with a $2 tip on $60. Covert assholes!

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    AndreaMarie March 20, 2012, 9:21 am

    Also, may I add, when I’m ordering drinks at the bar I usually only throw down $1 per drink. (when Im ordering with cash directly at the bar, not running a tap). For example, I went up to the bar and ordered 2 Grey Goose on the rocks ($18 total). I threw down $2, one for each drink. That’s not 20% but I think its completely reasonable.

    However, if its a bar I frequent and am familiar with the bartenders I will usually throw in a little more at the end of the night.

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      AK47 March 20, 2012, 10:36 am

      I usually give $1 for a simple drink (a glass of wine, a shot on the rocks like your grey goose) and $2 for a mixed drink. I think that’s pretty standard.

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        Britannia March 20, 2012, 10:48 pm

        At the bar, I do the same, unless the drink is costing me $10 or more. Then, I pay 3 dollars or so per drink. But I always tip really frickin’ well on my very first drink – usually $5, no matter what it is, simply so that the bartender prioritizes me.

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    kerrycontrary March 20, 2012, 9:21 am

    oh my godddd who doesn’t tip!? To answer your question, in the US it is customary to leave a 15%-20% tip up front. No ifs, ands, or buts. Server’s “salaries” are way under minimum wage, so its not like they are getting 10$/hour PLUS tips. They are getting about 3$/hour plus tip to bring them up to about 10$/hour, more or less depending on the price of the food at the establishment and the other customers. The only time I would raise a ruckus is if there was hair/a bug in my food, the server left me at the table for 2 hours unattended, or they were extrodinarily rude in which case I would probably speak to the manager. While I understand your friend’s girlfriend was drunk, she’s a cheap meanie and not someone I would want to spend time with. If your are close with your friend I would explain to him how inappropriate and embarassing her reaction was.

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      kerrycontrary March 20, 2012, 9:26 am

      Oh, and to answer your question the question about poor service. One time my bf and I went to a nice restaurant and they served him burnt food after 50 mins of waiting for our food. And I mean hard as a rock burnt. You could’ve knocked someone out with it. They tried to tell him it was cheese. What, black, hard, cheese??? We complained, got it taken off of the bill, and I told every single person I knew not to go there and gave them a bad review online.

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    LolaBeans March 20, 2012, 9:23 am

    i’m also from canada and it’s customary to tip 15% here, more if the service was great!

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      MissDre March 20, 2012, 9:31 am

      I think servers here get paid way more than in the US tho. I’m reading here that servers are only getting paid like $2 or $3 an hour. WTF? I made $3/hr at my first baby sitting job as a kid, like 15 years ago! I know servers here get paid less than minimum wage… but minimum wage in Ontario is like $11/hr now. So I think servers get paid at least $7 or 8/hr.

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      • avatar

        Kristen March 20, 2012, 9:35 am

        Here’s a chart that shows minimum wage for tipped employees by state. If you look at the second-to-rightmost column, a lot of states are $2.13, $2.77, $2.23, etc. It’s pretty crazy.

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      • avatar

        MissDre March 20, 2012, 9:40 am

        That’s ridiculous. How the hell does anybody survive on that kind of wage?

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        Kristen March 20, 2012, 9:48 am

        Tips 🙂

        Haha.

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      • avatar

        Morgan March 20, 2012, 1:27 pm

        Yup, tips. Slow night, tips might not make it up to minimum wage, busy Friday or Saturday, tips will bring you well over minimum wage.

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      • avatar

        MissDre March 20, 2012, 9:38 am

        I just looked it up. As of March 2010, servers were paid $8.90/hour. So it’s likely even more than that now, with the yearly increases. Wow, I cannot believe that in the US a server would only get $3/hr.

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      • avatar

        Kristen March 20, 2012, 9:40 am

        I’m glad it’s so much higher in Canada! That’s great.

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        LolaBeans March 20, 2012, 10:05 am

        hahahaha MissDre. That’s true.. even when i was babysitting like 10-14 years ago i was making like $6 at least! that’s pretty funny…
        i know in NYC they auto-add 18% tip which i find really annoying. like, i will tip obviously, but i don’t want to be strong armed into it.. what if the service was bad? there was hair in my food etc.
        I also find 18% on the high end of a tip.

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      • avatar

        AndreaMarie March 20, 2012, 10:13 am

        Exactly!! That was what I was trying to point out in my original post.

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      • avatar

        convexexed March 20, 2012, 6:03 pm

        Here’s the thing. A hair in your food may have come from a worker in the kitchen. Bad food is the fault of back of house staff, not serving staff. Sometimes slow service is the result of a night busier than the managers anticipated and they don’t have enough servers on the floor to keep up the pace.
        The quality of your food is not a service issue. How fast it comes out of the kitchen is often not a service issue (unless the server neglects to enter the order promptly). That is a problem with back-of-house staff (the kitchen), and should be taken up with a manager to get resulting food off your bill. Stiffing the server is punishing the wrong problem, and demonstrating that you must not know your server is not the one cooking your food, or choosing how loud the music is, or how obnoxious the lighting is. The only person you make a point to by stiffing the server for non-service issues is the server, and the only point you make is that you are a dickhole who thinks you’re fancy enough to go out to eat but are too tightfisted to graciously fulfill your obligation to the person making the opportunity possible for you to sit on your ass and have cooked food carried to you, with the modifications you request. Come on. If you’re gonna stick to the point about rewarding bad service with bad tipping, at least keep clear about what issues fall under the realm of ‘service’.

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        Jessibel March 20, 2012, 11:07 am

        If there’s hair in your food, it’s most likely NOT your server’s fault and you shouldn’t punish them for it. You can complain about the hair to them, and then determine their level of service based upon their reaction to it. If they tell you you’ve already eaten most of your dish, or don’t give a sh*t about the hair being there, then yeah, crappy service and you can dock the tip. If they are horrified, take the dish away, get you a new one and then comp it on the tab, you then tip them as if the amount reflected the dish still being on there, because they did everything in their power to rectify that. Also, if food comes out cold, undercooked, or late, also most likely not your server’s fault. Kitchen’s fault. If food comes out late, you complain to the manager.

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      • avatar

        LolaBeans March 20, 2012, 11:22 am

        usually tips go to all staff anyway and are divided up.. so no matter’s whose fault… i still think i would tip less whether kitchen or servers fault.

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        GatorGirl March 20, 2012, 11:48 am

        Not in my experiance (and I’ve worked at quite a few resturants). Tips are for the server who then tips a portion of that to the bartender, the busses, and the food runner. The server decides how much, if any, money to tip those three individuals. Kitchen staff is paid an hourly wage and servers are not expected to tip them.

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      • avatar

        LolaBeans March 20, 2012, 1:18 pm

        thats pretty arbitrary. why would they give tips to anyone else then?

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      • avatar

        GatorGirl March 20, 2012, 1:32 pm

        Because if you don’t tip them they won’t help you. Bussers won’t bus your tables, which means you can’t get re-seated. Bartender’s won’t make your drinks as fast, which lowers your tip. Etc, etc. Resturants are like little families- you take care of the people who help you out and they will in turn help you out more.

        But I’ve never ever heard of tipping out the kitchen staff. Ever.

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      • avatar

        LolaBeans March 20, 2012, 1:37 pm

        Interesting, I’ve lived in both ottawa and toronto have worked in the food industry in ottawa… and have friends who do in toronto and this is how they do it.

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        GatorGirl March 20, 2012, 2:43 pm

        Maybe it’s a US vs Canada thing…just like the wages are paid differently. If the kitchen staff got paid as low as servers, bartenders and bussers here then sharing tips would be ok in my book, but in my experiance kitchen staff (including dishwashers) get paid an hourly wage of $10+.

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      • Hurricanem

        Hurricanem March 20, 2012, 3:36 pm

        In the restaurants I’ve worked in, servers bussed their own tables etc. Most of the time, I’d end up marking my own drinks anyways. I always always always always always tipped out my kitchen staff. I always got my food first, special orders – no problem, etc.

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      • avatar

        iseeshiny March 20, 2012, 1:09 pm

        Me neither. I’ve heard of this but I have never worked in a place where everyone pools tips and shares with the kitchen. The only people I ever tipped out were the bartenders, bussers and food runners. I think it’s a myth people tell themselves to get out of leaving a fair tip.

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      • avatar

        Flake March 20, 2012, 1:21 pm

        We used to tip out 2% of the sales to the busboys, 1% to the hostess, and 15% of alcohol sales to the bar

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      • avatar

        Flake March 20, 2012, 1:28 pm

        Although if we had a particularly busy and good night, and the cook and the dishwasher were good, we would either buy them drinks or cigarettes at the end of the night.

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      • avatar

        Jessibel March 20, 2012, 2:43 pm

        Interesting. I’ve worked in several restaurants and never had to split tips. The busboys were tipped out, but never any kitchen staff. They were always salaried with benefits. So my response is colored by my experience of being a separate entity from the kitchen 🙂

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  • avatar

    bethany March 20, 2012, 9:37 am

    I hate tipping- I think it’s really annoying and I think restaurant owners should have to actually pay their employees a decent ammount (and pay taxes on it, like the rest of employers out there).

    That said, I always tip, and I always tip well, especially when a waiter/waitress has given excellent service. I usually leave 20%, but will adjust it based on the job done. Free stuff always equals a better tip!

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    • Leroy

      Leroy March 20, 2012, 10:34 am

      The thing is that servers often make more from tips than they would from normal wages. This is an issue that comes up from time to time because restaurants can skirt local wage laws. But as it turns out, people who make a career as waiters / waitresses prefer to make their money in tips because they can make a lot more that way.

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      • avatar

        bethany March 20, 2012, 11:09 am

        I wouldn’t say “often”– I think it totally depends on the restaurant and the shift. In college 2 of my roommates were waitresses during the lunch shift. One made a shit ton of money per shift, the other would come home with like $15. I felt bad for her 🙁

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      • CatsMeow

        CatsMeow March 20, 2012, 11:22 am

        And – at least where I worked – we had to give a percentage of our tips to the bartenders and host/hostess.

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        iseeshiny March 20, 2012, 1:05 pm

        Some shifts you do, some shifts you don’t. 2008 was the last time I waited tables full-time (38 hours/week) and I made $22,000. Not terrible, but not great. And I was very good at my job.

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    • avatar

      GatorGirl March 20, 2012, 10:42 am

      A lot of resturants do pay taxes on their employee’s tips. Sure there are some shady one’s out there that skirt around the law…but all chain resturants do and a lot of smaller ones do to. There is also a section when you file your taxes to report tips not included on your W2 so some of the ownus is on the employee’s to be honest.

      My BF was honest about his unreported tips and he got hit with a big tax bill this year…which sucks.

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  • avatar

    Amanda March 20, 2012, 9:38 am

    In the age of credit card theft,I would be paranoid if my server “lost” my card too and it turned out it was in her apron pocket. I just think that sounds suspicious and would be weary of leaving a decent tip too.
    Also the sugar daddy ads are offensive and I am surprised they’d be on a site I consider to be feminist.

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    • call-me-hobo

      call-me-hobo March 20, 2012, 9:56 am

      You know that Wendy doesn’t choose what ad you see, right? She uses a service through Google that predicts what you’ll most likely be interested in based on your internet history. The blog ads are the only ones she controls.

      So if you are getting ads for sugar daddy services….lol. Sometimes it happens. Wendy doesn’t control that particular feature, so it’s unfair to “call her out” on it.

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      • avatar

        Amanda March 20, 2012, 10:06 am

        Actually, using google adsense she should be able to remove ads from appearing on her site, and she picks the categories of ads that are displayed.

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      • Leroy

        Leroy March 20, 2012, 10:41 am

        I really doubt that Wendy is selecting for Sugar Daddy ads.

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        lets_be_honest March 20, 2012, 11:07 am

        See, I always viewed the ads as additional advice from Wendy. Often, they prompt me to buy shoes-good advice, Wendy! Sometimes I know Wendy is telling me to get out there and see what my options are when dating. Other times, like now, she’s advising me to buy an aerator for my cheap red wine. All good, additional advice at no extra cost.

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        Buzzelbee March 20, 2012, 12:07 pm

        I love this. Due to tracking my browser usage I keep getting ads for accessories I have my eye on but can’t justify the expense. I feel like it’s peer pressure to get a little something extra for myself.

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      • Leroy

        Leroy March 20, 2012, 12:18 pm

        So Wendy wants me to become an International Man of Polygamy!?! Because all of my ads are for Filipino and Russian brides – and occasionally a cute Tiawanese woman pops up and wants to chat. She’s a nice lady.

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      • Jess

        Jess of CGW March 20, 2012, 12:45 pm

        Hilarious.

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    • avatar

      lets_be_honest March 20, 2012, 10:25 am

      Is this considered a “feminist” wesbite? Wendy?

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      • Dear Wendy

        Wendy March 20, 2012, 10:37 am

        No! It’s a humanist site!

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      • Budj

        Budj March 20, 2012, 11:15 am

        I have heard some people refer to it as such in the past and wondered. I know it off-shot from the Frisky, but I never really viewed this site as “feminist” – I like humanist!

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      • avatar

        SweetPea March 20, 2012, 12:24 pm

        Yes! I stopped reading the Frisky a few months ago. Don’t really care for it. But, read Wendy daily!

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest March 20, 2012, 2:56 pm

        I will reluctantly admit I went on there today and saw the editor is now accepting relationship questions apparently. I clicked to see what the comments were…EscapeHatches wrote “or…you could write to Wendy”
        I coulda died laughing.

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      • avatar

        Britannia March 20, 2012, 10:55 pm

        THAT is awesome!

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      • TaraMonster

        TaraMonster March 20, 2012, 11:49 am

        I don’t consider this site Feminist, but I consider myself one, and find the content here generally in line with my values (except for ppl who are on this thread outing themselves as non-tipping cheap mofos!!!!), which is good enough for me!

        And the Frisky is such a joke as far as being “feminist” goes. Their one particular resident “feminist” frequently writes really sexist and not very well thought out pieces on feminism that are more detrimental and add to negative stereotypes about feminism IMO. I haven’t been on the Frisky since Wendy left.

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      • Leroy

        Leroy March 20, 2012, 1:04 pm

        The Frisky has gone downhill in a big way. Were they acquired or something?
        Now it’s just a slightly hipper version of yourtango.com.

        And I think that I know who you’re referring to, and it’s my conviction that she’s actually a mole sent to permanently discredit Feminism. She’s the epitome of what a friend of mine refers to as Princess Feminism, which is when someone tries to justify their massively inflated sense of entitlement by claiming that it’s ‘feminist’.

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      • TaraMonster

        TaraMonster March 20, 2012, 4:01 pm

        We’re definitely talking about the same person! Princess Feminism indeed!

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        Britannia March 20, 2012, 10:54 pm

        Oh goodness, I hate what the Frisky has become. I recently “went back” when I was ridiculously bored, and it is just pathetic. Like, the beautiful and friendly cheerleader/valedictorian from high school who’s now 300 pounds and wearing BBQ sauce-stained sweatpants and hasn’t opened a book in 10 years, type of pathetic.

        As for Princess Feminism… I stopped clicking on her links a really, really long time ago. She’s the type of girl who if I met her in a bar and started listening to her tunnel-visioned feminist banter, I might accidentally let my drink spill all over her. Not everything is about how “The Man” is out to get women and not everything has a hidden, horrible agenda to turn women into chattel!

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        AndreaMarie March 20, 2012, 1:10 pm

        Yes Yes and Yes! It seems some of the writers look for feminist themes where there are none, thus looking ridiculous, thus taking away from legitimate feminist claims.

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      • rainbow

        rainbow March 20, 2012, 1:34 pm

        I stopped going too. Mostly because of what you guys mention (Princess Feminism), but also because the amount of posts about beauty products started increasing exponentially and it became a really stupid site.

        Also, I always hated how hypocritical they are when assembling “best dressed” lists. They usually make a list of white skinny women with straight hair and then throw in ONE random big black girl probably with glasses (well dressed or not) to make it look like they cover every type of body/skin, but you can tell they just pick the one that has more traits necessary for political correctness so they can “ruin” only one slide for feminist cred and then go back to barbies.

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      • avatar

        quixoticbeatnik March 20, 2012, 11:02 pm

        XOJane is so much better! I loved the Frisky when I first started reading it but now it’s just so boring.

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    • MandaNoA

      MandaNoA March 20, 2012, 1:25 pm

      I agree with you on the “lost” credit card thing and I was wondering why no one else brought it up. I would have immediately gone home and cancelled that card. I have seen more than a couple people have their credit card numbers stolen by restaurant servers. It’s sad that in this day and age we have to be so suspecting of people but that’s just the way it is.

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      • avatar

        convexed March 20, 2012, 9:21 pm

        I mean, fair enough, but I wouldn’t jump to conclusions. Some places the check presenters (those little black folders) don’t have functional pockets, and if you have a table of 15 all paying separately w cards, each in a thick clumsy folder, its hard to keep them from slipping down into yr apron pocket or btwn receipts. That said, I would alwayss, and good servers should always, glance over to make sure the right card is with the right sales slip, ready to give to the right person, before approaching the table. I would keep an eye on statements for unauthorized transaction, but I wouldn’t assume server thievery and immediately cancel the card. Cards haveprotocols in place to resolve fraudulent charges anyway. Yre probably just inconveniencing yrself.

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    • avatar

      kittyk March 21, 2012, 9:42 am

      As a (former, woohoo!) server, I can say this absolutely happens- you’re busy, have a lot of things going on, stuff to carry and keep track of, and you put the book in your apron, and the credit card slips out.

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  • avatar

    GatorGirl March 20, 2012, 9:40 am

    I waited tables and bartended through out college and after, my family also owns a restuarant. (Just to clarrify- my family’s restaurant isn’t the only establishment I’ve worked at, it’s more like 5 or 6) It is absolutely expected to tip a server. We get paid so little after taxes paychecks are usually $5 and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten a ZERO dollar paycheck. On the flip side though…waitstaff should be expected to give good service. Prompt greetings, refilled drinks, plates cleared in a timely matter. If those things are done then 20% is appropreit.

    My BF (who is still bartending and in grad school) and I almost always tip 20%, even if we don’t want to. We often tip 25% or 30% when it’s our regular server/bartender or the service is that good. Extra nice waitstaff also get some extra $. There have been very very few times we’ve left a bad tip- and I can honestly say I’ve never left $0. Not being greeted in a timely matter and not being able to get beer refills are the #1 reason I dock tips. Also a pet peeve is not telling me your name- I don’t take money away for that one, but we usually ask if we’re not told.

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    • avatar

      bluesunday March 20, 2012, 9:51 am

      $0-5 paychecks? How does that even happen? How much are you being taxed? This column has really been an eye-opener for me regarding the US minimum wage.

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      • avatar

        Kristen March 20, 2012, 9:54 am

        It’s true! I’ve had checks for 84 cents and other random small amounts.

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        Jessibel March 20, 2012, 11:10 am

        Haha! When I was waitressing at a restaurant, the rest of the staff and I all made up a dance that we would do on the day checks came to us. We often got checks for odd numbers, like 84 cents and the like. Our wage was $2.77 an hour, and we called our dance, that we’d all do together, the “Two seventy seven an hour dance.”

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      • honeybeenicki

        honeybeenicki March 20, 2012, 10:01 am

        The minimum wage for tipped servers is so low, that it often only covers their taxes unfortunately.

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      • avatar

        GatorGirl March 20, 2012, 10:48 am

        The place I was getting zero dollar checks at was in NC…and at the time minimum wage for tipped employee’s was $2.65. Taxes eat that up pretty fast.

        10 hours worked, average of $75 per shift in tips, 20% tax rate= $150 taxes owed
        10 hours worked, $2.65 hourly wage= $26.50 pay check

        So at the year end you’d owe money…

        (I don’t know if 20% is right but you get what I mean)

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      • avatar

        GatorGirl March 20, 2012, 11:59 am

        My math is a little off here…it should read

        Two 5 hour shifts, average $75 per shift in tips, 20% tax rate= $30 taxes owed
        10 hours worked at $2.65 per hour= $26.50 paycheck
        Server still ower $3.50 in taxes…which if you report your tips to the resturant (like you’re legally obligated to do) this difference will show on your W2 and you’ll owe money at the end of the year.

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  • avatar

    Shannon March 20, 2012, 9:40 am

    I tip 20% standard, usually more, and it takes a hell of a lot for me to tip less. A night out with my mom when I was a teenager taught me to take the whole experience into consideration, and to be understanding if a server is having an off night (or if the restaurant is slammed and it’s her first night on the floor.

    As for poor tippers, I briefly dated a guy who refused to leave a tip when we were out for dinner – and we’re talking a $15 total meal. I left the tip as he walked out…it didn’t last.

    LW, good on you for speaking up. If they don’t take the hint, you may want to reconsider who you include in your visits to sit-down establishments (at least separate the checks!)

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  • avatar

    ChemE March 20, 2012, 9:48 am

    I always do at least 15%+, it really depends on how much the bill is and how good the service is.
    While I don’t necessarily like that tipping is required, the fact that it is, for some servers gives them no incentive to do a good job. That being said, I’ve never not left a tip.
    One time I was out with a friend for lunch, and the server was literally non-existent. I mean we saw her 2 times, once for our order and second when she brought the check. We kept trying to flag her down and ask for refills and napkins, but she kept walking by. It was also the longest lunch ever, and the place wasn’t even busy. Now, my friend and I tend to hover for a while after eating, (which I always tip extra, since if I wasn’t holding the table, they could be making more $), but this was ridiculous. That was the day my friend enlightened me that you should never not leave a tip, because they could assume you forgot, but instead leave a small amount so they -theoretically- know they didn’t do a good job.
    Restaurants are no problem, it’s everything else that I am unsure about tipping. Like I never knew you were supposed to leave tips for cleaning staff at hotels, how much to leave for hairdressers (particularly when they ignore me when cutting my hair), and new one for me, do I tip the ladies that will be cleaning my house?

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    • honeybeenicki

      honeybeenicki March 20, 2012, 9:57 am

      I think you’re supposed to tip the people cleaning your house, you are supposed to tip a hotel housekeeper (and keep in mind that at bigger ones, there are 2 people cleaning each room and they split the tip), and your hair dresser. I usually tip about $5 for my haircuts, but mostly because I only pay less than $20 and never have more than 1/2 an inch taken off.
      I was a housekeeper at a big resort in the tourist trap we call Wisconsin Dells when I was in high school and it was pretty rare to get tipped, but sometimes the tips were really good. There was one room that was a mini-suite (king bed, large jacuzzi tub, pull out couch, eat in kitchenette) and the people had TRASHED it, but they left us a $200 tip.

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    • avatar

      kerrycontrary March 20, 2012, 10:13 am

      Yes, you should tip for a haircut especially if you go to the same stylist all the time. It sucks when you live in a city and haircuts start at 70 dollars for a good job, but you don’t want that person to be pissed at you the next time you come in. I do think it kinda sucks to tip for hair care services because they are getting paid well above minimum wage, pulling in 60K a year at some salons, but its what you have to do.

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    • avatar

      vizslalvr March 20, 2012, 1:07 pm

      Generally, I think people tip their housekeepers once a year (at Christmas, for instance).

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  • honeybeenicki

    honeybeenicki March 20, 2012, 9:52 am

    My absolute base is 18% (which everyone will get unless they do something so absurd that I need to speak to someone else) and I go up from there. The average tip I leave for a typical restaurant visit is about 22%. I have the cute little tip calculator all ready to go on one of the screens on my phone and I base it on a couple of things like the level of service and how long we were there.
    My ex’s mom refused to tip delivery drivers, so I would always go out after she paid them and give them a tip. I also leave stuff for our newspaper person (a card and a small gift card) and for our mailman (a card and a treat) usually around the holidays and then again in the summer.
    At bars, I usually give a $1 tip at my first “drink” (I don’t drink alcohol, so its always a soda) whether I paid for it or not (some places offer free soda). I don’t tip much more than that unless its a different bartender or unless I drink more than 2 sodas.
    The way I figure (at least in the US), waitress are making very little – the federal minimum wage for a tipped server is $2.13 per hour. In my state, its $2.33 per hour. You know what that pays? Basically just their taxes with a little left over. The rest is assumed to be made up in tips to reach the actual minimum wage. I hear a lot people say “well, I can’t afford to tip so I don’t”… well if you can’t afford it, then don’t go out. I’ve never been a waitress, but tons of my friends and family have and they work their butts off.

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    • avatar

      Kristen March 20, 2012, 9:55 am

      Yes to all of this!

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  • avatar

    Matthew March 20, 2012, 9:55 am

    I’m late to the party this morning, but here are some thoughts because I feel really strongly about this issue…

    In the US in particular, tipping has always been a big part of our culture (possibly because we are less comfortable than Europe with the idea of a serving class). Because of this, many service workers are actually paid LESS and expected to make up the difference in tips, which of course sounds ridiculous. In an ideal world, people would just be paid a proper amount and I could then Tip or not based on good service, but we aren’t in an ideal world so this is what I do…

    For general food service, I assume that I’ll tip between 15-20%. As long as the waiter/tress is doing his/her job, they are going to get that amount because I know that if tipping wasn’t customary, the price of my meal would be increased by about that value. As long as a server is remotely interested/apologetic for things that are bad from a service standpoint, they will be getting that tip range. A simple ‘Sorry it took so long to get over here’ is more than appropriate because that’s how civil people act.

    On the rare occasion a server is just awful. By awful I mean they ignore me, are rude, effectively aren’t doing their job, and seem genuinely uncaring at this fact. In these cases, I ask to the see the manager, and explain why I was unhappy with my service. I still tip the appropriate amount though.

    On the rare occasion when a server is just awesome, they get a tip well above 20% and I also ask to see the manager to tell them how great their employee is and that if all their employees are like that, I’ll definitely be coming back.

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    • honeybeenicki

      honeybeenicki March 20, 2012, 9:59 am

      “As long as a server is remotely interested/apologetic for things that are bad from a service standpoint, they will be getting that tip range. A simple ‘Sorry it took so long to get over here’ is more than appropriate because that’s how civil people act.”

      Yes to this! Even just admitting that there was an issue, even if it wasn’t their fault (usually not their fault if the food takes forever), is a huge plus in my book. I really like when they treat me like a person and not just a table. Short chit-chat is nice. And if I’m with any kids, being cool with the kids is also a huge plus.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest March 20, 2012, 10:12 am

        I will admit that I probably was the worst waitress that ever existed. However, I was lucky enough to have people like you who accepted my apologies for being too slow, dropping trays, whatever it was. (I really was terrible) and they were almost always so nice about it, I’d explain I was new and chit-chat and showed I was at least trying hard. They’d usually laugh with me and leave a decent tip. Needless to say, I didn’t last long as a waitress but it was a nice reminder that people aren’t total a-holes.

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      • honeybeenicki

        honeybeenicki March 20, 2012, 10:15 am

        I know I would make a horrible waitress, which is why I’ve never done it. As long as you don’t actually drop the tray ON me, I’m good 🙂

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest March 20, 2012, 10:30 am

        Well honey, since you asked ;)…
        My first table alone (after following another waitress who trained me) was an 8 top. They had just finished shopping and were surrounded by bags. I get their drink order, come back with a tray I could barely carry, tripped on one of their shopping bags and dumped the tray all over them AND their bags filled with brand new purchases. Yea. I certainly was the WORST. Of course, the manager ran over and their whole order was free, plus more. I was mortified and just kept apologizing and trying not to cry. I didn’t last too long, but they at least gave me much smaller tables after that.
        ps I still got a tip. I’m sure out of pity, but it was very kind.

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      • honeybeenicki

        honeybeenicki March 20, 2012, 10:51 am

        At least you apologized 🙂 I saw a group at a restaurant near us and one of them left their purse in the aisle. One of the servers tripped and spilled the tray (not even on them) and the purse-leaver-outer threw a huge fit and started cussing at the waitress.

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      • CatsMeow

        CatsMeow March 20, 2012, 11:17 am

        I was SOOO bad. I couldn’t figure out the table numbering system, and I couldn’t carry the giant tray because I’m too weak. I would have to run around and try to find someone to carry it for me. I could NEVER remember who ordered what. Also, I never really learned the menu. I was a vegatarian at the time and it was like a sports bar type place, so I hadn’t tried ANY of the food and therefore could not answer any questions about it. Also, being young at the time, I wasn’t familiar with many alcoholic beverages and would screw up drink orders all the time. I’m like, “Tanqueray, huh? What’s that?”

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      • rainbow

        rainbow March 20, 2012, 1:39 pm

        I was awful too. But the coffee shop I worked for was just a cover to sell cocaine, so nobody cared that I sucked.

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        bethany March 20, 2012, 11:17 am

        I dated a guy who was a (horrible) server for a few months. He used to lie and tell people it was his first week becasue he was so bad. He also got better tips, too! He eventually quit becasue he was really, really bad.

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      • avatar

        Morgan March 20, 2012, 1:35 pm

        The biggest tip i ever got was when i spilled a tray with 12 drinks on it right in front of the table. They felt bad for me, I guess.

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    Renee March 20, 2012, 10:02 am

    I rarely go out, but was at a movie-pub with a few of my kids. They forgot a drink, it was busy with a full theatre, but it was acknowledged and corrected before the food came. Tipped as usual.

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  • avatar

    savannah March 20, 2012, 10:08 am

    terrible group tipping moment: Was out with old and new friends in DC, some of us were visiting, some of us were living there so not everyone knew each other before we meet up for a movie and lunch in chinatown. I knew three of the people in our group were on tight budgets, I was close with one of them, having meet the other two just that day. So when my really good friend suggested a restaurant that she always goes to in Chinatown, all of us checked out the menu and prices before. Everyone said they were fine with it and we sat down to lunch. Then the two in the group who I just meet ordered small appetizers and water, while the rest of us had larger orders and drinks. Fine, to each his own. At the end of the meal we split the checks and those three that were on tighter budgets paid together. While my good friend put in enough money to account for tax and tip, the two others put in exactly what their meals cost and no more. While the total sum paid their whole bill, it was with no tip as my friends tip/tax went to cover their tax. The chinese waitress sees this and outright tells them that there has been no tip added to the bill. They both shrugged and said ‘ok’ and did nothing. I was mortified and also embarrassed we had taken them to a restaurant that my other friends and I frequent. We both added more tip to our bills before handing them in and were just generally annoyed for the rest of the visit.

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  • avatar

    Amanda March 20, 2012, 10:09 am

    I used to do payroll for a bunch of restaurants. Federal law in the US says that waiters/waitresses are required to report their tips to payroll each day, and any waiter or waitress that receives lower than minimum wage in base salary + tips is required to have the difference paid to them by the restaurant or bar that they work at. So if a waiter or waitress is getting less than minimum wage, the restaurant is basically breaking the law.

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    • avatar

      Belle March 20, 2012, 10:47 am

      Yes! I worked part-time in food service for many, many years as a second job, and was required to report all tips, as those are also considered taxable income. My regular paycheck for around 20 hours of work a week averaged $5 or so. Most of my customers tipped generously, but I worked at an inexpensive restaurant, so an average bill was $25 or under. A 20% tip would leave me $5 for an hour’s worth of work per table. Granted, I had multiple tables as a time, but minimum wage was $2.33 or so an hour, so I wasn’t exactly rolling in dough after taxes were taken out.

      I have to say after having worked as a server, I always tip 20% or higher unless the service is nearly non-existent. I’ve lived that, and I know it’s not an easy way to make your money.

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  • JK

    JK March 20, 2012, 10:09 am

    Here tipping isn´t really expected as in the US. I just googled it, and apparently the average tip here ranges from 5-10% (which is what my husband and I usually leave- although I´m a bit more generous). Most restaurants now also charge you a “service fee” per person.
    We also don´t tip hairdressers, etc. I usually leave the change for delivery people, and if the person at the service station is nice, washes my windshield, etc, I also tip something.

    I don´t get how restaurant owners in the US get away with paying such low wages.

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    • honeybeenicki

      honeybeenicki March 20, 2012, 10:13 am

      They get away with it because its the federal minimum wage. And if we tried to raise it so they were required to actually have a base pay of real minimum wage, I’m sure there would be a huge uproar.

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  • avatar

    silver_dragon_girl March 20, 2012, 10:09 am

    Do you guys all live in cities? I usually tip between 15-25%. Usually it’s 15% for average service. 20% for good service. 25-30% for spectacular service. I would tip 10% for poor service. I have left without tipping at least once that I can remember, when the waitress disappeared halfway through our meal and we had to flag down someone else to get our bill, then wander around the restaurant and wait at a station to get someone to take our payment. At bars I usually give $1 per drink, but they’re small-town bars. At a nicer inner-city bar I’d probably give more or tip 20% on a tab or something, again depending on service.

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    • avatar

      GatorGirl March 20, 2012, 11:05 am

      I’ve never lived in a city…it’s always been places with populations under 200,000. And I tip 20% or $1 per drink no matter where I am.

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      • avatar

        silver_dragon_girl March 20, 2012, 11:45 am

        I ask because everyone I know considers 20% to be “generous.” 15% is the norm. I’m usually closer to 20%.

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      • Amybelle

        Amybelle March 20, 2012, 8:52 pm

        I agree, where I live 15% is an acceptable tip, and when I worked as a waitress I was fine with a 15% tip. That’s what I usually give for average, nothing extra service. Anything over and beyond the bare minimum I do 20%. I’ve never stiffed anyone, but on one or two occasions of truly horrible service I have given 10%.

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    Mandalay March 20, 2012, 10:17 am

    I feel the need to clarify something – it is true that most Europeans are not used to tipping (it’s becoming more common in these last few years), BUT waiters are decently paid for their services by their employer and can survive on the pay that they recieve.
    I do agree that it is polite to tip when a service is great or enjoyable, I don’t consider myself a barbarian when I don’t tip an average or below average performance.

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  • avatar

    anonymous March 20, 2012, 10:19 am

    I have five kids, so you can imagine that we don’t go out often. That said, I always tip extra because, no matter how good they are, kids are extra work. They spill. They drop things. They leave a bit more mess to clear.

    Another issue is that I don’t drink. And I assume that they’re expecting a tip that also includes the alcohol total…so I always tip extra for that.

    One night, my daughter and I were out on a night of abstinence from meat, and couldn’t really find anything appealing. So we ordered an appetizer each (which really was plenty). Was that fair on the server, who has to do the same amount of work? Absolutely not. So I tipped on what the bill would have been had we actually had a “normal” meal. Plus a little, since I wasn’t drinking.

    That said, I have left no tip before, with a written explanation of what specific behaviors led to that decision (I don’t really remember details, but I wrote about a page) in as positive a vein as I could. I really did it with the intention of helping the person … now that I’m older, I think I would leave a tip with the comments if it happened again.

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    • avatar

      bethany March 20, 2012, 11:23 am

      I would never in a million years think that you should tip extra because you drank wanter and not an expensive alcoholic drink. I mean, it’s nice if you want to do that, but I don’t think that’s necessary at all!

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      • avatar

        iseeshiny March 20, 2012, 12:32 pm

        Agreed! It’s very thoughtful of you but not necessary at all!

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      • rainbow

        rainbow March 20, 2012, 1:41 pm

        You’re back! I haven’t seen you around lately.

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      • avatar

        iseeshiny March 20, 2012, 2:42 pm

        My life exploded… I missed you though!

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      • rainbow

        rainbow March 20, 2012, 3:04 pm

        Was it in a good or bad way?

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      • avatar

        iseeshiny March 20, 2012, 3:23 pm

        A little of column A, a little bit of column B 😛 My mom and grandma both got pretty alarmingly sick at the same time, plus someone at work quit so I was doing most of her work until her replacement was trained. It involved overtime so at least I got paid extra. (Mom and grandma seem to be okay for now – although we’re waiting for test results on mom, she went camping this week so it can’t be too bad!)

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      • rainbow

        rainbow March 20, 2012, 4:17 pm

        I hope your mom and grandma get well soon <3

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  • avatar

    Addie Pray March 20, 2012, 10:30 am

    I always leave 20% no matter what. Even if the server is rude and shitty. (Ok, maybe only 18% if the server is rude and shitty.) Why? Because you don’t know what kind of day they’ve had – you don’t know what they’re going through, who they’re supporting, what’s weighing on them. It’s kind of rude and shitty of you to decide you’re going to cut a server’s income because you thought he or she should have refilled your drink faster or whatever. A good friend of mine – who is super rich, by the way – leaves only 15% if the server was fine and nothing or 5 to 10% if the server sucks, in her humble opinion. Really? Really???!!! When I’m with her, I always end up adding to my bill the tip she should have left. And this friend of mine always insist on going to really nice/trendy places that I don’t want to go to because I hate spending lots of money on froufrou food that comes in small portions. So, I end up spending a shit ton b/c she chooses some trendy new restaurant and then I have to leave her portion of the tip too. God, this friend of mine sucks. I remember now why I avoid her calls.

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    • avatar

      Kristen March 20, 2012, 10:44 am

      This is a great point, and you really hit on why this bothers me so much when people dock tips. Not in all cases, but it seems like there’s this attitude of superiority… like “Oh, you took 7 minutes to check back in with me instead of 5, and now my drink is empty and my napkins are dirty. So you deserve less.” It’s all so judge-y and petty, to me. Just my thoughts.

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      • avatar

        GatorGirl March 20, 2012, 11:10 am

        I’ve majorly docked tips for empty drink…because I was at a sports bar on a Sunday watching NFL games and I could see the server standing next to the bar eating/playing with her hair/chatting with whomever/texting/etc…I came to the establishment to drink beers, eat wings and watch the NFL…if they can’t figure that out then they deserve their tip to be lower.

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        Kristen March 20, 2012, 11:15 am

        I completely understand. I just meant that there are some people who literally count the number of minutes and get upset if the server is even 30 seconds behind whatever their made-up standards are. I’m not saying servers should just sit back and let your drink stay empty forever so they can chat people up. I’m just advocating for a little kindness and leniency if the server is clearly trying hard, but running behind (and I know that’s not what you meant).

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    • avatar

      Flake March 20, 2012, 11:03 am

      ”Why? Because you don’t know what kind of day they’ve had – you don’t know what they’re going through, who they’re supporting, what’s weighing on them.”

      I don’t get that. Personal problems should have nothing to do with the job. By the same token, the waiter doesn’t know if a person in front of him has been saving up for a month for a special dinner, and the waiter has just ruined it with a crappy service or attitude. You take a job, you should do it well.

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      • Budj

        Budj March 20, 2012, 11:10 am

        Agreed. I can’t show up to my job and be an ass hole to my co-workers because I’m having a bad day…I suck it up and be pissy when I’m at home.

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      • avatar

        Addie Pray March 20, 2012, 11:17 am

        Yea, but do your co-workers get to dock your pay when you show up with a pissy attitude? No. And thank goodness. For starts it’s entirely too subjective. Plus, we’re all human and have shitty days.

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      • Budj

        Budj March 20, 2012, 11:26 am

        Everyone everywhere should be expected to uphold a professional attitude in their work environment. Yea it sucks that waitresses that do a good job get stiffed but that isn’t what I’m arguing. If the job is done well and professionally they get at least what they are owed…and typically I give more.

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      • Leroy

        Leroy March 20, 2012, 9:44 pm

        Right, I’m in favor of tipping appropriately – though I never have figured out how you’re supposed to tip bartenders – but there is a limit to my generosity. Like you say, if someone is acting up and deliberately ruining my meal, I’m not going to give them any money. If I were to deliberately ruin one of my client’s projects, I’d be sued, and they certainly wouldn’t pay me.

        I have run into really horrible servers a couple of times. One guy basically threw my friends meal into her lap because she wasn’t willing to flirt with him. His tip was to get shoved to the ground by a guy at the next table.

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        Kristen March 20, 2012, 11:12 am

        From a purely logical and objective standpoint, sure, your job performance should never be affected by your personal life. But isn’t it more important to be kind and understand that this is n’t a perfect world, and people have crappy days and they can’t always check their emotions at the door? I agree with you that it should go both ways, though. And part of that is not being petty and counting every single perceived error.

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      • avatar

        silver_dragon_girl March 20, 2012, 11:53 am

        Yeah, and what about the day the customer had? Maybe they’re being bitchy and cheap because they had a horrible day. Maybe they just went through a breakup, or their boss yelled at them all day and they’re on the verge of losing their job, or they’ve having medical or marital problems, or maybe they just found out they have a huge car or home repair to take care of, or a kid is sick or something? I’m not saying any of that excuses being a bitch or being a cheap tipper, but it doesn’t excuse sucky job performance either.

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      • avatar

        Addie Pray March 20, 2012, 3:29 pm

        Yup, we all have bad days. And fortunately when we are having one of those days and we are the customer, the server that’s getting the brunt of our bad day doesn’t have the power to dock OUR pay. This is about people’s livelihood. And though people would like to think of tipping as an “extra” thing you do to award good performance, the fact is here in the USA tips are the server’s main income because their employer is allowed to pay them below minimum wages for that very reason. So, when we decide to take out our bad day on our servers or when our servers are having a bad day for whatever reason and mess up our orders — the horror! — we should think about that.

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      • Amybelle

        Amybelle March 20, 2012, 9:03 pm

        I think it depends on how much the bad day affects your performance. If service is a little slow because the server is having a bad day, ok, that happens. However, there’s no excuse for servers to be outright rude to customers and no excuse for it. I wouldn’t just have my pay docked if I did that, I’d be fired. And if I mess up and make a mistake because I’m distracted by personal problems, I could kill someone (I’m a nurse) Many times I’ve had to put on my game face at work when things in my life were a nightmare, like others have said that is part of being a professional.

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  • avatar

    SherBear March 20, 2012, 10:32 am

    Even if the girlfriend is from Europe she should still be versed in the American tipping culture – my dad is from Germany and so we have family friends come over to the states to visit (since they get months of vacation a year) and all of them – teenagers to adults, understand that waitresses here don’t make much money and that the tip is their salary. Just saying, don’t give Europeans a bad name 😉

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  • Budj

    Budj March 20, 2012, 10:34 am

    20% is standard for me…25% if they were attentive without being annoying….15% if I’m not happy…and honestly I have stiffed before if the service is abysmal. So far stiffing has only happened once in my lifetime and I eat out several times a week so don’t judge me too hard.

    Also…I don’t know about you guys, but I miss purple thumbs…and I originally was against them.

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    • CatsMeow

      CatsMeow March 20, 2012, 10:43 am

      I always liked the purple thumbs.

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      • avatar

        Addie Pray March 20, 2012, 11:20 am

        Not me. I think it fosters a negative forum. I like disagreements with words – dialogues – back-and-forth — the purple thumbs is a cop out. And, not gonna like, they affected my self-esteem.

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      • Lili

        Lili March 20, 2012, 12:44 pm

        Honestly, I think I started commenting more when the purple thumbs were gone. I know I often have a wry sense of humor so I’d feel HORRIBLE if I see that people don’t get my jokes, and then need to justify it and so on.

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  • avatar

    quixoticbeatnik March 20, 2012, 10:36 am

    I always leave a 15-20% tip, and I consider myself generous with my tips. I have a tip calculator on my phone if I need it. But I do want to raise a point here – I think the reason why the minimum wage is so low in the US for servers is because of profit margin. Restaurants really don’t have much of a profit margin, and they have to kinda keep the prices of their food lower in order to get people to buy them. So, because of that, they pay a shitty minimum wage for servers and hope that tips will make up for that. If they actually paid their servers the actual minimum wage ($7.25 here in the US), they would have to jack up the prices on their food and then people wouldn’t come in because it would be too expensive. I think that’s how it is, someone correct me if I’m wrong. It’s a shitty system, though. I think servers should really make at least $7.25 pre-tip. But America is also such an individualistic country and I think that’s why a lot of people don’t see tipping as necessary, because they feel like its their choice to make.

    But yeah, profit margin is really low for restaurants. I think my boyfriend was looking into opening up a small restaurant (he was also a server for many years) and did a lot of research.

    Plus, you know, some people think the minimum wage is ridiculous and should be done away with (cough, Michelle Bachmann, cough), which I don’t agree with. But people like that think that people should just make the best they can with whatever they get.

    I’m glad that the comments here are civilized. On other sites this debate gets fucking HEATED.

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    • avatar

      GatorGirl March 20, 2012, 11:14 am

      You’re totally right about profit margins being low in resturants especially small family owned restaurants. If we included the cost of labor we would be paying more for a plate of food…which is why we would have to make sweeping national changes to get out of the system we’re in. One restaurant would shut down if they decided to start paying their servers $7.25 because clients would go else where.

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  • avatar

    EricaSwagger March 20, 2012, 9:38 am

    I’ve only had one experience with really just TERRIBLE service.
    The waitress never refilled our drinks, never asked if we wanted dessert, never came over to check and see “how everything was” and never refilled our supposedly endless fries. She rolled her eyes at us when we asked for things (ketchup, more water), she sighed as she was taking our orders, etc. Bad day or not, it was totally uncalled for. Overall, she was just rude and inattentive and it was irritating as a customer.

    But we still tipped her. The low-end for sure, but we tipped her.
    As we walked out, I made sure to ask for the manager and tell him what happened, and he apologized profusely. He pulled out one of his business cards and wrote “70% off your total bill (party of 4) next time you come in,” and signed it.

    Talking to the manager is absolutely the way to go about it. You may not get as lucky as we did, but you never know.

    Oh yeah… we went back two weeks later and our waiter was awesome.

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    • avatar

      Britannia March 20, 2012, 11:01 pm

      I’ve had the same experience, with a waiter just blatantly ignoring my table and acting like we were her obnoxious parents interrogating her about her homework, not simply asking about the cocktail menu. I left her 15%, and wrote on the check exactly why. Then I wrote a review on Yelp. The manager emailed me and offered me a free dinner, but I don’t accept free dinners or anything because that would make me feel indebted to write a better review. So, I just go back and try them again, and update my review if it’s better. I’ve never had to write two bad reviews in a row… it seems like servers sometimes just have bad days (though, naturally, that doesn’t excuse not doing a good job).

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  • CatsMeow

    CatsMeow March 20, 2012, 10:41 am

    After living in Vegas, I’m very conscious of tipping. I do 20% standard on all services that require tipping (salon people, servers, bartenders, etc.).

    My parents and aunt/uncle are pretty bad, though. They are incredibly demanding, occasionally rude, and then at the end of the night…cheap. Sometimes I check to see what they leave and put down extra.

    But that’s nothing compared to my grandma. I know, I know, she’s OLD and doesn’t really know better (even though we’ve explained it to her MULTIPLE times). Every week after church she goes out to either Steak n Shake or Pizza Hut with her church friends. The waitress at Pizza Hut apparently knows them very well. She is very attentive with refills, fulfills their special demands (my grandma wants one mushroom per slice on her personal pan pizza??), and then when they leave, they each put down 50 cents. I know it can’t be a huge bill at Pizza Hut, but geez.

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    • avatar

      CG March 20, 2012, 11:41 am

      OMG your grandma could be my grandma! She admitted to only giving the girl who did her hair a 50-cent tip (granted, she just got a wash and a blowout, not a cut/single process/highlights/blowout like I do, but still!). And when we would go out to eat, she would only put down a dollar or two for the tip. I always hung back so I could leave a few more dollars on the table. She caught me doing it once and was pissed, but whatever. 🙂

      I also always give the girls who do my hair, nails and massages 20 percent at a bare minimum. Yes, I know they’re on salary, but they also just spent either a couple hours on their feet or an hour hunched over pumice-ing my callouses. They deserve it!

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  • Jess

    Jess of CGW March 20, 2012, 10:43 am

    To sum things up:

    1. It totally sucks that our “compensation system” for servers relies entirely on tips for the employee to make anything resembling a liveable wage (even that is up for debate). This system sucks because it adds onto the bill and creates a weird power dynamic between servers and diners (where the tip must be earned). No one really likes this system.

    2. Until that system is changed on a macro level (think: labor laws), shortchanging a server is not going to solve the problem. It only hurts the individual who is trying to support him/herself.

    Please do not mistake the practice in Europe as a “cultural” difference. It is an economic one. In Europe, servers are paid a full salary with BENEFITS. And that is why in EUROPE, it makes sense to leave a very small tip as a way of saying, “wow, thanks, that was special!” That being said, I lived and traveled in Europe for 5 years. I rarely tipped (again its not customary) but on several occasions I observed someone leaving a large tip and then watched the waiter/waitress flag the diner down to return the “extra money” they’d left. I’ve also seen servers looking downright offended when they learned it was a tip and felt like it was a gesture of pity. But again, that’s because they earn a full, living salary.

    All that said, what I really wanted to comment on was this line from Wendy, “carding you when you’re a 35-year-old mother of a newborn who hasn’t slept in 10 weeks and just ordered a glass of Pinot.” So damn funny Wendy. I am still laughing!

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    • Dear Wendy

      Wendy March 20, 2012, 1:16 pm

      True story. I was carded a couple months after Jackson was born when I felt and looked like shit, so you better believe I tipped extra for the little confidence boost the waiter gave me. Actually, I was carded twice within in a couple weeks and tipped well both times. Must be a little trick good servers know.

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      • Jess

        Jess of CGW March 20, 2012, 5:17 pm

        I ALWAYS say thank you when carded!! Haha.

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      • Amybelle

        Amybelle March 20, 2012, 9:11 pm

        I loooove being carded! Although once I was at a chain type place where all of the servers wore buttons that said “we card everyone under 39 1/2” and they didn’t card me, it was so depressing, I actually asked if she thought I looked 40, because I’m secure and confident like that…

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        pamplemousse March 20, 2012, 11:42 pm

        Back in the day when I worked at Wal-mart (cringe), we were required to card anyone who appeared under 40 years old (as in, a camera watched us and if we didn’t card people who were in the 30-40 range, we’d get in trouble). And you would not believe how many people (usually in their early thirties) who were thrown into absolute rage when I asked to see their ID, even though there were signs that said we’d card anyone under 40. Literally, the worst part of that job was having to card people in their thirties and getting screamed at for it.

        So I like your attitude, Wendy 🙂

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    • TaraMonster

      TaraMonster March 20, 2012, 12:20 pm

      It seems to me that those damn dirty socialists have some shit figured out that we in the US do not!! I think I see ex-pat status in my future.

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      • Jess

        Jess of CGW March 20, 2012, 12:54 pm

        Funny, shameful story.

        On one of my first return trips to the US, I was out to eat with a friend. He gave me cash and I put the whole check on my credit card. He left promptly but I stayed on because I had friends at the bar. I got the receipt for my card, signed it, and then left the table and proceeded to the bar. Didn’t leave a tip. NOT A SINGLE CENT.

        I just purely forgot. I was so out of the habit and so distracted by the hubbub of saying goodbye to my friend, greeting friends at the bar, etc.

        So there I am, that biatch who just stiffed the waiter, hanging out at the bar as if everything is jolly. The waiter, who was a really nice dude in his 20s, approached me and said, “I’m sorry. I just have to ask. Did I DO something?”

        Me: Ummm, what?

        Him: You didn’t tip me. Did I offend you somehow? Because if I did, I’m sorry.

        Me: Ohhhhhhh my god. Oh my god. Oh my god, I am SO sorry. I just forgot. You see, I live in Europe. And they don’t tip there.”

        Him: (smiling) You don’t sound European…”

        Me: No, I’M not European. I’m from here. I just LIVE there. Oh my god, forget it. Please let me give you some cash.

        He was a good sport about it and after a lot of insisting on my part, he ended up taking the tip belatedly. Then he started flirting and wanted my number but THAT was because he’d just learned I live in another country. It gets the men every time, trust me.

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        Britannia March 20, 2012, 11:07 pm

        And now we won’t question anything if you’re dragged off in the middle of the night by the police… 😉

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  • Budj

    Budj March 20, 2012, 10:43 am

    Also, I agree that tipping isn’t really an option anymore…but could we call it a service fee then? Because if it isn’t optional it really doesn’t fall under the definition of a “tip” anymore…

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    • avatar

      Nadine March 20, 2012, 12:42 pm

      It gets called a service charge here. which I do like better than tipping. it makes much more sense.

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  • avatar

    Nadine March 20, 2012, 10:44 am

    I dont know if its being from New Zealand, but I never tipped. As a child, we didnt really eat out (bit broke) so I never saw my parents do any of that. Then as a student, I figured I was too poor. Of course, in NZ there is a liveable minimum wage (was $12.50 when I left a few years ago, not great, but ok) so tipping was never a hotly contested subject. Sometimes we just rounded up, or left the change.
    In Australia, I was earning more and eating out more, and my boyfriend works in hospitality so he always insisted on tipping 15%, so I started too. Now in London, I work temporarily in hospitality, and they mostly add a service charge onto your meal/drinks anyway, which I’m glad about because I usually forget to tip, but never out of malice.

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    • JK

      JK March 20, 2012, 10:51 am

      When I was googling about tipping customs in Argentina I was reading about all different countries, apprently in NZ it´snot really customary, but if people do it´s usually between 5 and 10% (like here).
      Ugh, talking about eating out in NZ now I have MAJOR fish and chip cravings 🙁

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      • avatar

        Nadine March 20, 2012, 11:02 am

        Ha ha I had some fish and chips at a pub here on sunday and they were great …..except for the mushy peas English people insist on having with EVERYTHING! Can an English person explain to me how mushy peas became a thing?

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      • JK

        JK March 20, 2012, 11:07 am

        I´ve never found fish and chips here, unfortunately. And I was used to having a shop less than a block away! To make it worse, my father insists on sending me photos EVERY TIME he goes to the place in Kawhia. Did you ever go there? HOnestly the most delicious I´ve ever eaten.

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  • Kate B.

    Kate B March 20, 2012, 10:44 am

    I always tip on the whole amount. Just this weekend I ordered a pizza and the guy had to drive through the pouring rain to bring it to me. He got a huge tip. I felt for him.

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  • avatar

    Brooke29 March 20, 2012, 10:46 am

    I work as a server at a family owned restaurant and make $2.38 an hour plus tips. On slow nights I don’t even make “regular” minimum wage. It is really frustrating when people are cheap and just stiff you for no reason. I was being evaluated one night and had a family of 4 come in and order complicated changes to dishes, appetizers, and dessert. Their bill came out to be almost $60 and they were really rude to me. With the manager watching closely, he was very pleased with the work I had done and how I dealt with their attitudes. At the end of their meal, they had the nerve to come up to the manager to tell him they had just experienced the worst service of their life and that I needed to be reconsidered as a server. The father told my manager that he had never stiffed a server in his life and “just had to” after tonight. My manager politely told him that they had never had a problem with me, but would take his complaint into consideration. After much complaining (which was loud and disruptive) he still ended up with a 10% discount and didn’t have to pay a tip. It rubbed me the wrong way because I had done nothing wrong and all he wanted was a way around paying for all the food he had ordered for his family.

    I believe if you can’t pay for your meal and a decent tip, you shouldn’t be eating out.

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    • avatar

      Jessibel March 20, 2012, 11:52 am

      Back when I was bartending, once I worked on Trivia night, which always got SUPER hectic because draft beers were $1.50 and burgers were half price. Plus, it’s bar trivia, and who doesn’t love bar trivia? Bartenders took care of the tables for trivia night, so it was waitressing + bartending. My boyfriend (my now fiance) came in while I was working and gave me a quick kiss to say hello (the bar was VERY casual, almost divey).

      Because each table was ordering about 20 beers at a time, I was keeping a tally on a piece of paper for every table. When one table’s check was presented to them at the end of the night, this girl at the table started throwing a massive fit. I went back to their table to see what was up, and she was holding the check and glaring at me and had tears in her eyes. She started hissing at me about how I was the worst bartender ever and I was trying to cheat them because there were 8 extra beers on the tab, and how I was an awful person trying to put extra things on the tab just because I thought that they wouldn’t notice. Everyone else at the table was just kind of sitting there looking embarrassed. Since I had kept the tally, I was pretty sure I hadn’t overcharged them, but I apologized profusely and took of 12 beers for good measure. When I gave the amended tab back to them, I apologized again and this time she was out and out sobbing, but still hissing at me about how I should never do that again, and told everyone in her group who was adding money to the pile that I shouldn’t be tipped one red cent because I was obviously a con artist. She refused to let anyone give me a tip, but one guy in her party later came over and handed me some cash and apologized.

      I went over to my boyfriend after that was done and told him about how odd it was. He looked over and was like “omigod, that’s HER!” Turns out that the table had a girl sitting in it that had gone on a few dates with my man a while back, and I guess she still had a crush on him. Whenever they were at the bar at the same time, she was trying to get him to go into the bathroom with her to have sex. I knew of her and this behavior, but didn’t know what she looked like, and I trusted him so didn’t feel the need to seek her out. I’m pretty sure that she had seen my boyfriend kiss me and decided to take it out on me because of that. She also went up to him later while I was busy and tried to tell him she’d please him orally in the bathroom. I will always and forever think of that story when I think about my bartending years and how it’s one of the funniest “no tip” stories I know.

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      • avatar

        MJ March 20, 2012, 3:39 pm

        Sounds like she wanted more than just the tip…

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      • avatar

        Nadine March 21, 2012, 7:26 am

        Replying to say HA!

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        Jessibel March 21, 2012, 10:31 am

        MJ, you’re my new hero! 🙂

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  • Fabelle

    Fabelle March 20, 2012, 10:49 am

    Yeah….tipping is mandatory. If you can’t afford to tip, don’t go out. It’s not an “extra” for good service– most wait staff’s entire salary is based off of tips. To me, this isn’t really one of those “agree to diagree” issues, it’s just not flexible at all. If you live in the U.S., a 15%-20% tip is expected and you’re a dick if you stiff your waiter that money.

    As for me personally… I always tip 20% and sometimes even round up slightly from there if the server was especially good (or if I’m a few too many drinks in & feeling generous). I’ve had TERRIBLE service before, I’ve been pretty pissed off at times with servers who just didn’t seem to give a fuck, but once the bill comes, I always just sigh and tip 20% anyway (especially if it’s somewhere I frequent.) I’ve never had service soooo terrible that I’ve felt the need to complain to a manager or whatever (and I go out pretty often…)

    LW, I hope that waitress got her $20 because your friend is completely in the wrong. You don’t get to decide somebody’s tip based on arbitrary, petty annoyances (like not saying “sorry”)

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  • othy

    Kimothy March 20, 2012, 11:03 am

    Here’s a question I’ve been wondering about for a while, and maybe you guys can weigh in. We often do take-out at higher scale restaurants. Is it appropriate to tip? I tip a small amount if my food is ready and waiting, but I’m not sure off if this is a good idea or a bad idea? If I should, what’s an appropriate tip?

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    • CatsMeow

      CatsMeow March 20, 2012, 3:29 pm

      I usually do a little something, but I don’t know what an “appropriate” percentage would be.

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    • Fabelle

      Fabelle March 20, 2012, 4:30 pm

      This is tricky, I dunno– if the receipt has a spot for tip, I’ll write in a tip, otherwise I think that I…don’t usually tip in this situation? (after all, no one is actually serving you)

      I will tip at bistros & places like that if the food is made fresh for me on the spot (usually by the same person at the register)

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    • avatar

      Britannia March 20, 2012, 11:10 pm

      Yes, it’s appropriate to tip. Not nearly 15-20% of the whole bill, but definitely SOMETHING. The waitresses have to ring in your order and then box it up and watch over it for you… for a rather nice restaurant ($40 plates or so) I’d leave at least $15.

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  • MaterialsGirl

    MaterialsGirl March 20, 2012, 10:10 am

    My boyfriend and I tip minimum 18% at restaurants.. obviously we’re leaning more toward 20% most of the time. Per Emily Post, you do not actually tip on the post tax amount, but simply on the pretax. In good old Chicago, the trip is just double the tax and pay that as tip (lovely 10% tax, baby!). Also, I read about a year ago some tipping ‘allowances’ when at a fine dining establishment and ordering bottles of wine: you don’t actually tip 20% on the bottle (especially if it’s $600). There was quite a fuss about a restaurant leveling 20% down on 600 worth of wine (that wasn’t 60, $10 bottles).
    http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2007-07-29/features/0707261669_1_wine-tip-diners

    Here’s another man’s opinion on the subject. he comes up with a very “Dear Wendy” approach: ASK ALREADY! Ask the host what the normal is when you’re getting into that higher range for a bottle.
    http://queercents.com/2008/02/28/tipping-etiquette-how-much-gratuity-on-a-600-bottle-of-wine/

    Also, good old Emily Post. Very handy. With regards to holiday tipping, if I am not in a monetary position to give extra $$, I bake a big treat box and deliver it to my hairdresser, masseuse etc.

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  • avatar

    lets_be_honest March 20, 2012, 11:12 am

    What is the standard on tipping for a drink (assuming you get one at a time, no tab)? I usually throw $1 to $3 down.

    Also, a related confession-it really bugs me when I go to a pizza place, order up front, wait for my slice and go sit down, only to have a waitress come over and ask how it is. Then, I’m obliged to leave a few dollars for her even though she literally did nothing and I cleaned up after myself. I wish places like that would just have a spot for people who order themselves, etc. and another for people who order off a menu and have the waitress serve them.Granted, its still only a few bucks, but it annoys me a bit.

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    • avatar

      AndreaMarie March 20, 2012, 11:41 am

      I always throw down $1 per drink I order, in cash, at the bar.

      If I go to the place alot, or am friendly with the bartender, or they threw in a free round, then I’ll throw extra down at the end.

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    • avatar

      rachel March 20, 2012, 3:15 pm

      I usually throw down a buck a drink. Sometimes I’ll just round up, like if a beer costs $4.50 I might just throw down a 5, but only if I know I’m getting a few drinks so it will even out.

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  • avatar

    Something More March 20, 2012, 11:18 am

    I start at 15% and go up or down depending on the service. If it’s lower, I will usually add a note on the receipt on why it was lower. I used to waitress, so I know how crappy it can be, but… most waiters/resses don’t claim all of their tips, so they don’t pay taxes on it. By the end of their shift, they have to have made equivelent to minimum wage, so that amount is claimed. Anything over is usually not claimed, and if what they made is less than min wage, the employer, by law, has to cover the rest. So, the end of my shift went like this – I made $100 in tips.
    Computer: Did you make at least $43.50? YES or NO
    Me: YES
    Computer: Enter your total tips for your shift.
    Me: $44.00
    Voila – not taxed on the other $56. It’s not right, but it happens. I also tipped more when my kids were younger. And I also hate when restaurants add the tip for you.

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    • avatar

      iseeshiny March 20, 2012, 12:08 pm

      This is not necessarily always true. Maybe it used to be that way, but when I was waiting tables you had to claim at minimum 12% of your sales. Plus you had to tip out the bartender 1% of your sales, the busser 5% of your sales, and if there was a food runner you had to tip them out another 1%. Plus if you made more than that in credit card tips, naturally you had to claim the full amount there. I usually averaged 18% of my sales in tips, barring windfalls, so I was claiming exactly as much as I made for the most part.

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  • FireStar

    FireStar March 20, 2012, 11:22 am

    I always loved this story (who knows if it was ever true) showing even small children know right from wrong.

    Many years ago, a 10-year-old boy walked up to the counter of a soda shop and climbed onto a stool. He caught the eye of the waitress and asked, “How much is an ice cream sundae?”

    “Fifty cents,” the waitress replied. The boy reached into his pockets, pulled out a handful of change, and began counting. The waitress frowned impatiently. After all, she had other customers to wait on.

    The boy squinted up at the waitress. “How much is a dish of plain ice cream?” he asked. The waitress sighed and rolled her eyes. “Thirty-five cents,” she said with a note of irritation.

    Again, the boy counted his coins. At last, he said, “I’ll have the plain ice cream, please.” He put a quarter and two nickels on the counter. The waitress took the coins, brought the ice cream, and walked away.

    About ten minutes later, she returned and found the ice cream dish empty. The boy was gone. She picked up the empty dish—then swallowed hard.

    There on the counter, next to the wet spot where the dish had been, were two nickels and five pennies. The boy had had enough for a sundae, but he had ordered plain ice cream so he could leave her a tip.

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    • avatar

      Flake March 20, 2012, 11:41 am

      That is one of my favourite waiter stories. Everybody keeps going on and on how hard the poor college student server is working, but my money doesn’t grow on trees either.

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      • avatar

        slamy March 20, 2012, 6:09 pm

        My money doesn’t grow on trees, either. That’s why I only go out to eat if I can afford to leave a tip. If I can’t tip, I order my food to go, or (gasp!) make food at home.

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      • avatar

        Flake March 21, 2012, 9:51 am

        This is not about not tipping. This is about the amount of tip reflecting the quality of service received.

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  • bagge72

    bagge72 March 20, 2012, 11:23 am

    I would be embarrassed, if I was you. It was most likely a mistake, and the waitress gave great service the rest of the time, and your friend is pussy for letting his GF tell him what to do, and his girlfriend shouldn’t be allowed to eat out. The waitress was probably mad at you guys for taking up the table for so long, but you didn’t see her giving bad service, because of that. So instead of making $5.00 an hour for waiting your table she made nothing… sweet.

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  • avatar

    Jessibel March 20, 2012, 11:26 am

    I believe that everyone…EVERYONE…regardless of who they are should have at least one job in the service industry in their life. I really truly think it makes you a more compassionate person. My standard is 20% regardless of the service, because having waited tables and bartended for so many years, I know how even if the server is a little bit off, a good tip can actually brighten their mood. If there’s really crappy service, I still give 18% and you can bet that I’m going to your manager. I rarely get rude servers because I am super polite and ask questions about them, chat with them, and smile my ears off. I usually give about %30 for great service, and if I know you and you’re taking care of me (like my old coworkers) yeah, then they’re getting 50%-100% tip. However, when I was bartending for my old coworkers on their nights off, I was getting the same. Coworker once gave me $80 on a $30 tab.

    No, I’m not made of money…if I don’t have enough money for a decent tip, I don’t go out. Dining out is a luxury, not a right. It’s kind of selfish to think that just because you don’t believe in tipping, you don’t have to leave a tip. We all have to do things we don’t like to do in life, so don’t punish a server just because you’re angry at the establishment.

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    • avatar

      Jessibel March 20, 2012, 11:32 am

      This only applies in the US though. If I’m in another country, I ask about local customs and try to comply with them. Before I learned to do this I was once glared at hatefully by my waiter in another country…turns out that tips there are almost insulting, because you’re saying you don’t think that they can hack it and you’re giving them charity.

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  • avatar

    Anna March 20, 2012, 11:43 am

    I used to live on tips when I was a pizza delivery driver. Most customers would tip a decent amount, some generous, which is to be expected when you don’t even have to leave your own damn living room to get your pizza. I actually met my boyfriend when we were both pizza delivery drivers for the same company. We had one customer who lived on the very edge of our delivery zone, literally a 15 min drive each way. He would always either give us cash for 1 cent over the price or write a check for the exact amount. We were really pissed about it because we use a lot of gas to drive out to his house. One day when we were off work and just raising some juvenile hell together, we drove to his house and did donuts on his lawn in my Jeep and shot his house with a paintball gun. Tightwad asshole. Sure, it probably wasn’t right and I can’t say it’s something I would still do as a 28-yr old but as a 20-yr old who was being stiffed at least twice a week it seemed acceptable. Don’t flame me please, I’m just sharing my story.

    So yes, I ALWAYS tip at least 15%. For exceptional service, I’ll tip 25%. I know what it’s like to live on tips and it’s just not fair to short someone of their paycheck because you’re a tightwad.

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  • avatar

    iseeshiny March 20, 2012, 11:55 am

    This discussion reminds me of the beginning of Reservoir Dogs. FYI.

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  • avatar

    summerkitten26 March 20, 2012, 12:02 pm

    I suck at math, so I always leave $2 to every $10 on my bill. Sometimes that ends up being more than 20%, but even though I’ve never worked more than 2 weeks as a waitress (volunteered so a friend wouldn’t lose her job, and I sucked!), I think it’s part of going out. Waitresses and waiters don’t make that much without tip, and they’re helping me enjoy the eating out experience. If you sit down to eat, then you tip for service. I’ve definitely asked to talk to the manager if I’ve had a completely crappy experience that would warrant decreasing to a 15% tip, but I’ve never just not tipped for a sit down meal or bar tab. I think LW should have covered tip, especially since it’s a place frequented often, and then had a talk with the friend about his and his girlfriend’s inappropriate behavior.

    Here’s my question, though: if you order take out, do you tip? Like if you call it in or walk in, place your order at the bar, and then the bartender hands you the food from the kitchen once it’s ready, what’s acceptable practice?

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    • avatar

      GatorGirl March 20, 2012, 1:14 pm

      I usually tip 2 or 3 bucks. They did do a service for you (ordering the food, getting it from the kitchen, packaging it in a bag with utencils etc) so in my mind it deserves a tip.

      I worked as a bartender for almost a year at a nicer Italian chain and we occasionally had people order a water and to go food. Honestly it was such a hassle to make the to go order that small tips were super apreciated. Leaving behind the bar on a busy Saturday night to go get utencils and bags and napkins left me so behind I really apreciated the small token of a few dollars expecially since other guests get irritated when there was no bartender.

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  • avatar

    Nectarine March 20, 2012, 12:04 pm

    I could Think of some more colorful Words for sAid girlfriend, but I’ll sTifle myself.

    A tip is not a “bonus,” it’s standard practice. It’s kind of like giving up your seat to a senior citizen or a pregnant woman; it’s not required by law, but assuming you were raised properly, it’s just what you do. Withholding a tip because one card from a party-table was misplaced for a couple minutes is totally unreasonable (and it wasn’t even her card!)

    People are probably going to think this is overkill, and that’s fine, but if it was me, next time I see that waitress at that bar (even if she’s not waiting on you, but especially if she is) I’d give her the extra $20. Tell her you weren’t aware until later of the faux pas made by certain members of your party. It’ll make you feel better, the gesture will mean a lot to her, and she’ll remember that. And trust me, especially if you’re a regular, you always want to stay in the waitstaff’s good graces.

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  • avatar

    jaybro March 20, 2012, 12:16 pm

    There was one time when my friends and I tipped my waiter mere pennies. That being said, it was a restaurant that the three of us went to ALL the time (once a week/once every two weeks), and were usually pretty good with our tips (20%, and I think one time we left the waitress close to 50% and a smiley face on the receipt because she charged all three of us for one “bottomless” meal and we kinda fell in love with her). The waiter we only gave pennies to really pissed us off because he straight up ignored us because we were kids (16, 15, and 14). He would happily serve the tables around us but just pass over us. We were mad, and we didn’t know how to handle it, and probably would have been too embarrassed to talk to the manager or anything like that. So we left pennies. Was it not right? Yeah. Do I regret it? HELL TO THE NO.

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  • avatar

    demoiselle March 20, 2012, 12:17 pm

    I work in theatre. Many of the people I work with get by by waiting tables. Barring unusually dreadful service, I always leave 20%.

    Curiously enough, growing up in the 80s in Southwest Va, I was taught that 10% was standard for poor service, 15% for good, and 20% for truly excellent. Is this a regional thing, or have tips inflated too, to the point that 20% is now standard for any kind of service at all?

    If 20% is now standard for average service, I guess I’ll have to reevaluate the idea that I always tip “generously,” because 20% is about all I can afford to budget for tips at this time, barring really amazing service.

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    • avatar

      jaybro March 20, 2012, 12:26 pm

      Yeah, I grew up with the 10/15/20 scale in my head, too. I’m from the Midwest.

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      • avatar

        jaybro March 20, 2012, 12:30 pm

        Oooooops, double post.

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        silver_dragon_girl March 20, 2012, 3:26 pm

        Me too.

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      jaybro March 20, 2012, 12:29 pm

      Yeah, I grew up with the 10/15/20 scale in my head, too. And I’m from the Midwest, so I dunno if it’s regional or not.

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  • avatar

    SGAC March 20, 2012, 12:25 pm

    I don’t think there is ANY excuse not to leave an appropriate amount of tip now – especially since most phones come with a tip calculator now. When I still lived in the NY region, an attorney who used to wait tables advised me that doubling the tax in a restaurant is the minimum tip that should be left at the table in NY. Since it’s a lower tax rate here in SC, I generally like to go by leaving $5 for every $20 of food and beverage ordered.

    If I order something takeout, I like to leave at least $1.00 or round up to the nearest multiple of 10 (e.g. lets say, my food order totals $14.95 – I leave a $20 and tell them to keep the change) for the staff who take my order. Even in fast food restaurants, if there is an option for a tip line, I write at least a $1. There are some dining establishments I visit that do NOT accept tips (like our favorite chinese food place, when we call in our order, or when I was travelling through Europe) – those are the only times I don’t tip. Even if service was horrendous, I at least leave 10%. The one time I didn’t leave any tip was when the waitress was being very cold and condescending to me while I was on a date with my husband – you don’t get a tip if you’re racist.

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  • avatar

    Auntie Allie March 20, 2012, 12:34 pm

    I never know when I’m having car trouble: Do I tip the AAA repairmen or the two truck drivers?

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    • avatar

      bethany March 20, 2012, 3:42 pm

      I don’t think so, unless they do something extra special for you. For example- Years ago I had to have my car towed to get it fixed. My AAA paid for 5 miles of towing, but Firestone was like 10 miles away. He towed me the whole way for free. Had I not been a broke ass college student (who didn’t know you could tip anyone other than a waiter), I might have tipped him.

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  • avatar

    SweetPea March 20, 2012, 12:41 pm

    I usually always tip 20%… even if things take a while. Even though I’ve never been a waitress, I know I’d be terrible at it. I give waiters and waitresses all the credit in the world for doing what looks like a difficult and often annoying job. Even if something is forgotten or slow, I usually tip 20%.

    I have one exception. Granted, I was in high school and we were dumb teenagers that didn’t consider the better thing would have been to speak to a manager. But, I remember having an awful waitress at Friendly’s. She was downright RUDE and literally sighed and made faces when we requested refills on soda or water. Maybe we were annoying? But, I didn’t really run with a bad group of kids that would have done much to warrant her attitude. There were other things she did, but it was 15 years ago, so I don’t remember the details. We left her change. Looking back, that wasn’t right. But, like I said, I was a teenager.

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  • Lili

    Lili March 20, 2012, 12:56 pm

    Sorry if I’m repeating a question, but I was wondering-how does one tip at Happy hour? I know the drinks and food are discounted, but sometimes-ok often-after having 2-3 cocktails, its hard for me to remember the original price and calculate tip, so I have done just 20% of what my bill is which is heavily discounted. Am I horrible person? Should I always make it a point to tip what my bill would normally cost? Any tips on how to remember post 2-3 drinks?!

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    • avatar

      GatorGirl March 20, 2012, 1:20 pm

      I think a $1 for beer or wine and $2 for mixed drinks would be greatly apprecaited by your bar staff. That’s what I usually do and what makes my bartender BF happy when his guests leave that.

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      • Lili

        Lili March 20, 2012, 1:29 pm

        Ok thanks! Thats easy to remember and calculate 🙂

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    • avatar

      ape_escape March 20, 2012, 8:27 pm

      Dollar a drink. Two dollars if appropriate. I used to go to this bar where every thursday, it was $1 draft miller lite. And YOU KNOW those waitresses got stiffed by the mega cheap skates. I mean, $1 on $5 is 20%, so that’s totally fair, right? NOPE. It’s discounted, but she still brought you 5 drinks, fool. Not that I was a high roller, but I definitely felt for them. So tipping $1 per drink on $1 beer night, my tips were basically 100% 🙂

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  • avatar

    jlyfsh March 20, 2012, 1:11 pm

    i typically give 20%, more if the person is really nice or i know them. only once have my husband and i not tipped someone well. and the server was terrible. she came out and took our orders and then someone else brought our drinks and a different person brought our meals. then we had to flag someone down to get one refill and then flag someone else down for the bill. it wasn’t a busy night and we couldn’t figure out what was going on. we would see her walking around but when we tried to get her attention she ignored us. we talked to the manager and he just kind of made it seem like we were making a big deal out of nothing. we haven’t been back and probably never will.

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  • Lyra

    L March 20, 2012, 1:19 pm

    I agree that tipping is necessary. I also think all the “rules” of modern day tipping are just way too complicated. It would be so much easier if it were like it used to be — when the server went above and beyond, you leave a tip. But, unfortunately tipping has become part of the culture of eating out. We all need to tip because servers simply can’t LIVE off of $2 per hour.

    My boyfriend used to work at a restaurant where he earned something like $2.50 per hour plus tips. He was earning money to get him through college at the time. He was a great waiter so he ended up earning some pretty good money in tips, but without those tips he would have been earning maybe $15 for a night of work. And that work is HARD. Trying to please everybody, fill everyone’s drinks, take care of everyone’s needs…it’s not easy money by any means.

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  • avatar

    6napkinburger March 20, 2012, 1:21 pm

    I’m going to piss a lot of people off here (and explain why people hate groupon-ers) but here goes — I don’t tip on the original price of discounted things. Because here’s why: the price is artificial in the first place. If a massage is listed as $200 bucks but I can get it for $65… I very very very highly doubt the management is going to pay the masseuse less because I used a groupon. I know this is not the case if I use lifebooker. She’s going to make the same $35 bucks or whatever cut she gets from management for doing the massage that she did before (or same hourly wage) and the management is going to eat the difference. So yes, I’m sure she’d much rather get 40 bucks than 13 bucks because 40 is more than 13. But neither her service nor her payment are different even though I got a good deal. There is nothing to say that the her performance was worth 40 instead of 13 except that management decided to charge 200 instead of 65 in the first place and 20% is a typical social convention. So I agree it sucks for her that if management hadn’t offered the coupon she’d have made 27 dollars more, but I did not feel the massage was worth 200 dollars or I would have paid that for it. I honestly do not feel I’m doing anything wrong by paying the social convention of 20% on the value that I, and the market and management, have deemed that massage is worth.

    I know that a lot of people will say that I should factor the 40 in, and decide if I want a 100 dollar massage from the get-go, but I don’t see it like that. I only have so much of a responsibility to make sure that people are compensated to the degree they prefer for services they render to me. Mine goes so far as to give 20% of the amount I’m willing to pay for the service and that the service provider is willing to accept in exchange for the service. That the masseuse would make $40 from someone else who was willing to pay more is not my concern. I also understand that all of the discounts “highly suggest” that you tip on the full amount and so some would argue that that makes it my concern. But I still disagree. If management felt that strongly about ensuring that their employees were compensated on the original price, then they could include the $40 in the price of the discount and then advertise that tip is included. But they don’t. Which means that they are trying to shift that responsibility onto me and if they aren’t willing to take it on, I don’t see why I should be. For all those who say to me “don’t get the massage if you aren’t willing to pay the tip on the original amount” I say back “tell the business not to offer it at a price that they aren’t willing for me to tip on.” It would seem they have a much more affirmative duty than I do. I think the masseuse did a 20% earning job — it is not my responsiblity to ensure that it is 20% of what she would prefer was charged, rather than what is being charged.

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    • avatar

      iseeshiny March 20, 2012, 2:57 pm

      That’s your choice, natch. But when I get massages, I tend to go back to the same establishment. I like being a regular, both with my masseur and at restaurants. For the low, low price of a couple bucks extra a visit, you get to know that people don’t cringe when you walk in the door. Sure, it’s an exchange of services for money. But by being a good tipper, I let the person who is compelled to deal with me whether they like me or not that I do value the job they do. As a result, they’re happier to deal with me, and I know they’re not imagining gutting me with an icepick because I take forever to decide what I want to eat. Plus, I get better service, an occasional free drink, and in general more goodwill.

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  • avatar

    cmarie March 20, 2012, 1:32 pm

    I always tip, no matter how bad the service is. I never tip below 15% and will tip as high as 30% for really good service. I never tip less than $2, no matter how small the tab. I always tip my delivery guys, housekeepers, hairdresser, barrista, mailman, and bus person if I’m eating at a buffet. I worked for 4 years as a housekeeper at a hotel to put myself through college so I know what kind of crap (literally sometimes) they go through. One time we had a whole football team stay for a week of training. Teenage boys who spend their day practicing outside in July, 4 to a room, is bad enough but when they decide that they need to shave their heads to bond things get real. You know how hard it is to clean your bathroom of all the hairs you shed… No tip. We shut down the building for a whole day and stayed overtime just to get the place back to reasonable cleanliness. I know it’s my job to clean your hotel room but it’s not too much to ask that you have some consideration. And they stole/left on the field half our towels while the rest had questionable stains. My theory is that the majority of people who work in those fields do so to make ends meet. I worked their because I needed to support myself but needed a place flexible because of my school hours. Unless the service is truly horrific, I always leave a standard tip. My partner and I always fill out the customer satisfaction survey, whether to say how much we enjoyed the meal or to complain about the service.
    While I think a gratuity should be just that, it simply isn’t and stiffing the wait staff for bad service might make you feel good at the moment and you might be justified in it but I don’t think it’s right when they depend on tips to live. Definitely complain to the manager though, that’s really the only practical thing you can do. Stiff the waiter today and all you’ll get is to be known as a bad tipper every time you go to eat at that place afterwards.

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  • avatar

    *HmC* March 20, 2012, 3:46 pm

    Yeah, the whole tipping thing. This is one of those issues that exists in theory, and then the reality is very different. What I mean is, in all honesty, I’m kind of in theoretical agreement with the guy from the opening scene of Reservoir Dogs. That is, serving is a hard job, and they should be compensated well by their employers, not the customers. There are a shit ton of other hard jobs that also service customers- tellers, retail etc. And their pay is horrible, just because it doesn’t involve food? At some restaurants, servers can make a great deal of money on tips. And what, serving alcohol is exponentially more difficult to warrant a relatively huge increase in tips? In many European countries, servers make a decent living- and tips are not the norm, unless the customers are American and don’t know any better. You leave some change, maybe. But they still make a living, because their employers pay them a wage that is appropriate for what they do. Here, the weird tipping custom actually enables restaurant employers to tip BELOW minimum wage because tip income is taken into account. Seems rather silly to me.

    BUT. In reality, you’re just eating chicken tacos, not freedom fighting. You should tip this poor kid that’s working their butt off. And most people who are stingy towards wait staff are stingy in other ways, and in practice, usually not very nice people.

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  • avatar

    handy0318 March 20, 2012, 3:57 pm

    I usually tip 15% for service, 20% if it was good service, which is pretty standard for around here.

    However, I won’t tip for bad service. Now, bad food isn’t the server’s fault. Neither is a bad incident such as a drunk interrupting our meal with our kids (happened recently). No is a credit card being temporaily mislaid and the server not saying “I’m sorry” because of it. (Really! Gag.)

    But, my son who is a different race than me. I also have some friends who are of different ethnicity. There have been specific instances when I’ve been out with them and have noticed that we get bad service. Each of these instances has been at places where I’ve gone before and previously had great service. The only difference was the color of the skin of my fellow diners. In these instances, the food came way late and was cold, the one server didn’t fill my son’s water. I actually had to get up, go to the hostess and ask for water to be brought to him!! With my friends the server didn’t come back to the table once the food finally did show up. I brought my friends to this particular place precisely because I found it to be a place with very good food and great service…when we were there it was quite slow, only two other diners when we got there and only two more parties came in while we were waiting. The two parties that came in while we were waiting received their food so much sooner than we did, they actually paid and left just as we got our (cold) food.

    Don’t get me wrong…I dine out a lot and almost all of the time have good service, even when I’m with my son or my Mexican friends. But, for these instances… no way am I going to tip for that. No way. Nor will I return to these places.

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  • avatar

    LittleLuWho March 20, 2012, 5:24 pm

    I always tip at least 20% including take-out delivery. I was taught to calculate it by doubling the first digit of the total bill (so, $40 would be an $8 tip) but I tend to round up (a $32 bill would get a $7 or $8 tip) and so does my fiance who is an equally emphatic tipper, which is something I’ve always appreciated about him. He’s cheap and tries to avoid spending money we could save but he considers a solid tip to be part of the expense of eating food we didn’t prepare ourselves.

    To me, stingy tipping is evidence of not understanding the value of those extra dollars and what they mean to the person receiving the tips. An ex used to use the tip calculator on his phone to figure out exactly 15% tip and wouldn’t leave a penny more. He also didn’t work until after graduating college and had no concept of how much a person earns for a given amount of time/work because his parents always gave him a sizable allowance just for being their wonderful son. I don’t resent him for that because he didn’t exactly choose to have parents who could do that, but the tipping made me absolutely nuts. It wasn’t a total dealbreaker but it definitely helped when I made the decision to break up with him.

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    • avatar

      Leemo March 20, 2012, 10:16 pm

      Is that math correct? I didn’t think percentages were that easy

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      • bagge72

        bagge72 March 21, 2012, 10:59 am

        Yes it is correct, and if it is a large bill, like $114.00 double the first two numbers, so 20% would be $22, but I would just round up to $23.00.

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        Addie Pray March 21, 2012, 11:04 am

        Yup, that’s what I do: move the decimal to the left one digit and multiply by 2. So, the tip on a $162.50 bill, for example, is 16.250 x 2 = $32.50.

        Easy as pie.

        Maybe that’s why I always leave 20% as opposed to 15 or 18% – easier to calculate.

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    • avatar

      Britannia March 21, 2012, 12:10 pm

      I just divide by 5 and leave that amount, since 1/5 is 20%.

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      • avatar

        Addie Pray March 21, 2012, 12:21 pm

        My problem with that approach is I have a hard time dividing by 5 in my head. But I can double the first digit (or first two digits if it’s over 100) in my head easier and faster. But it’s all 20%. Tomaytoes, tomahhhtoes.

        Confession: I don’t always leave exactly 20%. If I’m paying with a credit card I do – because I can just write in $32.50 using my example above. But if I’m paying in cash, I’ll just plop down $30 extra bucks. I tend to round down to the nearest dollar…. Shameful, I know!

        Also, when the bil comes, I love being the one who divides up the bill. I do this formula thing were the lowest priced meal gets an X and everyone else is X plus 2, X plus 10, etc. etc. (whatever the difference is). Then I decide what the total bill should be figuring in tax and tip. Then I solve for X. It’s super fun. And not dorky AT ALL.

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  • sobriquet

    sobriquet March 20, 2012, 5:46 pm

    Last week my boyfriend and I had a bad experience at one of our favorite restaurants. After waiting around for 20+ minutes, we noticed that a table seated after us got their food before we did. We grabbed the next server we saw and asked if he could find our waiter for us. Instead, the manager came up to our table and comped our second round of drinks.

    When our food finally came out… it was wrong. The manager quickly fixed it and all was well. He even gave us a $25 gift card. Apparently our waiter was in between shifts and probably just forgot about us. All was well, and we still tipped the guy 20%.

    If you dislike your service enough to not tip appropriately, then be assertive enough to talk to the manager. You will almost always get something out of it (free drinks and a gift card, in my case).

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  • Moneypenny

    Moneypenny March 20, 2012, 7:28 pm

    I always tip at restaurants, and at bars. I usually double the tax (8.5%) and add a dollar or so (round up), which makes it somewhere above 17%. It all depends on the service. If the server came by 3 times (to take the order, to deliver the food, to ask how it is, and to deliver the check) I give them a little over 17%. If they go above and beyond that, then I give more.
    I have also on accident not tipped enough- this has happened a couple of times in my life when I’m splitting the bill with other people and, in between the combination of multiple credit cards and cash, the server is undertipped. I have felt mortified when I realize the mistake! I’ve gone back to a restaurant later to drop off a tip for the server I (we) accidentally stiffed.

    That said, minimum wage is $10.24. There is also an added employee health care tax that is added onto every bill at a restaurant.

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  • avatar

    Mike March 20, 2012, 7:44 pm

    For all of you who “never tip less than 20%,” or 18% or 15%, no matter what, even if the service is bad, I have news for you – you are doing a disservice to bad servers. You’re telling them “you’re awesome” when they suck. How will they ever improve or give a crap about customers if you have them strokes they haven’t earned?

    When I waited tables, I had a lot to learn. No customer would ever say to my face I was doing something wrong – most people don’t want the confrontation, nor should they have to be put in such an awkward position. BTW, chewing out the server to management could lose the server their job. As long as the server isn’t rude or disrespectful, I won’t criticize them to the manager.

    It was my responsibility to do my job well and figure out what I could do better if I received a lesser tip. After all, my performance was my responsibility. The good ones will learn (and get tips from other servers), the bad ones will move on. Vindictive and judgmental customers are part of the package, care about the people you serve and most won’t penalize you.

    One final point – I made $2.00/hr in wages back in the mid-80’s when regular min wage was $3.35/hr. I can’t believe some of the posts where server min wages haven’t progressed alongside non-server min wages. That is a major problem.

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    • avatar

      ape_escape March 20, 2012, 8:36 pm

      I believe minimum wage in Texas is $7.50 – the bar I work at pays us $2.15.

      My “paychecks” are $0.00.

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      • avatar

        Mike March 21, 2012, 2:42 pm

        Thanks for sharing. IMHO there’s no justifiable reason for keeping the hourly so low. How much do think you earn with tips?

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      EricaSwagger March 21, 2012, 2:55 pm

      OH YEAH. Forgot all about this — At most restaurants now all servers SHARE their tips. My waitress takes my order, someone else brings out our food, and sometimes a third person brings dessert or clears plates. (I must add that I hate this practice. My tip should go to MY server, who waited on my table alone. It totally fosters a “why should I work hard, I still split everyone’s tips anyway” attitude.)

      When you tip, at a lot of places, all the tips go into a general pool, and get split between the servers. That $10 you left for your server isn’t just going in their pocket. SO… depriving them of their tip hurts their ego (or should, anyway) but also takes money from the pockets of other employees who actually do deserve the full tip. It’s such a conundrum.

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  • avatar

    Ally_alright March 20, 2012, 9:00 pm

    Long time stalker, first time commenter! For once, no one has said what I want to say so I thought I’d jump in.

    I work in a pub in London and we absolutely do not expect tips. I made about 10 quid in tips every two weeks, whereas I make roughly £150 for that period in wages. (This is part time work btw.) I always make the effort to explain that I don’t expect a tip to my US customers (in the centre of London we get lots of tourists!) Wouldn’t want to rip anyone off!

    I feel quite strongly that American customs for paying service people and tipping them are completely wrong. It is simply immoral that people should work a job that is not guaranteed to feed them at the end of the night – tipping is not the same as wages and should not be a substitute! I know very well that who you serve is a big lottery and you can end up taking the short straw. I fail to understand how people who work daytime shifts which aren’t as busy make enough money by the US system. Daytime shifts are often as hard work because there is stock to be moved, things to be cleaned and customers to talk to. Its all part of maintaining the business and keeping up an atmosphere. Why you should walk away with less money because there are fewer people to be served is beyond me – you are doing the same amount of work, but distributed differently. The whole system puts people who work difficult jobs, often for long hours in a very vulnerable position. Why more of the commenters here aren’t repulsed by this leaves me baffled.

    In the UK we don’t expect tips in pubs or shops. Restaurants tend to include a 10% service charge. I think this is really low behaviour – it doesn’t go straight to the waiter and so should just have been included in the prices in the first place!

    You wouldn’t tip your doctor, your teachers, or any other important service. Instead you expect them to do their job well and be paid appropriately. While in the service industry it is nice to receive a small amount to show that you have made a personal connection, ultimately we are just people doing our jobs! We should be paid for it! Anything extra should not be expected, but a sign of genuine thanks and appreciation for being exceptional. The best thing for me about picking up a tip is knowing that I’ve earned it for doing something special.

    That being said, I would certainly not show my distaste for the system by not tipping if I were in the US. That’s where your waitress is getting her money from to eat, so cough up folks!

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    • avatar

      Nadine March 21, 2012, 7:30 am

      someone else in London! I agree with the American tippers. Three times now I’ve been given American notes because they are just so determined to tip, even if they dont have the correct currency.

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  • avatar

    Leemo March 20, 2012, 10:14 pm

    If the bill is $10 dollars or less, I just double the amount of the bill and leave that. If it is between $20 and $30, I leave half of the bill. I never have bills over $60, and if’s a $40 tip I leave $10 or $15 dollars, if it’s a $50 or $60 I leave $20.

    I never EVER tip by percentage because I am really just too stupid to figure out percentages and I am too embarrassed to use calculatOrs because then my boyfriend or friends make fun of me. Please don’t tell me I have a bad way of doing things! :/
    I leave notes for bad service but usually don’t subtract money from the tip because that kind of math is too complicated for me. I don’t know if I’m dyslexic but I can’t even picture numbers or do math in my head. I just go blank

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  • kare

    Kare March 20, 2012, 11:04 pm

    There have been two instances that I did not tip.

    1.) I was in high school and went to a Denny’s with some friends. There was one other table besides us, but those people ended up throwing some money on the table for drinks and leaving. Our waitress said that our group of 6 was too large for her to take the order, and that we would have to go to the front and give the manager our orders ourselves. So we did. She brought us our food, but that was it. We asked for refills and were ignored for at least 10 minutes. When she finally remembered, she brought the pitchers out, handed them to us, and told us to refill our own drinks. We asked for the check and didn’t receive it until 30 minutes later. She took forever to bring our cards and receipts, so one of the guys went to find her and ask her so we could finally leave. She handed everything to him and said “here you do it”.

    2. I went to a Mexican restaurant with my boyfriend. Our waitress took our drink and food order…and that was all. She never brought us the drinks, refills, more chips, more salsa, food, anything. Another waiter would see that she set everything down somewhere else and would bring it to us. We couldn’t even ask our waitress to bring us anything because she never walked by our table again. The food was also terrible. When we were leaving the manager asked us how everything was and my boyfriend told him that we had only seen our waitress once. The manager shrugged and walked off.

    Besides those two times, I always tip 15% for “eh well it wasn’t horrible” service, 20% for average, and more if the service is better.

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    • avatar

      java82 March 21, 2012, 8:19 am

      Wow, I hope that place is now out of business. If even the manager didn’t care that his clientele received horrible service…

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  • avatar

    Emma March 20, 2012, 11:48 pm

    I knew a guy (from a fairly wealthy family) who wouldn’t tip food deliverers at all. Suffice to say, he tells bums asking for change to “fuck off” and mooches off his room mates groceries (while refusing to share his).

    I hate stingy people.

    That being said, I tip %15-%20, depending on service. If service is really terrible, and there’s not a huge crowd in the restaurant or anything like that, then I don’t tip. But that’s very rare.

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  • avatar

    jumper March 21, 2012, 12:14 am

    I spent a summer in the middle of nowhere in Africa- there’ s no tipping yourself for your constant diet of PBJs and canned vegetables in the veldt. And even on the rare occasions when we spent time in the city, a 10% tip was considered extremely generous even in a nice restaurant. So when I came back to the States, there was a good two week period during which I was constantly forgetting to tip my waitresses! It was horribly embarrassing.

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  • avatar

    Megan_A_Mess March 21, 2012, 11:50 pm

    Ok, so I know everything has already been covered or said, but I’m here to break it down.

    – I live in the U.S., the mid-west to be exact, and we make 2.65/hour.
    – Taxes are not only taken out of our wages, but ALSO our tips
    -*- That’s why we rarely make an actual paycheck
    -*- And when we do get one, it’s usually not worth the paper it’s printed on
    – Sometimes, depending on what type of restaurant you work in (fine dining, or one with a high table turn over) you also have to tip out bus boys, food runners, and bartenders. -*-Sometimes, this can really screw you over. Like with me, on a Friday night, I made $200 in tips alone (woohoo!!) HOWEVER … since it was all from credit cards, the tips were already in the computer. So, when I went to hand in my cash-out at the end of the night, the office owed me money, and then I in turned paid my bartenders, bus boys and food runner. After it was all said and done, I walked out with only $165, while I got taxed for $200. Sometimes managers can override it, but most often, not.
    – Also, going along with the above point, if you don’t make a certain percentage of tips, it won’t let you clock out without a managers authorization because they think you are lying about the wages you make. I believe in most places it’s 15% of your food sales (before tax, just food only, no drinks)
    – Usually, if you have a group of 8-10 or more people, restaurants will add gratuity, usually 18-20%. For the places who still do this (I hear a lot of family establishments are moving away from it) it HAS to be printed on the menu, or at least printed someplace that it can be read by the customer. I ALWAYS tell my tables if there will be gratuity added, so there is no shock, but it’s also printed right in the menu (at one of the restaurants I work at, I also cook in a cafeteria for my other job), for them to read.

    All this being said (and also getting most of my experience from the food service industry (8 years out of 9)) I am usually a generous tipper (20-30%). Even if my service is terrible I over-tip, because I know what’s like to live off the of the generosity of strangers. Plus, my tip might just make up for the table before us, who completely stiffed him or her. I also understand that things happen, food gets rung in late or wrong, or food gets dropped, or they were busier than they expected to be, so it might be another ten minutes to get my meal. But since I am usually on the other side of the situation, I always try to be reasonable. It’s also probably because it’s such a treat for me to be waited on (especially given that I am also my mom’s caregiver, house keeper, and work two jobs) that I’m so used to putting someone else’s needs before mine that I like being waited on too. (I’m not too proud, I’ll admit it.)

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