60 Comments

  1. polite punk

    i’m a pretty firm believer of what goes around, comes around…and tipping is definitely included in this theory!

    • Ashleigh

      Agreed! I always tip my hairdresser well and as a result, I get the royal treatment. Make somebody’s day and they’ll make yours too. :)

  2. Chocobo

    I don’t particularly like tipping not because it is a burden on me, but because I believe people in service industries should be paid a living wage in the first place. Waiters, hairdressers, and others should be paid as professionals instead of having to rely on the whims of a generous or stingy customer to make their living.

    • Winifred Rosenburg

      I agree! That’s especially true for restaurant servers who often get paid less than minimum wage but are taxed under the assumption that they’re getting tipped a certain amount. Basically that means if their customers are stingy or if it’s just unusually slow, they have to pay taxes on money they didn’t make! How absurd!

    • SLL

      Agreed. I go back and forth between Europe and the US. In Europe taxes and gratuities are included in the price of whatever you’re buying. This makes me feel more comfortable because I know that these service employees are not solely dependent on my tip for their livelyhoods, so it takes the pressure off, whatever I give them beyond the price really does function as a tip for an especially good job.

      In the US it always made me feel uncomfortable to have people in the service industry working for below a living wage. I know that many people make quite a good living off of tips but most scrimp by to make a living. To to me it’s like socially acceptable begging, and now the IRS is biting into their tips… give me a break! Give them a decent wage and watch how much happier these employees will be.

  3. Lucky me

    I am not against tipping. I am against the rising costs and the pressure to conform to a standard I don’t agree with. Twenty years or more ago, 10% was the standard. This was for fining dining, a breakfast cafe, lunch time or dinner out. This is because the cost of food and restaurant prices are all relative. Tipping is based on good service. You can’t tell me that servers, stylists etc. are worthy of twice as much of a tip than they were 20 years ago. Are they really working twice as hard? I don’t think so. Ten percent seems plenty to me, considering, as I said, when costs rise, so will their tip. I resent the expectation of feeling pressured and shamed. For the restaurant servers out there who say, “If you can’t afford to eat out, then stay home.” My response to that is we probably all should. My question is, is that really what you want? Next thing you know you’ll be laid off, due to lack of customers. Just for the record, I have always worked diligently in every position I have held in the work place. I appreciate good customer service, therefore, I work to achieve that for others as well. Serving always consists of bending over backwards to serve the public. I’ve often wondered who sets the rules for which occupation deserves a tip or not. I am just lucky enough to be in an industry that pays me well enough that I don’t need to rely on my customers.

    • Jane

      I’ll be 60 this year, and when I was little my grandmother tipped only 10 percent–I remember because my mom would always sneak back and leave more (probably tells you something about my family). As long as I can remember the standard has been 15-20 percent, and I’m with Jody–good service gets 20 percent or more, and mediocre-to-poor service gets the minimum 15 percent (the service would have to be really terrible for me to leave less, though I might).

      I worked all of my life, and for most of it, I earned more than the folks I was tipping. The exception was during my college days, when I was a waitress living on tips ; )

    • Chocobo

      I wouldn’t be so quick to lay the blame on the servers for higher tips. The tip has gone up because it’s the only way for these people to make a living on outrageously low wages. In some states servers can be payed as low as $20 per day ($2.30 or less) from their employers on an eight-and-a-half hour shift.

      What I resent is being put in such an uncomfortable position by the establishment which does not pay a living wage or taxes on their own employee’s income like any other business. It’s unfair to punish servers who certainly did not ask to be paid under minimum wage, hoping to pay their bills on fickle generosity. If the service was poor, the correct course of action is to complain to management like any other business, not reach into people’s pockets and extract their livelihood.

      • Jerry

        If the waiter was so concerned about his so-called “livelihood,” he should have done a better job on the service. It’s analogous to a salesman complaining that his commissions are low because he did a bad job selling!

        • Ashleigh

          But how often do people drastically lower the tip because the food was slow? That is absolutely not your waiters fault. They can’t jump behind the line and make the food themself. If they’re inattentive that’s one thing, but so many people jump to irrate for things that the waitstaff can’t even fix.

          • Jerry

            Ashleigh: You’re absolutely right. Don’t punish for slow service caused by the kitchen. But do punish for failure to fill my water glass; for making a mistake in taking my order and then arguing with me about it (yes, this happened); or for having an attitude if I ask you to change a $20 (this also happened).

        • Chocobo

          What do you mean, “so-called”? It is their livelihood, period. I object to the notion that because people are in service industries they must lose their dignity and become beggars simply to make what should have been paid to them by their employers in the first place.

          I remember you writing in a previous that you do not like indirect communication, Jerry. But I wonder: stiffing on the tip is a very indirect form of punishment. Neither the service nor the management are made aware of the issue nor given a chance to fix it before the end of the transaction. No — the dissatisfaction is only known after the customer has already left. It also may punish the wrong person, as the waiter is often at the mercy of the kitchen, who may delay the meal, and the management, who may have under-staffed for the evening and so their ability to serve customers properly is compromised. No, no. I refuse to be forced into playing judge and jury and distribute rewards and punishments to people already making abysmal wages based on incomplete information.

          The tipping system as it stands — where the customer directly pays for service wages while the employer skips paying for their own workers — brings out the worst in everyone. Self-importance and anxiety in the customers, greed and groveling in employees.

          • Jerry

            Chocobo: First, many people wait tables on the side. Second, while you’re right that no one should sacrifice his dignity, your argument with respect to servers “becom[ing] beggars” is a red-herring. Here’s something you’ve failed to consider: if and when a waiter doesn’t make at least the hourly minimum wage (after factoring in tips), the restaurant has to make up the difference. That is, the waiter has a remedy — he can go to his boss, explain how he didn’t do a good enough job to earn sufficient tips.

            You’re also right that direct communication is always best. But what you claim is “stiffing on the tip” is not an indirect form of punishment — it’s a very direct form of punishment. When the waiter fails to provide adequate service, I directly punish him by withholding a tip. (Honestly, can you tell me how I can be more direct that this?)

            You may refuse to “play judge and jury and distribute rewards and punishments [to people who are working for you].” I have no problem doing so. Tips are earned: no waiter or waitress is entitled to a tip, if they fail to their job. (It is a rare occasion that the service is so bad that I don’t tip. And my family still tells stories about how bad the service was on those occasions.)

          • Winifred Rosenburg

            Jerry: I just asked my husband who used to work as a restaurant host and he never heard of the law you referred to so if it exists restaurant management aren’t exactly advertising it. He also said that even if the option were there none of his co-workers would have ever taken advantage of it for fear of being fired as the management didn’t have to give a reason for firing someone.

            That being said I actually do agree with you. Chocobo, I think if you look at it a different way he is not withholding their “wage” of 15% which is what they should be guaranteed. He is then giving a tip by going above 15% to those deserving a tip for better than minimal service.

          • Ashleigh

            That’s really interesting! I wonder if employers are required to post this as they are with the OSHA posters, minimum wage, etc. I know someone who was a waiter who was complaining that when the restaurant is empty, they only make $2.50 an hour. I also didn’t know about the fact that employers can deduct the credit card fee out of the tip… Good to know!!

    • Country Girl

      I agree with Lucky Me that the pressures to tip have changed a bit since 20 years ago. However, I strongly stand by the “If you can’t afford to eat out, then stay home.” opinion. While we are always free to tip up or down depending on level of service (which is actually nice! If a server doesn’t do a good job, you have control over the portion they earn from you,) we are certainly not free to under tip or refuse to tip based on “I don’t have the money.” That really is a garbage excuse. If one doesn’t have the money, then one honestly shouldn’t be spending the 60%-70% markup on restaurant food in the first place, and should instead be consciously eating at home or choosing to eat just what they can afford to tip on. Whether we like it or not, tipping IS a part of the restaurant structure in this country, and we all know that going in. You must realize that if restaurants did pay their employees a higher wage to eliminate tipping, obviously that would translate to a higher price of food for you anyway, so you would still be paying that employees higher wages to serve you, just with less control.

      As a past server and bartender you can’t imagine the number of customers I have had who proceeded to to order 15 cocktails or appetizers, meal, drinks and dessert then have the guts to say “Sorry I don’t have the money for a tip.” or “All I have left is a dollar.” When what they ought to have said was “Sorry, I have no budgeting sense, so I will now be punishing you for it by taking it out of your wages. Have fun paying taxes on 15% of what I just ordered.” A server would much rather these kinds of customers DO stay at home, so they can focus their time and efforts on customers who can afford the items they are ordering plus the tip that they are aware accompanies them. There are (and always will be) people who can afford it. That’s how restaurants choose prices and stay in business in the first place, supply and demand.

  4. Jody

    I tip according to the service I receive. A good waiter gets 20% or more, a bad waiter gets the minimum 15%. I also tip my hair stylist because she does what I want and does a good job. I usually tip a hotel maid because I’m not the neatest person to clean up after. I also make sure the restaurant/hotel manager knows that I think a person has done a good job.
    When don’t I tip? The fast food/Starbucks places that have tip jars on the counter. Yes they’re making the sandwich, but I’m relaying the order directly to them (as opposed to through a server) and picking it up myself.
    I do agree with others that people should be paid a living wage. If they’re going to be taxed on tips, it should be on what’s *actually* tipped rather than what was *probably* tipped.

    • Jerry

      You’re generous. A bad waiter gets 0%; an average waiter gets 15%; and an excellent waiter gets 20%. An excellent taxi driver gets a tip; adequate or poor taxi drivers get no tip. Hotel maids get $0 (even when I’m messy) given that I paid enough for the room that I’m not going to pay the maid when I’ve already paid for her!

      People should receive a living wage: but that’s never going to happen in this country.

      • Jody

        Jerry — I’m with you on taxi drivers. I’ve had a couple that started to go the wrong direction; when I questioned them they say something like “oh, you said XYZ?” I’ve also had others who get me to my destination much faster than I’d expected and give that extra effort that sets them apart. Those latter drivers are the ones who get the generous tips.

  5. C Morgan

    I t because I have received service that is above average or excellent, not because I feel obligated to validate mediocre service.

    THAT is a bunch of horsepucky!

    No one pays me for a job that I have performed as expected, nor do they pay me more for my job having been done well.

  6. rose

    I’ve been to Europe where the tip is included in your bill at restaurants. The server can have a very laxodasical attitude–which most of them do–and they still get the tip! You don’t have any say in it–other than not eating out! I hope it never comes to that in the US

    • Winifred Rosenburg

      What you’re talking about isn’t a tip. A tip is by definition up to the discretion of the customer. You’re talking about prices being high enough for the business to pay it’s staff a decent wage, as it is in almost every American business outside of the restaurant industry. In some European countries tipping is actually illegal which may explain their lack of motivation. There is a middle ground of paying employees enough that they don’t need tips but allowing customers to tip for above average service.

    • SLL

      May I interject?
      In Europe going out is a very social event. There is a very different rhythm to service there. The waitstaff expect patrons to layback and relax and thus do not breath down their necks every 5 minutes. I can sit at a cafe for hours with a single cup of coffee in my hand chatting with my friends, without being interrupted by the server constantly. When I want another cup I just hail them over to order another round.

      Here in the US, I always feel pressured to eat/drink fast so they can clear the table for the next cusomers. I’m sorry but I want to enjoy myself without getting heartburn.
      And so what many Americans feel is “laxodasical” is actually and apreciation of food, drink, atmosphere, friends… life, slow down a little and savor it.

  7. Blossoming2

    I’ve always had anxiety over leaving a tip. I usually end up over-tipping for no apparent reason! I guess I feel bad leaving a standard tip. I have never worked in a restaurant, so I don’t know really what is involved for their job.

  8. Colleen Sheehy

    I already avoid situations where a tip is expected, because I just can’t afford it! Waiters and other service workers need to get a living wage to start with, instead of being dependent upon tips. I’ll do my part by being a good customer and not an ignorant slob, but I still won’t be seen all that often because I’ll have to save up the funds to afford the meal out or the haircut or the other treat.

  9. Jessica

    Hello – a bit off subject but the Emily Post website suggested the fastest method of getting an answer is asking you questions on “open threads” on the blog – this year is National Etiquette Week the week of April 14-18th? If it is not, do you know when is it? Thank you.

  10. Lady Antipode

    Tipping is not expected in Australia, but is given for exceptionally good service. Restaurant staff are paid at or above a minimum wage, with loadings for certain hours of work (e.g. after midnight, public holidays etc). So tipping is a gratuity, not a necessity.

    And service doesn’t seem to suffer for this. Of course, the more high-end the restaurant the better the service (usually), but the prices and the wages are also higher, and a tip more likely to be left.

    I don’t tip my hairdresser, and I still receive excellent service. I do recommend him to my friends. And I don’t tip the masseuse (on the rare occasions I go). If the service increases, the price increases, and you’re told about it beforehand. Simple.

  11. Lady Antipode

    I think the example I should be using is this. I don’t pay a teenage babysitter and a qualified child carer the same amount, but tip the qualified one more because he provides a better service. I simply pay the qualified carer more than I do the teenager. And the qualified carer can demand higher rates, rather than relying on tips and generosity.

  12. Zakafury

    In places with high demand for things like qualified sitters and excellent housekeepers, the service provider might make better money with a lower rate and an understanding on the part of customers that a tip is going to keep them on the client list. It’s a variation on “name your own price” as a way to get more money from people who are willing to pay you more.

    I don’t understand complaints about a tip jar. It’s the lowest pressure way to ask. If you order a black coffee, no one will think any less of you for not tipping. If you toss your change in, great. If you order a triple, iced, venti, half-caf, nonfat, mocha with extra whip and a caramel drizzle, feel free to drop a buck in the jar if you have cash on you, but the guy making the drink isn’t the one at the register half the time anyway. I tend to tip if I order something that makes them clean a blender.

    It would be great to have an expectation like Australia, but I don’t see any way to get from the present US system to that.

    • Jerry

      Dude, I’d be with you on the coffee shop tip suggestion if and only if the coffee shop the price of the triple, iced, venti, half-caf, nonfat, mocha with extra whip and a caramel drizzle was the same as a cup of coffee!

      • Ashleigh

        I’m guessing you’ve never had to make said “triple, iced, venti, half-caf, nonfat, mocha with extra whip and a caramel drizzle” or a cup of coffee with 1.5 oz of extra chilled cream and 36 grains of splenda. People who are out of this world, insanely demanding with their drink can use to throw a couple cents in the tip jar. If I’m going to get out a thermometer and make sure that your coffee is exactly 84.5739 degrees, it would go a long way to throw in the change. Especially if you’re going to throw an adult-sized temper tantrum when it’s 84.5738 degrees.

        • Ashleigh, I’m going to side with Jerry on this one. It’s the barista’s job to make that insane drink, and the barista is paid to do it. Most of us must deal with difficult clients/customers as a part of our jobs, yet we don’t expect tips (nor should we). I do agree that no one should ever yell at or belittle service employees, or any employee.

          I had a summer job at an ice cream shop once-upon-a-time, and we weren’t allowed to put out a tip jar because the owner felt it was tacky. Those people who felt one of us went above and beyond tipped of their own accord, not because it was suggested. Unlike waitstaff, fast-food workers and baristas are paid at or above minimum wage.

    • Chocobo

      I don’t have any problem with the tip jar. Tip jars are for exceptional service when the customer is feeling generous, as baristas do not make their wages off of tips. It’s very low-pressure and doesn’t bother me at all as I don’t feel any pressure to contribute. When I do want to reward great service, I’m glad the tip jar is there. I wouldn’t know where else to leave it — passing it off directly to my barista would be awkward.

      • Why do you feel it would be awkward? If you hand it directly to him/her, then that person knows s/he has made you especially happy. A tip jar is an indirect way of asking for tips, and if the barista’s back is turned, s/he won’t know that you tipped. Besides, the tip jars are split between everyone, so lesser employees may receive part of the tips actually earned by stellar employees.

        • Chocobo

          It just seems awkward to stuff money into someone’s hand while taking my coffee with the other. Tip jars really don’t bother me, perhaps they are tacky but they’re also easy to ignore.

        • Zakafury

          You can’t actually tip the person making your drinks if there’s a line. They can’t handle money and food without stopping to wash.

          I think personally handing someone at a counter a tip would be strangely forward around here (rude New England). The recipient is likely to think you’re flirting or something. I don’t particularly care if they know I tipped them, they will see at the end of the shift how they did overall.

      • Crystal

        I did at one time work at coffeehouse and my team was well compensated $13-18 hourly without tips but we would receive extra perks- because we were a team and we did our job extremely well.
        Some coffee shops like Starbucks, baristas are paid well but they have to work their way up, learn the drink manual, customer service is spot on and cleaning procedures on point. With Starbucks as an employee, you’re given stocks within their companies and corporate also treats you well; however the hours stinks according to a friend.

  13. mandy harrell

    If you can’t afford to leave 20% at a restaurant, then don’t go! There are plenty of fast food places that don’t require you to tip. Also, if you are from Canada or any other country for that matter, just because tipping might be different where you reside doesn’t mean you can come here (USA)and tip your server 10%. It’s 20% for good service. When I travel, I find out the tipping etiquette and act accordingly, I don’t ignore it because it’s different where I come from.

    • Nina

      Dear Mandy, Seriously, the American standard is 20%?? I am in fact Canadian and here, good competetent, friendly waitstaff get 15%. 20% is reserved for above-and-beyond service, or to make up for the fact that a member of your party has made a mess or been rude. A sloppy or forgetful server gets 10%–less if he or she is actively rude. I’ll be in the states next month, so I guess I should sort this out!!

      • Winifred Rosenburg

        In the states it’s 15-20%. Generally an average server gets 18% but anywhere in that range is acceptable. In New York state where I live the easiest way to figure it out is to double the tax.

    • Maxwellmeow

      As a server I agree with this! Please tip accordingly…For those who have not worked in a restaurant? I would like you to slip into my slip resistant shoes. I run, I sweat…I keep you’re waters filled! I smile and I somehow make the grumpy person in you’re party also crack a smile…. my job is to ensure you’re enjoyment while you dine. Another glass of wine? I’m on it!
      I must know whats in every dish on the menu. For those on a gluten free diet? I am the person to ensure that no wheat based protein is consumed and the same goes for any other food related allergens. Not only do I have you as a guest. I have 5 other tables . My responsibility is to guarantee that all my customers receive 100% customer service satisfaction…I enjoy my job and I enjoy interacting with the people I serve, but when I recieve a $5.oo tip on a $60.00 + bill?! Unacceptable!

  14. Robin

    I am a firm believer of tipping. It’s just the right thing to do! Show some gratitude for heavens sake! Unless the service is absolutely horrendous, I don’t see the problem in being courteous! People need to watch this video from this young lady explaining how the service industry works, in her own comedic way of course. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EhJ2cnmwwuY

  15. Kathy Y.

    I used to do home health care, and was paid about $10/hour to care for people’s loved ones. Grandma needed a shower? I was your source. We were not permitted to accept tips, because it diminshed our professionalism and made families uncomfortable.
    I feel the same about other service workers. People should be paid for the job they do and they should not have to nickle and dime the customers to make a living. I am especially annoyed by people in cash businesses who likely don’t pay taxes on many of the tips they accept.

  16. Vanna Keiler

    I agree with those tipping at 20% or higher for good service, 15% for fair service…and if I really had a truly bad experience, less than 15% to zero tip. That is for restaurants and hair salons, and establishments where it is common to receive a tip. If there is a tip jar and I can/want to part with some of my change, I will place money in there, if I can spare the change, but I don’t personally feel obligated to do so, and I’m guessing those establishments with tip jars don’t expect everyone to tip if they are not inclined.

    I think the concept of tipping definitely came out of the idea that many of these services go hand-in-hand with salesmanship and mastering customer service skills, and if there is great service sometimes people feel the need to reward their service provider or show them some form of appreciation. When it comes to eating and getting our hair done, these are emotional topics (how it makes me feel/ makes my stomach feel) and therefore I think this ties in with the whole concept of tipping and rewarding for great service, since it is so important to us, particularly in these two industries (and I’m sure, many, many more).

  17. Ginny

    I don’t think I should see a tip jar everywhere I go. When we were young or in college, etc. we took any job we could get, usually low paying. a coffee house person gets quite a bit more than min. wage, at lease my daughter did. I won’t tip on a $3.50 or higher cup of coffee, unless the person went out of their way to do something extra special. Aand I won’t tip more than 15 to 20 % EVER. what is the reason i am seeing that? never heard of a $40 tip to a hairdresser.

  18. I wanted to say that went I first started traveling, I wasn’t a good tipper. Part of the problem was “I did not know which people get tipped”. Yes I knew this for waiters and waitresses, but I did not know who else at the time like valets, bellmen, maids, hairstylists, massage therapists, airport skycaps, pizza delivery men, and others. This was not something that was taught in school (but should be).

    I also think there are tip jars showing up in inappropriate places, too. For example, places where they do no personalized service such as coffee shops, bagel shops, taco shops, and others. It seems like in this case, a tip is to compensate for underpaid workers, as these workers get at least minimum wage, if not higher.

    I also think a reduction in tips may be related to the economy.

  19. Mike

    Hairdressers? What about hunting guides? Pay for a hunt that usually includes accommodations and meals and what about the guides? Is there any standard? I’ve heard everything from $100/day to $250/hunt. So let’s say you sign up w/an outfitter to go on a 3 day hunt in South Texas for trophy whitetail deer w/no guarantees. Transportation there and back is on you. They provide meals, accommodations and guides for 3 morning and 2 evening hunts. Is that 1 hunt or 5 hunts? Somebody please make sense of this for me. I don’t want to be cheap but what would be the difference if you paid $15,000 for a trophy deer hunt (180 class) and got one, vs. never seeing a deer even though the guide did his utmost?

    • Alicia

      I’m not sure about hunting guides ,but I know you tip fishing guides about 10-20% of the charter price so I would assume but do not know that you should tip similar for hunting. I would tip a % of the hunt costs and then vary that % based on how good the guide was. Teaching hunting skills and knowledge would get a higher %. Is there a hunters internet forum that you could ask what people in that area typically tip?

    • Country Girl

      Mike it seems the most generally agreed upon tip for a hunting guide in America is 10% per hunt whether you bring home a trophy or not, although some still feel 15-20% should be customary. Just the same as with waitstaff, this of course can be adjusted based on many factors (guide helps you cape out your animal, is knowledgeable and pleasant, goes above and beyond) I would suspect most likely you will have the same guide for each day and would tip him the full amount (10-20%) at the end of your hunt, but if for some reason you have more than 1 guide, you would then divide that tip and show your gratuity at the end of each day. Tips should always be cash and always be handed to the guide him/herself. It is also customary to tip the cook and lodge staff a few dollars.

  20. Carol

    When I was able to eat out (I live in Canada) with my spouse, we’d leave the server sa $2.00 tip because we never ate much. My spouse believes that generally-speaking, if servers made a decent living wage and didn’t get tips, the cost of the meal, would be more.

  21. Lilli

    I always tip for good service, but get irked when I’m expected to give 20% (or more!) for terrible service. Just this morning I had a cabbie yell at me for the tip I gave him. It was 12.5% which is pretty good I think considering he was surly and I had to give him directions the entire time because he didn’t know how to get to my destination (which was only 5 minutes away). Why should I give you a big tip when you’re rude and incompetent at your job?!

  22. MissCatch

    I’m a good tipper unless the service is really poor or the person providing the service is rude or disrepectful.
    I am tired of the ‘tip jars’ EVERYWHERE I go. The gal selling fresh donuts at the farmer’s market has one, the bar tender at the charity fund raiser has one, and the lunch wagon in front of the big box hardware has one. Yes, tipping in all situations is optional but these tip jars seem so tacky.
    I’m wondering about a specific tipping rule: you don’t tip the owner of the business. I go to a massage therapist who works out of her home, she has no employees. My previous hair stylist owned her salon. My new hair stylist is a manager at a the salon. I’ve always tipped this people but also wondered if they are aware of this rule.

  23. jordi

    I hate the whole concept of tipping. People should be paid for doing their job by their employers and not count on the public for their income.

    I have worked in a minimum wage job for years and provided individual, undivided attention to people on a daily basis and NEVER received a tip for doing the job I am paid for; even when I go way above and beyond what is expected of me and I do not like having people assume that I will tip them for simply doing their job.

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