Should We Feel Obligated To Always Leave A Tip?

Is tipping a social obligation or an incentive/punishment related to quality of service?

The Washington Post’s Michelle Singletary argues that you should still feel obligated to tip service providers even if the service is crappy:

Tipping is not about you.

When eating out at a restaurant, many diners believe that they should tip on a sliding scale based on the service they receive — good or bad.

In keeping score, the scale may go something like this: Having to constantly ask for the water glass to be refilled? A deduction of one percentage point. Receiving the appetizer after the entree with no apologies? Three percentage points off the tip.

Can I be honest and convict myself?

I was on the side of the sliding-scale crowd. I tip, always. However, I hate the tipping system in America because it’s not about rewarding someone for superior service. It’s about guilt-tripping patrons to pay up.

Employers — either to increase their profit margins or out of concern they will lose business because of higher prices — force customers to supplement their employees’ wages with tips.

But the price of my meal should include what it takes for the company to make a fair profit and pay its workers a living wage.

I’d rather pay more for my meal than deal with the discomfort of having to decide how much to tip based on my opinion of a job well done — or not.

Singletary also brought one of the Post’s restaurants critics in to discuss the issue:

Q: How should diners tip when they get poor service for whatever reason?

Carman: I think there is a fundamental misunderstanding about tipping in America. Diners have been led to believe that tipping should be based on the quality of the service. But this is not the reason we tip. We tip because restaurateurs in America have shifted the burden of paying for some of their labor costs to diners. So when you don’t tip, it affects the wages of servers.

Q: Really, you shouldn’t deduct from the tip when you’ve received subpar service?

Carman: I think diners need to ask themselves a basic question: Do you get paid when you’re having an off day? When you’re not at your best? When you’re in a bad mood?

What’s more, waiting tables is hard work, and servers are only human. They may be having troubles at home, or they may be worried about a loved one. Or maybe they’re just spacing out. Who among us has not done that at our desks?

(…)

Q: So, once and for all, what is the appropriate tip at the table — for now at least?

Carman: Bottom line: Diners should always tip 20 percent. Always.

If the service is terrific, you should add more to the tip. But never subtract from the 20 percent.

Carman won me over.

Like it or not, tipping isn’t about me — or you. It’s simply a responsibility placed on all diners in this country. And you need to factor that in as the full cost of dining out

I understand the economic arguments about tipping, and I also understand the extent to which restaurant owners use the quirks in the law that allow them to pay below the minimum wage due to the existence of tipping. Additionally, although I have never worked in a restaurant myself I think I have a pretty good understanding of how difficult the job can be and how customers can act like, well to be blunt about it, assholes and servers are expected to grin and bear it. I’ve also gotten to know many of the wait staff and bartenders at the local places I tend to frequent and it’s rather easy to tell when they’re having a bad day. Generally speaking, I tend to tip above 20% on most occasions, I have never failed to leave a tip, and I generally have not cut back on a tip because of one night of mistakes of one kind or another (the most common being “rushing” through the meal by bringing out an entree far too soon after having brought the appetizer.)

That being said, I have to disagree with Singletary and Carman when they argue that we’re all obligated to leave a tip, that this tip should at a minimum be 20% (whatever happened to 15% which is where it was not long ago?), and that we should not “punish” bad service by either cutting back on a tip or failing to leave one altogether. Perhaps it goes to the fact that I learned my tipping etiquette from my parents and other family members when I was a kid and it’s stuck with me. According to this etiquette, tipping should absolutely be tied to the service and that bad service should be “punished” by a reduced tip or, in extreme cases, by not leaving a tip at all.

Personally I have found it to be a good signaling device. As I said, I tend to frequent a small number of local restaurants, some of them are chain restaurants and a few of them not. As a result, I usually end up with a server or bartender I’ve encountered before. In addition to being a “good customer” by generally not behaving like an ass, especially when it comes to members of the opposite sex, tipping is a great way to get on the good side as a regular, something that has paid off quite well in terms of the quality of service I’ve received while dining. Additionally, if I did have a problem with service at one of these places it seems like it would be better to have a conversation with the server or to recognize that they’re just having a bad day. In extreme cases, I might talk to a manager although I’ve fortunately never had to take that step.

That being said, I’d probably feel differently at a restaurant or bar I’m unlikely to return to or in a case where service didn’t improve even after I pointed out a problem. At that point, reducing the regular tip from 20% or more to 15% or even 10% is something I’d be perfectly comfortable with doing. Additionally, while I’d personally be reluctant to do so, I think people should feel free to withhold a tip completely in appropriate circumstances. In the end, it may be the only way to send a message to a server that they need to do a better job.

I’d be interested to hear from readers on this one.

FILED UNDER: Crowdsourcing, Economics and Business
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Slugger says:

    I don’t tip; I over-tip. There was a time in my life when the cost of a meal was an important consideration, and we stayed home or ate at more economical places. Right now, a few extra bucks mean a lot less to me than to some waitress. I tip just as much in places I am not likely to see again as in more customary haunts for the same reason I am just as careful about throwing waste paper on the street in a strange city as in my home town. I suppose this means my coffin will have brass handles rather than gold, but I’m comfortable with that. BTW, I did work as a busboy during my youth.

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  2. CSK says:

    I tip 20%; 25% if the service is extraordinary. The places I go, the service is fine.

  3. DeD says:

    I always tip 20% average service, 25% exceptional service, and 10% sub-average service. It has to be real sh***y service/product for me not to leave a tip.

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  4. CSK says:

    Here’s a good tipping story: I used to have lunch with a retired cop friend who would invariably leave a 50-75% tip if the server was young and female. It didn’t matter how inept, negligent, or even surly she was. Waiters, no matter how punctilious, got the bare minimum. Drove me nuts. I asked him why he did this and he grumbled that he didn’t like being served by men.

    Talk about sexism.

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  5. Scott says:

    At restaurants where there is table service, I always tip and tip well. What drives me crazy are the gray areas where you order at the counter, pay at the counter, and there is a tip line on the credit card printout, and food is brought to your table. Do you tip, not tip, cross out the tip line, etc.? I also can’t stand tip jars at coffee shops or anywhere else. If I was an owner, I would not have them.

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  6. Mikey says:

    Our tipping culture is of a piece with all the other backward, anti-worker aspects of American business.

    My boss doesn’t dock my pay if I’m insufficiently polite one day. He doesn’t even do it if I accidentally hit a switch on a server and take down half the telephones in an office of 200 people for 30 minutes (yes, I did that).

    This whole debate could be avoided if America just did what’s done pretty much everywhere else: pay restaurant workers a decent wage and make “tipping” mean leaving an extra basic unit of currency if you really liked the service.

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  7. Sleeping Dog says:

    Restaurateurs should be compensating the waitstaff, not the customer and the loopholes should be closed. That way the customer can tip based on service quality or even better the tips should be pooled and we can award based on the experience.

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  8. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    If the service is bad then you should go eat somewhere else. My problems with service in Brazil(There is no tip, just a “service surtax” that in theory can be requested to be not paid, but no one does) is excessive attention, not bad service per se.

    Mandatory tipping makes the customer the head of the HR department, that’s completely inane.

  9. Guarneri says:

    @Mikey:

    Guess you haven’t been to Europe, where the service is generally bad but you pay in the base price.

    I generally tip 30% for good service, 20% for average, but don’t hesitate at all to tip zero for a zero.

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  10. Bill says:

    @Guarneri:

    Guess you haven’t been to Europe, where the service is generally bad but you pay in the base price.

    When the wife and I travelled to Poland, Czech Republic, and Vienna in 2000, our Polish priest friend told me regularly I was tipping too much. 15-20% is what I tip.

    Just a short anecdote- On that same trip, the wife and I, the priest and his mother all ate dinner at a Krakow restaurant for under $3o including tip and wine.

  11. Kit says:

    What about when the waiters are understaffed? Or the cooks screw up with the timing or quality of the food? Basically, what happens when the dining experience is subpar through no fault of the waiter? Many people would signal that through the tip they leave, which hardly seems fair.

    That said, yeah, sometimes the waiter’s attitude does make all the difference, and then it’s hard not to use the tip as a rebuke.

  12. @CSK:

    Given that it is still customary at many top-of-the-line restaurants for the wait staff to be heavily male, this is an odd attitude.

  13. Gustopher says:

    20-25%. No matter what. If service is so bad I will never return, they probably need that tip money even more.

    Not sure if tipping should decrease when the minimum wage increases, but I’ll let other people be on the forefront of that endeavor.

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  14. CSK says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Yeah; it was weird. But I think this guy was one of those men with sugar daddy inclinations. As I say, very sexist.

  15. Mister Bluster says:

    Every gal I ever spent any quality time with was a waitress at one time or another. I have heard all kinds of horror stories about customers, bosses and coworkers.
    These days when I dine out my ticket is around $10. Since I quit drinking several years ago I usually order water so I can get all the meal I want for that amount.
    My tip is consistantly 20%. Cash. Even if I use my debit card to pay for the meal.
    I like to carry $2 bills in my wallet or $1 coins in my pocket for the servers.
    Many of them tell me they save them for their kids and I get a kick out of that.
    I can remember when I was in college I would get a cheeseburger and fries and coffee for maybe $3 or $4. I would give the waitress (who was likely also a college student or a mom or both) two or three quarters and say “here’s some gas money”.
    Back then that was good for 2 or 3 gallons.

  16. Kit says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    My tip is consistantly 20%. Cash.

    Yes! The thought of waiters getting screwed over by the boss with their salary, and then needing to go back to the boss for their tips is infuriating!

  17. Kathy says:

    When I grew up, tipping was 10%, 15% for exceptional service…

    Anyway, some years ago the Freakonomics podcast did a feature on a high end NYC restaurant that eliminated tipping. Prices went up, of course, but wages did as well. The podcast painted a very positive picture of ancillary consequences, like the staff didn’t fight to be on at the busiest times.

    But there was no followup podcast (there should be). Last I heard, they’d gone back to tipping for various reasons. One was that many customers still insisted on tipping. This makes sense, as habits are hard to break.

    I really don’t like tipping. I’d prefer a system that paid a decent wage.

    Tipping the dealer at the casino is quite a contentious issue, too. After all, you’re losing money sitting there playing, and you have to tip on top of that? the issue sis the same as in restaurants: that’s how dealers are paid.

    I’ve a system when playing craps. early on, I’ll throw to $5 chips to the stickman and place a “two way hard 8.” This means I’m betting $5 for myself and $5 for the dealers. Yes, they keep the winnings if the bet succeeds. The bet pays 9 to 1.

    I prefer giving straight tips, because betting a tip makes it seem like you’re playing with the dealer’s salary, and one assumes the dealers know this. By making it two-way, at least we’re playing together and we both have something at stake.

    So, if the bet hits, that’s great all around and the dealers will like you. If it doesn’t, I’ll give another $5 chip tot he dealer nearest me, and say “That’s because it didn’t hit.” Why should they not get paid because we lost a bet? And he result is the dealers really like you.

    You also tip cocktail servers, even if casino free drinks are the most expensive drinks you’ll have 😉 I usually tip $2 for every drink ordered.

  18. Mikey says:

    @Guarneri: I lived in Europe for seven years, and have visited many times since. That happens when you marry a European.

    I’ve always received great service there. Has yours been bad? Must be something about you.

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  19. Janes says:

    That being said, I have to disagree with Singletary and Carman when they argue that we’re all obligated to leave a tip, that this tip should at a minimum be 20% (whatever happened to 15% which is where it was not long ago?), and that we should not “punish” bad service by either cutting back on a tip or failing to leave one altogether. Perhaps it goes to the fact that I learned my tipping etiquette from my parents and other family members when I was a kid and it’s stuck with me. According to this etiquette, tipping should absolutely be tied to the service and that bad service should be “punished” by a reduced tip or, in extreme cases, by not leaving a tip at all.

    Brave of you to admit, in such a public forum, that you’re a terrible person.

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  20. Mister Bluster says:

    …screwed over by the boss with their salary…

    I suppose that is one way to look at it. Although I think it is an hourly wage that employers of restaurants are allowed to pay, not a salary.
    I have known several restaurant owners and managers here in Sleepytown the 50+ years I have lived here. Most of them are decent folk that have a dream that running a diner of some sort was just what they wanted to do.
    Their employees know before they are hired on what the hourly pay is and that tips are the bulk of their earnings.

  21. Michael Reynolds says:

    We have the best service, on average, in the western world. The reason is tipping. I waited tables for 10 years, many different places, and I never doubted who I worked for: the patron with my tip in her pocket.

    So, the house wants to push the fish because it’s on the edge. Do I? No, because I work for you, the patron. If the kitchen is weeded and I have to risk a nasty set-to with some overworked line cook, I do it, because I work for you, and you’re hungry. Your first line of defense is a well-trained waiter because you won’t have to tell him your salad’s over-dressed because he’ll already have had that conversation with the garde manger (or equivalent.)

    If you’re at some starred foodie palace the waiters are making 100 grand a year, and they’re generally worth it. But no one works harder than a morning shift coffee shop waitress, and she’s struggling. As always, punch up, not down. If you’re going to be tight, be tight with someone making enough to put up with you, don’t screw with the women in aprons.

    It’s hard work, and the waiters are paying taxes as if you’d tipped them. Thank Ronald Reagan for that, by the way. 15% is mediocre service. 10% if you think you’ve been fed ground glass. 20% is the baseline. 25% is a ‘well done, though good and faithful waiter.’

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  22. Matt says:

    @Guarneri: Throughout England, France, and Spain I generally received as good or better service then I have experienced throughout the USA… Granted my experience pool is vastly larger in the USA.

  23. CSK says:

    A second good tipping tale: Once I had to have lunch with a movie producer who complained about everything in the restaurant–which she chose. Finally I excused myself, ostensibly to seek out a restroom, found the waitress, and said, “Look, if you can tolerate our table, I’ll make it worth your while.”

    The producer was paying, but I left 30 bucks under my plate. This was years ago, in Rhinebeck, NY, where Madame Producer had her summer place.

  24. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    Back in the days when I made really good money (thank you, union contract 🙂 ), I used to go to lunch on Fridays at a local restaurant. I was always a polite customer (Friday was my day off, so I was never in a hurry) and always tipped well (20%+ back in the 70s when the standard was 10-15). One night I took a blind date to this restaurant and when I was greeted by the maître d’, asked if it would be convenient for us to wait in the bar while a table came open (no reservations were taken on weekends) in about 30 minutes. Five minutes later, our server came to take us to our table and fetched us the drinks we had already ordered when they were ready a few minutes later.

    It’s never a mistake to be kind and generous to people who provide services. (And I tipped both the server from our table and the bar–even though we weren’t in the bar long enough to get our drinks.) Also, I nearly always get excellent service at restaurants I patronize frequently.

  25. Pylon says:

    I always tip. It’s the right thing to do.

    On some of the points above: I’ve had exceptional, professional service in Europe. It’s not overly and aggressively friendly perhaps because they don’t need to act out for tips. But because they are paid a living wage, the service staff is often very experienced and good at their job.

    Second, tipping for poor service doesn’t punish the server. It punishes the entire staff because tips are usually pooled.

    My buddy’s daughter was a front of course attendant (taking golf bags, cleaning clubs etc). She typically got more than her male partners because golfers have a lot of dirty old men in their ranks (thank god she wasn’t a cart girl). But they shared tips.

  26. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    Restaurateurs should be compensating the waitstaff

    Funny you should mention this. While I was in Korea, the practice was to not tip–to the extreme that one night in Daegu when our bill was 58,500 won, the server chased us down the street for a block to give us 1,500 won when we left 60,000 on the table and just left. By asking around, I found out that the practice of not tipping came from 1) most restaurants being sole proprietorships that were run directly by the owner who waited his/her own tables, and 2) the cultural perception that since a person who employed others was obliged to pay them adequately for their work, leaving tips was a sign that the diner believed that the owner either didn’t or couldn’t afford to pay workers adequately–considered insulting to the owner.

    I have sometimes wondered whether our business owners would feel insulted if they thought that leaving tips was a comment on them being penurious or incompetent, but then I remember how many Americans are okay with Trump as President and see how silly that idea is.

  27. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Gustopher: In Seattle, probably not because even when the minimum wage becomes $15/hr, the term for that kind of income will still be “rent” and servers will still need second incomes for food, transportation, health insurance, child care expenses…

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  28. Grewgills says:

    Something to keep in mind is that wait staff are taxed on an assumed minimum tip. If you leave no tip, you aren’t just not giving them money for serving you, you are making it cost money to serve you. They are already making considerably less than minimum wage, forcing them to pay for the pleasure of serving you is being a terrible person.

    Keep in mind also that a waiter can change your night even after the tip.

    In a previous life I waited tables. One night a man came in on what was obviously a first date, or at least an early date. I gave solid service the entire night. They ordered another bottle of wine after official closing that I had to get permission to serve. Another guy joined them for part of the evening and the guy was annoyed by that. At the end of the evening he left a 10% tip on an approximately $150 bill (a lot back then). I was not at all happy.
    I returned to the table with my best hang dog expression and apologized for my service and asked what I could do to serve people better next time. The woman was confused and repeatedly told me the service was wonderful and asked why I thought I’d done a poor job. I forget my precise wording, but I made it clear that the tip told me my service was poor.
    About 10 minutes after they left she returned with a 20.
    The difference between a $170 night and a $190 night was all the difference for him that night.

  29. Teve says:

    @Grewgills: nice 🙂

    I don’t have a comment on tipping but back in Raleigh I knew this guy who was the CEO of a small tech company, and his favorite thing to do at dinners was to dress down the waitress or waiter for doing something wrong.

    Before the food came.

    Lord only knows what off-menu items he wound up ingesting. What a dumbass. 😀

  30. Gustopher says:

    @CSK: My father is a notoriously bad tipper. Once when my brothers and I were out with him and he insisted on paying and tipping, I made sure to stick another $20 under my plate. As, apparently, did each of my brothers, and my father’s wife.

    He now refuses to tip at all when he’s with any of us, because we’re just going to shove more money under a plate anyway.

  31. @Slugger:

    I don’t tip; I over-tip. There was a time in my life when the cost of a meal was an important consideration, and we stayed home or ate at more economical places. Right now, a few extra bucks mean a lot less to me than to some waitress

    I endorse.

  32. @Mikey:

    Our tipping culture is of a piece with all the other backward, anti-worker aspects of American business.

    […]

    This whole debate could be avoided if America just did what’s done pretty much everywhere else: pay restaurant workers a decent wage and make “tipping” mean leaving an extra basic unit of currency if you really liked the service.

    I endorse this as well.

  33. steve says:

    The wife and I tip based not only on the quality of service, but also the size of the bill. We do like diner breakfasts. They are much better than any breakfast at fancy places, but the bill will usually be well under $20 for the two of us. Yet, the waitress, and it is almost always a waitress, worked just as hard as the wait staff when we had a $100 dinner. So we tip from just under 20% to just over 30% as a rule. 40% at our two favorites mom and pop places and we tip higher at breakfast places.

    Steve

  34. Mister Bluster says:

    This whole debate could be avoided if America just did what’s done pretty much everywhere else: pay restaurant workers a decent wage and make “tipping” mean leaving an extra basic unit of currency if you really liked the service.

    I suspect that the United States Constitution will be amended to allow for the direct election of President and Vice President by the voters of the 50 states before this happens.

  35. Boyd says:

    I generally follow the same approach as you, Doug. I prefer to over-tip because it tends to win me good will, and really, at a fairly cheap price. An extra few bucks over 20% makes the server very happy, and it’s really not much to me.

    But if you suck as a server, you’ll get a tip commensurate with your suckiness, and I’ll speak with either you or your boss about why.

  36. Kathy says:

    @Teve:

    COnventional wisdom is you don’t antagonize people who handle your food or your money.

  37. DrDaveT says:

    @Grewgills:

    They are already making considerably less than minimum wage

    …and we come to the core of the problem. Why are restaurateurs allowed to pay less than minimum wage? What business does the government have assuming that the difference will be made up by what is, in essence, charity? Make the rules the same for restaurants as for any other business*, and much of the problem goes away.

    *Except for minor league baseball, apparently. That’s a topic for a different thread.

  38. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    Tipping is not a reflection of the best service in the world, is a reflection of really bad consumer and employees protections. Remember the “service surcharge” that I mentioned above? It can’t be charged if there is no wait staff serving you.

  39. rachel says:

    @Grewgills:

    About 10 minutes after they left she returned with a 20.
    The difference between a $170 night and a $190 night was all the difference for him that night.

    Maybe.
    The cost to the lady who gave you $20? $20.
    The cost to the cheap SOB? Hopefully, her learning that he was a cheap SOB and no more dates for him if she took the correct lesson.

    Always watch how potential partners treat service workers because that’s how they will treat you too eventually.

  40. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    @DrDaveT:

    Why are restaurateurs allowed to pay less than minimum wage?

    Restaurant owners lobbied Congress in the 90’s. But the real elephant in the room is that low wages combined with tipping are a good deal for some servers, specially young servers with a college degree.

    I know lot of people that worked on retail while they were in college, now there are some people that work as drivers for apps like Uber, but I never know anyone that worked waiting tables, specially people with college education. Wages for waiters in Brazil are not really bad, but you don’t get tips.

    A lot of Blue checks on Twitter worked waiting tables, and they would not have done so with good wages and no tips. That’s why the status quo will not be changed, even if its bad for most of people in the industry.

  41. Bnut says:

    Here’s the main disconnect. If something is wrong, bad, incorrect, not to your likening, bring it up. It’s a job, things get messed up sometimes and the client needs to speak if if the supplier is wrong. A great server will handle it, a good server will have the manager handle it and a bad server is someone who wasn’t told there was an issue. (Actually only a third true, there are many many bad servers).

  42. Grewgills says:

    @rachel:
    I think the lesson was that he was an insecure and petulant a$$ that took out his frustrations over his date being interrupted on their server.
    She got out cheap.
    He probably spent over $200 in the 80s and looked cheap.
    Agreed to look at how people treat service employees. It is a big tell.

  43. Kathy says:

    Here’s the Frakonomics podcast from 2016 The No Tipping Point.

    And here’s some followup on the trend from The New Yorker.

  44. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Guarneri:
    What a surprise…Guarneri get’s treated like shit.

    Servers work hard and get paid squat…over-tip them, always.

  45. Andy says:

    I always tip well – there have only been a few times when it hasn’t been warranted.

    What annoys me is how tipping has gone way past full-service wait staff. Most places with counter service now have the “option” to tip when you checkout electronically, and a lot of places now have a “tip” line on credit card authorizations, even for things that aren’t normally tippable. So, the patron is faced with the choice of looking like an ass and not tipping or just tipping anyway.

  46. al Ameda says:

    @Guarneri:

    Guess you haven’t been to Europe, where the service is generally bad but you pay in the base price.
    I generally tip 30% for good service, 20% for average, but don’t hesitate at all to tip zero for a zero.

    I’ve spent 2 to 3 weeks in Europe in each of the last 4 years – from Scotland, through France, to Austria, the Czech Republic and Hungary, and in the vast majority of occasions I’ve found service to be fine.

    Here in the States my rule is unless the staff is flat out rude they’re going to get 20%.

    Also, what I’ve found here in the Financial District is that every so often during a month, at the places I frequent during a day for coffee or some takeout, I get comped (in which case I tip them for their kindness and generosity. These are young people who are trying to put it together and food service – whether you’re a barista or making sandwiches, waiting tables, whatever – can be a grind.

  47. Michael Reynolds says:

    If waiters start costing employers real money they’ll put fewer waiters on the floor. How does that improve service?

    Service in France at the café level is pretty bad, but it has only tangentially to do with French haughtiness, and more to do with chronic understaffing to keep labor costs down. I worked for a Frenchman in Winter Park, Florida at an eight table plus counter restaurant/bakery. One waiter, eight tables plus counter in an American restaurant where people expect to eat lunch in 30 minutes is insane. But he had the French model in mind: keep labor costs down by short-staffing and to hell with customer wishes.

    He went bankrupt because Americans don’t take 90 minutes for lunch and they won’t wait ten minutes before a sweaty, harried waiter can make it to the table to take a drink order.

    Tipping is good for customers. It just is. You get better service. And it’s good for the house because tipped waiters want to turn tables, whereas a salaried waiter could care less if you camp out one one of his tables and nurse an iced tea for an hour. Get rid of tipping and you’ll see worse service and more restaurant bankruptcies.

  48. Monala says:

    @Guarneri: I spent some time in Europe this summer. I was pleasantly surprised at how friendly just about everyone I encountered was*, despite my daughter and I being Americans, and how good the service was at the restaurants.

    * The only rude people we encountered were Canadians. I’m assuming such folks are not generally rude, but because they are so often mistaken for Americans when in Europe, they didn’t want anything to do with us.

  49. Monala says:

    @Kit: Exactly. I sometimes tip more when it’s obvious the poor service is due to things outside of the waitstaff’s control, because I know they’re struggling to deal with it. Rudeness or nastiness by the waitstaff is the one thing that gets me to reduce my tip.

  50. Mikey says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Get rid of tipping and you’ll see worse service and more restaurant bankruptcies.

    I just don’t see it. Maybe in America, where the worker is fucked whenever possible, but in the places I’ve been in Europe–Germany, Italy, Spain, England, Austria–this simply hasn’t been the case. Most of the places we frequent in Germany have been open for decades.

    But then it also seems most Europeans aren’t in a big rush to eat and go, so it’s fine if the waiter doesn’t come by when your mouth’s full of food to ask if everything’s OK, and that they don’t bring the check until you specifically ask.

  51. grumpy realist says:

    My main gripe with tipping is how the “accepted” percentage has gone up over the years. I was brought up on 15%, and am going to stick with that unless I get ridiculously over-the-top service that I have requested. I’ve read too many harangues about how people should tip 20%-35% and if you can’t afford that in your budget, you can’t afford eating out.

    There’s a reason I end up cooking a lot of my own food.