Cheap Bastards

I was thinking about writing this long involved essay on tipping. I struggled with it for hours and then gave up. You know why? Because most of you are smart enough to know a waiter is supposed to get at least a 15% gratuity. Just let the following horror stories speak for themselves…………………

1. A table’s bill is $208.85. It’s a four top. They have a $100 gift certificate. They ask me to deduct the gift amount and split the remainder between two credit cards. I present the men with credit card slips for $54.42 and $54.43. The tips are $8.16 and $8.17 respectively. They screw me down to the penny.

2. An Italian national. His check is $55.00. His tip? A lousy $4. You’re in America now paisan.

3. Four Israelis. The check is $140. The tip’s a measly $14. Next time eat at the Tel Aviv McDonalds. Oy Vey!

4. A waitress has a table with a $44 dollar check. She gets $4 stuck inside a religious pamphlet telling her that Jesus loves her.

“Hey Eternal Salvation is a nice tip when you think about it,” I say

“Fuck that” the waitress replies, “I want the cash. Jesus doesn’t pay the rent”

Those customers are going straight to hell.

5. Two Sex in the City Wanabees. Their check is $108. They pay cash and race out the door leaving the poor waitress nothing. If you spend all your money on Jimmy Choos and designer handbags and can’t afford to leave a tip – you can’t afford to eat out. Sorry to mess up your Candace Bushnell fantasy. Might I suggest you dine at Château Blanc next time? Live within your means bitches.

6. A couple’s on a first date. The check is $150. The man leaves me $12. I’m pissed. His date passes me on the way to the ladies room.

“Just out of curiosity what did he leave you as a tip?” she asks.

I happily show her the credit card slip.

“What a cheap fuck,” she exclaims. She goes back to the table and angrily tells her date what a cheapskate he is. I guess he’s not getting lucky tonight. Come to think of it I saw her at the bar alone later…………..

7. A man leaves $5 on a $100 check. His wife yells at him telling him he’s being cheap. Smiling the man says, “I’m not giving them my money. Let them go out and get real jobs.”

Ok you Social Darwinist Ayn Rander puke………

A few weeks later he comes in again. I remember him. When he tries to pay the bill his credit card comes up declined.

“Trust me I have the money,” he says nervously.

“Don’t worry you can do a real job washing dishes in the back,” I deadpan.

8. My all time favorite. A Birkenstock shod hippie couple’s check is $55. I present them with the bill.

“Waiter we don’t tip because we believe that would force owners to pay you a living wage,” Deadhead proclaims proudly.

I stare at him silently. My look says, “And you should tip me if you want to keep on living.” He squirms uncomfortably.

“Well maybe just this once” he says counting out a few bills.

“Thank you sir.”

It’s not easy being a waiter. 3.8 million Americans work in restaurants. The vast majority of their income is from tips. Support the economy and tip heavy! At the very least take pity us.

66 thoughts on “Cheap Bastards”

  1. Anonymous says:

    While I’d agree with you on the tipping issue – I’d just like to say that in some parts of the world, 10% is the normal tip.

    That being said, I’d like to apologise to the nice waitress in Seaworld that I stiffed when I was 17, because I honestly thought that the standard tip was 10%.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I don’t understand why American’s have this tipping system, do they not pay you properly or something? In my part of the world – Australia we don’t give tips – it’s not a done thing. What is different in America ?

  3. tian says:

    Story #4 with the religious pamphlets reminded me of my future mother-in-law.

    As an ex-waiter, I have vowed to always tip 25% minimum, regardless.

  4. Anonymous says:

    The first example you gave – where somebody kicks in $75cash of a $150 bill, and then the credit cardist only tips on his $75 – is the most common screw-over I experience as a waiter. It’s bad with gift certificates, too, but whenever I get the old “There’s cash in there, and can you put the rest on the credit card,” I do a tacky move. When I return the check presenter with their slip, I put their bill on top with the grand total circled. It’s a little tacky, I know, but it’s better than only getting tipped on half a meal.

    I think another tipping issue is that most diners don’t realize that the waiter doesn’t get to take all that money home. After tipping the busser, bartender, dishwasher, (not the hostess currently), and the banquet manager on large parties, I usually pay out 1/3 of my tippage. When I work banquets where the bqt. manager and head chef get tipped out, I walk with about 11.75% of a 20% auto-grat. That hurts.

  5. Bluu says:

    I really agree with everything that’s been said. Brilliant blog. Cryptosporidium in the HaloScan comments nailed it, too.

    I thought I was alone, posting about the same thing over at A focus on different subject matter, but my experience as a restaurant host was there too.

  6. Luke says:

    In the UK, a standard tip is between 10% and 15%, but is OPTIONAL. If I go to a restaurant and recieve poor service – if my food is late, or cold, or not cooked right, or if the waiter takes half an hour to bring me a new drink, then i’ll tip less – sometimes not at all

    I really enjoy your blog but I simply can’t understand this ‘should tip’ mentality. I’ve always understood tips to be about rewarding a server for good service, not compulsory

  7. Bluu says:

    Luke: I understand the drink length and hopefully the management is doing something about receiving food cold/prepared the wrong way, but … take it out on the server?? Oh right, like he made it.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I am a frequent diner-outer. I am a middle class wage earner (mid $20,000’s) with a College degree and in my early 50’s. I feel justified leaving a low tip when I am in a restuarant that is not busy and my wait person is more interested in chatting with the other staff than telling me why my meal is so slow in arriving.

    Far too many waitpersons are totally inept at providing service.

    It is your choice to enter this profession. You should only expect to be rewarded by a large tip, when you earn it!

    I have been kept waiting in a busy establishment, however the waitperson will take perhaps 5 seconds to graciously explain the delay and at least smile. BAM, 20-30% tip.

    Often I endure a long wait while servers fold napkins or chat about God-only-knows while I am uninformed, thirsty, out of bread, and HUNGRY! BAM- 0-5% tip.

    The mere fact that you are in this profession, does not entitle you to a large tip.

    The concept of a percentage needs to be revisited as well. If I order the highest priced item on the menu, does that mean you work harder to serve me than if I had ordered the lowest price item? If I order a $35 bottle of wine is it harder to serve than a $12 bottle? Why should you be tipped $7 rather than $2 for the process of opening and pouring?

    As my new friend Wise Gold Dog reminds me:

    Three things in human life are important:
    The first is to be kind.
    The second is to be kind.
    The third is to be kind.

    Good server=good tip, poor server=poor tip.

    I am assuming that you entered this profession freely and are not being forced into servitude.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I’m calling B.S. on bulu.

    Look, I really appreciate all the hard work that goes on in this industry. But in the US, a tip is not compulsory. It is the strongest voice that a consumer has to the restaurant. If I could tell the waiter to take 100% of my tip and screw the chef that put mayo on my hamburger, I would – but I can’t.

    I sure as hell don’t feel guilty about reminding the server that they forgot to refill my drink, or get me my requested (and billed) side, or who only visited me 2 times in my 1 hour stay (once to get my order, once to give me the bill) via a bad tip.

    This is America. If you do well in any profession, you get rewarded – and visa-versa. If you want guaranteed pay for crappy service, go work for the government.

  10. Anonymous says:

    To the guy who won’t tip people well because they’re “folding napkins”: it’s called sidework and nearly all restaurants have their servers do it. Obviously the best time to do it is when it’s slow.

    If your food takes a long time to arrive, has it occurred to you that kitchen might be to blame and not the server?

    Fucktard. If you’re making $25,000 a year, stick to TGIFriday’s or Wendy’s.

  11. Anonymous says:

    For those of you who think tipping is optional, please consider the fact that in most of the country, waiters make $2.13 / hour. If people don’t tip, and restaurants can’t find compitent waiters, they will have to pay a decent wage, which will increase the cost of dining out considerably more than 20%.

    For the Euros and Aussies, yes, tipping is optional or nonexistant in your country. When you come to heavy tourist towns (like New Orleans where I live and work as a waitress) you may want to tell the waiter that you know the tipping custom at the beginning of your meal to ensure good service and not being screwed. In August, when lots of Euros come to my city, I sometimes work for nothing. Yes, I chose this profession, and I love it. And I am aware that I depend on the education and kindness of strangers. I am just pointing out that there are reasons for tipping other than giving somebody something extra.

  12. riva says:

    For those of you who think tipping is optional, please consider the fact that in most of the country, waiters make $2.13 / hour. If people don’t tip, and restaurants can’t find compitent waiters, they will have to pay a decent wage, which will increase the cost of dining out considerably more than 20%.

    For the Euros and Aussies, yes, tipping is optional or nonexistant in your country. When you come to heavy tourist towns (like New Orleans where I live and work as a waitress) you may want to tell the waiter that you know the tipping custom at the beginning of your meal to ensure good service and not being screwed. In August, when lots of Euros come to my city, I sometimes work for nothing. Yes, I chose this profession, and I love it. And I am aware that I depend on the education and kindness of strangers. I am just pointing out that there are reasons for tipping other than giving somebody something extra.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Just so you know, I’m a Canadian woman who tries to fight the stereotype of women tipping poorly by always tipping 20% for fair-to-good service, 25% for excellent, and 15% for middling to poor.

  14. Anonymous says:

    this is for all the folks who dine out that think they are the only people in the restaurant.come on people.if the restaurant is full.(ours seats 350)have a little patience when waiting for items you request.i dont get it.cant you look around and see the place is busy?also,to people who think a restaurant is a camp ground.did you ever stop to think others may want to eat also.i find this very rude.if you feel like chit chatting go to the waiters cant make money if you sit there all nite.

  15. Serving in Seattle says:

    When hearing about customers or guest that frequent restaurants, with the intentions of not tipping or being a “problem guest”. It amazes me. I learned a long time ago from my very wise grandfather who said “Never offend the person or people that are preparing your food. They will have the last laugh and it is usually done with a polite smile.”

  16. Anonymous says:

    I can’t beleive how poorly the customers are being talked about on this board.

    (oh, and I definitely agree that the server / staff have the last laugh. I never taunt them or show my level of disgust.)

    I generally tip 15% or more. If I get crappy service — that goes down to 10%, 5%, or even lower. If you give me great service — you get a bigger percent. I have even given 100% tip on a low cost meal.

    In my business — If I service my customers well, I get more business, which leads to bigger salary/bonuses/etc. If I don’t service my customers well, they go away and I get smaller salary/bonus/etc (or lose my job). Why should wait staff have a different set of rules???????

  17. Anonymous says:

    if you get $2-$3 wage – why don’t you ask your manager for a raise?

    why should I tip for poor service and why 15% is *expected*?

    tipping sucks. I can see why people leave $3 on a $47 bill – it is normal in Europe.

  18. Anonymous says:

    I don’t mind leaving a nice tip for good service but I hate when there is an expectation of tipping on the total balance which on a big bill includes a lot of tax…

  19. Cap says:

    sidework while customers are waiting? I’m sure the place has better policies than that.

    you do it when its not busy, not when people are waiting.

    course, we dont know the whole story of his dinning experience.

    the same with most people not knowing how a restaurant operates.. or the fact that a server takes care of their own station, area, etc.

    a little understanding goes a long way.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Customers are being talked about poorly b/c 70-80% of the time they are assholes. No wonder americans are so damn fat (not that i have anything against americans, i am one), they get more upset about whether or not their food is cooked right or comes out in time than more important things such as their health. ITS JUST FOOD PEOPLE. Get over it. To the person who says they get money based on customers/bonuses whatever…yeah but you also get base pay I presume, and i’m also guessing it’s min. wage or above (because otherwise that would be illegal) Servers get paid 2.13 an hour. If your bitching that you have to tip, well then don’t go out to eat obviously the dining out experience is not for you. When you fuck up at your job does your manager go back and deduct money from your paycheck? Yeah I didn’t think so. We pick this profession so that means we must like it huh? Okay so how many people that dont work in the restaurant business LOVE their job. Is that the one you’d pick if you could pick any job? Once again, got ya! So fuck off, if you can’t afford to eat out, then stay at home.

  21. Anonymous says:

    I’ve been a server for about 6 months while im going through college. There have been alot of issues mentioned in this blog, and i’d like to put in my 2 cents. As far as hot food, time waiting for food, time waiting for your seat, or even waiting for a refill. These are things that are most of the time out of my control. I cant control how long your well done steak takes to cook. Your wait time wasnt my fault. If somethings cold, icant help it unless you want me to hold your steak and see how warm it is. Im sure the cutomer would love that. I cant cut into your steak to make sure its right. Think about how many times youve cut into your steak and decided to toss it back on the grill at home. But heres another observation, the tables that dont tip well are usually ones that arent personable. They’re rude, quiet, stand offish. I thought going out to eat was to have a good time and relax? Anyways just some random thoughts!

  22. Anonymous says:

    One more note on the refill issue. Its not like people drink at a constant pace. When someone sucks down 3/4 of a sode in 15 seconds im sorry im not standing right there for a refill. And im someone who can drink that fast. But i understand. So just chill out … soon as i know its empty/close i grab you another.

  23. opionated says:

    I agree on some of the points “anonymous said about “concept of percentage needs to be revisited”. Do you have to work harder when a more expensive entree is ordered that should entitle you to a higher tip? I tip between 15 and 20 percent wether service is great or sucky, but this idea makes sense to me.

    I was raised to believe that tipping your waiter is automatic. But is it fair to tip less than 15-20 percent to someone who gave terrible service?

    Also, why should I tip on tax?

  24. xentar says:

    Well, i live in Czech Republic in central Europe and i even made some friends among waiters in establishment i frequent. Just last nigh I had a conversation about tipping with one of them based on stuff i read here.

    The times are changing here for tipping and 10% tip is a standard for a OK service. Some people and there is still quite a number of them don’t tip at all or maybe round up the figure a bit up like $1 on $19 bill. A tip above 10 % is rare around here but of course the waiters do have a bit higher wages than is the minimal one defined by the law.

    I actually worked for few months in a hotel kitchen when 15yo and maybe thats why i always tip above 10 % if the service is good. Even when I go to a top notch bistro which got Bib Gourman from Michelin twice in a row in the past two years which is a bit above my class i tip even better as i greatly enjoy the excellent service. Sometimes it means to me more than the good food.

    On the contrary – when i don’t get the level of service I am supposed to get, I don’t tip at all and I am pain in the ass enough to explain why so. And well, I can even ask for the manager when I am unhappy. Sue me…

  25. arkanabar says:

    The reason for service workers getting most or all of their pay in the form of tips (and it’s not just waiters, it’s also bellhops, skycaps, pizza delivery drivers, bartenders, etc. etc. etc.) is that it gives them a direct and powerful incentive to put the customer’s priorities first. I can’t imagine you’d really rather they put the management’s wishes first.

  26. Darling Nikki says:

    In my experience, most of the tips I get are not really reflective of the service I provide. The customers pretty much have their standard tip and unless I (to quote a friend of mine) “spill boiling hot magma on them and laugh about it,” that tip will remain the same. It’s usually very close to 20 percent, although certain demographics routinely tip 15% and below.

    I work in a tiny bistro in a working class area and while my checks aren’t that high, working people know how to tip. My tip average hovers around 22%. In fact, I don’t believe it has ever fallen below 18%.

    If I get a sub 15% tip, I definitely wonder whether something was wrong. I have learned from the best to recover from these snafus with grace and humor. Usually I still get tipped well even when something goes wrong because I make it up to the customer with little things.

    Also, it helps to have excellent tipping karma.

  27. Rachel says:

    Hmm… I can feel a novel coming. I suppose I’ll haphazardly address all the points that irked me while reading over this post’s comments.

    As a waitress working in a mid-scale establishment, I think it’s interesting the ideas people have regarding tipping. When it comes down to it, I agree with Nikki: people are going to tip generally what they’ve decided to tip, regardless of the general quality of the service. As long as there’s no incredible problem, the tip will remain the same, and for many that’s 10%-15% which, generally speaking, is pretty low. Should waiters be held to the same better-service-yields-better-tips idea? Sure. The problem just lies in the fact that the average customer has a disproportionate view of what the server’s priorities /should/ be and a general misunderstanding of how long things tend to take (kitchen-wise and whatnot) as well as how crazy and overwhelming waiting can be.

    That said, abhorrent service definitely shouldn’t get 20% if the waiter was obviously neglectful and seemed not to care. But here’s the truth: most of us really do work our asses off and we try our best to make sure that your meals go as smoothly as possible. We work like dogs with very little time to ourselves and almost no time to sit down during our shifts. We’re seriously trying, so please remember that we’re human and be patient with us. Swallow the entitlement — your food is only as important as that of any of the other customers.

    And as far as foreigners go, yes I understand that tipping rates differ in your countries, but I can also guarantee that your countries manage their restaurants differently and that waiters make more than our 2.13 an hour. Tips, in your case, might not be as necessary. But for American waiters, that’s where our money comes from. And you might not realize but afterwards, we have to tip out to various services (and sometimes pay the restaurant back depending on how cash/credit card checks are processed), so rarely do we ever leave with what we’ve actually made.

    Regarding tipping percentages on higher bills: you see, when we’re claiming tips and whatnot, our claims are all relative to our total sales. This means that if we’re making shitty tips on high priced items because the customer believe in some strange tip “flat rate” instead of a percentage of the check, we get screwed over by the IRS. (And sometimes restaurants, particularly chains, will quirk a brow at the waiters who perpetually make low tip totals relative to net sales. And in that case job security itself is on the line.)

    Yeah “get another job then,” I’m sure you’re thinking. But most of us love waiting, despite its drawbacks. We actually enjoy the restaurant atmosphere — we like making you happy. (Believe me, no one wants to deal with angry customers.) So please just treat us like humans; not that we’re below you. And remember — if you can’t afford to tip, then don’t eat out. The economy might be sucking right now, but your paychecks aren’t spliced completely because of it.

    Tipping karma all the way!

  28. Anonymous says:

    a very late comment,

    Most of the waiters write here, they cannot control the fastness of the food preparation in the kitchen and stuff, however expecting a big tip for the food the customer eats. The chef (and his/her crew) do the REAL job, making (excellent) food ‘we’ order. From a customers view, a waiter gives the menu, pours out the drinks, gets the food and gives the bill. In fact, it’s actually the chef who should deserve the tip, not the waiter.

    About making money. If the waiter only gets 2,5$/hour then there is really something wrong in the US. Sue your government.

    and finally about this quote:
    “We work like dogs with very little time to ourselves and almost no time to sit down during our shifts”.
    Oh noes! Dude, it’s your fucking job. It’s not that any other job in the world is like sitting around and picking your nose.

  29. Anonymous says:

    “And remember — if you can’t afford to tip, then don’t eat out.”

    Worst argument ever made!

  30. Nancy says:

    I have found that Sundays after church are the worst day and time for tips. We get families in and have all the “extra” clean up from kids throwing things on the floor and still we get tipped very little. In most cases it isn’t even 10%. I find it ironic that these “good christen people” come from having heard to be kind to your neighbor and can’t tip for the meal they were served.

  31. Mercedes says:

    If someone does a poor job of serving me, I have NO problem leaving them less than 15%.
    And that’s based on their particular service, not the food, wait time, etc.
    But, I have been raised to definitely leave a tip. I just hate the fact that some servers don’t believe they have to give great service to receive a good tip, they feel they’re entitled.
    I work in food service, working just as hard, and even though I get paid a little bit more, I am in no way allowed to take tips from patrons.
    A job is a job is a job. If you do it well, you’ll be rewarded. If you don’t, you deserve the extra incentive. Sorry.

  32. Niki says:

    I have been reading all the posts from the beginning to the end and have not felt the urge to respond until now. The issue of tipping is a sensitive one and, as indicated by the long list of comments, a highly contested one with many viewpoints.

    First of all, the wages that servers make are considered minimum wage for that industry. The Federal Minimum Wage Act includes a provision that, in occupations where the employee’s wages are comprised mainly of tips, those employees must be paid at least half minimum wage. In ordinary restaurants, such as chains, this amounts to $3.28 per hour. It may not seem like much to the ordinary public but servers can earn $100 for a 5-hour dinner shift. (That amounts to $20 per hour).

    When someone travels to another country, it is common for them to be expected to behave according the the norms of the country they are visiting. Europeans complain about American tourists but they see no problem in putting Americans down while they are in the US.

    The word “tips” literally stands for “To Insure Prompt Service”. It is an American custom that has existed since the origins of the country. It is also a custom to give flowers and candy on Valentine’s Day and to decorate a tree in your living room during Christmas and to wear paper hats and blow noisymakers on New Year’s Eve. No one is really sure how any of these customs began but they are stilled followed by the masses. Tipping is no exception.

    As for how much to tip, the standard used to be 10%, then 15%, now up to 20%. Anyone who calculates this amount to the penny is cheap and tactless. It cannot be good to be that anal. Round dollar amounts are the best. Of course, the amount should depend on the service. One cannot be rewarded for poor service and/or inattention. On the other hand, problems with the food is not always the servers fault. They are simply the intermediary between the customer and the kitchen. Be kind and give them the benefit of the doubt.

    My information comes from ten years serving at (mostly) truck stops. I have had good tips, bad tips, and great tips. The amount does not always dictate the service that I give. A jerk who leaves a great tip is still a jerk. The sweet older couple who only leaves three quarters still gets the best attention I can give. The man (or woman in one case) who grabs my ass gets one warning before he gets slapped the next time.

    Servers work just as hard as any other professional. I would like to see the CEO of a major corporation stand on his/her feet for eight hours a day and maintain a smile.

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  35. Ohthathurt says:

    I’m a tightfisted pissed off bastard when it comes to tipping.

    1. I work service jobs that aren’t tip worthy

    2. I’m offended by complements that I don’t deserve, or they don’t mean

    3. I don’t eat very much and portions are a bit large at most places, therefore, me and the wife usually split a meal which makes bleach blonde jackass think I’m broke, which makes him/her act like my drinks and I don’t matter, which garners them a scathing “go to hell” tip.

    Case and point: Blonde jackass at a place my wife is taking me for my birthday. We’re a bit touchy feely and the lady is looking at us like “what’s going on?” My wife proudly exclaims “Well, we’re just happy because it’s his birthday.” To which the jackass quickly blurts “Oh, we don’t sing.”

    I wrote “Learn to sing” on the tip line, which is the only good thing to report of that whole experience.

  36. mur says:

    ohthathurts, if you wanted to be sung to, why not try friday’s or any of the numerous family-orientated restaurants that actually provide birthday entertainment?

  37. Jen says:

    I think it’s crazy that people attempt to “teach their server a lesson” by leaving an inadequate tip. The only thing that does is reaffirm the server’s suspicion that yes, you are a jackass, and banish the memory of you and your lazy eye/bad hair/hideous wife into their subconscious until you show up again.

    That being said, after waiting tables for the past 7 years through college (and then through more college) I’ve only really felt BAD about what happened to a table ONCE. That night two thirtysomething couples came in, they were well dressed, demanding, and after I realized one gentleman’s order did not arrive (after I had made a mistake in the ordering process, damn void button) I knew for certain they would be milking the establishment out of every free calorie they could get.
    INSTEAD that gentleman, while still managing to be a little bit of an asshole I’ll admit, paid for all of the food and left 30%. I was confused – generosity after all that frustration? I felt bad taking the tip but of course I did… come on now… and to this day he remains the one person out of hundreds of pissed off (and almost ALWAYS wrongly pissed off) people that took the higher road. I learned more from his actions than I have from all of those “I only tip 20% for great service and you weren’t there in the bathroom to wipe my ass” characters that shorted me in the past.

  38. Gold says:

    Response #4 – Sometimes the waiters blow and I think the busboys are fantastic…they often do more for me than the waiter. There are times I’d like to tip the busboys directly and leave the waiter out of it! Do you not think that the busboys, dishwashers & bartender deserve tips!? What makes you anymore special then them? And while we’re at it, the hostesses get screwed. They should be tipped as well.

    Response #8 – Says it all. Amen sista.

  39. barrrista says:

    My tolerance for customers is in direct proportion to how well they tip.

  40. la migra says:

    Just to simplify how tipping works in America:
    The establishment you are dining at pays the servers a minimum wage (below standard minimum wage- and in some states servers can be considered part of the “entertainment industry” and payed even less) to simply be there. After that, the server is working for YOU telling the bar what you want to drink, getting it for you; telling the kitchen what you want to eat, bringing it to you, fixing any problems with your meal and trying to make your dining experience as pleasant as possible. Look at it as renting a servant for the duration of your meal- pay them.

  41. Elle says:

    I tip on the amount pre-tax (food and booze), and use the formula 10%x2 and round up to the nearest dollar for a minimum tip for adequate service. Good service goes up to the nearest whole number (ie., $40.00 bill would be tipped at $48.00 base + for okay service $50.00 for good service $55.00) For crappy service I leave crappy tips. I don’t mean my food is cold as crappy service, I mean you take 20 minutes to take my drink order, then disappear until it is time to give me the check. I understand busy, I have walked to the bar to get my own refills, I don’t understand just not caring enough to do you job.

  42. melissa says:

    I would just like the point out that if you have horrible service, a better method of dealing with it than not tipping the server would be to speak to a manager. Perhaps there were extenuating circumstances that he/she can explain, or if needed can speak to the server to understand what the problem is. Don’t forget, hwoever, that servers don’t prepare the food, we give the order to the cooks, and they prepare it. We do the best we can while dealing with pissed off customers, pissed off cooks, and running our asses off, all for $3 an hour and your lousy 10% tip.

  43. Kris says:

    Okay, I have to admit I’m kind of hooked now and am reading all the way from 04 to your newer posts in 08. You’ll see me comment a lot. 🙂

    I view things a little differently then the average person’s when it comes to tipping. By nature, I am a very patient and forgiving person. I also can never eat at any place more expensive then Chili’s, so I don’t have to worry about $100-$1000 checks.

    If a server is rushing their ass off and it takes forever to serve me, I shrug it off and enjoy the extra time bs’ing with friends. However, I refuse to tip when the waiter is a jack-off and acts like I’m interrupting his life.

    Outback Steakhouse…I asked if I could get a to-go container for the last half of our loaf of bread (love that shit). The waiter brings out two fresh, hot loaves and a couple containers of their special cinnamon butter all neatly wrapped. I think I gave him a 40% tip that night.

    Texas Roadhouse…ordered a spicy salmon fillet. It came to me half-raw, though I had ordered it well-done. I hate sending things back, but when the taste and the smell of the half-raw fish was too much, I decided to send it back. As sweetly as I could and apologizing profusely, I tried to send it back. “What, do you want a new one?” the waiter sneers. “No, if you could just have them reheat that one, I’d be happy with it.” He pretty much threw it down in front of me when he brought it back.

    I didn’t tip him at all. I know you mostly see irate customers, but some of us poor schmucks have to put up with irate servers as well. 🙂

    I hate it when people pull out their caculators and cell phones to figure out exactly how much 15-20% is. I go by how well I was treated and how well you did your job (accidents and mixups not included). Most times my mathmatically challenged brain tips probably 20-25%.

    People are jerks. 🙂 Can’t we all just be decent and play our parts?

  44. Waitress says:

    I think the worst tip i ever received was not nothing, but a fake $10 dollar bill. it looked real because it was face down and the back of it looked like a legit bill. but when i turned it over it said in large letters: “Disappointed? Jesus won’t let you down!” and continued with my rewards in heaven etc. I know Jesus won’t let me down, but you certainly did! how the heck am i going to make rent with this?!

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  46. Aapje says:

    As a European, I think that the American tipping system sucks. First of all, I will be unhappy if the food tastes like vomit or if I starve while waiting for my next course, regardless of how the waiter serves me. However, you can’t reward or punish the cook. In fact, you don’t even know who screwed up in some cases. So why not give a tip for the entire restaurant, which is already done in quite a few European restaurants? That would motivate the cooks as well. It would also reward restaurants where the staff works like team and would stop waiters from ‘stealing’ good tables and such.
    Secondly, an expected 15 percent tip is just a hidden surcharge, except that anti-socials and ignorant non-Americans can choose to ignore it. Why not be fair + honest and just add that amount to the bill? Then customers are truly free to tip and waiters no longer have to find ways to punish bad tippers. Crappy restaurants will fail by not having any customers anyway.

  47. Sleeplessgirl says:

    Wow, judging from all the comments on this entry, no wonder you decided your next book should be about tipping.

  48. Poofy_puff says:

    Birkenstocks are NOT inexpensive, either.

  49. Stephanie says:

    #1 – You tip on the total amount of the bill. You do not subtract the GC amount and then tip.

    #2 – 20% = take the total, move the decimal point one place to the left, multiply by 2.

    #3 – Follow the customs of the country you are in. If they don’t tip in Austrailia, you don’t tip in Austrailia. If you’re in the US, we tend to leave tips because the wage is something like $2.63 for servers.

  50. Servergrl says:

    I hate it when I work very hard at my job as a waiter, and These dumb fucks come in and just are plain RUDE, and don’t tip me. If I am doing a good job you should reward me.

  51. Kat says:

    I always tip, and well, but the more I’m reading complaints about people not tipping the more annoyed I’m getting. I know what you get paid, I know you need money to live off of, and I know there aren’t that many other job options out there these days. But tipping is not required, it is a customer telling you they are happy with your service, this attitude of entitlement, while understandable is annoying.

    I work retail, I deal with annoying customers all day. The shop I work in is a paint your own pottery studio, so I deal with tables, cleaning, and all of that as well. The customers create a work of art and if it comes back from the kiln different then they imagined I get chewed out.

    I don’t get tips, I don’t expect tips. Despite the fact that I clean tables, bring customers paints, brushes, ect, talk to them while they spend and hour to an hour and a half painting, babysit their kids while the grownups forget about them and paint, then glaze and fire their pottery. Do I whine about it? No because it’s my job. If the kiln screws up it’s not my fault but I am the face my company throws at the customers, I represent my company, their errors, ect.

    Who makes more? Me on my hourly wage? Or a waiter doing a very similair job on tips? Waiters. That’s why most of you wait tables, because there is more money in it than most retail positions. I know this because we’ve had a lot of people quit and work at the restaurant next store and bring home $200 dollars a night. I love my job though, I could never wait tables because the system of pay is so screwed up

  52. Lucy says:

    I understand that in the US waiters tend to earn a lower wage than waiters in the UK. At least, I think that’s the case, going by what you’ve said. However, I can’t help but get slightly annoyed when American waiters complain about “only” getting 10% or whatever. Here, 10% on a bill would be a fucking miracle. I’ve been waiting tables for almost two years and the highest tip I’ve ever got was around £10. No, that’s not reflective of my ability as a waitress, that’s just the way it is over here. Standard tip in my restaurant is £2-£3, regardless of what the bill comes to, and only around 60% of tables even leave a tip. The rest? Zip. I’d be over the moon to get 10% every time.

  53. Melon says:

    I am now a waiter, but at one unfortunate point in my career path I delivered pizzas. My last delivery on Christmas eve one year was by far the worst excuse for no-tipping that I’ve ever had: “I’m really very sorry, you’re doing a good job, it’s just that we don’t believe in Christmas.”

  54. jonas says:

    Is minimum wages 2.13$ in the usa?! That is low, i feel bad for people working minimum wage.

    In the Netherlands Minimum wages is 2.69€ when your 15 and it goes up til 8.97€ when you 23 or older.

  55. AngryGayWaiter says:

    I just read through every comment on here. Kat: you are an imbecile. “Waiters make more than I do!” yet you say things like “I won’t be a waiter!” WTF are you talking about? As far as you Europeans are concerned, SHUT THE FUCK UP! Follow the customs, motherfuckers! If I were a woman would I presume to walk the streets of Tehran not wearing a burqa or a head covering? If only non-tipping carried the same penalties! How I would love to behead an entitled “Master of the Universe” or stone his cunt wife to death. Tipping is not for good service, it is not to be passed along to every asshole in the building, it is a SERVER’S COMMISSION for being a goddamned fucking SALESPERSON! That should answer asshole’s (of course, hiding behind an anonymous screenname) comment about “Should I tip more for opening $17 bottle of wine vs $37?” You’re goddamned right we make a shit ton of money sometimes … more than teachers, EMTs, LPNs, the managers above us and many other positions. That’s the fucking beauty of it. As for these dickbags that calculate the tip down to the tenth of a percentage point and begin deducting for any minor infraction … like the NY Times article said, do you get to deduct the pay if you receive bad service at Kinko’s? Do you get your entire grocery bill compped if Piggly Wiggly is out of bananas? I think not. I should have started writing blogs long ago. Waiter Steve, I salute you, brother! I picked up your book last year when I saw it advertised in People. I’ve read it 4 times cover to cover. Can’t wait to see what you have in store next.

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  57. Maui says:

    Tian- if your future mother-in-law is a Waiter Rant reader you’re SO screwed.

  58. Stephanie says:

    “The concept of a percentage needs to be revisited as well. If I order the highest priced item on the menu, does that mean you work harder to serve me than if I had ordered the lowest price item? If I order a $35 bottle of wine is it harder to serve than a $12 bottle? Why should you be tipped $7 rather than $2 for the process of opening and pouring?”

    Maybe I dont work harder to open and pour a more expensive bottle of wine, BUT I do the same amount of work bringing you a glass of water as I do fetching any other drink and you don’t get charged for the water… so I dont get tipped for it. You also arent charged for all the extra sides of salad dressing, forks to replace the one your toddler threw to the floor, and baskets of bread that I have to run back to the kitchen for numerous times during your meal. Perhaps next time you’re whining about being expected to tip at least 15% on the total for your meal you’ll think about all the things you required and the extra time it took me to get you things that you’re NOT expected to pay for.

  59. Christina says:

    So I realize I’m a few years behind here – but I figured I’d throw my two cents in…
    First of all, whoever said they would prefer to tip the cooks, busboys, bartenders, etc. over the waiters – Guess what? YOU DO. it’s called tip-out, and pretty much every restaurant has some system in place where an amount is deducted from the server’s tips and distributed among their fellow workers. Often, this is based on the amount of food/liquor sold, and not the amount of tips received. Guess what that means? If you stiff your server or leave them a small tip, after tip-out, THEY paid to serve YOU!
    Yes, I agree that tips should reflect a server’s performance…in a positive way. Don’t stiff someone because your service wasn’t perfect – we all make mistakes! Most people in food service are trying to make a living and have bills just like you. Help them out. If you had a real problem, speak to a manager – during your meal or after. Don’t screw over your server.
    Lastly, here’s another way of looking at tipping – like tip-out, most restaurants operate under a method of “sections.” When a server comes in for their shift, they are assigned certain tables to take care of for the night. When you come in and sit at that table, your service is their responsibility – like when you move into an apartment and your super is available for maintenance. true, the super gets a salary – from the landlord, to whom you pay rent. When you eat in a restaurant, the tip is your rent. You pay the server, they pay the bussers, bartenders, and cooks who helped them out. Also – when you stay in an apartment, the longer you stay, the more the rent goes up. Same for tips – if you’re going to sit at a table forever, in crease the tip. While you’re there, your server can’t receive more customers and therefore, more tips. If you want to chat with your lovely companions after you’ve finished your meal, move to the bar.

  60. Anon says:

    Just wanted to address the “bussers, etc. should be tipped instead, servers don’t do shit!” Comment.

    Bussers and food runners get a percentage of each server’s tips or food sales, depending on how the management does things. Bartenders are also tipped out a percentage of each server’s total alcohol sales.

    Hostesses are paid hourly. Sometimes minimum wage ($7.25-$8.00/hour) sometimes much more ($12/hour). I’m a hostess- I never feel entitled to be tipped by a customer, or to be tipped out by a server unless I have gone above and beyond my job description for them, and even then I never expect it. I get paid hourly to ensure that the customer has a pleasant and positive first impression of the establishment so that they are already in a good mood when the server greets them. It’s the server’s show from there.

    Everyone in a restaurant busts their asses off for their customers- and most, if not all, of them are treated like “they need to find a better job”. Everyone is paid accordingly but only if the customers tip their servers.

    Put your holier-than-thou stick up your asses away and just tip your server according to the service that they provide. You buy $230.00 worth of food then you should be able to drop an extra $34.50 (15%) minimum on the tab. Server went above and beyond for you? Leave an extra $10. Server was shitty? Minus the appropriate amount.

    Everyone should be required to work in a restaurant as an educational requirement (In America) when they’re 16. We’d have a lot less misconceptions about the industry.

  61. luckylizzie says:

    It’s been brought up that waitstaff choose their occupation. And that if you don’t earn a large tip then that reflects on how well you do your job. That’s just not true. I’ve waited on many tables that left me large tips (that I honestly didn’t think I had earned) and have received small tips on tables I busted my ass for.

    I think the people who are the worst tippers may be people that make the same amount of money no matter the effort they put in – what is the encouragement to do extra work if you know you’re still going to make the same amount of money as the lazy person in the next cubicle? Tipping encourages special service. If I receive a really generous tip, I try to remember the person and give them better service next time they come in. Just because we choose to be waiters doesn’t mean we are less entitled to the money we work for! It’s also not our fault that our hourly pay is so low! That’s something that is uniform across the industry and asking for a raise wouldn’t change. No matter how good of a server you are there is always someone who will be able to replace you. It’s not like you can get a PhD in waitressing.

    And it might not be more work for us to serve you a more expensive entree, but we still have to pay taxes and tip out on the total sales so that argument is irrelevant. Buy a cheaper entree if it offends you.

    Waiting on messy kids is the worst! If your child throws food on the floor and smears it all over the table, at the very least APOLOGIZE! Would you allow your child to behave like that at home? Several years ago at a cookout, a woman and her daughter (probably about 7) were walking through the line, the daughter dropped her plate. She bent over to start picking it up and the mother grabbed her arm and exclaimed, “Stop! They have people here who do that for us.” No matter what your income is, show us a little respect.

  62. Shmoo says:

    I respect the hell out of servers. As an American in my twenties with friends who serve or have served, I’ve heard the horror stories. I know they’re making crap hourly wages and depend on me to pay their way. Is that stupid? Yes. But just because certain people – especially Europeans – don’t know this or disagree with the practice is no reason NOT to pay tips. Complain to the management about that, but leave a freaking real tip for your server. I don’t serve because the prospect of depending on other human beings scares the hell out of me, and I don’t make as much as good servers do. You gotta be ballsy to lay it on the line and put up with horrible HORRIBLE diners. Shit, I’ve worked food service, but only the kind where I prep an easy meal, ring you up, and point you to a table. It sucks.
    I’m a regular at a diner and love the place dearly. The servers are extraordinary, I tip as much as I possibly can, and it’s not uncommon for me, my friends, or my boyfriend to try to get as close to a 50% tip as we can – the wonders of eating cheap meals is getting to give huge tips. The one time I had a horrible server there, I ended up tipping her 15%, I couldn’t bring myself to go below that. If you hate tipping, don’t go to a fucking sit down restaurant, get some takeout. People are idiots.

  63. Michael says:

    Quite a few years back I was taking my sweetheart out to celebrate her 21st birthday. I chose a mildly expensive restaurant that came recommended. I had two servers, explained to each of them it was her 21st (a once in a lifetime experience, you know!), and they were beyond superb. Impeccable timing with near ESP, drinks constantly full (and they poured each glass from the bottle), food fantastic in every way it could, but the final touch? They had seated us, in a revolving restaurant, to end up facing a fireworks display just when it got dark out. A quality I read of you, sir, and the BEST service I’ve yet to receive! We were there a little over an hour, a $75 check and a well deserved $75 tip.

    Conversely, I once sat down in a French restaurant 45 minutes AFTER my reservation, the hostess came over after another 20 minutes of not being seen by the server to take our drink order. After having our drinks and still not being addressed by our server I asked the hostess for a pen, wrote a lengthy apologetic note on a cocktail napkin, and we walked out. Just for kicks, we sat across the lot on a bench facing the window showing the table we’d sat in. 15 minutes later we saw a server in an uproar, seemingly over our now empty table, and an unpaid bill underneath a well inked napkin. What made this all okay in my book? It was the same server I’d watch walk right by us all night.

    It’s not hard to earn at least my 20%, I am wholly sympathetic to what a server deals with on a daily basis, and will often tip higher to compensate an obviously tough table. Besides, doesn’t the age old addage say, ‘Never bite the hand that feeds you.’ Mad respect to you, sir.

  64. Anonymous says:

    As a server myself I honestly feel that people get too worked up over the tips. Yes we get paid $3.7 per hour, but I still average $40,000 annually. That isn’t great money but it sure isn’t peanuts. The reason I am a server is because i LOVE what I do. I am there to make sure you have the best time possible. Though it might irk me when i see it, or sometimes does piss me off, in the long run your bad tip doesn’t really hurt me in any way. If you need to tip poorly to enjoy your evening then I’ll happily take one for the team. I do what I do because I love it, I am good at it, and 9 times out of 10 people leave a 18% to 20% tip.

    Going way up to the person who was talking about sidework, and the person tipping low because they saw servers doing sidework or chatting instead of serving them. Sidework is meant to be done on THE SIDE if you are more concerned about doing your sidework than taking care of your guest who has an empty drink, a long ticket, or no bread, etc. then the poor tip is deserved. I know when I give shitty service and expect to be tipped accordingly, you should too.

    10% or less for bad service 15% for average service 20% or more for good to excellent service.

    Interesting side story, best tip I ever received was a frowney face made out of pennies. I gave then average service, but wasn’t even upset because that was just too unique.

  65. GinandTonic says:

    This is a bit late…but I can’t help but say to all of you that keep saying, “Well in MY country…” if you want to do things the way they are in “you’re country” then by all means, keep your cheap ass on your side of the pond.
    Also, “verbal tips” will earn you a terrible reputation! It doesn’t matter if you are polite and compliment your server on what a great job they did (usually it makes us feel like a puppy playing fetch) if you don’t tip, expect shitty service next time you are in. If you act like you are worth our time we will treat you like you are worth our time.

  66. Tad says:

    Hypothetically, If I buy a thousand dollar bottle of wine, have u bring 2 glasses, and tip just 20$, quickly drink it and leave, how does that mean the waiter loses money? To me it sounds like you just made 20$ for 1 min of work. But to the wait ranters, you got screwed 180$ that u ‘earned.’ I’m not try a be a jerk I just can’t fathom why 20$ for almost nothing is bad for you. How does this hurt the waiter besides bringing down their tip average. And note if I tipped 10% on the bottle the ranters would spit-shine my wine glasses before serving the bottle. Why hate the customer for something like this. I don’t see why 20$ or 10% fails to compensate you adequately. Also why spit in the food of people who fail to tip to your satisfaction? Keep those pubes off the plate yo!

  67. Rasputin says:

    Wow well we know foreigners from EUROPE were brought up by HORRIBLE retarded PARENTS. Either that or they got dumped here because they’re so worthless they don’t know shit from shinolah. I’m commenting because a lot of NORMAL people brought up a point. Those of us who were brought up with manners tip. I tip depending on what/how you did. There’s a base of 5 dollars MAINLY because that’s usually about what the percentage is on average. There used to be a restaurant that we went to all the time and got excellent service, they knew us, knew what we liked to drink, usually what we wanted to eat and so forth. Never a problem tipping them the 5 dollars. One day we went and the waiter took our order and left until it came time for the bill. We were brought chips and salsa, water, our drinks, our food and everything by the bus boy. He came by to check if we needed anything else and the place wasn’t busy. We could see our waiter sitting down talking to the others like they do in downtime. When we were done and had the check I asked the manager who we knew well if they had to split the tip (waiters/bus boys) and he said no and why? I told him pointing to the bus boy that he did all the work and I wanted to give him the tip. I didn’t want the waiter who did nothing to get it.

    Also a lot of people now a days think they ‘don’t’ have to tip UNLESS you give them a side show including carrying fresh drinks, never leaving their side and cooking their food next to their table. This lady was telling a group of us online one day how she basically STOLE food from a restaurant because she had to cause a scene. Place was fairly packed and the waitress had other tables but because she didn’t ignore all her other tables the poster said she refused to tip and when the waitress said something the manager gave her a free meal and a discount just to shut her up. She was proud of this and we told her to not eat there because they would remember her and probably shit in her food lol.

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