General Question

kelly's avatar

Is restaurant tipping of 20% applied to all checks regardless of amount?

Asked by kelly (1905points) June 23rd, 2007

If you have a four person dinner, and the restraunt does not automatically add a tip; does say a $500 check get 20% tip, or somewhat less. Is there a sliding scale for large tabs?

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9 Answers

Michael's avatar

As a former waiter, I can say that if you think the service was good, 20% is the right percentage regardless of total bill. Traditionally, 15% is a normal tip for normal service (again, regardless of total bill). If you had a meal that cost $500, odds are that the waiter had to do a lot of work to get drinks, run food, deal with the chefs, etc. Remember that in almost all cases the waiters make 90% of their money from tips. Their hourly wages are way below minimum wage (when I was waiting tables a few years ago, my wage was less than $1.50 an hour). So when you stiff a waiter, you are really docking his or her pay.

elliottcable's avatar

When a waiter or waitress does an exceptionally good job, I repay them for their attitude and effort with a 35% monetary tip and a heartfelt thank you. If they merely meet the minimum requirements of their job, then I feel no reason to be obligated to tip them, and therefore I do not do so.

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andrew's avatar

What if you order a $70 bottle of wine? Do you tip 15% on that?

elliottcable's avatar

(@andrew: I don't know if that was directed at me, but I have ended up tipping over 100$ when following my own edict as written above)

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Michael's avatar

I have to really strenuously disagree with elliotcable. If the waiter "merely meet[s] the minimum requirements of their job," then merely tip them the traditional 15%. In America, if you don't leave a tip you are quite literally not paying someone for their work. Waiters (unlike, for example, the workers at a starbucks) make 90% of their money from tips. If everyone acted like elliot and neglected to tip on ordinary service, waiters would make far less than minimum wage. It may not be a fair system, but unless you're in Minnesota (where waiters, by law, have to make at least min wage), if you don't tip, waiters can't pay the bills.

Tegrity's avatar

TIPS "To Insure Prompt Service"
In most restaurants service staff receives less than minimum wage. The remainder of their wage is made up by TIPS. In many cases now they must report this income and pay their taxes on the total. Some restaurants, particularly up-scale restaurants, add the tip usually 18% to the total bill. Large groups paying with one bill have a total including TIPS added to the final bill as well in many restaurants. 18% is considered a minimum, any more is for service you consider over and above.

Michael's avatar

The TIPS acronym is a myth. "To Insure Prompt Service" (I've also heard "To Insure Proper Servicer) doesn't really make any sense. The word people are thinking of is "ensure" not "insure."

hossman's avatar

I'm hoping Elliott misspoke. I've been a waiter, and it is infuriating to bust your butt at less than minimum wage, KNOW you did a great job, and not get tipped. Since the U.S. has this tradition of the majority of server's income coming from tips, failing to tip, without a good reason, is akin to forcing the waiter to pay part of your meal. If everyone would prefer, we could do as other countries and charge more for the meal, and the waiters would be paid more by the restaurant. Then you can suffer through the crappy service I have received in other countries.

Despite all that, this is my recommended scale: Really bad service gets stiffed, no tip at all, but be sure the problems were your waiter's fault, and not the result of kitchen or management errors. If you got bad service because your waiter is trying to handle 8 tables, it's not the waiter's fault. But when you stiff a waiter, make sure you provide specific reasons to the management for two reasons: first, so they know you aren't a scumball who never tips, and two, so they know they have a bad employee.

If your server does the bare minimum, tip 10%. Average service, 15%. Good service, 20%. Really going out of their way, or doing a good job despite problems not their fault (busy night and understaffed, etc.) 25-30%. If the bottle of wine did not come with wine service (server presents bottle, opens, pours, etc.) I don't tip on it. If it does come with full service, I do the same percentage as the rest of the bill. For those of you who have never waited on tables, on a busy night, providing wine service or making cappucino, boning fish, etc. can really play havoc with providing the rest of the service duties.

Tegrity's avatar

Michael It is a acronym used in training, hopefully the customer as well as patron can learn from it. It makes perfect sense. The “promise” of a tip is motivation for superior service.

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