General Question

ibstubro's avatar

How do you tip buffet servers?

Asked by ibstubro (18717points) March 28th, 2014

You know, the people that bring your drink and carry your empty plates away when you eat at a buffet?

I don’t think they deserve the 15%+ tip of a full service waitresser, but a tip is warranted. What’s the etiquette here. Is there a standard percent tip? Per person?

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38 Answers

flo's avatar

No need for tipping since they get paid to do just that.

Employers should pay at least the minimum wage for any kind of work, so no one has the feeling they need to tip. Tipping is unfriendly to an egalitarian system don’t you think?

rojo's avatar

This thing always bugs me. I feel they should get something because they are probably underpaid by management that thinks they will get tips but, as you say, 15% is excessive. I usually give a couple of bucks per person.

I understand that in Europe they actually pay their workers a decent wage and that tipping is a rarity only expected of Americans. Worthy of a question probably.

Judi's avatar

@flo, servers DON’T get minimum wage in America and are taxed as if they’re tipped Even if they’re not.
I can afford it and they work hard. I give them 15–25% like anyone else unless they really never served me at all then I’ll
Just leave a buck or two to clean the table.

Bluefreedom's avatar

Coincidentally, I just at at Sweet Tomatoes just the other night so this question came along at a convenient time. I usually leave 2 dollars on the table after each visit to a buffet.

Judi's avatar

Sorry I didn’t proof that. The iPhone makes new scentences without my permission.

AshLeigh's avatar

It depends on how polite they are. If I like them, I tend to tip more. If they get an attitude with me, they might not get a tip at all.
I tend to over tip people, if they’re nice.

Cruiser's avatar

@glopro is the expert here that I know of that could answer this with way more authority than I.

susanc's avatar

I always overtip plus I vote for a higher minimum wage every time I get a chance. I tip people who don’t do anything special. I tip people who are surly and unhelpful and clumsy and unintelligent. I also give money away to beggars. I know some of them are “scamming”. But – they’re standing in the rain with their foolish regulation cardboard signs!
I can’t leave them there with nothing! They’re working for my stupid two bucks!
A lot of people are working at heinous jobs for less than it takes to sustain a decent life. I have enough for me and them too. What am I going to do, buy more sweaters? plastic surgery? Not that I wouldn’t like to be beautiful, but really.
I get a lot of argument from friends who think the poor should be at the mercy of the incorporated charities. Those are fine. They’re not enough.

zenvelo's avatar

Depending on the price, I’ll give 10% or $5 for the table if it is three or four of us, $10 if it is five or more.

Mimishu1995's avatar

I know you Westerners tip, but tipping is almost unknown here :/ The ones bringing us food can’t get tip, let alone those “cleaners”.

Don’t take it personally. It’s just the culture. And no one here is familiar with tipping.

pleiades's avatar

I used to work in the industry, full service. It can be tough getting everyone what they want all at once during the rush. I get the feeling these people that drop off the drink and pick up the plates have far less to worry about than that of a full service restaraunt. I’m not saying don’t tip them, but I can assure you the pressure from being in a full service restaraunt greatly differs from a “buffet” Getting people some drinks and picking up plates is a hell of a lot easier than cooking the actual food, or being in a park picking up trash. I say their wage is equal to what their work entails.

jca's avatar

I give them 10%.

seekingwolf's avatar

I’ve never been to a buffet where they do anything more than clean the table so I don’t tip, no. Actual waiters at sit down restaurants are a different story and unless they give me poor service, I’ll tip 15%. Poor service = no tip.

jca's avatar

Most buffets I have been to also serve soda or water or coffee, @seekingwolf. Plus if you need more silverware or napkins, they bring that, too.

ibstubro's avatar

We ate buffet last night and that generated the question. I left $5 for 4 people, so I mimicked @zenvelo‘s advice. I feel bad leaving any less, but I don’t really feel like they did any more work than that. Oriental buffet, and only the greet-n’-seat attempt English. That’s not a problem for me, but I doubt the servers would be much help if we required more than a refill or plate removed. For that matter, I’d be fine with dropping my dirty plate at a station on my way by and re-filling my own drink.

flo's avatar

@Judi “servers DON’T get minimum wage in America and are taxed as if they’re tipped.” If people stop tipping then they’ll start getting decent wages. The way it is now the underpayment will continue. Catch 22?

Judi's avatar

My not tipping is NOT going to buy diapers for her baby. The tip is part of the cost of the meal and if you can’t afford to
tip don’t eat out. Your not punishing the employer your punishing the person trying to make a living.

jca's avatar

@flo: If there were to be an evolution (not a revolution) of servers getting paid better in lieu of tips, that would take years of law changes, regulatory changes, political events (and probably backlash by the restaurant lobby). In the meantime, the staff who serve you and others who refuse to tip are suffering. Some countries don’t tip, the tip is included in the cost of the food. In the United States, we tip. Like @Judi said, if people can’t afford to tip, they should not eat out as they should factor in the cost of the tip to the total cost of their outing.

Judi's avatar

@Flo, if every place did like this place we wouldn’t even have to have the discussion.

KNOWITALL's avatar

I do like @zenvelo. If they do ANYTHING for you, and do it well, they deserve at least a minimal tip.

I worked in a group of restaurants for about awhile in hs, and the world is filled with people who mess up a table, bring five kids that all throw stuff on the floor, have special requests, then leave without a dollar tip, it’s very frustrating to not be tipped and have to clean all that crap up. One guy’s tip was under his plate, it said “Marry a rich man.”- lol

flo's avatar

So, let’s not help them continue to be at the mercy of the whim of the patrons then right? Your last post with the link, @Judi good one. Let’s fight for them to get paid minimum wage.

And what does the percentage of the bill have to do with anything logical? Nothing.

flo's avatar

What is different about waiters and others that get tipped Other workers work hard too.

jca's avatar

@flo: Other workers get at least minimum wage. Wait staff do not.

flo's avatar

@jca The reason they don’t get paid min.wage is because they get tipped.

jca's avatar

@flo: Yes, and when you don’t tip them, then guess what? They don’t get minimum wage.

ibstubro's avatar

Do buffet servers get wait-staff wages or minimum wage? Or is it by state?

Definitive answer, anyone?

jca's avatar

@ibstubro: I just did some googling and found this – it’s not specific to your answer but it may be helpful. Note: when you see the wages these people get, it’s mind boggling.

jca's avatar

@ibstubro: According to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), for those employees who customarily and regularly receive more than $30 per month in tips, the wage is $2.13 per hour. See details in link –

ibstubro's avatar

Thanks, @jca.

I only had time to give it a brief look, but I’ll read more later!

flo's avatar

@jca Not immediately, not on that day, but it would be the first step to getting like this place
the link from @Judi‘s post, and other places in the world where there is no issue.
And what does it have to do with the percentage of the bill?

jca's avatar

@flo: It doesn’t have to do with the percentage of the bill. My links have to do with @ibstubro‘s questions.

How in history did we start tipping on the amount of the bill? I don’t know. I can only speculate. I guess we needed some way to measure that is used consistently.

ibstubro's avatar

No one in the United States should be guaranteed a minimum wage less than $5, in my opinion, @flo. BUT, if you can’t earn more than $2.50 in tips per hour, you should be washing dishes.

How we got from 10% tip (my childhood), 15% tip (my early adult years), and up to 20% tip might be a good question, @jca. I know you didn’t bring it up, but there might be opportunity for a good question there? I haven’t the time just now.

jca's avatar

@ibstubro: I thought @flo was asking how we started tipping on the dollar amount of the total, instead of tipping based on another factor (like the quantity of food brought to table).

flo's avatar

@jca To start with did I referred to your link or @Judi‘s link?

flo's avatar

@jca see my post above @KNOWITALL.‘s Was I “asking how we started tipping on the dollar amount of the total, instead of tipping based on another factor (like the quantity of food brought to table).”? No, I was pointing out that the size of the bill doesn’t indicate how much extra hard the waiter worked.

jca's avatar

@flo: Correct – I explained that to @ibstubro, above your two most recent.

flo's avatar

@jca No, you mis…ed my statement. We are not on the same page. I never referred to your links. You are arguing for continuing to be dependent on the whim of the patrons.

flo's avatar

@ibstubro I’m for paying the waiters minimum wage at least, and ending the tipping, so I don’t know what you’re saying to me on your last post.

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