Tipping Guidelines Affected By Economy?

Last Friday night I met my wife and kids for dinner after work for the first time in a long, long time.  We do not eat out much, and when we do it is typically fast food, or something we pick up and take home to eat.  As I was finishing up my meal, I noticed our server clearing another table and as he raked the dollar and change from the table he shook his head in exasperation.

Now, I know cheapskate tippers have been around forever, in good and bad economies.  My wife was a waitress in college and told me many horror stories about bad tippers, from those that completely forgot to leave a tip to those that remembered, but only left the bare minimum according to standard tipping guidelines.

I consider myself a generous tipper, and I have continued that trend despite the economic downturn.  If the service is particularly good, it isn’t uncommon for me to leave a 15%-20% tip.  For exceptional service, I take 10%, double it, and round up or down to the nearest dollar for an even tip.  The difference in 10% and 20% is often only a dollar or two, and I figure the person serving my meal could use it more than me.

Of course, as menu prices continue to climb, so does the amount of tips assuming you continue following the same tipping guidelines.  Using my calculations, a $40 dinner bill comes with an $8 tip, putting your night out with the family dangerously close to $50.  But considering we don’t go out that often, I have no problem paying for outstanding service.

I’m interested to hear from you.  Have your tipping guidelines changed recently? Do you work for tips, and if so, have you seen a drop in income?


  1. We’ve drastically cut down on the times we out, but when we do go out I always tip between 10-30% depending on the service and how much the food cost.

    If we’re out at a diner/cafe and the bill comes to $10, I will tip at least 25%. But if the bill comes to $100, it’s 15% unless the server fantastic and deserves more.

    Really crappy service will net you 10%, but I have a lot of patience for servers because I’ve worked in the food industry myself and know all the dumb stuff that isn’t your fault that can mess up your ability to serve (crappy chef, really demanding tables, too few servers, etc.)

  2. I was both a server and a bartender in college. I respect what people who work in restaurants do, but I think I probably have decreased my tips a little bit. I used to tip 20% no matter what, now I reserve it for something dramatic. I think my tips are typically in the 15% plus range though, anyway. My wife and I eat at home as much as we can, too, but it’s nice to go out once in awhile.

  3. I do not eat out or patronize places that ‘expect’ a tip for this reason. I felt guilty when I didn’t tip at the hotel I stayed at to take my nursing boards but I had no money left after school. Not too guilty though. I was on a strict budget. If people can’t understand that they aren’t the only having money problems then TOO BAD. Now I have a little latitude with leaving tips but I have to think of myself when times are lean.

  4. My tipping habits have not changed. I usually tip anywhere from 15-20% for really good service. I’ve worked in food service/retail so I know how hard it can be. If service is particularly bad, I still leave at least 5-10%.

  5. I always, always tip very well. If the meal warrants less than a $5 tip (which happens often as it is just myself and my daughter), I tip $5. I tip at least 20% unless I had bad service that was the fault of the server (like I did in the airport last week) then I tip 10%.

    Occassionally I’ll tip 15% for good service but really good service gets 20%

    See I have waitressed before, it is a tough job and I was a single mom with no money and some nights it was so slow I only made a few bucks. Sometimes less than minimum wage for the shift, often times that actually. Let me tell you too that those places don’t pay out the minimum wage like the law says either and when you are a single mom and the job prospect is bleak you shut your mouth because if you report it you might loose the only income you have. It always made my day, sometimes even month and was the difference between choosing gas and electricity (before it was shut off) or rent (or food even) when someone would leave more than an average tip. I worked at Coney Island so often times my tip was only a couple of bucks.

  6. I’ve noticed that what you refer to as the “standard tipping guidelines” have changed over time. I remember when 10 percent was standard. Then it was 15 percent. Now you often hear 20 percent described as “standard.” Why should the standard change?

    If the standard can change in one direction in good times, it can change in the opposite direction in bad times. I have no doubt but that people will be tipping less if economic bad times continue.

    Is that necessarily a bad thing? What is magic about 20 percent or 15 percent? Was everyone “selfish” in the days when 10 percent was standard? If we don’t know the justification for the “standard,” how can we know whether an adjustment to the standard is a good thing or not?


  7. I still tip 20% for service that doesn’t suck. But I will most definitely leave a bad tip if the service is awful. Some people can’t understand that and get pretty upset, but isn’t that the whole point of tipping? Rewarding good service and punishing bad service?

    Oh and I hate chatty waiters that will talk your ear off because they are just working you for the tips…just get me my food as quickly as possible and keep my drink full….

  8. We live overseas where tipping is NOT the norm, but when we lived stateside, it was my standard to set the tip amount at 20%. A server would have to be pretty awful to get 10%, and I’ve never left any amount smaller than that.

    Maybe I’m more generous than I should be, because if I notice that a server has left an item off my bill, I add that cost factor into my tip amount. I also tip based on the total bill, including tax, even though I know it’s standard to not do so.

    We try to factor the tip into our eating out budget, but if the bill plus tip goes over then we use our personal funds – blow money – to cover the rest. Tips are a part of the dining out experience for us; unless we’re doing fast food, it’s something we take into consideration. We choose to eat out less frequently now so that when we do, we don’t have to be cheap about it.

  9. I’m actually tipping more than I was before. I’ve always tipped 20%. But now I throw a little bit more in. With the economy sucking wind, I feel like people really need it.

  10. I haven’t changed my tipping habits. I consider the tip part of the cost of the meal, so if we’re willing to spend the money on eating out, the tip is part of the expense. As always, the amount of my tip fluctuates based on the quality of the service, but not on the state of the economy.

  11. My personal rule of thumb is when I walk in a restaurant, the server starts at 15%. The amount of tip goes up or down depending on the service. This doesn’t mean I won’t give a really good/bad tip if it’s deserved.

    I once left a 4 cent tip because my server brought us water then waited on other tables while other servers did her job for her. I did tip the other servers though…= ) I have also tipped up to 45% (once) at Red Lobster for the most amazing service I’ve ever had! This waitress is now my gold standard and no one has ever come close to her!

  12. If anything, I have increased my tips. Since I found out how LITTLE these servers are paid, I never leave less than 15% and usually it is more than 20%.

  13. Like your wife, I waitressed while in college. As far as I’m concerned, 15% is the minimum that should be left – even if my food was terrible. To be honest, I’ve never received unforgivable service, distracted maybe, but nothing that I would dock someone’s pay for.

    Think about it … you go into the office on Monday and have a crummy day, feel like you can’t keep up with things. Your boss walks in and says, sorry buddy, your productivity was no good today, I’m going to have to cut your pay in half today – ouch.

  14. I’m with Nicki on this one. I’ve never lowered my tip because of bad service. That’s someone’s paycheck that I’d be cutting in half.

  15. To agree with Writer’s Coin, tipping is one of the only times you can give money for the work done. If it’s crappy work, then not very much money. It is their JOB after all, to WORK to serve you. If they don’t go a good job, then they don’t deserve to be paid well. The same thing can be said of people getting promotions. The people that do the best job (usually…) get paid more.

    Plus even if they can get crappy tips, let’s say $2 bucks from 4-5 tables in an hour, they would be making more per hour than I do as a graduate assistant! If you do a good job, you can get paid very well as a server.

  16. I’m glad to see so many people commenting that their tipping habits have remained consistent despite the economy. One person mentioned not going out to eat for this very reason, which I also applaud. There’s a sense in which, as a server, we need customers. You might think that a bad tipper is better than no customer, but that’s just not true. Restaurant’s are busy places, and if a couple willing to follow the social obligation of tipping adequately is turned away by the long wait time caused by bad tippers, that’s not good for us.

    In the same way, we’re in the real estate business—our tables are our property we rent out. I’ve noticed an increase in people “camping” at tables, lately. It’s actually a smart way to get social time without spending extra money, so on one hand I’m endorsing this as a smart, frugal practice. But that’s still table space the server could be using to “rent” to other patrons, continuing to make money. I’m not suggesting you rush through your dinner, but be considerate when it comes to compensation. A general rule of thumb is $5 for every 30 minutes you sit beyond the length of your meal (both after the meal but also including time spent before the meal if you hold off on ordering/are waiting for other members of your party to arrive). This remains a cheap social alternative for you, yet ensures you’re treating the server with respect and adequate compensation.

  17. My tipping has increased for several reasons. #1. I delivered pizzas while finishing college after getting married. People who lived a quarter mile from the pizza place where the ones who didn’t tip. You live close, so go pick up the pizza if you don’t want to tip. (as a result, I do not have pizza delivered because I want to pay less) But, tips made my evening good or bad, so I have a better understanding of the importance of a tip.
    #2. As a result of Dave Ramsey and his Total Money Makeover, my wife and I are debt free but our home. So now leaving 5 dollars instead of 3 is no big deal. As a preacher and teacher, my wife and I don’t make a lot, but the Lord has given us plenty, and he has surely given us enough to be able to bless others in small ways.

  18. Hmmm I left a comment but I have to say this if you can’t afford the tip then don’t go out plain and simple so it doesn’t matter whether or not you tip 20% or 10% or whatever, if you go and you get excellent service but can only afford $1 or some such absurd amount then you shouldn’t go out to dinner it is part of the service you are paying for.

    @ Brian, I have to disagree $2 bucks from 4-5 tables in an hour isn’t much especially when you are only earning $2/hr to begin with so that’s $4 for the hour of work less than minimum wage. I disagree that this is comparable to a promotion. Sure in the sense that you might have some fluctuation from one percentage to another but leaving a bad tip says to me it goes out of the standard tipping guidlines.

    @ Nikki, I quite agree and that is my thought process too. Now when I do the 10% it isn’t because of bad food, or even cold food or anything of the sort. I have rarely tipped 10% but when I have it has been for rudeness (not just a bad day but the sigh and eye roll) and yes I have gotten that a few times and I’m quite a good customer.

  19. If I don’t have enough money to tip at least 20%, I don’t have enough money to eat there. Maybe I won’t eat out, or maybe I’ll eat in a cheaper place, but I won’t make the waiter/tress to serve me virtually for free, which is what very low/no tippers are doing.

    I may not tip 20% if the service is really bad, but I generally don’t go under 15% because I’ve lived with waitresses and I know how very little they make per hour and how many people stiff them even for good service. Plus, at least in the past, the IRS has assumed that they’re making a certain amount in tips–so stiffing a tip may have a negative affect on them.

    So no, my tipping guidelines haven’t been affected by the economy.

  20. Actually, I thought the standard was 15% – so that’s what my husband and I have always tipped by. Fantastic service gets 20-25%. For poor service, I leave 10% and talk to the manager.

    That’s been my policy for a long time. One of my biggest irritations is the restaurants that now require a tip by putting a set amount on your bill and then leaving a space to tip again on your receipt! When a group I’m with is at one of those restaurants (usually no more than 4 people), I’ll tell the manager up front that I think if he’s “requiring” a tip, he should be paying his people more and allowing us our discretion in tipping, since its one of the only tools we have against poor service.

  21. It’s been months since I’ve even been to a place where you tip. We tend to eat at fast casual places for our one-night-out-per-week meal. Think Qdoba, Chipotle, Panera Bread, etc. It’s too hard to do a “sit-down” dinner with a 19-month old.

  22. I ahve dated way too many girls who used to be waitresses to not tip 20%. Only if the server does something major to not deserve it I’ll lower it.

    My father in law likes to lower his tip based on how the food was cooked. . .blows my mind.

    The economy hasn’t effected my tipping in anyway though. We go out less so when I am out I don’t feel bad tipping 20%.

  23. I’m going to have to disagree with your assessment of yourself as a generous tipper if you tip 15-20% for “particularly good” service. I’ve always considered 15% to be a minimum tip, and I never tip less than that. These people get paid poorly, generally speaking, and don’t exactly have the most enjoyable of jobs. If the service is bad, I’ll leave 15% and a note expressing my dissatisfaction; if service is good I’ll leave up to 30%.

  24. I still tip the same as I did before the recession, usually 20% for good service.

    I read a good point once, if you can afford to eat at a restaurant, you can afford to leave a good tip.

  25. I consider 15% an average tip, and adjust up or down based on service that is within the server’s control (ie, not his fault if the chef overcooks my steak, it IS his fault if I wait 14 minutes for a water refill) I have never not left a tip, but have left a one-dollar tip and chat with management for particularly horrid service.

  26. I was a server for over 20 years so I understand what servers are dealing with due to the economy.
    My family dines out only several times a year at this point and gratuity is calculated into the budget we set before we select which restaurant we will go to. When selecting specials or using coupons, I tip as if I were selecting the average priced meal. Just because you have a “two for one” coupon and order water with lemon, you should tip as if you paid full price.
    I also tip in cash for the best servers so that they do not have to wait for money from credit cards.

  27. I tip 15%, and 20% for service that I think is really exceptional . I think i’d feel guilty leaving less than 15%.
    my husband tips 20% religiously.

    tipping is a cost that needs to be factored into dinners out, and people that are not willing to tip appropriately should just dine at home. I waitressed in college and the students would always just leave the change, sometimes less than a dollar, on a bill of $40 or more. and i went to a “rich” school.

    i don’t tip for take-out though.

  28. Our tipping guidelines have not changed. We still use our general list of requirements to derive our tip. No, we don’t actually use a checklist, but we keep a mental note of our server’s performance.

    I actually wrote about this after Valentine’s Day after we had poor service. We gave 15%, but let the manager know of our dining experience. I’m in agreement with most that it is not appropriate to stiff anyone, no matter how bad they were.

    Stupidly Yours,


  29. I absolutely refuse to shortchange those who provide good service just because of the economy right now. If I can’t afford to tip 15-20%, then I shouldn’t be dining out or getting beauty treatments.

  30. A little food for thought…I’ve seen many people reference how poorly waiter/esses are paid. My understand is they (usually) get paid minimum wage, plus tips. (correct me if I’m wrong). Being a waitress requires no education. No trade school training. No out-of-pocket start-up expenses. Why are we feeling so bad for these waitresses who don’t make much money? They chose that job. Nobody forced them to do it. I’m not going to base my tip on sympathy that they’re poorly paid. If that was the case, I’d have to tip the McDonald’s cashier.

    Tipping is purely a social expectation. Because of that restaurant managers get away with paying their employees less. Because they know their staff will make more money in tips.

    That said, I always tip, usually 15%. I’m just trying to gain some understanding as to why we’re feeling sorry for people choosing to work in a particular industry that requires no education or training.

  31. Unless the service is really poor, we always tip 20 percent. That probably won’t change for us, even in these rough economic times. Having worked in food service, I know what a challenging job it can be.

    However, we are going out to eat a lot less often these days.

  32. This is all very interesting. You know, sometimes I find that I will tip the waitress with the more harsh attitude than the one without. Most times, it is these people who are having a really hard time. Needless to say, I will tip according to how my finances allow. We are all in this mess together and we need to see to it that we are kind to one another.

  33. My tipping practices have not changed. If I can’t afford the tip in a sit-down restaurant, then I can’t afford to eat in a sit-down restaurant. Period.

  34. About a year ago I read a similar entry on a blog. Among the comments were some from people who worked in restaurants and they told how much they earned, it was not very much to say the least – and – they were often expected to clean the place up after closing. Consequently, the restaurant owners are expecting the customer not just to tip according to service, but to pay the wages of their staff!

  35. What I find interesting is how food has gotten more and more expensive, AND the standard tip level has also gone up. 10% on a $15 pizza vs that same pizza two years later is $22. and now we are horrible people in the servers eyes if we don’t tip 20%. or they add in Zeros onto the credit card slips.

  36. I don’t consider myself a cheapskate tipper. I pay the normal 15%. If I feel the server has done exceptional with serving us, then I will tack on a couple more dollars.

    This past weekend, I went to Pizzeria Uno’s and got a server that was horrible. So I decided to not tip them at all. A tip shouldn’t be expected. They need to earn it as well.

  37. Katie:

    Servers typically get paid less than minimum wage, with the expectation they’ll make up the remaining in their tips. They do not automatically make minimum wage. The last time I looked servers get around $2.35/hour (in Arizona).

  38. For what it’s worth, I always leave at least 15%. If I got my food, they did the minimum of their job. If they give me good service, I tip more, sometimes up to 50%. Though, yes, currently I don’t eat out as much as I used to…

  39. I’m with DDFD.

    And my habits have not changed. In fact, I am likely to be more generous if I see the establishment is not doing well- it means neither are the servers.

    I tip for the service, not the quality of the food, which the server has no control over. Unless, of course, they let it sit and it is cold.

  40. I usually just double the tax, and that would be 18%. I do work for tips, so I know what it’s like. I deliver pizzas, and some people think that the delivery charge – I get .85 per delivery is enough. But I put so many miles on my car with this job, and I recently had to add $800 tires. I hope to find a different job so I can not put mileage on my car. I have not seen an impact on tips, but I have seen an impact on the amount of people who buy pizzas. It has gone down, but it may be going back up. But I usually count on the tips to pay at least all of my gas, and hopefully more since I am broke.

  41. I would also like to comment again because someone above in the comments seem to be downgrading people who work for tips. Yes, I work my job at a pizza place for minimum wage part time, and yes I work as a nanny part time as well, oh, and I forgot, I go to school full time. In order to go to school, I must get enough to pay my bills. I guess that person thinks that everyone who is a waiter or works for tips wants that job. This is the only job I can find that works around my nanny job that pays more, and my school which comes first. I don’t have any experience, but that is why I am going to school. After school I will become a CPA, and I will tip all servers, because I know how hard it is to survive in this world.

  42. Just like you, I have no problem paying for outstanding service but those who demand higher tips with a not so outstanding performance really disgusts me.

  43. We have not changed our tipping habits, just our eating out habits. In an effort to lose the debt as well as some much needed weight we just avoid it now. With a simple glass of iced tea costing now in excess of $2 a many places we just feel our money would be better spent elsewhere. Judging by the number of cars in the parking lots, we are in the minority!

  44. I’m certainly with the majority here in saying that 15-20% is an average tip. I have given exceptional tips, but I have also left way under 10% for awful service. If I didn’t do my job, I wouldn’t have a paycheck at all (I feel like I’m being nice giving some of them anything). And yes, I have also been a waiter. Aaron above mentions “The last time I looked servers get around $2.35/hour (in Arizona).” That is also true in Pennsylvania. So if you think they are getting paid well, you’re kidding yourself.

    But…I’ve also bailed hay for $5/hour, and worked at a golf course mowing,raking,weedwacking,etc. for $6/hour, so if I compare the types of work (hard labor vs. waiter) I would decidedly state that my experience as a waiter was much easier, and I also made more money. And come on folks this was PIZZA HUT! Waiters aren’t doing nearly as bad as they let on.

    So, yes, waiters get paid crap (from the company) but a couple average tips easily make up the difference. And the actual ‘work’ is a joke compared to physical labor.

  45. Since I waited tables, I am hyper sensitive to the importance of tipping those who serve me. I remember one customer who told me that he was a millionaire and I spent extra special time visiting with him at his table. In return he left me a buck- so much for that lottery moment that I thought I was getting as a waitress 🙂

    There are tip calculators on your telephone that are quite handy for figuring out appropriate tips. I wish they had those when I was a waitress 🙂

  46. Generally I tip 20% plus extra to compensate for the fact I’m a single diner. A 30% tip is not that unusual, and when I dine out I save up for it so it’s usually at an upscale place. To avoid the garbage and abuse single diners generally get, I usually pick one or two establishments and go there until the staff know me. You have to do that when you dine solo or else odds are 50/50 that you’ll have a miserable experience especially if you’re female. At buffets, they’ll seat other people at your table, or you won’t get what you ordered, or your stuff will arrive cold because the servers have better things to do, or staff will use baby-talk to you. (Examples: “What are WE having today? Where would WE like to sit? Oh, you did WELL to eat all that! Hon! Sweetie! Honey!”… and similar baby-talk and insincere terms of endearment that men naver have to endure)

    I’ve only done the single penny face down once in my life, when the server at my regular restaurant was rude, patronizing, and insulting. He failed to bring part of my order and took off for 45 minutes while I was waiting to pay the bill. I explained what had happened to the manager and told her what I’d done. When I returned the clown was amazingly still employed there. Perhaps he improved but I’ll never know. I did get my usual server back.

  47. We always tip at least 15%. If service is horrible, we ask to speak to the manager, and our bill is reduced, and we still tip the 15% on that reduced amount.

    For good service, though, we usually start at 20% and round up to the nearest whole dollar. Occasionally my hubby tacks on an extra dollar or two just because he’s like that.

    We consider the tip part of the cost of eating out, so we’re more likely to skip an appetizer than skimp on the tip.

  48. I went to lunch with a colleague a few months ago. It was his turn to pay. He commented that he was leaving only a 10% tip because business is slow, gas is expensive and money is tight. He walked out ahead of me, and I surreptitiously threw another $5 on the table. I am not a regular, but I go there once or twice a month. I was thinking, the restaurant business is slow, the waiter’s gas is expensive and money is tight for him. Two views of the same situation, I guess.

    I always tip at least 20% with a $5 minimum. I can’t think of any time I got bad service, but I am not very fussy. That all said, I recently traveled abroad to a country where tipping is not expected, and I really liked it.

  49. I’m a little late to this party, but I always tip 20% or more. It drives my wife crazy. I’ve been known to leave many times that, up to $20 on a $20 meal. I’ve been blessed and I don’t have a problem passing those blessings along to someone who probably wishes they were working somewhere else. Since I was a waiter at Ruby Tuesday back about 20 years ago, my attitude towards those in the food service industry is a bit biased.

    One thing people forget is that the restaurant reports your gross receipts to the IRS, who expects that a waiter earned somewhere around 10% in tips (I’ve forgotten the exact number). When you stick it to a waiter, leaving no tip, the government comes in and twists the knife!

  50. “Using my calculations, a $40 dinner bill comes with an $8 tip, putting your night out with the family dangerously close to $50.”

    Just curious, but what makes $50 dangerous?


  51. I say tip what you normally would or don’t go out–and don’t use the bad economy as a reason to justify leaving an inappropriate tip.

    I pretty much tip 20% across the board and unless I can afford the dinner and the tip, we’re not eating out (not that I do it much with 4 year old kids). We go out less often but have not changed the way we tip.

  52. I grew up being told that 15% is the standard. So for really excellent service, we tip 20-30 percent. But, for the higher end of that, we have to be pretty darn wowed.

    If the service was good but not great, 15% is my minimum.

    If the service was poor, 10%.

    My husband is a bit annoying on the tip front. He has high expectations and likes to ding servers for it. I told him from now on, he needs to state up front a couple of his basics (like the fact that he guzzles his soda and gets really annoyed when it stays empty, since he has a perpetually dry mouth). Otherwise we’re tipping 15%.

    While I do think servers should earn their tips, I also don’t like it when people are overly critical and show it with measly tips.

  53. Of course if everyone stayed home because of the inability to afford a big tip then what would happen to that business?

  54. I’m with Mrs. Micah. If I can’t afford to tip, I don’t go out or purchase the service.

    We don’t eat out all that often, but we do budget tips into it.

    I tip well in a cab and for food deliveries. These folks are not making a lot of money and really depend on tips. They are the last people who should be penalized.

    I’m always amazed at how people approach tipping. It’s fascinating in that I and others have observed that people with the most discretionary money tend to tip very poorly, and sometimes not at all. At the same time, working people (as opposed to expense account spending types) tip fairly and often extravagantly.

    No correlation to how much money they have.

    I am honestly appalled by people who eat out and do not tip. If you can spend big bucks for a meal, spend a bit more to tip. (We’re not talking about not tipping for bad service. But a lot of people use this as an excuse when it simply is not the case. Even more people are doing scams complaining about meals, etc. to get discounts. Ugh.)

    It’s important to consider the people of the service industry, which may include your friends and family, too. They are generally very underpaid.

  55. I also consider myself a generous tipper. I try to allow for a 20% tip. In the past I have adjusted as high as 50% or as low no tip depending upon the service provided. I don’t feel like tip is a right, or obligation. It’s a privilege, or gift. Similar to a grading of their service. I normally write a short thank you.

  56. Today’s etiquette indicates a minimum 15% tip when dining out. For stellar service, 17.5%. For spectacular service, that you go and tell your friends about, 20%.
    If you are unhappy with the service, proper etiquette indicates leaving a single penny with the minimum 15% tip. Unfortunately, most folks this day in age probably wouldn’t understand there was a statement being made by that penny.
    Tipping is not optional when eating out. Someone likened stiffing a server to your own boss withholding pay for a crummy day’s work. You wouldn’t stand for it. Servers shouldn’t have to either.

  57. I usually tip 20% & even more depending on the service. I was a waitress many years ago..I think my hourly wage was 1.19/hr plus tips!! And I have had friends that have been dependent on tips to “get by.” So…that makes me sensitive to those who work for tips. We routinely eat at “the hole in the wall” type places…little atmosphere, but awesome food (and usally inexpensive). So, the tip goes up. I have not ever NOT left a tip….BUT I have gotten up, walked to the register & paid for the drinks/food received & walked out! But I always spoke to the manager to let he/she know why I was leaving.

    As far as the economy, I think I have been more conscious of those serving me & their wages so I have been a tad more generous than the 20%.

  58. I don’t eat that often at restaurants which require tipping, but when I do my tipping has remained the same – generally 15-20% depending on the price of the meal.

    I’ve never worked for tips, but my college son does, and I’ve seen lots of kids I know waiting tables at local restaurants. I know that servers work hard for their money.

    When we’ve had really poor service it usually is a result of a problem in the kitchen, not the server. I can’t remember service being so bad that I cut the tip.

  59. I’m a cop and I have a college education.

    I am barely scraping by on my salary. I never get a tip for the services I provide call after call. I also have never got a raise because of budget freezes.

    If I wanted to make more money I would probably choose a different profession. People act like waiters are stuck. If you don’t like your job, go somewhere else. If it doesn’t pay enough, get another job or work another job.

    When did we get to the point when 20 freakin % is just expected…no matter what?

    That being said, I always tip 15% for anything from normal service to great service. If your service is just terrible then you get 0%.

  60. I am a 20% tipper by nature. But now I round DOWN to a bit. It is still above the 15% i consider normal. I also try to tip in CASH. and not on my card. The server can then choose to handle the tip on their own.

  61. @blake – Where would we be if all the waiters went out and got other jobs? It would be a really odd restaurant experience for sit down meals!

    My son is a waiter in his college town. Luckily he does not depend on this as his sole income, as I am still helping him. But every dollar counts for us!

    For that matter, where would we be if all the police officers went out and got better paying jobs? I certainly think they should be paid better, along with teachers…

  62. I think the whole practice of tipping is silly. I do leave tips because of the crazy social rules that led to lawmakers keeping waiters and waitresses from making minimum wage. That being said, I tip approximately 15% by default at your standard sit down restaurant. If there was an obvious screw up on the side of the server, I will tip somewhat less. This is usually a result of forgetting to refill drinks consistently which is honestly the biggest job a server has besides getting the order right, but at least if they screw up the order they usually give you some free food or at least have the kitchen messing it up as a scapegoat.

    I only tip really poorly when I have been completely forgotten about. For example, one time the girl never came to check on us again after she brought the check. We literally sat there 30 minutes waiting for her to come back and run our credit cards before we finally had to get the hostess to find her. I think she may have gotten $1.50 max out of the three of us together off of probably $50 in food.

    Jumping back, my biggest gripe is the fact that the tip is base on a percentage of the ticket by default. Oftentimes, a server does the same work whether I have the soup of the day or fillet mignon. Why does the one deserve more than the other? Similarly, why does a server at a higher priced restaurant deserver a higher tip than a cheaper one? As a result, some high priced places may think I am a cheapskate. I cannot justify leaving a $15-20 tip on a $100 meal for two when the service was the same as I would have gotten on a $30 meal at Olive Garden for a $4.50-6.00 tip. I usually split the difference and leave about $10.

    I generally tip less at buffets, usually between 0% and 10% depending on the amount of service I get during the meal (drink refills, need something special, etc.).

    I have forgotten to tip before. I felt really bad about it too.

  63. I’m a college student waiting tables, and tip percents are fairly stable- but everyone is using coupons, and skipping drinks/ appetizers.
    wait staff in my restaurant typically gets under min. wage after tips, so thanks to all of you who do give extra… i’m quietly looking for a new job, but no one around here is hiring 🙁

  64. @mb – Good luck with finding another job. My college son is waiting tables and looking for another job as well, since business is slow at the nice restaurant he works in. They’ve been cutting shifts for the workers.

    His main complaint is people using coupons or gift cards and tipping based only on the cash that they spent, not the value of the meal.

    When we use a restaurant coupon, we base the tip on the total cost of the meal before the coupon. Otherwise the waiter gets cheated and I’d feel bad doing that.

  65. I still tip the same amount.
    If you can’t afford to tip, don’t go out to eat.
    I love the coupons from restaurant.com, but I still tip on the full amount before any discounts.

  66. We still tip an average of 20% when we go out to dinner, although it can add up quickly for our family of 5. A $45 meal turns into almost $55. Overall, we are eating out less. Even in good economic times, I have always had a problem with the concept of tipping. I’m not very familiar with the restaurant business, but I’m sure the main expenses to the owner are rent or building related vs. actual food costs. It irks me that they are unable or unwilling to pay their employees’ full wage without raising menu prices astronomically. This is in my opinion unfair to the employees who must hope that they encounter good tipping customers. In reality, the quality of service that they provide does not ensure the amount of their income. As demonstrated in the responses to this blog, how people determine what they tip is very subjective.

  67. I pay at least 20% for good service. There are a lot of services that people don’t even think think about. Like the housekeepers at hotel’s. I always leave a tip in a hotel room for the housekeeper’s at the end of my stay .

    I am a Certified Massage Therapist. I work in a chiropractor’s clinic.

    A good majority of my clients think that if their insurance covers massage and the fact that they received it in a chiropractic clinic, that there is no need to tip.
    I would like to mention that what I do is very hard work. I do not receive only a portion of the money that your insurance company pays for your massage.

    If you do not show up, I do not get paid. I only get paid when I am massaging. I do not have benefits. No health insurance, no vacation pay, sick pay or Holiday pay.

    I spend approx. $1,000.00 per year for the creams and oils I use to massage you. My essential oils are $50.00 a bottle. I bought my massage table. I buy all the sheets, which run appox. $500.00 per year. head rest covers, hot stones and warmers, music etc. My expenses to massage you are quite high.

    If I were to purchase health insurance. I make an average of $10.00 an hour. Let me also mention that full time for a massage therapist is no more than 20 hours. It is very hard on our bodies. And if you massage more then 20, you will have carpal tunnel issues and an early retirement.

    So please….next time you go for a massage. Please tip. It is costing your therapist money to massage you.

    With the bad economy, cash paying clients are not coming in as often. So it’s been a really rough year for me. I love my work, or I would be looking for other employment.

  68. I am not sure that my uneducated nephew should make more than a teacher in a town just because he works in a nice resturant. Most Waiters make pretty good money in any place off of the “CrackerBarrel” strip. It is different than “the old days”.
    BTW- those same teachers often buy the pencils your children use at school- maybe they should get a tip?

  69. The owner is able to lure a waitress to work with him for a wage that is less then minimum with the promise she will make way more then that an hour with tips. Essentially the owner cuts his labor costs because the customer is bank rolling his payroll. This leads to the owner being able to accumulate a greater amount of wealth.

    Why is it when it comes to tipping, no one ever calls out the owner for this practice?

    Simply put, eliminate tipping, charger higher prices for your goods, and in return pay your employees a higher wage.

  70. I commend you on tipping what you do. I am currently, and have been for a few years, a waitress. And for the people that have never waited tables before, It’s usually harder for them to understand how much we depend on the tips. I get paid $2.86 an hour, which is more than the standard server wage. Given, your tips are also part of my income, but sit and think about it. If you don’t tip me very well and I’m busting my butt for you, next time, your less likely to get good service. If you are a ‘regular’ somewhere, the wait staff will eventually remember you and no one will want to wait on you, because you will be remembered as that guy that doesn’t tip. Not only do we just wait on you, but we have other tables as well. And we also have opening and closing sidework, that we only get paid two dollars for. We tip out other staff as well. So when you think you’re ten percent is being generous, I’m sorry, but it’s not. It’s a disappointment. Because your ten percent, I’ll only get to keep about 3 percent of that. Thanks for nothing is how I tend to explain it. At my place of work, I don’t recieve benefits, paid time off, or even holidays off. So be a little more grateful, and if you can’t or just don’t want to, get fast food — you don’t have to tip them ! 🙂

  71. I’m in my last semester of college and am waiting tables to pay rent and bills. there are weeks when i buy slim fast because tips have gone down so much (i live in michigan). and then there are nights when a really good tip gives me enough money to go grocery shopping. i only make 2.65 an hour-after taxes, the only money i have is what i bring home…

  72. Some people here seem to be under the impression that servers receive compensation from the restaurant that there are employed at. Not so… I have worked at several restaurants and always received $2/hr plus tips that I earn. This job does not require any formal education, this is true. But imagine if your place of work just didn’t give you a paycheck one week with no explanation. How would you feel having done that work for nothing? Now what about if you had made a deal with your boss that you had to keep your mouth shut, no matter what they decided to pay you or risk getting fired? Count yourself lucky that you can depend on a steady paycheck and can afford to eat out.

  73. Anyone with an opinion on why we have to tip especially in a restaurant – shouldn’t the restaurant be responsible for paying their staff a fair wage? why are we paying for our food and then have to pay their employees to serve it? isn’t this responsibility of the person they have hired – this has always been a pet peeve of mine – waiters and bar servers are paid a lesser wage and their tips make up for what they should be making – anyone else feel the same way? same senario for hair salons, spas, etc. – we are paying for a service – and should not be supplementing a wage because their employer gets away with paying below minimum.

  74. the restaurant manager is not responsible for paying the wait staff more on the hour because when you work in a restaurant you only make $2.13 an hour. your tips are suppose to match minimum wage, but with minimum wage going up that doesn’t mean that your tips go up. a lot of people wait tables as a second job or to help with their education cost so it’s not right to put anyone down for waiting tables as it seemed a couple people in this forum wanted to do. It’s a hard job and you know what somebody’s got to do it, but if everybody thought you shouldn’t tip then they wouldn’t be able to keep your favorite restaurants open because no one would want to work their. I always tip above the minimum because it’s what I do for a living and I do have a degree but I can’t find a job that I got a degree in and I have a set of 4 year old twins that come first that I have to take care of along with a disabled mother so you do what you have to do to get by. thankyou for all the people in this forum who said that there tips did not change becausse the economy because it would be understandable if you tipped well but not as much.

  75. I believe the ‘magic’ figure of 15% (20?) was arrived at as a result of the IRS’ assumption of income. Wait staff are taxed at that rate (whether they make that or not)

  76. I have been serving for almost two years and today was the first time i have ever been this insulted. i would like to say that we’re not always perfect, we’re not always going to have good days, and im sure you aren’t flawless ether so maybe next time you experience slow service be a little more considerate. you have no idea wats going out. chances are they are just overwhelmed, and im sure that they are aware of the mistakes so keep you penny in your pocket. cuz im sure they feel bad enough without your insulting penny….id rather just be stiffed.
    its not that hard to get their attention if you want something… its not like we can read your mind and if their busy there are plenty of people around that are more than willing to help you out. simply ask them for assistance

  77. I am a barista at a drive-thru coffee stand and I always work by myself. I used to make about 15-20% of my shifts sales in tips. Now I am lucky if I make 10%. In the past year my tips are half what they used to be. The economy has seriously affected people’s approach to tipping. At least when it comes to baristas. Many many many people do not tip me. Day in and day out. People believe for some reason that I don’t work as hard as servers? And they don’t think they should tip on a $3 coffee. Not even a quarter? I’m a great barista too. I am very educated and always have superb customer service, even if someone is rude.

    I just want to say thank you to those of you who tip and especially those who are great tippers. I have a few customers who tip me really well every day and if it weren’t for them I would probably only make 2% tips of my total sales. When these customers come through I get them their coffee as quick as possible and make it perfect! I talk to them and really care about how their day is going. GOOD KARMA TO THE GOOD TIPPERS! Bad Karma to the bad ones.