What Recession?

A few weeks ago I mentioned that some customers are tipping less because of the recent economic downturn. Well the LA Times has a good article about that very topic. In car culture LA, with gas well over $4 a gallon, it’s a miracle anyone’s driving to a restaurant, much less buying dinner.

Where’s Mr. Fusion? That’s what I want to know!


Comments

What Recession? — 128 Comments

  1. Back to the Future mention! Classic! This is why I love your website: always entertaining and never precisely sure what I will get.

    Thanks!

  2. Don´t worry. Over here in Germany gas is $8.90 a gallon right now and we are still tipping. Not the 20% percent people tip in the US though.

  3. “Jocelyne Aposaga is a hairstylist who relies on tips for about 20% of her income. As the economy slumps, she has a new survival plan: cut tips.”
    Charming.

  4. I just read that article in the paper this morning, it is really good. I have a new restaurant opening in a few weeks, and I really hope the economic climate doesn’t prevent it from succeeding.
    As for car culture, I’d be happy to take a train — if they went anywhere near where I need to go, and didn’t take three times as long as driving to get there. *sigh*

  5. I don’t begrudge waiters their tips; and if I couldn’t afford to tip, I wouldn’t go out. But the whole tip system is wrong. Service workers should be guaranteed a prevailing and reasonable wage by their employers, period.

    We may be about to see what happens to the service industry when the employer’s free subsidy — and it is the employer who benefits first, no question — is removed.

    This quote from the LA Times article puzzles me:

    “Or patrons will come in with coupons and tip on the discounted price of their meal instead of the retail price, which is customary, she said.”

    I hope she’s saying it’s customary to tip on the full retail price when there’s a coupon. But it could be taken both ways.

  6. “Service workers should be guaranteed a prevailing and reasonable wage by their employers, period.” I think that’s a toughy, because although waiters and waitresses deserve to get paid a set amount, if you come to places like Britain where that’s the law then you’ll find your service is /a lot/ worse. But then again it’s kind of unfair to rely on how fair people are, when they’re not, if that makes sense.

    Love your articles waiter. Read everyone of them, keep up the good work.

  7. Well, Honda is now testing their new Hydrogen car in LA so maybe we will actually have a car that doesn’t need OPEC or Ethanol soon.

    Course, GM could have had one out right now too, but I have given up on our American car companies doing anything unless they are forced into it.

    Back to the Future – cheesy goodness :D

  8. Typically we do tip in restaurants – the amount is around 10%, though some places include ‘service’ in the bill in which case you don’t leave an extra tip.

    I don’t go to restaurants to get a cheesy smile – I go for the food, and the pleasure. If I don’t get those – and decent service then I don’t go back.

  9. My husband was laid off in November and luckily found a new job rather quickly, but for less pay. The education budget crisis in California just hit me. We are now down about $2500 a month. No eating out for us. We are lucky to make rent right now. The economy is struggling, and hitting the working class the hardest. I wish we could afford to go out to eat..:(

  10. Yeah, I live in San Diego, CA where gas is $3.98 a gallon. I’ve taken to driving a motorcycle to work for the past month since I get 40 MPG with it versus my 25 or so with my Mitsubishi.

    Fun stuff!

  11. I’ll still never understand people who economize by stiffing waitstaff. If I can afford a meal out, I can afford a good tip- if a difference of five bucks is going to really hurt me, I’m in deep shit and shouldn’t be eating at any place more expensive than McDonalds.

  12. I am a long time reader of waiterrant from Finland. In my home country people do not tip unless they are very drunk and then the tip goes usually to the bouncer of the nightclub. Service here is efficient but sterile and that probably fits the finnish mentality. But I strongly think waiters should not be dependant on tips to survive they are a bonus, salary is for living. But I am probably brainwashed by the socialdemocratic ideas, which are very popular in Finland.

  13. I don’t understand. When times are hard and money’s tight (and they are, and it is) I don’t go out to eat and stiff the server on their tip, I simply don’t go out to eat. If you can’t afford to tip, you can’t afford to eat out.

  14. Isn’t people saying ” If I can’t afford to tip (and usually they mean tip well) I don’t eat out” also hurting people in the food service industry? Which is better? Lower amount in tips, or no customers and possibly restaurants closing?

  15. I was gonna get a tattoo on my back of Back to the Future. Back, because it’s on my back, and Future, because I look to the future.
    -Michael Scott

  16. “Mr. Fusion powers the time circuits and the flux capacitor, but the internal combustion engine runs on ordinary gasoline. It always has.”

    – Dr. Emmitt B. “Doc” Brown
    Back to the Future III

  17. Regarding Mr. Dobbs point about the statement of tipping: I find myself amused that I did learn something when I was taught English, a subject in which I never did well. According to the English I was taught (30+ years ago), the phrase following the comma would reference the last part preceding. Since there were two conditions presented, the latter would be referred to by the conclusion. Now I’m sure I’m not using the grammatically accurate reference points, just pointing out what I was taught. However, I agree with Mr. Dobbs, that nowadays, the point could be confusing.

    I also support tipping properly notwithstanding my own circumstances. Standards are standards, not something that changes with the wind. I economize in other ways.

    Breadman

  18. “Jocelyne Aposaga is a hairstylist who relies on tips for about 20% of her income. As the economy slumps, she has a new survival plan: cut tips.”

    wtf. that is NOT fair. people should not do that. we’re just like you, we have to make money and pay our bills, too. why hurt us? if you’re not going to fucking tip well, don’t eat out. we bust our ass for you.

  19. Ive never seen it as slow as I have at my work right now. I can freely listen to my Ipod …AT WORK! That is not good.

  20. In the Riverside area of California unleaded regular hit $4.00 this weekend. Our street alone has at least 6 houses that are ‘bank owned’ and 3 others where families are trying to sell. My husband is an executive sous chef for a hotel that usually has a huge business clientele for meeting rooms and banquets and business is down 60% from last year. I know we are not eating out nearly as much as before. With both of us being restaurant lifers, tipping less when we do go out is something we would never do.

  21. I think that you forget Waiter, the delorian runs on regular unleaded gasoline, mr. fusion only produces the one point twenty-one jigawats needed to power the time circuits. So unless we are planning to go back to 1998 when gas was like eighty cents a gallon then I dont think that Mr. Fusion would help us out much.

  22. It’s been slow here in Dallas, too. I work at Chili’s on Saturday nights (which always has super high turnover and tons of tables) and I only had 10 tables at closing last Saturday! 10! I never had more than two tables at once. Though my tips were unusually high that night, I have noticed over the past couple of months that I’ve started to have less and less tables and those I do have are tipping less. My service is the same as usual, or perhaps even better since I haven’t been in the weeds in weeks.

    Gas is up to $3.50 here… $1.37 more than I make an hour…

  23. High end restaurants in DC are hurting, but the neighborhood restaurants are making money hand over fist. Our Yuppies can no longer afford the see and be seen places, or the schleps into the District but they’re not about to cook either. And we’ve been insulated from the worst of it. Restaurants in the residential parts of the District, middle end restaurants, and suburban restaurants are doing well.

  24. Hm its getting rough out there

    California is having some educational budget cuts (makes them sound enriching)–my mom’s a substitute teacher and she can’t find as much work as usual.

  25. I am a server and I keep having to remind myself that everyone is struggling right now and to appreciate that people are still coming out to eat. Did it irk me tonight when I got 10 dollars on a 100 dollar tab…yes but at least I got something. It sucks for everyone right now which is why I have to get a second job.

  26. I disagree with fully paid workers complaining about not receiving tips. Dog groomers do not need tips. If they don’t treat the dog well or give it an ugly haircut: no business. I’m not going to reward them for getting something I expect. And that’s just one example.

    I’m all for tipping sub-minimum wage workers, don’t get me wrong. But as a college student that makes minimum wage, I will not tip anyone that is making that same wage.

  27. I’ve been to England and the standard of service is dreadful. Never seen a lazier bunch of waiters. I certainly don’t want to see that emulated here. I’m lucky in that I live in a college town where the university is the largest employer in the entire state. As a result we’re some what insulated from the reccession. I wonder how many “loyal Bushies” regret voting for that sub human moronic piece of trash. WORST PRESIDENT EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  28. $8.42 for a Gallon of gas here in Denmark, and about 50% of the people here pays 64% tax of their last earned dollar. Guess what that does to you thoughts about spending on a Sunday drive and going out to eat.

    Oh yeah – food prices in general went up 15% in one year.

  29. I tip my dog’s groomer. You are an idiot if you don’t. Do you really think that they are treating your dog the same as they do someone who tip’s dog? Duh.

  30. Hi guys. I came across this site about a month ago, a really good read, thanks Waiter. But this whole tipping thing really fucks me off. Firstly, employers should pay their staff enough to make ends meet; tips should be a nice bonus that, of course – for some of us are assholes and some are more generously minded – we as employees can’t rely on. And given that in England (where I’ve done my spell in kitchens if not out-front) restaurants are already extortionately expensive, I can’t afford to friggin tip wildly. All you guys who say “If you can’t tip don’t eat out” I really want to say a resounding “fuck you” to. I’m skint. I save up my hard earned cash. I want to take my missus for a meal. I do so. I pay through the nose for it. The waiter providing a service gets paid for it by his/her employer. If they were super sweet and helpful then sure, I will. But if they are just bog standard staff doing their wearisome job, then no. Fuck you. I’m not donating for your tired feet or whatever. I work my socks off too and I don’t expect donations for the sweat of my brow.
    It’s just an added bonus if that so happens.
    Korea where I live, has it right. Nobody ever tips. It’s just not done. And if you want a refill of anything, (lots of side dishes, you know the score) that is always always on the house. For each and every customer. And the restaurants are always packed because it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg to eat out, so everyone’s happy.

  31. It seems like it is very dependant on the country you live in.

    Over here (germany), a waiter complaining about a tip of 10% would be laughed at, because 10% is considered a decent tip (15% is considered over the top, not tipping might look a bit cheap but is not frowned upon).

    Gasoline for 4$ a gallon would be a shock for everyone – it never has been that cheap. I’ll pay 1,46 € for a liter the next time… about 9 $ per gallon, I suppose.

    There is just one thing I don’t understand: If the waitstaff in the US is underpayed, I’m fine with them “expecting” a tip (though it would be hard to get used to it). But why do they curse the people that (indirectly) pay their wages by eating out if they don’t tip? Them staying at home would not only get you no tip, but also endanger your daily wage – so telling them to stay at home if they cannot tip sounds a bit… strange to me.

  32. From Aris:

    “Typically we do tip in restaurants – the amount is around 10%, though some places include ’service’ in the bill in which case you don’t leave an extra tip.

    I don’t go to restaurants to get a cheesy smile – I go for the food, and the pleasure. If I don’t get those – and decent service then I don’t go back”

    And it is our distinct pleasure when you don’t come back. Believe me.
    Smile, or no, we love it when we lose a cheap regular.

  33. Isn’t it better to receive a 10% tip than 0% – if people don’t eat out.

    People saying “if you can’t tip well don’t eat out” are cutting off their nose to spite their face.

    But look at this from a consumer’s viewpoint: in general, the quality of the food isn’t what it used to be. Restaurants aren’t making as much as they used to, so where do they make it up? By buying lesser quality ingredients. Fantastic! Servers can’t hide their dissatisfaction with their income, and it comes through when they interact with customers, making for an even worse experience. It’s just not worth it.

  34. Seems to me the comment section here is dominated by angry wait staff that get pissy when they don’t get a 20 plus percent tip. If you like losing “cheap regulars”, I really hope that happens for you- lose them all, and good luck even having a job : ) Oh here’s a novel idea…GET ANOTHER JOB THAT PAYS A SET SALARY : ) Cheerios!

  35. From: ohio bartender:

    “And it is our distinct pleasure when you don’t come back. Believe me.
    Smile, or no, we love it when we lose a cheap regular.”

    Obviously there is a cultural difference when it comes to tipping in the USA and the rest of the world. You may well find that that you will have no customers and no job if you prefer some customers not come to your establishment.

    Personally I think restaurant staff should get paid a living wage, and the restaurant give a percentage of their turnover to staff as a bonus instead of the customers discretionary tipping.

    To me, earning a large part of your income by tipping is akin to earning a living by begging.

  36. You’re complaining about $4 a gallon??

    Here in the UK it’s £1.10 for a litre of unleader, which is about $2.16.

    There’s 3.78 litres in a US gallon (according to google) which makes fuel over here £4.16 a gallon, which is $8.18 USD per gallon.

    God it’s getting expensive :(

  37. I am a bartender in a small town. I have been many things in my (relatively) long life, and decided that this profession would be less stressful and suit my needs better than the past personas.

    I am fascinated by the many opinions and responses to you, Waiter. I hear versions of all of them in my daily (or nightly) work, and have to smile to myself when I read them.

    THANK YOU for providing a forum (as my employer does) for them. It would behoove you to send these to the members of Congress, the presidents of large companies and even the president. Even though those individuals will not read them, if enough people forwarded them, the poor secretaries who DO read them would eventually pass on the message???

    It might (maybe, maybe) do something to initiate a conversation among the so-called powerful.

    Keep it up! this is fun.

  38. ohio bartender, you hopefully will be fired. Regulars appreciate when a money grubbing entitlement bartender gets fired since we will in all likelihood be at the bar long after your firing. For you to have the gall having one of the easiest tipped positions out there is crazy. A monkey or a robot could do your job. In fact, in some countries machines do do your job. Wish we’d get them here, no tipping and no bitching by entitlement whores like you.

  39. Dear Dave, you have obviously never been a “bartender” in a small town. Please explain why I am “entitled” to anything. I wrote that I THOUGHT it would be less stressful. It’s not.
    On second thought, don’t explain. I know you.

  40. well, here we go again on the tipping and disagreeing about whether or not we should. well, in the US it is customary to tip 18-20% for good servic, 15% for average service. to the point that employers do pay us crap wages per hour, most of which ends up in Uncle Sam’s pocket anyway so tips is really what feeds your family and keeps a roof over your head.

    now, losing a cheap regular – well in a way they do compensate for some of the costs of employing me (directly and indirectly – pays for my salary + provides the ‘business’ to the restaurant so that my shifts don’t have to be cut), however, it still doesn’t make it fair for the waitstaff that people stiff them on a tip when a good service was provided. by that token, service should get worse – maybe a waiter shouldn’t re-fill your water/wine glass or bring you that extra bread basket or fresh pepper or for that matter check back on you to ensure that the food was prepared to your liking – you going to tip him the amount worthy of a really lousy service so why should he bother?

    for all the Europeans: unlike Europe, in the US government gave customers an option not to pay for service and just pay for the meal (tipping is customary but not mandatory) and it stands for To Ensure Proper Service; in the EU, gratuity is, in a way, included in the bill (higher price for a meal, which translates to better hourly wage for waitstaff), this is why you hear American FOH staff bitching about tips. and for all of you saying get another job, well it was a career for many of us or a job that helps us accomplish our goals and dreams while providing a flexible-enough schedule to pursue another career. and as far as getting the government to change the laws, well, we all know that laws are made by people who never worked a day in their life in the restaurant so they like ideas which look nice on paper (because it’s their only frame of reference), which makes it practically impossible for us to convince them that what their laws are wrong and unfair. they don’t care, it doesn’t affect them.

    now the excuses about the gas prices causing lesser tips: BUY A MORE EFFICIENT CAR!!!!! i was looking at a car about 8 months ago and settled on a honda fit because it’s small, i can park it anywhere and guess what? It costs me $30 to fill it up and i get 32 miles/gallon even with traffic. so everyone around me hates me, but i did my research and now don’t need to get a second job to be able to take a sunday drive. and for everyone who is buying brand new SUVs and luxury cars the size of my living room, if you can afford a big car (payments, insurance, gas, maintenance), don’t stiff the waiter on a tip because the gas prices went up.

  41. to Dave, a monkey or a robot couldn’t do his job because being a bartender is more than just pouring drinks. hey, you can pour yourself a shot, a jack & coke or vodka cranberry and open a cold beer — yet you don’t want to go to a liquor store, a supermarket or deli and pick up a bottle and a 6-pack and make it yourself at home… you come to a bar for ambiance and for the luxury of having someone to do it for you. and to have someone to talk to and not have your wife bitch at you about the laundry or the house repairs.

    so it’s a kind of situation where one hand washes the other — you should take care of your bartender and in turn the bartender will take care of you (and not always buying you a round, but knowing what you’re drinking, have the drink ready when you sit down without you having to explain how you like your drink made, keep you company while you enjoying your drink and have nobody to talk to). and the bartender should expect a tip if the service was provided, if you don’t tip, don’t bitch at him for lousy service or the fact that he’ll make someone else’s drink before yours or make you wait 15-20 minutes for a re-fill because he is slammed. it’s simple — he’ll take care of tipping customers first because they’ll put money in his pocket and not just the owner’s.

  42. It still seems that getting a tip is better than no tip at all.
    I actually go to a particular grocery store because it has signs all over the place that state ” No Tipping the Baggers”. And I appreciate that. I too don’t make much money, and most goes to bills and groceries.
    I don’t work in a food service industry, but I still work hard for my small pay. If I want to eat out, I will. And even though I may not leave a 20% tip, I tip. I am also a very non demanding person. But I don’t think it’s a God given right to recieve a tip- for anyone.

  43. Laura Ann, you bring up a good point about tipping. as a lot of us in this industry will probably agree, if a customer comes in and orders a caesar salad and a pasta with a glass of wine and tap water, eats quietly and relatively fast (doesn’t come there with a book and takes up space the whole night on a busy night when we need the table back, or come in 5 minutes before closing and take 2 hours to eat), and then leave a 12-15% tip, we probably won’t like it, but we will forgive it — after all, the only service we’ve provided to you was water (maybe 1 re-fill), wine, food, bread and clear your table. this is what you can afford right now, then so be it [that said, some owners/managers still look at the sales average & tip percentage average for the night to determine if the waiter is good or not, so lousy tip might affect his schedule].

    that said, if you are a cheap regular that makes me run for it the whole night then the least you can do is leave me a decent tip for all the work you just made me go through. you want just one course, yet you want me to give you more bread (which btw, is a cost to the establishment — order an appetizer if you’re hungry, that’s why they’re there for you to snack on something while you wait for your entree, instead of asking for more bread which the owner has to pay for), re-fill your tap water 6 times throughout your meal, you’ve made substitutions on the menu which involves me going to the kitchen and asking the Chef if we can accommodate, expect me to re-fill your coffee several times (for free because you’re a regular here and the owner should just say oh, just give it to him on the house). all that takes time and attention away from other customers (paying, spending more money and probably leaving better tip than you), and we don’t mind doing it — it’s our job, but do you see how in the first case it was an easy undemanding service, while in the second case it took me 4 times as much time & effort to give you the level of service YOU EXPECT? then why, after having provided the extra service to make your experience enjoyable, can’t I EXPECT A GOOD TIP?

  44. erazo- I do understand. And again, I am not just saying this, but I am a very easy to please patron, I go in, order and get the heck out asap. As a matter of fact I appreciate my order being taken, food brought to me, then left alone. What I am asking is…isn’t a tip better than no tip? I see on here waitpeople saying there are no customers and they can’t make rent ect. Is it better to have NO customer at all or cheap tippers?

  45. I would also like to add that just because my waiter walks up and refills my water (without me requesting so) five or six times, and asks me “Is everything ok? to your liking?” and so forth another 6-7 times- shouldn’t mean he ‘busted his tail’ waiting on my table.

  46. erazo- I am not saying not to tip, just those with entitlement attitudes like ohio bartender piss me off. The customer pays a high premium for the ambiance of the bar and usually that ambiance is provided not by the bartender but by THE OTHER CUSTOMERS. So no tip for that part of it.

    The mechanical stuff could done and is in other countries by machine, beer etc. Obviously if the bartender is providing extra value being friendly and chatting when its slow since neither of you has anyone to talk to etc they deserve a good tip. And as I said bartenders make alot of money for the amount of time they spend ($1+ tip for 30 seconds of work etc). An attitude of thinking popping a top off a bottle with no added service entitles them to 20-25%+ tip is what angers me.

  47. I’m a server in Philly, where people don’t tip well to begin with, and now it’s even worse than that. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. If you can’t afford to tip, you can’t afford to go out to eat. It’s a part of the experience.

  48. It’s called a tip, not a service charge. It’s EXTRA. I hate this bitching about getting a small tip. Be glad you’re getting something extra.

    The server’s job description is to take the food order, and bring it to the customer when it is ready. For that the server gets paid by the restaurant.

    The argument about making less than minimum wage is not really the customer’s problem. The server agreed to be paid those wages. If the server wanted more money for their time, they should not have taken on that job.

    Yes, it’s nice to go to a restaurant and get excellent service. And for that, I have no problem leaving a generous tip. But really, servers need to stop looking at tips as something they are entitled to.

  49. Laura ann you are a big idiot if you think all we do to make your experience a pleasant one is refill your drinks and ask you is everything ok. We clean the table you are sitting in, sweap the floor around it so you don’t have to to sit in the mess of the kid that was sitting there before you, we argue with the kitchen if we feel your food does not look satisfactory when it comes out, we make sure the ice and glasses are stocked to make sure it doesn’t take your waiter an extra 10 minutes to get your drinks, we roll the silverware you are eating with and many more things that keep a restaurant running smoothly so you don’t have to worry about a thing.
    Like I said in my previous post I do appreciate that people still come out to eat, but screw all you people acting like we don’t do anything. I am a full time student who works in a restaurant because its flexible with my schedule at school and I need money to survive. It is not our fault that the laws are the way they are do you think I want to make 2.13 an hour NO, but there isn’t anything I can do about it. So don’t bitch at us if you think we should get paid a decent wage we agree with you. I live off my tips every two weeks when checks come in mine is 0 because ALL of it when to taxes so my tips are my source of income and I don’t even get to keep all of those. For those of you who don’t know the waitstaff has to tip out busboys, bartenders, foodrunners and who ever else their particular restaurant makes them. We have to tip these people out regardless of what they do for us based on our SALES so if you short your server your costing them money because they still have to tip out based on what you spent. It sucks the way it works,but if you’ve never worked in a restaurant keep your mouth shut because you have no idea what your talking about.

  50. Screw you Jessica. No one would eat in a place that didn’t have clean tables ect. I’m not going to pay someone to clean a table, get silverware ect. We pay for dinner. PERIOD. Talk to the owners for compensation. It’s not for a patron to know the pain and aches of your job, nore do any care. Waaa Waaa!..the fast food people work harder I’m sure and on min. wage- with no chance of tips. I pay for a dinner, as anyone who walks in a restaurant. If you work so damn hard and feel you are not getting compensated, GET ANOTHER JOB PERIOD! I’m sure your job has made you so pleasant, people are falling all over themselves to tip you though. I NEVER ONCE said wait people don’t do ANYTHING..so if you want to bitch someone out, go talk to your boss, or check out the want ads- most McDonalds are hiring I hear. Sounds like bill collecting might be up your alley though : ) And this is a comment section- (or is it just for food industry folk to bitch about tips?), so stop taking it as a personal attack.

  51. LOL! Well said Laura Ann. And the Jessica that wrote “The argument about making less than minimum wage is not really the customer’s problem. The server agreed to be paid those wages. If the server wanted more money for their time, they should not have taken on that job.”

  52. There is hardly anyone (that isn’t a politician ( and they keep voting to give themselves raises) that feels like they earn enough for what they do. It is everyone’s right that if a job is unfulling and low paying, to go get another. If you feel you are locked into a job because “it works with your schedule” suck it up then- all the complaining in the world isn’t going to change anything if you don’t change. The true sign of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

  53. Love your web site and having been reading it for years. But I have to say, I don’t tip. The reason is I live on a limited income so my money is very tight. So, I just don’t go to places where tipping is expected. Just fast food for me, which is unfortunate. I really can’t remember the last time I ate in a proper restaurant. Even the fast food joints are quickly becoming too expensive.

  54. Jessica – “It’s called a tip, not a service charge. It’s EXTRA. I hate this bitching about getting a small tip. Be glad you’re getting something extra.”
    Amen. All this bitching about the hard work and no tips makes me want to just eat at home,which it appears most of the servers that comment on here want us to do!!!

  55. Oh, for fuck’s sake, people! Tipping is the standard in America. Don’t like it? Go to fucking McDonald’s. It’s no tthe fault of the staff that restaurant owners pay $2.13 an hour, and by law are allowed to do so. If we were paid the $15-$30 an hour you say servers make in Australia, then that would be different. The difference is that in those other countries, the gratuity is part of the check. Here in the States it’s not. Yes, you are expected to pay for services rendered. I don’t give a fat god damn whether or not you like the fact that people work in restaurants, or that you seem to think we’re worthless street trash because we do. Many of us are paying our own way through college by working in restaurants, and don’t deserve to be treated as servants because of it. What do you do for a living that makes you so much better? Do you really think that just because we work in restaurants, we don’t deserve to earn enough money to live on? Entitlement, my ass! I work damn hard for my money, end I expect to be paid appropriately. If the service was lousy, I understand a substandard tip. But to refuse to tip a waiter just because you don’t like the way we’re paid is stealing.
    Walk one mile in our shoes, then complain. Until then, stuff it.

  56. Heh. If I opened a moderately-priced restaurant and paid waiters a living wage and guaranteed customers “no tipping,” I’d probably go out of business, because the menu prices would be too high for some.

    Non-tippers want a discount off the price that responsible people pay. The system is broken — waiters should receive their wages from the employer — but we do what we must to make sure that the _human being_ who waits on us is well treated.

    If you think that a human being is nothing but an economic entity to be bought and sold and hired out in a soulless free-market system — then you’re going to love what happens to most of you in the next few years as that system turns on you to save itself.

  57. Hmm, someone sees we are calling them trash or belittling them? I don’t see where anyone says they are better than them. Hmmm, I don’t see that at all. Sounds like a personal hangup there buddy.
    *Leaves all the waiting staff here a nickle tip and skips off to never enter again!!* LOL!!
    If you EXPECT more money…GET ANOTHER JOB.

  58. Laura Ann I am getting another job you’ll be glad to hear. I hope all of us who are getting our educations and thats why we work in restaurants go and get other jobs. That way all you have waiting on you are the drugged up losers who don’t give a shit about you just as you don’t give a shit about them.

  59. This is off topic and I apologize for it. This is about the 4th forum I’ve read today and someone is always doing it. Why do people feel the need to blame Bush for everything. An no, he isn’t the worst president. I think that title goes to Harding. Dont worry, he’ll be gone next January

  60. I like how a lot of you said to get another job. If all of us got other jobs, who would bring you your precious food when you want to eat out?

    Because I guarantee to you, every single waiter and bartender in America expects tips, you want us all to get new jobs? have fun not eating out any more.

  61. Laura Ann: I didn’t say that in your case it’s a problem, if i served you and you left me 10% tip, I probably wouldn’t like it, but at the same time, if i didn’t have to do anything out of the ordinary and serving you was easy, i wouldn’t bitch about it.

    on the other hand, there are customers like my mother-in-law (whom me and my husband tried to educate on tipping and she still refuses to leave more than 10% maybe). I’ll be honest, but if i were to serve her, i would strangle her because she is the most demanding customer you would get — needs her soup extra hot as well as her bread, glass of ice for every glass of wine she orders (but on the side and with a fresh spoon, and if it’s a bottle, she’ll need a glass of ice every 10 minutes or so), hot sauce, salt & pepper, fresh ground pepper, extra cheese on her pasta and a steak medium that she would then send back to the kitchen to be ‘cooked a little longer’ and she expects her water re-filled when it’s 3/4 full. so when me and my husband take her out, we make sure to leave at least 30% tip because the lady runs the poor waiter into the ground with all her requests.

    then there are my favorites: kids in the restaurant and a infant that needs their milk or baby food warmed up. and they usually come around 7-7:30 when the restaurant starts getting full and you’re in the back warming up the baby food instead of greeting and serving the other customers. then there’s the “oh sorry she just spilled her cranberry juice all over your ultra-suede beige couch” (which i’ll have to clean before the next table seats) and wipe their hands covered with ketchup & tomato sauce on that same couch when i brought them 3 extra napkins. once again, it’s fine, comes with the territory, but you do want those people to leave a good tip because you do have to work that much harder to accommodate their needs.

    to Dave: yes you are right, it’s pretty fast to open a beer or pour a mixed drink. however, there is a lot of work that gets done before and after you leave to make sure that your beer is cold and that you don’t have to wait half hour to get the liquor that you want: there’s the stocking of the bar — beers, liquors, ice, fruit, sodas, inventory, cleaning the bar (which is not an easy task, trust me). all that is part of the responsibilities of a bartender (once again, fine), but he has done a lot of prep work to make sure that it does look easy to you when he serves you and when you leave at night, he still has to do closing procedures which take another hour or so).

    and i’ll tell you something about bars and bartenders — you can have the best mixologist behind the bar making the most exotic cocktails, the most gorgeous space, but you will not make it without a bartender — a person with a good personality that people will like to go see — that’s your regulars, that’s your following, that’s your core customers that will pay your bills no matter what. yeah you’ll get more traffic on the weekends and holidays, but these guys will be there during the week regardless if it’s holiday or not — they are there for the bartender, who ‘builds’ a clientèle that will then get to know each other and form a little group of buddies. and you tell me the guy doesn’t make the ambiance — YES HE DOES! because the first time you go to the bar and you don’t know anyone yet, it’s the bartender that makes it or breaks it on your decision to return to that place again — if he’s nice and cool, you’d probably want to go back there again, if he’s an asshole or has no personality — the chances are you won’t be returning.

  62. Who came up with 20%?

    If I order a salad, a bagel and a cup of coffee for a total of $10 or I order an expensive appetiser, steak and a beer for a total of $40 — it’s basically the same work. Why is one worth a 20% tip of $2 and one is worth a 20% tip of $8??

    I think the tip should be based on how I was treated…..and not on the price of the meal. I can easily come up with examples of a lot of extra work the waiter has to do for a “cheap” meal and examples of expensive meals with no extra work involved at all.

    Should we start tipping on how many trips the waiter makes to your table? Let’s see: Hello, welcome, here are our specials (1 trip), ready to order? (2nd trip), here are your drinks (3rd trip), here’s your appitizers and bread, (4th trip), let me clear your plates, ready for another drink? (5th trip), here are your meals (6th trip), need anythin else (7th trip)…….

    Hmmmm……..

  63. Yay Jessica!- then the problem’s solved for you. Good for you! And I don’t mind a junkie loser that doesn’t care for me. I’ve never really cared if strangers cared me or not, junkies or otherwise.

  64. and last thing i’m going to say, it goes to everyone who says that small tip is better than no tip. maybe somehow somewhere in the long run, but i am yet to see a waiter who would rather wait on 30 customers to make $150 in tips when he can make that from 10 people. granted big parties and people who will order a nice bottle of wine don’t come every day, but you do want every customer that walks through your door order an appetizer, an entree, a dessert, and at least 1-2 glasses of wine, if it’s more than 2 people you want them to get a bottle, 4 and more – 2 bottles or a bottle and a couple of cocktails. and if they order a coffee and after dinner liqueur, even better.

    it doesn’t always happen, but in ideal situation, you’d rather make your money from less people by having higher check average and better tip percentage. and if you are given something on the house, leave a little extra tip, if you asked for a cocktail and you see that you weren’t charged for it or you have a coupon, leave a tip on the ‘free’ item — you are already not paying for the item — yet they still had to make it and serve it to you the same way regardless if it’s paid for or free.

    so yes, there are customers that i would rather not have in my restaurant, they are obnoxious, expect everything for free, rude to waitstaff and cheap — those i would gladly tell them to stay home. as for the rest of the customers — order less but leave a proper tip especially if the service is excellent — it’s not the server’s fault that you have taxes to pay or that the gas prices went up (mind you he also has to pay the same gas prices you do), or you’re strapped for money.

    i’m pretty sure that if you were working on commission and you delivered the service and someone refused to pay you your commission or paid half of it, you wouldn’t be very happy with that. or if you are a doctor and you get paid based on the number of patients you see and you see 100, but they only pay you for 60 because the hospital or clinic you work for is ‘strapped for cash’, you wouldn’t like that either. or in a car garage someone paid the cost of parts but only paid half the labor cost and you worked extra to fix their car the fastest way possible. that’s why the waitstaff is bitching — they still have to provide you with an excellent service regardless of the fact that it’s tax season or inflation or whatever else — shouldn’t they be compensated for their efforts and the work they put in to enhance your experience as a diner?

  65. erazo- Therein lies the problem then. How can you get demanding customers to pay more? Should be where a fee can be added to their checks that goes directly to the waiter/waitress. But I know that would be impossible to account for. But I think what most on here want to know ( that are not in the biz) is how do you feel- better to have less customers or small tippers? How do you feel about it erazo?

  66. Well, call me stupid, but I do care about the people that come in to eat at my restaurant. I appreciate that they come in and realize I have no idea who they are and what they have been through today. So I try to make everyones meal special and enjoyable. If they tip me well Thank you, you have made my day better as I tried to make yours better, if they tip me ok thank you stil,l not memorable but still money in my pocket, if they tip me poor and were nice I will figure they didn’t know better and if they were demanding assholes I will be irked at the moment, but forget about it later that is until they come in again then I may not try as hard to meet their every need. I am not saying that we deserve huge tips everyone time. I was just trying to get the point across that we are people who acknowlege that the people we wait on are people and would appreciate the same in return no matter what you tip. We work hard just like everyone else. Oh, and for those who keep saying it seems like all this site is, is a bunch of waiters bitching about tips well the site is called waterrant…that might of been your first clue. Also for the people saying talk to your boss about better wages, so if you went up to your boss and said hey can you give me and the 30 people that are in my position a raise? Would they really listen or just laugh at you? Think about it people.

  67. well, it’s a bit complicated but — i’d rather have fewer customers who spend good money and leave good tips than more customers who are cheap and leave bad tip. however, i don’t want it to be empty so i’d rather have some customers than no customers at all.

    but overall, i provide good service to everyone regardless if they tip or not. i’ve had plenty of people who left $5 on a $150 dinner and loved everything and came back the next time — they still got the same excellent service they got the first time around. they were from spain or italy so i didn’t expect them to leave me a tip at all. but it does hurt to know that the diner knows what he should leave, loves the experience but still chooses to leave a bad tip.

    i’ve worked in car sales before and there you do get a certain commission out of every car you sell, and you can fiddle around with the dealership profit on the sale to give a customer a better price. but you have a choice up front. in the restaurant business a customer walks in you give them excellent service, you look at their check and expect 18-20% (since the service was excellent and they seem happy) yet when they sign for it, it’s like 12% tip and god forbid the manager sees this, you going to have to answer to them as well because they will automatically think that you’ve done something wrong because ‘when the owner/manager goes out, he always leaves at least 20% unless service is horrible” and in their opinion, if you did provide good service, customer would have left you 20% tip.

  68. I want erazo as a waiter (and I hope you’re not a junkie- but if you are, so be it). I swear I’ll save up money first for a big ole tip!!

  69. Good read. I’m printing this out and taking it to work with me tonight.

    My income has been slashed. I was bringing home anywhere from 400 to 700 a week…I made 130 last week. *sob*

  70. “Dave wrote on 04/30/08 at 6:04 am :

    ohio bartender, you hopefully will be fired. Regulars appreciate when a money grubbing entitlement bartender gets fired since we will in all likelihood be at the bar long after your firing. For you to have the gall having one of the easiest tipped positions out there is crazy. A monkey or a robot could do your job. In fact, in some countries machines do do your job. Wish we’d get them here, no tipping and no bitching by entitlement whores like you.”

    You wait for a table at my bar and decide to have a bottle of wine before sitting down.
    I have 10 barstools..we’re on a 1/2 hour wait.
    So your party of four sits down and orders a bottle of $25 wine…
    I have four dead seats for 1/2 hour.
    You decide to leave %10 for me for serving the wine and taking my time.

    Guess what? I OWE (wait for it!) %10 to our sommelier for SELLING the bottle. Now, I have to tip out my barback on my sales AND pay taxes on it…
    Now, you’ve not only taken 40% of my money seats on a busy night, but had me PAY FOR THE PRIVELEDGE OF SERVING YOUR CHEAP ASS!
    I didn’t work for free….I PAID TO WORK.

    And, yes, I serve them…and if they come back, I serve them again…I’m just happier when they’re gone.
    So, you know…work in the biz for awhile before you make judgements about it. You have no idea what you’re talking about.
    I’ve been at this for over 35 years.

    Next time you have any work done on your house, car, or body…tell whoever does the work you don’t want to pay the full labor charges/commissions….

    until then…STFU.

    You’re a cheap idiot. And to call me the entitlement whore?
    Go to McDonald’s and stay the hell out of a real restaurant.

  71. And to give you an idea…

    I have a couple that comes in regularly on weekends. They come relatively early, just before the rush and grab 2 seats at my bar.

    Order a bottle of $30 wine, and sit, sip, and talk to everyone who comes through.
    Then order 2 dinners AFTER they finish the wine.
    By 1/2 an hour, the rush starts. An hour later, they order…

    The whole process takes between 2 and 3 hours…Meantime, people I love can’t get a seat while they take up 2 really prime peices of real estate.

    They love me, they ALWAYS sit at the bar, and sometimes call ahead for me to save them seats.

    Their tip? between %5 and %12. I HATE them. They don’t know it, they still insist on coming in and robbing me blind.

    This has been going on for almost 8 years. I figure the money I spend to serve them, and the money lost from not serving better tippers has cost me easily over $5k over the years.

    In all honesty, if I read in the paper that they die in a crash, my only thought will be relief that they won’t be back.

    Trust me, be like them, and the people serving your food and drinks will feel the same about you.
    But they’ll still serve you…

    Easy job? You’re out of your mind.

  72. ohio bartender,

    After that many years, I think you have the right to a little chat with them about their shitty tips. Tell them what you told us.

    It sounds to me, you’re far far too nice to shits who are taking advantage of you.

    They call ahead so you can save them seats? I’d be doing everything possible to stall their arrival until after the evening rush starts.

  73. ohiobartender, I’m really glad I’ve never been to Ohio and that I can say with certainty that I’ve never been to your bar.

    “I have a couple that comes in regularly on weekends. They come relatively early, just before the rush and grab 2 seats at my bar. …rant snipped …

    The whole process takes between 2 and 3 hours…Meantime, people I love can’t get a seat while they take up 2 really prime peices of real estate.

    They love me, they ALWAYS sit at the bar, and sometimes call ahead for me to save them seats.

    Their tip? between %5 and %12. I HATE them. They don’t know it, they still insist on coming in and robbing me blind.”

    I bet that couple genuinely thinks of you as a friend. You are a bastard.

  74. I agree with Renee.

    Quite frankly, I think this whole business has gone out of hand and if I were in the US, i’d really really be uncomfortable going to any restaurant based on what I read on this blog.

    I much prefer a policy of what-you-see-is-what-you-pay – and that goes for tips as well as things like sales tax (which is included in the sticker price in Europe). It would seem that if you don’t tip in the US then you get second class service, or at the very least the person serving you hates your guts.

  75. I’ll preface this with a brief introduction. I eat out every two weeks or so. I usually tip 20%, can’t remember ever tipping less than 15%. I think people who are shitty tippers are plain assholes. I cannot stand people who are rude to service people. I use words like ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ very frequently.

    That said, the attitudes of many of the service people who have posted on this thread are ridiculous. The fact is that no one really has to tip you. They certainly should, but they don’t have to. People have to stop at red lights, pay their taxes, etc. They simply do not have to tip.

    Human nature is to be selfish. People should not eat out if they cannot tip, but they will because it is physically possible. We’re talking about the same people who have $20,000 in credit card debit and just bought a new Hummer. They want to indulge themselves because they feel entitled, but they’re worried about money. The result is that they won’t pay any more money than they are required to pay, even if it means screwing you out of money, because you are some stranger that they don’t know. And as a service person, you are the least qualified to explain how customers feel about tipping because you have a vested interest.

    Also, I am always constantly amazed at how screwed up the restaurant industry is when I learn new things about it. To ohio bartender above, I knew that waiters were usually required to tip out other staff, but I always assumed that it was based on what you were tipped. If you HAVE to tip your wine guy 10% but no one HAS to tip you, well that situation is plainly set up to screw you over. As for the customer who takes up good seats and tips shitty, what does your boss think of this? I bet he couldn’t care less, because he’s still making the same amount of money off them. He’s your employer, he’s supposed to be looking out for you. But from what I’ve seen, owners are not willing to give up the income they get from customers who regularly stiff their staff. Which means that they don’t give a shit about you. If your employer let you, would you tell these idiots to fuck off and not come back? If so then it’s really your employer who cares more about his money, especially since these people obviously think you like them.

    In the end, it the industry that is screwing you over by forcing you into unfair conditions that you have no control over. Calling people cheap skates when they’re worried about the economy is silly. People will always waste their money when they shouldn’t. None of us should really be spending any of our money until we’ve saved enough to retire on.

  76. “That said, the attitudes of many of the service people who have posted on this thread are ridiculous. The fact is that no one really has to tip you. They certainly should, but they don’t have to. People have to stop at red lights, pay their taxes, etc. They simply do not have to tip.”

    Sorry, buddy, I’m gonna have to stop you right there. No, people do not have to tip in the sense that there is no law forcing them to. However, in this day and age, in this country, tipping is not a compliment to your server for a job well done anymore, tipping is paying for your service, plain and simple. If waiters were paid a living wage, or anything approaching a living wage, sure, it would be nothing more than a cash compliment, but when the situation has put us in a position that our tips are what we live on, and our hours are the little bit of extra pocket money, then yes, you have to tip, just like you have to pay your hairdresser for cutting your hair.

  77. I agree with every single thing you wrote except for the last sentence, and the fact that a you chose a hair dresser is just proves my point. Hair dressers expect a tip. If you don’t pay your hair dresser you will get arrested, but if you don’t tip them you’ll just have pissed off hair dresser (and a pissed off me if I’m watching you).

    A tip certainly isn’t a cash compliment, it is an expected part of a servers wages, but my point was that the system is set up in an extremely unfair manner, to the almost exlusive detriment of the servers. The fact is that people don’t have to tip you. Just because sane people think that being a stingy with tips is a bad trait doesn’t change reality. And that the attitude I’m talking about, this denying of reality.

    Like I said before, I feel for waiters. I rarely ever get bad service, and I’m pretty sure it’s because I try very hard to be nice to people. Not that I’m Mr. Fucking Perfect, but I try not be full of shit. I’m honestly nice to waiters if the screw up, if it takes while, whatever. The only thing that gets me rudeness, which like I said can almost always be avoided by not being a prick in the first place. But your industry really screws you over, and you must accept responsibility for at least some part of that.

  78. As I read my last post I realize that I did a horrible job editing the last paragraph and there are a bunch of confusing bits. Here’s what I meant:

    Like I said before, I feel for waiters. I rarely ever get bad service, and I’m pretty sure it’s because I try very hard to be nice to people. Not that I’m Mr. Fucking Perfect, but I try not be full of shit. I’m honestly nice to waiters if they screw up, if it takes a while, whatever. The only thing that gets to me is rudeness, which like I said can almost always be avoided by not being a prick in the first place. But your industry really screws you over, and you must accept responsibility for at least some part of that.

  79. Fuel here in Australia works out to be about $5.85 per gallon ($1.55 per litre) so stop complaining, you silly ‘mericans!

    Did I mention that your tipping system is retarded? Oh yeah, I did. More than once.

  80. Waiter,
    I just wanted to let you know that today I found out that I accidently stiffed my waitress last night when I took the merchant copy home with me that had the tip amount written on it. I called the restarant today as soon as I found that I had taken the wrong slip and asked them if they could add the tip to my credit card. When they said they couldn’t, I asked if the waitress I had the night before was working. She was. I told them I would come in to give her her tip. I apologized to her for accidently stiffing her and gave her more than the 20% I had originally gave her on the receipt I took home. I told her she was a wonderful waitress and also handed her back the reciept I took. I have to admit, your blog has made me more conscious of my tipping and I felt extremely bad when I realized that my 20% tip was actually 0% because I was a moron. I didn’t feel she should suffer because of my stupid error. I am glad I was able to fix my mistake. I just hope it didn’t cause her too much grief the night before.

  81. and we are diplomats…so much more than any diplomat is asked…

    we have to deal with people that are …wrong, psychotic, deranged…anti-social, sociopathic… whatever…
    and say…”I’m so sorry…OUR fault!” “what can we do to make your hallucinegenic world better?”

    Oh yeah…, it’s a real simple, stress-free work we do…

    Owners have their expectations….clientele have their expectations…EVERYONE walking in the joint has expectations…we take care of what we can…

    When assholes walk through that think it’s easy, then think it’s not worth a decent payoff…well, we hope you go away…and if you have to die to do it..well…

  82. I live in LA. This is exactly why I’m buying a hybrid next month. So I’ll save enough money on gas that I can continue to go out to restaurants.

    Oh, yeah… and the whole tiny carbon footprint thing. There’s that.

    ~C~

  83. DK, the industry is set up fucked up and we as servers do get the tail end of it. but what can you do? march in front of the restaurant with picket signs? most restaurants pay you a nominal hourly wage, so you do rely on tips for your income and you hope that the tips will be good so that you can pay your rent, bills and have some money left over to put some food on your table. and when we go out, we will order less to be able to leave a good tip just because we know how those extra $5 makes a huge difference. and on nights that we do go out and splurge, we still tip based on percentage of the check and not the amount of the tip, i.e. to a regular person $100 on $1000 check is wow, i took care of the guy, gave him a whole $100. to a waiter that’s a 10% tip.

    i personally (like every other server here) would rather get 20%+ than 15%. does that mean that i won’t serve the cheap customers? no it does not, i am the face of the restaurant and everything i do and don’t do reflects directly on the perception of the restaurant, so i will do my job well and hope that customers will show their appreciation in the form of a good tip. sometimes that happens, sometimes it doesn’t. people do try to cut corners anywhere they can. and being that gratuity is not included on the check, way too many of them think that they can just stiff you on the tip.

    i hope that non-waiters will read this blog and the comments here and will start tipping appropriately. because we do depend on those tips. while going out to eat may be a luxury to you guys, to us it’s how we make a living and this living is not easy — hours, environment, not seeing most of your friends because you work when everyone else is off, not having christmas, thanksgiving, new year’s, valentine’s day or easter and putting on a smile and tolerating people being obnoxious is bad enough. being short-changed on top of that is really unfair.

    and as far as laws, well politicians are not stupid, they do realize that if they changed the minimum wage, then it would cut directly into restaurant’s revenue which would probably lead to quite a few of them closing. translation: less money in corporate taxes. they are much higher than whatever income taxes staff pays so it only makes sense that they want the bigger chunk. it’s fucked up, but c’est la vie.

  84. ohio bartender I have to agree with others you are a bastard. I have been in the industry though sounds like you should have retired years ago with your attitude. If you have a sommelier sounds like you are making big money from the service from the restaurant otherwise I have trouble believing they would have sommelier for a maximum of 10 customers. In any case tipping out 10% of the sales price is INSANE since I am guessing that couple and most do not even talk to the sommelier since they drink the same wines every time. Even if they did use their services 5% would seem more reasonable since you do almost all the work they just spend a couple minutes talking if that.

    In any case its screwed and you should talk to your management (or find another bar or retire) since its not the customers fault. If you have customers you like more then tell them to show up early so you have any easier time taking their money.

    When I served saw some folks like you – over the hill who should have left the industry but instead stayed on long after their expiration date. Make room for younger less jaded bartenders who can actually give good service.

    BTW you don’t pay to work since you do get your base wage that ranges form 2.13 to over $8.00 an hour depending on your state.

  85. Hi guys. I feel like I kicked off this argument with my comments at #37.
    From a careful read of the following polemics I have to say, I didn’t realised the extent to which waiters in the U.S. depend on tips. When you are getting paid as little as you appear to be (and in England it would be minimum wage level or so, basically around $10 an hour which ain’t too bad all in all) I can understand why you need those tips.
    Nonetheless, I think it’s a poor way of organizing an economy when paid employees basically depend on the charity (no matter how much an established custom it is) of customers. And for all those who came out of the woodwork saying “yeah, if you hate it, get another job!” trust me, life ain’t always that simple. You could try and move to Europe and wait there though. That sunny American disposition would mean you’d hear fat tips. In pounds or euros too. Save for a while and move back to the US a richer man or woman^^
    Peace tchyall

  86. correction: “earn” not “hear” fat tips.
    P.S. this reminds me of a Paul Simon song..
    “I’ve been sweeping up the tips I made, I’ve been living on gatorade…Detroit, Detroit, got a hell of a hockey team, got a left-handed wayyyy of making a mannnn, sign up for that automotive dream”
    P.s. Yeah people. Stop buying those damn gas guzzling beasts of cars. Your gas is still cheap compared to us. I know it’s a big country, the public transport ain’t too hot, but you can blaim the government for that too. A little political indignation is good for the soul. btw If I come to the US I’ll make sure to tip alright?

  87. Dave, you are an idiot, and have no idea of what you’re talking about.
    You prove it with every post.
    Ask any place with a sommelier…the industry standard is %10.
    And, yeah, I’m just raking it in because we have a wine list and a 10 seat bar…Ack! There is too much stupidity in these comments to even start with….you have no idea, my boy, no idea….

    Go get yourself a job in a restaurant sometime. You wouldn’t last a week.

  88. “Love your web site and having been reading it for years. But I have to say, I don’t tip. The reason is I live on a limited income so my money is very tight. So, I just don’t go to places where tipping is expected. Just fast food for me, which is unfortunate. I really can’t remember the last time I ate in a proper restaurant. Even the fast food joints are quickly becoming too expensive.”

    There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, rose. You’re living within your means, which is what can be expected for all of us. I love to go out to eat, but I can’t do it all the time. On my days off, when there’s little in my house–I still live at home, as I graduated college last May–I like to buy food from take out places, but I usually go to the ones where it’s a good bargain and I don’t have to leave much in the way of a tip. (Usually, it’s whatever change I have in a tip jar, at either a deli or Starbucks; being a server, I feel sort of compelled to.) But then, a tip is not really expected like it is in a restaurant, so you and I are safe in that regard.

  89. What are the tipping customs for take out lunches/dinners from established restaurants?

    Many thanks for your input.

  90. 20% is supposed to be for exemplary service. Not for average service.

    But I agree with those that say ‘if you can’t afford to tip, you can’t afford to eat out.’

    The flip side of that of course is that having your hours cut because business is down may be even worse than getting less tips.

  91. “What are the tipping customs for take out”

    Warren, I do not tip at all when I pick up takeout.

    Tips are “pour la service.” Handing me the food over the counter that I’ve paid for is not service. I do occasionally tip a couple bucks to my pizza place simply because they are hard workers and keep my pizza warm before I pick it up. But it’s optional.

  92. I cannot believe you accept 20% tip as mandatory…. what are you a communist?

    You live in a democratic society, the most freeist in the world, and you complain about someone not tipping 20%. Well I am sorry it is the customers democratic right to determine what THEY tip YOU, regardless of what you believe you are entitled to. You obviously where not entrepreneur enough (unlike an american). If you want to be tipped 20% all the time then go live in China.

    People like you give America a bad name, you should never expect anything but be greatfull for everything.

    Believe it or not, you are experiencing the best what the world offers, that is the freeist democratic society ever lived. Accept it or lose it.

  93. democracy: you also expect people to say good morning to you when you walk in your office every morning, or say thank you when you do something for them, or please when they need something from you, or excuse me when they hurt you or when they’re trying to get through and need you to step aside to let them through. there is no law for that, yet you EXPECT IT because it is CUSTOMARY. same with tips. when a server goes out of his way to provide you with an excellent service (especially if you are a difficult customer) we expect to be compensated for it with what is customary for excellent service, i.e. 20% tip.

    and if we don’t get it, we say that the customer was a jerk, the same way you would call a person a jerk if he just pushed you out of the way to get through instead of apologizing, or made you do a whole lot of work and wouldn’t even say thank you for it. by what you’re saying, you should be grateful that people are polite and courteous to you and don’t treat you like shit because it’s not mandatory, it’s customary….

    as far as tipping on take-out: Waiter posted a nice article about it a few months back. Waiter please post the reference to it. it explains the principles of tipping on dining in and take-out and what is expected. personally, i always do leave a few dollars for people when i take out especially when i go there often — food comes out better and they don’t forget the condiments that come with it. besides, it’s always nice to know that you’ve done something nice for someone and put a smile on their face. hey, i work on tips and i know how extra few dollars go a long way, especially if they didn’t have to tip you.

  94. oh, and one more thing: for all those saying that you don’t have to tip. ask yourselves this question: would you rather go to a restaurant where they give you bread with your meal, or not (or charge you for it for that matter), because they don’t have to… would you rather go to a restaurant where the first words out of your waiter’s mouth are ‘so you ready to order’ or good afternoon/evening, how are you this evening, may i offer you… do you have any questions about… (because technically he doesn’t have to)… or if you are allergic to something or don’t like something, you would like to make a substitution and you want him to make sure that there’s nothing in the dish that could potentially make you sick, would you like him try to accommodate your request or tell you well that’s how it comes out, order something else (because once again, he doesn’t have to)…

    but no, as a customer, you demand whatever you want and however you want it. and expect the server to provide you with a dining experience, if you didn’t, you wouldn’t go out to dinner: you’d cook at home or at best order a take-out. however, for some strange reason, when it comes to compensating your server for the experience he has provided, there is always an excuse why you shouldn’t… there’s always the owner that should pay you, the taxes or gas prices that cut into your disposable income, the fact that it’s not mandatory, or whatever else it is… how is that fair?

  95. DK wrote:” I knew that waiters were usually required to tip out other staff, but I always assumed that it was based on what you were tipped.”

    Not only that, but we also have to PAY TAX on tips that we did not receive. In 1981 a new tax law (AKA the 8% law) was passed requiring that taxes on tips be *calculated from sales*. So when you stiff or undertip your server, they have to pay tax on tips that they did not receive.

    Some places I’ve worked at have the dining room manager calculate what you are to tip out the staff, *based on your sales*, and the manager tells you what you owe, collects it and distributes it to the staff. At some resturants I’ve worked, there have been nights that I’ve had to pay to be there.

    So tipping $100 on a $1000 bill? Let’s see now…….The place assumes you got $200 and you owe the busboy $20 and the foodrunner $20. Then if there was a bar tab transfer you have to tip 15% of that to the bar. Any drinks served at the table 10% goes to the bar. Wine served? Well thats 10% of that sale going to the wine guy. So there goes probably another $20 maybe more, maybe less. I’ve worked at places that require the hostesses be tipped out and even some places that enforce tipping the kitchen staff. The IRS assumes that a server’s “take home” money is 8% of their sales after tip out, so that would be being taxed on $80 not what is actually received as take home tips. So in effect, paying tax on money that was not received brings the take home pay down even further.

  96. I cannot remember the last time I brought home a paycheck that was not $0.00 after paying taxes on food sales, tips and insurance. In fact I do not make enough on the hour to cover the taxes so tipped earnings go towards that and when all is said and done, the $150 in tips I earned after a ten hour shift in reality becomes a little more than $65 after all is said and done.

    Way too many people do not fully understand how much their meal actually can cost their server, especially if the tip falls below the standard 15 – 18%. Thank goodness for those who do understand and tip way above the standard to help even it all out.

    Too bad Ron Paul dropped out of the presidential campaign because his support of non taxable tips was exactly what servers needed to get ahead in the business.

  97. Very well said, Akasha. I’m not a server (I work in retail), but the attitude of our customers is appalling. Newsflash: if you treat us like shit, we’re less likely to help you out. We don’t want your business and yes, we will survive without you. Don’t like it? Stop being an asshole.

  98. Also? Since the economy’s so tight right now, many of us CAN’T get another job, as jobs are less and less available. This “don’t like it, get another job,” spiel is bullshit with the current economy.

  99. I am shocked that more people in the United States are completly unaware that we are taxed on our tips JUST like you are taxed on your paychecks.

    Let me break it down since I have read some really uneducated & ignorant posts. The federal government requires us to pay income taxes on a MINIMUM of 8% of your total sales. In addition, most establishments have a required percentage that you must tip out to the bus staff, hostesses, etc. I have worked at many restaurants (high-end & low-end) and the minimum that I have ever had to tip was 2.5% of my total sales.

    ATTENTION Laura Ann & some of these other CHEAPSKATES : this means that if you tip less than 10% we will actually LOSE money by waiting on you! If you don’t tip at least 15% then we are really not making much more than minimum wage.

    If you want the service that comes along with being paid minimum wage, just drop by your local fast food chain & enjoy! If you want exceptional service, food, & drink then you need to take care of the people who serve you. This is the reason why tipping has become a procedure in the U.S.

    WHY on earth would anyone come to “Waiter Rant” to try & convince everyone that it’s okay not to tip since they don’t? Your life must be painfully unfulfilled. I hope your mother is proud that she raised a heathen without an iota of class.

    Also, quit telling servers to get another job if they don’t like it. Most servers are trying to put themselves through college or support their families. If high-paying jobs were dime a dozen, I would have stopped kissing the asses of imbeciles like you many years ago. I happen to live in an area of CA where even college graduates(I have a B.S. in Biochemistry)such as myself are still waiting tables because there are no decent paying jobs. If I could move, I would but the housing market makes it impossible.

  100. I like the movie “Reservoir dogs”. A wise-guy has a good rant on how and why he hates tipping. I DO TOO. It is a completely unfair system where a guy who works for 15 seconds (bartenders) gets a buck to open a freakin budweiser and the poor bastard who climbs under your house to catch rats gets nothing. Its total BS! I’m not saying that waiters, etc. don’t deserve it, all I’m saying is that the system is broke, like the US healthcare system. It’s simply broke, not fair. Not out of money like Uncle Sam, broke meaning it isn’t just. And before you idiots smam me. I was a restauant manager who worked 60+ hours per week for over 8+ years and NOT once got a tip in over 8+ years service! My staff surely did and sometimes plenty for what I did to make it a nice experience for the customer. And yes, I was getting paid more than the wait staff but when you figure in my total hours worked (salary sucks), Ill be they made as much as me!!! :(

  101. I can’t even fathom dining out and stiffing my waitperson. I was taught to tip between 15% – 20% and I generally go with 20%. I have yet to have a bad restaurant experience that warranted me to undertip or leave nothing.

    Waiting table is probably one of the hardest jobs in the world…dealing with the public is okay at best and painfully difficult at worst, particularly folks who feel that waitstaff are their personal slaves for the time they take to dine. I’ve never waited table, but I can certainly appreciate the skill it takes to be an effective server. It’s not just smiling, bringing food/drinks, and checking up on tables. It is providing the diners with a pleasant experience and adding to the ambiance of the restaurant. Not everyone can do that properly.

    Waitstaff is actually TAXED on “anticipated tips” by the IRS. If you undertip or don’t tip at all, they LOSE MONEY in the end. Receiving tips is not so much an “entitlement” as part of making a decent wage these days.

    For all you cheapskates that think tipping is unnecessary, stay at home and prepare your own food. Both you and the lucky restaurant(s) that didn’t get you as patrons will be much happier.

  102. US$3.98 a gallon is expensive? Have you been anywhere else?

    Here in Sydney, fuel is A$1.61/litre. A gallon is 4.5 litres. So that’s A$7.24 a gallon, or US$6.97 a gallon, for standard ULP.

    The USA has some of the cheapest fuel in the world, which is why they’re consuming it at such massive rates. Lower supply, with higher demand… do the maths!

  103. I also fail to understand your tipping culture.
    If I go to a restaurant and the menu says a steak is $20, it should mean $20, not $22 because you “must” add 10% to pay the waiter’s wages. I hate “hidden” charges.

    You need a decent hourly rate. I would prefer the menu said steak was $22 and I didn’t have to tip. Sure, I will always tip for good service, but I resent having to tip because the restaurant owner doesn’t pay good wages, and that it is expected of me even if the service is only average.

  104. Bob Dobbs:
    “If you think that a human being is nothing but an economic entity to be bought and sold and hired out in a soulless free-market system — then you’re going to love what happens to most of you in the next few years as that system turns on you to save itself.”

    LMAO!!

  105. I was a bartender and server in high school through college. Having left the industry and now reading all of these posts I think I can comment neutrally for and against each side of the dining table.

    Servers: The best advice a manager ever gave me was this on our Valentines Day premeal meeting, “Remember that tonight every guest CHOSE to come to our restaurant to dine. They COULD HAVE CHOSEN TO DINE SOMEWHERE ELSE. But we are lucky they chose to dine here and so we must serve them professionally and thank them for their patronage.” From this moment on, everything clicked and I made more tips and worried less about guessing/judging who would stiff me and who would tip me. Yes, it is disappointing to read the check and see you got a substandard tip but the change in mentality that my manager encouraged helped me get past it and look forward to the patrons that DID tip. Generally, there are more knowledgeable and even good tippers than ignorant and bad tippers. I think also that when you don’t even look forward to waiting on people or even care if the tip is 20% on a good or bad behavior table – that means you are burnt out and SHOULD get another job for your own happiness.

    Guests: Even though I worked in the business and I was a great tipper I now defer the tipping to my husband because I realize that having been well trained I DO demand better service. Simply put – I know what my server SHOULD and SHOULD NOT be able to do and if he does a poor job I do find it hard to give him a 20%. But as guests and customers we do need to behave and be more conscious about our dining experience – we are guests to a dining establishment and we need to remember what being a GUEST means. If we don’t tip or do not think we should then we get no service – no one to bring us drinks, tell us about specials, make wine recommendations, sweep crumbs off our table, change our silverware, bring us our food. If we feel that we do not need a person to wait on us then we should order takeout or fastfood. We go to dine in restaurants to pay for food (price on menu) but we also have to pay for a person to wait on us and we should say thank you apropriately. If our server was inadequate I think it is fair to speak to the manager and tip how you see fit – the server was trained before he got on the floor and so he needs to do his job. We in turn should do ours.

  106. These people who don’t think that tipping poorly (or not at all) isn’t a problem should be thrown into a busy Saturday night with a full section and see how they feel afterwards. I have always thought that we would have a better society if all Americans were forced to wait tables for at least six months of their lives. That said, I realize that I am very lucky when it comes to the occasional bad tipper: my boss, the owner of an independent restaurant, will not allow that to go unchecked. If a table tips poorly and the server assures him that their service was excellent, he will actually go to the table and ask why. If they have no good excuse for their lousy tip, he will let them know that the tip was insulting and insufficient and basically embarrass the hell out of them. As a server, it is always amusing to watch people squirm like that. They will almost always correct the tip. Business doesn’t suffer because he does this and the servers all appreciate the fact that he has our backs.

  107. Oh yeah, 2008 was the shits for me! I, mistakenly, told the owner of my job in late 2007 to go fuck himself… I spent 2008 going from restaurant, to bar, to bar, and now am finally settling down with a decent, steady job a year later! Let’s all knock on wood for the future: the stock market it crashing as we speak and we’re a few centimeters away from a depression.

  108. I used to be a cook in a corporate chain in Alberta Canada. They pretty much depend on their tips there too although the servers did get minimum wage. What pissed me off about the servers was when they would be complaining about shitty tips while cashing out. They’d have $150-$200 in their pocket!! Servers are always complaingin about how hard they work and how their tips suck. Yet it always evens out to an average. Maybe not over the night but certainly over the week or month. The cooks in the BOH usually work way harder and they average less wages than the servers. So I personally think most servers should suck it up. There can be really good money in it which is why we always had a pile of resumes from people wanting a job as a server.

    I normally tip very well as I still know what kind of crap a server can go through. But the moment they start acting like that tip is entitled to them, the amount goes down accordingly.

  109. The crazy thing about the gas prices – Alberta is a huge oil province but the US is paying less for gas than we are! I remember going to Hawaii where they have to ship the gas in and it was cheaper than at home….nuts!

  110. Okay if the law required a restaurant to pay us all minimum wage or higher and customers didn’t have to tip what do all you non-tippers think would happen to the quality of service? It would definitely go down the tubes. You need a refill? Yeah yeah when I get around to it, and you food will come out sometime today so hold your freakin horses. I don’t needa smile at you, not like I’m getting any dinero off ya. Have a nice day!

  111. The whole mindset is wrong here. Restaurant servers are taking a job that is established around tips. That is THE REASON for the 2.13 an hour, and why most of that money is taxed away. It is not a luxury. It is what the entire salary is based upon. Last time I looked, my local McDonalds was paying 9/hr with health insurance.
    So for those of you who don’t think the job is hard and that we work our asses off for those tips, you are totally ignorant.

  112. to get your high school diploma, it should be a REQUIREMENT that EVERY SINGLE PERSON should be a server for AT LEAST 3 – 6 months out of the year.

    everyone would have a completely different outlook on this subject. and all of the bitching would stop.

    and for the record, if you can afford to spend $40 on dinner, but you can’t afford to tip anything more than $1.23, then you really shouldn’t be eating out, and should probably go jump off a bridge. =] $41.23 can get you a whole shit ton of groceries. service yourself!

  113. Think yourselves lucky, here in Australia not only do we get shit money and almost no breaks when your service staff, but it is rare for Australians to tip, and then you have to divide it between all waiters and waitresses even if they are lazy shits that stood around all night leaving you to serve 10 tables on your own while they do two….

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