A Guide to Proper Tipping
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A Guide to Proper Tipping

Aguide to proper tipping settles the question of how much you should tip your server and other restaurant workers.

A close friend has been telling me that I tip too much when dining out, and to prove her point, she bought me a copy of Steve Dublancia's book Keep the Change: A Clueless Tipper's Quest to Become the Guru of the Gratuity. She had never read the book herself, so she was totally unprepared for what we discovered. What I tipped was more inline with what he recommended than what my friend thought correct.

Most educated people agree that a 20 percent gratuity is the standard amount to be added to a restaurant check, there are other situations where a tip is expected but the amount of the tip leaves us scratching our noggin. Dublancia tried to shed some light and give us some guidance in those areas.

Tipping on the Tax

Many people believe that there is no logical reason to include the tax when computing a gratuity because the restaurant does not get to keep any part of the tax. In reality, when gratuities are automatically added to the bill for large parties, it is calculated on the pretax amount. That is just one way of looking at the subject of including the tax in the gratuity.

Another way of looking at this question is that the tax should be included in gratuity computations. The reason that the tax should be included is the way each servers sales is calculated at cash-out time. He tax is included in the total cash-out figure and that amount that each server has to tip the busboy, the runners, and the other staff members is based on that figure. If you do not include the tax in the gratuity calculation, you are cheating them out of their fair share.

How much should you tip on drinks?

One way of approaching this question is that a 20 percent gratuity for drinks is way too much. The standard for tipping a bartender is a $1 gratuity per drink which averages out to be about 10 percent. In restaurants, the bartenders are also tipped out by other staff members at the end of their shifts, so they make out like a bandit in the tipping department.

Another way of looking at it is that a full 20 percent gratuity is not too much because the bartenders actually do more work to earn it than the server who delivers the drinks. The bartenders do more work because he or she has to actually make the drink.

Steve's solution to this dilemma is that you leave a 15 to 20 percent tip at the table for the waitress who deliver the food and the drinks but does not have to do the work of mixing them. Then leave another 15 to 20 percent tip at the bar for the drinks that he or she mixed for you. This has always been my practice and I can tell you that waitresses, waiters, and bartenders all remember me because I first remembered and appreciated them.

How About the Barista?

One way of approaching this question is that Baristas, unlike most waiters and waitresses make a decent hourly wage and do not work for tips. Besides that, many people wonder what the point of leaving a tip in the tip jar is if the Barista does not see who is leaving the tip.

A second way of looking at this question is to realize that Baristas are skilled workers and therefore entitled to a tip just as any other skilled worker is. It has been my experience that if I order a cup of coffee and then give the Barista the we get back, they are very grateful. I am not into those fancy Latte things but if you order one those things, you should tip the Barista at least a dollar for all the time it takes them to create one those engineering marvels.

Should you ever leave a bad tip or not tip at all?

Many people feel that not leaving a good tip is never justified even if the server messes up your order because you are being unjust to the other restaurant staff members who had no fault in the servers mess up. To me that makes sense because why should I take money of the busboy's pocket, the runner's pocket, the bartender's pocket and who ever else has hand in preparing my food and serving me just because the server was inept. On the other hand, not providing the normally expected gratuity sends a message to the restaurant's owner that something is amiss.

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Comments (16)

As somebody who use to waitress, I can honestly say you can never tip too much! In the USA it is really a problem since wait staff are paid poorly, even below the standard minimum wage.

Ranked #19 in Dining & Restaurants

Brenda, you are right! I have been a server, worked in a hotel and delivered pizzas in my younger days. How much to give is up to the customer. As long as the customer is happy with the amount, then there's no such thing as a tip that's too large. The keywords here are 'as long as the customer is happy'. If the service is crappy then don't tip, but do speak with the manager. Chances are that you'll be able to say what we wish we could.

Well done. I agree that Baristas should be tipped, good point!

here in Quebec the standard tip is 15 percent for a family to high class restaurant and whatever you want at a lower end restaurant or pub style restaurant, the term barista I have never heard before

I had never been tipped. I have a hard time tipping, so I let others do that since it is bothersome to me to do. I fault the employers for not paying a reasonable wage for tips to even be thought about at all.

Interesting article, I just have a question, is it okay if you do not tip if there is a service charge included in the bill?

Many restaurants automatically add the gratuity to the bill and call it a service charge if the party being served is a large group. Some restaurants will even do this if the party being served is only one or two people, but most experts consider automatically adding the gratuity to the bill when individuals, couples, or even a small family group is being served as being unethical unless the restaurant's staff informs the patrons first. Anyway, the answer to your question is that you absolutely do not have to tip when a service charge is added to the bill.

Noted. These are essential tips to remember.

those are the good things about giving tips..the next time you come around, they all recognized you and will serve you better and faster

Really enjoyed this informative and well-written article. And I totally agree with you...especially your last paragraph. "Should you ever leave a bad tip or not tip at all?" Just recently I witnessed an individual walk out with of a restaurant without leaving a tip because felt she received poor service from her waitress. She also admitted that she has done this several times at other eating establishments as well. I need to pass this article on to her. Personally, I don't believe you can tip to much. If I receive exceptional service, I will tip more than 20, but if the service is poor I will only tip 20. Thanks for posting. Voted this one up!

good article, thanks

A simple rule I have is to double the tax and tip that amount. That is assuming that the service was acceptable.

Very informative well-presented article Jerry.

This really is a useful piece of work, my friend.

Thank you dear brother Jerry for this info on tips. Voted. I always seek your support and guidance.

Ranked #11 in Dining & Restaurants

I liked your article and had a few comments that I developed into a factoid.

Tipping your Waiter or Waitress