Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Tip Computation: How do you Determine the Tip?


Varmint
 Share

Recommended Posts

Edawerd, I suspect that the waiter in Japan may have accepted money to prevent further embarrassment to both parties. For gratitude, read politeness. It is emphatically NOT the done thing to tip here, and those who know and still insist on trying to tip anyway are doing nobody any favours. I understand, however, that there are many people who are so habituated to tipping and the culture surrounding it in their own countries that it seems wrong to leave the restaurant without doing so.

However, in Japan, there's no need to tip. Really.

Long may it stay that way, considering how tipping poisons the atmosphere in those countries where it is the custom.

Edited by Ohba (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

But all in all I really prefer the US system.

I'm somewhat surprised to hear this. May I ask why? Is it that you can ultimately earn more under the US system, or that for you, cash outweighs benefits such as health insurance/paid vacation/whatever? Genuinely interested...

Si

I suppose for purely financial reasons really. I worked part time in Paris and probably made about 800€ a month including tips for working 20+ hours a week (we pooled tips with the entire staff). If I had worked full time I would have made 1600€ which is nothing to write home about for working more than 40 hours a week. Because restaurant owners in France need to pay so much more (they pay about 15€ per hour to cover the benefits to the Government) they put very little staff on, so I had ten or more tables as opposed to only 4-5 in the States, with no bus person and no food runner. So needless to say you work very hard and earn about 50€ per shift including tips. In the United States I have made that on one table. :wink:

In addition there is just something fun and motivating about working for tips. In France it didn’t seem to matter so much what kind of service you gave because there are many people who would never leave a centime more, so you lose a bit of motivation to go the extra mile. In the US, if a table comes in at 5 minutes to closing you don’t mind because it means more money. In the US you’ll fight with the chef to get the client what they want because it all means more money at the end of your shift. It might sound crass but the possibility of more money is a highly motivating.

www.parisnotebook.wordpress.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I suspect that the waiter in Japan may have accepted money to prevent further embarrassment to both parties. For gratitude, read politeness.

That makes sense. But I imagine he might have felt so embarrassed he wouldn't have even wanted to use the money. I felt that way when I received a "gift" of money after I was asked to speak at an event. I hadn't expected it (and was too new here to know it was the norm), and I was very embarrassed when they insisted I take it. I think I took some friends out to dinner with the money, but it sat in my desk for a very long time. I couldn't even think about it without feeling bad.

It is emphatically NOT the done thing to tip here, and those who know and still insist on trying to tip anyway are doing nobody any favours. I understand, however, that there are many people who are so habituated to tipping and the culture surrounding it in their own countries that it seems wrong to leave the restaurant without doing so.

However, in Japan, there's no need to tip. Really.

Long may it stay that way, considering how tipping poisons the atmosphere in those countries where it is the custom.

One thing I'll really miss when I leave Japan is not tipping. And people actually doing the jobs they're paid to do, and doing them well without the expectation of a tip.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If I had worked full time I would have made 1600€ which is nothing to write home about for working more than 40 hours a week.

But Paris is such a cheap place to live.... :shock:

It might sound crass but the possibility of more money is a highly motivating.

Hey you won't hear any argument from me. I work for a hedge fund, and I ain't here for the good of my health!

Thanks for sharing the info.

My thoughts on this are somewhat mixed. The lack of motivation that Felice talks about is a genuine problem in many tip-less markets. However, what irritates me about the US model is that the option to *not* tip (if the service is genuinely bad) doesn't seem to exist. Here, I'll tip within a fairly large range (0-20%) depending on how well I feel I've been treated. From what I can tell, in the US you pretty much have to tip anyway, but then make your feelings felt by either not returning, or by talking to a manager. It seems to me that the tip is, slowly but surely, becoming a fixed extra charge.

One other point alluded to above is that I think it's just as bad for tourists to over-tip where small/no tips are the norm as it is for tourists to under-tip in the US. I feel very strongly about this.

Si

Link to comment
Share on other sites

One other point alluded to above is that I think it's just as bad for tourists to over-tip where small/no tips are the norm as it is for tourists to under-tip in the US. I feel very strongly about this.

I have to say that I really agree with this. I think this has become a problem in Paris. Since many tourists tip, owners use it as an excuse to only pay the bare minimum allowed by law saying that tips will make up for the low salary. The problem is that many natives don’t tip or tip very little, so you are relying on American tourists to make up for the low salary. In the past restaurants would give servers the service charge directly which was added automatically to the bill. As more and more people were leaving tips, the owners thought (I assume) that waiters were making too much and now pay a monthly salary instead, which is often the minimum wage and not enough to live on.

www.parisnotebook.wordpress.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

20% is standard in NY or any other large American city. 18% for small towns. more for exceptional service or if anything was comped. less for incompetent service (be very sure that it was the waitstaff not the kitchen at fault....delays in getting your food are 80% of the time the kitchen's fault)....once or twice I left nothing (they deserved it).

if a "suggested tip" of 18% is placed on the bill (its never mandatory unless listed as a "service fee")....I'll usually leave exactly that since it annoys me. its standard practice in South Beach though (understandable I guess due to all the poor-tipping tourists).

as for the merits of the system....I'll say that from the customer's perspective...MOST of the time...I've found you receive better service in the U.S. but certainly not always.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

One other point alluded to above is that I think it's just as bad for tourists to over-tip where small/no tips are the norm as it is for tourists to under-tip in the US. I feel very strongly about this.

I have to say that I really agree with this. I think this has become a problem in Paris. Since many tourists tip, owners use it as an excuse to only pay the bare minimum allowed by law saying that tips will make up for the low salary. The problem is that many natives don’t tip or tip very little, so you are relying on American tourists to make up for the low salary. In the past restaurants would give servers the service charge directly which was added automatically to the bill. As more and more people were leaving tips, the owners thought (I assume) that waiters were making too much and now pay a monthly salary instead, which is often the minimum wage and not enough to live on.

This is not the fault of generous tippers but of tightwad owners looking for an excuse. Of all the things we Americans are accused of doing when we're abroad -- many of them true enough -- I refuse to feel guilty for tipping (I usually do +/- 5% in cash). :wink:

******

In a related question...

Since California tipped employees are payed the same minimum wage as other employees ($6.75? it's above the national average), can I go back to tipping 12% when I'm in the sunshine state? I mean, every defense of tipping references the $2.01/hr most waiters get and talks about servers not getting a living wage. No that the owners are picking up a bigger share of their servers livelihoods (and surely passing the tab onto my shoulders in wine markups) I can cut back on the gratuity, right?

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My wife bought a happy hour pbr at a college bar once. I think it came to 1.60 or something. She paid with a 5 and left the coins as a tip. The waitress looked at it with disdain and actually threw the change in the trash to prove a point!

I guess she only deals in dollar bills.

I just don't care for an "I'm entitled" attitude. Its a gratuity for good service. If you're wage depends on it, then provide good service!

I think tipping on tax is absurd as well. One shouldn't expect it. In general I tip 18-20%, but I feel that we are going overboard a bit here in the USA.

Edited by MattJohnson (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

considering that it takes the bartender exactly the same amount of work to serve happy hour as a regular time...he/she shouldn't be penalized for working happy hour. I'd probably be offended at a forty cent tip too.

a $1 a drink regardless of its price or $2-3 for a seriously well-made cocktail. 20% of the pre-tax bill for pitchers and the like.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

:wacko:

My wife bought a happy hour pbr at a college bar once. I think it came to 1.60 or something. She paid with a 5 and left the coins as a tip. The waitress looked at it with disdain and actually threw the change in the trash to prove a point!

I guess she only deals in dollar bills.

I just don't care for an "I'm entitled" attitude. Its a gratuity for good service. If you're wage depends on it, then provide good service!

I think tipping on tax is absurd as well. One shouldn't expect it. In general I tip 18-20%, but I feel that we are going overboard a bit here in the USA.

The industry, from one who pours, regardless of time of day, is $1.00 per drink and/or a 15-20 percent over all on the bill. And with larger cities and skyrocketing drinkie prices, sometimes that is nearing on or about (or even less than! :shock: ) ten percent. :angry:

Given the circumstances if one left me $.40 in silver, I'd almost be prompted to remind them I am not a bubble gum machine. lol

Cheers!

edit: Ooooooooooooops. Gotta get the quoting thing down before I get all excited and post.....

Edited by stolincuervo (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

My wife bought a happy hour pbr at a college bar once.  I think it came to 1.60 or something.  She paid with a 5 and left the coins as a tip.  The waitress looked at it with disdain and actually threw the change in the trash to prove a point!

I guess she only deals in dollar bills.

I just don't care for an "I'm entitled" attitude.  Its a gratuity for good service.  If you're wage depends on it, then provide good service!

I think tipping on tax is absurd as well.  One shouldn't expect it.  In general I tip 18-20%, but I feel that we are going overboard a bit here in the USA.

I'm reminded someon I heard working the mic while the hat was being passed at some rally or another: "As the preacher said -- we need your contribution, but I have a condition, and the jingling of change kinda gives me a headache."

I don't know if its a hard and fast rule, but people in the business when I was in it considered tipping change low class. On the other hand treating customers with outright contempt was tacky, too. Interesting dilemma. My solution would be to order enough drinks to get the bar tab up to the point where 15-20% is more easily measured in paper money than in change. :laugh:

Considering that it takes the bartender exactly the same amount of work to serve happy hour as a regular time...he/she shouldn't be penalized for working happy hour
Untrue. Tips should be rounded up, but if I'm being served half-priced drinks, I'm under no moral obligation to tip double. It takes a waiter just as much time to serve a hamburger as a steak, but he doesn't expect a higher percentage for selling cheaper food. That's just the biz.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My "baseline" tip is 20% although, personally I would prefer if, per convention, I could tip the back and the front of house separately.

Why?

1. Sometimes there is that much disparity between the food quality and the service quality.

2. From what I understand (I'm not in the biz), the BOH gets screwed under most schemes.

3. As Busboy says in post #13, to get to the $100+/head resto, the server has "graduated" and, presumably, offers more knowledge and better service. Still, when I'm paying that much, for the most part, I'm paying for the skill of the chef. As long as the server brings the food reasonably on cue, it is still mostly about the chef. I would rather express my appreciation for the chef than the server.

Yes, I could insist on getting the resto manager and tipping the BOH and FOH staff separately.

Thoughts on this?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It is very bad form to tip servers less than 18% in any US establishment. The only exception would be if you are not being waited on. For example, a coffee shop, bakery, taco stand. It is polite to give at least a dollar per item tip in these places. If you feel that the service is poor, talk to the manager. It is not your job as a patron to discipline the staff. Perhaps give them some constructive ideas on how they can fix the issue. If the service does not improve, don't go back. If they do not care enough to train quality servers they don't deserve your repeat business. It's as simple as that.

Not leaving a tip is a very jerky thing to do to someone who is depending on tips to live. Most people are not waiting tables for sport. Everyone, regardless of thier ability to live up to your standards is deserving of respect and fairness.

However, there are many places around the world where your tip will be met with a look that says "are you insane?". It is best to check with the locals to see what the tipping custom is.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

considering that it takes the bartender exactly the same amount of work to serve happy hour as a regular time...he/she shouldn't be penalized for working happy hour.  I'd probably be offended at a forty cent tip too.

a $1 a drink regardless of its price or $2-3 for a seriously well-made cocktail.  20% of the pre-tax bill for pitchers and the like.

I can perhaps be persuaded that it was a bit tacky to leave 40 cents on a 1.60 bill (we should have gotten a tab and added it up), but I was trying to put more emphasis on her attitude that coins were beneath her. I mean if waiters are so hard up for cash, perhaps she should put the money in her pocket and hope that next time, we'll be less tacky (most of the time we do a buck a drink - this was just one of those times where you're talking and not paying much attention).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It is very bad form to tip servers less than 18% in any US establishment.

If you feel that the service is poor, talk to the manager. It is not your job as a patron to discipline the staff. Perhaps give them some constructive ideas on how they can fix the issue.

Not leaving a tip is a very jerky thing to do to someone who is depending on tips  to live.  Most people are not waiting tables for sport. Everyone, regardless of thier ability to live up to your standards is deserving of respect and fairness.

Why is it the patron's job to train the management/servers on how to do their job?

If someone's living depends on tips, wouldn't it serve them to constantly serve to the best of their ability to get a good tip? When I worked in sales (no sales=no pay), if you weren't selling the management would suggest that you may be in the wrong line of work. If you are in the service industry and can't consistently do your job well enough to deserve good tips, then perhaps you're in the wrong industry. Of course, there are some stingy people who just never tip well, but for the rest of us, if we're not getting good service, why should we have to give a good tip?

And, for the record, I am in line with most of the people who've posted here. I almost always give 20%, but recently received horrible service and didn't leave 20% (somewhere around 10% is what I ended up leaving).

Edited by BrodeurR (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

For me 20% plus a roundup to the easiest bill is my norm for good service. Alinea got me with 13 glasses of wine and so my impaired math skills (as I found out later) brought it to 27%. (Surely its against the law to accept a tip from somone who has had too much to drink :huh: )

I'm wondering about the previous comment about coffee shops, etc.. I assume you're talking about coffee shops that come to your table. I can't bring myself to tip at the shops that put a cup on the counter as they hand me my cup and muffin. Why would I tip there? I doubt they are on tip wages.

I also want to revist the happy hour question. When I go to a restaurant with a 2 for 1 or % off coupon, I've always paid a tip of the full, not discounted amount because the work is the same. Do you disagree with that approach, or why would you feel that the situations are different?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 months later...

In Vancouver, BC, we have a LOT of coupons... they are usually 2 for 1 for entrees. In the next two months, I will have at least half the tables each night use some sort of coupon, and then it will happen again in Jan/Feb. (yes, I do realize that we would have fewer guests if they didn't use coupons, but that is a whole other thread)

Last weekend, we had a table of 5... they ordered 5 entrees, 3 soft drinks, and water. Used 2 coupons. Total bill FOR 5 PEOPLE was about $135 including tax. They left $150. Out of which the server then tips out 1% to the kitchen, 0.5% to the “support” (me) and 1% to the house (total $3.15). So, the server makes IN TOTAL, for 1.5 hours work on that one table, $24. I think he may have had 4 tables all night. Kinda rough, if you ask me.

I am wondering whether it would be bad form for restaurants to add the service charge for coupon/promo bills... in the neighborhood of 15% of the pre-discounted amount.

What say ye?

Karen Dar Woon

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I suppose I should throw my two cents in here:

I tend to tip 15% as a baseline for average service, going up as quality of the experience rises, and also if I only have, say, a beer and an app, since I'm taking up a table. Beers are a buck tip each, and then I figure in a percentage for whatever food I got on top of that. Buffets I have always left a flat dollar, which is in the 10-15ish% neighborhood at most of the places around here.

I am absolutely not below leaving less than 15% for truly subpar service (that is, not busy or short staffed, but perhaps sullen and inattentive would do it) I don't think I've ever left nothing, that I recall.

As BrodeurR noted--food service, like sales, is a situation where your compensation is largely, and directly based on performance--if you can't meet a level of service for standard tips, perhaps you should look into other work. Yes, there will be bad nights for the wait staff, and bad tables to be sure, but if those occur often enough to be significant, something is amiss.

I am, for the record, happy to tip. I don't have the slightest problem rewarding a server for taking care of me, especially knowledgeable beer or wine service. My thought is this--yes, we could equalize the payscale and make tipping an "extra" for servers-but what would that do for service? Ultimately I'd think it would be a good thing--probably nothing would change in more upscale locations, and everywhere else, perhaps management would have to instill some actual professionalism in wait staff that up till then were just listening to the dollars being counted in their heads. On the flip side, it becomes directly up to management to deal with incompetent servers IF they choose to, where now, that usually gets pointed out loud and clear to the person involved via the level of tips they get. Not sure that's such a hot idea either.

Edited by Malkavian (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

In Vancouver, BC, we have a LOT of coupons... they are usually 2 for 1 for entrees. In the next two months, I will have at least half the tables each night use some sort of coupon, and then it will happen again in Jan/Feb. (yes, I do realize that we would have fewer guests if they didn't use coupons, but that is a whole other thread)

Last weekend, we had a table of 5... they ordered 5 entrees, 3 soft drinks, and water. Used 2 coupons. Total bill FOR 5 PEOPLE was about $135 including tax. They left $150. Out of which the server then tips out 1% to the kitchen, 0.5% to the “support” (me) and 1% to the house (total $3.15). So, the server makes IN TOTAL, for 1.5 hours work on that one table, $24. I think he may have had 4 tables all night. Kinda rough, if you ask me.

I am wondering whether it would be bad form for restaurants to add the service charge for coupon/promo bills... in the neighborhood of 15% of the pre-discounted amount.

What say ye?

We have a local Italian restaurant that has "half off Wednesdays" occasionally, last time we went we also had a gift certificate :blink: I was quite happy that they included and noted the service charge was added on. I almost feel bad that they have to, but apparently guests were tipping on the "half off" prices.

tracey

The great thing about barbeque is that when you get hungry 3 hours later....you can lick your fingers

Maxine

Avoid cutting yourself while slicing vegetables by getting someone else to hold them while you chop away.

"It is the government's fault, they've eaten everything."

My Webpage

garden state motorcyle association

Link to comment
Share on other sites

...considering how tipping poisons the atmosphere in those countries where it is the custom.

Yep. I drafted this big long manifesto about what I think about all that, then I decided to spare you all. Viva la backspace. :wink:

As a lifer in the business, I think that the institution of tipping is fractured and dysfunctional for many reasons, not a few of which have been laid out already. The way I see it, either restaurants must start maintaining standards of service from the top down, as some have by incorporating a service charge into each check, or they will continue to pass responsibility for that onto their guests, perpetuating all the problems folks have elaborated on upthread. Tipping is, by its very nature, discretionary. A guest should never feel obligated or be compelled to tip. Counting on guests' generosity to pick up management's slack is one poor incentive for the staff to meet, let alone to exceed, expectations of service. What an insult: to the guest, to the server, the chef, to everybody.

Practically speaking, it might be to one's "advantage" in the short run to "hide" one's income by working for tips, and to the "benefit" of a company not to pay its staff, but transparency and excellence in service- that which, along with food, makes a restaurant last- don't come from an irresponsible, hands-off business and management style that encourages petty hustling, low morale, and confusion about the role of the guests.

I try to look at the bright side, though, by doing the best job I know how to do because I want to, and by rewarding my similarly-disposed brethren and sistren in the business when I encounter them:

I tip HUGE at bars, especially if I stay for a while. :raz:

At restaurants where I am or am hoping to become a regular, I tip 25 to 30 percent. They appreciate me- I appreciate them.

I tip marginally on take-out, but never when I get my own coffee.

I tip the change if my travel coffee mug is filled. My experience in coffee bars has shown me that jingle adds up and should not be thrown in the trash. (Besides, isn't that illegal?)

I tip a dollar for a specialty coffee drink, three if it's free.

I tip massively on pizza delivery; my dogs, though harmless, sound off to strangers.

If I receive a comp while dining in a restaurant, I tip handsomely (25 to 30 percent) on the original check.

Do not, under any circumstances, "auto-grat" my check. I will freak out.

When it comes to buffets, I, like Bourdain, prefer to be on the serving side of them.

If you're a jerk, you get stiffed.

"What was good enough yesterday may not be good enough today." - Thomas Keller

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Do not, under any circumstances, "auto-grat" my check. I will freak out.

I recently stayed at a snazzy resort in Asheville, NC where they automatically added an 18% service charge to everything - every restaurant check, bar bill, whatever - and also included an additional line for "gratuity". GRRR. What, was I supposed to not notice and tip an additional 20% on top?

I usually tip 20% and round up, but I didn't like the implication that I was supposed to tip twice.

"There is nothing like a good tomato sandwich now and then."

-Harriet M. Welsch

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In Vancouver, BC, we have a LOT of coupons... they are usually 2 for 1 for entrees. In the next two months, I will have at least half the tables each night use some sort of coupon, and then it will happen again in Jan/Feb. (yes, I do realize that we would have fewer guests if they didn't use coupons, but that is a whole other thread)

I am wondering whether it would be bad form for restaurants to add the service charge for coupon/promo bills... in the neighborhood of 15% of the pre-discounted amount.

What say ye?

I know in Calgary, those books with the 2 for 1 coupons do have instructions for their customers to tip based on the bill before the discount is taken. There are two main reasons why people don't though. One is that some just don't care, or don't want to give the proper tip, and two is, they forget. They don't see what the total on the bill would be, so they just tip on what is.

A possible solution to this would be for restaurants to list what the total charge would be on their bill, and then have another line underneath showing the discount and final price. It wouldn't completely solve the problem, but it may help in some cases.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

when i used to serve i always made sure to include a copy of the bill before the discount was given, and a copy of the bill after the discount was given (even if the latter detailed the 'promo-d amount'). i would respectfully explain 'this is your original bill and this is the bill after the discount was taken'. when i did this i would say about 75% of the time i was tipped on the original bill, when i didn't, only about 25%.

i would also like to say that IMHO one shouldn't ever be offended by an auto-grat- there have been FAR too many times in which people have taken advantage of an optional tip on large parties and stiffed, grossly undertipped, or made an honest mistake and in my mind a server should never pass on an automatic gratuity on a large party. in my years as a server and a manager i have seen several instances of a server having to tip out more than they made on a 10 hour shift. even if that server did a subpar job, they should not have to pay to work an entire day. i can't think of another industry where a mistake (or an off-day) on the part of an employee comes directly out of their pocket.

it should also be noted (though it may have already been upthread) that more often than not poor service is due to kitchen, management, or training mistakes. when people get what they percieve as above average service, however, it is almost always due to the server's personality, kindness, etc.

While (in my experience) many servers have a cynical and negatively distorted view of diners, the same goes for many diners' perception of servers. serving (well) is one of the toughest jobs there is, and one of the least appreciated. i truly believe that many of the people who are the harshest critics are the ones who would fail miserably as servers.

just my opinion

Sandy Levine
The Oakland Art Novelty Company

sandy@TheOaklandFerndale.com www.TheOaklandFerndale.com

www.facebook.com/ArtNoveltyCompany twitter: @theoakland

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am wondering whether it would be bad form for restaurants to add the service charge for coupon/promo bills... in the neighborhood of 15% of the pre-discounted amount.

What say ye?

I would be fine with that, and I think it should be done, as long as the auto grat did not exceed 15%. I often leave 20%, but don't want to feel obligated to do so, especially if I think the service sucked.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...