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Tip Computation: How do you Determine the Tip?


Varmint
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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.

Could it be that the vast majority of people who use coupons, and then tip poorly, are...Thrifty might be a word that won't offend the cheapskates.

A DUSTY SHAKER LEADS TO A THIRSTY LIFE

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My own personal attitude about tipping is that "it's not tipping I believe it -- it's over-tipping" . . . as per Mr. Vincent Antonelli in My Blue Heaven, LOL.

Seriously, when called for, I tend to overtip for a variety of reasons. I know there are servers who work for net zero-wage and really work for tips, and I know there are others who do get a pay-wage. That's not really the issue to me. When I have a server who works hard, and puts forth the effort to see that I am taken care of and have an enjoyable meal, I appreciate that. I don't view being a server an easy job and I can empathize being in a "service" business. In addition, thank god, I can afford it. Therefore, for these and other reasons, I do so. Perhaps I am naive, however, I believe that as an occupation, or as an industry, these are hard-working people in a tough business.

When getting good service, I think 20% has now become the norm. We've seen legitimate cost(s) of living in the past 10 years -- not the CPI of course -- and like everything else, the level of tipping as well should have increased in my eyes. Now, in my mind, and in my situation -- 20% pre-tax and post-tax (in NY and NJ) is a trivial difference, again, in my mind and situation. Thus, I tip 20% after-tax. I am OK with that. If I get great service, exceptional service, I tip more than 20% post-tax.

All of this is considering the the service is good of course. Bad service is something completely different.

Eric

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My own personal attitude about tipping is that "it's not tipping I believe it -- it's over-tipping" . . . as per Mr. Vincent Antonelli in My Blue Heaven, LOL.

Seriously, when called for, I tend to overtip for a variety of reasons. I know there are servers who work for net zero-wage and really work for tips, and I know there are others who do get a pay-wage. That's not really the issue to me. When I have a server who works hard, and puts forth the effort to see that I am taken care of and have an enjoyable meal, I appreciate that. I don't view being a server an easy job and I can empathize being in a "service" business. In addition, thank god, I can afford it. Therefore, for these and other reasons, I do so. Perhaps I am naive, however, I believe that as an occupation, or as an industry, these are hard-working people in a tough business.

When getting good service, I think 20% has now become the norm. We've seen legitimate cost(s) of living in the past 10 years -- not the CPI of course -- and like everything else, the level of tipping as well should have increased in my eyes. Now, in my mind, and in my situation -- 20% pre-tax and post-tax (in NY and NJ) is a trivial difference, again, in my mind and situation. Thus, I tip 20% after-tax. I am OK with that. If I get great service, exceptional service, I tip more than 20% post-tax.

All of this is considering the the service is good of course. Bad service is something completely different.

Eric

See, I tip roughly the way you do, but I think the "cost of living" argument is BS. Because one thing that has been going up as fast -- or faster -- as the "legitimate cost of living" is the cost of a good dinner out. Diner waitresses have it tough, vis a vis check size versus cost of living. Servers in upscale joints? I think tabs have more than kept pace.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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My own personal attitude about tipping is that "it's not tipping I believe it -- it's over-tipping" . . . as per Mr. Vincent Antonelli in My Blue Heaven, LOL.

Seriously, when called for, I tend to overtip for a variety of reasons. I know there are servers who work for net zero-wage and really work for tips, and I know there are others who do get a pay-wage. That's not really the issue to me. When I have a server who works hard, and puts forth the effort to see that I am taken care of and have an enjoyable meal, I appreciate that. I don't view being a server an easy job and I can empathize being in a "service" business. In addition, thank god, I can afford it. Therefore, for these and other reasons, I do so. Perhaps I am naive, however, I believe that as an occupation, or as an industry, these are hard-working people in a tough business.

When getting good service, I think 20% has now become the norm. We've seen legitimate cost(s) of living in the past 10 years -- not the CPI of course -- and like everything else, the level of tipping as well should have increased in my eyes. Now, in my mind, and in my situation -- 20% pre-tax and post-tax (in NY and NJ) is a trivial difference, again, in my mind and situation. Thus, I tip 20% after-tax. I am OK with that. If I get great service, exceptional service, I tip more than 20% post-tax.

All of this is considering the the service is good of course. Bad service is something completely different.

Eric

See, I tip roughly the way you do, but I think the "cost of living" argument is BS. Because one thing that has been going up as fast -- or faster -- as the "legitimate cost of living" is the cost of a good dinner out. Diner waitresses have it tough, vis a vis check size versus cost of living. Servers in upscale joints? I think tabs have more than kept pace.

I see your point, but to me it's not about math. Of course the math is linear, but I also think there is a "business owner" and "employee" aspect, but that's just me. It's a food chain discussion, no pun intended, LOL. I also don't view it as "justification" to my point, because for good service, I'll overtip.

I've never gone through the #'s, nor would I ever, because as I said it's not important to me. However, the math and money to me are not the same. While the tab may have gone up from $100 to $125, with no increase in the tip -- at 15%, the tip is now $3.75 higher. While that in and of itself might be the applicable % increase, I would see that as myopic to some extent.

I don't view it as the 15% on the more expensive check -- it's about dollars, not percentages. I think the non-monetary aspect is more important to me.

Eric

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  • 2 weeks later...

As a start, let me say that I tip 20% in general. Now my questions.

How many restaurants pool tips? Quite a few, I'd bet. If this is the practice then all pretense of rewarding good service is gone and the tip is just underwriting the owner's bottom line.

Another question....I have a $50 entree and app...and order a $150 bottle of wine. Should I tip on the wine's price .... which is already obscenely marked-up...and is as easy to pour as a bottle of Turning Leaf?

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How many restaurants pool tips?  Quite a few, I'd bet.  If this is the practice then all pretense of rewarding good service is gone and the tip is just underwriting the owner's bottom line.

In our dining room, the tips are pooled. But then, so is the service. Each table is assigned to a particular server, but every person on the floor is capable of providing service (running food, drink orders, etc). Mind you, the room is small (25 tables) and there are 3 servers, a bartender and a host.

IMHO, "good service" should be a global sense from the entire dining room, but the dining experience can be enhanced greatly by the ministrations of an individual. And that individual can be rewarded individually, as well, by a cash tip, personally delivered, along with "thank you for adding to our enjoyment of this evening".

Karen Dar Woon

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A couple of quick notes...

The concept of having to review your service --- is painful in chain places where the server has an IQ that is interchangeable with their shoe size. I will tip a base of 15% in a small market, 20% base in a large market.... (LA, NY, SF, Chicago, etc) and then will correct up and down based upon the service. I have left many, many, many reviews (because I do write these, you see) for owners and managers. Frequently I will only ask for a manager's business card... and send them what I would have published if the review was on my schedule. "Last night's dinner did solve the dilemma of what happened to the butcher's sawdust. It was over salted and served with vegetables that had been cooked as mercilessly as if they refused to repent during the inquisition. The merlot was served at cellar temperature... if you happen to live above a volcano, and the only bright spot was the sheen on the back of the waiter's pants."

Truly, the saddest part is that most places have a disconnect between the wait staff and the management.... and the cook staff. Frequently it is that when you pay peanuts, you get monkeys, and when you only can afford monkeys.... you seem disappointed that they are unable to rise to the occasion.

hvr

"Cogito Ergo Dim Sum; Therefore I think these are Pork Buns"

hvrobinson@sbcglobal.net

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I know you are painting with broad strokes. But I think it unfair to attack the waiters IQ's. I would guess that the waiters are inexperenced, (chains are a jumping off point for many people because they will hire with no experiance) the training programs leave something to be desired and then they get jaded quickly because people tip poorly in chains.

A DUSTY SHAKER LEADS TO A THIRSTY LIFE

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I generally tip about 20%. If it's one of my "regular" restaurants with waitstaff who knows me, I tip 25 to 30%.

There have only been a couple of times where I've not given a tip. In one case, the waitress argued with me when I explained that I'd ordered something I hadn't recieved. "No. No, you didn't." It doesn't matter if I did or I didn't (though I know that I DID because it was really rare for my husband and I to spring for that particular appetizer). She also brought me the wrong soda - Coke instead of Diet Coke and then insisted I said "Coke" (I always order diet because I'm very "sensitive" to high fructose corn syrup and, in fact, almost never say "Coke" because I don't want there to be ANY confusion and, besides, never know whether they have coke/pepsi, so I say "Diet"). In addition, when dinner arrived, mine was overcooked (I asked for medium rare - it was well done) and my husband's was undercooked (he gets medium well, always, but his was on the rarer side of medium) - and it wasn't just a confusion of plates, because we'd ordered completely different dinners. Once again, she insisted that we were "lying" and "being difficult". I could have handled the "mess ups" and still would have tipped because who knows if it could have been her fault, it could have been the kitchen - until she argued about it. Then, not only did I know it was her fault, but she accused us of being difficult/lying. I left no tip, and a note to let her know why. I also called and talked to the manager because, if we hadn't been regulars there, an experience like that would have made us not come back - and I'd want to know if one of my staff was driving customers away. The next time we went in (the food there is good and most of the waitstaff is great), we specifically checked to make sure we weren't being waited on by her (we didn't see her that day). In that case, I feel no tip was completely justified. But, that's very few and far between. Even on "bad" service, I still tip 10 to 15 percent (we all have bad days).

I tip one to two dollars on each alcoholic drink at a bar. It's on the lower end if they're too lighthanded with the liquor (at bars where I know they can pour with a bit of a heavier hand).

For coffee drinks, when I get them, I tip usually a dollar per beverage, plus my change (as in coins) - more money for them, and then I don't have to have it in my pocket.

Misa

Sweet Misa

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As a start, let me say that I tip 20% in general.  Now my questions.

How many restaurants pool tips?  Quite a few, I'd bet.  If this is the practice then all pretense of rewarding good service is gone and the tip is just underwriting the owner's bottom line.

Another question....I have a $50 entree and app...and order a $150 bottle of wine.  Should I tip on the wine's price .... which is already obscenely marked-up...and is as easy to pour as a bottle of Turning Leaf?

I don't have an answer to you questions, but I have a variation on your second one. What is the appropriate tip for the server in a BYOB who often does as much with my wine as the server who works in a restaurant where I've ordered a bottle?

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  • 7 years later...

Not interested in turning this into another pro/con tipping thread, but what is the average, expected tipping level for adequate, decent service? Obviously service above or below a certain level would indicate a deviance from the norm.

Are there regional variations?

Figures I have seen range from 15% to 20%.

p

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We generally tip 20% on the pre-tax amount.  If service was not-so-great, we'll cut it by a few points.  

 

That said, we also have 'minimum' flat rate tips for low-cost venues that exceed the 20% guideline.  

 

Example:  there are some casual restaurants here that offer $6.95 sandwiches, and at lunch we often just have water with them, so it's a $14 tab.  We tip $4 on that lunch,  i.e., a $2 minimum tip per person.  Same think if I'm traveling solo and and grab a coffee and bagel for breakfast at a cafe that cost $6 or $7 total, I leave a minimum $2 tip.  

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Of course there are regional variations: cultural factors (ranging from what perceptions of what service is supposed to be to, well, damn near anything) plus the amount of money waitstaff make prior to receiving tips. In Australia there is no expectation of a tip. The default is 'no tip'. From there people, in my experience, 'round up' rather than mess about with percentages. In fact, the only people I ever recall talk in terms of percentage in an Australian restaurant were migrants from the US. A $142 bill? You might throw in $150. Maybe if you have $160 on you--a pile twenties, say--you'll let them keep the change. Or maybe you'll just throw in an extra five, maybe a tenner. It's optional. And, seriously, if I throw down $150 for a $142 meal the 'change' will come back. It's very, very, very rare for them to act like it's a tip unless I tell them it's a tip or walk away from the table, leaving the change behind. It tends not to go down well when there's an assumption that the extra was a tip. When you pay by credit card there may or may not be a little space on the docket for you to add a tip. I've only seen that at fine dining places and high end 'casual' places.

 

There are some places where it's seemingly not done at all. If it's a cheap and cheerful place? Forget it. I've never seen people tip at bars, even when we're talking about expensive bars that provide table service. A few places--coffee shops, some cheap places--might have a jar at the counter, if that's where you pay, but that's mostly for small change. You won't see too many notes in those jars. If Australians tip, it's usually indicative of good service or shying away from the social stigma associated with futzing about with small change when you're out with a group of friends. That kind of behaviour suggests you're a "tight arse." I suspect it's also influenced by the high cost of eating out, given the (relatively) high wages of hospitality staff. Worth noting is that in at least some places (I can't comment on how widespread this really is) the tips are divided 'fairly' between waitstaff and even back-of-house.

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Chris Taylor

Host, eG Forums - ctaylor@egstaff.org

 

I've never met an animal I didn't enjoy with salt and pepper.

Melbourne
Harare, Victoria Falls and some places in between

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Thanks for the replies so far. By regional variations I was trying to differentiate between big cities such as NY and Chicago vs smaller less urbanized areas.

In an effort to keep this thread focused, I wasn't interested in the rationale behind the numbers but the numbers only. There are many varied reasons why the tip amount may be different from the tip norm, but that has been covered in numerous (too numerous?) threads.

p

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Re: my post and our location.  

 

We're currently living in a small beach town (Gulfport, FL).  Gulfport is a Tampa Bay area 'restaurant destination' as it has 12+ eateries in a 5 block stretch of its historic downtown.  In addition, snowbirds flock here every winter.  We live in the historic district and walk to these eateries and eat out most every day, so the staff (usually young and attending colleges or the local law school) are familiar to us, some are our neighbors.  

 

We tip the 20% when we travel around the US.  In Europe and Mexico (where we lived for 5 years), we tip between 5% and 10% depending on the local customs.  

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Thanks for the replies so far. By regional variations I was trying to differentiate between big cities such as NY and Chicago vs smaller less urbanized areas.

In an effort to keep this thread focused, I wasn't interested in the rationale behind the numbers but the numbers only. There are many varied reasons why the tip amount may be different from the tip norm, but that has been covered in numerous (too numerous?) threads.

p

I don't understand the question then. Are you asking if a specific individual would tip differently if they went to the city for dinner vs when they live in the country/suburbs/small town and go for dinner locally? That is really the only way one person who lives in one place could tell you if there are 'regional variations' in their own behaviour - and they still couldn't speak for others.

 

For instance, in the effort to clarify your question ...

 

What do YOU tip in Orillia? If you go to Toronto for fine dining, do you tip differently? Or do you tip differently based on 'level of service'? or on 'type of meal/establishment'?

 

Maybe I should also ask you .. what is the purpose of this question? Are you writing a book? Writing a thesis?

 

As for my personal tipping behaviour - dinner is dinner, service is service - I tip based on those no matter where I am eating and I do not vary my own behaviour based on my location at the time, be it in North America or abroad. I tip generously when the service is good, I tip less than 20% if the service is not so good and I have been known (the last time was many years ago now) to leave a penny when the service was atrocious. I guess I will have to up that now that we have no more pennies mind you! And my tips are based roughly on the total bill, not the pre-tax amount. And they are usually rounded up from there too. As long as I am not tipping too low, I don't really take 'local customs' into account.

 

I guess I could explain my personal perspective better though if I told you I spent a number of years waitressing, cooking and bartending back in my youth.

Edited by Deryn (log)
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Regional differences.....

Of course there are!

You do realize that in your country there are States with "tipping wages" that are under three dollars, and then there are States like Wash. State where the min wage is ten dollars and no "tipping wages".

Guess which State tips 10-15%, and which State tips 20%?

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I have enough friends who have worked in the hospitality industry to know that their pay sucks. I'll do ~20% for a decent job (usually rounded to the nearest dollar), and a bit over if it's a place I frequent. I feel that most of my peers operate the same way, and if you're talking about "expectations"- it's sort of assumed among all us dining out that we'll be tipping that much. However, if I feel underserved or served badly, the tip diminishes accordingly, which I feel some of my peers don't do as much.

 

If it's a bar where I know the barman and/or get industry discounts, then I tip a LOT more.

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I tip according to service not the quality of the food. I do not reinforce incompetence by leaving an underserved percentage. For the usual lackadaisical service: 10% max- likely to be less. If service met basic standard or was exceptional the tip is 10-15% up to 20%.

 

Polite friendly accurate knowledgeable and timely. If server or establishment is in the weeds I'll usually recognize it and if that is the reason for poor service I don't ding them for it.

 

If I am not thanked or "welcomed" at some point I never return no matter how good the food is.

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I'm actually writing a poem, not a book or thesis.

 

I usually tip 20%, but coming from a small town, with little to no restaurant culture, I wondered if the percentage was higher in a larger city with many more choices.

 

Of course tipping is a personal choice based on a number of factors. What I'm asking is, what is the starting point for good, decent service, not why you would go higher or lower other than regional expectations.

 

p

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I've spent most of my life in small towns, a couple with a vibrant restaurant culture, most without. I travel to larger cities, for both work and pleasure, frequently.

 

I tend to tip 20 percent for adequate service, regardless of where I am. More, if the service is excellent, or if the tab is exceptionally small. If I have a $5 lunch (is there such a thing any more? Maybe a $7 lunch....), I'm going to tip at least two bucks.

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Don't ask. Eat it.

www.kayatthekeyboard.wordpress.com

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What greater level of specificity do you want beyond your observation of 15-20%? That seems right.  The baseline might vary with the sales tax in a particular jurisdiction, as using a multiple of the tax is a good starting point for figuring the tip.  A place with an 8% sales tax probably has a baseline of about a 16% tip rounded up when satisfied and down when not, while someplace that has a 6% tax will likely find marginally dissatisfied customers tipping 12% and happier customers tipping 18%... I'd be interested if you can find some data that would support that conjecture.

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Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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