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Thursday, July 13, 2006

Concerning Tips

No, Chris isn’t the one who earned today’s IotM award. It goes to the doofuses who not only have to compensate for not having paid attention in school, but also those who don’t get that calculating tips to the penny is completely not the point.

And let’s not even get into the question of how many people carry their laptop computers to restaurants of high enough calibre that the tip needs to be calculated.

The fact is, tips are supposed to be earned—not automatic. I have no qualms not tipping a waiter or waitress who performed poorly. But one must also learn to tell the difference between a problem in the kitchen or a problem with the person servicing your table. I’ve gotten horrible food from places, but the girl waiting on me in one instance was as pleasant and helpful as could be, and even went back herself to make sure my order was corrected.

Tips should also be left based on how you felt about your service—not calculated to the penny. I’m pretty generous when I tip if I feel like I’ve been well-taken care of. And I believe this applies to every member of the party. My advice when in a group of people at a restaurant—no matter if one person is paying or all are paying—if it is decided that everyone pitch in for the tip, I suggest everyone leaving an amount they feel is roughly 20% of their portion of the bill (even if they aren’t paying the bill). If one person wasn’t happy with something, they opt out. Simple as that.

And that reminds me of compulsory tips that are automatically added for parties over a particular size. Restaurants that do this also get today’s IotM award. Don’t assess a “tip” for handling a large party when it’s really a fee. If you want to indicate that an amount (and it should be a flat amount, not a percentage) is charged for parties over X number, then call it a fee for large parties. I don’t care if I bring 100 people in and rent out your restaurant, if your service is lousy, a tip is not earned. Yes, this is semantics, but it fosters the mentality that tips are expected when they should be earned.

As for simply not leaving a tip, I actually shy from that, too, because the waiter or waitress could get the impression that you simply forgot it. If your service was truly bad enough to warrant no tip at all, leave a nickel in a prominent place so they know you didn’t forget. One time, after sitting in an Olive Garden for four hours during lunch, I was paying by credit card and wrote next to my $0 on the tip line, “the tip I would have left you doesn’t even begin to pay 4 hours of my salary that I spent here.”

For the curious, the waiter claimed his managers demanded him to handle another part of the dining room and forced him to neglect our table. Yeah. Right.

Well, if you’ve gotten this far through my soapbox, here’s a tipping, uh, tip. If your service was satisfactory, look at the tax. Double it. Round up to the nearest whole $5. That’s your tip. Yeah, sometimes it may be below 20%. Sometimes it may be higher. Big deal. Sometimes I’ll leave even more if I was really pleased.

Once again, it’s all about how you feel about your service.

Tips are not supposed to be compulsory!

» Posted by ALBj at 09:47 AM (ET)
Category: Idiot of the Moment


I’m just shocked you stayed there for four hours at lunch! We had something like that happen at an Olive Garden once where we didnt’ see our waitress for 20 minutes after being seated. She then swooped in, deposited glasses with water and we didn’t see her again for another 20 minutes. The only reason we saw her then, though, was because that’s when I stood up and got the manager. How did you manage to spend four hours there?

» Posted by Tanner Lovelace
July 13, 2006 04:24 PM

I’ve spent a few hours before when we got through the ordering but the food didn’t come for like an hour, and the place was not even close to full. Course that was probably the cook’s fault, but still.

Interesting idea on calculating the tip, but that amount can change drastically depending on the tax rate for the area. I simply divide by 10, double, then round up or down to the nearest whole dollar depending on how I felt about the service. If it was bad service, I might only give half or quarter of the amount. If it was REALLY bad, I’ll go for the few coins method to make the statement.

» Posted by Queue
July 16, 2006 07:30 AM

Hmm, you’re right. I was obviously speaking based on the tax rates in central Florida. However, unless I’m grossly uninformed, I believe sales tax in much of the U.S. averages 6-8 percent. At least it has been in places where I’ve dined. Thus, my calculation—after rounding up—generally always gets me somewhere between 15-20 percent, which is always my target. And I emphasize that this range is my target. As I said in the blog entry, I don’t calculate a specific percentage down to the penny.

» Posted by Lee Bennett
July 16, 2006 04:09 PM

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