Tipping Survey Reveals Some Shocking Don'ts When It Comes to 'Thanking' Your Server

Say What!? 34

tipping check restaurantOne of the many things I adore about my fiance is how perpetually generous he is -- especially when it comes to tipping. He pretty much assumes, without question, that any server at any restaurant we go to is getting 20+ percent (unless they somehow screw up big time). And it isn't because he's showing off or wants to look a certain way to me or anyone we're dining with. It's because he genuinely believes in tipping well. Because all too often, waiters and waitresses are making next to zilch outside of their tips.

But as sweet and generous as it is, my fiance's philosophy is not necessarily the only one. Zagat surveyed 1,719 people to see what's normal, what's stingy, and what's extreme when it comes to tipping, and sheesh, people have a lot of weird eccentricities when it comes to gratuity -- which really seem like practices to avoid!

For instance, it's always been super-bizarre to me how some people calculate their tip before tax. Why would you do that? Tax is just a part of the bill. Seems to me like tipping on the pre-tax amount would just be a not-so-sneaky way of shortchanging your server. And yet 38 percent of people surveyed do this. Weird!

Another quirk: 10 percent of people said they tip more when they're dining at a fancier restaurant. Hmm. So that chain restaurant employee doesn't deserve as much as the guy at the fancy French place written up in the Times? Lame. Thankfully, the majority -- 85 percent of people -- tip the same percentage regardless of place.

Strangely, though, when the food is being delivered to your home instead of a table at a restaurant, the majority of people only tip 10 percent versus almost 20! What the heck? You'd think someone schlepping food to your front door would deserve more than a waiter carrying it from the kitchen to your booth!

But guess this is just what happens when there's no one standardized way of tipping in our culture. It's so subjective and individualized, people in the food biz probably just resign themselves to receiving everything from awesome to decent to totally horrible tips. That said, I really can't blame some restaurants for adding gratuity automatically to the bill!

What do you believe are tipping no-nos and must-dos?


Image via Iwona Erskine-Kellie/Flickr

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Christy Howell-Hoots

I generally try to be a fairly generous tipper.  However, my sister and I have both waitressed and in our town, you get $2.33/hour (at most places).  BUT, if you don't make enough tips to add up to $7.25 and hour for the full amount of hours you make, the restaurant is required to make up for it in hourly wage.  So, technically, neither of us ever made under $7.25/hour (which is the minumum wage here).

Christy Howell-Hoots

Oh, and my brother is a delivery guy for a pizza place and he makes more than minimum wage.  All the delivery guys there do, so it's not uncommon to not see a delivery person tipped in this area.  (Not that I'm saying that's right).

Christy Howell-Hoots

@CPN, I know places like Dominos and Pizza Hut charge delivery fees, but those are NOT given to the driver.

Jespren Jespren

Tipping no-no: feeling obligated to leave a tip regardless. Tipping is a gratuity, it is NOT supposed to be obligatory, it's supposed to be a way to say 'thank you' for a job preformed exceptionally well. I've eaten and not tipped before, and I've given a 50% tip before. It all depends upon the service given.

Death... Deathlilly

CPN322 I used to work at Papa John's as a driver, the "delivery fee" is not a tip. We only saw $1 out of that per order no matter if it was right next door or across town. 

Ashleigh - That "full pay check" you're talking about is minimum wage. That is not enough to live off of by any means, especially if you have to pay for the gas to deliver the food, have commercial insurance, and have regular maintenance on you car.

Scott Davis

I delivered food the other day to help my wife out. Three seperate order's with a total of about 24.00, I got 1.37 tip. :( 

Sirena Robinson

I tip based on service. If service was acceptable, but not good, it's 10%. If it was good, but not great, it's 15%. If I had great service, I've been known to tip up to 50%, but more typically in the 20-30% range. At a bar, it's $1 per drink, which can sometimes be a 35-40% tip. I will not give anything for bad service. It is not a requirement to tip, it is a reward for good service, and I feel no need to tip if I have not received decent service. However, the waitress does not cook the food and I think it's unfair to penalize her for bad food. I also take into consideration how busy the waitress is. If she's doing her best and they're just swamped, it doesn't bother me. But if it's dead and I wait thirty minutes for a refill, well, no tip for you.

Happy... Happydad73

Tipping is for service, not a wage we pay servers. If you give lousy service, you deserve a lousy (or no) tip. I understand that servers make about $2 per hour from their employer but their paycheck is not my resposibility. My resposibility is to pay for my food and reward good service. If servers don't want to give the service required to get good tips then maybe they should find another field of employment instead of shaming customers who refuse to reward mediocre or bad service.

nonmember avatar Morgan

It's pretty obvious to me that a lot of these people commenting have never been a waiter. Just because the restaurant is supposed to pay the difference through your check to where you make minimum wage doesn't mean they do. At my job they never give us all I the money they should. If the server is good then they deserve a 20 percent tip. Tipping for servers isn't a bonus for doing a good job. It's how we pay our bills. Learn to tip and know that others are working their way through school and can't have a job that pays great yet.

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