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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Jessy Roos

I would think that one of the reasons for tipping on the pre-tax amount, and for tipping 10% to delivery people, is because the most respected source of etiquette rules, Emily Post, declares those the proper ways to tip.

If I'm ever unsure of what the appropriate way or amount to tip is, I reference Emily. She hasn't let me wrong yet!

Flori... Floridamom96

Have you ever eaten at a "fancier restaurant"? Have you not noticed that the level of service tends to be much better at a "fancier restaurant" than at a chain restaurant? You are tipping based on the level (or quality) of service you received so it makes perfect sense to tip more for more or better service.

names... namestaken

I can't stand when people "calculate". I tip according to service. Never less than $3, usually $5 or more..I am a notoriously good tipper though. I can get a meal with a drink, rolls, salad and entree for about $10. One or two bucks does not seem enough tip to me. Especially if the service was good...I also used to waitress, so that may have something to do with it. :)

fave82 fave82

Tipping less for delivery or to-go is usually becuase the person just has to bring you the food and leave.. they're not running back and forth refilling your drink and getting you more napkins or just checking in on you etc

riadolph riadolph

namestaken - I totally agree with you. The fact of the level of service I receive at any restaurant determines how much I tip.

dearg76 dearg76

I have to say, I just had this discussion with my husband on Saturday night. How funny. We and a large group of family went out (something like 18-22 people) to dinner to celebrate my husbands college graduation. Well when checks came around i noticed that (I won't name names) 2 didn't leave but the bare minimum tip and that was only because the server had to handle a large group by himself. They did not calculate the tip in for our group liek I have seen at other places. Anyway both these people mentioned that they normally don't but leave $2-$3. 

I thought that was very wrong. We always leave a good tip, the better the service the better the tip. We don't go out to eat without expecting to tip, so if we don't have money to tip, we don't have money to eat out. Neither of us have ever waited tables but we do work and we know what it is not to make alot. These people are just trying to make a living and most usually are college kids. 

Just so you know we left our waiter a $20 tip on a $32.00 bill. He did a really good job

Ashleigh Munson

I don't tip on delivery because those folks are already getting a full paycheck. Servers make less than $3 an hour generally in pure wage. They rely on tips. And yes, I calculate $20%. For most restaurants that, about 2-3 bucks per person at the table. I wouldn't tip a higher percentage at a fancy restaurant, but since the food is pricier, they'd automatically be getting a higher amount.

nonmember avatar Shannon

Most delivery drives now only make a serving wage, so they make less than 5 an hour. Also drivers may just bring it to your door, but they have to pay for the additional wear and tear to their car. Its not just the gas, but the more frequent repairs for everything else that adds up.

dirti... dirtiekittie

i usually double the tax and add a couple of dollars on top if the service was really good. being that tax here is almost 8 percent, you're looking at at least 16% plus whatever i add. i have no qualms tipping upwards of 20% when the service warrants it. however, i've stopped going to restaurants with waitstaff because i got tired of the attitudes and the feeling of "i'm a server who barely makes any money so you better tip me even if i'm rude and mean to you!" um, no. tips are compensation for the level of service delivered, and if you don't deliver the service, i don't leave the tip. 

CPN322 CPN322

I agreed with everything except the delivery bit. The places I order delivery from charge a delivery fee which I assume(I hope correctly) is given to the driver. I do feel waiting on tables and actually conversing with your customers over a period of time and constantly making sure they have what they need deserves a better tip then someone who merely drives you the food. But I always tip $4 regardless of what the amount is and most delivery drivers seem good with that. My father is a generous tipper and I think because of that so am I. Having been a waitress for a few years, though, if you suck, you won't be getting a good tip.

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