If you have a Facebook or really any social media at all, surely you’ve seen the posts where servers post a picture of a receipt with an itty bitty tip or no tip at all, followed by a long rant about how infuriated they are. After seeing numerous posts like this, most people probably are tired of it. However, it is important not to brush it off completely. Tipping is a hot topic and there are plenty of ins and outs of tipping etiquette. I will try my best to explain, but I can’t promise it won’t be totally void of ranting, considering I myself have experience as a server.
How much should I tip?
This is one of the most controversial parts of tipping, honestly. Some people are still in the mindset that a tip should be 15%. However, today’s standards for a normal tip is 18-20%. If you go below 18%, you are suggesting the service was poor. If you go above 20%, you will have a very very happy server and are suggesting the service was great.
What if the service was poor?
The first thing to ask yourself is: was it the server’s fault? If yes, feel free to undertip them. If no, please tip them regularly, but ask to speak to the manager. How can you tell if it’s their fault or not? Good question! Some things a server is in control of: how frequently they check on you, keeping your drinks filled, being pleasant to you, providing prompt service (within reason), getting you extra utensils or condiments, taking your order. Some things a server is not in control of: where you are seated, if you don’t like your food, how long it takes for your food to be made, running out of a meal/utensils/drinkware, how your food is prepared. If it isn’t the server’s fault, feel free to ask your server to send the manager over so you can discuss with them how you were dissatisfied with your experience (but make sure you make it clear it was not about the server and emphasize other things like the food, ect.).
How should I tip if it was the server’s fault?
This is where things often become controversial. Many people reason that if the service was poor and it was due to something within the server’s control, that they should leave no tip at all. It is a very tricky situation, because I know what it is like to be a paying customer at a restaurant and have a really horrible time because of a bad server. I think it must be a REALLY REALLY REALLY horrible time for you to leave no tip whatsoever. I can promise, as someone with serving experience, that simply undertipping will get the point across to the server that they really did a bad job. One time, I got undertipped when I was swamped with tables and couldn’t keep up fast enough, and my one table was frustrated about it. I was disappointed with myself for not doing a great job with them, and seeing that I got tipped 15% was enough to make it clear they weren’t thrilled with my service and that I needed to step it up. I beg you, please don’t give ZERO tip unless the situation is horrible. I promise that tipping 10-15% is enough of a statement to your serve that they did a poor job.
I spent a lot on food, what if I can’t afford to tip?
Please be considerate and only come out to eat if you can afford to tip as well. You should know what you can afford to spend on a meal before the bill comes. Please don’t shortchange your server just because you spent too much on food and can’t afford to or don’t want to spend more on a tip. Servers only get paid $2.13 an hour (which most servers never actually get since it covers taxes); my checks were always void from the restaurant. This means I was not making any money from the restaurant itself. Servers rely on your tips for income. If you shortchange or don’t tip your server, they are actually losing money by waiting on you. They have to tip out busboys and bartenders based on the sales they ring up; also, they can’t turn over the table to serve someone who WILL tip them if you are there. Please be respectful of the fact that servers do actually work really hard since it is many hours of being on their feet without rest, carrying heavy trays, running around the restaurant, managing their time and tables so no one is neglected, and being constantly “on” and upbeat even when exhausted. Please make sure that when you are ordering a meal, you can afford to properly tip 18-20% too!
My entire article summed up in one gif: