Tipping Etiquette a Touchy Subject For Patrons and Servers

tipping, tips, tipping etiquette

I’ve written a few articles in the past about tipping etiquette, how much to tip and in which cases to tip. Clearly in the service industry, patrons and servers don’t see eye-to-eye on gratuities, and in some cases whether any tip should be left at all. Needless to say everybody and their mother have their two cents worth on tipping. Myself included of course, hence why I’m writing another post.

One thing we all can agree on is that tipping is a way for patrons to say, “Thank You” for doing a quality job and providing solids service. Tipping is also optional, and not something that is mandatory by any stretch. Unfortunately the meaning of gratuities is changing and is something that is becoming expected by some. As soon as it becomes expected, then it’s part of a persona wage, and it’s no longer optional. Isn’t the whole intention of the tip a way of saying, “Thank You” and “Optional”? Some just seem to forget this, and just because they brought you food over the course of the evening expect something in return. Truly, I enjoy tipping and offering praise for a job well done, but I dislike when it’s expected.

Nobody likes feeling pressured or getting the evil eye when there’s not enough tip or any left for that matter. Yet it’s something that happens more often than not in the service industry. The tip amount is a reflection due to a combination of great service and equally good tasting food, so the servers in most instances need to work in harmony with the kitchen. So, a solid plate of food and equally good food result in an equally good tip. Generally a 15 per cent top is the standard for a good meal and 20 per cent for an exceptional meal with exceptional service.

Tipping in the Headlines

Recently tipping etiquette made some headlines and has in fact gone viral. Someone on the receiving end set off a firestorm by posting the above photo showing a restaurant receipt for nearly $140 and a note in place of a tip that reads – “Single Mom, Sorry.” Like I said the above photo has gone viral, and has been viewed more than 600,000 times, and in the process sparked a lot of online commentary. Was the service that bad? Probably not, because another note at the bottom compliments the meal with a note – “Thank you it was great.”

I found the above move very low, pathetic and pretty disgusting. For someone who has money to blow on $140 dinner, sure could have spent that $140 for a week worth of groceries if they were truly broke, but instead it was spent on a single meal.

Furthermore, tipping also made the news in Des Moines, Iowa, when a Pizza Hut delivery driver didn’t get a tip became upset in the process and ended up urinating on the front door of where he just delivered. Again, the woman who ordered the pizza said – “Sorry, no extra money for tip.”

Final Thoughts

I say tip or don’t go out to eat. Unless, the service was terrible you should tip. If the food is horrible, it’s up to you to let your server know, and in turn they should get together with the manger, who should comp your meal. I tip on a scale starting at 15 percent. I look for a happy person, nobody likes to be served by a bad attitude, some promptness, and generally how well the food tastes.

Readers, have you ever not tipped after a meal? What do you base your tip on?

Thanks for stopping by.



  1. Wow that picture makes me angry! I guess here I don’t think of tipping as optional just because servers only make around $2 an hour.

    I have only not tipped one time. The waiter was HORRIBLE. I even left a note and tried calling and emailing corporate and they ignored me every time and did not even care.

    I was with around 5 or 6 other people, and the waiter brought out everyone’s food, BESIDES MINE. I sat there for around 20 minutes until he eventually came back, and I told him I didn’t get my food. He said “oops” and then around 30 minutes later brought “my” food, but it wasn’t mine (I didn’t order whatever it was that he brought to me).

    I then told him that it wasn’t my food and gave him my correct order again. He then came out around 20 minutes later with my correct entree. When I got my bill, he charged me for my actual meal TWICE and then he also charged me for the meal that he accidentally gave me. I tried arguing with him but he said if I did not pay, then he would call the cops. So a meal that should have been $8, turned out to be $41.

    I didn’t leave a tip for him (I gave the hostess money and told her to not give it to him but to have it split among everyone else, and then I also left the receipt with my reasoning written out) but then when I checked my account a couple of days later, I NOTICED THAT HE GAVE HIMSELF A $10 TIP ANYWAYS.

    Sorry for the long complaint!
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  2. I guess I’ll say I’m a little annoyed about the comment you have about tipping and whether or not it’s expected. The reality is that most waiters/tresses make around $2/hour because THEIR WORK/EMPLOYER expects you to tip them. In return, sure the server will expect to be tipped because that’s standard practice and they took the job knowing they’d make $2/hour and their only way to supplement that is by making money from tips. So, tips are expected and you should pay them regardless if they are or aren’t expected. If that’s a problem for people then they shouldn’t go be served by somebody else. Hit up the fast food joint or cook for yourself at home.

    We could argue whether or not they should work for a company that pays them $2/hour, but that’s a different story, and the truth is that many people working those jobs don’t have many other options.

    The part about the receipt is absurd. It could also be a prank that the picture taker is paying to rile people up, but it’s possible that somebody is that asinine.
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    • You’re right that the picture could be a prank, but nobody will know for sure. However, that’s neither here nor there. I don’t know where you live, but most waiters around here make 7-8 per hour. We can sit here and argue all day about tips expected or not, but it’s my choice and yours at the end of the day whether you want to tip or not. For example, the call center person who gets screamed at for $5 more hourly certainly deserves a tip for all the beating up they get verbally and mentally, but do they get it? No. Secondly, the reason why the hourly rate is low to begin with (whether it’s $2 or $7 hourly) is not due to the owner, its because the government sets those parameters – at least here in Canada.

  3. I can only think of twice where I never tipped a server, and in both occasions it was horrid service. Typically I’ll give the customary 15/20% tip based off of what meal it is. I may go a little lower if the service isn’t very good, but not by much. If the service is really good then I’ll tip a good amount. I’ve tipped upwards of 35-40% before for exceptional service. I know that servers generally are only making a few bucks an hour and depend on the tips, so that’s important to keep in mind. I am actually writing a post on holiday tipping for next week and am interested to see what the response is.
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  4. I almost always tip – whether it’s delivery or in the restaurant. I have not tipped a few times when the service was absolutely horrendous. I had a friend in university who wouldn’t tip in order to save money – I usually ended up chipping in for her tip b/c I felt bad! If we go out with the whole family (i.e. several adults and kids), I always tip well, cause the server has to worked darned hard!
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  5. I don’t think I ever left nothing, but I will lower the tip if the service is poor. My rule of thumb is 17% (double sales tax) if service is reasonable and as much as 20% if extraordinary.
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    • I’ve left $0 tip a few times – the service and/or food was simply horrible. Why give praise to something that’s half ass, surely nobody would buy a product from a sales person that was shitty.

  6. If you can’t afford to tip, you can’t afford to be in a restaurant. Go home, eat something from the freezer, and save up so that you can be fair, single mom or not.
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  7. I can afford to tip. I just don’t like to.
    I go to restaurants because I enjoy the food, not because someone brings it to me. If all of my favourite restaurants did take-out, I’d be set. If I could walk into a restaurant, seat myself, write my order down and bring it to the kitchen and then collect my food when it’s ready, I would be THRILLED.

    I live in Canada. I would prefer to leave a loonie as my tip no matter how much the bill is. 15-20%? WTF? How does the cost of my meal relate to how much effort it took to walk it out to me?

    Waiters are the last people I feel like tipping.
    Cab drivers – if they take the quickest route, sure.
    Hair dressers – yup, something on my head deserves to be tipped.
    Tattoo artists – absolutely!
    Someone who refilled my drink and carried a plate… no, sorry. Thank you for smiling and being pleasant, here’s a loonie.

    • Melissa!
      I gotta say……BRAVO!!
      I like your attitude, even though I’m a tipper, you raise some very valid points!
      I appreciate you stopping by and the refreshing I don’t give an F attitude…..wish more people were like yourself!!

    • Bravo Melissa. I am totally on your side. Reading previous comments I thought those Americans insane. Instead of saying “If you can’t afford to tip, you can’t afford to be in a restaurant” they should say “IF EMPLOYER CAN NOT PAY PROPER SALARY TO HIS EMPLOYEES THEN SHOULD GO OUT OF BUSINESS. WE ARE NOT SUPPORTING LEGALIZATION OF SLAVERY”. I usually do tipping but not in situation when someone just brings my order to me with a smile. Tips shouldn’t be expected, you are giving it for something that you really appreciate.

  8. I LOVE that picture you found!

    Being a food server is tough. I always tip at least 15% b/c it is ingrained in me. The better, the better.
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    • I always tip the server 20-25%. I’ve never had a server that didn’t deserve it. (Trust me, they remember me when I come back and treat us accordingly). Our kid was a pizza delivery guy and he delivered to people living in million $ plus homes. One guy actually had a bill for $19.95 – he handed our son a $20 bill and told him to “keep the change”. Another guy ordered $15 worth of food. He lived in a much more modest home and tipped our son $12. The guy was out in his garage working on his harley and must’ve seen the 20 year old car our son was driving and felt sorry for him. 2 extreme examples, but I’m betting the harley guy has a whole helluva lot more good karma in his life than the cheap, “rich” bastard does.

  9. You have to leave a tip unless they are horrible. If you only want the food and don’t feel service is worth it, then order take out and eat it at home. That being said, waiters do have a tendency to phone it home when they see you are not ordering alchohol, have some sort of a coupon, or have a kid with you,which is really annoying. How do you know I don’t appreciate good service? I gave a 50% tip to a great waiter we had a few months ago. He asked where we were from,which was an hour away. Then gave us a local’s discount and he was nice to my daughter. Don’t kiss up to the drunkards who might accidentally leave more money and ignore the boring looking ones.
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