What to Do if You Are Morally Opposed to Tipping Servers

What to Do if You Are Morally Opposed to Tipping Servers - picture of server with three plates of food in hands

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I recently stumbled upon an entire blog post about people who dislike tipping servers.  And I get it.  Going out to eat isn’t cheap to begin with, and tipping your server can make the price of your meal climb considerably.

Add that to the fact that it is sometimes hard to know how much to tip.  For example, is the standard tip still 15 percent?  Or is it 20?  Also, how much should you tip at a buffet?  I usually err on the side of not being an asshole, but I can see how the whole act of tipping could be confusing to some people.

Regardless, the blog post I’m talking about wasn’t a debate on what constitutes a good tip.  It was about the entire act of tipping and the fact that many employers see tips as a reason to pay less than a living wage.  I’m not going to link to the article in question because a) the person who wrote it is an asshole, and b) I don’t want to give them any traffic, but I will share the basic premise of the post in order to provide some background for this one.

Their Argument

The author started by arguing that minimum wage has not kept up with inflation, and how it is unfair to the people who work these jobs.  I agree wholeheartedly with that argument.  Minimum wage was $5.15 when I was a senior in high school, and now- 15 years later- it is only $7.25.  In the meantime, the cost of everything has increased astronomically.  Truth be told, I don’t really see how minimum wage workers get by at all.

The author went on to say that people who work for tips might even have it worse than minimum wage workers.  That’s because, according to the author, servers may not be guaranteed any type of wage.  Since they depend on the kindness of others for their livelihood, they often get the shaft.

I agree with that too.  I worked as a server off and on for a decade, and I absolutely hated working for tips.  I think I was paid something like $2.15 per hour, which meant that no tips= no income.

But then the argument turns into one I cannot understand.  Basically, the blogger in question argues that we should all boycott tipping by- you guessed it- stiffing servers.

Because nothing says “I believe in a living wage” quite like stiffing the very people you are supposedly advocating for.

Why It’s Wrong to Stiff Your Server

As someone who worked in hellholes like Denny’s, Applebees, and Outback Steakhouse over the years, this infuriates me.  Here’s why:

Servers Don’t Always Keep Their tips

My last serving job was at Outback Steakhouse over a decade ago.  I actually liked working there, but I hated one aspect of the job in particular- tip sharing.  Because we needed to share our tips with bussers and hosts, we had to give 3 percent of our sales back to the house- whether we were tipped or not. So when someone failed to tip me, I actually paid to wait on them. 

Servers Don’t Want to Work for Free

Believe it or not, servers actually have better things to do than wait on your ass for free.  And when you sit in their section and fail to tip them, you’re keeping them from earning tips from people who might actually pay them.

Raise your hand if you like working for free!  <insert crickets here>

You’re Punishing the Wrong Person

I can’t believe this needs to be explained, but I’ll do it regardless.  When you patronize a restaurant then stiff your server, you’re not “sticking it to the man.”  You’re punishing a low-wage worker.

What To Do if You Are Morally Opposed to Tipping Servers

Still confused?  For those of you who just can’t grasp the concept, I created a list of things you can do if you are morally opposed to tipping servers (whatever the reason):

  • Eat at home

If nothing on that list works for you, consider eating at restaurants where employees don’t generally work for tips.  Some examples include fast food restaurants like McDonald’s, Arby’s, and Subway.  You could also choose to eat your dinner at a casual dining restaurant that functions without servers, such as Panera Bread, Chipotle, QDoba, or Moe’s Southwest Grill.

Whatever you do, don’t visit a sit-down restaurant then refuse to tip based on some misguided passion for the plight of low-wage workers.

If you do, please know that you’re not helping- you’re being an asshole.

Are you morally opposed to tipping servers?

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  1. Unfortunately some of those fast food restaurants now have a cup for tipping. I believe in tipping for good service, although I do stiff the guy in the bathroom. Serious dude I really had to go but now I’m not because you’re in here so I probably got colon cancer.

    1. I feel bad for the bathroom attendants. I would hate sitting there listening to people pee all night. I’ve been known to tip them for that reason alone.

  2. I used to work as a waitress and the pay wasn’t great, but the tips made up for it. So, I understand what it’s like and don’t mind tipping at all. The thing that got me recently was that I visited America for the first time, and some places automatically put tips on your bill! That would never happen in the UK so it was strange. We got caught out once and we gave a tip, then realised later that they’d already put one on the check. Also, we tried to be generous with our tips so it didn’t make us look stingy!

    1. Yeah, a lot of places in the U.S. add a tip or at least provide a “suggested tip.”

    2. Nicola – some places do put tips on automatically in the UK! We went to Desperados, decided only to eat a started and the guy started an argument when we refused to pay the ‘suggested tip’ for a starter only and crappy service!!

      I get the low-wages argument in the US but in the UK I believe all tips should be discretionary unless it is a very large table and even them it shouldn’t be excessive!

      And yep – I’ve done the bar work – I’ve paid 10% of my tips to the boss and I’ve shared tips regardless of how hard people work! Tips suck and tend to create tensions!!

      We only tip if the service was actually very good now. In the US I understand it’s completely different and the system seems exceptionally unfair to me.

  3. Oh my word. What a moron (not you – the person who wrote the original article). That’s like some of the stupid arguments I hear against food stamps (there are valid ones, I’m talking about stupid ones). Yes, let’s just make life harder for people and they will magically make enough money to support themselves. They’ll just stop being a waitress or stop making minimum wage – go out and get an awesome job and life will just be awesome for everyone.

  4. Now I’m curious to read the blog post you’re referring to because I can’t see how it makes sense at all. I don’t think that tipping is necessarily the best way to pay servers, but we tip generously – usually over and above the 20% that we consider the minimum.

    1. I don’t think it is a great system either- I think it is pretty messed up. I typically tip 15-20 percent, sometimes more if my kids rearrange all the sugar packets or something like that.

  5. If you’re really passionate about raising the minimum wage for servers (which you should be), wouldn’t it make more sense to not go to the restaurant at all and let the owner know why? They’re not going to change their practices if they have the same amount of money going into their pockets…..There is a great restaurant here that we refuse to go to because the owner makes the servers pay for credit card processing fees out of their tips. That’s a huge chunk of change since 99.99% of people going out for a $100 meal will use credit cards…

    1. That is awful! how is that legal? I would boycott the place too.

  6. I totally agree with you about punishing the wrong person. Don’t go out to eat if you don’t want to pay the meal prices + reasonable tip. Same as buying products – you have to factor in the sales tax to know if the price is worth it.

    1. Exactly. Break out your calculator and figure up the price of your meal plus tax and tip. Then decide if you can afford it or not.

  7. I don’t think you should ever not tip a server, even if they suck. It is just a price you pay for eating out. Like you said, go eat a Big Mac if you don’t want to tip. Now about what else to tip, like hotel maids, mechanics, and hair dressers, I am always at a loss in those type things.

    1. I typically tip hotel maids and hairdressers, but I have never tipped my mechanic! Do people do that?

  8. Hmmm I need to ponder that list for awhile to see my options… lets see… eat at home… or …. eat at home… gosh, this is so difficult…. what about eating at someone else’s home?

    Anyways, I can see why tipping is not a good system and I agree that doesn’t mean to not tip a server. That is just a ridiculous stance to take on that topic.

  9. I bet the author of the original post would throw a fit if they raised the prices of everything on the menu 15-20% to cover the cost of paying the server a “living wage.” I think you posted the perfect solution to the person who is opposed to tipping.

    Personally I kind of like the situation in other countries where the tipping standard is just round up to the next dollar because they pay their servers better (and you can tell because the food prices are bit higher too).

    1. I agree that servers should just be paid a fair wage to begin with. That would make things much easier.

  10. Somewhere that serves me, sure – I’ll tip. The question I have is when it’s not a dine-in server option. So here in Canada, everyone (okay, “a lot”) of people tip Tim Horton’s when they get their morning coffee. Same with Starbucks. Lots of people now get their coffee from McDonald’s,… why don’t they get tipped for preparing the coffee? Where does the line get drawn on who does and who doesn’t get fast-food tips?

    1. Yeah, there are times when it gets tricky! I don’t really visit coffee shops so I’ve never been faced with that dilemma.

    1. That is understandable. Just don’t lower it to zero! =)

  11. Amen to that, Holly!!! And absolutely love your list of what to do if you’re morally opposed to tipping servers. 🙂 I too worked as a server for many years, and it’s damn hard work – tip your good servers well, or stay home.

    1. It is very hard work and the people who do it deserve to earn a living!

  12. Some people are just cheap.

    Fancy restaurants sometimes let you do takeout. We tip10% then but someone could probably get away with not tipping for takeout.

      1. I hope I’m not an A$$hole but I don’t tip for takeout, though I usually don’t order takeout from fancy restaurants. I would tip the delivery guy, but not if I go and pick it up myself! Please let me know the etiquette cause I’ve heard different things!

        1. When I worked a local casual dining place that did a lot of carryout (I was a cook so I didn’t care about tips) the server who was doing carryout was paid around $6/hr so they were still relying on tips. Most people tipped them because the would bring the food out to their car for them. But that is just my experience.

        2. Fancy places often have to do fancy wrapping up for their take-out. We always err on the side of generosity because we can. But I don’t think it’s expected.

        3. I only get carry-out from one fancy Thai restaurant in town. When the owner is working as host and bags up my food, I don’t tip. I do tip when a server or someone else does though. I don’t know why, but I feel strange tipping the owner of a restaurant!

        4. When I worked In restaurants it was the responsibility of the servers to do to go orders. The cooks would of course put the meal in a box but the server then had to box up any condiments or sides as well make sure everything was included (plastic ware etc.) this was a Mexican restaurant so server would also have to bag up chips and hot sauce. All this while still taking care of the dine in customers. I say this to let you know that often times for the server this is taking them away from their tables and they are still being paid the $2.13 an hour and will have to pay out tip share on the sale. Please consider this next time you do take out and tip appropriately.

  13. Then don’t go out to eat, or get a job where you paid the base rate for waiters plus tips. A couple of years ago that base rate was $2.75 an hour. I just don’t get this whole thing with tipping. It’s a social norm with a legitimate reason. Until we raise all servers/hotel maids/hairdressers/ doormen/ porters/nail technicians base rate of pay doing crap work then we shall be tipping or just stay at home 🙂

  14. LeRainDrop says:

    I totally agree with you on the stingy tipping. It’s a jacka** thing to do. My usual practice is to take 10% of whatever the total (including taxes) is, double it, then round up to the next buck. It’s quite rare that I’d go below that, and will go higher for excellent service.

    However, I do want to address an inaccuracy that seems to get perpetuated in this context, including above. The Fair Labor Standards Act establishes the rules so that a server gets paid at least minimum wage, no matter the tips. If the employer is not assuring that in accordance with the FLSA, then the employee may have a claim! See the US Department of Labor site for the particulars (http://www.dol.gov/elaws/faq/esa/flsa/002.htm):

    What is the minimum wage for workers who receive tips?
    The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires payment of at least the federal minimum wage to covered, nonexempt employees. An employer of a tipped employee is only required to pay $2.13 an hour in direct wages if that amount plus the tips received equals at least the federal minimum wage, the employee retains all tips and the employee customarily and regularly receives more than $30 a month in tips. If an employee’s tips combined with the employer’s direct wages of at least $2.13 an hour do not equal the federal minimum hourly wage, the employer must make up the difference.
    Some states have minimum wage laws specific to tipped employees. When an employee is subject to both the federal and state wage laws, the employee is entitled to the provisions which provides the greater benefits.

    1. That may be the law, but it is not necessarily followed!

      I worked at Applebee’s many years ago, and it was one of those places where you keep your own “bank” in your apron then make change for your customers. Somehow I ended up with barely enough to cover the restaurant one day and went home with zero. I suspect I gave someone the wrong change =/

      Anyway, I told the restaurant about it and even cried my eyes out (I had just worked a double shift), but they didn’t offer to compensate me in any way.

  15. I knew that servers had to split the tips, but I didn’t know that they had to split them even if they were stiffed! That’s just crazy. The blogger who wrote that post really seems to have a problem with critical thinking…how does stiffing the wait staff make a statement that they should be paid a living wage, makes no sense!

    1. Other restaurants might do it differently.
      At Outback, you simply had to pay 3 percent of your sales back to the house. It didn’t matter how much you actually made that day.

  16. I agree, Holly. If a person doesn’t like the tipping policy, they should not frequent that eating establishment. I won’t get into the whole minimum wage argument because I fear my position is contrary to what most people feel, so suffice it to say, as you did so eloquently, EAT AT HOME. Or at least at some place where tipping isn’t expected.

    1. Exactly. It really is common sense. Whether you want the minimum wage raised or not, don’t stiff hard-working people when you know it is customary to tip!

  17. Certainly not morally opposed to tipping servers, BUT I will tip based on service. Is a server as an a-hole to me there is no way he or she is getting 20%. Same goes with cab drivers. I can’t tell you how many nasty cab drivers I’ve had and I certainly didn’t tip them well (if at all). On the flip side, I’ll tip in places where I don’t have to is someone does a great job. ie: a barista at a coffee shop.

    1. I had a cab driver in Las Vegas throw a tip back at me and mock me because he said it wasn’t enough.

  18. Totally agree with you, Holly! Don’t eat out if you’re not going to tip your server–it’s part of the whole process and it’s not OK not to tip. I don’t view it as an option at all, if you dine where someone waits on your table, you tip them!

  19. I can’t imagine ever showing my face again in a restaurant where I didn’t leave a tip. Even if the service is bad, I leave 10-15%, at least. Servers should absolutely be earning minimum wage, plus tips.

  20. Holly, do wait staff get taxed on their tips in the US? In Montreal, years ago the government instituted a law that tips at the end of every shift needs to be declared to the manager and a receipt given to each worker for their total of tips – this must be declared as income on their tax returns.
    And I agree with your eat at home/find places to eat that don’t have wait staff suggestions, otherwise tip a fair amount!

    1. I haven’t been a server for a decade so I’m not sure. When I was a server, we had to declare a certain percentage of our sales as “tips” each night but I often made more than I declared. Not sure how it works now.

  21. Holy cow, I can’t believe this is a thing. I used to be a server (4 of my lowest post grad-school employment months) and would never do this to a server. I’ll tip lower for terrible service, but like you said, they rely on tips for their income.

  22. People always say they want to pay better wages to servers and forgo tipping, but that isn’t realistic. The restaurant would have to raise prices at least 40-50%: if the wage was $20 hour (that’s a “livable wage” most places), that’s almost $17 more per hour, not counting the increased payroll taxes, worker’s comp, etc.). So your $15 lunch item is now $21-23 dollars. I’d much rather tip the 20% (or more for great food/service), which keeps that lunch at $18-$19. Not to mention the psychological effect of increased prices: people won’t go out as often, restaurant loses business, people lose their jobs, etc.. I think the current system works pretty well.

    1. I think it works well because it allows people to work hard and earn *more* than minimum wage in some cases. I know I worked really hard at some of my waitressing jobs and brought home far more than $7.25 an hour!

      On the other hand, I think it is unfair that servers can’t rely on making a specific amount of money.

  23. What people don’t realize is that NOT tipping doesn’t help anything. Let’s say tipping was never a “thing.” The food would just be more expensive because it would build in the increased wages for the servers. One way or another, you pay. Not tipping only hurts the servers.

    1. Exactly. I personally wouldn’t mind if tips were “built in” either. I can do basic math. When we go out to eat, I always consider what we’ll pay in taxes and tips!

  24. Serving wages only exist in some places, so a lot of servers don’t actually work for tips; it’s just gravy, as far as I’m concerned. I wish the system was better, so that this stuff didn’t happen, though. Tips are obviously very important when people are being paid $3/hour.
    I like the UK/NZ/Australia, where tipping just isn’t a thing… it gets rid of all of the social contract crap, it gets rid of the poverty wages, and it makes restaurant prices reflective of what it costs to provide the service, not a discount number on the page that doens’t reflect the reality of the cost of the meal.

  25. Ben @ The Wealth Gospel says:

    Ridiculous. I hate the idea of tipping just as much as the next guy, but don’t act like you’re doing anyone a service by being a gigantic douche. I’ll give a crappy tip to someone who gives me crappy service, but I would NEVER walk away without giving something.

    1. Me neither! We typically get good service though, at least in my eyes. I probably have low expectations!

      1. Ben @ The Wealth Gospel says:

        As long as I don’t run out of water, I’m pretty well set.

  26. I think I read the post to which you are referring. I don’t get not tipping for service in a restaurant. I appreciate when someone provides for me, even if sometimes it’s half-hearted. We can debate on how much is appropriate to give for that service. I don’t think tipping should be tied to the concept of them making minimum wage though. That is a whole separate issue in my book.

  27. Having worked in the food services industry and marrying someone who did as well for more than 6+ years in high school and college, I absolutely believe in tipping and understand the importance of it. Even when I don’t like my server, I still give them something because everyone can have a bad day. This blogger sounds like an a-hole with an a-hole suggestion about tipping.

    1. I always tip too- even when we get bad service. I spent too many years in food service to stiff someone!

  28. If you decide to go to a restaurant, you know that you have to tip the server because they make less than minimum wage and rely on tips. Do I think servers should get paid more so the don’t have to rely on tips, a la Europe and everywhere in the world? Yes I do. But I know that here in the U.S. restaurant owners have gotten away with paying their employees next to nothing while overcharging for a plate of pasta but until that changes we know that we have to tip the servers.

    I still don’t understand how restaurants have gotten away with that, but that’s another issue.

    1. Exactly. I don’t necessarily think it’s right either but stiffing servers simply punishes the wrong person!

  29. I couldn’t agree more with your post – if only it was required for everyone to work as a server for a year minimum. I’m sure anyone opposing to tipping would have a change of heart after doing so.

    1. That’s a great idea! Then people would know how shitty it is!

    1. Yes, exactly. Imagine if everyone stopped tipping.

  30. Oh no. Was my blog the one you’re referring to?

    I think the system of tipping is dumb (for the reasons of confusion you suggested) but while the system’s in place, I’ll pay that amount to make sure servers get that amount.

    I’d say that if someone’s morally opposed to tipping, they should hand $5 to their server, then deduct $5 from the cost of their bill because the owner decides whether tipping is in force or not so they’re the ones you should be hurting…

    1. No, it was not your blog post! It was an old one on some obscure site I stumbled onto!

  31. Well,

    1. If minimum wage was increased nationally, the price of everything would go up since more people have more money to spend.

    2. If you were not guaranteed $7.25/hr regardless of tips then your boss could of got screwed majorly. If your base wage and tips don’t equate to $7.25/hr then they are supposed to cover the difference.

    So I guess I am in favor of boycotting the system so that the employer would have to always cover the difference and probably even pay more. Maybe the cost of the food would have to go up, but it don’t really think so. If Buffalo Wild Wings can have 40 TVs going and an arcade and tons of space to heat and cool and still make a profit then I’m sure paying the waiters more wouldn’t be an issue. There’s already a ridiculous margin in most takeout type foods.

    I always tip if only just to keep good graces with my waiters (especially in a small town!) A part of me despises the system since it favors more money in the owner’s pockets but ah whatever.

  32. My wife worked as a server and she would never let me even think about tipping below 18% and thats for terrible service. Servers get screwed. Its a demanding job and the pay is low. The minimum wage should be raised so that tipping becomes optional for exceptional service not mandatory so that servers can make ends meet.

    1. I agree with you. In the meantime, we should just tip!

  33. catherine says:

    First: I’m totally with you Holly.
    Second: You’re minimum wage is criminally low! How do people live on that?! Ours is almost $11/hr

    1. Yep, its pretty low around here. Definitely not enough to live on.

  34. I don’t know why but this is a topic that seems to really piss people off in the worst way. I was a server once so I know how bad the service industry can be and how cheap some people are. Basically, if you can’t afford to tip then you shouldn’t be eating out. bad service is one thing but just skipping out on the tip is unacceptable.

    1. Exactly. If you are opposed to tipping, don’t go to a restaurant where it is expected.

  35. I saw that post too and couldn’t agree with you more. I don’t know where the logic of not tipping because you’re opposed to the wage comes from. Like you said, it’s punishing the wrong person.

  36. My opinion echos many of the others here….the tipping system in the US is messed up badly. But its not going to change, so customers should tip accordingly. The thing that I hate with every bone in my body is the creation of jobs purely to generate tips – such as a bathroom attendant. Guess what, I can dry my own freaking hands. And what exactly am I supposed to do when he sticks a towel out for me, refuse his service so I don’t have to pay a tip? Completely stupid. OR, hotel baggage people. Ok, so I’m sure there are people that like to have someone else handle their baggage – fine. Have someone available to help if you want or need it – but don’t FORCE me to have someone handle my bags so they can get a tip. I’ve stayed at multiple hotels in the last year where they would not let me handle my own bags – it’s their policy! And of course tip is expected. I do NOT need help with my bags. show me where the stupid carts are at, and I’ll take care of it myself.

    1. Prudence Debtfree says:

      Good points, Travis. I don’t think you should be morally obligated to give a tip for services you haven’t needed, requested, or even wanted.

    2. That deserves a blog post on its own. I can’t tell you how many times I have had to forcefully tell someone I would carry my own bags. DO NOT tell me that it is your policy to carry my bags because I will FLIP OUT. Greg usually ends up cowering in the corner when that happens because he knows what is about to go down. I HATE IT when people try to grab my stuff and tell me what to do.

      Okay, I think I should write a separate blog post on that topic!

  37. I’ve to many restaurants but my question is how would you know if servers are allowed to take tips? I have no clue or whatsoever to finding out unless I have a friend with me who knows the restaurant’s operation.

    1. In the U.S, almost all sit-down restaurants have servers who work for tips.

  38. I am shocked right now. I had no idea there were people who are “morally opposed” to tipping. You probably shouldn’t go out to eat then. 20% if the standard. 18% at the least.

    1. I didn’t either! Seems like a strange thing to “take a stand against.”

  39. I think you hit the nail on the head when you said that it’s punishing the wrong person. I question this person’s logic about anything in life. Really? I too worked as a waitress in college, so I know what it’s like to be stiffed!

    1. Yep! We had regular customers at Outback that would never tip. I always cringed when they were in my section!

  40. We tip when we dine out. My fiance comes from a family that used to own several diners in our area. I asked the question about why they pay their waitress, server low. The respond was to keep food cost down. Guess is all about keeping payroll down.
    As a side hustle my fiance helped out at a friend’s diner and the tips were good and helped him out. I don’t quite understand why this particular person thinks that by not tipping is going to help the people he so want to help.
    Don’t want to tip. Don’t go out to eat.

  41. Prudence Debtfree says:

    OK Holly, why don’t you say how you really feel : ) Minimum wage in Canada is $11 per hour. What a difference! The only time I don’t tip a server is if his or her service has been terrible – and in my whole life, that’s been twice. I’m with you – tip servers!

    1. Our regular minimum wage is $7.25 (I think?). Serving minimum wage is far less because servers rely on tips. I don’t think I’ve ever stiffed anyone, but I have wanted to!

  42. I can’t stand it when people don’t tip. My sister worked as a server for just a few days. The amount of people who dined and dashed on her actually meant that she made a NEGATIVE amount of money.

  43. That’s just a weird argument. How does not tipping staff solve the problem? It doesn’t affect the owners bottom line. They don’t care whether their wait staff gets tipped. I just don’t get how hurting the ones you want to help, will create positive change. I don’t mind tipping when it’s just me and/or my family dining out but it can become a pain when you’re with a group and splitting the bill. People can weird about the amount tipped or splitting the cost tip, etc. But regardless, we still tip!

  44. I guess the writer doesn’t realize that what keeps food at restaurants is low because the restaurants don’t have to pay that much for the waitstaff and they basically rely on tips to have a decent income. I always try to tip a minimum of 10-15% of my bill, even when the service is bad. It won’t make them a millionaire, but why not help other people out? Maybe they’re just having a bad day.

    1. Greg Janes says:

      What a ridiculous view. Absolutely ridiculous.

      The waitstaff rely on tips to have a decent income? Who cares – it’s a job like any other. I repeat – a job like any other.

      Start paying them a fair wage and stop putting the onus on the customer to carry their ass.

      Food prices low @ restaurants? What are you smoking?
      Have you seen the already inflated prices on alcohol or a decent meal? Come on….get real.

  45. I think this whole tipping problem is neither the customer’s fault nor the waiter’s fault: it’s the restaurant’s fault. I know that in a lot of countries waiters get paid regular salaries: their salaries are already included in the cost of the bill, that way diners don’t have to feel ashamed of tipping less than what the waiter expected.

  46. Good tip, stay at home, if you’re opposed to tipping! I used to be a pizza delivery driver, so I have an idea on tipped jobs as well. I tip a standard 20%, unless the service was amazing or horrible. The point is that servers work hard and you’re tipping them to literally wait on you and take care of your needs for an hour. It’s not like it costs $100, it’s usually just a few bucks. I also think a lot of people like the mindset that was laid out in the movie Reservoir Dogs, which basically said “Why would I tip someone that is doing something I could do for myself?”. The point is that you’re not doing it yourself, they are.

  47. I started reading the comments and sounds like everyone here is agreeing. So what about when the waiter or waitress is a complete $%^#!. I have had that happen – on rare occasion. There needs to be some level of professionalism with any job.

    Actually the last time it happened I tipped and then ended up calling the restaurant to complain. The guy tried adding drinks to my bill which I did not order and then “accidentally” charged my card three times. Management said my card would be refunded and he was being let go due to doing similar things to other customers.

    He did not deserve a tip.

  48. I have to start by saying I agree with the overall “theme” or message of this article. Screwing a server over because it’s something you’re morally opposed to is wrong….avoid the whole dining out process all together. BUT I do have to point out some disclaims and misrepresentations of the “restaurant biz” here. I start by saying that I have previously worked in the restaurant industry for 12 years prior to my career as a nurse. This spanned everything from dishwasher, to cook, to delivery driver, to server, host, etc. I’ve seen a lot from the “inside perspective” .

    Now the first thing I really need to hit home is serving is one of the most demanding, highest stressed, most intense jobs you can get. Not only is it super stressful, but you are required to do it(with uber multi tasking) with a smile on your face! Not many can handle that. The stress endured as a server rivals a lot of the top stressful careers out there.

    Saying all that, I have to dispel some of the claims here from an “insiders” point of view…

    #1 MYTH Tipping out

    Yes, this is a common practice for many restaurants(especially the more responsible ones) as a manner of wealth distribution. Yes, the servers may be making in a lot of case $2-3 less than the kitchen staff or hostesses, but it is a way to disperse(a very small percentage) of the tips. It is absolutely true that it is common practice for servers to tip out 3-4% of their TOTAL sales at the end of the night. Now in the case pointed out, there are instances where a table is a complete ass and doesn’t tip. For example sake, a tables bill is $100 and they stiff the server. That server does have to tip out $4 out of that bill towards the “back of house”. Now what this article fails to paint, is this isn’t a common occurrence. It does happen and it does suck(it’s happened to me several times) but the overall tips balance out. Eg. Some people will tip $30 on 100. So in the long run…the good ones FAR out weigh the bad ones.

    #2 MYTH …Server are the lowest paid

    I can, with out a doubt totally disprove that the serving staff is the lowest paid staff. This might change for more high end type restaurants, but often the serving staff earn the most money of any staff in the restaurant(that includes management). Every restaurant I’ve ever worked at the highest earners(because tips are earnings) follow as this….

    Full time bartender (the last chain I worked at made >50K with tips included)
    Server Supervisor(usually full time with a higher wage than starting servers)
    Full time servers
    Assistant Managers
    Kitchen Supervisors
    Kitchen staff
    Hostess and Dishwashers

    This applies to 90% of all chain restaurants out there. Now to go back to the “tipping out” process….you see the bottom 3 ones on the list, that’s where it goes. In general, it works out to roughly $1-2/hour, so in a 40hr week….$40-80. Literal peanuts compared to what a good night serving would entail. I’ve made more than that off ONE-TWO TABLES serving countless times. Also, many times a big table(say $200+) would stiff you, the management could override the automatic 4% tip out. Any server that argues the “tip out” aspect just doesn’t have a clue at the bigger picture.

    #3 MYTH….Tipping is automatic

    This really bothers me the most. Most people, included myself have been indoctrinated that tipping is “automatic” regardless of experience or quality of food. As a server that took my guests experience to heart, I totally hate this. Yes, there are times when you are totally slammed and you do “the best you can do”, but even in those circumstances, you should leave the guest knowing you tried. And if there is something you as the server could do(eg comp a meal, dessert, drinks) you should. And people will respect you for it. I’ve been out far too often when the food was crap, the server was total crap and everyone tips the usual %15. Any good restaurant with a good presence of mind would be comping a % of the meal and apologizing. Yet, we’ve become so complaisant these days to poor food and bad service, where we don’t even realize bad service when it is smacking you in the face. Good service SHOULD go rewarded(because it’s one of the toughest jobs), but bad service, regular service, etc, should not get some “super tip”(or any if it was bad).

    Just some two cents from someone who has worked 12+ years in the restaurant biz

  49. I’m not a big fan of huge tips but I was recently in a state where the minimum wage for servers was about $4. I couldn’t believe it was that low. I think servers need tips just to make ends meet – $4 per hour isn’t nearly enough

  50. Personally, I feel I’m an above average tipper, my minimum tip is always $5 if I’m at a sitdown place, even if that’s a 100% tip. Now I also see it from other perspectives, I waited tables during college but I also worked retail, and worked at a hockey center. Between those jobs, retail was the worst, waiting tables was the most lucrative, and working at the hockey center (coaching, ice resurfacing/maintenance, dealing with crowds) was the most grueling/underpaid. Even now those who have replaced me at the hockey center still get paid minimum wage.

    My thought process now is that no matter what franchise restaurant or local diner (excluding the top end waiters/waitresses at luxury restaurants who are very informative and mannered as well as incredibly professional), an individual works at they are still guaranteed minimum wage (and if your employer does not do this, it is a violation of FLSA rules and regulations, and should be reported not just for yourself, but morally for everyone) but there are harder jobs out there that people are working for minimum wage. Now that might make me sound like an asshole; but hear me out.

    I waited on college kids 50% of the time, and I would get no tip from about 1/3 of them. It never upset me, because I knew some of them were making $5.15 (minimum), and some had harder jobs than waiting tables. My coworkers were vehemently against that thought, and felt like if they couldn’t afford to tip, they shouldn’t eat out. To me, it’s college, they’re away from home, most had no kitchen, and hanging out going out to restaurants is something they need to do for social reasons. Now when I go out to eat like I said I do tip very well, however when I go to other places where people make minimum why do I not tip them? Whenever I return to the old hockey rec center I worked at I don’t tip the workers there, but they are phenomenal workers. If we all are truly moral should we not tip everyone who does a good job but aren’t making a living wage? Why does society dictate who I should tip? Why is it morally wrong not to tip one group of workers vs another group who both make minimum (or at least minimum)?

    In conclusion, I believe I do well for myself, and I enjoy giving back what I deem to be my good fortune. Likewise, those who can’t afford to tip I don’t think should be automatically looked down upon, like those who are making minimum wage in college who are just finding themselves out and really need to branch out and socialize. I’m not talking about the person who has a decent job and spends all their money on video games or adding upgrades on their car, the decision and ability and to what extent each individual should tip is based on a lot of things, but remember that the most important thing is to have some compassion and understanding for each individual.

  51. Holly,

    I am a recovering waiter. 🙂

    Years ago, I worked for Steak & Ale, and like you, we had “tip share”. I didn’t mind sharing with the busboys, but I didn’t like sharing with the bartender.

    Most of the time, in my experience, the customer settled their tab or tipped before leaving the bar area. So, the bar staff had already made their tips before I got the customer. Then, they made an additional percentage of my sales?!

    If the customer did not go to the bar, then the bartender wasn’t working for my customer anyway. Why were they entitled to “share my tip” when they didn’t do anything for my customer?

    I remember one time being stiffed on a large table (I think it was an 8 to 10 top). They had been to the bar, and brought their tab with them. After dinner, they returned to the bar. The bar tender got their entire tip, because they paid out in the bar, plus I had to pay 3% of the sale for tip share. I lost money going to work that night.

    That was the beginning of the end of my waitstaff “career”. 🙂 lol



  54. Greg Janes says:

    I’m adamantly opposed to tipping.

    (1) Pay them a fair wage

    (2) Treat them as any other employee who works hard, yet doesn’t receive a tip.

    This is your job – if you don’t like it – get another job.
    You think you deserve something extra because you’re smiling and prompt with service?
    Who cares – that’s your job AND fits the description of many other jobs.

    Put the onus on the proprietor of the restaurant, not the customer.
    I’m already paying a premium for some meals. The proprietor is already making a profit. He/she should be paying his/her employees appropriately.

  55. Hello, This is an interesting article. None the less, tipping is not an obligation and more along the lines of a gift to the server.

    I worked for tips all throughout my college years and I understand the frustrations of the staff. However, all these articles that pretty much try to apply social guilt onto customers and ignore all the wage violations on part of the business owner.

    Federal Law requires business owners to provide the difference not the customer. Why are bloggers focusing on customers and this voluntary gift, and not ranting and screaming that business owners refuse to follow federal law.

    No one is obligated to tip, but the business itself is obligated to ensure its staff makes min. wage.

  56. Fair Pay for Servers says:

    This is a rather interesting article with passion on both sides. Unfortunately, nobody is addressing the two real issues; how much is a reasonable hourly wage for a server, and who should be responsible for paying that wage?

    The easy answer is all servers by law must make at least the federal minimum wage. As of July 24, 2009, the federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. So there we have a starting point. Let the discussion ensue on whether $7.25 or $10 or $100 per hour is appropriate. The next point is who should pay, the restaurant owner or the customer. Again, peel away the layers and the customer ultimately pays whatever is a reasonable wage. So it would seem that setting the wage and building it into the price of the meals makes the most sense. Nobody works for free, nobody under tips or stiffs a server, and everybody knows how much they’re paying and being paid. I can’t wait to hear how much is an appropriate hourly server wage. Please consider what we’re paying other folks, including teachers and police officers, when discussing that reasonable hourly wage.

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