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How Do You Decide To Tip Or Not?

What is your criteria for tipping at restaurants/bars/coffee shops/fast food joints? Many people tip at every opportunity, but I tend to be more selective. After all, if you do not tip at the local McDonald’s, why tip the guy that filled your coffee cup with brown water? After all, the guy at the coffee shop is getting a regular wage, not a waiter’s wage. I guess my criteria is that if I have to get the product myself (in line, from a cashier, etc) I do not leave a tip, but if I am being served in some way (sit-down restaurant, for example), I make sure to leave a 20% tip on top of the entire bill (including the tax). I just take 10% of the bill and double it – voila, the tip!

Patrick over at Cash Money Life asked the other day if tipping rates were being affected by our economic troubles, and 76% of the respondents said that it has not affected them at all. That is great, I think, as now more than ever people who rely on tips need the income. After all, most of the time they make less than minimum wage.

So, what determines if you tip or not? Is it the type of place? The level of service? What is the deciding factor for you in your tipping habits?

Photo by independentman


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Comments (11)

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  1. PT says:

    I typically only tip at a place where I’m sitting down and someone is waiting on me. If I go up to the bar to get a drink, I will tip for the first drink, but not for every drink after that. However, if a waitress brings me the drink I’ll tip. And I like your theory of only tipping those that get a tip wage. I don’t tip at Sonic drive in. I don’t tip at coffee/ice cream shops.

    As for how much, at restaurants I like to leave 20% most of the time. I just double the bill and divide by 10. Someone has to be REALLY bad to get less than that. I’ve stiffed them maybe once in my life.

    At a bar, I tip $1 a drink.

  2. srwebber says:

    The ONLY time I never tip is if the experience is so horrible that I want to walk out mid-meal. I have a few horrific experiences, where I probably should have refused to pay or accept the meal – but let them walk over me. Once I was as Senor Frogs in Honolulu – I ordered bbq chicken meal that was supposed to have potatoes and corn as the sides. they bring me the mexican chicken platter complete with rice and beans. When my husband pointed out that the meal was not what I ordered – this was one bite into the chicken breast- they took the plate back to the kitchen. They then re-emerged with the same plate and chicken – the only difference was that they had dropped the chicken in bbq sauce and put it back on the plate. I could even see where the one bite had been taked out. they offered to bring me corn if I would like. What horrible service. I can’t believe I paid for the meal. I didn’t tip anything because a waiter should realize that a customer doesn’t want whatevers convienent – they want what they ordered and paid for. The restaurant was completely un-appologetic Worst Experience Ever!

  3. Kelly says:

    I’ve got a bit of an inside view on this because I work for a restaurant company. There are actual government wage guidelines around whether a position is tipped or not. Servers (except in a few states like California) are paid an hourly tipped wage which is actually less than minimum wage. Their tips are expected to make up the difference (this is actually a law; if a server makes less than minimum wage after tips the company must pay the remainder to get them to minimum wage).

    So I follow this same guideline and avoid any moral ambiguity introduced by all of those tip jars. We tip employees making tipped wages, so restaurant servers and bartenders, and we usually tip 20%. No, I don’t tip the guy at Moe’s who made my burrito or the ice cream shop kid.

    One other note on the earlier comments. Your tip should be calculated on the pre-tax total, not after tax.

  4. Rini says:

    It’s definitely level of service to me. I’m not above refusing to tip at Olive Garden if I can’t even tell who my waiter/waitress is… But I’m not below leaving $5 in the tip jar at Coldstone Creamery if the staff is fun, friendly, and super-wonderfully-helpful, either.

    I believe that a ~15% tip should be the standard for a sit-down restaurant in which you receive average service, and a 0% tip should be the standard when you serve yourself. But I also believe that the size of your tip can and should be adjusted – in both directions – to reflect the actual service you receive.

  5. Angela says:

    I only tip if a service is being provided. I wrote a blog on this myself. Too many tip jars out there and what they heck are people tipping coffee for when they waited in line to get it!

  6. Patrick says:

    I have pretty much the same criteria – if I get it myself, I don’t usually tip, but if I am served, I usually tip. I don’t usually like carrying around coins, so I often drop them in the cups that are for charity.

  7. Sam says:

    If they give me better than average service, I’ll definitely give a tip!

  8. fitwallet says:

    I consider myself a generous tipper. If I’m sitting down and being served, I tip 20% for normal service. If it’s above average or excellent, I may go as high as 25-30%. If service was below average, I tip 15%. If a server was rude or really screwed something up, then I’ll go lower.

    Bars are tricky and I’m never sure how much to tip, but I try to leave a buck or two each round, depending on how many $1 bills I have.

  9. Praveen says:

    I do not tip more than 10-15% at casual/fine dining restaurants..I hate tipping at bars….

  10. […] Two Dollars would like to know what criteria we use for tipping. I tip when the service is significant enough to merit a […]

  11. James says:

    I must be quite tight because I always tip around 10% not the 15% or 20% mentioned by some people. The only time I tip more than that is if the person providing the service has been extra friendly and helpful.

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