June 7th, 2011
03:52 PM GMT
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I've just gotten back from a ten day holiday trip in the U.S., which included a lot of meals, bars, baseball games and hotel rooms – which means, of course, a lot of tipping, or not as the case may be.

I may be American by birth, but I have spent 20 years overseas and so I have to re-learn when to tip, how much to tip, and how to get out of tipping when it feels right.

I am also cheap. I hate the pressure to tip but I am quite happy to tip well when the service warrants. I also know well that many an American teenager survive off the tips, something non Americans don't seem to readily understand.

Several British friends were on hand for the first part of the trip as well, and we spent considerable time talking 'tip etiquette'. Clearly this is an issue that concerns people when they travel to the U.S.

But, I am no expert on this. I get it wrong all the time. I once nearly left a 100% tip at a bar in the Time Warner Center in New York. I was bold enough to ask for it all back and start again.

Do you tip everywhere?

I gave the young lady on a yacht day trip $5 because she was really attentive. I assumed many other people would and she would clear $100 or so. I didn't see anyone else tip and my British friends would not have even considered it.

Then at a baseball game a few weeks back, I bought a $7 beer and was pleased that I had exact change (which would be ideal in an English pub). I plunked it down and got the most sarcastic 'thanks' of the week. Clearly I am supposed to put down $10 and then we were expected to play that awkward game of how many of the bills I dare pick back up as the bartender watches (why on earth would I pay $9 for a bottle of beer? I left a buck).

It reminds me of watching people sell beer in the seats in Boston a few years ago. The price seemed to be set at $6.25 so that there are quarters and dollar bills to haggle over. I constantly heard from the young man selling beers say, 'Do you want your quarters?' Most people said no and he happily kept them. Some were very annoyed to be asked and fully expected their change back.

That of course is one of the subtle ways to tip and be tipped. You will often hear 'is there change here?' in a restaurant or bar, and you have to think quick – how much change was there, is it between 15-20% or do I insist on getting it all back and then figuring it all out in front of the waiter or waitress.

I recall one of our British anchors telling me she was followed out of a restaurant and down an escalator being asked what was wrong with the service. Clearly she got it wrong.

So, sadly, I have to carry a tip chart – yes, a well worn tip chart that shows me 15% or 20% on any bill from $1 to $100. I get all prepared before the bill returns especially in a group situation.

Even so, twice I have seen money added to my monthly Amex statement – both times just a few bucks added to top up my terrible tip. Isn't that illegal?

Last year in Boston, I tried to tip the doorman at a hotel who watched my car for ten minutes. He wouldn't take the $10. He said he wasn't allowed. Aren't doorman always tipped in movies??

So, what do you think of tipping when you travel to the U.S.? Does it confound you? Am I over reacting to the annoying but time honored part of American life? And how do I cope with tipping now set at 18.5%?

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soundoff (236 Responses)
  1. Guest

    I think we should STOP tipping...if you like the service and the waiter...and get good service, may be you can give 5-10%, if you afford it. Before you tip, make sure there is no service fee or gratuity tacked on to your bill already.

    June 7, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
  2. bartender

    Dear mr Jim, maybe you should try and work at a bar or a restaurant for an year , then you should rewrite your stupid article.

    June 7, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
  3. Tony

    When I go to a restaurant or bar that I like, I always tip well. If you do that the staff will always remember you. If my bill is $20 or $100, I always tip $20 regardless. The advantage in tipping well is that your next drinks could be double in size. Therefore, in the long run, not only you become a popular customer but also you will be ahead in terms of dollars and cents! Remember, bartenders and waiters live on tips. If you do that it will be a win win.

    June 7, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
  4. EasyLoving

    What surprises me most about this issue is: America is supposed to be all about convenience, yet customers are forced to calculate 10-25% several times per day for tipping in all kinds of places. My preferred solution would be the European model - tipping should really be a "tip", a little extra to acknowledge especially good service. Everything else should be included in the price (employers that means pay your staff appropriately and calculate it into your menu prices). And if someone doesn't do their job right, they should be warned or fired, not simply be given 10% instead of a 20% tip!!! That's my two cents.

    June 7, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
  5. James Deckman

    I let my wife figure the tip.

    June 7, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
  6. philip

    Some friends went to NYC.
    They have job's good enough to spend 1000us for a dinner ( in a very expensive Japanese restaurant) or 10k in a club...
    What will be the tip than???
    200us for the restaurant?
    And 2000us for the club???
    So if I'm right one person working in a fancy restaurant or club like this, can make more than 1000us a night???

    June 7, 2011 at 6:02 pm |
  7. Conifer

    I hate tipping, especially for a $7 beer. Maybe because I am European as well, but if someone provides me with exceptional service, then by all means I am happy to provide a tip -especially for a full meal at a restaurant. But for mediocre service, or poor service forget it! As for teens making their livings on tips – I recall my library job compared to my brother's restaurant jobs – spare me the sob story. They made buckets in tips + salary.

    June 7, 2011 at 6:08 pm |
  8. R.J.

    I think it's rubbish. We pay to go out and have a good time, not fund the store's employees. If the cost of food is why servers aren't well paid, increase the cost on the food and let us decide if your restaurant is worth it. Why should I pay 1/5th the cost of my meal on top of the cost because someone who works there brought it to me. I am an American, I've lived here almost my entire life, and I think the custom of tipping is terrible. Pay the workers better and quit putting it on your customers to support your staff.

    June 7, 2011 at 6:10 pm |
  9. Allen Cote

    It is perfectly easy if you have any sense in your simple mind. Think of it as good, above average, great ( except in the case of bartenders, that's another issue), corresponding to these levels of service 15, 18, and 20 percent are expected from the people giving the service and as long as you are close the servers will understand completely. With regard to bartenders the typical percentage is 30% and it's fairly standard despite service because at the end of the day he/she is the one who determines if and when you get your drinks. If you don't want to tip that much or can't afford it kindly stay home and make your own dinner, don't be rude.

    June 7, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
  10. Susan McCreadie

    Ooops, are we REALLY supposed to be tipping 18.5%? News to me. Who's in charge of these things?!?!

    June 7, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
  11. larry banal

    america is easy but europe and asia confuse me. when american drive thrus put out tip jars that does make me crazy

    June 7, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
  12. Joshua Dubois

    I am an American traveling abroad for 6 months, and you are over reacting. It's really not that complicated. 20 percent for good service at restaurants, 10% for bad. Waiter and waitresses get paid 2 dollars an hour usually and need the tips to make a minimum wage. Drinks are different, and you should add at least a dollar to each drink, or take the easy way out and use a credit card and tip 20 percent at the end of the night. If you think it's confusing, imagine us traveling abroad and going into restaurants and being the only customers there that are expected to leave a tip because we are American. We have to read tipping rules for every new country we go to as well, and each one is different. That's a lot harder than having one annoying new set of rules. Plus going to another country is about experiencing that culture, not complaining about mundane practices that barely affect your 1st world life.

    June 7, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
  13. X-pat X-waiter

    I have spent many, over 15, years working in restaurants. Many of those years were as a waiter, but also as a manager.
    So here is the basic rule. If the service is good (i.e. no problems, but not great) leave 15% of the pre-tax bill. If the service is poor leave 10%. If it is great leave 20%. If you leave nothing, then the waiter thinks your European or forgot. If you leave the 10%, then he knows he gave bad service.

    The thing most people just do not understand is that these people work for $2.13 an hour generally, although in some states NY and CA the wages are higher. Additionally, the do not keep all of the tip. They must share about 50% (sometimes more) with other staff that the customer hasn't even noticed. In Europe the waiters earn a fair hourly wage. Here in Switzerland a full time server has a minimum salary of 3800 CHF per month. France also has pretty good wages for servers and practically gauranteed work for life. Not even close in the States. You can loose your job any day and have virtually no safety net to catch you.

    Also, don't follow the percentage rules all the time. When go eat a breakfast joint and the bill is $15 for two people, don't fuss about $1.50 (10%) of $3 (20%) give the waiter $4. I mean what is the difference? How many customers does that person have to take care of in a day to make a fair/living wage.? And don't forget to add in the $2.13 they get paid to stand on their feet all day, take virtually no breaks, never eat meals with their family, work on holidays and weekends.

    All that being said, don't get guilted into over-tipping by the beer guy at the game or the bartender. But be prepared to get slower (if any) service if you don't tip the first time.

    June 7, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
  14. Jpbill

    Go to Canada. You go out with your family and dine out and spend $200. expect to pay 15% Harmonized Sales Tax plus your 20% tip = which your $200 now becomes $270. I find it very hard to tip in Canada with their 15% HST. Most states dont even charge sales tax maximum i have seen is 6.25%. But the $200 food you bought in Canada, it will cost you about $140 for the same meal in an average U.S city. If you are new york including tax and tip.you be paying $176. We got it good here in America. Compare to other countries.

    June 7, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
  15. Sam

    Reason you need to tip in US is because people live out ot tips. Mostly in Europe a tip is not obligatory, and should be given only if service was good.

    June 7, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
  16. nancy Zhao

    HELP..... I don't understand why a wait-person or a hairdresser expects to get a tip when a library assistant or nurse assistant (both low paying jobs) are not allowed to be tipped. they both give personal service ........ ??

    June 7, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
  17. Scott NYC

    Stay at home Jimmy If you are unable to afford a gratuity for the people who take care of you in restaurants. Please don't go. Instead, start a movement that restaurants and bars pay living wages and health insurance and then see if you can afford to eat out. Imagine what owners would add to your bill then. You're getting off easy with 15%-20%. And no I don't work in the restaurant business. Really. I just don't go out if I can't afford it.

    June 7, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
  18. Craigl

    As an American, I agree that knowing when and how much to tip is a confusing process. However, what can make it easier is knowing that the US is no longer a cash society, and most Americans don't deal with cash tips very often. *I haven't carried cash in years* Whenever possible, use a credit or debit card and you will have the ability to write in the tip after the card is scanned. I know this isn't much help at sporting events or with valet parking...

    June 7, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
  19. E. Erkmann

    Exactly what was the point of this article? Did we learn how to tip? Is it going to be any easier to figure out who and how to tip in the future or are we as confused and as intimidated as before we wasted our time reading this?

    In general I think tipping the way it's done in America takes away from the experience of rewarding the person for a job well done. I rather pay more for my meal upfront and tip people I feel deserved it. As it is right now, you are effectively forced to tip everyone even when service is bad

    June 7, 2011 at 6:34 pm |
  20. Davis Bradley

    Their employer pays them a fair salary so why must I tip in the first place??? As an American exec with many miles under my belt I have to say It's a tough call. The rules change in every city in every country each year so it's hard to keep track. Even when I don't tip, they go ahead and add 20% to my amex card (without even asking mind you). I don't have much respect for restaurant folk. If they have half a brain, they find something else very quickly. I simply don't respect them and they clearly do not respect me either. If the service is truly exemplary I will tip 20%, if not they are lucky if they get a couple bucks.

    June 7, 2011 at 6:36 pm |
  21. marco

    "many an American teenager survive off the tips, something non Americans don't seem to readily understand."
    I am non-American and I can confirm: I don't understand this one. Seriously, please explain it to us: don't they have some sort of salary? I assume any US teenager working as a pizza waiter has some sort of "base" salary. How much is it, that he cannot "survive" out of it?Shouldn't be his boss paying for his "survival"? I travel relatively frequently to the US and I think this tipping thing has reached absurd heights: 20% tip? tips already included in the bill? "moving" tip based on how large the group of customers is? Frankly, I don't even like the script of the guy asking me ten times if I'm enjoying my pizza, and disappearing for the rest of the time and then giving me a bad look if I'm not tipping well enough. This tipping thing is the ultimate culture clash between Europe and the US! :-)

    June 7, 2011 at 6:38 pm |
  22. RN

    There are pros and cons to the practice of tipping in the United States. As an American born and raised i only really notice it when i am either very pleased or very upset with my service. Otherwise dinner is 20%, lunch and services (e.g. haircuts) 15%, service at a hotel room is 1-3 bucks, drinks at a bar are always a buck (unless i am ordering several times from the same tender). I like having the ability to show my pleasure or displease with my service. I recently visited Europe, specifically France England and Ireland, and got varying degrees of service. Going to Europe i was aware of the "no tipping necessary" idea but i was loath to realize that several places in England placed a tip on my bill when they learned that i was American. What was worse, several restaurants i ate at had terrible service and there was no way for me to express my displeasure except to never eat there again (surprisingly the best service i got was in Paris, there is one stereotype i laid to rest). There was one audacious restaurant where i was upset with their bad service AND they added a tip into my bill. Though the idea of tipping can confuse people, i feel that it encourages servers to please the customer and do a good job. I see no real incentive to go above and beyond when you are at a fixed salary especially at a job where you can very easily take the easiest path or are dealing with potentially unpleasant customers. If an employee does a good or bad job, the customer should be able to express that directly to the person.

    June 7, 2011 at 6:46 pm |
  23. Dig

    Ummm.... standard tip rate is 15%, higher at fancy places. Those Brits pay $9 a pint in Jolly Ole England, but the tip is factored in already. Sounds like this guys does not know how the real world works, at least on this side of the pond.

    June 7, 2011 at 6:48 pm |
  24. RN

    Also to answer your questions: doormen and some other employees of supposedly "high end" resorts or country clubs are told by their employers not to take tips because it appears cheap and such places are "above such thing" and/or they dont want employees bothering the customers by waiting for tips. It all goes to the cliche door man waiting in your room, not leaving till you tip him. High quality places sometimes try to avoid that idea by not allowing tips. As for the 18% tips now, thats just a ploy in my mind, there is no "official" tip amount and the common practice is anywhere between 15-20%.

    June 7, 2011 at 6:53 pm |
  25. Jake

    DOn't buy into the "Teenagers live off tips" hype.
    When I was a teenager I worked at burger king and didnt' get tipped a dime. I lived

    June 7, 2011 at 6:54 pm |
  26. jeff984

    as an american living in europe for over a decade i rarely tip when travelling back in the usa. why should they be tipped for doing their job? i don't get a tip for doing my job. i rarely tipped even when i lived there. the whole concept never made since. and there is a minimum wage there too.

    June 7, 2011 at 7:00 pm |
  27. jeff984

    typo. sense that is.

    June 7, 2011 at 7:01 pm |
  28. Larry

    As an American living in Europe (who returns to the US once or twice a year), I fully understand your dilemma.
    First, I am of an old school philosophy - a tip is a recognition of good/superior service and attention. The American assumption that I am obligated to "not less than 15%" is ridiculous and represents greed. All restaurants should be required to pay their wait people (and kitchen) a full wage, not reduced assuming tips. I am in Bosnia and if I tip 10%, every waiter is almost overwhelmed at what they consider to be my generousity. Try that in American - and you may be chased out the door.
    One time in Greece the menu (at an American chain restaurant) specifically stated that no addition gratuity was required - it was figured into the menu price, which was still very reasonable.
    The final twist is that true service in America is becoming rare and rarer. If I receive superior service, I am glad to generously acknowledge that, but it should go to the one who provides that superior service - not everyone who may have had some hand in providing my dinner.

    June 7, 2011 at 7:02 pm |
  29. Jackie

    Ummm, you do realize that most cell phones have a tip calculator on them right?

    June 7, 2011 at 7:07 pm |
  30. James Casey

    What confounds me are the tips jars at so many 'self serve' places. Self serve yogurt comes to mind. Why? All they do is ring you up at the register. Donuts shops (no coffee bar) do that too. Why? There is no service there to tip!

    June 7, 2011 at 7:24 pm |
  31. Eric

    People who need tips don't really like begging for them. They just can't survive without them. In many cities most service jobs pay minimum wage and the server literally can't pay the bills without tips. In addition to that states tax the server for the amount of tips they are expected to earn. So if you don't tip they are literally charged by the state for serving you. I am sure most servers would prefer just to make a wage high enough to pay their bills and not have to worry about tips at all.

    June 7, 2011 at 7:30 pm |
  32. gigaom

    I used to be a waiter when I was in college. I expected to be compensated at least 15% for service. That seems to be the universal rule. Now that I am an executive and I know how hard being a server is, I leave 20% if it is great service.
    Be careful if you come to Miami Beach. The tip is always included and it is 18%.

    June 7, 2011 at 7:31 pm |
  33. Clive Harding

    A great article that describes well the 'tipping' dilemmas we Brits face when coming to the US. We do tip in the UK though it is more discretionary, less frequent and usually for less than in the US since basic wages are normally that much higher. Incredibly, after some court rulings here, the employer is entitled to take all of the tip from the employee and use it to form part of their wages and in some places they do just that! So we ask first if that's the case and don't tip at all if it is! Same language, (well almost), but in some aspects at least, two different worlds! We Brits really do need a good tipping guide to the US to help us get it right. Anybody?

    June 7, 2011 at 7:41 pm |
  34. Rob

    20% tip is a standard tip. Servers make an average of 3 bucks an hour, which is nothing after taxes. Basically relying on their tips for income. Unless the service is bad, 20% is good. A common mistake is when the food comes out cooked wrong, say a rare steak comes out when it was supposed to be medium... and the table takes it out of the servers tip, which is not right; thats the chef's fault not the servers. At bars, you can tip per drink, some tip a buck for each drink, I think thats alot, so I like to throw, say a 10 down at the very beginning (depending on the length of your stay) so the bartenders knows you are gonna take care of them, and most likely will get you good service if the bar is packed. Regarding Take-Out... some tip, I usually don't, but sometimes I do depending on the complexity of the order, but not 20%, just a few bucks, if any. Also, about those Japanese Steakhouses, I never see people tip the guy doing the entertainment, they should be tipped.

    June 7, 2011 at 7:46 pm |
  35. guesswhatelse

    I am usually a fairly generous tipper, 20% or more, when warranted. However anytime a tip is automatically added to my bill i strike it off and leave zero. The tip is my discretion.

    June 7, 2011 at 8:02 pm |
  36. Tyler

    Hey, it can be simple sometimes at a restaurant: take the total of the bill bring the decimal over 1 space to the left, multiply by 2 and you instantly get 20% shave just a little off the top and you are roughly at 18% already.
    example: bill total of $85.50, take $8.5 * 2 = $17.00 or roughly 20%... so let's say $15 is roughly 18% so your total is $100.50. Maybe in the US we think about it less and just assume. I'd rather offer and have my tip turned down than be hunted down by the person who needs it to pay the rent.

    June 7, 2011 at 8:05 pm |
  37. Zena Lazarus

    The wheelchair pusher at MIA who couldn't have walked more slowly if she tried, was offended by my handful of change. I am a senior and assume such people are paid a salary.

    June 7, 2011 at 8:05 pm |
  38. EV

    I used to work as a valet car parker at the Ritz Carlton in St. Louis. I am now a physician. When I parked cars I was amazed when people would hand me 5 bucks when I opened the door for them and was frustrated when people would hand me 50 cents when I pulled their car up. Tipping was completely arbitrary and at times a way for people to feel good by showing off. As a physician, I very much respect those in the service industry and am happy to tip the bellman, the doorman, the valet, the waitress and the free personal shopper at Bloomingdales because good service is not found everywhere and people need to be have some incentive to work harder, faster, better and in a friendlier manner especially in this economy. I don't think people have to pay 18% but they do need to understand not everyone is earning minimum wage. One tip, while in Vegas, carry a lot of singles, because the cab drivers never can break that 20 or 100 you brought and they don't take credit cards.

    June 7, 2011 at 8:12 pm |
  39. Cyle

    Tipping standard is 15%, not 18.5%. Price inflation coincides with tip inflation, so there's no reason to raise the percentage. (An exception should be made for large parties at a restaurant, however.)

    Basic Tip Percentages:
    10%: Mediocre Service
    15%: Standard/Good Service
    20%: Very Good Service

    Tip Calculations:
    There’s really no need to carry around a tip card. Here are some basic steps to help with tip calculations. Let’s say your bill came out to $36.84.
    Step 1) Round to the ten’s place. (So, this would round to $40.00)
    Step 2) Move the decimal point over to the left once. This is about %10 of your bill. (In this case $4.00)
    Step 3) For a 15% tip, add half of what you have. (So, this would become $6.00) Or, for a 20% tip, double what you currently have. (So, this would become $8.00)
    Step 4) Choose an appropriate amount. (So, anywhere between $6 and $8 would be an appropriate tip in most cases. Since you rounded up to begin with the percentages are slightly higher [$8 is actually 21.7%], but the difference is often negligible.)

    Appropriate Time to Tip:
    It was mentioned in your title, but you seem to have some confusion between proper tipping etiquette and actual tipping traps. So, let me give a few scenarios to try and clear some confusion.

    (Added Note: The two main occupations where tipping is appropriate is with waiters/waitresses and bar tenders. In the US these professions are often purposefully given very low wages from their employer in the expectation that they will make up the difference with tips. )

    1) The Restaurant: I use the term “restaurant” loosely here. I’m including any place where your server does the following: Come to where you are sitting and take your order, places your order and makes sure your order is correct, checks on you periodically and offers refills where necessary, will replace a utensil for you if you happen to drop one on the floor. The idea is that they are constantly working so the only thing you need to do is enjoy your meal and company. The tip should represent the service. Unless they are outright rude or are obviously terrible at their job, a tip is always appropriate here.

    2) The Counter: By this I mean any place where you walk in the door, walk up to a counter, order something, and they give it to you. Over the last decade or so, tip jars have been cropping up in places like this. This is, for the most part, inappropriate. Unless your special order of a triple late with magic sauce, whip cream and sprinkles is a bit beyond the standard menu, there’s really no reason to tip here. The one acception is…

    3) Bars: You sit down, order a $5 beer, and you’re pretty much expected to give a $1 tip. That’s a 20% tip on something that takes less skill then making the late. Tips like these, I feel, are not really deserved, but they’ve simply become part of the culture. If you’re actually drinking at the bar, then you .....(cont.)

    June 7, 2011 at 8:13 pm |
  40. Cyle

    ... then you are taking up the space and a good bartender will check up on you and actually talk to you when it’s not too busy. Because of this, I usually tip when I leave. If you’re just grabbing beers and leaving there’s a few things you can do that I think make much more sense. One is to go up for you and at least one other person. A dollar tip for pouring three beers is fine, as tipping a dollar per beer is ridiculous. Another is to run a tab, and give a tip based on that total.

    4) The Trap: Besides the tip jars popping up on every hotdog stand and candy counter in the country, there’s a very simple rule to avoid a tip trap. If you are ever made to feel guilty or uncomfortable for not giving a tip, don’t. People like this don’t care if you’ve had good service or not, they only want to make you feel bad so you will give them money. Making you feel uncomfortable is the absolute last thing a server should do. If a mistake is made (which has happened to me a few times), a good server will ask how he/she can improve their service or ask if anything was wrong (politely). Servers don’t deserve tips, they earn them. Browbeating you out of your money is an act better left to less reputable “professions”.

    June 7, 2011 at 8:14 pm |
  41. Roelof

    Here in Holland we've got minimumwages around 14 $ an hour. But when you go out to dinner, it's normal to leave a tip in a restaurant between 5 and 10%. Or when you get the bill to round off upwards. Not in bars or fastfood restaurants, maybe in clubs. In the USA they make round 7,50 $ an hour. Mostly they probably need that tip, kinda performance wages.

    June 7, 2011 at 8:17 pm |
  42. 8stars

    Well the British are incredibly cheap, However, even as an American I am getting really annoyed over the tipping situation. There are a plethora of tip jars in fast food places (isn't it just doing your job to hand me my burger?), espresso bars, etc. This doesn't even mention the tips expected for hair, manicure and spa treatments. What next, a tip jar at our doctor's' offices?!

    June 7, 2011 at 8:22 pm |
  43. sasha

    This is a note for all non Americans who visit the United States. Tipping is considered important because the people who work by providing these services like hotel maids, waiter/waitress, valet, beauty salons etc are minimally paid and their daily living depends on tips. Most foreigners do not understand this and so they are not aware of the methods of tipping. Those who do not understand how to calculate the tip just put 20 % of the total of the bill which is standard. I normally tip 20 % of the total of the bill and if the service is excellent, then I add a bit more. Trust me, this gesture not only looks classy but it also make the employee's day.

    June 7, 2011 at 8:25 pm |
  44. Paul Landivar

    Why don't the employers pay decent wages so that workers do not have to hustle for tips and customers do not feel pressure at he moment of paying the bill. If one decides to tip it should be as was at the beginning to recognize a service beyond requirements and not an obligation of a set percentage of the bill. I hate tipping or being forced to tip.

    June 7, 2011 at 8:31 pm |
  45. twolkner

    I'm born and raised in the states, in London at the moment for business, and really don't know what is an appropriate tip or not. At lunch, tip was included just for the two of us, and later on that evening at dinner I assumed it was automatically included again, and honestly, I don't know if I left a tip or not. I feel terrible, but again, don't want to reallly tip twice.

    June 7, 2011 at 8:31 pm |
  46. Scot

    The tipping culture in the United States is just wrong. it's some kind of entitlement (or so it seems, in the minds of many service personnel there). As a 36 year native resident of the US now living in Ireland, I am still relieved every time I pay a bill in a public service establishment when I am not expected to tip. Most times I don't. The price is the price, and everyone knows it. The workers hourly pay or salary includes a mutual agreeable and a living wage. "Service" is not something "additional", it is a part of the job, a normal human love, one person to another. There is no 'fee' for love – unless it's prostitution. Perhaps that's what service professions are seen as in the United States? – Scot

    June 7, 2011 at 8:31 pm |
  47. Deren Lacey

    Sorry, I think if you agonize over it like this, then there's a problem. It's quite simple. If the service was good, you should leave a tip, and if it wasn't, you shouldn't. The fact that it's pricey somewhere is no excuse. The person serving can't help that. Take that up with the owners of the establishment. The whole reason behind a tip is to ensure that you reward good service, and punish bad service. It's pragmatic. If you want good service in the future, you should reward good service. If you don't reward good service, and nobody does, then you will have an environment of bad service, no matter where you go, which is obvious in countries where nobody tips, and in which service is notoriously bad. But this should be no surprise. In an economy that rewards poor performance or punishes good performance, i.e. protectionism and monopolies, you have bad performance. If you go past all of that, you're missing the point. Be cheap if you want, and don't tip, but then, don't expect good service, or at the very least, don't expect better than average or exceptional service. And above all, don't worry or agaonize over it, because then your dinner is ruined before it even starts.

    June 7, 2011 at 8:32 pm |
  48. Sandy

    I live in the US and never heard the tip was to go up to 18.5% I only tip at the restaurant because alot of the servers do go above and beyond. But from when we're greeted the tip is 15%; when service gets pathetic, tip goes down and vice-versa. I don't believe in tipping trash collectors/postal service/etc. because that is there job that they chose, and they get nice salaries – don't be fooled.

    June 7, 2011 at 8:39 pm |
  49. Joe Murphy

    I`m Irish and cannot understand why Americans and Canadians insist on this extravagant tipping "etiquette" I worked in the service industry for a few years and never expected tips. I was paid my wages for doing my job and any tips I got were a bonus. Now I realise employers underpay workers knowing the tips they recieve will compensate and I think this is the problem. I deliberately will not tip someone if I think they think they are entitled to it or are almost demanding it as happened when on holidays in Canada with family. So my brother wrote on the bill beside gratuity, which was crossed out and Tip written in pen just in case we didn`t get it, "Don`t eat yellow snow" I`m sure he appreciated the tip or advice. HA.

    June 7, 2011 at 8:40 pm |
  50. ipull4fun

    Im from SA.In most parts of South Africa it is considered polite to tip 10% of the total of whatever you had at whatever place. However this tip is mostly considered non mandatory. we do have to fork out the odd R5 or R2 for the car guards who "watch" our cars.

    June 7, 2011 at 8:46 pm |
  51. Ben

    "Voluntary" tipping is a sham when workers live or die by their tips because their employers have already adjusted their pay accordingly - and downward of course.

    Many Americans (and CNN too) have a tendency to mock "bizarre" foreign customs. Actually, tipping is just one of any number of time honored but nonsensical practices here in America.

    June 7, 2011 at 8:51 pm |
  52. ray williams

    Good service=good tip, bad service= no tip. ( and a verbal notification )That's the way we do it here in the mother country.

    June 7, 2011 at 8:52 pm |
  53. Keith Campbell

    In a restaurant you are paying for the food.
    The person who brings it to you is not paid much.
    So, he has to earn his living by presenting that meal to you.
    He is not the cook, but the messenger.
    A good messenger deserves a good tip, a bad messenger could be shot with coins.
    What is a ngood tip? A good tip is waht you can afford in showing your appreciation for good behaviour, clean dressing and politeness

    June 7, 2011 at 8:59 pm |
  54. Skywatch

    I am British.

    I lived in Miami for 8 months.

    I was horrified that I had to tip no matter what. In the UK we only tip when the service and food is execptional. Over 'there' it's the 'norm' for even the most banal food and service.

    Tipping would not be 'expected' if the minimum wage was realistic.....wake up people to what your 'society' is really about.

    A.

    June 7, 2011 at 9:01 pm |
  55. Reggie

    Tipping should never be mandatory. Any waiter who chases after a customer to embarass them about a tip (or no tip) should be immediately fired.

    June 7, 2011 at 9:14 pm |
  56. James

    The quick rules I use are:
    - A buck for a drink (if at a bar/pub, if it is part of a meal it folds into the overall meal tip). If it is a complicated drink and well prepared, I'll up the tip on the next round.
    - Meals: 15-20%, based upon service. If we are at the table a long time (or the only people to sit at the table that night) I will bump the tip up a bit (especially if wine selection is good). If it is a low-service-requirement meal (such as a buffet), it may get dropped down to 5% for the busboy.
    - I try not to leave odd amounts or change as part of the tip. It makes counting/splitting tips at the end of the night difficult for the wait staff if they pool/split tips.
    - Never feel bad about what I'm leaving or feel pressured to leave more. If the waiter/waitress hovers in an attempt to pressure a larger tip, simply ask for another glass of water and continue your table conversation, and leave the tip later.

    "Stimmt so" is much easier, but it takes some of the fun out of American dining.

    June 7, 2011 at 9:16 pm |
  57. Cally

    (Most of the advice below applies to areas other than New York City, which has it's own peculiar customs in tipping)

    Foreign visitors must remember that in the U.S., minimum wage laws DO NOT apply to wait staff! This is legal and built into the minimum wage law, assuming the wait staff will make up the difference in their tips. This is an incentive for good service, as they will supposedly serve you better knowing their tip is on the line. That said, unless the service was truly atrocious (and management can't or won't remedy the situation), then 15% of the total, pre-tax bill is the courteous minimum. Be on the lookout in your bill for "automatic" tips, usually invoked for a large party of diners at one table.

    For staff other than waitstaff (doormen, bellhops, chamber maids, etc.) usually $2-$5 per day/per service is sufficient. Taxi drivers should also get the 15% rule, be flexible for extra services (luggage, route requests, speedy arrival). Be on the lookout for "late hours" surcharges. Taxi drivers often are merely renting their car, and must pay daily rental & gas, and sometimes maintenance on it.

    If you do find "extra" tipping you did not authorize on your credit statement, contact your credit card company. It could be an innocent mistake, or it could be attempted fraud. No matter how badly you under-tip, they do not have the right to add extra without your permission.

    June 7, 2011 at 9:17 pm |
  58. Stefan

    Hi,
    ...an interessting article. I'm from Europe and made in summer some holidays in Florida. The during the whole holidays, I didn't give any tip because I didn't know that I should! So on the last day before my flight was back, I was in a restaurant eating for about 23 Dollars. The waiter wrote some calculation on account like this: "...round(23 + 23*0.15)" = 30...he demanded 15% and then wanted me to round it up. Plus he painted a "smile" on account paper. I thought this is very cheeky and gave him none cent of tip. Damn he got so angry! He shouted trough the whole restaurant and said I would have to leave now because it would be his table for new customers........
    Finally I can say I am very upset that in America waiters are only friendly with you because they expect tip. It leaves a ungood feeling.

    Stefan

    June 7, 2011 at 9:21 pm |
  59. MarcXW

    The difference between tipping in the U.S and in Europe is the fact that in the U.S, people are supposed to live on their tips and are paid minimum wage. However, in Europe, the tip one has to leave will always be lower because they are often included in the bill and in any case, everyone will be paid above minimum wage. I think there are some places where tipping is normal, like restaurants,... but you shouldn't consistently tip people, and depending on if you are in the U.S or in Euope, the tip shouldn't be the same percentage. As a student I try to tip as often and as much as possible, but it is not always possible.

    June 7, 2011 at 9:24 pm |
  60. moltomuchacho

    I worked at an airport and I am pretty good at what I do about a month ago i have this passenger he was so happy about my service that he gave me 500euro and guess what? i gave it back...call it stupid but I believe its the right thing to do...

    June 7, 2011 at 9:26 pm |
  61. wd

    If I will be going to a place often, then I will tip there.
    Some places add the tip in the reciepts. I never tip on top of that.
    I will refuse to tip a person if I can watch his/her reaction to it. A nice person will get the tip, someone who expects it will not.

    I also do not believe in tipping more because my meal costed more. If the service is good, then I'll tip $5, but I always remember that I used to work for less than $5/hr doing a much more work than walking a plate over from the cook to the table.

    Stop tipping until you can walk out without tipping and not feel guilty about it. Think about it this way. You have x amount of money for tips. Do you want to spread it out evenly so the slackers get the same amount as the one who deserve it? Or do you want to not tip some and give it to ones who deserve it?

    Tipping is an annoying social expectation. You might feel guilty that they have to live on tips, but many make much more than those who work for a hourly wage.

    June 7, 2011 at 9:36 pm |
  62. RHS

    When I've been out to some kind of group lunch or meeting at a restaurant, I've found it amusing when the computer included a "gratuity" to the bill automatically, though I can see the practical advantage of doing that instead of negotiating tips with maybe 20-odd people individually.

    Still, a tip is supposed to be a token of appreciation, either for good service or for acquiescing to some particular request. When it's automatic or mildly coerced (as in the cases the author mentions where pricing and circumstances are chosen to make it relatively awkward for the customer to collect the exact change), it loses its meaning. The practice of underpaying servers on the assumption that their gratuities will bring their compensation up to where it should be is reprehensible. A tip should be a transaction between an appreciative customer and the appreciated server.

    Some years ago, I was in a coffee-shop, part of a well-known chain, at around 3 A.M. The waitresses were extremely frazzled, and I soon learned why: some kind of incident had knocked out part of the shop's equipment and they had to tend to some things manually that would otherwise have been automatic. IIRC, that included coffee, and you can imagine what it was like when customers had to wait an unusually long time for that! The customers were clearly grumpy, and you can bet the tips were pretty sparse. From where I was, it was clear they were doing a heroic job trying to work around the problems and keep up, so I decided to buck the trend and gave my server a large tip. It was worth it just to see the look of relief on her face when I told her why. Right then they needed for someone to show some understanding and appreciation for the extra effort they were making under the circumstances, and that was a way to express that a bit more meaningfully than just a friendly comment.

    June 7, 2011 at 9:43 pm |
  63. Roland

    I know it is annoying to have to figure out the tip (15-20%) especially when you pay it on the total bill including the 8-9% sales tax. However, if you are in Europe, you are paying an included VAT tax of 18% and still leaving some change so, although it causes no stress, it kind of evens out. You just have to do the math while you're in the US.

    June 7, 2011 at 9:55 pm |
  64. Boonta

    The nice thing about living in Germany is not having to worry about the tipping nonsense that we put up with in the states. Basically tipping in the states exists because restaurants are too cheap to pay their employees; its a little loophole they use to get around the minimum wage laws. They'll pay they like $2 per hour and then let them have tips. Riddle me this... Why does TGI Fridays or any other big-box restaurant chain need to make their employees rely on tips? McDonald's doesn't... Personally, I'm a stingy tipper, because I think the whole system is horse-sh!t. I have to side with Mr. Pink on this one...

    June 7, 2011 at 9:59 pm |
  65. Willys

    If I'm in a bar or club and order a drink, I'll tip a buck. If it's Happy Hour and beer is a buck, I'll tip a buck. It is Happy Hour and it's not really for you, it's how the Bartender makes a living. Think, what if my kid's teacher worked for tips.

    If I'm in a restaurant and the service is at least equal to my Mother-in-Law's at Thanksgiving then the tip will be at least 20%. If I'm in a group of four or more the tip will be excessive accordingly, provided the M-i-L rule.

    If my Euro friends don't get it then either I'll cover them or they aren't really my friends. The guy pouring my drink or serving me hot food means more to me than that.

    June 7, 2011 at 10:02 pm |
  66. Tim

    Why is this article titled 'How to avoid tipping traps in the U.S.' on the front page?
    Your editors are terrible!!!
    No offense to the journalist who wrote this article. I completely agree with the awkwardness associated with tips. We tried tipping a bartender $1 for a free beer, and he gave us this look like, wtf?
    I was sorely tempted to take back the dollar and get myself a friggin dollar menu item at McDonald's.

    June 7, 2011 at 10:03 pm |
  67. imadome

    I am from the U.S. and am a waitress. I would have to say that we greatly appreciate any tip that is at or over 15%. There are alot of people who still tip at 10%, and thats good too. Any tip is a good tip, something is better than nothing. My base pay is $2.25 US per hr. and that is definantly not enough to live on. Waitresses'/waiters' depend on tips. I wish it was policy to add gratuity to all bills instead of tipping or either for the restaraunts to pay us better base rates.

    June 7, 2011 at 10:04 pm |
  68. Walter Koenig

    For meals.... 0-10% for below your expections service, 15% average, 20% for really good service. Note that 18% is added to the bill automatically for parties greater than 5-6 persons, depends on the restaurant.

    For drinks, I tip $1 per drink regardless of price.

    June 7, 2011 at 10:12 pm |
  69. John G.

    I live in the US, it seems that everywhere with a counter and cash register now has a "tip jar". Ridiculous.
    I spent three months working in Amman, Jordan last year. The 15% "gratuity" added to all my bar and restaurant bills at the Sheraton were not given to staff, but taken by the hotel. Appalling.
    Just got back from 4 months traveling in Mexico. The subtle question at many restaurants "where are you from?". Because the servers know Americans tip well, Canadians poorly and Europeans not at all. The level of service is adjusted accordingly.

    June 7, 2011 at 10:14 pm |
  70. Where's the door

    Tipping is a mixed bag. Here in NZ you don't tip. But then the service is horrid. The lack of tipping is offset by a reasonable wage. In Germany you get 'trinkgeld' which is the change left over up to the next Euro.

    But in the US it is extortion. I am certain that if you raised the issue with Amex, it would have been taken off your bill as, like you say, that must be illegal. If I pay for a meal I expect the service charges to be included. If the service is EXCEPTIONAL, then a gratuity or tip may be included. But solely at my discretion and not as an impost as is the current practice.

    I don't get tips in my business and only get customers if I have products and services they want. Why should a bartender get 20-50% for opening a bottle of beer? Absurd.

    June 7, 2011 at 10:39 pm |
  71. Marvin Woods

    I know how you feel! Every time I go to the U.S. I have to re-learn the tipping game again (just like those annoying state taxes). I usually tip about 10-15% whenever the service is good to excellent, and try not to get annoyed at any evil stares.
    Even then, when I calculate how many extra money I spend on tips it can put a strain on my budget.
    Where did you get that tipping chart? It might bu useful once in a while...

    June 7, 2011 at 10:40 pm |
  72. MJ

    It has always been my understanding that you tip for the service you received. Oftentimes I will find myself tipping 20% for service that was so-so, for the soul reason that I know they are depending on tips to live. But if this is the case, perhaps they should step up their efforts to not be so-so.

    I recently took a vacation to Atlantic City where a lot of tipping issues arose in situations I wouldn't normally find myself in. For example, we left our show tickets at our hotel across town, and while the box office employees could have told us to hit the road, they made phone calls and sent e-mails, checked into what we had purchased (which was from a 3rd party nonetheless) and went out of their way for us and even gave us better seats than we originally purchased....so we tipped them.
    And bellhops.... well... I must say that's an awkward stare-down. Especially if you don't have any cash on you. I'm not being cheap, but you insisted on bringing my bags to the room for me. Here's a coupon for a buck off an ice cream cone at Baskin Robbins? These situations make me uncomfortable.

    June 7, 2011 at 11:01 pm |
  73. Evan

    Tipping is a custom in the US, just like kissing womens' cheeks is a customary greeting in Europe where I'm living right now (I'm an American living in Portugal). Yeah, it makes me a little uncomfortable because I'm not used to doing it, but I participate just the same.

    It's a little annoying when Europeans completely blow off our cultural customs as "silly" or "inferior" and simply choose not to tip; the US isn't just a dumb version of Europe. People in the US make most of their money on tips sometimes. I thought Americans were the culturally insensitive Xenophones and Europeans were "enlightened."

    June 7, 2011 at 11:29 pm |
  74. mikel

    I rarely tip and if I do it's just to round up a couple of dollars. If you have to live off of tips, get a different job. I also won't go to a place that automatically puts a tip on the bill.

    June 7, 2011 at 11:30 pm |
  75. el donkey

    omfg what a total retard.
    you can't compute a 15% or 20% tip in your head?
    divide your meal cost by 10, multiply by 1.5 or 2.
    how dang hard is that?
    sometimes i cant fathom the idiocy of the "tip averse"

    June 7, 2011 at 11:38 pm |
  76. JD Rainwater

    Why is simply math not so simple....? Figure 10% – easy enough. 15% add half of the 10%. 20% – well, you get right.
    Surely you finished 5th grade?

    June 7, 2011 at 11:38 pm |
  77. Andrew

    On behalf of service industry employees, the majority of whom are ridiculously underpaid, I'd like to thank you for including the word "trap" in the article headline. I understand that some people in this industry do indeed take advantage when they can, but that's far from the norm. By starting your article with such an accusing title you've pretty much guaranteed that servers everywhere are going to be berated with snide comments and audacious looks over the next few days from customers who read this article and now think we're all crooks.

    Great job.

    Some of the things you forget to discuss is that a lot of employers pay their servers minimum wage because they know we're tipped. In many cases, we're required to pool our tips, so that buck you left for a beer (for the record I think tipping a dollar on a 7 dollar beer is more than adequate) would be split amongst everyone working. In many restaurants, we're required to tip out 10% to the kitchen, and sometimes even another 10% to the host or hostess or even the bartender. So, that 100 dollars you ASSUME your server will be clearing doesn't turn out to be 100 after all. It can work out to something as low as 60 bucks after tipping out.

    You also didn't mention that a lot of servers actually claim our tips at tax time. In all honesty, it's not usually the full amount, or even anything close. The rule of thumb where I've worked for years has been to add 10% to your income and claim it as tips.

    If you're going to try and rationalize not tipping, at least try and show some integrity and represent both sides of the story. And keep in mind that the young lady on that yacht trip, most likely won't be able to afford the same day you enjoyed with or without your tip.

    June 7, 2011 at 11:42 pm |
  78. jeremy

    im in the same boat. Born and raised in the US, but have lived the last 7 years in the UK, with business travel around Europe (and sometimes Asia). I constantly forget how to tip when i am back in the states.

    It is especially difficult since i was a teetotaller before I moved to the UK, so i had no experience with tipping in bars while i lived in the states. i can never remember if it is supposed to be a buck per drink or per round....

    June 7, 2011 at 11:54 pm |
  79. Randy

    Rule of thumb is 15 – 20 percent in restaurants and bars. Others it depends.

    Overseas, they just add it to the bill if you are a group as a set amount. You have no say about deducting for bad service or food.

    I prefer the North American way!!!

    June 7, 2011 at 11:55 pm |
  80. Caleb

    I think you over thought this one.. Servers usually make around $2.50 to $2.75 an hour, including what tips they receive. Annually, that's probably one tenth of your salary. I'm not trying to sound rude, but lets not be greedy.. You're not paying $9 dollars for the beer, you're paying $7, and $2 for the service/convenience. If I have a terrible waiter/waitress I usually leave a $2 to $3 dollar tip depending on the size of the group; however, if it's great service I will leave anywhere from $5 to $10. With that being said, like them, I to am living on a "middle class" salary, but I realize their jobs aren't as easy as they might seem. Even though I could really use that extra money, I would rather give it to someone who has worked hard to deserve it.

    June 8, 2011 at 12:00 am |
  81. Christian

    I was staying in NYC with a colleague last year. We had a drink at the Peninsula Hotel after wrapping up some meetings. My friend asked for Johnny Walker and the bartender said that he had just opened a Johnny Walker blue label and pushed him to try it (which he did). What he neglected to tell my colleague was it was $110 per glass! This is highway robbery as a bottle costs no more than $180. No tip for our sly waiter.

    June 8, 2011 at 12:01 am |
  82. awd

    Mr. Boulden,
    I'm similar to you. Grew up in the US, and have lived overseas (in Asia) the past 24 years.
    1. Tipping does not improve service. I get great service in Asia with no tips. When you walk into a restaurant and pay for food, the whole idea is service. Do you tip the salesperson at the mall store for selling you stuff? Do you tip the pilot for flying the plane?
    2. When I lived in the US, a standard tip was 10%. Today it's 15-20%. Why the increase? Since it's a percent of the bill, it's already following inflation. And if the increase continues, will the tip be 30% in another 10 or 15 years? When will it stop?
    3. Tipping simply adds to the total cost. Sometimes just the tip in America is equal to the entire bill in Taiwan for a similar meal.
    4. The whole concept of tipping has been perverted, from the original "this was great service, I'm thanking you" to the present "I have to give you more money for whatever service, even when I don't want to."
    In sum, tipping doesn't work (it doesn't improve service), it's a waste of money, so it should be abolished.

    June 8, 2011 at 12:27 am |
  83. Thomas

    Some day this country will evolve into being civilized enough to pay everyone a decent wage for their work and we would then finally leave this backward and humiliating custom behind us.

    Maybe even some day we get to enjoy the price displayed on the sign being the price to actually be paid at the counter. Like a properly developed and advanced culture should do.

    Unfortunately we are still very much as backward and undeveloped as many 3rd world countries when it comes to being a truly modern society. But I have belief that we will some day get there.

    June 8, 2011 at 12:30 am |
  84. leor

    What a retarded article. Why not to post an article by someone who actually does know the rules and can explain them to others. Instead of posting whining of some pathetic moron who gets "trapped" when it comes to tipping.

    June 8, 2011 at 12:38 am |
  85. a.jeon

    First off, may I comment that you don't need to "tip" at fast food restaurants? They get paid a proper wage, even if it happens to be the minimum wage (which is a respectable $8+ for most states). I worked as a waitress during my high school years (I just graduated from college–you do the math) and I received $2.35/hour from the restaurant. I was literally working for tips. Even then, at the end of each shift a percentage of our tips would be taken off to share with the busboys (who don't get tipped directly, for obvious reasons). I completely understand how this tipping can be a foreign concept to many, and thought of as a ploy to rob patrons of their money by many others, but I honestly believe that it's commenting on how you feel the service was. It's very common for individuals who've waited tables in the past to be excellent tippers, but I've found that it's only worth leaving a good tip if the service deserved it. I would never leave a tip greater than a couple dollars for waiters who neglected our table or failed to refill drinks and consistently return to make sure we didn't need anything.

    June 8, 2011 at 12:42 am |
  86. Justy

    Yes it is illegal for a restaurant to charge extra on your cc because the person think that your tip was not enough
    it has happen to my husband and I in Florida, since I have been in the restaurant many time in the past
    I did go back to the restaurant to talk to the manager/owner he told me that tip was suppose to be 20% of the total of the bill, I told him that service was bad and I have no intention to tip for bad service
    to show him that I could do something about it I stand in the middle of the restaurant and told his customers what has happened and also call Amex, Amex asked that we email them the copy of the bills which we did
    and the charge was removed, from talking to people I found out that it has happen before
    I also found out that if you report the restaurant the card will stop the payment and will not allowed the restaurant to use their services any longer

    June 8, 2011 at 12:46 am |
  87. Ben

    I'm an American living abroad. When I did live in the states, I worked as a bartender and server. The country I live in has a high wage and no tipping. I've found that this leads to horrible service, even in nicer restaurants. Staff don't bother to learn the menu or the wine list since there is no incentive. At least in the states, a server at a nice restaurant has an incentive to provide knowledgeable and attentive service. Additionally, any drink or menu item here seems to be a few dollars more expensive than in America. I'll happily give that extra dollar or two back to the server as a tip. In the end, I'm paying the same amount.

    For anyone traveling to the states for the first time, here's a loose guide to acceptable tipping:

    $1 a drink at the bar (No bartender will ever get upset over that. If they do, then that's their problem)

    15% for table service dining if the service is effective but uninspired

    20% for table service dining if the service includes good recommendations, genuine care about your experience, etc.

    (If they basically made you feel like you were a burden to them or they screwed everything up, tip lower. An experienced server knows when they've done a terrible job and isn't surprised by a lesser tip as a response)

    $5 to the valet (unless you are driving a Ferrari, then spread the wealth a little)

    Taxis – $10 ride, $2 tip – keep the proportions going

    $2-5 for a bellhop depending on how many bags you have. Use your own judgement.

    That should get most travelers through their trips. Hope this helped.

    June 8, 2011 at 12:46 am |
  88. yn leung

    I am a Canadian who grew up in India, living in the US who spends much time in Asia and Europe. Ii have got into the habit of checking with local friends as to the "rules". As a woman traditionally it was expected I would tip badly so I overdid. Now we are more aware of women who support families on tips and Im still generous. In many larger cities, immigrant servers work on tips. Bad labour/social policy but important to know. Honestly do 20% of bill before taxes if service is good and 10% if its mediocre. We all have bad days!

    June 8, 2011 at 12:50 am |
  89. WAITER

    Most of these comments are just not well thought out, first of all in EUROPE/ASIA the waiters are paid more per hour, and the cost of food is more. In USA the waiters are paid minimum wage, and food is dirt cheap...
    Also I am a waiter, my $8 an hour doesnt even cover my rent, let alone food, electricity ect ect
    OH and my MINIMUM wage is deducted the taxes from my tips.....making my check even smaller.
    I have traveled to many countries, and learn the tipping process for all of them. Its not that hard.
    But i do have to agree that if someone is just grabbing you a beer, then it is a lil steep to tip a dollar each beer. I dont get that every time a bring someone at a table something.

    June 8, 2011 at 12:52 am |
  90. johnharry

    they should just pay a real wage, and not expect tips. I dont want to hear the bullkaka of places going out of business for paying a real wage. Australia and New Zealand both pay real wages and even have a holiday surcharge.

    June 8, 2011 at 1:00 am |
  91. Jim M.

    If you think the author is just talking about the math of the tipping process, you're an idiot. I'm an accountant, and an American, and often have to ask "should I tip this person, that person?? It's confusing to know when and how much for those of us that travel around a lot.

    We had this girl who helped our company plan and go on a day trip... do we tip this person? After getting mixed reviews, I just asked her. And it turned out... that she does usually get tips. So a check for $240 we provided.

    I prefer the German method. Not sure if the rest of Europe is that way too. I think I tipped American-style last time I visited England.

    June 8, 2011 at 1:03 am |
  92. James

    There seem to be a lot of complaints about the practice of tipping in the United States and many responses indicate that the system should be abolished. While the article does point out that "many an American teenager survive off the tips," it fails to address that more than teenagers make a living off of tips. The service industry is first and foremost an industry. It is comprised of a variety of people who depend on the income from tipping to sustain their lives and, in many cases, their families. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, the federal minimum wage for tipped employees is $2.13/Hour. While there are some states that mandate a higher minimum wage, many states adhere to the federal guideline. Tipping is not just an annoying custom, but a way of life for more than 2 million Americans. I agree that the system should be abolished and a higher wage should be set for employees, but as long as the industry is able to maintain a relatively low overhead in regards to remuneration, it is a system that is unlikely to change in the immediate future– especially during a recession in which unemployment has increased and people are forced to take any jobs available.

    June 8, 2011 at 1:15 am |
  93. John Anstey

    Here's a social etiquette tip (at no charge) for who ever chose the photograph.
    Don't ever hold your wine glass up to be filled.
    Leave it on the table for your waiter or a fellow diner to pour.

    June 8, 2011 at 1:17 am |
  94. DJB in Japan

    I have spent almost 20 years in Japan (where tipping is nonexistent), and over here the server's salaries and meal costs cover any potential gratuity. Service is generally attentive and polite. I find it hard to believe that servers in the US get an hourly wage of around $2. In Japan, I think the average hourly wage in the service industry is around $9USD (but, with no tips).

    June 8, 2011 at 1:27 am |
  95. Paul S

    Tipping 10-15% is very cheap with the horrible wages being made by most service jobs. If I get good service, I tip 30%, OK service 20%, bad service 0%.

    June 8, 2011 at 1:55 am |
  96. Jake

    If you have only lived and tipped in America then I cannot explain the wonderful feeling of moving to China. No tips for anyone, bartenders, waiters (fuwuyan!), cab drivers. The price is the price.

    June 8, 2011 at 1:56 am |
  97. saucy6969

    as an american living in australia for over 5 years i despise tipping when travelling back in the us. why should they be tipped for doing the job they are supposed to do? i never got a tip for doing my job when i worked in america. tipping doesnt make sense. the cost of living is lower so pay your workers more then people wont have to tip. australians in minimum wage jobs are paid better ($15.51/hour+) therefore noone has to tip. works out well.

    June 8, 2011 at 2:00 am |
  98. Lisa

    Tipped employees in the US are paid HALF of the current MINIMUM WAGE!!!!! Right now that is slightly over $4.00 per hour in most places! You are paying the restaurant bill for the food and drinks and you are paying the server for their time and service. IF YOU CANNOT AFFORD TO PAY A TIP FOR YOUR SERVICE, THEN YOU CANNOT AFFORD TO GO OUT IN THE FIRST PLACE!!! The author of this article is a cheap jerk.

    June 8, 2011 at 2:05 am |
  99. OliverW

    I'm surprised that an obviously well-travelled and educated journalist is missing the obvious point. In most countries other than the US I've traveled and lived in, service personnel is paid a living hourly wage, or even (shocking!) a salary + benefits, and while they always appreciate an xtra 5-10%, they don't necessarily expect it, and are certainly not dependent on it. Over here, even the most expensive restaurants are not paying their waiters much more than minimum wage, so the service people depend on generous tips from customers to make a somewhat decent living.

    I'll abstain from recommending that service wages in US be raised and tip expectations lowered to about 10% max – that could be construed as an evil socialistic bent of mind!!! An alternative could be to include a 10% service charge in the bill (done in several other countries I've been to), and let the guest decide whether and how much they want to add to that... However, that would constitute a significant change in the US hospitality industry, and they'll probably tell you to keep it! It's cheaper and more profitable for restaurant and hotel owners to just keep things as they are, and shuffle off their personnel costs to the customer.

    June 8, 2011 at 2:14 am |
  100. Lisa

    If you do not want to tip, then write your senator and congressman asking them to change the law and require establishments to pay their employees a wage comparable to what their tipped wage should be. You will still end up paying the tip, as the resaurants will just adjust their prices accordingly. STOP WHINING AND TIP YOUR SERVER.

    June 8, 2011 at 2:27 am |
  101. jonathn48

    look clearly tipping is how most people in this economy make a living. whether or not you get good service or not, remember that there is a reason our economy suffers and its because things cost too much anymore and people do not want to spend that much money and anyone that works off tips is in the same boat.

    June 8, 2011 at 2:28 am |
  102. K Ong

    The only tip I really mind: f..ing taxi drivers. Bad manners, worse driving, talking on the phone the whole time, don't help you with the luggage, "don't have change at the moment"... and still I should give them an extra??!! WTF!!

    June 8, 2011 at 2:36 am |
  103. Paul

    As an Australian travelling in North America I was often told by waiting staff that they wanted to work in Ausralia because waiting staff were paid proper wages in Australia and didn't have to survive on tips. That is want the staff want and that is what most of the customers want, so change the culture. Why can't the USA join the real world instead of trying to change it. Maybe they could also use the metric system of measurement as well and get out of the dark ages.

    June 8, 2011 at 2:43 am |
  104. Wesley

    I'm from Canada and basically I only tip if someone actually serves you, i.e at a bar where you go to the counter and ask for i drink, its not necessary, but if you have a waiter bringing you drinks then yes, and i find it funny how big a deal you make of it, just make it a nice number... if the bill if 16.50 pay 20, if its 15.95 pay 20 etc. and if the service isn't good then don't pay the tip

    June 8, 2011 at 2:53 am |
  105. Mom of college student

    Get real people... A lot of those teenagers are college students putting themselves through College... They work at restaurants because the hours are more flexible. They are not paid minimum rate like Libraians or Nurses. As a matter of fact, in South Carolina if they make more than minimum wage in tips then the employers do are not required to pay them at all....... They literally live off those tips.. For the people too cheap to tip PLEASE STAY HOME.... Leave the table open for those that have a little compassion... My daughter works hard for her money and still struggles to pay her bills.... Its twice as hard for her if she has to deal with TIP SNOBS

    June 8, 2011 at 2:58 am |
  106. A.T.

    With the way tipping works in the US nowadays, customers are basically having to compensate for the fact that the staff get treated like slave labour by management. And it's the customers, not the management, who become objects of resentment when the system fails, like when a visiting foreigner hasn't got the "rules" right. It's really the management that should be getting all of that ill will. That's my beef with the American tipping convention.

    In various bartending forums, "I hate foreigners" rants from American bartenders (often ones working in hotels), furious about not being tipped, are not uncommon. This kind of vicious attitude toward innocent customers really makes me feel like I'm not welcome in the US, even as a tourist paying my way.

    I want tipping to be something you do only when the service has been very pleasing, or when you've been really prevailing upon service personnel, like when ordering a high-effort drink (such as a Mojito) when the bar is crowded.

    And I can't claim to have noticed service generally being better in the US than in Europe.

    June 8, 2011 at 3:12 am |
  107. A.T.

    To put my above post in context, I should point out that I do tip (normally too much, for fear of being resented otherwise) when in the US.

    June 8, 2011 at 3:19 am |
  108. Ding K S

    Tipping causes the frustration of how much to tip. IT causes unnecessary stress. Employees should be paid reasonably by their employers. If a person really goes out of his way, yes you may tip, but that should be the exception, and not the rule. There should be a no tipping by default practice. It removes jealousy, frustration, and unequal service.

    So if you are poor, and cannot tip well, do you deserve less? Should your cup be half full when you order a drink despite paying the displayed price just because you can't tip well?

    June 8, 2011 at 3:20 am |
  109. Arthur

    The system is broken. They have these employees that don't get paid and are expected to live on handouts from the customers. Why? Just pay them a minimum wage and increase food prices slightly. How would it look if a fire-fighter would extend his hand after pulling you out of a fire expecting a 3% of your annual salary because he saved your life, or a Wall mart employee at the cash register waiting for his 5% of your total purchase because he checked you out ? It's almost as silly as taking interns.

    June 8, 2011 at 3:22 am |
  110. patch81

    Thansk for bringing up this debate - the American tipping system is ridiculous, and a total slap in the face when the service is bad! It would make a lot more sense if employers just added a service charge and employees were paid on commision. I dread dealing with the "tipping" issue in the states, and when I talk to my American friends they say they aren't happy about it either. If the government set a minimum wage that could be another way of overcomign the issue as well.

    It does also kinda annoy me when some Americans travel overseas and don't tip - what's the big idea - we tip when we visit you guys but you don't tip when you come to ours?!

    June 8, 2011 at 3:23 am |
  111. Joshua

    I am an American living in Korea. There is no tipping in Korea. Sure, if a taxi driver finds out your an American, they may (maybe 10% of the time) ask for a tip. I kindly reply, "No". I hate giving tips if the service is bad, or if it is expected of you. Customer service. Period. Although, after living in Korea for 7 years, I dread going back to the US because of the customer service.

    I worked in a restaurant in New Orleans during my college years. $2.13 an hour was crap. I lived on tips. I am happy giving a tip, if I am happy with the service. I have had some mean waiters serve my friends and me in the past. They just got worse when we gave them their deserved tip (8-10% in 2002). He actually came out to our car, and threw it back at us. I'm fairly cheap, too, and didn't complain about getting the money back. But, anyway....

    Pay the servers minimum wage (or better) so that they can live. If their service goes down because of this, fire them. Simple as that.

    Oh, and that talk of a bartender determining how much of a drink you'll get, or how soon you'll get it. They'll be the one paying for it if it is significantly worse than the same drink for any other customer. I'll get up and walk out. Why do people let their emotions/tempers affect how they work and give service?

    I liked the article, and can relate myself, having lived overseas long enough to have forgotten a lot about tipping.

    June 8, 2011 at 3:48 am |
  112. Dan

    Anyone who doesn't tip 20% for good service should be shot. We make $2 an hour. If you don't plan on tipping, tell me beforehand, and we won't have a problem. I'll just make sure you get everything dead last.

    June 8, 2011 at 4:11 am |
  113. USexaptAbroad

    @bartender
    I think you missed his point. In other countries (including the UK and Australia) people are paid living wages in the service industry, instead of pennies on the dollar like the US. Servers, bartenders and the like don't have to scrounge for tips to make a living, they get a real paycheck. Sometimes there may be a tip jar or similar in a bar or coffee shop, but it is just that, a little extra when you appreciate your service, it's not mandatory. Having worked in the service industry for many years, it would be nice if the US followed with a similar system. It makes the overall experience more enjoyable for patrons and those serving.

    June 8, 2011 at 4:13 am |
  114. US-exapt-Abroad

    Hmmm, just noticed my name in the previous post looks like U Sex apt Abroad... hahaha. Oops.

    June 8, 2011 at 4:14 am |
  115. US-expat-Abroad

    Okay, third time is a charm! US-EXPAT-Abroad. eh, nevermind.

    June 8, 2011 at 4:15 am |
  116. Clay

    What annoys me the most is when they ask: "Do you want your change (coins)?". Don't get me wrong, I will usually give them the coins, but when they ask if they can keep them, it just makes it rude. I am your customer...I'm ALREADY paying your paycheck, If you do treat me right...I will tip you.

    June 8, 2011 at 4:16 am |
  117. Don't knock it till you've tried it!

    And let's not forget, most places that "require" 15% tip, the servers don't make a real wage, at all. That is how they "live off their tips" and this isn't restricted to teenagers. Yes, you can live off your wage working at Burger King without getting tips because you earn at least minimum wage. Minimum wage EXCLUDES servers. They get a base pay of about $2-$3 hr. So when you stiff a server, they just spent 30min-1 hour without getting paid. At all. Their base pay is only there as a way to collect taxes. It is very common for servers to recieve paychecks of $0.00 after their taxes are deducted out of their base pay.

    So enough with the complaining about tipping. It's not hurting you that much! If it is so detremental to your bank account then maybe you shouldn't be dining out in the first place!!!

    June 8, 2011 at 4:23 am |
  118. Tom Halpin

    I have to admit I'm a bit stunned at the responses here. X-pat X-waiter is the only one who has it right – Waiters make 2 something an hour, and in a very good restaurant half of their tips go to the bartenders, sommelier, bussers , and food runners. It's not like they are getting rich off of you! I did spend my college years as a waiter, but even before that I would never even consider tipping less than 15%. My standard take was between 18 and 23% of sales and I ended up usually keeping about 45 to 60% of that depending on how much was alcohol. Even working at some fairly high-end places, it was tough to make a living wage.

    June 8, 2011 at 4:26 am |
  119. JamesR

    Good article. The USA has to get this sorted. It's pathetic by international standards. If waiters are paid to wait – then why should we pay them? Answer: Because the restaurants want to maximise their profits and pay low wages. The restaurants (hotels etc.) therefore are at fault – not us – the clients. In NY I paid for a meal totalling $460. The service was terrible but forced into this USA dilemma I still tipped roughly 10% and rounded it up to $500. The waiter was really upset and got very rude – my maths was not good enough for him – I was $6 short of 10%. Madness.

    June 8, 2011 at 4:31 am |
  120. Charn Pirapokin

    The whole tippng system should be illegalized since the management of the service provider is paying their servers at a low minimum wage for an expected quality services and expect the customers to pay the difference in the server's income. The U.S. is against child labor and various unfair practices. This is one of the extreme unfair practice which gradually creeped into the whole servicing system and it is time to rectify the problem at the source. Many evenings were spoiled by the uncertainty and confusion caused by the expectation of the tipping and the interpretation of the amount of the tip. Therefore, the servers must stand up and demand proper pay for thier service. Hence the management can proudly declare services inclusive of service charge therefore 'no tipping allow'. Then the customers can have their peace of mind to enjoy their evening out without worrying of the tipping. Many luxury cruiseline included their gratuity into their cruise fare so the passengers do not have to worry about tipping. Why can't the restaurants do the same???

    June 8, 2011 at 4:40 am |
  121. Gerry

    Come to Australia. The wait staff present you with the bill, and you pay the amount listed. No tip or gratuity added. You can add one if you really want to for great service. Staff get paid a reasonable amount (around $20 per hour), and the cost of the food includes all costs, including sales tax.

    That said, I love bringing my family to the US for vacation each year, and I'm happy to tip when I'm there. Just don't expect people from other places to understand your tipping culture right off.

    June 8, 2011 at 4:42 am |
  122. Bob

    In Japan, you don't tip for anything, ever, and service is always superb.

    In the US, try tipping less than 15% and see if they don't spit in your food.

    June 8, 2011 at 4:46 am |
  123. Cunamara

    Tipping should not be necessary. Employees should be paid a fair wage by their employers. But that simple notion is considered tantamount to socialism in today's whacked out America. I had much better customer service in restaurants in France- where there is no tipping- than in the US. The purpose of tipping is to push the wages of the employee off onto the customer and to free the employer from paying them. Time to put an end to what is really an abusive practice.

    June 8, 2011 at 4:47 am |
  124. ww

    CNN should post an online poll and you will see that close to 100% of foreigners would tell you to please get out of this habit. The employers should pay staff adequately and not pass that burden onto consumers. I would much rather pay a higher price for the item/service. There is no argument about service being better, because most of the time it is very fake friendliness.

    June 8, 2011 at 4:49 am |
  125. Kritz

    I'm OK tipping a little bit. But 20%? Fuhgeddaboudit! I'll give 10% and if people in the hospitality business don't like it, perhaps they should choose a different line of work.

    I much prefer what I call the "Australian System" (similar to Europe): you don't tip unless the service is extraordinarily good, and restrateurs pay their staffs living wages - which is built into the cost of the food and drink.

    June 8, 2011 at 4:53 am |
  126. Karl

    It's a sad state of affairs when good service is not considered mandatory, but an extra perk to be compensated for.

    The real problem is the fact that establishments are allowed to get away with not paying their employees an adequate wage because it’s assumed they’ll get tips. “bartender,” I much rather we lived in a society where you got paid properly for your services by your employer. That seems to work in most other industries.

    June 8, 2011 at 5:00 am |
  127. Qofcheez

    I was a waitress for three years in Canada and relied on tips to get by. Minimum wage for waitstaff is actually lower the minimum wage for any other job. The tips helped balance out this discrepancy.

    June 8, 2011 at 5:03 am |
  128. phesen

    enough already – always the back and forth from workers and guests about the tipping and the lack thereof. The tipping system in the US should go the way of the dodo and wages should partake in what the restaurants take in – you can't have a successful restaurant with-out a good wait staff anyway. Only in the US do we find ways to play with all aspect of transfer of services/money – someone is always getting screwed.

    June 8, 2011 at 5:26 am |
  129. Wasted1

    Although they don't necessarily keep me away, I really dislike automatic tips that reduce service motivation and cause seemingly intentional overpayment. I have insisted that undisclosed charges be removed when warranted.

    June 8, 2011 at 5:32 am |
  130. Tim

    This article represent your own, personal plight. Though it is shared by thousands, what you tip is up to you. I work in Memphis, Tennessee, and I work for the Master chef of the Year for the United States; however, though I provide great service, I am always dumbfounded by bad tippers. I am paid two dollars an hour, which is legal in Tennessee, because the state knows I clear minimum wage with tips. This is their legal precedent for paying poorly. We RELY upon tips for our job, and it is articles like this one and Oprah's recent article on how it is 'ok' to tip ten percent that is catalyzing an initiative that is preventing us from making a living wage. The majority of wait staff in this country work without health care or benefits. Where is this money supposed to come from. At the end of the day, my primary concern is this: excellent service denotes proper compensation. End of story. We deem tipping as a private, 'election booth' decision. There is no waiter honing over one's shoulder, scouting to their dismay the inevitable bullied tip. That is a poor representation, and I feel does not represent ANY restaurant I have ever worked for. Though you meant to struck cords with your readers, Jim, you did so at the cost of our future pay.

    June 8, 2011 at 5:32 am |
  131. Lauren

    All I know is that I made 2.13/hour for five years at an international chain restaurant (in Louisiana)–they can pay you less than minimum wage if you're expected to make tips, plus you still have to tip out 3% of your night's sales to the bussers, hostesses and bartenders (even if you didn't get tipped) and they make you claim at least 10% of your sales as tips for taxes (even if you didn't make it). Sucks balls. I tip a lot because I know how bad it sucks to be treated like a machine and then tipped $5 no matter what the amount of the bill is.

    June 8, 2011 at 5:37 am |
  132. marko

    Tips in the USA has gone overboard. People get taxed, then a service charge and still have to pay a tip....I never tip my mom for a great meal she makes (if anyone deserves a tip its her)

    June 8, 2011 at 5:50 am |
  133. Reached_The_Tipping_Point

    It's the aggressive in-your-face tip or we'll screw you over approach of most waiting staff (especially those that have commented here) that makes the whole 'you should tip for good service' concept a joke. If the management knew what the serving staff were doing they'd be shocked. It's absolutely common for the waiting staff to throw in freebies (dessert, drinks) and leave the cost of these off the bill to jack up the expected tips, for example.

    The tipping culture is a JOKE and it doesn't work anyway. I agree with all the foreigners - just charge the right amount for the food and pay your staff a decent wage.

    June 8, 2011 at 5:59 am |
  134. Bar Visitor

    I hate being pressured for anything, tipping included. Every time someone pressured, I DID NOT pay, otherwise I consider 5 -10% MAX. So many people are writing here that bar workers live off the tips, as if we asked for that system. It is a system where the seller is showing lower price and then slapping an extra charge in the name of workers' compensation. If I spend $100 a week in restaurants, it come to $5000 a year, and @ 20% the tip burden comes to $1000. Wow! I would rather save that money for the days when the social security funds run out.

    June 8, 2011 at 6:10 am |
  135. cavery

    According to Federal Minimum Wage Laws (and most state laws), companies are required to pay tipped workers up to minimum wage if they did not make it up in tips (I.E. Minimum wage is $7.25/hr, Someone works 10 hours but with wage and tips only makes $62.50 from wages and tips, the restaurant has to pay them the other $10 so that the worker has made minimum wage).
    So the assumption that people live off tips is false, they should be making at least minimum wage (with tips), just like any other untipped worker. If the company isn't doing that, they are not following the law, but that is not the fault of the customer nor is it the duty of the customer to make up for their pay.

    June 8, 2011 at 6:12 am |
  136. Colin Mather

    I love these articles. I've read similarly indignant stories on the BBC and Guardian websites. Always the same puzzlement, confusion and indignation (especially from the British). The comments make for wonderfully entertaining reading.
    I know that Europeans have many baffling and curious customs. I think they should realize that Americans have similarly confusing practices. If, in visiting the US, one is unwilling or unable to contend with these relatively minor inconveniences, perhaps one should consider remaining at home. After all, when in Rome... (or New York, as the case may be)

    June 8, 2011 at 6:17 am |
  137. Christopher Clary

    Seriously? You are a sophisticated and educated man (you're writing for CNN). You can't determine 20% of a given value? or 15%? It's not rocket science. Nor is it difficult to determine that waiters/waitresses make 2 bucks an hour in most states plus tips. They HAVE to have tips or else they'll be making minimum wage. When cheapskates or foreigners (you might as well be one) like you screw up the tipping process, you leave the waiter or waitress out to dry. Yes, service can and does suck. However, it is not always the fault of the server in front of you. Think about the workings of the restaurant for a second and realize there are many factors your food took too long to reach you or that your steak was overcooked. If there were ever a person you should skimp on, it's the bartender. They generally make a better salary and generally make better tips for quite a bit less work (I've done both before so I know). I hate posts like this where people try to reason why they either suck at tipping or refuse to tip. I would never choose to go to the tipping systems overseas because the service I've received overseas has consistently been horrible because they don't have to earn their tip...we have to give it to them no matter what.

    June 8, 2011 at 6:23 am |
  138. TipwhenIfeellikeit

    Personaly I dont do the whole 10 to 20 percent tiping and yes i am a yankee (now living in australia) I have always tiped IF and ONLY if the waiter/waitress deserved it, in other words, were they nice, did they bring the right order to me, were they easy to get a hold of if I needed a refill or had a question or simply wanted my bill, if so then i would tip a few dollars or maybe more depending on how much i had with me at the time. Now if I went to a restruant as a regular I would tip a bit heavier to some and to others I wouldnt tip at all, I had the manager ask me about that one day (since i did not tip the waiter on the day) I simply said its easy to get a tip from me, do your job right and with a smile and you get a tip, do your job half way and no tip for you!

    June 8, 2011 at 6:28 am |
  139. Navalator

    Tipping has become extortion, pure and simple. Most food and beverage industries factor in 10+ percent on the bill for "service" charge even when the service is dismal. I absolutely will not tip a penny when the service is poor. I was once pursued down a New York street by a bartender that I did not tip. He wanted to know why and I told him straight: "Your service was the shits". Undeserved coerced tips can be dealt with by not returning to the scene of the crime and by so informing management. Wait staff in tourist and resort venues have developed a keen act of intimidation when pressuring for tips. I just stare them down and walk out. Of course, most of the blame for the tipping scandal can be laid at the feet of the patrons who sheepishly accept the lousy service and cower under the glare of a thuggish waiter. It is grand larceny at its grandest.

    June 8, 2011 at 6:29 am |
  140. SM

    I am a server at a Steakhouse in Toronto. Just last night I had 9 people from Spain that racked up a $565 tab at my table. They left me no tip. I am required by my restaurant to "tip out" 4% of the total bill (that's $22.60) to a tip pool that gets distributed to back of house staff. I Therefore had to take $22.60 out of my pocket – I paid to serve these people. Most arguments I've read here are valid. And maybe tipping is something in North America that should be done away with. But right now, this is how it is. So anybody that comes to visit our countries should work by our norms. It is simply ignorant to not tip. All it takes is a google search to understand that servers in North America are paid less than minimum wage. I have travelled the world and make certain that I understand the customs in the countries I travel to. Ignorance is not an excuse.

    June 8, 2011 at 6:32 am |
  141. nick

    American tipping is surreal – it's the only place in the world that has such fascist attitudes to tipping. Barstaff and waiters etc. feel it is their right to have it. It should be based on what the customer feels appropriate. Why do barstaff always blame the customer for low tips and not their bosses who don't pay them properly? Argue with your employer who keeps all the profit rather than the customer. More importantly if I receive mediocre service – let's face it once you go beyond the "How all you guys doing today"type platitudes which seem pre-programmed greetings in America service there is usually unexceptional – why should I not pay a mediocre tip? Tipping is a customer's right not obligation. If it is an obligation then restaurants and bars should clearly state it on the menu or board.

    June 8, 2011 at 6:34 am |
  142. Andrew

    Where does it end? Do you tip lecturers so they don't flunk you? Do you tip pilots so they don't give you a bumpy landing? Do you tip nurses so that they don't give you the wrong medication?

    I know that there will be a chorus of people chiming on about the waiters/waitresses not being paid well...THIS IS NOT THE CUSTOMER'S PROBLEM. A minimum wage is a minimum wage period and the establishments should sort it out. If it is expected, then make it a compulsory service charge. Don't call it a 'tip' because this should be discretionary and directly/solely linked to the quality of service delivered.

    The real problem is that the service is not genuine in the first place. I have noticed a stark contrast between the standard levels of those in the US service industry who don't receive tips (e.g. hotel/airline check in staff, shop staff) versus those who expect them. We stayed at a hotel which provided all-inclusive breakfast and the first morning the waitress was so friendly, engaged in conversation, asked about where we were from, etc. Second morning she wouldn't even talk to us. On the second day we noticed others leaving a tip. NOT GENUINE CUSTOMER SERVICE.

    June 8, 2011 at 6:45 am |
  143. Simple Math

    I'm sorry, but how dumb do you have to be to need a chart to tell you what 15% of one dollar is?

    June 8, 2011 at 6:47 am |
  144. Rovi

    Bad service = no tip.
    Good service = no tip.
    Extraordinary service = tip.

    June 8, 2011 at 6:48 am |
  145. max hodges

    You don't need a tip chart for 15% or 20%. It's very easy to do in your head. For 20% take ten percent of the total (move the decimal one place) then double it. For example $54.20 = 5.24. Double it to get around $10.40. To calculate 15%, taken 10% then divide it in half and add them together. Thus $54.20 = 5.24. Half of that is about 2.60. Add them together to get about $8.00.

    June 8, 2011 at 6:55 am |
  146. gama

    do look into their income, and after all they will then be taxed....

    June 8, 2011 at 7:23 am |
  147. Hula Hula

    I was living in US before now I live in Asia. I dont have to do the calculations here and start to assess how good the service is, no tipping here, staff are paid by the restaurant , tax and gratuity already included, just sit back and enjoy your meal and the service is always great!. There you go, Americans, time to change your style, anways you are always changing everybody's life around the world!!...lol

    June 8, 2011 at 7:35 am |
  148. Ben Saw

    It's a stupid practice – I hate it. Employers in the hospitality business should pay their staff well enough for them to provide good service. If they provide outstanding service, I will gladly leave a tip but don't take it for granted. I would expect leaving a tip as exception, rather than the rule.

    June 8, 2011 at 7:53 am |
  149. Lexi Gorshe

    As a full-time server, I have some thoughts on this. He says that people need to remember that teenagers survive on tips...a lot more than just teenagers survive on tips. I am fortunate to be in MN and also get minimum wage ( lose a large portion of it because I claim my tips), but in some states servers do not even make minimum wage. As far as what the blogger says about the awkwardness of trying to tip with the server standing there, I always state I am retrieving change. When I bring the change, I always depart after, as it seems very rude to me to stand there and wait. I don't clear tips (credit card slips included) until the people have left, although some people will sit and wait for me to take it because they feel it might not be safe to leave money behind on the table. I do see the argument that the company should compensate the employee better so the customer does not have to, but that thought is outweighed by the fact that it isn't the company who demands of me all sorts of absurd requests. People have some crazy expectations, and often lack respect and manners. Expecting custom order/modified food in 15 minutes or less at a busy restaurant or demanding that you need stuff asap because your kids are misbehaving or you need to get some where puts me in a stressful situation, so compensation is nice. and on top of it all, it's a very physical job with long-term wear and tear. Most restaurants do not offer benefits to full-time employees, so tips are nice compensation for the bodily damage we do serving people :D

    June 8, 2011 at 7:54 am |
  150. Andy

    The idea of tipping is not right! What is all the story of making $2-3 per hour, I thought we had minimum wages here, north of $7 per hour. TIPS is – To Insure Prompt Service. I mean, if I live in NYC and travel to Florida and never expect to be served by the same guy/girl again what prompt service am I insuring (dont expect me to tip for the society at large!!)

    June 8, 2011 at 8:09 am |
  151. Stefan

    Hi again everybody,

    I understand, American service employees live from tip and in Europe the tip is more like a supplement. If you've never experienced the Europe system, you may not see any problems in the American one.
    I do not like the system "living from tips" because it represents exactly the pure(!) kapitalism system America. Waiters are only working and friendly because of the tip. The friendlier you are, the more tip you get. This looks like a nice idea, but it leads to just absolut exagerated friendliness! Female waiters flirt with you and male waiters pat you on the back.

    For those who will now say I am a communist, lol, i'm not a communist, but I think there is somewhere a border of just getting money by effort. I do not want to sit in a restaurant, enjoy the sunset while I have to experience how waiters fight for serving me... If all would get a basic pay, the ambiance will improve!

    Stefan

    June 8, 2011 at 8:13 am |
  152. Thomas

    I think the whole tipping things has become wrong. The idea of a tip was to thank the person for exceptional service (service that was more than could usually be expected), and not an expected part of the service. Restaurants hire the waiters and waitresses to work for them and should pay them for their work. The prices of meals, etc should be based on the restaurants costs (wages, food expences, bulding expenses, etc), not based on paying the staff low and expecting the customers to pay their wages.
    I worked in the food service industry for 8 years in Canada and know how it is. I was constantly trying to improve the service to the customers, to make them enjoy the meal and come back. sometimes I was tipped great, other times nothing at all. Though I loved getting the "extra tips", I never expected them.
    Now living in Taiwan for the past 11 years, were tipping has only resently been becoming a custom in restaurants, and hotels, It is an automatic 10% service charge. I have often argued and refused to pay this "service fee" when the service was terrible. Evene when it is great I feel foolish paying a "forced tip". IT would be better if they just raised the posted meal prices to cover the wages, then I could chose if I wanted to pay the meal price or not eat at the restaurant.

    June 8, 2011 at 8:14 am |
  153. JB

    For all of you people that think "tipping" is stupid...think again please.....I worked at a restaurant for 2 years and I was paid 2.00$ an hour....so if you were not to tip...I would be sitting there hating my life....I do not care where you come from...and I hate to depend my salary on other people...But you have to understand that they're is some people that make 2$ an hour and depend on tips..and I'm pretty sure out of country people FU*K me everytime.........LEARN THE U.S. WAY WE DONT MAKE A SH!T TON AN HOUR SO HELP US OUT!!!

    June 8, 2011 at 8:39 am |
  154. Ray

    As a non-American, I hate the idea of tipping. There are some countries where the advertised price of goods excludes taxes; this is also annoying - but tipping in the USA is by far the most tourist-unfriendly part of visiting the USA.

    I understand the arguments for tipping - it is a way for customers to reward staff for good service. Well, I think this is a cowardly approach on the part of their employer. It should be the employer's job (their boss) to decide who is a good staff and who isn't. Those that aren't should be transferred or dismissed. This should be the job of the hotel owner, taxi/bus company operator, or restaurant manager. Letting customers decide so that these people don't have to isn't right. Instead, increase their hourly wages by 15-20% and have menus, taxi meters, etc. reflect it.

    What you see is what you pay... From the point of view of a customers, what's wrong with this? And we have to admit, that every USA staff that takes off their uniform and gets off work then becomes a potential customer. It benefits them on their off-time, too!

    June 8, 2011 at 8:39 am |
  155. Em

    The problem is the awkwardness of the whole tipping routine. I've worked at restaurants and I know all too well how important tipping is to a university student. It's what pays for the bills, the loans, the books. The best solution is to just include the percentage of the tip into the bill, like in most countries, especially at restaurants. At bars, I've had friends glared at by the bartender for not tipping and that's just wrong. The tip is gratuity and the receiver should be gracious. Nevertheless, the "minimum wage" for workers in the F&B industry is ridiculous.

    June 8, 2011 at 9:12 am |
  156. ivan

    In Canada, the GST is displayed on the bill and it's around 15%. So you don't have to calculate anything – look at the bill and tip about the same amount as the displayed tax.

    June 8, 2011 at 9:32 am |
  157. Hendrik Wessel

    Dear Tim,

    As a Dutchman (Looked at as one of the cheapest persons in the world I noticed... And to be very honest, i am a bit) I normally don't tip back home, but when I came to NYC for half a year to study I knew tipping was in the culture and it generally was around 10 percent of the bill (source: NYC guide). After learning this I started tipping when the service deserved it, the food deserved it and the service didn't ask for one.
    When I went to Canada at the end of my trip to ski I noticed the service there normaly was a little bit more pushy about tips, even when I ordered 1 beer in a bar and I was planning on staying there for a while I got comments like: "don't forget to tip me" or "you have to tip" which completely blew me off. Didn't really do any good for the atmosphere let me tell you.

    June 8, 2011 at 9:33 am |
  158. Hendrik Wessel

    I meant Jim haha

    June 8, 2011 at 9:34 am |
  159. Awayfromhome

    Bartenders and waiters should live off their wages just like the rest of us mortals....Also, the employer should pay them a decent wage so they can live off it....just like the rest of us mortals. The time has come to re-organize the bar/food business so that people get what they work for. I do my job and get paid; I owe my employer nothing and he owes me nothing. He has a job to be done for $X and I do the job for $X and that is the end of the story. GET RID OF THE TIPS NOW!!

    June 8, 2011 at 10:13 am |
  160. Peter

    You (Americans) could start by paying your employees a decent salary. Then tipping would not be needed in the first place. In Europe (Denmark) tipping is only for the extraordinary service, and all tipping goes into a common "pot" to be shared between all service personal on duty for that particular period of time.

    Pete

    June 8, 2011 at 10:13 am |
  161. Michael

    As an American by birth but living abroad, I always grew up with the standard "double the tax" tip (I grew up in California so that works out to be about 16%). Moving abroad gave the biggest shock when I learned that tips weren't as commonly expected. Now whenever I return to the States I've developed a more broad scale. 5% for bad service. Horrible service gets a penny. (This category has only been used once). Average service gets 10% and the best of the best will get 15-20%. I've never really felt guilty with this scale, and if a sub-par waiter wants to complain to me about it, I welcome their comments and will refute them happily.

    June 8, 2011 at 10:25 am |
  162. Mick

    If you don't tip, stay hope. I've traveled throughout the world and as a whole you don't get better service than in America. Most countries that don't require tips have virtually no service.

    I love going to any restaurant in the States whether it's a premium restaurant with professional waitstaff or the nearest Olive Garden where there are incredibly motivated high school and college kids ensuring that you have a pleasant experience.

    June 8, 2011 at 10:50 am |
  163. Mopo

    How about voting for socialists next time?
    1. as client you will not be morally forced to tip any more.
    2. As worker you will receive fair wages, (not just 2 buck's a hour (OMG, my maid in Thailand makes more money), and than figure out how you can afford to live on that and support kids, schools??), you will have social security plan and a medical insurance plan and will not be at mercy of owners to get laid off the next day. Call it social net to catch you when you fall.
    And service will stay just about the same. You don't think service in usa is so much better than some European country with socialist as leading party, rather the opposite.
    Anyway, you are free to choose your own future, make it so.

    June 8, 2011 at 10:59 am |
  164. Kim

    A lot of American jobs have sucky baseline pay with the excuse "they make money from tips"... which means if your job is a terrible place to work, regardless of your personal ability, you may end up with a completely crud paying job. That is, if you work in a crummy restaurant you're going to get crummy tips... not necessarily because of your service, but because the hamburger was awful. Frankly, the system isn't very equitable, and I would prefer to get rid of "mandatory" tipping. I think pay would actually be MORE fair then.

    Of course, I'm another American who's lived overseas for years, gotten used to not having to tip or figure up tax myself. Just look at the prices on the menu and you're done. Very convenient, that.

    June 8, 2011 at 11:01 am |
  165. Dana

    Seriously people, why do you think stuff is so cheap over there? The US's laws are such that in some professions, employers do not have to pay minimum wage. I think this should be outlawed personally but it's not the employees fault. They can't pay rent or eat if they don't get tips. That's why I find that most of the time service is pretty attentive there. If I do get bad service, I still tip...but only a nickel or dime so they know what I think. Good service gets 15% and excellent 20%+. Tipping really isn't a big deal when most things are still dirt cheap compared to here in Australia. At the same time, it would be nice if the staff didn't get rude to foreigners who don't tip...but this is the USA we're talking about. They tend to be a very insular lot for the most part and have no concept that some cultures are completely different from theirs. Why do you think so many American tourists eat at McDonalds and travel in packs when they go overseas. It's certainly not to experience other cultures.

    June 8, 2011 at 11:30 am |
  166. Dana

    Btw, I'm an Aussie and service in my country is so many times lousy but I still have to pay. There's something to be said for working for your tips. Great service = great tip.

    June 8, 2011 at 11:38 am |
  167. Beauteau

    Tipping? Another damn tax for crappy service. My friends are married. Whenever they go to a restauraunt the waiter or waittress (now they call 'em "servers"....like some damn computer) addresses them as "guys". My friend says, "does my wife look like a man to you?" Since I'm not a bar-fly I don't give a hoot about the size of drinks. If I want cheap drinks I'll make them at home. Frankly, the waiter or waitress just bringing my food is sufficient and there should be no obligation to pay something a robot could do.

    June 8, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
  168. Nate

    Tipping means you get to have more control over the price of your meal. In the UK and other countries, this price is included in your drinks, meals, and other services.

    In the US, these optional tips mean that you can have a bit of control over your service without having to sacrifice the food you like.

    Bad service in the UK? You're stuck with it, if you like the food but hate the service, too bad.

    In the US, bad service, good food? No tip.

    I find it crazy that people say 10% means bad service. That's not true at all, that's what a waiter would want you to believe, that they should still get 10% for bad service.

    0 for sub-standard service, including slow service or bad food.
    10% for standard service.
    15% for great service, timely drinks.
    20% if they go above and beyond.

    Also, I saw a couple people mention that you "get more" if you tip well. How does tipping $20 on a meal that only cost $20 cost effective? You might as well just pay a normal tip of 10% and buy a second service.

    June 8, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
  169. JJ

    I have lived in both Europe and the U.S. in the last ten years, and frequently travel between the two.

    The issue is that people do not understand the difference between them....

    Europe: Employees are paid an hourly rate or a salary, and tips ar just extra. Working in a restaraunt or bar is a profession. A lot of individuals work their whole lives in the restaraunt industry and do well for themselves. Depending on their tenure at an establishment, they can recieve bonuses, separation benefits, and even retirement plans.

    Tipping in Europe: Tips are generally about 5% of the bill for good to excellent service. If one leaves the tip on the table, it can be taken as an insult implying that the person was not worthy of you handing tem their tip in person. If you tip to much, it can also be an insult, as you are basically telling your server that they need the money more than you do and that they are poor and need handouts to survive.

    U.S.: Bar and waitstaff are usually paid a partial hourly rate, as the employer or government expects tips to compensate for the reduced hourly rate. Most Americans view these types of jobs as "low end" and typically are not desireable, or viewed as intermediate jobs between careers.

    Tipping in the U.S.: The general rule is a 15% tip for good service but can be incresed or decresed based on quality of service. This was probably established to help compensate for the low hourly rate earned by wait- and bar-staff. America, however, is a society of "me" (which still dissapoints me as an American). A lot of these employees expect their tips and often do not go above and beyond to earn them, which is why they can often become "pissy" when they do not get them.

    As the article says, there is definitely a difference between the two, people just need to do a little research on where they are and local customs and courtesies before getting all upset over how much or how little they should tip.

    June 8, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
  170. Nate

    Andrew, how is service ever genuine? The service provided is being provided because the person is being paid.

    Just because the customer pays someone doesn't change the idea that the person serving you food is only serving you food because they are getting paid to do so.

    Service is service because someone pays the person to serve you. With tips, you have an amount of control over how well you are served. Without tipping, you simply are charged more for the service and are forced to either accept the service or leave.

    At least at your hotel, if you wanted a friendly, attentive breakfast, you could have tipped the lady. You simply would have had that tip charged to your hotel bill elsewhere, even if the service was bad from the start.

    June 8, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
  171. Dave

    As a Brit who has travelled extensively in the US I agree that there is a cultural gulf between Europe and the US regarding tpping. This doesn't make either system 'wrong' and it also doesn't mean that Brits are 'cheap'. In Europe we have a minimum wage so the staff get a basic (though hardly extravagant) salary. Tipping is the norm in restaurants – say 10% if service is good. If you don't tip for whatever reason there is no fuss. However, we pay more for our food.
    In the US, the base price of eating out is cheaper – so adding a 20% tip often means you still end up paying less than you would for a comparable meal in Europe. The excepition is in pubs/bars. You don't tip the barstaff and generally they don't expect it, but many people offer to 'buy the server a drink'. The server will then either take 30 cents from the change or will actually have a drink on you or anything in between.
    In the UK I have even had tips returned! I tried to tip a breakdown recovery guy when he rescued my stranded car and he was most offended, He thanked me for the tip but declined it. "I do get paid for doing this, you know" he said!

    June 8, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
  172. Anna

    And this is why I refuse to serve anyone with an English accent...

    June 8, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
  173. Peter

    FYI – Waiters and Waitresses in Boston make about $2.25 an hour, that works out to be about $18 per day for an average shift without tips.

    June 8, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
  174. Sari

    I think the whole system is flawed. Servers should be paid a decent wage, and tips should be optional for outstanding service. Otherwise, what's the point?

    June 8, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
  175. MrFattBill

    The saddest part of the whole thing is that you need a card to sort out basic math.

    June 8, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
  176. A.T.

    Dan's comment that bad tippers should be shot exemplifies what's wrong with the system. Apparently employers get a free pass for unacceptably low wages, and the negativity gets directed at customers instead. Employers and managers must surely be delighted with this state of affairs: It's terribly unfair, but in their favour.

    My having to personally shoulder responsibility for the financial well-being of my waiter is a bizarre, unnatural and (above all) detrimental part of the American dining experience.

    To be clear, when in the states I do tip out of sympathy for service personnel, but the understanding that not tipping will make them resent me, while the true culprits (employers/managers) get a free pass, makes it a negative experience for me, and I usually walk away resenting the whole thing.

    June 8, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
  177. saka kaka

    I don't care what you guys make per hour. Do you know why? Because that is a business between YOU and your EMPLOYEER. Do you want more money? Ask it from the person who hired you, that's pretty common sense. Don't try to transfer your problem to me, I'll shrug it off with no remorses.

    June 8, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
  178. Autumn

    In my state tipped employees (waiters, bartenders, etc.) generally make $2.13 an hour before tips. That's $85.20 for a 40-hour work week. Because of that, I can think of very few reasons why it would be acceptable not to tip. In my opinion, when you don't tip your waiter you are basically stealing from them. If your boss didn't pay you for your work, you'd be up in arms. Not tipping your waiter amounts to the same thing. In this country, tipping is not really optional. Also, 20% is not an unreasonable amount of money. That's $1 per $5 drink at a bar or $4 for a $20 meal. If you can't afford to tip, you should just drive through taco bell or McDonald's or stay home.

    June 8, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
  179. josh

    This seems to have many people confused, but there are 2 minimum wages in most places in the US, a standard minimum wage(around $8.00/hour), and a tipped (other compensation) minimum wage (around $2.00/hour), servers, bartenders (depending on the bar/establishment), are among a few jobs with the lower minimum wage

    June 8, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
  180. Nick

    My problem with tipping in the US is that progressively, we are having to tip more people. The option on the credit card machine in an nyc cab yesterday was for a 20% tip. when did we start tipping cab drivers 20%?? Tipping in a hair salon used to be 10% if they aren't the owner, now I feel uncomfortable if I don't give more than that, and rude if I dont leave something even for the owner. The guy who carries my bag out of the cab to the hotel lobby even though I try to carry it myself? i have no problem tipping a server or bartender 20% or more, but I think we are going overboard when you need to tip every person for any service rendered.

    June 8, 2011 at 6:33 pm |
  181. hawkechik

    I just tip 20%. 20% is easy, just take 10% and double it then round up or down as the case warrants.

    June 8, 2011 at 7:46 pm |
  182. Accountant

    You get paid a wage to do your job, you only deserve a tip if you go above and beyond you job duties for a customer. I do not tip for service that is expected. For example, at a restaurant I expect to have my order taken and then be served what I ordered. That does not deserve a tip, they are supposed to do that, it's their job. Same as for a bartender, I never tip on beer, however, if I order a cocktail and it is exceptionally made (extra liquor) I'll tip.

    If you find that a restaurant has placed a tip on your bill, do not pay it. You are not obligated to tip nor required by law. In fact, you can just pay everything else on the bill and not pay the added gratuity. In California, you can do this and if the restaurant calls the police, the police will side with the patron.

    I understand that some people are taxed on tips, as they should be if they receive them. However, they can choose to claim a certain hourly amount or report how much they earn (they only get taxed on what they actually make in tips). Most servers and bartenders, however, choose the hourly option set forth by the IRS, they do this because they almost always make more in tips than they are being taxed on. Most people who receive tips, are tax cheats.

    June 8, 2011 at 9:02 pm |
  183. Jolynn

    Clearly, American waiters need wear a big sign that says "I make less than $3.00 an hour" for you clueless Europeans who don't understand how American waiters are paid. I live in Europe now, but waited tables in New York and many other places in the states and was paid, on average, a 'salary' of $2.50 cents an hour. That's less than €1.50, folks. Out of that, waiters must 'tip out' their bussers, expediters, and service bar to the tune of 20-40% of tip intake, plus the government assumes we've made at least 8% of our total nightly sales in tips, so we have to pay tax on that. The outcome is the infamous zero paycheck, routine in most mid and upper level restaurants. As for figuring the tip, don't worry yourself with complicated math. In most US states, you can simply double the amount of tax, round up to the next dollar and be in the 12 – 18% range. Then throw in an extra buck or two if you want to be a hero.

    June 8, 2011 at 9:50 pm |
  184. Jessica

    Anytime you are in a foreign country, it is up to you, as a "representative" of your country, to respect the local culture, whether that be with appropriate dress, or understanding tipping etiquette. Just because your country has lesser expectations in regards to tipping does not mean that you can disregard the local customs. In America, we tip our waiters and cab drivers, etc, which may be seen as excessive to Europeans, but try going to Mexico, where you tip practically everyone you make eye contact with. Every country has their own rules of etiquette, and it is up to the traveler to determine beforehand how to be a good guest in that country. There are lots of resources you can find before travelling that will lay out appropriate etiquette so you can avoid being embarrassed when the waitress calls you a cheap jerk under her breath when you leave no tip!

    June 8, 2011 at 10:11 pm |
  185. Yakobi.

    I remember our last trip to Vegas...as we were getting off the shuttle and the driver was getting our bags, we rejoiced in knowing that this was the last tip we were going to dole out!

    June 8, 2011 at 10:29 pm |
  186. rkeyworth

    If you need a tip chart to figure out any tip of 15 or 20% you need to relearn basic math.

    June 8, 2011 at 10:33 pm |
  187. Joe in Colorado

    I'm American.

    You don't need a chart:

    10% of any bill is easy to figure out, just move the decimal.
    20% is twice that.
    15% is the 10% and half that again.

    I tip 15% for average service, rounded to the next (higher) dollar.
    10% for minimal service.
    20% for great service, rounded to the next (higher) dollar.
    0% for bad / rude service.

    I've even subtracted from the bill for bad service before, tipping myself 10% for having to put up with it and marking clearly why I did it along with my phone #. Have never had a problem, or ever had the amount "upped" on my credit card.

    June 8, 2011 at 11:24 pm |
  188. Tim

    @Davis Bradley

    No, they do not get a fair salary. They get paid wages. Minimum, or lower than minimum because there is a law where tips can be counted towards your minimum wage. As an "exec" who doesn't respect people, it's no wonder others don't respect you. Quit treating people like tools for your use.

    June 8, 2011 at 11:39 pm |
  189. Doug

    I am sick and tired of the same articles about tipping. I and everyone in the service industry in America are fully aware that in other parts of the world tipping is not standard practice. Get over it. This is not other parts of the world. If you are going to go out, then tip. Don't tip cheap. Gratuity should be around 20% of the bill. If you only order a cocktail or two, then an easy rule is a dollar per drink, unless you are drinking some expensive cognac, in which case don't look so classless as to order a $40 shot and only tip a dollar.

    If you don't want to tip, then do not go out to full service restaurants and bars. Stay home for your own good. If you refuse to tip, but still want to go once a week to Chili's then know that there are two types of people that people in the service industry remember: those customers that tip very, very well and those customers that don't tip or tip badly.

    If you consistently get bad service, and you constantly complain that this is the reason you don't tip. Might I suggest you take note of the theme. The problem is your cheap ass. Stay at McDonald's where people with zero class can be accepted.

    June 9, 2011 at 1:39 am |
  190. Steve

    I can't believe pizza delivery tipping hasn't been discussed here because that truly is confusing. I did this for a summer and let me tell you it sucked. Drivers were paid minimum wage plus tips. And we were to have only one order out at a time. The bullshit is that the pizza joint automatically adds a "delivery fee," none of which the driver sees, unless it was an order out in the boonies when a bigger fee was charged and the driver knew enough to take this for himself. Because if this fee drivers really get it in the ass because customers already think the service tip is included when in fact it is not. Truth if the matter is that unless we made enough in tips we actually lost money because of gas. So next time you order pizza tip at least 20% because they are actually providing a.service, and without it they end up making less that minimum wage. And please comment to management wondering where this delivery charge is going.

    June 9, 2011 at 5:57 am |
  191. Sam

    I lived in the US for a very short while. Once me and my wife went to a local lobster house to enjoy our aniversary and i tipped a decent 15%. However imagine my shock when the waitress added extra $10 by manipulating certain digits with her own handwriting.

    So basically it is now come down to waiters cheating the customers for something which the customers should not be bothered. Isnt the whole point of the service industry is to make the customer happy ... and by forcing them to worry about tips they are going against the very purpose behind service industry ...???

    June 9, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
  192. luvl42

    I am an American who has lived overseas and I hate tipping in America.

    First, those darn tip jars. They are everywhere from mini marts to Starbucks. Ringing up your purchases or doing one's job making your coffee is not going above and beyond. Did they bring your purchases to your car, or bring your coffee out to your table. No, you stood in line and waited for them to do their job, why pay extra for that?

    Second, restraurants automatically adding one, sometimes two services charges to your bill for groups. Even if the service sucks you pay that mandatory amount. What makes it worse is when you split the bill and your friends add yet another tip to the amount they pay. This mediocre service got 2-3 tips for their troubles.

    Third, tipping the owner. At a hair salon or other place where you may be serviced by the owner, why would you tip them, not only do they get the profits from the service they provide to you, they get the profits from their employees.

    I could go on and on. My point is I only tip when the service goes above and beyond and I tip extremely well. On a $100 bill at a high end restaurant, I typically tip $30 or more.

    The tipping institution as a whole has gotten out of control.

    June 9, 2011 at 3:29 pm |
  193. Alessandro

    Please don't forget pizza delivery guys (and all other food delivery). No one seemed to mention them here, but they work long hours for minimum wage, and in my opinion it's lot harder than to work in restaurants. (running around, must be on time so that the food doesn't get cold, etc... you get the point – it's stressful). Also, I prefer to give them cash directly, and never leave it to the company (a few bucks will do!)
    Otherwise, tip is 15% in North America. There is no need to go overboard and invent some new numbers (18%? since when is that a custom?)
    In my case, if the service is really good, I will leave a small fortune. If it was rude or inattentive – the tip will be zero. Why pay to someone that was rude towards their guests???

    June 9, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
  194. ParatrooPatrick

    I don't get on the veteren soap box much, I actually hate it, but:
    I am a 25 year old who spent over 6 years in the airborne infantry, and over half that time was spent in Afghanistan and Iraq. After an honorable discharge I returned to civilian life, where I supposed I could have easily gotten on unemployment and lazied my time away until beginning my first semester ever of college, however I decided to get a job at a local deli where I wait tables sometimes.
    and WHO do I wait tables with? Well one very nice lady, Deborah, is a 57 year old grandmother who has fallen on hard times and was generously taken in by our boss, she absolutely works her tail off to be the best darn waitress she can be.
    Before you white collars snub your noses at "giving teenagers some mall money" by tipping, consider the working class, the real working class. Just because your sheltered kiester's only experience in the service industy was that one summer your junior year in highschool so you could buy that album mommy and daddy wouldn't doesn't mean that's the case for everyone.

    June 9, 2011 at 9:44 pm |
  195. Me

    Don't you love it wen all the desperate bartenders & waitresses clogged the comments with "at least 20% or more"? :) hey, if you don't like your job, find something else. I don't care about your problems or that you're not making enough money. Don't eat out if you can't tip, you say? Ask your manager, they welcome people that don't tip because at least they pay for the food, and the business is making money (and you don't, but nobody cares about you anyway). Think about it.

    June 9, 2011 at 10:33 pm |
  196. RT

    Clearly there is something wrong with a system that knows its not paying the staff in a restaurant enough and hence expects that the customer take care of that. I don't go to a restaurant so that I can support the livelihood of a waiter/waitress. I expect that to be the restaurant's duty. I always leave a tip – even if not in the US. And I'm not stingy with it. I just don't appreciate feeling forced to do it. I like to think we live in a free society and if I wish to tip, its up to me how much. Not some concocted amount of 18%. Who makes these things up?

    June 10, 2011 at 6:17 am |
  197. Peanut M&M

    The word tip stands for "to insure proper/prompt service". Basically, it is commission for the service provider, just as a salesperson needs to work for your business. Plus, the service provider needs to tip the barback, busser, or hair washer, so your tip extends further than you think. As a rule, tipping 15-20% to a cab-driver, bartender, waiter, waitress, food delivery person, salon professional or bell hop doesn't bother me–actually, bartenders get $1 per drink and bell hops $1 per bag they carried.
    It really annoys me when someone with whom I have had little interaction, or when they've been flat-out rude or inattentive, expects a tip from me. I get that you may have a low-paying job, but I'm not giving you money out of pity. Tipping is meant to be a sign of respect, and it is still completely optional.
    Plus, the exchange is traditionally made to ensure a professional relationship between the two parties, basically so you will remember me and want to wait on me when I come back to the establishment. To summarize this statement: if you complain about recieving too many bad tips, maybe you're a bad service provider!

    June 10, 2011 at 7:13 pm |
  198. Thereals

    I almost always tip 15% and it is easy to calculate: just move the decimal then add half of that again. If the service was really bad, though, then tipping a very small amount can be a great way to show your displeasure. It is even better than leaving no tip at all, because it drives the point home. The worst tip I ever gave was at a restaurant with a 1$ fake "camel cash" note I found on the floor of the men's room. I left it on the table and weighted it down with a penny. I wouldn't do that if you are planning to eat there again, though, if the service was that bad I'm sure you won't.

    June 22, 2011 at 6:45 pm |
  199. Bruce

    "Dig

    Ummm.... standard tip rate is 15%, higher at fancy places. Those Brits pay $9 a pint in Jolly Ole England, but the tip is factored in already. Sounds like this guys does not know how the real world works, at least on this side of the pond."
    £9 a pint?? are you crazy?!! I've never paid anything like that in the UK... Most pubs are £3 ($4) a pint, some nicer bars are perhaps £6 ($8).

    I like the service in the States, but think that tipping is way out of control. having travelled extensively (its my job) all over the world and spent a year or more effectively in the US I think its crazy. The system needs to change... pay waiters etc a real wage then if customers like the service they can tip on top of it. If they don't like the service then ask to speak to the manager!! I generally tip waiters wherever I am in the world, although outside of the US where tips are not expected its obviously less than the 15% or whatever. Even with tipping service can be just as bad (or worse) in the US than elsewhere simply because everyone expects a tip rather than tipping for service.

    June 24, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
  200. gardenlobster

    Is it safe to say in Europe servers are not payed below minimum wage? In the US, you can pay service staff less than half the standard minimum wage because it is expected they will earn tips. It's done to get people to work harder and provide good service. I remember earning $2.18 when the minimum wage was $5.15 as a waitress. However, I worked where there was a buffet. While I cleaned the tables and refilled drinks, and kept the buffet stocked and clean, most people assumed because they were getting their own food, tipping was optional. I was told if I didn't report that I received tips enough to equate minimum wage, I'd be fired, yet I had to pay tax on the difference on a slow day or one full of inconsiderate people (usually, a younger or less affluent set of customers.

    This is why I find it hard to tip pizza drivers. That is their job, to drive to my house with a pizza, and they are paid minimum wage, sometimes mileage, and a bonus for the delivery in many cases. They are not waitstaff, so a tip is not expected. If it takes them an hour to get to my house or they get lost and illegally use their cell phones while I provide directions, I don't tip, and they are often offended. This boggles my mind. What a sense of entitlement! What is wrong with the people in my country??

    I just read another article on hotel housekeeping gratuity. While I would love to tip housekeepers, I travel on business. I often have little say in when or where I go, nor do I want to leave my family in many cases. I am not reimbursed for tipping the housekeeping, so why should I incur an expense that was imposed on me? If I chose to travel, if it was a pleasure trip, I might consider that in the travel budget, but if I must tip hotel hosekeeping on business, shouldn't I tip the housekeeping that takes out my trash & recycling and dusts my chair at work? They work darn hard, too, and are the same demographic as hotel housekeepers: minority women, and are probably paid about the same. How is it fair to the girl whose supervisor berates her in front of me for not dusting my chair because I had an important deadline and asked to keep working, if I tip the one that only rinsed out my hotel bathroom glass and wiped it clean with my used towel? I've read enough secrets of hotel housekeepers to know they do the bare minimum to make those rooms appear clean to save time. Housekeeping staff at the office never gets the chance to take a shortcut because they're always watched.

    Once I read that article, I figured out why my change has started to disappear from the hotel room desk in recent years. Hopefully it gains enough popularity to become a reimbursable expense if it's going to be expected.

    June 24, 2011 at 7:26 pm |
  201. Nick

    For those of you who haven't worked in such industries, servers make $2.15 an hour or so. If they don't make enough in tips to exceed what they would have made had they been doing the same job for minimum wage, the business has to compensate the difference.

    Most people – not all, but most – go to a place to eat and are COMPLETELY disrespectful of those who are serving them. I remember one Sunday, a family came in from church, and the wife/mom began berating me "..for working on the Sabbath". This was her greeting. I smiled politely and tried to continue taking their order, but she wouldn't shut up. Finally I told her if she wasn't such a religious hypocrite she would realize that if I weren't doing my job, she would be slaving away in a kitchen cooking her family lunch, I enlightened her as to which day is REALLY the Sabbath (Saturday for those didn't know), and told her that if she was just there to be a pain in the ass then she could go, three and a half cents a minute isn't enough to be worth it for me to stand there and be ridiculed by a stupid b*tch. Needless to say I got wrote up because company policy required it – but a few of my other people I was serving came over and told the manager I had by no means offended them, that it was the woman who started everything, and that I was much nicer than they would have been. After all, if someone offered to pay you even 5 cents a minute to run at their beck and call, fulfill every whim they have no matter how retarded it is, and insult you the whole time...would you do it?

    To top off situations on par with that on happening on a regular basis, I was required to pay 7% of my total sales to the hostess and 8% to the bartender, regardless of whether or not the people I served ordered alcohol or tipped me. The bartender made this 8% off EVERY server, and the hostess made 7% off EVERY server. And the hostess made $9 an hour on top of this added bonus, and all they did was greet the customer and sit them at a table.

    Yes, I understand prices are going up, and event venues don't just 'mark up' prices, they actively price gouge people who attend the events – however it's not the person who is serving your food and drink to you that you should blame, they're just the low people on the totem pole trying to pay their bills.

    As a contrast to the restaurant I worked at, where I effectively made minimum wage to deal with the public (and yes, the general public has an average IQ of about 35 – I wonder how they don't swallow their tongues and die in their sleep), I also worked at a drive in, made 12.5% above minimum wage for base pay, and pulled in about $20 an hour in tips on average. And tips were considered donations, so they weren't reported on taxes. During lunch rush alone I would pull in roughly $100+ a day.

    We all know there are rude employees to deal with, but the majority of these employees are rude because they're on the verge of not caring anymore. They've worked their butts off trying to make a living, they face constant ridicule and negativity day in and day out, and they don't see why they should be nice to this person who obviously has more than enough money since they're going to a nice restaurant to burn it when the server is ordering off a dollar menu and counting their change to buy that burger so they don't starve to death.

    So, for people who want to talk about "the decline of customer service" – customer service has declined as a direct result of the decay of customers' appreciation. One person can't change the world, but if enough people would try to show some common courtesy everyone would have a much more enjoyable experience.

    June 28, 2011 at 12:35 am |
  202. Minnesota Mom

    I don't mind tipping. I do not agree with it being a percentage of your bill. For example when we eat out at a local steakhouse I may order the 9.95 steak and my husband orders the larger $17.95 steak. Same sides, only thing different is the price and weight of the steak.

    According to the tipping "policies" one should tip on the bill total. So he has to pay $1.60 more just for ordering a larger steak? No extra service was required. He received his plate the same as I received mine. I don't calculate tips by a percentage of our bill. I tip according to the service we recieved and what I feel the server deserves. Generally I will leave $5 as a tip. Unless the service was outstanding or we required extras from the server. I once left a $30 tip because the waitress took the time to even cut up our kids food. She was amazing! Our bill that night was only $35 too. But I felt she went way beyond her normal duties and deserved a huge tip.

    June 29, 2011 at 6:01 am |
  203. Matthew

    The fact that people are complaining is POINTLESS! You wish people were paid by their employer in the US, but they aren't. You want to follow the European model on tipping, but not on socialized medicine. Paying by tip is the ultimate meritocracy. All Republicans should support tipping because it is merit based. All Democrats should support higher wages for the working class. Reading all these comments and it sounds completely reversed.

    July 1, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
  204. Jimbeau

    I always tip around 20% by doubling the bill, divining by 10 and rounding to the nearest buck. I hate cruise ships and their way of squeezing tips out of us. Sometimes someone will irritate me and get the goose egg. I even tipped this way in France and Italy– ugly American? Maybe but they were sure happy to see us the next time.

    July 5, 2011 at 9:45 pm |
  205. Liz in Seattle

    I tend to tip a lot because I know that being a server is a dififcult job. Plus in most places the difference between a fine tip and a good one is really only a couiple bucks, so why not be nice and practice generosity? One thing that has never made sense to me, though, is the fact that in most states servers can be paid less than minimum wage because their tips are assumed to make up their income, but in others they get minimum wage. So a server in my state (WA), because they are paid minimum wage, makes far more than a server in another state because the rules for tipping are assumed to be the same throughout the US. I don't understand why employers are allowed to essentially dock the pay of their servers in most states.

    July 7, 2011 at 10:55 pm |
  206. Stargazer

    First, I tip really well when the service merits it. I also go back and favor that restaurant with my business, my money, and my tips repeatedly. I also write reviews for fellow travelers on sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp, and service is always a major, major part of how I rate. I work in customer service now, I have worked in multiple jobs where I earned tips, and I know what good service is.

    Having clarified all that, I have never seen a more spoiled, rude, self-entitled group of people than the commenters on boards like this one who say they work in restaurants or in bars and deserve their tips. I have seen servers say horrible things about their customers, demand tips they didn't earn, and actually admit to spitting in customers' food. If you do those things, your work ethic SUCKS, and YOU are the problem—not your customer. If you want a big tip, you have to earn it by doing more than the bare minimum of showing up and doing your job. If you can't show you deserve it, then no one is required to give it to you.

    July 8, 2011 at 4:22 am |
  207. Tristen

    The whole process of tipping is a dirty process. It is the exact same as a beggar on the street asking you for money. The whole feeling this conjures is dirty. A waiter should not have to face the demeaning stress every day of "begging" his customers for tips. I know he is not openly begging, but it is implied. A customer should be able to to go a hairdresser, restaurant,hotel and simply pay for their haircut/meal/room and walk out. Not have to empty his wallet to every person that does 5 seconds of service that should really just be expected. I would rather carry my own bags up then have to pay some guy $15 for 1 minute work. Tipping should be a reward for exceptional service, not expected for simply doing your job. 10% tip for bad service?!?! WHAT THE HELL. Why do they deserve a tip at all?

    July 13, 2011 at 6:35 am |
  208. Hannah

    I'm pretty pissed off by the first comment on this topic and couldn't read them all so excuse me if I am going to answer or say something that has already been posted. People from the UK usually don't tip with though they tend to have much better manners than Americans. I have been a server in America for 9 years and am often upset by tips from people from any country. People from the UK do need to understand we make significantly less than minimum wage and work extremely hard. Though you tend to be very polite and easy to wait on, we do need to pay our bills and other tables we are waiting on at the same time as you are not so easy to wait on and are probably also not tipping accordingly. My issue with classifying great service is take into consideration what the server is dealing with from other tables. It is not fair to say you received poor service if the server is being overly occupied by another guest. take it up with the other guest because we are required to do as much as we can possible handle upon request. Sometimes it gets a little out of hand with guests that want to be waited on hand and foot like we aren't waiting on anyone else. Also we do not cook your food so stop taking it out on us. TRUST me it is a whole lot more stressful for us when your food takes a long time. Our job is so much harder than most realize. And we are on our feet running around for many hours at a time so just HAVE SOME PATIENCE. cuz if people keep tipping they way they do, they aren't going to have anyone left to wait on them

    August 17, 2011 at 11:48 am |
  209. gigicogo

    for those who understand italian language: http://www.webeconoscenza.net/2011/08/18/ossessionati-dal-tip/

    August 19, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
  210. Xoanon

    What I find funny here are the comments by Americans along the lines of "It's really not that complicated", followed by several paragraphs explaining how it works.

    It really is a nutty system, and you're apparently not even allowed the satisfaction of leaving no tip at all for bad service – merely 10%. Crazy. Pay waiters etc the proper wage and set the food prices at the appropriate higher level. It'll be a much more pleasant dining experience for all.

    October 10, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
  211. johnpmc

    When service is unacceptable but not offensive I drop the tip to 8%. That is what the IRS assumes on their sales. If they are offensive I do not tip and will ask for the manager. But the norm is 15% when it is full service, 10% at food counters, and yes a buck for the bartender for a beer. I leave a buck or two at buffets if the staff has come by with water and cleared plates. For outstanding service I will tip more. If managment is taking the tips then I wouldn't tip at all.

    November 30, 2011 at 12:42 am |
  212. JW

    We need a new system in the US. I am going " tip poor," and my income bracket is low to begin with. We must tip restaurant staff, bar tenders, maids, hotel staff, cabbies, spa folks, hairdressers, and the list goes on. I think companies need to pay workers more and let the tipping become optional. I am going to boycott most of these services now....because I cannot afford to leave decent tips. I have no problem with 5 to 10 percent for below average service, and let's face it, this is the norm now, most servers are rude bc they demand 20 percent...

    Since I have gone to college for 12 years to become a professor who lives semester to semester and makes between 20 and 45 grand a year (with medical bills of 10 grand a year and student loan debt over 100 grand) I feel bad for servers making 2 bucks an hour, but I cannot afford 15 to 20 percent multiple times a week or month. I am going to stay home and urge my colleagues to do the same. I may be in a better spot to tip if I received tips for my service ( working 60 or more hrs a week) but since this is not the case and I am struggling too...I can't be a willful part of this system. I will do my own nails and make my own food. As for hotels, I will need to bypass luxury rooms (even when sales occur). I urge others to follow my lead and let the 1 percent of Americans who have the money support all of the lowly paid workers. I don't think any of us should have to suffer.

    February 13, 2012 at 9:26 am |
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  214. HP

    I agree with posts that suggest tips in the US should be optional and not obligatory. I'm a US citizen living overseas and I have had the opportunity to experience the difference. The good news is, I don't notice a big difference in service in a non-tipping society. Sometimes it's exceptional, sometimes normal and sometimes pretty bad. And it's usually always genuine. I can't say the same for US restaurants in general. With the online review web sites, restaurants and hotels are motivated to provide good service as their reputation depends on it. I do believe good service should be rewarded, but don't like the pressure of deciding how much someone earns. And I don't think wait staff like the pressure of wondering if they're going to be able to afford their bills the next day. I've worked several jobs in restaurants so understand how much tips are counted on for most of the hourly wage. I believe restaurants and hotels (etc) should pay their employees a decent wage. Let's keep it simple. Let's take the pressure off everyone.

    June 4, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
  215. Used to be a waitress

    I was a waitress at a corporate restuarant for 4 years, half of the time I was there, I was the head trainer. Some thoughts:

    -Good servers make better money and bad servers make bad money and quit.
    -I put myself through college with my tips... I was making decent money.. Certianly more than minium wage. I would have quit if that was all i was making.
    - If all waiter jobs in the US were paid flat minium wage, with no Financial reward for good service, i guarantee you the quality of service would take a major crash.
    - I think much worse than the crappy base wage, is the crappy benefits. Even with my corporate job- benefits- health insurance in particular- were complete crap.
    -so people realize that no matter the tipping culture, you are always paying for service one way or another right...with tipping you can reward good service.
    - i dont understand what is so hard about making a basic math calculation. The USA is ranked something like 80 th in math the world- and I icould calclate a .20 tip in the third grade. Come on Europe, lord your educational supremacy over us, and show that you will not let a simple math equation ruin your dinner. If really is a challenge for you..perhaps you need the practice anyway.

    June 5, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
  216. Oakey

    Being from Europe, but traveling a lot to US, Canada, Asia, Australia etc. I completely agree with the journalist. The tipping bussiness in the US is extremely annoying for Europeans. It's like people with big smiles begging for money, very cheap. Yes, I know waitresses are paid less than minimum wage and that minimum wage is higher in Europe (in Netherlands something like $9), but then again sales tax over here is 20%, gas price is over $8 per gallon and income tax goes up to more than 50% of you salary. What always puzzles me is that with the tips, waitresses in restaurants may then even end up with a very good salary. I mean, in the US you are always rushed through your meal (something that is also offending many Europeans), so multiple parties will be served at one table. If a waitress then serves several tables per night with 20% tips, they may well end up at the end of the day with tips between $100-$200. Explain that to a European waitress...

    June 22, 2012 at 11:25 am |
  217. pailhead

    I am European. I came to the US for an internship. I've spent 6 years studying architecture, and about 10 years learning programs like autocad and 3d studio max. I worked for $15 an hour, and lived in San Francisco. As the last sucker on the bus, i caught the new dot com bubble in the renting market and was paying a premium for the crappiest pad.

    I was looking forward to seminars and presentations hoping that there would be an extra lunch package left, because i could hardly afford meals in the financial district, and i can't afford a place with a kitchen ($1000 a month for an "efficiency studio" – no kitchen).

    So, when i look at servers, and bartenders, making $50-$100 i tend to think that lighting design or architecture interns should be added to that list.

    I mean, my friend made $500 one day just from tips when it was beer week in san francisco. Eermm.. all she does is pour beer in glasses, and chats up the customers while shes at it. I stared at a screen for 10 hours a day, thinking hard solving problems, and i would make a fraction of that.

    Everyone makes a minimum wage here in California i believe, so on top for being paid for what you do, you make a killing in tips, and more often than not, if you're a bartender you can actually tell people that you'll refuse to serve them if they don't start tipping....

    In the same restaurant, someone can order the most expensive steak and bottle of wine, and someone can do the same with the cheapest, the same amount of work, the same number of runs back and forth, and one waiter makes a lousy $50 an hour, while the other makes $200.

    Wait, why are we going to school and pursuing education again? We should all be waiters and bartenders.

    July 2, 2012 at 11:53 pm |
  218. Robert Bryant

    Europeans need to learn how other cultures do things and adapt. Not tipping in the US is not only rude but it is NOT how we do it here. Tips are not "extra" as many of you assume. In the United States your waiter gets paid $2.13 an hour before tax and has no health insurance, pension or any other benefits. So basically we do not get paid by our restaurant or bar. OUR ONLY INCOME IS GRATUITY FOR A SERVICE PROVIDED. If you do not tip you should tell your waiter in advance and see what kind of demeanor and service you till receive. If you do not tip you should leave your table and eat standing up so your waiter can accommodate those who DO pay for table service.

    July 7, 2012 at 9:05 pm |
  219. Robert Bryant

    Shame on the author of this article for not explaining to his readers that in the United States a bar or restaurant do not pay their staff and this is the reason why we tip. Such an awful journalist.

    July 7, 2012 at 9:07 pm |
  220. Shawn

    I appreciate that wait staff work hard in restaurants and aren't paid very well, but I've often wondered how the food industry as a whole just sort of adopted this common understanding that if they all paid their staff poor wages and put the onus of these people earning a livelihood back on their customers, then the owners have ready access to cheaper labor. That said, I get frustrated seeing tip jars *everywhere*, even in places where all the person is doing is handing me my purchase and taking my money ... where's the effort in that?

    July 14, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
  221. Steve Green

    During my visits to the US, I've made the cultural shift to automatic tipping (which has crept up north into Canada, by the way). What I find really confusing is having to add sales tax to items on display in retail outlets. If I see two items priced at $8 apiece, and I have $20 in my pocket, my instinct is to assume I have sufficient cash on me. Prices in the UK always include tax, and my occasional North American guests seem to appreciate the simplicity of that.

    July 31, 2012 at 12:42 am |
  222. muncheez

    I cannot believe what I just read! So many of us out there are payed through our tips because the people that employ us only give us shift pay.On top of that we in the industry know better and tip. Anyone ever hear of trickle down economy? Yes it works and keeps many of us off the unemployment line.I don't mind working for peanuts as long as my bills don't mind me being late.

    August 14, 2012 at 3:14 am |
  223. Tony

    To me the whole tippimng thing is crazy. Why tip restaurant staff but not lawyers and accountants, etc. I say pay people a fair wage and leave it at that. The mimimum wage in the US is probably too low but the way to deal with it is to get the Government to raise it. If restauraunt owners are too cheap to pay their staff properly then their shortfall should not be made up by gratuities. Anyway, I don't believe it costs 15% of the value of a meal to pay someone to take your order, bring the meal to your table and clear your plate away afterwards. If a waiter is runnng a number of tables and getting 15% for each then they are probably making way more than many others get who are not in a "tipping industry".

    August 15, 2012 at 4:15 am |
  224. Josef

    To reply to the comments above about wait staff earning around $2 per hour, that is not accurate because by law an employer is required to pay the minimum wage. If tips don't make up the amount paid to the minimum wage then the employer has to do it. The problem is that employers in the service industry are too cheap to pay a fair wage. If people didn't tip then no-one would work for a restauarant because almost no-one will work for $2 an hour. The restaurant owner will then have to pay a fair wage to get staff, or go out of business. Anyways, one tip of 15-18% from one table in one hour would in most cases easily bring wages up to the minimum wage. 15-18% is in my view way too much.

    August 15, 2012 at 4:22 am |
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  232. Jimmy

    If you are too cheap to tip 15-20% go to McDonald where it is ok to be cheap. But the truth is people who don't think they need to tip are usually the most rude and demanding of all. They run you back and forth and treat you like you are less then they are. They come in with their noses high in the air like they are royalty. If you wan't to go in somewhere and act like a needy jerk then pay for it. Otherwise go somewhere where that doesn't require a server. Just remember the size of your tip is in direct correlation with the size of your tip... if you know what I mean. You can either be a loser or someone who makes the difference in someone else's life. Or you could just go on being a cheap piece of trash, just don't forget you get what you pay for and the price of service is not included in the cost of your meal.

    April 25, 2013 at 12:02 am |
  233. alston joseph

    For those against tipping for good service rather stay at home, cook yourself and serve yourself or just go to macdonalds. BUT dont in any way think that you can come to good establishments and play your cheap tricks and condemn service.

    May 30, 2013 at 5:50 pm |
  234. Cookie Yi

    I think tipping is really a cultural thing and it's just as difficult for Americans to figure out what's socially acceptable in other countries. That's why there are guide books and all sorts of information for research online so that people don't make the mistake of offending others while traveling. In any case, whether or not a person wishes to tip depends on that individual. If they don't mind being called a cheap a$$ behind their backs then go ahead and don't tip. I will also leave a 20% tip because I would like others to feel appreciated for their services.

    June 27, 2013 at 12:49 am |
  235. Brian L

    Are the service employees paying tax of the tips, or is tipping a separate black economy? I see a huge risk in tip based salaries, as the tips can very easily be held outside the official reported salary, and thereby exempt from tax.

    In addition, when I travel abroad to the states (from Sweden) on a company trip, I must account for every dollar spend. This is how it works in my country / company – we need to be able to trace all spending and earnings. It is a huge problem for me that I cannot account for 15% of my spendings when travelling in the US. Please USA, give your staff at least minimum wage, and I will be happy to add a tip from my personal wallet, when I feel like it.

    August 12, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
  236. clifford lugard

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    October 25, 2013 at 8:02 am |

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