A Simple Guide to Tipping

TippingBad tipperOK, we’ve been seeing all sorts of bad justifications for “no tip for you” thanks to social media and the omnipresence of cell phone cameras. So here is a Handy Guide to Tipping and Not Tipping. In this edition, we’ll concentrate on the largest category: food and restaurants.

Reasons for Not Tipping:

  1. You’re a selfish cheapskate.

Reasons for Under-Tipping:

  1. The service was atrocious: the wait staff forgot your order, then got it significantly wrong, then overcharged you by a factor of 10 when punching in your check. (True story, happened to me.)

NOT Reasons for Under-Tipping:

The staff’s apparent sexual orientation, weight, not wanting to get change for a large bill, giving money to your church, leaving religious advice instead, disliking the American President or his policies, whether or not you got tipped when you worked in the food service industry as a teenager, etc.

Reasons for Tipping:

  1. The federal minimum wage for tipped employees is $2.13 per hour. You may agree with Mr. Pink in Reservoir Dogs and hate the tipping system with a passion, but it’s still the way things work.
  2. The wait staff did a normal job. As in average, OK, usual, nothing special, nothing to write home about, medium, ordinary… Get it?

How Much to Tip:

  1. Restaurants: The range of 15% for just ordinary service to 20% for noticeably good service is acceptable. Both 15 and 20% are east to calculate even as you’re chatting with friends. Let’s use a randomly selected tab amount for an example, $36.74:
    • For 20%, In move the decimal point one step to the left and double the result. So in our example: $3.67 x 2 = $7.34 (exact value) or about $7.50 (by eyeballing it). After all, if you’re happy enough to tip 20%, there’s no point in being chintzy about the last few cents.
    • For 15%, use break points: a bill of $10 would mean $1.50 in tip, and every third of that ($3.33) is worth 50 cents. Or a tab of $100 would mean $15.00 in tip, and every third of that is worth $5. So in our case: a tab of $33.33 (one third of $100) would mean tipping $5, so I know for $36.74 I should leave a bit more. The difference in tab is just over the $3.33 increment, so we figure $5.50 as a minimum. There’s no limit to how appreciative you can be of good service, but unless you have significant reasons to complain, don’t under-tip.
  2. Take-Out: 10% of the order tab, minimum $1. That’s dead easy to do in your sleep, just move the decimal point one notch to the left. So for our order of $36.74, leave $3.67. Or just dig deep and give $4 rather than count your pennies.
  3. Delivery: 10% of the order tab, minimum $1. More if it’s hard to get to your place.
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One thought on “A Simple Guide to Tipping

  1. At least in Washington State, there’s no such thing as “tipping minimum wage”. However, I still tip 15% to 20% for service at a restaurant. That tip gets split amongst all the workers at many restaurants and diners, so I’m not going to chintz out and not tip the industry standard.

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