Mandatory Tipping

Friday, January 16, 2004
On the subject of tipping. Why is it compulsory to tip? When did this happen? Whenever I go to a restaurant, no matter how bad the service is, I always tip the 15-20% standard. Why? I'm getting to the point where I'm thinking I'm going to refuse to do this but then I get badgered into thinking otherwise (like in Reservoir Dogs).

People always say one of two things. That its part of the waiter's wage and they need to make a living or that you are paying for the service in a restaurant. I'm sorry. I have to completely disagree with both these arguments.

A waiter is paid a wage. Now I understand that restaurants may pay their waiters less than they would otherwise but that should still not make tipping mandatory. Could you imagine if I went to my boss and said, "I wrote an excellent piece of code for that module. I think you should give me a 15% bonus this week"? My boss would laugh me right out of the building. If a waiter needs the money that badly then they should work harder to earn that tip. I have absolutely no problem leaving a big tip if I think the service is exceptional. (I've left tips in excess of 50% before) Somehow we have become a society where we think we are owed certain things. That's BS. Life doesn't owe anyone anything.

And the argument about paying for the service. Are you kidding me? That's why you go to a restaurant!! The price of the service is built into your meal. You don't tip your dentist do you? He provides a service for you does he not? Most people don't tip their mechanic but how is this much different than a waiter?

My point is not to say that you should never tip. Quite the contrary. I probably tip more than almost anyone I know. I just think its ridiculous that we have become a society where we think you HAVE to tip.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for tipping. It is, we all know, a double edged sword.

I would just like to point out that service is not included in the price of your bill. The minimum wage for servers ranges from about $1.50/hour to $2.50/hour - depending upon individual state laws. Then, taxes (federal, state, local, social security, medicare) are taken out of the tips that the waiter claims. In many cases, the restaurant will claim tips for the server based on 8%-15% of the server's sales. (This figure varies on how much the server is required to tip other staff members such as service bar, bussers, and hostess.) When a server's paycheck arrives, it is typically voided out because the taxes eat up the meager wage. So you see, restaurant owners do not include service in the cost of your bill.

If you don't agree with this industry practice, then you'll have to battle it out with the National Restaurant Association. . To their credit, they have blocked countless legislative proposals to increase the minimum wage. They fully endorse the patron subsidy standards that you oppose.

I'd also like to point out that restaurants are notorious for hiring servers under the table. In many cases, servers are not paid at all. I can speak from personal experience.

I'd recommend the website, . It may shock you to hear about how the other half lives.


Anonymous said...

And your fantastic argument in support of tipping is?

oh wait, it's a social guilt trip!

join the revolution:

Anonymous said...

I totaly agree , tipping is earned "only" if you get good service, and even so, there is no law that says you need to tip.
The minimum wage for "all" employees in the state of California is the same, there is no discrimination.
Restaurants already charge ridiculous prices for the food they sell, so the tip for the servers should come from the owners of restaurants, if the client feels like tipping, then it up to the client to tip, only if he or she feels they got good service.

Anonymous said...

That's right, if you wan't a tip, earn it, by giving good service.

Anonymous said...

I am totaly agree that tipping is earned, but never mandatory. The restaurant owners should be glad to have clients in their restaurants and should make tipping illegal in their establishments.

Actually, that is a really good idea, to start a restaurant that does not allow tipping. Can you imagine how many people will go and eat there??
In Fact, I'm going to start my own restaurant and make tipping illegal inside.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Being a server AND a working professional myself (I have 3 jobs, trying to make a better life for myself), I have to admit it's always the people who repeat over and over and OVER again that they are "great tippers"/"always tip more!!" WHO NEVER TIP AND ARE THE CHEAPEST OF THEM ALL. As for this "earned service": the pickiest eaters are the most horrendous to serve: you modify your food, complain about the music and/or level of noise and/or air conditioning and/or heat and/or other tables and/or all of the above, wave me down while I'm at another table, and complain AFTER you're inhaled your food... You "camp" out at a table for hours, drink water, act like you're the only table in the restaurant.... Then you leave me a shitty tip because "I didn't earn it"? Do us all a favour and eat at home, please. You were miserable walking in and you only make others miserable, and let's be honest, you weren't going to tip if the queen served you herself.

And to compare tipping your server to how you don't tip your dentist or mechanic.... They get paid 10000x more than servers, and that's why you DON'T tip them for their services. Their services COVER their wage.

Honestly, this whole issue of mandatory tipping is insane: it's part of that service, and if you don't like it, go make someone else your slave (we're serVERS, not serVANTS, you know)- OR COOK FOR YOURSELF!!!! I'd much rather serve someone who is out to have a good time than a nitpicking cheap idiot who complains about a small couple dollars to give their server at the end of their dining experience. Keep in mind too, many servers are either students or individuals working numerous jobs, trying to get ahead and/or make a better life for themselves: no one in their right mind would CHOOSE to wait hand and foot on complaining, ungrateful people like yourselves unless they had to.

Bottom line: if you're too cheap or can't afford a tip for your hard working server, stay home and eat. We don't want your service to begin with with such terrible attitudes. Amen.

Tom said...

Anonymous, you're wrong. You are guaranteed a tip, you earn it. And as you say "If you do don't like it then eat at home." then I say if you don't like it get another profession!

Anonymous said...

As to the person who had the comments about 'serVERSnot serVANTS,' you're making an awful lot of assumptions about the author that are unfair. Also you're ignoring that not everyone is a bad customer, and that not every server is as good as you, and in those cases it feels really bad to feel obligated to tip someone. Also, since you don't like the mechanic example, how about we talk about someone who works at Walmart? Is the 7 dollars an hour they'd like in the three dollar slinky you bought? No, it's not, and it shouldn't be. Even though they're serving you, you're paying for the good they're offering, not for them, because that's not your job, you don't pay twice for something. Also, not everyone who dines is rich, sometimes you have enough money to eat out, but still don't make enough that you're comfortable with just handing over 5 dollars for the to and fro of the meal you spent 15-20 dollars on.

Put up or Shut Up said...

Waiters, Servers and Bartenders should and do have to earn there tip. Why? Because how you are handled inside a restaurant or bar should be great service. Every year that passes I see less and less of it. Regardless of what side you are on, we all have to agree.. Not everything is handed to you in life. You have to go out there and earn it.

If you do not understand this... You are in the wrong profession and should never step inside a restaurant if any kind.