Food, Readers Weigh In

Weigh In: Is a 10% Tip Acceptable?

On last week’s tips for calculating your restaurant tip, Carol writes in the comments:

Personally, I still think 10% is a good tip. A little more is nice if service is absolutely great. 20% may be a sign of the times when people wanted to look like big spenders for whatever reason.

What an interesting thought.

I commented back that I always thought anything less than 15% would be considered rude and indicative of poor service. But then again, I’ve only been eating out “in the real world” for the last 10 years or so.

Maybe my view of tipping is skewed by the recent years of prosperity. Maybe everyone’s view has become skewed.

But when someone’s main source of livelihood depends on how much you leave at the table, don’t you have an obligation to leave enough for good service?

The big question—what is enough? Have tips become “inflated?” Share your thoughts in the comments!

Photo by iwona_kellie

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8 thoughts on “Weigh In: Is a 10% Tip Acceptable?

  1. ctreit says:

    15%+ tipping is the convention here in the US, but I don’t really get it. If you are a restaurant owner, you should hire good help and pay good help what they deserve. Why do you leave that good pay up to the restaurant patron? Why don’t we do this with every kind service? Tip the barrista at Starbucks, tip the bank teller, tip the supermarket cashier, etc.

    • Wojciech Kulicki says:

      True. I think as tipping became common practice to reward good service, the income laws were rewritten to enable lower pay for employees who got tips regularly. Maybe I’m completely wrong, but that would make sense…

      If tipping is supposed to be a reward, it should be left as that…not as part of base income. It completely defeats its purpose.

  2. Michael says:

    I agree with you 100% ctreit, but since that’s now how it is I would have to say it partly depends on the ticket price. If it was a high dollar meal, i.e. low number of people and high per plate price then less would be acceptable to me. Some restaurants limit how many tables a waiter/waitress can take at one time (for better service). That in turn limits how much they can make. Since you don’t really know unless you spend all your time watching them then I always assume that’s the case and try to keep it at around 20%.

    When I waited tables (back in the 90’s) if I walked away with more than $5 I thought that was pretty good, since I could work 4 or 5 tables at a time.

  3. Kristine says:

    Michael as a server I would have to disagree with your comment about how if it’s a high dollar meal but less people paying for it means it’s okay to leave a lower tip. No matter how many people are sitting at your table and sharing your food, you should still leave at least 15% unless your server was horrible. It doesn’t matter how many people are paying for the food the server is still doing the work and should be paid for it.
    I get paid $4.35 an hour, so people’s tips are what I make my living off of, so when people don’t leave tips for no reason or tip horribly, that’s my personal income that’s taking a hit. Getting a 15% or even 20% tip isn’t considered a reward, it’s considered making a living.
    [Removed by editor] If you can’t afford/don’t want to leave a decent tip then don’t go to a service restaurant.

  4. Charles says:

    We tip 10% if the meal was good. It is not our job to pay your salary, that would be your employer’s responsibility. We tip to show our appreciation for a relaxing meal. If the servers don’t like it, they can go work at mcDonalds for minimum wage. And to say that we should stay home if we don’t tip 20%, remember, without us, you wouldn’t have a job.

  5. Danny says:

    America is tip crazy. Recently we ate at a Disney restaurant. The service was okay nothing special. We had two meals water to drink and no desert. The bill was $87 for a waitress to take our order and put one plate on the table. The recommended tip was $17. The girl had ten tables and probably a turn over of 8. That means she makes $170 an hour times 8 hours. Yes that mean $1300 a day in tips for a waitress job.

    • Peter Kulicki says:

      I don’t know Disney’s policies, but I would assume that tip gets split into a considerable number of chunks for the hostess, the cooks, the seaters, the cleaners, etc, etc. Still, your point is good, and I would agree with you that the U.S. leads the way in tip insanity.

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