Tipping. Everyone has their own opinions about the practice.
You normally don’t hear much arguing about it unless you’ve come across someone who believes that tipping is stupid.
So, what set me off about tipping?
The other night I was at one of our favorite restaurants.
It isn’t the cheapest place, but it’s on the beach so we expect to pay a bit more than a typical chain restaurant.
The shock came when we got our bill.
Restaurants Suggest Tipping Amounts
I’m sure you’ve caught on to the recent trend of restaurants printing suggested tips on the receipts.
Generally, they calculate how much your tip should be if you want to tip 15%, 18% or 20%. I think that’s fair because that’s the range I normally tip in.
In my mind, I feel I should tip 15% if service is average, 18% if service is great and 20% if I didn’t have to think or ask about anything, such as needing a refill because my glass was empty.
Fifteen percent for just doing the basics of your job seems pretty fair to me. After all, I’ve been a server before and know that some people tip even less than that.
Not All Suggested Tips Are Equal
This time we got our bill and saw three suggested tip amounts at the bottom, but something didn’t look right.
The tips were called Good, Great and Excellent, which is in line with my normal tipping practices.
However, they didn’t list the percentages associated with each category and that fact had me suspicious almost immediately.
I took out my phone and did some quick calculations and found out that Good was 18%, Great was 20% and Excellent was 22%.
Who tips 22%? And why does this restaurant feel I need to tip 22%, not the standard 20%, for great service?
Before we get into the argument, let’s first discuss what I actually tipped. Needless to say, I didn’t tip 22%. In fact, the service wasn’t that great either. I’d call it OK, not even good.
Just so everyone doesn’t think I’m cheap and stiffed the guy, I tipped the server just a tiny bit less than 18% because it was a nice even round number.
Now, let’s get to the fun part.
Why Do Servers Feel They Deserve Higher Percentages Now?
News flash. As waitstaff, you aren’t entitled to a tip if you don’t do a good job.
It is part of your pay, but it is part of your pay for doing your job and doing it at least halfway decently. It is an incentive and you need to work for it.
I have no problem tipping the standard 15% to 20% for service that isn’t awful.
In fact, I’ve only stiffed servers two or three times in my life and the stories from those encounters would shock most people.
The problem is, servers these days keep thinking they need larger and larger tips. Twenty percent isn’t a great tip anymore, it seems.
I’ve heard servers complain if they don’t receive at least 20% for their tip. That’s absurd.
Why do servers think they deserve tips in excess of 20%? They say that things are getting more expensive and they need to make more money.
Unfortunately, most don’t realize the flaw in their logic. As things get more expensive, the meals at their restaurants also get more expensive.
They are already getting a bigger tip. After all, 20% of $20 is more than 20% of $10.
Others Think Tipping In America Is Ridiculous
While I agree that tipping is out of control and I do wish it wasn’t a thing, it is something that we must live with.
Unfortunately, people from other countries may think tipping in America is ridiculous because they aren’t used to our customs. When these people refuse to tip, it hurts the servers and everyone that gets a share of tips.
I do wish that everyone was paid their fair rate and we didn’t have to worry about tipping, but I don’t see that changing anytime soon.
So, while you may think tipping in America is ridiculous, don’t stiff your server. If you can’t afford to tip or don’t agree with tipping, eat somewhere where tipping isn’t normal.
Tips For Servers That Want To Make More Money
I have a tip for servers who want to make more money in tips.
Instead of continuing to work at the restaurant you’ve been working at for years, go out and get a job that pays more.
I’m not saying you should stop serving. Just consider the following ways to earn more.
Do you genuinely like serving? That’s great. Keep with it. Just find a way to increase the dollar amount of your tables’ checks by selling them more food. That way, your 20% will be worth even more.
Want to know an even bigger secret that will make you more money?
Instead of working at Applebee’s for the foreseeable future, try your best to increase your serving skills.
Once you’re an excellent server, go get a job at a nicer, more expensive restaurant. The bills will be larger there and your tips will be too.
Want to read even more about tipping? We have another article about the topic that explores concepts like why does everyone want a tip. Check it out here:
So, what’s your take on tipping? Do you think we should be tipping more than 20% on a regular basis these days? Why does everyone want a tip? Has tipping gotten out of control? Or am I just cheap? Let me know down in the comments.
Lance Cothern, CPA holds a CPA license in Indiana. He’s a personal finance, debt and credit expert that writes professionally for top-tier publications including U.S. News & World Report, Forbes, Investopedia, Credit Karma, Business Insider and more.
Additionally, his expertise has been featured on Yahoo, MSN, USA Today, Reader’s Digest, The Huffington Post, Fast Company, Kiplinger, Reuters, CNBC and more.
Lance is the founder of Money Manifesto. He started writing about money and helping people solve their financial problems in 2012. You can read more about him and find links to his other work and media mentions here.