Friday, February 6, 2015

To Tip or Not to Tip....That is the Dilemma

A long standing debate amongst several colleauges of mine is that of Tipping. Who to tip, how much to tip or not to tip at all.  Tipping is defined by most recent etiquette standards as a gift, gratuity or bonus, determined by the giver.  
With that being stated, it tends to imply that there are times where you can skip the tip.  Indeed this is correct, however there are guidelines to follow when doing so.  Drive thru venues are a perfect example.  It is not mandatory to leave a tip for the service, however it is convenient to leave the cumbersome coins received in change.   One can debate the necessity to death over various service jobs - Fast food establishments for example (similar to those giant yellow arches) do not allow tipping.  However, you will be hard pressed to NOT find a cup near the register at a coffee serving establishment.  

Restaurants are a mandatory tipping venue, however, who and how much can produce another issue.  Servers, bus boys, host/hostesses, etc. all receive a share of the main tip left at a table after a meal.  The hourly rate is often extremely low (beyond even minimum wage) and most of the gratuity is the main wage.  In most cases it is the servers incentive to offer the best service possible,  15 - 20 % is standard for a job well done.  More that 20% indicates your extreme pleasure with the meal and service and is also welcomed.  Leaving less than 15% is frowned upon - even if there is good reason to lessen the amount.   I never recommend doing so for many reasons.  If the food was not good, perhaps the chef was new, not feeling well or simply having a bad day.  The reason will remain forever unknown, however, take into consideration all of these things.  If the service was not up to par, talk to the manager,   The manager can be alerted to a possible problem and correct it immediately.   Simply  not leaving a tip leaves the server wondering why and does not correct the issue at hand.  And... often times the manager will comp an item for extreme displeasing issues which offers a bit of compensation for the error.

Last but not least - I have heard this exclaimed - "I simply didn't have enough money on me to leave a tip"  This excuse is deplorable and should never be used.  Simply stated, if you are not able to afford the meal and tip - do not dine out.

Where there is a large party of 8 or more, you are most likely subject to an automatic gratuity of 18%.  Large parties require more assistance and typically dine longer.  This is also done to make the servers life easier.  You may tip over and above the 18% if you choose to do so.

As I gaze out the window on this dreary, snow blowing day, my blog has me realizing that I haven't yet had breakfast.  With all of this talk about tipping, I have decided its off to a restaurant to enjoy the delicious food made by others, served by others - however, not before I check my wallet to make sure I have enough cash for the tip!

Karen A. Thomas is your CT Etiquette Expert specializing in Corporate Training and teaching college students the finer points of real life skills and decorum.  Check out my website at

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