Did you see last week's post? More importantly, did you see the comments? Damn, Gina! I LOVED reading them. So much that I just had to write a follow-up. There's so much good stuff that encompasses how I feel about tipping, which I didn't put in my post. So in addition to what I wrote, here are some follow up points to continue the discussion. Thanks for all your input, for taking the time to read and respond. I feel a lot more passionately about this than I may have let on, and I'm glad to know there are reasonable, generous souls out there. It helps combat the a-holes that prompted the post in the first place.
- I might have mislead you a bit. To quote commenter Tessie, "I'm a former server and pathological tipper." (pathological tipper! official new phrase). Tipping below 20% really feels wrong to me. If you wonder why, go (re-)read the post and all the comments.
- If you're a bad tipper (like...BAD. If you tip 18% we can still be friends. Probably.) or are rude or otherwise mistreat waitstaff or bartenders, I will judge you. As some commenters mentioned, I believe that how you treat people in service roles says a lot about your character.
Snapping your fingers at waitstaff? Not okay.
Demanding things? Not okay.
Say please and thank you. Use your manners. Science hasn't figured out how to get affordable robots to bring you food or refill your water glass, so in the meantime it means you're interacting with another human being. A human being! Imagine that! Paying $10 for a burger doesn't give you the right to be a jackass or a tyrant. Nothing does, really, while we're at it. That thing you might have heard of someone's uncle's brother doing where they put a pile of money on the table and remove a dollar for every mistake the server makes, or whatever? That is neither clever nor appropriate, but congratulations on being an self-centered idiot for thinking so.
- Raise your hand if you've ever tucked a few extra dollars under your plate before you dash off with your group of bad tippers. (We love you, Grandparents of the United States, but STOP THAT.)
- Don't be afraid to talk to managers: For good OR bad service. Guess what? A restaurant can't correct a problem they don't know exists. They also know if you leave with a bad taste in your mouth (literal or figurative) you're going to tell all your friends and Yelp! about it. A restaurant worth its salt (ugh unintentional food puns) will appreciate a chance to correct the problem, and hopefully change your mind about your experience.
- Tell a manager what a great job your server or bartender or busser did. Who wouldn't want someone to tell their boss they did an awesome job?
- Tell your server or bartender or busser directly that they did a great job. AND ALSO tip them well. Do both. DO BOTH.
- Hey, guess what? Being nice to people is its own reward, but it also pays off literally. One night a few years ago my husband and I had great service at a local place. It was crazy and busy and the place was relatively new but our server was competent and fun and made it a great experience for us, even though we knew it must have been a rough night for him. We were impressed, and made sure to tell the server and the manager, and leave a higher than normal tip. The next time we came in, the server remembered us, we remembered him. Servers talk. We continued to get great service. That server is now the manager of the restaurant. Every time we go in, even with a line out the door on a Saturday night, we're seated quickly. (Sorry, patrons in line, but not that sorry.)
Just...acknowledge that your server is a human being, is what I'm saying. A kind word goes a long way. (And once on a very early morning flight it got me free booze.)
- If you have it on you, tip in cash, even if you pay with a credit card. It's, ah, easier for the servers come tax time.
- Please don't be afraid to send something back if it's wrong. If you've seen the movie Waiting then, yeah, okay, I get it. Some of that is true to life. But a) that was A MOVIE and b) the fact of the matter is that in every profession there are assholes and there are people who take pride in what they do. I guess the bottom line is that if you're going to the kind of places where you're too afraid to speak up or send something back for fear of what they'll do (spit! or worse!), then why on earth are you giving your hard-earned money to those places?
- Somewhere in the comments someone mentioned that servers choose that profession knowing their salaries are going to be based off tips, so they have no business doing a poor job. Yes, absolutely. Everyone has a responsibility to do a good job at their job, and I'll make it known if I'm unhappy with a server because they're being rude, lazy, or careless. But it's also true that everyone has bad days, and servers are not 100% responsible for all aspects of your restaurant experience, so I'm willing to give the benefit of the doubt when appropriate. And again, at the end of the day it's just a few dollars difference to me.
- Someone else mentioned that it's not always the kitchen that messes up. Sometimes, somewhere along the way, an onion gets on your burger that you didn't want there. Deal with it. And yes, basically, I agree. It could have been the kitchen. It could have been the server. It could have been the rogue Onion Elf merrily tossing them on when no one was looking. Unless my food is cold or realllllly cooked improperly, then it's not that big a deal to me to pick onions off. (Or whatever.) If, on the other hand, I had an allergy or something I'd made clear to the servers then yes, that would be a different story. ETCETERA.
Basically, use your best judgement. I guess that's what it always comes down to for me with restaurant service. If it's an honest mistake or miscommunication or something else that boils down to regular life/human error/whatever, then tie goes to the server (baseball reference! Go Sox!). If, however, there's a real issue of incompetence or laziness that's making my experience worse then I speak up. In short, know what you're paying for, have some standards, but don't be a shmuck.
Oh! Wait! Several people asked about how to tip on drinks, and how to tip on take out orders and deliveries of takeout food and pre-tax vs. post-tax.
- I tip on the post-tax amount. Because I just never paid attention to it, I guess. And now that I have, well, hey (again) it's a couple of bucks.
- My standard rule at the bar is to tip roughly a dollar per drink, but that depends on a lot of things. If I'm going to be there for a while I throw a few extra bucks down early to help keep the booze flowing. If we're eating at the bar, then I tip as I would a regular server - 20% on the bill.
- We rarely get food delivered, as there isn't a lot of good delivery (or takeout!) near where I live. HEAVY SIGH. But if you want to open up a delicious and affordable pizza place near me I'd be happy to tip your driver a good 20% to cover his/her meager paycheck and gas costs.
- If I run in to pick up food, then it depends. I used to not tip anything in these situations. Lately though (and following a quiz of friends when I started to feel guilty drawing a line through the tip spot on the credit card slip) I've started throwing a dollar or two down. I guess because I'm not sure what the right thing to do is here. In some cases the person who hands me my food has done nothing except literally hand it to me after a runner brings it from the kitchen. In other cases they may have taken the order, packed it up, rung it up, etc. while seating people or pouring drinks. I can't know in every case which it is, so whatever. Err on the side of generosity. And again (say it with me!) it's just a couple of bucks. I'll pay a dollar or two to walk away not worrying if I should have tipped.
- I don't frequent Starbucks (though if there were Boston-quality Dunkin Donuts around here, you bet your ass I'd be there for my beloved iced coffee on the reg), but there is a fast-casual place a I regularly get a lunch salad from during the work week. They know me, they're friendly, they remember my order. I throw a dollar in their tip jar every few lunches (and will throw my change in there if I pay in cash). If I do go into a coffee shop or the like and someone who helps me is super friendly or just seems to be doing a good job and/or generally isn't miserable to be there then I'll throw something in their tip jar - a dollar, the change from my bill, whatever.
How do you handle these things? What else am I missing? If you didn't get a chance to chime in last week, now's your chance!