After our adventure over the weekend at the restaurant with horrible food and worse service, I realized that I didn’t tip the waiter. Tipping is something I already hate doing, not because I feel like people don’t deserve a tip for great service, but because some expect a tip for mediocre service. I hate that tipping has become a cultural requirement in every situation where money is involved.
But should I have tipped the waiter in this situation? He did still serve us a meal and fill our glasses with water. I have never stiffed a waiter, even for the most horrible service, when we eat at a restaurant and pay the check.
So, what is the tipping etiquette in a situation where you actually didn’t pay the check?
The whole situation reminds me of the banter between Jerry Seinfeld, George Costanza and the Smog Strangler in the back of a police car:
George: What do you tip a chamber maid.
Guy: I don’t know, five bucks a night.
Jerry: No, a dollar, two tops.
Guy: A dollar a night?
Jerry: Yeah, that’s a good tip!
Guy: That stinks!
Jerry: I read it in Ann Landers.
Guy: Oh, Ann Landers sucks!
Cop 2: Hey, shut it up back there.
So I thought I would address a little etiquette on tipping today.
Should the tip be based on pre-tax or post-tax total?
Technically, the tip should be on the pre-tax amount because that is the total amount paid to the restaurant but most people, myself included, tip on the total bill mostly because it’s easier to calculate.
And a little twist, for the coupon users out there, do you tip pre-coupon or post?
Generally, you should tip on the total amount before discount of the discounted bill as the cooks and waitstaff did the same amount of work to get the food prepared and served.
What if the meal is free?
Well, again, the staff did the same amount of work as if you paid full price for the meal so you should tip on the original price of the meal as if you didn’t get the meal for free.
But what if the meal is comped?
I felt a little bad about not tipping the waiter, but if the meal is comped due to bad service or bad food, there is no reason to tip unless the waiter did something especially helpful during the experience. This particular waiter didn’t care about us until we complained, so no tip!
Do holidays change things?
For those people you normally don’t tip such as your postal worker or UPS driver, holidays can mean a little gift here or there but I don’t get that many packages and don’t tip these people.
As for restaurants during the holidays, I don’t tip them any more or any less than I do during the rest of the year; the food and service isn’t any better during the holiday. I do however give cards to servers at our regular restaurant that have served us for years.
How do you calculate the tip?
Personally, my wife and I tip 15%+ depending on how above and beyond the service is but unless the service is completely horrendous, we don’t dip below the 15% mark.
To calculate 15%, I just take 15% of the total and add that to half of itself. For example, 10% of 25% is $2.50, and half of that is $1.25 so the tip would be $3.75. I then round the tip up so that when added to the total amount, it comes out to a round number. (I really like round numbers…)
My wife on the other hand heard somewhere that you can generally double the tax and it will come out to approximately 15%. This really depends on which state and county you live in as taxes vary, so if my wife is doing the calculations, she rounds up and adds a little extra on to the calculation to make sure we are tipping enough.
And how much do you tip a chamber maid?
Many hotels are now padding the cost of the room to cover tips for the maids, so you should check with the hotel when you book a room to see if a tip is even required. Otherwise, the general rule of thumb is 3$-5$ a night unless you are a complete slob, then double it.
This may seem a bit extravagant, but the truth is there are usually two maids per room so the total tip is split between them and it is not easy work cleaning 100 rooms in 4 hours. My wife worked as a chamber maid for a year and it is hard, unrewarding, and disgusting work. You wouldn’t believe some of the horror stories she told me…
What do you think? Is tipping getting madly out of hand now, with tip jars on every horizontal surface with a face nearby?
Image by Dave Dugdale
Tags: ann landers, banter, chamber maid, cooks, cop 2, five bucks, george costanza, glasses, horrible service, jerry seinfeld, mediocre service, money, police car, smog, tip guy, tipping etiquette, two tops, waiter, waitstaff