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There's nothing wrong with tipping your server, but being tricked into overtipping? Not cool.
Tipping fairly is one thing, but paying more than you think you are with a tip is quite another. Christopher Elliott, a consumer advocate and personal finance expert, highlights how tips added "for yo...
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I normally tip 15-20% It is also customary to include a service fee for parties over 6
I tip well. I generally tip in the 20-30% range. Lower bound being mediocre service. upper bound being awesome service.
(Insert opening scene from Reservoir Dogs)
The standard tip in South Africa is 10% over the price of the meal, so this is just right... :-)
Servers' pay is set based on the expectation they will be tipped. This encourages the server to do the best work possible in order to get the best tip possible. The sad truth is that many people don't know this! While working as a server for a couple years I came to realize that a large number of my patrons never knew I made less then minimum wage, and the dollar or 2 they left on the table after a $50+ meal wasn't just a "kind gesture" on their part, but my sole source of income. I never insisted on tips and I never corrected anyone unless they brought it up, but a lot of people just don't know they are supposed to tip. Customers who knew better always tipped 10% - 20%. I suppose it all depends on location and what sort of place you work though. 
Brad G
If a worker's total wages with tips do not equal minimum wage, the employer must fill in the remaining amount until that minimum rate is matched.
Is it bad or just geeky that my first thought was tipping over a server rack? For a couple seconds I was wondering how someone could be tricked into tipping a server rack and why it would be a big enough problem to write about. :-P
I know LH is US-centric first and foremost so I recognize how the article is relevant. Just to provide some perspective though, over here in Germany servers are actually paid decently and thus tip is purely on top, a true "thank you for good service" from guests rather than a gesture of "I know you'd be starving if I didn't pay you directly". That is why tipping 10% is absolutely at the upper end for me (which I do adapt when traveling though, mind you) and average tip is basically just rounding up to the next Euro or the one after that.

Edit: also, what the hell is up with those "gratuity tip" shenanigans? That should be considered all-out fraud, honestly.
I support the position stated at the opening scene of Reservoir Dogs. The most amazing thing when I travel abroad is that servers will return the tip and look at me as if I were an asshole.
69.90+6.99=76.98. Math is hard :-)

When I lived in Italy there was no thing as tipping. I miss though days. I'm all for tipping good service but I hate when you feel forced to pay for bad service because employers don't/can't pay a decent wage.
Yes, because when it comes to compensating service, you should always bust out the green visor and adding machine. I tip like a drunken sailor at my local brew pub. (Note: I also drink like a drunken sailor...) The bartenders know how I tip. I never wait for a barstool, they always have my order right, and I never get charged for all of my drinks. Being generous to your bartender has its rewards.
I do the 15% calculation (1/10 + (1/2)*(1/10)) and then round to total up or down to the nearest dollar (or $0.50) according to how I felt the service was.
LOL, my first thought was why would anyone tip their web server?
Oh man I wish I had read this three weeks ago.  I took my extended family out for dinner and unbeknownst to me the restaurant added an 18% gratuity.  In fairness it was on the receipt had I looked closely enough I would have seen it, but that night our server got a 38% tip.
Wow! If you cannot pay the people you hire then you shouldn't be in a business. Relying solely on tipping is basically getting away with not paying the people who actually run the business while raking in profits and throwing the cost and responsibility on the workers and the customers. Everything else is a bullshit excuse. Of course desperation for pittance money to live makes you more exploitable.
I tip well, unless there's an automatic gratuity/delivery charge added, in that case I feel no qualms about only giving the server what was extracted from me.

Besides, gratuity should be just that, and there should be an option to leave a penny (so it's obvious you didn't forget the tip or were running low on cash) if the service is truly terrible. I've only done it twice in decades of eating out, but sometimes it really is that bad.
How about paying staff a decent wage and then tipping is optional, depending on the service provided ?
Here in the UK you would be paid minimum wage ( roughly $9.50 per hour ) and then any tips are on top of that, and trends to depend on how well you served the customer.
+Dylan Williams then the business isn't creating 500 jobs of 1£. Do not argue that 1£ isn't a livable wage.
IMO, tips are just a way for employers to get away with underpaying staff. Don't get angry at non-tippers, get angry at your boss for not paying enough to start with.
I tend to tip cash, and I tend to tip around 20%. Sometimes I tip more, depending on the level of service. I very rarely tip less. Calculating 20% is easier than calculating 15%.

My mother tips 15% to the nearest nickel, and sometimes pulls an envelope out of her purse to do the math on. When it's even the least little bit appropriate, I offer to take care of the tip. (My father-in-law tended to undertip, and I developed the habit of sliding cash under my plate when no one was looking when we went out on his dime.)
+Dylan Williams in the US, you cannot make anything less than minimum wage on a tipped job.  Generally as a base you get lower than minimum wage, and if your tips do not add up to at least minimum wage, your employer is to compensate you.
+Anthony Morris that assumption is untrue. It would be saying that a business always makes a certain threshold of profit in the US. Also it wouldn't be pleasant if the employer has to part with his share because the server "didn't do his job" well enough.
i just came back from ecuador and i noticed on my restaurant receipts there they added an automatic 10% "service charge" and also included a tip line. i've never seen a service charge like that in the states except for large parties. it would've been easy to overlook and overpay. has anyone seen automatic service charges like this in the states?
I remember getting into a bit of bother over tipping during my time in the U.S. - tipping isn't such a big deal here in the UK as servers are paid the minimum wage if not more so a tip is more of a thank you for excellent service.

Little did I know that tipping in the U.S. is almost considered mandatory even on buying a single beer in a bar you're expected to tip. Quite strange.
+Kaushik Chemburkar it's law.  It's not an assumption.

If anyone who is in a tipped job, after tips, has received less than federal minimum wage in the USA, the employer is required to make up the difference.

It might help if you actually looked these things up before attempting to argue them.
In the UK, people don't tip because the server's wages are included in the meal.
+Anthony Morris I assumed you were asserting based on what's happening on the ground (what +Tyler Terrill said). Many laws are conveniently neglected by lawmakers themselves however idealistic they may be. They're selectively enforced.
Sorry, but wage laws are very well known and not selectively enforced.  People do not play games with their money.  You are flat out incorrect on this one.
I hate that tipping is based on the cost of your dinner. 2 servers giving the same service but one make substantially more because s/he works at Ruth's Chris.
I disagree with you because the people are rallying against exploitation and sexist policies. Perhaps that enforcement isn't effective enough to actually work. If I'm incorrect then why are people rallying on the streets?
You're incorrect because as both of those articles state, they want a higher minimum wage.  There are a million other non-tipped jobs sitting at minimum wage with those same problems.  Are you even reading what you're posting?

Those working tipped jobs make the same amount of money as anyone else in a skill-less job.

It's quite obvious that "Fabricio Rodriguez" is ignorant of the law.
Apparently it's a common practice to make the employees do so.

Quote from the article:

It’s basically common practice in the industry that your only wages are what you earn in tips, so if it doesn’t come up as $7.25 per hour and you walk with $20 in your pocket after a six-hour shift, that’s just what you leave with,” says Rodriguez 
Which is a sign of his ignorance of the law.  I showed you the federal law, I even posted it for you!  And you STILL don't believe me?  I'm done arguing with someone who obviously can't distill simple logic.
It's not a matter of belief unfortunately. A google search is enough to bring up many reports and videos that show that said laws are ineffective, impractical and unenforced even if they're there.
People are ignorant of law.  It's not new.  It's up to those people to seek out and correct those kinds of problems.  Ignorance is not an excuse.

I replaced a door in my house once, and I didn't get a permit.  OH NO, government is selectively enforcing laws!
Anyone in the service industry want to chip in? I'm curious if any restaurants require servers to collect their minimum wage in tips as a performance standard and/or condition of continued employment?
I've worked in the industry for ten years. I've never once seen anyone collect extra money when their tips from sales added up to less than the permitted minimum wage.
Some days are just slow. If you don't get any tables, and you're only making $2 an hour, you're under minimum wage. I've never seen an employer compensate for slow business.
I'm mostly concerned with who gets the tip. For example, I've known pizza places that don't let the drivers keep tips. Save yourself a little money, ask the server if they get to keep the tips, if not don't tip.
In UK, (where waitresses get a proper wage anyway) tipping is 10%, and follows a "round it up to nearest 10 or 5" rule. Never tip change on the table in uk, it's impolite and crude.
+Emily Dongray I'd rather a system where people made livable wages, rather than depend on tips. Our minimum wage in the US is dismal at best, especially considering that employers can get away with paying less because of expected tips. Yet we all wonder why the US is having economic problems.
+Michael Slee, in Spain tipping is really optional, waiters are paid minimal wage or more (quite more in my area), and economical problems are abyssal.
+Diego Cano Lagneaux One of the big impediments for economic recovery we're having in the United States is low demand, perpetuated at least partially because of lower wages. Many of the jobs we're getting back in our recovery are lower paying than the jobs we've lost in the recession. Our economy is technically growing, but since wages are lower than before, people aren't spending much more than basic necessities. We're in a situation now where if people had more money to spend, they would. It would improve demand, and thus help create jobs. But that's only one thing, there are, of course, other problems that must be dealt with as well.

Economies are complex things though, with many possible problems. I'd hardly suggest that the answer for one country would be the same answer for others. I highly doubt Spain is having similar enough problems to entail the same solution.
I find it odd that people are arguing that the law requires the employer to make up the difference if minimum wage isn't earned. You have obviously never worked in such an industry. Honestly, how would you know if they made enough for minimum wage? Do you harass the customers by asking them how much they tipped their server when they leave? You certainly can't take the server's word for it, they'd tell you they made nothing every time. Arguing that there are laws to protect these situations so that you feel better about not tipping is just silly.
Finding out that waiting staff in the USA get paid such a pittance is quite staggering. Is it possible to live on $2/hr over there? That's a rhetorical question as clearly people are scrapping an existence. It almost makes laugh in sorrow to know how badly treated some are in the US.
The idea that people are only getting $2/hr is misleading. They are paid that hourly. It's rare for anyone to make less than minimum wage after their tips are accounted for. Most waiters, waitresses, bartenders, and delivery drivers make a decent amount more. And establishments don't pay low hourly wages because they are greedy. The system works this way so that you, as a customer, can establish how much that server makes based on their performance. Since your opinion of their performance matters most, again because you are the customer, you are the best judge. Restaurants could easily pay better wages and simply pass that cost to you directly with higher prices. This system makes your server directly accountable for the service they provide to each and every customer. The problem is that a server can work very hard and provide excellent service and a customer doesn't always reward them for it. And they justify it with the notion that they shouldn't have to pay the server's wages. As a customer, for any product or service, you are paying the wages of every employee of that company. Wages based on tips give you the opportunity to decide their wage based on your treatment. Leaving them no tip, and then calling the company greedy for not paying them more is backwards. You my friend, are the one being greedy.
In Portugal, the tip is completely optional and most servers won't frown at you for not being tipped. However, Values here range from rounding up the price up to 5 euros... There is no such thing as "standard" 10% or 15%... You only tip if you want to... The servers' monthly salary has nothing to do with tips and they not accounted for...
Servers do get a base pay, mine was $3.25/hr + tips. This is common business practice and the standard model for most waitstaff at any (Non fast food) restaurant in America. It's mutually benificial to both the business and the server. Typically your income is proportional to your skill, if you are good you get more money, and many time you will make well over 10% or the ammount requires by law for you to claim on your taxes. Sometimes you'll make less, but in the the end you make more over all. If the server makes a "fair wage" and collects taxable tips they would have to claim a lot more income. This may be a small amount, but in many cases would be just enough to owe money insted of getting money back come tax season.
I never tip. Mainly because I live in Japan. It is just not part of this society. It's like saying, I'm paying you extra for doing the job you are already being paid to do. It also has a lot to do with "indebtedness" to people I think and it is a bit insulting to people to do it. 
Well if they do make more than the measly $2 an hour then that is a start.
Incidentally in the UK a service charge can sometimes be added this is not the same as a tip. I refuse to pay that and will instead leave it as a tip + some extra. Tipping in cash when paying by card is a good way to ensure that the waiting staff get the proceeds. Tipping by card otoh means the company gets the tip which it can then decide what proportion goes to the waiting staff.
That's a good point about credit card tips. I found out that one of my favorite restaurants had witheld credit card tips from waitstaff for over a year. I always tipped well because I liked my servers, and they didn't see a penny of it. Cash is always better. 
+Niall Gavigan, try paying an extra 15-20% on every meal out, drink, play, anything, and being forced to pay 18% on several no matter what the service, and see how long your budget stays in the black. Remember that you also have to buy a tank of gas every day because your average commute to work is 1 to 3 hours one-way.
If you can't afford to tip, you can't afford to eat at a full service restaurant. There's a McDonalds ready to take your money.
+Jeremy Tregler in Ohio the restaurant is required to pay you at least minimum wage if you don't make at lest that in tips. If they are not then you or your coworker needs to talk to the payroll department about your checks being short. That is a serious violation of the law and they should be quick to resolve it. If not it's time to find a new place to work.
+Jeremy Tregler, you mistook the meaning. It was a simple hypothetical to illustrate the difference in cost between Euro and U.S. restaurants.
The premise of this article is flawed. It's illegal to hide a service charge. Your receipt, which is always presented before you pay, must itemize each thing you are paying for, including service charges. If you can't see that a service charge has been added, ask. There's usually a line for additional gratuity if the service warranted better than the added 18%. You can ask to remove any service charge if you wish to tip less (ie. you are cheap). Any server worth their salts will inform you that a service charge has been added.

And I stand by my statement. If you can't afford to tip based on the cultural norms of the establishment, you can't afford to eat there. Go to McDonalds.
Anyone shouting "Pay the servers a decent wage!!!" should re-read +Ankharan Aelfana 's comment. THAT is why tipping is a good system. There's an economic term for "you get what you pay for," and I'm not remembering it right now.
Why do people not tip in McDonald's?
+Lorcan Lyons It's against company policy to accept a tip, and since they get paid what is considered a "fair wage" they don't need tips. It's interesting to note that some people will actually try to tip the cashier even though they are not supposed to. 
The entire transaction at McDonalds is supposed to take less than 5 minutes. I don't see how that even remotely compares to a dining experience of an hour or more, where you're not expected to stand at a counter and eat out of a paper bag.
This has been an interesting read; it's funny that a "great" nation doesn't see fit to have a decent minimum wage for its workers, despite having the largest economy in the world, and it's citizens don't think that it's their right to demand this... I'm always stunned at how poorly treated American people are, and how low their expectations of their government; so much so there are movements for "smaller government", you actually want your government to give you fewer services, less benefits and protect you less!

+Emily Dongray Did you ever stop to consider the correlation between the size of a country's economy and the size and scope of the government?
IMHO, tipping is a bonus I give to the server for his good work. I do not have to pay the server for doing his job. That's his boss's obligation... That's why it is called a salary. If the restaurant charges me for "a service fee", then, that's not a tip, regardless of what the owners do to money.
+Michael DeBusk are you suggesting there is a negative correlation? This would make sense when comparing with UK...
While in America... Keep in mind, that a server routinly will not receive 100% of there tip. They are have a bartender, food runner and a busser to tip10-15% is painful. 
I see a lot of people on this thread have never worked in the service industry.  I did for the earlier part of my career while going to school.  I cleaned tables, washed dishes, waited, hosted, and worked at every cook station in a very well-known restaurant chain.  Not only do servers have to deal with the entitled, smug, and discourteous customers (80%), they have to deal with the cooks and the dishwashers as well as the restaurant manager in order to make sure customers get a certain level of service.  The kitchen staff are sometimes worse to deal with than customers, and don't even get me started on the manager.  Point being - waiting tables is not an easy job.  Standard practice in the US is that wait staff only make a portion of their income from salary, the rest comes from tips.  The amount varies based on the restaurant policy, but it is usually around 75%, meaning servers rely on tips to make their full wage.  It's the same idea as sales jobs where your income is tied to the amount of product you move, except with servers, it's based on the quality of the meal, how soon it was delivered, and the level of service.  The server is completely at the mercy of someone else for the price and quality of the food, wait times, and just about everything else in the restaurant, with the exception of the quality of their own interactions.  When tipping in the US, you should keep this in mind.  If you get friendly, knowledgeable service, don't punish the waiter/waitress by withholding a portion of their tip because your steak wasn't well done, or your eggs weren't a "perfect" over-well.  A usual and customary tip is 15%, and that is what you should tip if you get average service.  Good service should be as high as 25%, especially if the restaurant is busy.  Also, +Corey Johnson makes a good point - often a server has to share tips with the bartender and other kitchen staff, some of whom do get fully compensated.  Don't be a part of the problem people - learning to be a good customer will go a long way towards getting good service.
One more thing:  I find it more than a little amusing that some of the same people on this thread who would probably accuse most Americans of being culturally insensitive, seem to think it's OK to be culturally insensitive in the US, because, well, it's the US.  Bottom line: you adapt to whatever country you are in.  Pay attention and ask the locals what is usual and customary.  When I am in Australia, I don't tip, when I am in Taiwan, I don't tip (anyone), when I am in India, I DO tip (everyone).  Whether or not you agree with the way something is doesn't matter.  You are not going to change a foreign culture by refusing to understand it, you are just going to look like an idiot.
I actually currently work in the service industry. And while I won't make my own personal comment on most everyone's thought, I will say say my last paycheck for 76 hours (bi-weekly) was a whopping $0.00. I make the state required minimum for tipped employees ($2.13) per hour and then subtract the local and federal taxes and SS and all that, the check is $0. And for all of you that feel that the business should pay the servers better or not be in business? Perhaps you would enjoy getting your own refills and picking up he food from the kitchen. That is exactly what you would be doing if restaurants had to pay servers minimum wage. While I'm not sure how food cost and % profit works in other countries, in the US it's around 5%. Add another 5 bucks per hour per server (around 15 in my restaurant during a busy time) and you have a negative or negligible profit. So! Don't be a moron, tip your server in the states. 
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