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Tipping Etiquette

We were just having a conversation in IRC that I'd like to share.

You're a hungry guy/gal, and stop in at a cafe and order a sandwich to go. They hand you the receipt to sign, and there's a tip line. Do you leave a tip? How much? And where are you from?

That tip line makes me feel guilty if I leave it blank.
Geoff Friesen's profile photoCharles Arnold's profile photoAndrew Frink (Agent Cynyr)'s profile photoJake Stolte's profile photo
To go? No tip. That's how we roll in Brooklyn, NY.
Order out at a cafe.... nope. If I ordered in, sure.
If I`m ordering to go, I would not leave a tip. I am from Canada.

Edit: I believe this is somewhat different in the US but in Canada I find that waiters make way more than the deserve when you add up all the tips on top of their standard pay. It's ridiculous.
No table, no tip. That's my general rule but if the transaction is unusual or they have to accommodate some special request or something I'll leave them a buck or two.

Edit: I'm from the US; tipping varies enormously worldwide.
write a little message to them telling them how guilty you feel like a frowny face and the universal wtf
I usually do. Smaller than normal though.
I don't give a tip if there's been no service beyond taking my order and handing my food to me at the counter. My only exception is at the local BBQ joint, where I give them a tip because I always feel like I'm underpaying for portions of that quantity and quality. I'm from Pittsburgh but live in DC, and it's the norm here as well.
10% ($1 min) for pickup, 20% for dine in. I'm from California.
J Agnew
No tip in Tampa.
Same as +Christopher Tate , I don't tip for takeout. Delivery or dine-in only.
California boy here, Sonoma County.
I always do. If they're just handing me the food someone else prepared, $1. If they prepared it themselves, $2.

I'm from everywhere. :)
Nope. You wouldn't tip with cash so why tip with a card?

I figure the tip line is there because it's the same receipt they would give you if you sat down.
I'm from the internetz, and I leave a tip when there are cat pics plastered around the restaurant :)
I tip with the cash too, assuming they have a tip jar.
rudy s
There's no service so there's no tip. The line is there because it's all the same POS throughout the restaurant, not because they're expecting (nor should they) a gratuity for service.
Vancouver, BC: Tip is for service (i.e. table/delivery) no tip for pickup.
I start at around 20% and depending on the service it goes down from there.
+Koushik Dutta Some weird paper crap that people barter with. Also sometimes metal thingies too.
I'll usually leave a couple dollars as tip when dining in. I'm in Oregon.
If you ever visit Japan, don't tip because it's considered rude.
I use the tip space to balance out the price to an even number, plus a dollar or two.
Tipping is considered rude in India too. But here in Waterloo, ON, I have a habit to tip enough so that the final amount goes up to the closest half-number (like 9.5, 10, etc)
usually dont leave a tip unless i go to a restaurant, then its 10% but tipping isnt really customary in australia
If they gave good service I give 2 or 3 bucks, kinda like the pizza guy.
My rule of thumb is, if I stand in a line, I don't leave a tip. My only exception to the rule is a bartender.
NJ/PA - no tips unless im being waited on - i dont get tipped for simply doing my job...
I had a lot of friends who were waiters and waitresses (a few who still are) and I've been in retail since I was 16. I generally always tip, even in a situation like you mentioned, but it's never that much if it's just pick up, unless the staff is really good (and thus the waiting is enjoyable). But on average I still give around 10%. The exception is if it's fast food.

If I am actually sitting down and eating, I give at least 20% unless the service is terrible (but it rarely is). If the service is really good, I'll give a bit more, but to me, 20% is the baseline. Unless you have good coffee, in which case the baseline is higher.

I don't eat out much though, just once or twice every couple of months, so I plan on leaving a decent tip because I know that for every one of me (quiet guy who orders food, says high and goes home) there's one creeper, a handful of assholes, and at least four "Hur you're a waiter so that must mean you're stupid" people who didn't get past the cliche faze in HS.
No way for pick up. If it makes you feel guilty, feel free. _____________________ - TIP
Middletown, CT.
Nope. I used to be a waiter and have the utmost respect for that, I'll tip at least 20% to a waiter unless they really do a godawful job, then maybe 15%. But that line when you get stuff to go is only there because thats how the machine prints it, assuming most customers are being served by waiters. Therefore no need to tip on that, IMO.
I worked Togo when I was a kid. I always tip, they have to prepare your food. Be nice to those who touch your food!
Toby K
I've done this all over the SEUSA, and it's basically depending on how much work is done. At Steak N Shake they hand-make the shakes and I know the guy gets a cut, so I tip when doing tak-hom-a-sak (forget how they spell it), but closer to 10%.
Ping He
Tip is for a good service, so no real service no tip. Also, if it still makes u feel bad, pay cash next time would avoid this situation
My rule of thumb: If someone is refilling my drink at some point, they get a tip.
Do you tip at McDonalds? Tipping is for providing you a service beyond an item/service you are paying for. Since they are not cleaning tables, serving me drinks or cater to me, then that means no tip.
I tip pretty much regardless unless the service was horrifyingly bad. Even on pick up I usually drop something. Though tipping is a bit different living in and growing up in Las Vegas. I tip whenever I travel and have gotten some odd looks/responses but coming from a service driven city if someone does well you tip. People that pull that "its their job" line are assholes. You can still receive good customer service even just picking up, showing recognition helps promote it. Or you know just "Be excellent to each other".

No need to feel guilty +Koushik Dutta just show thanks for good service, everyone likes appreciation for the work they do.
Please and thank you still go along way especially when some previous customer had been a jerk.
This reminds me of the restaurant scene in Resevior Dogs.
What about at a pizzeria or deli? There's usually a tip jar but rarely any waiter service, even if you eat there
I just had this conversation with my wife Wednesday when we ordered pick up at a local Mexican restaurant. I didn't leave a tip because they just handed me my food, but I did feel guilty leaving the tip line empty.
Forgot to say where I'm from. Jax, FL
The only time i leave a to go tip. is if the girl is hot. lol Orlando FL
If you can't afford to tip you can't afford to eat out.
I'm from Georgia and I usually tip around 20% or more for dine-in, depending upon the level of service received. But, for a carryout order, you shouldn't feel obligated to tip simply because the receipt automatically prints out with a tip field. The cook (who probably doesn't make server wages) did most of the work on your order. All the server really did was hand it over and ring you up.
Do you go back and tip the cooks? They did the work.
There's really no tips given in this part of the world much less expected as I understand it's on that side of the Atlantic. If I would tip it would be me putting cash in a waiter/ress hand, not something mechanistically automated.
I guess I'm an asshole. Not only do I not feel guilty, I mark a line through the tip line and re-write the total to make sure they don't write in a tip. To be fair, I've worked in food service and people prepping food or working the 'to go' orders get paid a higher hourly wage than servers.
Smart move, Michael! I do the same.
Take out? Nothing. I'm not giving a tip to someone to just charge my card and hand me something. If that were the case I would have to tip everywhere I spend money.

If I'm sitting down at a restaurant, even if the service is horrible, I still tip 5%. Mediocre service, or sub-par food, then 5 - 10%. Average service, average food 10 - 15%. Good service with average food 15% - 20%. Excellent service, excellent food, then 20 - 25%. (Anchorage, AK)
As I'm regularly running through the door last minute for to-go orders, and even when I'm in the door early, I often ask for special/extras on my order... I always tip.

A dollar or two if there's a tip jar. Or 10-12% rounding-up to the nearest dollar.

That's just me... I've lived all over the US, and worked food service for years.
This one is a gut feeling...
I will if I was getting really good service at the counter. And I almost always tip 20%. I try to take the food out of the equation when tipping because it's not generally up to the server, however a server can be responsible for the appearance completeness of a meal.

St Paul MN
Cooks make more money...servers and Togo make considerably less due to working for tips!
i feel that the tip is for the service i recieved, so if i ordered the food to-go then usually there is not going to be a tip. But if i eat at the restaurant or i order the food for delivery then they start with a 20% tip which changes based on the service. I'm from MO
Round to nearest dollar, even if its a penny.
I've never tipped before. I'm from Australia :)
I always tip, I'm not going to say how much because that varies from place to place, I will say that order out WAY too much and I'd probably be a lot closer to being "financially sound" if I didn't... but I'm one of those crazies that believes the more you spread around the more there is for everyone... sadly it's more of a wish than it is the truth, as I don't think there are too many who share my belief... lol
I will add that attitude is key, bad attitude = no tip, I don't care if you just served me the best filet mignon of my entire life...
I think a tip for pickup isn't necessary, but rember you always can tip if you like.
Having worked for a credit card payment processor in a previous life, I can perhaps add some context. It's quite rare for a credit card processing machine to be able to handle tip and non-tip transactions a la carte. This means that if any of the transactions to be run on the machine need to allow for a tip, then all of them are likely going to show the tip line on the receipt. Maybe that's more info than you care to know, but it may help in understanding why the tip line is there at all. If they have any seating and wait staff, then they probably need to allow for a tip on all transactions run on that terminal.

All of that said, I generally only tip if I have been served by an actual member of the wait staff. I don't tip for carry-out. I do tip for delivery (generously), because I've found that delivery drivers have an extremely good memory for tip-friendly addresses. Result: I've invested to the point that I can get a pizza delivered from my favorite place in 35 minutes on Superbowl Sunday. Yes, really.
I get takeout from real restaurants a lot, where I usually tip 10%, rounded down to the half dollar.
I do, but just because I'm used to rounding it to an even amount. If I dine in I actually do 15-20 and I. Some rare cases 30
This thread makes me want to watch reservoir dogs again. Like most, no tip for takeout, and guilty feeling at the tip line.
Rich S
Buck for takeout from a restaurant I'd normally tip at for an order under $20. $2 for an order over $30. Sometimes nothing. But if my order was put together well, I'll usually throw in something.
I dont tip unless there is a waiter or delivery person involved as a general rule.
I tip roughly 10% and rounded +/- $1-2 depending how good/bad the service is, but only if I'm waited on. Toronto, ON
Walt B.
Well,because I'm a Black guy,it's going to HEAVILY depend on the service I receive. If the waiter plays to the stereotype,and gives me bad service because they doubt I will leave a tip,5-10%,0 tip if ppl who've arrived after I have get their food before I get mine,or my food is cold when it gets to me. And yes,it's happened. If I'm waited on with the same level of service as everyone else,or if I have female company,better service,it's 35%. Location is Louisiana.
I used to wait tables.. but on to-go food... nah.. they didn't refill my cup even... if I was going to tip, I'd walk back to the kitchen on that one ;) South Cacalaki (or Carolina)
Waiters, barrista, delivery, barber. That's about it.
+B.J. May I can confirm your pizza delivery statement. I used to deliver pizzas in college. The computer systems have a comments/notes section that most of the drivers use to note who tips well and who doesn't. Drivers often have to take 2 - 4 orders out for delivery at a time during dinner rushes and special events (like the Superbowl). If you "stiff" (dont tip) a driver, your pizza will be delivered last and cold. If you're the only delivery on his/her run, he/she will wait a bit before leaving the store. The only exception to this rule is if the driver did something that warranted the bad tip.
I leave a tip according to the level of service. If I'm picking something up no tip. Delivery I tip if I feel the speed of delivery is quick. If I'm sitting down to eat I tip as to how well the waiter/waitress did and how the meal was. If I get bad service at a restaurant I have no qualms about not leaving a tip. Located in Virginia.
I do tip delivery.. they worked to bring me my food.. to-go food.. nope.. bc the only one that worked was the cook and he'll never see my tip.
+Chris Dewis I agree with you, and I should note that not all of the drivers do this. The manager will also always give you a free pizza on your next order if your complaint matches up to the delivery times (which are all tracked via computer).

I've seen this happen at two different stores from the same chain. It usually only happens with the drivers whose entire livelihood depends on how much they make. These are the drivers who are making a career out of delivering pizza, and for some reason they take it as a personal attack when they get no tip after delivering a pizza in a timely manner (30 - 45 minutes).

The main point I was trying to make was that tipping well is an incentive for the driver to keep you happy. The driver is trying to maximize his profits, so he who tips the most gets his pizza first.

Also, not every city has multiple pizza chains that deliver. Where I went to school, there were two chains in town, both of which delivered. The other chain, however, doesn't usually deliver (they only do so in college towns), so their delivery service is terrible without trying to be.
I always tip well, even when picking up a to go order. They tend to remember you.

Houston, TX
We go to a great local Mexican Restaurant where they take your order, and you wait and take your drinks on a tray to the table yourself. Then a bit later someone brings you your food.

When you pay they go out of their way to CROSSOUT the tip area on your credit card receipt and they write in the total amount. We usually leave a few bucks on the table for the bus boys. I think the reason they do this is that good service should be expected, and not just to get a good tip.
You don't tip if there's no real service involved, i.e., grabbing a sandwich and leaving. You tip if someone serves you in some way, like bringing drinks to your table or you're drinking alcohol in any way, really. I wouldn't tip in this case. I COMPLETELY agree with those that say to cross out the tip line, though. Do it, or someone will eventually write in their own tip. I also cross out the total line in cases where I don't tip. You should always tip if it's warranted in any way, though; in this case, it's not.
I live in Australia, where the staff of most places get paid enough that tipping isn't a social norm at all.
I tend to tip when I order take out....damned psychology of the tip line gets
$1 for to-go, 15-22% for eat-in, $5 for delivery (but less if they screw up and take forever).
Here is my question ... you got to Red Robin, and the waiter gives great service ... $40 bill, 20% tip, $8. Now you go to a fancy place, and you get mediocre service from the waiter, but your total bill is $110, 10% tip, $11. Why should the mediocre waiter get more?
I'm in Sydney, and I agree with Mr Pink. I don't think people here feel all that guilty about not leaving tips - there are plenty of other poorly paid jobs where people don't get tips and it doesn't seem like a very equitable way to pay people. The higher the expectation of tips, the lower the expectations of pay.
I'm from Malaysia and giving tips is not really a culture here as most of the restaurants imposed service charge which is 10% from the total bill.

I personally will provide tips if I'm happy with their food and service.
I always tip well for exceptional service. If my food is nasty or cold - it's not waiter's fault. I'll raise hell with management, I'll refuse to pay for my food but I will definitely reward waiter for the service. It does piss me off when I see tip jar at Dairy Queen or Subway, screw you, this is fast food. What's next? 15% tip for the TV I bought at Best Buy?
I run a restaurant and none of my servers expect a tip for a to go order, however I will say that they will talk amongst themselves of the super nice man who left a tip on a simple to go order. Random acts of kindness and all that....
What service did they provide to earn a tip? It's like fast food. Don't feel guilty. I tip when I get good service at a sit down restaurant. Bad service bad tip. Sometimes servers are horrible and I'm not even demanding. I have given a tip in tip jars when the person is nice and I like them and I'm in the mood. Rare.
I find the idea of tipping just odd. Personal tips just don't exist in New Zealand. I will add that sometimes restaurants leave a tip jar on the counter which I believe is divided equally amongst staff at the end of each shift. In any case the only people who use the tip jars are American tourists.
I don't tip for pick ups. Usually the line is there by default on their machine, and I don't think they feel slighted over it. And it's not a matter of me being cheap, I tip a minimum of 20%, and up to 35% at restaurants. But I'm not going to tip if I'm not being waited on.
I'm from London in the UK. I might tip for pick up, but they would have had to have done something special like excellent manner or going out of their way to accommodate me.

As for tipping in general, I feel no pressure to tip verbatim. The way I see it I need to feel that they gave a shit about how my dining experience was. Especially if they make missus happy then I am all for tipping.

We have some establishments now that add a discretionary 12% charge on for services which I don't like. As it is making a tip mandatory, because as a Brit there is no way we're kicking up a stink about asking to use my discretion on that.
Depends on too many factors. Did the person I'm tipping say, make my cafe con leche? Or have to bag my order? Is it a nicer joint or a food truck? Was the person I'm tipping super friendly? Too many variables to define. Do what feels right. Btw from Miami and worked as a waiter and bartender for years.
Always tip for ladies unless they're ungodly ugly. As for male waiters, depends on if they did a good job.
Lee M
I tip at the table, the door (for deliveries) and at the coffee shop. At the table, because, the previously mentioned base pay, for servers is lower than normal minimum wage, in most states. I tip for deliveries because the same usually applies. I tip at the coffee shop because I always go local in that case and they usually are essentially friends and know what I want when I walk in the door. -Mississippi
10% of bill. Although many don't tip here in the U.K

We don't tip on snacks though.
Yeah, no service, no tip here in the UK. Though generally people here only tip in restaurants.

Not too many moons ago I worked hard for minimum wage in a service job that people don't traditionally tip for. So I tend to feel tips are for exceptional service and not a standard.
If you always tip then it's not a tip, it's a service levy.
I always Tip for good service. I use the lack to tip to hi light the lack of good service. Exceptional service will see a 50% tip. UK here.
Most places in the UK automatically put on a 10 or 15% service charge, then I'll leave them nothing. Otherwise I'll start at about 10% then go up or down depending on service, place and general atmosphere. I don't feel that they should always get a tip if they're just getting my order and plonking it in front of me, that's not service. They get it for being above what they need to.
I don't tip for takeout. I'm already paying them to make the food. For table service if it's good I usually leave 20%. In NJ.
+Peter Adams I agree IF you always have the same waiter or waitress. You can't make a "statement' with different servers every time.
I always tip when eating in at a restaurant as I generally do receive good service, however if the service isn't great I definitely do not tip. I'm from the UK but did a tour of California in April last year and the whole tipping thing became tedious as it's expected over there. Generally the service was good and justified a tip but there were certainly places that expected it regardless. I even heard stories of staff getting angry when not tipped, which I don't understand. If it's mandatory, put it on the bill, don't falsely give someone the impression it's a choice. I wouldn't tip for a takeaway as you're not really receiving a service.
In UK, tips left as cash have to go to the server. Tips attached to the bill don't. Most people seem to tip 10% baseline and adjust according to service. 15% tends to be upper end. We don't have as much of a tipping culture, and have better minimum wage than USA.
The reason the tip line is there is because it only prints one kind of receipt. It doesn't mean they expect a tip for take-out.
If they aren't waiting on my table, it's always $0.00
I suppose I 'm. Odd, and but I tip for the quality services rendered. Regardless of situation, i'll tip my hairdresser and depending, and it tip at concessions. Everyone typically feels underpaid and if a few extra unexpected dollars makes there day, and great. I'm a cook from the US
+Koushik Dutta I do the same but always feel guilty as well. Another wrinkle, what about carside to go? I tend to tip if they bring it to my car, but not if I have to walk in to pick it up.
The whole reason for a tip is that waiter/waitress wages are lower (at least in NY state). They account for the tips. The person checking you out at a register is getting more that $5/hr, therefore, no need to tip.
As someone who works as a server, you should always leave a tip, unless I give you absolute terrible service,and don't ever leave a dollar, that's more offensive than leaving nothing, people don't understand we make below minimum wage as servers and your tips are basically our income, so if you decide to not tip its like getting an unexplained unneeded pay cut
The thing about Washington state is that servers don't earn less than minimum wage. Most of the time they are actually earning more than minimum wage. So... at a sandwich shop where all they are doing is making my food I'll leave it blank, if they are actually waiting on my table at a restaurant I'll tip in the standard range of 15-25 percent.
+Jarred Gordon No i completely understand servers CAN ( note: not all places do) make under minimum wage but that is not my fault. I also know that by federal law if you don't make enough in tips to make at least the minimum of $7.25 an hour (wage+tips) the owners are legally required to make up the difference. Now if you have a crooked employer who doesn't do this that is also not my fault. I also know many (aka: all the ones i know) servers who don't report all their tips to the IRS besides the baseline tips that is required and credit card tips (since there is a paper trail after all). Meaning they keep more of their money anyways since they don't report it. So i don't feel sorry for servers at all. Don't get me wrong i still tip 99.9% of the time but don't act like someone who doesn't tip is a horrible person or doesn't know how servers are paid.
Take out, 0 (this depends, small local place I might tip, less than normal though)... Table, round bill up to whole dollar, and take 20%. The fuzziness off the rounding depends on how I found the service.
Coming from a kitchen background, a lot of the time the cook gets those togo tips. Also, what's a dollar really?
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