I often go to a well known restaurant with my girlfriend, it’s always
been a good experience, until this one occasion recently. Our meal was
fine, food was perfect, the waitress was helpful, until this huge
group of about twenty people came in; clearly without booking in
advance. The waiters and waitresses to their credit got everybody
seated, but the group as a whole started complaining when their food
was taking a while. What?!

If there are twenty in a group, it doesn’t take a genius to work out
that the meal is going to take a little longer than usual, their
drinks were served promptly, the pizzas maybe took around twenty
minutes rather than the usual ten. They made a terrible mess, and
apparently didn’t tip. Terrible.

Which brings me on to my question. I’m 18 and as yet not quite fluent
with how much to tip. I tend to go for around 20% , is that okay?

– Katie F


  • Matt

    November 21, 2010

    As a rule, 15% is the minimum acceptable tip if service is average; that is, nothing to complain about, but nothing to compliment about. I tend to go 20%, since I have worked fast food and as a waiter so I know the utter hell that it is. If the service is great I go a little higher, not so great a little lower, but I hover right around 20%. Most people tend to stick between 15% and 20%.

  • Erin

    November 22, 2010

    0%= rude server, server did NO work
    10%= Bad service, server did very little work, not very personable
    15%= Average service
    20% + = Amazing service, very personable server

  • Justin Messenger

    November 22, 2010

    Tipping strictly by percentage is very short sighted.

    You can keep a waiter running back and forth with bread, refills on water, condiments and whatnot … But if you’re having soup with a cheap meal you may end up with a bill under $20. A $3 tip sound about right for that? How about $5, a whopping 25% !

    You should try to tip according to the time I took up a table/booth , the swiftness of service and the trouble you put the server through, regardless of the final bill.

  • Stuart Schiffman

    November 24, 2010

    I generally estimate 20% and round up to the dollar if I’m paying cash, or round the total to the dollar if I’m charging.

  • Katie F

    November 26, 2010

    we’re pretty low maintainence, just get a single drink refill.

  • Claire

    November 26, 2010

    It depends on the type of place, the country you’re in etc.

    Personally, I think you should tip what you can afford. Not everyone can afford to tip highly, especially if the meal is an expensive and rare special occassion.

    At a place my cousin used to work, if she got any tip at all, even if it was just £3-£5, it was a good night.

  • Ann

    November 27, 2010

    I have been in the restaurant business for 30 years and am shocked that the fact that servers pay taxes on your total meal has not been mentioned. Majority of states now charge servers 10% of their total sales for the shift. So when you tip 10% on the pretax total of your bill, you are not tipping them. To not leave any tip costs the server out of their pocket. And is quite rude. To tip according to what you can afford is crazy, if you cannot afford to tip, stay home. Fact is majority of restaurant goers are overly demanding and do not consider the fact they are not the only table the server must tend to. So when you suck down your drink in under five minutes, the sever may not get back to you for another ten. This is rude. Bread will come to your table when it comes, usually with the soup or salads. If you were that hungry you should have went to fast food. There is protocol in restaurants as to how things are served. If you have an issue with your meal, speak up when the server checks your table. Don’t just not eat it and leave angry. Anything can be fixed at the beginning of your meal but not if you don’t speak up. If the server doesn’t return to check on you, definitely ask to speak to a manager. But majority of Good servers can get your issue taken care of without having to involve the manager. And the worst thing, this one kills me, I don’t care who you are, where you live or that you at one time met the owner of the restaurant. I am not there to feed your ego in that way, I am there to support my family.

  • Lisa

    November 29, 2010

    A tip should never be less than $5. When I was pregnant I would sometimes stop somewhere by myself to grab a bite to eat. My meal would never reach over $10. But I know I’m sitting at a table in someones section & they are performing a service for me. Percentages are JUST a guideline

  • Neetha

    November 30, 2010

    I hold down two jobs. One as a waitress at a coney island and the other as a server at a buffet style restraunt. At both I make $2.65 an hour. We have to report our tips and we have to pay taxes on them. Because I am a waitress/server, I do not as a general rule tip by percentage. I always leave at least $5 or $1 per person (including kids) when there more than 4 in the group for so-so service and more if the service is awesome. Tips are how servers make their money. Our checks generaly range around $40-$50 for a week (if we are lucky). If I don’t have the money to tip, I will not go into a restraunt, that is what fast food is for. If you are going to be there longer than a half hour to an hour then increase the tip because many servers only have around 6 tables at most and you are keeping it from being turned over so they should be compensated for that lost table and tip. Leave tips on carry-outs from restraunts because even though it is a carry-out more effort has to be put in to make sure that it is completely right so that you don’t have to call or come back. And last but not least, it is a totally douchey move to pull out and use the stupid tip calculator on your cell phone or iphone. Go with your gut, by all means, but remember if you are a regular at a certain establishment that unfortunatly because we do only make $2.65 an hour, the amount of caring and attention you get from your server is usually based on the amount you tip. Bigger tip = Better Service!

  • Courtney

    March 19, 2011

    “Personally, I think you should tip what you can afford. Not everyone can afford to tip highly, especially if the meal is an expensive and rare special occassion.”

    There’s a saying in serving – if you CAN’T AFFORD TO TIP 20%, stay home and make yourself a damned sandwich. If I don’t have enough to tip 20% on the $40 steak, I’m not getting the forty dollar steak. I know things are different overseas, judging by the pounds sign, but in America, most states pay their servings almost nothing.

  • Kimmi

    April 12, 2011

    I always try to tip between 15 and 20%, but sometimes I don’t have enough money. If that happens, I’ll leave as much as possible, all of my change unless I need to pay for the bus ride home.

  • Patti

    October 16, 2011

    Some of the comments to this post leave me slack jawed. I tend to be an extremely generous tipper when the service is exceptional. The last time I was out (last week), the bill was $45 and I tipped $15. The service at this particular restaurant was adequate, not exceptional. What I’m hearing here is that you should tip at least 10% for “Bad service, server did very little work, not very personable”? I think not. If I’m at a fine dining establishment and my check for 2 people is in excess of $200, I’m certainly not going to tip 10% for “Bad service, server did very little work, not very personable.” That simply encourages the server to continue to provide poor service.

  • CC

    November 12, 2012

    Hubby and I enjoy eating out about once a week and generally tip 20% if not more. Here is a question I’d like to see answered. We started to notice that when we added our tip to the credit card bill and checked with the credit card company (only to get our balance) the next day the tip wasn’t taken out (added to the bill). I’m wondering if the servers got stiffed? We now tip strictly in cash but if the servers weren’t getting their tips it would just hurt my heart.

  • Kelly

    November 30, 2012

    CC: When your card is run at a point of sale system at a restaurant, it immediately processes that amount through your bank/credit card company. The tip is entered into the computer later, and generally takes 2-3 business days to process. The server is given their cash by the restaurant the same night as you tipped them, then the restaurant is reimbursed when the tip also eventually clears your card.
    This is very important to remember when you are balancing your bank account or credit card, always balance for the amount after tip, even though the un-tipped amount is what will initially show on your account.

    Hope that helps!

  • Robert

    February 7, 2013

    I typically (no pun intended) round up to the nearest $5 or $10 mark and tip 20% off of that but as some have mentioned it really depends on the amount of the bill. I’ll often leave over 100% if I am eating a cheap breakfast by myself.

    If you have a coupon, a BOGO or get comped for some reason always remember to tip based on what the full cost of the meal would have been.

    On special occasions I usually increase the tip also. One Easter my wife and I were on holiday and we went to the beach Easter morning. We wound up eating lunch at the one open restaurant near the beach and I left a $60 tip on a $40 bill. The waitress actually ran out to the parking lot, gave my wife a hug and thanked us.

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