26 January 2011

The Great Tip Dilemma

As a waitress it can be really hard to go out to eat.  While it's nice to be on the other side of the table for a while, a server being served can be incredibly hypersensitive.  This could now progress into a post about how consistently horrible the service at our local Red Robin is, but instead I'll skip all that.  This post is about how much it sucks going out to eat with crappy tippers.

Recently I was with a small group of people at Hooters.  Yes, you read that right.  I work at Hooters and I went there to eat.  Of my own accord.  I actually went to my place of employment when I wasn't forced to be there by the scheduling manager.  This probably makes me insane.  Or at least a glutton for punishment.  Or more probably an insane glutton for punishment.  Yeah, that sounds about right.

So there I was at Hooters indulging in beer and fried delicacies like everyone I serve day in and day out.  After several pitchers and plates of wings and marginally entertaining conversation, it was that time when you figure out how a big group of people is going to pay.  Of course I made this easy by letting our Hooters Girl know beforehand who would be paying and how to split the ticket.  I'm just considerate like that. 

Carefully split tickets were handed out and cards and cash were placed on the table.  Payments were quickly run.  My bill - paid with credit card - was just under $50 and I wrote in a ten-dollar tip with little deliberation.  Twenty percent.  Done and done.  It was then that I slowly beginning noticing the tipping that was going around me.  By tipping I mean people being totally cheapasses.  I sat in disbelief as not one person left a tip greater than ten percent.

Our service had been impeccable, but the tips all said, "YOU SUCK."  So I was left with a dilemma.  Do I say something?  Normally the answer would be yes, but on this particular evening I was surrounded not by friendly tightwads, but tightwads I hardly knew.  Yes, I was with my boyfriend's friends.  And I didn't know what to say.

I ended up leaving more tip in a vain attempt to make up for the snub; I didn't feel it was my place to say things to people I didn't really know.  I'm talking "couldn't even tell you one of their names" barely knew.  But looking back I probably should have said something regardless of my relationship to everyone at the table.  Even if they thought I was a total bitch.  At least I'd be a total bitch who stood up to people and brought the knowledge of proper tipping to the world.  I totally missed my chance to be a modern day Robin Hood.

So what are your thoughts on sitting with a table of bad tippers?  Do you say something?  Do you make up for their inadequacies?  Do you ignore it and pretend you can't perform simple math functions? 


  1. One of the worst tippers I ever went out with worked as a server herself. She was the customer from hell--nothing our server could do would please her, and she'd deliberately do things to piss whoever was waiting on us off. Like order water and neglect to mention she liked lemon in it, making our server have to make another trip to the kitchen to get it. I hated taking her to a place where people knew me--I was asked to please not come in there with her again on one occassion. That relationship didn't last long. My dad sucks, too. No matter how great the service or how big the tab, he's going to leave a dollar. Period. And thinks that's too much. Grrrrr . . . (Dave Barry said someone who is nice to you but not nice to the server is *not* a nice person, btw . . .)

  2. Sauce, I love your blog, but this was a grave mistake on your part. I could even understand your hesitation if you never met these people before... but you guys went to eat at YOUR place of employment! Considering that, it would have been perfectly acceptable as bills were being handed out to reiterate this. While stressing the fact that you weren't trying to shake anyone down, you could have brought up the fact that any tips less than 15% would reflect badly on you the next time you came in for a shift. And if the cheapskates still remained cheapskates or seemed indifferent... well, that would have told you that going to Hooters with them is no longer a future option.
    (BTW, can the bf subtly mention anything about this to his pals? Didn't you say he worked at Denny's? He of all people should understand tipping, and it might sound less preachy coming from him, since they know him better).

  3. When I go with friends to the bar I work at for drinks and food, I make sure to mention at some point during the meal that because we're enjoying my discount, the tip is going to be what they might consider outrageous. I don't care who's turn it is to pay, if they don't tip enough, I'll definitely add to the tip.

  4. I am a server, too, among school & other occasional jobs... I always make sure to tip well (sometimes too well), unless the service is god awful, in which case they still probably get at least 15% if not 20%. I usually make sure no one is snubbing a server either.

  5. That's a tough spot but considering the group you were with I would say make up the difference. Maybe it cost you another $20 but it not only keeps your reputation in tact it makes you look awesome to the other servers.

  6. I never get a chance to look at what my grandfather tips (he's notorious about sweeping the bill away the second he gets it and refusing to let anyone else pay). I always wonder if he tips well. He's a rather demanding customer and I've been out to eat with him both when we've had waitresses and waiters that have anticipated his every need and ones that completely ignored us. It's no use discussing it with him, my grandfather is cranky, set in his ways, and would make more than my life miserable if he thought I was implying that he's cheap. Would a waitress find it weird if I circled back and asked her how much he tipped so I'll know for future reference and so I can make up for it if he's a bad tipper? I want to know so that I can tip them preemptively next time.

  7. I pre-emptively say something to those around me beforehand ... usually, I tell a short, loving, harmless little story about going out to eat with my parents and how shocked they were to hear that a decent minimum tip runs 15 to 20%. It usually brings about a few chuckles and often (not always, of course) seems to work. Oh the power of social pressure. ;) Keep up the good work!

  8. I have been in this exact situation (ok, well really close!) and ended up leaving extra cash on the table with a note that I was sorry about the other people's lack of tipping. I know it doesn't make up for the bad tippers, but at least she knew that it wasn't a reflection of her service, just their stupidity.
    I also thought, "gosh, I should use this as a time to impart a valuable lesson"....but it was a group of my girlfriend's friends whom are all are ignorant snobs and would likely have tipped less from then on, just out of spite! ...sigh...

  9. Oh, I just remembered that this was a Hooters though....yeah sorry, you totally should have said something. You are going to be known as the employee with the crappy friends who doesn't do anything about their bad tipping! :(

  10. i'm not a server but i would consider myself a pretty good tipper (always 15%, usually around 20% because i seem to get good service a lot) and part of that is from reading various blogs, including yours. i have a couple friends who never tip at all and it irks me so much (and i'm not even the one getting stiffed!) and then i usually leave more to make up for them being cheapasses. i just feel too bad if i don't.

    oh, and modern day robin hood made me lol.

  11. I would over tip and make fun of them for being jerky tightwads! Someone has to enlighten the people who have no idea what servers go through every day. :)

  12. I had a roommate that waitressed so I had a fairly good idea of how hard she worked and how little money she made. She survived by her tips. Since that time I always tip at least 20%. And if the service was really great and the server had a great attitude, I'd drop an extra $20 just because.

  13. I used to try to make up the difference; then one day I lost patience with that, especially with my family. The last time I went out with them I asked them to let me count the money so I could make sure we were tipping enough. Several people threw extra money in then! Other times I've very loudly said "don't forget you're eating with a server, that server did a great job and deserves 20%."

  14. I've been in the situation and done the same thing. On the other hand, sometimes you can raise the issue just as a kind of conversation piece. How that works probably depends on the people you're with. But in your case, there should have been an easy solution because it's at Hooters: you don't have to make them feel bad about how they normally tip, just remind them that it's a place where people normally tip above normal. Since the girls are half the reason (or all the reason) people are there, there shouldn't be any problem with raising the tipping issue.

  15. "A person who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter, is not a nice person." - Dave Barry

    I completely, 100% agree with this quote. There have been people in my life who I no longer associated with because they were rude or degrading to wait staff.

    I also believe that you can learn a lot about a person by the way that they tip.

    For some reason there are still a lot of people out there who believe in leaving $0.01 cent for bad service...I think this is passive agressive and I don't understand the thought process behind this.

    It would be great to have an ettiquette expert weigh in on your Blog for the "Propper Rules Of Tipping".

    Yours In Health!

    G.E. Moon II

  16. When I goto Hooters, I always make sure that I have at least 10% counted in on my bill. I like to give 15% to 20%. With ladies that look as hot, pretty, intelligent, and nice as you are, that is a well deserved tip. :)



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