The Tipping Conundrum

So, the Mrs. and I (and her parents) enjoyed a very well cooked dinner at a local (and independent) restaurant here in town. The food was excellent; this is easily one of the best restaurants in town.

I enjoyed a drink (just one — I was driving), Yeni enjoyed a drink. Both were top notch.

So… when the bill came I was faced with a conundrum.

How much should I tip?

In my infamous tipping rant, I talk a little about my feelings toward tipping. To quickly paraphrase: good (and I mean good) service gets 20%, adequate is 15%, disappointing is less than 15%.

In the 10+ years since I wrote that rant (can you believe I wrote it in the 90’s?), I’m still having the same “discussion” with my ex-waiter friends. You know, the ol’ “Maybe he/she was just having a bad day” discussion… or the “You don’t know how hard it is” lecture.

My friends are right. (sometimes 😉 )

I have never been a waiter/server.

That being said, I absolutely know how hard the job is. I emphasize with servers and truly give the benefit of a doubt.

I (and you shouldn’t either) don’t blame servers for the quality of food.

Two main things I look for: Attitude and Attentiveness.

Tonight’s Conundrum

But I digress…

Let’s talk about tonight.

Was the attitude good? Yes.

Attentiveness? Adequate.

By those two factors, the tip would have been a 15%… So why am I disappointed with the service?

The tables at the restaurant are close enough where we could hear the other interactions. Tables next to me were greeted with, “Hello my name is xxxx and welcome to the restaurant.”

We were not.

The other tables were told of specials.

We were not. Sadly, they sounded awesome and we wish we would have known about them.

Other tables had waiters say excuse me– we had a server who constantly reached across us.

Other tables received such better service that we were disappointed in ours.

So, I leave you with this… if you had a great meal, but realized your service was much less then what should be expected… how would you tip?

(fyi… I tipped 10%)


TeacherPatti 2012-12-30 Reply

I generally tip 20%, so I probably would have just given 15%. Then again, in my world, the waitstaff would be making so much money that tipping wouldn’t be necessary. The money would come from taxing the richest just like they did back in the 50s and then creating empowerment zones to encourage people to open businesses that pay a fair and living wage. Also, in my world, no one would be supergreedy. My world rocks! 🙂
Sorry, just had to get some politics in there 🙂

Fred Posner 2012-12-30 Reply

So you would have dinged down 5%, too. 😉

Patrick 2012-12-31 Reply

Most of the meals I eat are in the $30 – $60 range, and I usually tip $10 – $15. I didn’t realize how much this was until we went to Joe’s Crab Shack and on the $140 check I was like, “$20 is ‘proper’…wow.”

Your approach can be described easily in Disney terms. When you go to Disney, you expect employees to be extremely polite, helpful, and point with two fingers. So even if they are above “Universal Studios” nice, but fall short of Disney expectations, you are disappointed.

In any environment where you know the standards and expectations of the staff, and you realize your experience doesn’t meet them, it is totally reasonable that you would adjust your subjective compensation accordingly. I personally advocate for the market approach eliminating bad service.

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