is a fully functional forum: you can search, register, post new threads etc...
Old accounts are inaccessible: register a new one, or recover it when possible. x

Should You Tip Waitresses?

Should You Tip Waitresses?

Tipping is all over the place based on many factors. People who have a whole philosophy about not tipping are just hamstering an excuse to be cheap. It's fine to be cheap, just don't do it at a place you frequent. They'll do all sorts of unspeakable acts to your food.

I was sitting at the bar with some friends watching a college basketball game. I don't drink alcohol so my bill was a few dollars for a coke. We were there for a while so I tipped 500%.

I took my dad to lunch and got average service - tipped 15%.

Had lunch with my parents and brother and both the food and service were horrible. At one point I got up to refill my own drink and had to steal another table's napkins - zero tip. Nice, well-reviewed restaurant too.

Should You Tip Waitresses?

I'm surprised there hasn't been some "movement" to proclaim that women and minorities only get tipped 80% of what men get, and they need to pool all the tips and reallocate them according to some hamster math, hashtag equality.

Should You Tip Waitresses?

Interesting analysis from


My dinner companion sounded indignant. “It’s a shame we have to tip the waitress,” she said. “The restaurant owner ought to pay the staff enough to live on.”

I imagine that is a common attitude among those steeped in our current cultural climate of envy and dislike of economic success — the anti-capitalist mentality, as Mises put it. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that we tip waiters out of sympathy, due to their misfortune of having to work in an industry full of greedy restaurant owners who won’t pay a “living wage.” In fact, tipping is an elegant market solution to a particular set of circumstances, often present in service jobs, that makes determining an appropriate wage extremely problematic. The practice of tipping used to be more common, applying to many more service positions than at present, when it is largely restricted to waitstaff and skycaps. Part of the reason for its partial demise is just the wandering course of economic change, but many jobs that used to be paid primarily by tips came to be covered by minimum wage legislation and simply disappeared.

So why do we tip? At first glance it seems rather odd that a waiter should be paid by two different people — employer and customer — for the same job. But in fact we, as tipping customers, are paying for a very different aspect of the waiter’s job than is the employer. The restaurant owner needs a way to get the customer’s order to the kitchen and the food out to the customer. Most anyone who can walk a straight line and operate a pencil can perform that task. But the restaurant owner also wants happy customers, and customers are happy when they have a waiter who can solve problems, handle special requests, and generally make their meal a pleasant experience, and that is a special skill set indeed. Coordinating these two different, and not closely connected, aspects of the job is what tipping is all about.

Information Asymmetry
The employer wants happy customers, but he has a twofold information problem. As a practical matter it is difficult for him to observe interactions between waitstaff and customers. In addition, the customers’ expectations regarding the quality of service are impossible to observe. This is further complicated by the fact that staff members are heterogeneous; they are different in terms of skill levels, personalities, and other characteristics that affect the customer’s experience of quality service. Thus the employer doesn’t have the information he needs to arrive at an appropriate wage for each member of his staff. The customer, however, is a participant in these interactions and as such has as complete information as is humanly possible. If the customer pays the server directly for that aspect of the job, the decision of the appropriate pay is made by the person with the most information about job performance.

Incentive Alignment
Employers generally want their employees to give their best, and presumably are willing to pay for that. However, the aforementioned information problem inhibits his ability to do so. Ideally, tips make the server’s compensation directly proportional and immediately responsive to the quality of service provided. This aligns the employee’s incentives with the employer’s; both now want to provide high-quality service to the customer, each for their own benefit.

Risk Sharing
Hiring a new employee entails risk. For the new employee, there is the risk that the job may not turn out as he had hoped. It could turn out to be a dead end with no future, or unsatisfactory in innumerable other ways. The employer, however, has a financial risk. The new employee’s skill set is unknown to the employer to at least some degree, regardless of how thorough the interview process might be. There is even more uncertainty with an inexperienced new hire; there is no history for the employer to work from. The employer has to pay the agreed upon wage, and if the new employee doesn’t perform as hoped he is losing money. If the new employee accepts a lower guaranteed wage and makes part of his compensation contingent on performance — the tip — this relieves risk in two ways. First, the employer is more willing to take a chance on a young, inexperienced worker. If the wage is lower, the minimum performance level needed to make the employee worth the wage is also lower. Second, since the employee can increase his earnings directly and immediately by improving his performance the job is not so much of a dead end. The low paying job becomes a valuable stepping stone, allowing the young, inexperienced employee to learn job skills, establish a performance record, and move on to something better. (It should be obvious that minimum wage legislation short-circuits this entire arrangement, making the employer much less willing to hire someone unless he is certain they are worth the higher wage. This is how lower-skilled individuals get shut out of the job market. But that’s the subject of another essay.)

That is the magic of the market. Even mundane habits like leaving a tip for a waiter play an important role in social cooperation and coordination. It is an elegant solution to a knowledge problem, developed spontaneously through the actions of a myriad of market participants. When left alone, people are pretty darn resourceful.

Should You Tip Waitresses?

I worked in services industries since I was a little kid and continued on pretty much all the way through my mid twenties until I started my business.

Fast food, restaurants, hotels, catering, bars, golf course, you name it, I worked it. And in almost every conceivable position both front and back of house.

My take is that you have zero obligation to tip, period. It's a tip, isn't that by definition voluntary? If you tip for any reason other than the fact that you - and you alone - feel that you received service above and beyond the base price you paid, then you're caving to social pressure.

You guys chiming in with the tip shaming calling anybody who doesn't line your pockets as a matter of default "autistic" gtfo with that noise. Nobody owes you anything. Not a job, not respect, and certainly not an automatic tip.

I worked in fine dining for years and like others have said, good waiters are typically older men who are absolute weapons at their jobs. These dudes are PRO. As good as any of the older forum members are in their respective careers after decades of grinding.

You need some serious RAM and wits about you to handle a dining room full of shit faced good ol' boys coming in from a day of boozing it up on the golf course all ordering different shades of rare steak, trying to fuck with you just for laughs, all while trying to give your smaller tables the same level of attention and kindness.

At the end of the night the best among these guys walk away with hundreds of bucks in cash, the respect of every customer they served, and their nerves and dignity intact. Now that's mastery.

These dudes actually deserve their tips. But if I'm sitting in a bar waiting for a friend to show up and you pour me a soda with lime, or open and pour a beer, what is the difficult, complicated task that merits me giving you extra money? The entitlement is strong with some of you guys for real.

Seems that the current trend to tip some mandatory minimum amount is based on an unearned collective guilt that tipped employees earn a smaller base salary than salaried employees (which as others have mentioned isn't even true depending on the state). So I repeat, if you're tipping for any reason other than because you received service above and beyond the price you paid, you're an NPC.

Should You Tip Waitresses?

The prevailing wage in the us for people who can be classified as tipped employees is 2.13/hr. This started in the mid 90s when the standard minimum wage was 4.25. It was instituted because many restaurants finally had computers that could track orders, and handle sales. The purpose was to extract income tax from a segment that essentially never paid taxes. When they instituted this wage, they also expected servers to declare all of their tips (but the general standard was to declare 8% of total sales). Then the employer uses what you declared and withholds taxes from your 2.13 wage. So if you get it right, you’ll be collecting paychecks for 10 or 11 cents each week.

As for those making the argument that one doesn’t get rich by spending frivolously, you’re right. But eating out in full service restaurants is at or near the top of the list of frivolous expenditures. For those who mention economic hardships and that those rallying for more tipping have never experienced it. If you’re truly under economic duress, shouldn’t you be eating at home?

I spent many years as a server during college. Physically it’s moderately demanding. Mentally it can be very demanding. Most restaurants are shitty employers that do their damndest to exploit the people who cost them the very least. A line cook earns his full wage the moment he clocks in and starts doing his daily prep. A server makes nothing until customers start coming in. And that server may have had a significant amount of prep to do prior to that first customer.

If your service is truly bad, don’t tip. For those saying you’ll tip well if the food is good, why? The server had nothing to do with that? Are you the same people who tip shitty if the food sucks, even if the service was decent? Because the server didn’t cook your food.

The nature of this business model is such that if you don’t tip just because you’re so alpha (and really you’re trying intellectualize being a cheap cunt) the person waiting on you doesn’t simply fail to make money. They actually lose money because the IRS wants their piece of the 8% they assumed you made on the transaction.

Edit: as for my remarks on the prevailing wage being 2.13/hr, yes it’s true that some parts of the country have increased this. But those few exceptions aside, in most places it’s very much 2.13.

Should You Tip Waitresses?

This is an interesting discussion.

In the US, leaving no tip seems cheap, breaks what has generally been a nice social custom, fosters ill-will, and ensures poor future service. It's nice that the diner has some control over the experience and the quality of service -- that the waiter/server is incentivized to do his job in a competent, prompt, and friendly manner. It's also a nice gesture from one individual to another: you served me, tended to me and brought me a warm meal and refilled my drinks and the tip is a nice gesture of appreciation for your effort and attentiveness.

On the other hand, why is 20% the new norm when the previous norm was 15%?

I've seen the argument here for the ritual of 'taking care of people' and that blue collar people 'just get it'. I can understand that on some level... but why from 15% to 20%? Menu prices have increased at the rate of inflation, likely moreso, so I'm already paying more for the meal and then a higher tip on that inflated prices. And if 20%, why shouldn't the norm be 25% ... or 33% of the total? At some point, it becomes somewhat obnoxious that I'm the one expected as a diner to do the extra math and shoulder the burden for the waiter/server's living wage rather than the employer.

I appreciate good service and a decent attitude as much as the next guy, but all I'm really after is a warm, cooked meal that I don't have to prepare for myself and clean up after.

And in the US, it also doesn't foster good will that the experience is hyper-commercialized. I always sense that the waiter is trying to upsell me with drinks, appetizers, desserts, while guiding the dining experience toward 'turning the table'.

While I still mostly observe the social custom and generally tip between 2x sales tax to 20% when I do go out, my personal response has been to dine out less, do take-out, stay in more, and find better ways to spend my money. When in Rome do as the Romans, but I'd rather dine another way.

Should You Tip Waitresses?

Arafat scarf, they are trying to upsell you, because management requires this. It is an effective strategy from the restaurant’s perspective. If it works, the customer spends more, and presumably the server earns more. If it fails and the customer is annoyed by it, fuck it, blame the server. The restaurant still wins.

As for “guiding the experience to turn the table” you’re god damned right that’s what happens. When I was in that business I turned tables faster than anyone. Why? Because when you stop spending money, I want you gone so I can have use of that table to make more money. Blame me if you want. I’m just working the system to maximize my benefit like everyone else.

Should You Tip Waitresses?

This thread is way to long for the subject. It is pretty obvious that the topic brings out a lot of underlying issues for everyone. Pretty interesting stuff.

“The greatest burden a child must bear is the unlived life of its parents.”

Carl Jung

Should You Tip Waitresses?

Someone above made a good point

If you don't tip well... They do bad things to your food.

You're a shit server if it ever comes to your mind to fuck with sometimes food because you don't think you'll get a good tip..

I am the cock carousel

Forum Jump:

Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)