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How to Tip Restaurant Servers: The Way YOU Would Want to be Tipped

Living a Better Life® (from the editor's desk)
by Michelle Jones

When eating out at a restaurant, tipping waiters and waitresses 15-20% of the bill is an expected part of the total cost. That is, for most people. For varying reasons, others seem to have something very different in mind, or maybe even no clear thought process at all. Except, possibly, to take advantage of an opportunity to save money.
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Ouch. Isn't saving money the right thing to do?

Of course, no matter what your budget is, saving money is usually a very wise goal to have. Just not at the direct expense of someone else's well being or livelihood.

Here are some common misconceptions about tipping restaurant servers:

Tipping is optional. (False)

Would you work a 10-12 hour day for $2.00 an hour? That's just about what many servers would earn without tips. And that's before Income Taxes, Medicare, and Social Security are deducted from each paycheck. (They also often work full-time hours with no health insurance or sick pay benefits.)

10% is a good tip, 15% is a great tip. (False)

Maybe 50 years ago. Currently, 15% is a basic tip for fair service, 20% is for good service, and any larger % can be given for great service.

I can't AFFORD to leave a tip, so it's okay if I don't. (False)

If you do not have the money to leave a tip, there are plenty of restaurants you can go to instead, where the staff is paid a decent hourly wage or at least minimum wage. Think deli, cafeteria, buffet, fast food, even carry out pizza. While workers at these eateries would surely welcome tips for their service, they still get paid even if you do not tip them.

If the food/bill is expensive, it's okay to not leave a tip. (False)

As a general rule in managing your money, you should already have an idea of what a restaurant meal is going to cost before you even get there. And then, once you're there, check the prices on the menu and order what you can afford, while still being able to leave a proper tip.

If our teenage kids eat at a restaurant, unsupervised by a parent or adult, they will probably leave a tip. (False)

It's important to teach your kids how to tip, and that when they eat out they need to plan for the tip when placing their order so they will have enough money to cover it. Otherwise, if they have $30 to spend, they are likely to order $29.50 of food and barely leave a $0.50 tip, without even giving it a second thought.

When I'm splitting the check with a group of friends, the tips they leave should be enough so I don't have to leave one. (False)

In most cases, each person leaves a tip only for their portion of the bill, not for the entire table.

If there is something wrong with the food, or it's very slow coming out of the kitchen, I should not leave a tip at all, let alone even a decent one of 15%. (False)

If you truly have a bad dining experience, you have the option of not ever returning to that restaurant location. However, it doesn't seem right to punish the server who did everything they could to take care of you and make your meal pleasant. When things don't go right, it's usually completely out of their control.

Finally, servers work really hard and often in a very stressful environment. They enjoy helping you have a great dining experience each time you visit their restaurant. They deserve to be paid a decent wage. Like most jobs, they must appease management to stay employed. Yet, unlike most jobs, they also depend on the generosity of their customers (tipping) to earn a very modest living.

May we always be kind, compassionate, patient, and generous.

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Additional Information:

"DINE AND DASH" - When customers eat and run, (leave without paying their bill) it is not a harmless prank. It's the same thing as robbing the restaurant and taking money right out of the cash register. And, guess who pays for the loss? In most cases, the FULL amount of the customer's unpaid check is deducted right out of the server's pay and/or tips for that day. Which, though illegal, may also result in the server making less than minimum wage.

If you have more information you'd like to share on this topic please contact me.

Copyright © 2015 by Michelle Jones. All rights reserved.

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