Addicted to novelty since 2001

It Ain’t a City in China

Colene writes at length about tipping in restaurants:

Unless the server was rude, ignored me, or completely wrecked the dining experience, I always leave 15% minimum. For good service, I at least expect them to serve me promptly, be polite, refill my water (better yet, do it before I ask for a refill!). On a bit of a tangent, I hate when servers are rude to you when you have water instead of a pricey drink. Can I help it if I like to drink water? Anyway, if I have ever left less than 15%, it was because something was horribly wrong and I am never going back there again.

I’m with Colene on both of these points. I used to work in a restaurant, and I recognize that servers make a lousy wage and tend to only work four to six hours. So, I generally leave 15-20%. I also don’t dig getting sneered at for ordering a Coke.

Colene raises two questions:

1. Do you tip on wine? If you order an expensive bottle of wine, do you take that into account?

I don’t drink, but I always tip on the final amount on the bill. I suppose that’s ill-advised, as it includes the tax, but see above–the server probably needs the extra buck or two more than I do. Why wouldn’t you tip on the wine?

2. But my point is, why should a server get more of a tip for bringing me a $18 steak versus a $8 salad?

A couple of reasons. First, there’s more at stake with the steak. The diner has to specify how they want it, and it has to be delivered that way. Far more things can wrong with a steak than a salad–or at least there are far more complaints about the former. Additionally, a portion of your tip is usually distributed among the kitchen staff. Clearly, a steak takes more skill than a salad, so the tip should reflect that proportionably.

Here, incidentally, is a cautionary tale for those who under-tip. See also Fight Club. On the same charmingly-named site, there are a couple of other pertinent articles.

6 Responses to “It Ain’t a City in China”

  1. clamb

    Hmm – for tipping i tend to take the 7% tax and double it. Then if the service was beyond good i add to it from there. Makes the calculations very easy to do and makes sure i don’t undertip because of my poor math.

  2. VanEats – Bourdain-esque food servers’ site

    If you like the Anthony

  3. Rog

    I tip based on service and quality. The price of the food/drinks I ordered makes no difference to me and it rather irks me when I’m sitting with people calculating tip based on the bill.

    I don’t tip small, I just can’t stand the way people calculate it 15%/20%/whatever.

    If I get great service and the food is excellent, I tip accordingly, but if I go into an overpriced establishment where I’m unhappy and disappointed, I’ll be upset to be pressured into paying a percentage.

  4. Jason

    Is getting attitude after ordering a cheap drink something peculiar to Vancouver? While vacationing there, I regularly got snotty service after ordering soda or orange juice.

    I haven’t had that experience in Montreal, Toronto or anywhere else in Canada.

  5. Maurice

    In Ontario, adding up the 7% GST and 8% PST gives you 15% (booze is taxed a bit higher). I use that as a starting point and round up or down as appropriate. If the bill is really low, I generally round up significantly; if the bill is really high because of wine or something easy but expensive, I tend to round down. I also tip cash if I have it.

    That said, I don’t actually like tipping. Waiters should just be paid appropriately to start with. Trying to get higher tips makes bad waiters act weird, and I don’t believe it actually improves service much from good waiters. And more often than not, if I’m not happy with a restaurant, it’s almost never the fault of the waiters. Even stuff that seems like poor service is usually more the result of poor training and under-staffing, which is management’s fault. And they don’t care what you tip.

    By the way, I’m kind of an old guy and my recollection is that the standard tip used to be more like 10%, not 15%. There was a TV restaurant-critic in Ottawa who used to always mention whether the service had deserved his personal maximum of 10%. He seemed like a bit of a tight-ass, but that was then.

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