Tipping and Dating

By: Patrick Maguire

Book Chapter: Personal Pet Peeves

Posted: 03/27/2014

I’m often reluctant to post anything about tipping because my project is not about tipping, and the topic has been discussed, dissected, and debated ad nauseam. However, last night I was contacted by Zoosk, a dating site, and asked to give an ‘urgent’ response to three basic questions for a blog post published today about dealing with dates who are bad tippers. Here are my quick responses:

  1. Why is tipping a must? Tipping is a must because it’s part of our social contract in America. It’s only mandatory for people who believe in doing the right thing. If you think it’s trendy, hipster, or counterculture to pull a Mr. Pink, then you’re a DB. Be grateful that you can afford to eat out and leave a good/fair tip. “Cough up some green!!!” (Reservoir Dogs)
  2. How does a bad tip affect the server? Bad tips adversely affect servers, bartenders and support staff because most, if not all of their income is derived from tips. Their ‘base pay’ is often two dollars and change, and usually nets out close to nothing after taxes. There are exceptions in some states and in some restaurants. Non-tippers often attempt to justify their assholery with tired refrains like, “If you don’t like serving, get a real job.” Oftentimes getting another job isn’t a simple task, and believe me, serving is a VERY real job.
  3. What is the minimum expected tip? In my world 20% has always been the baseline for good service. A lot of cheap fuckers will tell you that servers expect more and more every year. That’s bullshit. When I started bartending in 1983, 20% was the norm. I usually tip more out of respect for fellow industry workers. Serving is a grind.

The Zoosk blog post only quoted some of what I said about tipping 20%. What is your baseline tip for good service? Have you ever ended a relationship because someone was a bad tipper?


5 Responses to “Tipping and Dating”

  1. Frederick says:

    Totally agree about tipping being an instant indicator of whether the person I am with shares my values or not. I don’t necessarily believe in an objective ‘good’ or ‘bad’ for this situation, but someone who agonizes over leaving a proper 20% tip, or worse, refuses to tip out of some sense of spite, is not going to be a good match for me, value-wise. I’ve been eating out regularly since leaving the dreaded suburbs back in 1985 and it has generally always been a 20% tip or better.

  2. Hi Patrick – I thought you and readers would be interested in the related infographic about restaurant tipping benchmarks and other metrics we put together at Swipely. Check it out: Bostonians tip 21% vs. 22% in DC and 20% in NYC.

  3. SkippyMom says:

    I have never ended a relationship just because someone was a poor tipper, and here is why…

    As a former server if I was on a date and discovered that the person tipped less than 15% I would simply ask them “Why? Was the service poor, were you displeased with something?” The answer is invariably “No. Isn’t 10% [or whatever] not a good tip?”

    And then I could explain what servers are paid and what is customary. I never assumed they were assholes just because they tipped poor – they just never knew that servers make no base pay, after taxes.

    Now, if they treated the server or staff like crap? They didn’t get a second date.

    As for our go to for a tip? We begin at 25% – we don’t go out to eat if we can’t afford a great tip. We appreciate great service and have been known to go as high as 50% on dinner or drinks, and 100% on breakfast, because those checks are always SO small. The tip fluctuates based only on what we know the server can, and cannot control. 15% is usually our minimum for a inattentive server, food left too long under the heat lamp [not the kitchen’s fault, etc.] And in all my dining out life I have only left one 10% tip and a 0 zip once. Didn’t like doing it, but it was what was deserved.

  4. PJAxel17 says:

    I feel like I’m late to the party here.

    As a general rule, I tip somewhere between 17-20%, a dollar a drink unless I have a large tab, in which case I go to percentages of the bill.

    I will tip more if I’m friends with the bartender or server. If I’m comp’d something (a drink, usually), I will tip more – usually a tip equivalent to if I had paid for the item, or more. That’s something I think people need to remember; if something was on the house, you should consider it when tipping. I feel like a lot of people might just look at their bill and forget the free drink or appetizer they were given. Kindness isn’t its own reward!

  5. Patricia Keller says:

    I was a bartender/cocktail waitress in another life :-)! I totally depended on tips! It’s appalling what servers are paid. 35 yrs ago, I made $1.75 & now it’s up to a whopping $2.11! Does that keep up with the cost of living? No way!
    I always tip 20% – 50% depending on the service. I would never stiff a server! They all want to wait on us because they know they’ll get a whopping tip. That’s how I get good service. Every where we go, they know us & can’t wait to serve us!
    I don’t leave a mess, I stack the dishes. I try to make their lives a little easier!
    Let’s all try harder! They work like dogs & deserve a good tip!

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