March 10, 2013, - 6:48 pm

Does This Make Me Cheap? Do You Tip for Takeout?

By Debbie Schlussel

This is not a left-right or political issue (or perhaps it is), but it’s something that’s been bothering me and making me wonder, ever since someone told me I was cheap for not tipping on the rare occasion I get takeout food from a restaurant. I never tip when I order takeout (and maybe I’m wrong for not doing so). Does this mean I’m a cheapskate? Are you really supposed to tip for takeout?


I pride myself on being generous to a fault, especially when I’m at a restaurant where patrons are served by waiters and/or waitresses. I always tip at least 20% of the bill like you’re supposed to. And often, when the bill is low, I might throw in an extra dollar or two. I just think it’s the right thing to do. But when I order takeout from a restaurant (and, by this, I mean that I drive there and pick it up–this is NOT delivery), I never tip when I pick up and pay for my food. Am I wrong? A woman I know who is a waitress told me I am and that the wait staff work to put together the order, so they should be compensated for their work in connection with the meal. Until she said that, I never gave it a second thought, but I disagree with her, and here’s why:

When you order takeout, you are not waited on. You don’t partake in the linens and silverware. Instead, if you’re lucky, you get a paper napkin and some plasticware with your food. The same goes for the containers and presentation. Your takeout order comes in plastic or paper or foil. You don’t eat on ceramic or porcelain plates, so no one has to clear your table (except you) or do the dishes. There’s no water, bread, or refills. And the waiter/waitress doesn’t keep circling and approaching your table to make sure the food is okay. You’re stuck with whatcha got when you get home and open the disposable containers. You just don’t get the full service–or even a fraction of the service–for which the tip is meant to reward.

For me, it’s not about trying to save a few bucks. I believe in tipping well for good service (and, to be honest, it’s not really a belief in tipping so much as it is a belief that I’m obligated and it’s expected of me in our society). But this is about principle–the same principle that keeps me from ever putting anything in the “tip jar” at Starbucks or any other of the myriad of places where they have these things on the counter. I already paid. You didn’t do anything extra for me. Stop putting your hand out for more cash from me that you neither earned nor deserve. To the woman I know who is a waitress and complains about the extra work for takeout, I say, so what? We all have to do extra work that is part of our job but for which we are not paid extra or even at all at some times. Deal with it. It’s not work that you should get a tip for.

So, that’s why I don’t tip for takeout. Does this make me cheap? Unclassy? Am I wrong? Should I re-think this and start tipping on the rare occasion that I order takeout?

Do you tip for takeout? Why or why not?


I also learned in an etiquette class I took as a kid–and from my parents–that you are not supposed to tip the owner of an establishment who waits on or otherwise serves you, whether it’s at a restaurant or a hair salon. But a few years ago when I was at a restaurant, a friend of mine tipped the owner who waited on us. I told him she was the owner so she shouldn’t get a tip, but he said it was unclassy not to leave a tip. Then, I felt like a cheapskate for saying anything.

Who was right?

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128 Responses

If its a full service restaurant offering takeout service in addition to dining in the restaurant, one should still tip the staff for their service.

That’s not required or expected with a fast food restaurant that offers only takeout service.

NormanF on March 10, 2013 at 6:55 pm

tipping should be
discouraged at least
or prohibited with
appropriate signage

it smells like a racket
created by proprietors
in order to get away with
low or no wages

are the low or no wages
reflected in the price of
the product or service

i smell a racket
i smell organized crime
and their associated low life

prestigio on March 10, 2013 at 7:22 pm

    where did you
    learn to write
    your posts

    with no punctuation
    and in pseudo

    it’s kind
    of annoying
    you know

    and I never
    bother to read
    them because of


    DS_ROCKS! on March 10, 2013 at 7:43 pm

      Very amusing, DSR. Also, you do it better that prestigio, who has shown that he doesn’t read other people before commenting on them.

      skzion on March 10, 2013 at 10:34 pm

    Why is it that the employers of the food service industry are not required to pay their employees, the customers have to do that directly, by tips. Many other industries pay their employees by commission only, or piece work, Realtors, Car dealers, repair shops, etc. The business owner is responsible for paying these people, so how come waitresses have to depend upon the customer to pay them directly?

    John Illinois on March 11, 2013 at 9:19 am

I’ve never even thought about tipping for takeout.
Maybe that makes me super cheap.
Sometimes I leave money in the jar for charitable donations.
Would never give the owner of the restaurant a gratuity. Never.

He owns the restaurant, that’s his gratuity.
I’d be worried he’d be insulted to be honest about it.

Frankz on March 10, 2013 at 7:26 pm

Tipping for takeout? No way, it’s a racket!

Michelle on March 10, 2013 at 7:31 pm

I saw a business card that stated “NO TIPS PLEASE”.

The card was from a Mohel. (A Rabbi who does circumcisions)

Howard Winkler on March 10, 2013 at 7:32 pm

    Never eat fried Calamari at a Bris

    #1 Vato on March 11, 2013 at 11:50 am

I’m with you, Debbie. I worked at Tubby’s (BEST subs in the U.S. IMO) on Big Beaver(? or one of those roads) when I was 16 (way back in ’78) and I had a blast. We worked our butts off and had fun doing it. The idea of putting out a tip jar would never cross my mind. It’s analogous to tipping the cashier and cook at a sit-down restaurant – that would be absurd – since everyone on the Tubby’s fast-food crew did most of the jobs (cooking, register, prep, clean-up, etc.) interchangeably.

By contrast, a waiter or waitress at a sit-down restaurant decidedly affects your dining experience by anticipating when you are through with each course, refreshing drinks, capping ashtrays, suggesting and describing specials. They should be rewarded for their performance or lack thereof. In a counter-type or fast-food experience, the food is simply pushed across the counter or in a bag, the same for every customer. There should be no extra reward for doing that.

DS_ROCKS! on March 10, 2013 at 7:36 pm

    DSR, Cooks/chefs are professionals and get paid accordingly. Cashiers because they are not expecting tips get paid minimum wage and up. Servers in sit down restaurants, however, get paid well below minimum wage because tips ARE expected and technically are taxable income. It’s not a valid comparison.

    Italkit on March 11, 2013 at 4:22 am

If I pay cash, I only give about a buck and the coin change. I’d feel comfortable giving less.

David on March 10, 2013 at 7:39 pm

I have to disagree this time, at least partially.

Re Starbucks, most Starbucks will let you sit there as long as you want, even with only a minimal purchase. It is worth leaving a tip for that privilege, and to keep this mode of operation in existence. Most customers that I’ve seen at Starbucks do have a few questions about their order, and if the person behind the counter is courteous, as is generally the case, I will leave a tip, especially when they are gracious when I ask for water — they will usually ask if I want ice, and that is worth a tip, especially in this economy.

Re restaurant owners, it depends.

At many small restaurants, especially ethnic restaurants, the owners lead a hand-to-mouth existence. I think it is worth leaving a tip then, even 20%, to help make sure they are around the next time I may want to eat there.

Even at larger restaurants, if I get the order exactly as I asked for it, it is worth a tip.

If people in a takeout place are able to remain good-natured and courteous in a job that has to be difficult, I think it is worth a tip, even leaving aside my other comments. They do work to put together the order, and keep all of them straight. Many times they get little or no rest.

Little Al on March 10, 2013 at 7:46 pm

    Totally agree, LA

    Italkit on March 11, 2013 at 4:23 am

I tip the standard 20% when I’m dining at a restaurant. I never thought about tipping for a takeout order of food. When I order a coffee at Starbucks, I don’t tip. How much effort does it take to pour a cup of Coffee? Here’s a question to consider. Does anyone on the message boards tip a person serving people at a Banquet? Just wondering.

Peter on March 10, 2013 at 7:56 pm

    No, Peter because they are not paying but the hosts of the banquet are and a gratuity is factored into the cost of the meal. I was an apprentice chef in a country club that did a lot of weddings. Believe me, it was slave labor to get 100 plates out at the approximately same time and still warm.

    Italkit on March 11, 2013 at 4:26 am

So strange! I never heard this for Take-Away!

Sound like a sign of the times. You know, sign of the times of the entitlement mentality.

I am a VERY generous tipper and I have never heard of this.

It’s like seeing the tip jar at a Dunkin’ Donuts…”Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That”!

Skunky on March 10, 2013 at 8:05 pm

I stick to a couple of simple rules for tipping…

1) at a restaurant with wait staff: 15%-25% (depending on the quality)

2) neighbourhood/independent fast-food eateries (take-out/eat-in): if I could spare any, $1 or $2 (In Canada, they’re coins.)

3) food delivery: depending on cash-at-hand. 20% or a round-up to the nearest $5 or $10. (I prefer the former: gas prices here @ almost 5.80(CDN)/gallon are murder. Bear in mind that both the CDN and US dollars are at parity, so budget your next cross-border vaca accordingly.)

4) equipment delivery: at your own damn discretion. If the company is small and local, help a bro out, eh?

The Reverend Jacques on March 10, 2013 at 8:11 pm

I never understand the concept of tipping – I never get tipped in my job, so why should i tip others? Surely this is a reflection of the low wages paid by employers, and their expectation to top up their low pages, in addition to the money we pay for our meals ??? If employers did the right thing, instead of enjoying their luxurious lifestyles, then we would not have to tip employees. And when the service level is so surly, and miserable, why should I tip?

Mark Schneider on March 10, 2013 at 8:12 pm

    You’re ridiculous. The food business works on a very small margin and very few restaurant owners are living “luxurious” life styles. Most restaurants fail in the first six months. It is HARD and stressful work all down the line. If you’ve ever been in a kitchen, as I have, you know that Gordon Ramsey isn’t acting too much. That’s how it is.
    What’s interesting is that most wait staff doesn’t want to change the system because they make very good money if they’re good and the place isn’t iHop. Even if they’re honest and report all their tips, (scuse me while I choke) they do far better than if they were paid the $10 or so an hour they might expect IF they’re very good and the place is really thriving.

    Italkit on March 11, 2013 at 4:32 am

And especially if there are questions involved, either my questions to waitstaff, or their questions about my order, e.g. what do I want on my burger. If they get everything right, or if I get something exactly the way I ordered it, it is worth a tip.

Little Al on March 10, 2013 at 8:14 pm

Debbie you cheapskate! Just kidding.

1) I don’t tip on takeout since I’m doing half the work (pick-up, delivery). If I get less than ten cents in change I may throw that in the jar but that’s it.

2) Am I mistaken or wasn’t 15% a good tip when we were kids?

3) I would tip the owner regardless Debbie, this isn’t 1956.

4) Debbie I kid you not I started a fb page (under a fake name) called “Don’t tip on tax” to address what I consider a minor rip-off. Only one person joined but I haven’t checked in the last few years.

5) Since they have voted themselves free health care at my expense I think the tipping rate should go down to 10%. Are you with me Debbie?

A1 on March 10, 2013 at 8:21 pm

I tip 10% for delivery. I tip 20% for in restaurant service. I do not tip when I pick up my food. The food goes from the pot to the container to the cash register.

We should eliminate tipping, and just pay wait staff a decent wage, as they do in Japan. Build the tip into the wage, and increase the cost of the meal. Classier, less problems.

In Japan, people are insulted when you offer a tip.

Jonathan E. Grant on March 10, 2013 at 8:23 pm

    That’s how it’s done in Europe and Israel too, Jon. typically 18%.
    I disagree about the pot to container to register however. Depends on who’s serving you. As I said in a separate comment, if the wait staff has to take a turn at the register, they aren’t taking their normal stations where they get tipped so they are earning less. I doubt the restaurant pays a different scale for that.

    Italkit on March 11, 2013 at 4:35 am

My simple rule is I tip everyone. I tip the people who change my oil. However, when I was in college, I worked in a restaurant and the funny thing is the bartenders got tipped on to go orders, but they literally did nothing. Someone else took the order, the cooks made the food, servers would bag it and bring it to the bar and the bartenders just handed it over.
It is not “cheap” to not tip on to go food, but it has gotten to a place where everyone expects to be tipped, and somewhere along the way, they raised the percentage.
I have seen posts on facebook and rants on websites from servers and bartenders where they say anything less than 30 percent is an insult. When did this happen?

Forsberg on March 10, 2013 at 8:43 pm

It’s really too stupid to discuss. If that were the case, what about the cashier at the food store? What about Home Depot? What if I go to Wendy’s or McDonalds to eat? I assume all these people do get paid. Next time I go to the bank or talk to a insurance agent or real estate agent should I tip them also? I would need a whole other income just to pay for the tips.

jerry doegen on March 10, 2013 at 8:44 pm

Tipping for food takeout is optional.
Tipping is recommended for anyone who would bitch-slap
the principal involved in the soldier/cupcake insanity.

carrie on March 10, 2013 at 8:49 pm

I think tipping has become expected (and not just in the food industry), hence the funny stares when no tip is offered. Then when it became expected, the expected rate went up. I go out less than I used to, but the higher rate still makes it tough. Tipping was to reflect an appreciation for the service, something that has gone down while that percentage went up.

I do minimum 20% when eating out, more if the service (what I’m tipping on) is better than minimum. If I order a pizza, I will tip the delivery guy when he brings it to my home but not if I go to pick it up from take out.

The Starbucks is the one where I wiggle a bit. There is one supremely close to my office. I have been frequenting it consistently for about a year and a half. I usually order one of two drinks. They know my name, greet me enthusiastically, and ask me which drink I would like to have prepared. They notice when I haven’t been in (usually go about twice a week) and ask how I am when they see me again. Those guys get a tip. (My office will be moving in two months, they know this and are already bummed.) All other Starbucks don’t get a tip.

Lorena on March 10, 2013 at 9:06 pm

I think tipping is one of the worst scams ever invented. Saying that, I tip generously at non fast food restaurants, always have.

Now, at a regular Subways or any fast food, I do not. If I went to Starbucks I wouldn’t. They don’t do anything special and deserve no tip. Their job is to give me my food, nothing else.

NOW, I used NOT to tip when I ordered to go at a non fast food restaurant because I felt they didn’t wait on me. But, I changed my mind when someone told me I should tip because they would be earning a tip at in restaurant service if not waiting on my to go order. I felt that was a reasonable thing. Now, I don’t tip as generously as I do for sit down service, but I leave a nice tip, regardless.

Again, tipping is a scam. But, I do it because if it’s just part of the scam and if I go to a restaurant I agree to it.

BTW, I’m sure most have seen it, but watch the opening scene in the restaurant and Steve Buscemi’s rant against tipping in Reservoir Dogs. I feel that is the best explanation of the tipping rip off scam, ever.

Jeff_W on March 10, 2013 at 9:20 pm

    Since the below minimum wage paid servers is based on the expectation of tips, it is stealing to not tip waitstaff.

    Italkit on March 11, 2013 at 4:38 am

the entire premise of tipping is flawed. restaurants should pay their staff. it is like slavery or servitude is closer to begging then working.

I tip in restaurants but don’t like it. . I would prefer the establishment put the price up if they cann’t pay their staff.

tipping for take-out is not standard.

General P. Malaise on March 10, 2013 at 9:38 pm

I generally tip 15% on a normal sit-down meal , maybe 20 if the waiter/waitress really busted ass to make thing happen. I’ve been known to tip under 10% for freddie-f-ups (and my wife will tip them 0). For take-out? Nothing – unless the counter person is again busting ass in a rediculously understaffed situation, or has slow learners in the kitchen, demanding that the counter guy do effectively 2 = or 3- jobs at once.

Not Ovenready on March 10, 2013 at 10:20 pm

I tip about standard – double the tax, and then round up. If the service is sub-par, I round it down. But no, I don’t tip for takeout, but never really thought much about it.

Now that I do, I agree w/ Debbie on this one. In fact, to answer this one, how many people tip in places like BK, Wendys, McDonalds & so on? There, it’s all self service once one receives the food – including the refills. I know that the refills justify the tipping, but as far as drinks go, the price is built into it, particularly if one looks at how much a coke costs there vs how much it costs at a can dispenser.

On the Starbucks deal, though, I see Little Al’s point: unlike other establishments, Starbucks does allow people to sit and chat, in addition to providing things like free Wi-Fi so that one can even work offsite there. I’m not sure to what extent the prices accommodate that, but I do think that it’s justified to ask for donations there, but here, I only contribute w/ spare change. Probably just a habit.

On tipping the owners, I dunno – I don’t make it any different from tipping paid staff. However, there is one case where my tip is just rounding up to the nearest $ – that is if the establishment includes things like service charges (which I have seen at a few places). I do agree that establishments should build the tip into the price and keep it above board. OTOH, tipping separately allows the individual servers to keep what they earn. Incidentally, some places I have seen collect all the tips and divvy them up, rather than let the tip earners keep what they individually got.

Infidel on March 10, 2013 at 10:47 pm

I tip a minimum of 20% for sit down, less if service is defective, more if there is any reason for it, which there often is.

I tip a sushi chef for takeout sushi.

No tips for takeout generally. The waitrons are not having their tables occupied for any length of time, and they are not providing service. They are also not making suggestions about food selections or addressing problems if they come up (part of service).

I give some coinage at Starbucks, if anything complex is being prepared, or if advice is given regarding snacks.

Delivery gets a buck per pizza, max, if there is already a delivery charge, if delivery is fast. Expensive deep dish pizza delivered gets about 10%.

No Debbie, you’re not being cheap.

Finally, at a local bar, for my favorite bartenders, I do 50%. They make me fantastic drinks, often with hand squeezed juices, very nicely filled. I am getting much better service than most and better products, too. It’s my one indulgence.

skzion on March 10, 2013 at 10:50 pm

I’ve given a dollar or two out of stupid guilt. I agree with you, it shouldn’t be expected. Heck I’ve seen tip jars everywhere like that. The oil change shops are doing this now too. I’ve cut back on that crap. I went to a steak and rib joint for take out and got some crappy treatment after I didn’t tip them. Don’t go there anymore, anyway. Pizza delivery is a different ball game. I tip 20% too or more depending if my hand gets burned on the bottom of the box. If I get burned a little, he/she gets a bigger tip since it’s still hot. If it’s luke warm, I get luke warm.

samurai on March 10, 2013 at 10:58 pm

I agree with you Debbie. This is a new phenomenon. I think asking for tips like this, is akin to rude and unprofessional service. It’s begging in my opinion. Of course the waitress you knew said it was rude. She wants more of your and our $$$ for nothing.

Moreover, I normally tip 15% in restaurants. Not 20% like you do. 15% is the standard unless 20% is where you are and I wasn’t aware it went up that much?

Lastly, tipping on all levels is voluntary and customary only. There are no laws in place. I also tip based upon the service I receive. Shitty service; shitty tip. Exemplary service; exemplary tip.

Justice Hunter on March 10, 2013 at 11:22 pm

Debbie, you did right. You do all the work by picking it up. The tips are for the waiters and waitresses in sit down joints.

Jay Bird on March 10, 2013 at 11:33 pm

Difference a Canoe and a Canadian? Every once in awhile the canoe might tip.

#1 Vato on March 10, 2013 at 11:57 pm

No, you’re not a cheapskate. I don’t do it, either, and I tip well for the servers (I remember the scene from “My Blue Heaven” where Steve Martin as a gangster tries to tip the flight attendant who brings him a drink, rationalizing that you never know when a little generosity doesn’t hurt). But no one is serving you; you’re picking up the order and leaving. No one is bringing you extra water, seating you, delivering your food on a plate, etc.

gmartinz on March 11, 2013 at 12:37 am

One thing that hasn’t been addressed is that at most sit-down restaurants, the pay scale is different depending on your position. Servers are paid a pittance but can make good/great tips if they provide good/great service to their eat-in clientele. Cooks and cleaning staff make at least minimum wage. At fast food joints, all staff make at least minimum wage and there are no distinctions in scale to make allowance for tips. Same at Starbucks, et al. Therefore, I only tip according to service when eating at a sit-down restaurant and on rare occasions otherwise as I see fit in appreciation and praise for a job well done.

Denise on March 11, 2013 at 1:24 am

I tip about 10% for most takeout. I tip 20-30% usually, for sit down. I live in a small town. I always get great service, and they let me read. When I come into a restaurant, I get a huge smile.

Be kind to people, and G-d will provide, has always been my motto. In my 1st year of practice, I made take home before taxes, $221 K. Now I make $340 K. Life is good.

On the other hand, I don’t live in Detroit. But I tipped well at my favorite restaurant in ABQ, NM, when I lived there. A great Thai place where the waitresses adored my toddler son Isaac, and cut cucumbers for him when we would arrive at no extra charge, because he loved them. But I started with them by tipping well, you see.

Ladies: you can tell how a man will treat you as a GF long term by noting how he treats the waitstaff.

Occam's Tool on March 11, 2013 at 1:54 am

    Yeah, @ 340,000.00/yr “life is good.” You can afford to tip 50%, although I think you are making up a very big bluff with that story of 340 big ones per yr. I think no one will believe you, LOL!!!!

    Last word on March 11, 2013 at 10:47 am

      Lw, you moron, I was the one who tipped 50%, but only for a few people at one bar.

      Looks like you’re guilty of at least one “mortal sin,” you fraud.

      skzion on March 11, 2013 at 11:10 am

        I believe that tipping started way back when men wanted to get waitresses into bed with them and so they made friends with the girls by giving money to them as tips, and presto they found it worked, so that is how tipping started. Now when the girls want more tips all they have to do is wear mini-skirts and the men will give them money according to how short the skirts are. Especially if the girls let the men know that are not wearing any “undies”, then the tips really go up. Nakedness brings money. It’s as old as the devil. I don’t patronise restaurants. I use only drive throughs. Tipping is such a big rip-off. A lot of voluptuous girls make far more money on tips than I ever did on a full time job.

        Last word on March 11, 2013 at 2:53 pm

      Debbie knows my name. Debbie knows my income, as a public employee, is public knowledge. Add $36 K from my private practice and it actually is over $350 K.

      Live doth suck for those who didn’t study hard. We nerds own you, my man.

      Occam's Tool on March 13, 2013 at 2:38 am

        Good for you on your 340 K’s.

        America is doomed. Jesus is coming soon to take all born again Christians to Heaven. And then comes 7 years of horrible persecution for ALL people who refused to accept the Lord Jesus Christ as personal Savior. Pray and ask/beg Jesus to save you before it is forever too late. Hell will be far worse than the Muslims ever were.

        Last word on March 13, 2013 at 11:12 am

Debbie, I think it depends on who does the takeout counter. If the wait staff has to do it and that means they don’t get to cover tables where you would tip, I say yes because restaurant workers get paid less than minimum with the expectation that tips will cover it. If the take out counter is manned by people who only do that and you know they are receiving regular wages, then I don’t think it’s required but given they are making meager wages, what does it hurt to throw in a dollar or two? You don’t have to do 20% in that case but yaa, they would love to be able to enjoy the take out you do but are barely making ends meet as it is. Tip them if only because it keeps them off welfare and they’re trying to be self supporting.
I was taught not to tip owners but I think people who weren’t taught that have started a trend and it’s probably expected. If you pay $50 for a haircut to the owner, he’s not pocketing $50. He has overhead and expenses. He may not even be paying himself a full salary. Ask him. In a restaurant, tips are often pooled so if the owner gets a tip, he may be passing it on to the pool but not counting himself in the division of spoils.

Italkit on March 11, 2013 at 4:19 am

I agree w/ DS and a number of the posters here in general–I never tip take out, any more than I tip the grocery store. In ancient times I was a short-order cook for awhile who worked his ass off and did not share in the tips the waitresses got for carrying my dinners a few feet to the tables. But today when I eat in a restaurant I tip (I think)fairly. And I usually tip using 2$ bills, which to me are just a little bit better than other denominations. The only currency that depicts the moment of a revolution, that created a nation.
A suggested improvement for the 2$ bill: Have 50% of the bills engraved with Madison instead of Jefferson, just for balance.
If you work in certain professions the IRS will assume you’re earning a certain % more in tips and they’ll steal, er, tax that from you.
As the leper said to the prostitute: “Keep the tip.”

Joe Guiney on March 11, 2013 at 4:29 am

Some points/questions I have regarding tipping:

1) There is a kosher restuarant near me where you have to go up to the counter to order, but then the waitstaff brings everything to your table and functions as normal waistaff do. Should I tip them? I never have nor have I seen anyone else do it.

2) When paying and leaving the tip with a credit card, does the credit card company also take their cut off the tip? If so, does the restaurant deduct this amount from the tip or does the restuarant “eat this” amount and let the waitstaff keep the full tip?

3) Is there an obligation to tip a delievery person when a delivery charge is already added to the bill?

I_AM_ME on March 11, 2013 at 6:42 am

Well, maybe it depends on the country you live in. In Australia, where restaurant staff are paid a reasonable wage, I refuse to tip, and I see the cars that the restaurant owners are making, so they do drive pretty shiny new luxury cars! 🙂
The concept of tipping is a full scale scam. Staff should be paid a reasonable wage, and the cost of food should take into account the full wages and costs of running the restaurant.
Seeing many restaurants automatically add on a 25% + service charge is ridiculous – If they are automatically adding it on, then it should be charged within the meal cost, without expecting customers to pay more for something that they have already paid for.

Mark Schneider on March 11, 2013 at 6:43 am

    MS, I bet your family got to Oz via Scotland. Something tells me that.

    It’s apropos you like in Australia. Ever see the arms on a alligator/crocodile?

    OT you are a right and proper gent! You’re advice is very good and should be taken by all smart peeps.

    Something tells me old MS would fail your test. Move on ladies! “Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That”!

    Skunky on March 11, 2013 at 12:40 pm

      Skunky, you are the exact opposite of your name. What a lovely person you are.

      Again, folks, be nice to people. When I lived in LA, I had a favorite restaurant I went to. They loved me, and I always tipped 40%.

      It was a great 1st date restaurant. Quiet, great food, and it allowed me to see how a woman responded to me being treated well. Extremely useful, that analysis.

      Occam's Tool on March 13, 2013 at 2:42 am

This subject opens up a can of worms… People (most) have even forgotten where the word “TIP” comes from… According to some, TIP stands for “To Insure Promptness”…

As for my own tipping habits, in Europe it’s less common to tip so I tip about 10%… In Israel I tip between 10%-15%… Same as in the US… BUT, if the place itself charges a service charge I’ll just round up to the next 5 or 10 and that’s it… AND, I’ll only tip if the service was acceptable… If the service was above and beyond I’ll increase the tip…

However, I do not tip (other then loose change) at fast food and take out places… Same for Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks and similar places…

On the practice in general, owners have learned over the years that they can get away with paying a lousy wage as people will add the tip anyway… Also, I believe there’s been an inflation in the percentage that’s expected… When I was young and waited on tables in my school vacation the norm was 5%-10%… Now I’m hearing that less then 18%-20% is simply “not-done”…

Hans on March 11, 2013 at 8:12 am

Since when is a 20% tip normal? Only a fool would pay that much. The standard is 15%-18% and only if the service was excellent. I guess some of you tip 20% or more to impress others or to feel like you are a big shot, or maybe it makes you feel high-class when you’re not. The waiter will kiss your ass for a minute for a large tip but could really care less about you. Don’t buy into their sob stories about being underpaid, working their asses off, etc. Most if not all waiters do not report their tips on income taxes so they cheat the system which results in us paying more in taxes. Do not make 20% another “new normal”. God knows we have enough “new normal” life styles that the Obama-lovers have brought us which are destroying our society.

Wake Up on March 11, 2013 at 8:16 am

    “Tipped min wage” is only $2 and change. The pig who says
    only a fool pays 20% is a disgrace. Servers get zero benefits
    and no holidays. In Europe where they get full pay and benefits, the food is much more expensive.

    nicole lane on March 11, 2013 at 12:00 pm

      Nicole, the food is not necessarily much more expensive in Europe. The wine and beer are most often far cheaper, as well.

      skzion on March 11, 2013 at 7:10 pm

Interesting post Debbie. You are not a cheapskate. You are not supposed to tip the owner of a restaurant, but of course your server should be and how much depends on the service. I tip only when I receive a delivery of food at home, but take out at a restaurant, absolutely not!

Naomi R. on March 11, 2013 at 9:16 am

I read in an etiquette manual the following tipping guidelines – for buffet meals, one tips 10%; for full-service dining, 15-18%; and for take-out, it depends on the care and little “extras” that the establishment provides. If just the bare bones order is plopped into a bag, then just sign the original bill and you are done. If the restaurant includes extra bread, condiments, places all items in nicely sealed packaging and then seals neatly or folds and staples the top of the bag, then I tip about 10%.

Dina K on March 11, 2013 at 9:27 am

Tipping has become big business in this country. In some instances such as you describe here, we are made to feel embarrassed if we dont tip. I feel it is one thing if you go into a restaurant and sit down for a meal to give a tip. I also feel that if you go into any type of restaurant, be it top of the line expensive or a mcdonalds and walk up to a counter to put in an order, wait for it, then pay and leave with that order you are not supposed to have to tip. All that person did was either punch it into a computer and stand there keeping you company for a while or perhaps walk into the kitchen with the order. Sorry, but that tip jar should be for a charity at that point.

FAL on March 11, 2013 at 9:37 am

Yes, by all means…

Let’s further support the real cheapskates—The hospitality industry, that gets by on slave labor, by tipping for everything.

Here’s a thought: Why can’t they pay their help a decent wage?

Red Ryder on March 11, 2013 at 9:48 am

My husband and I own a small restaurant where I do the cooking and he does the serving and cleaning. He gives exceptional service and most people tip him even though they know he’s the owner. He earns every penny. The restaurant business is very difficult and we’re happy when we make ends meet. Good service should be compensated for even if the owner is doing it.
We tip very generously when we go out to eat and also at takeout. In this country that is the custom and so we follow it. When Europeans come to our restaurant, they never tip. We also tip service people and delivery people. We appreciate the service and they appreciate the extra bucks. This is the American way and we are happy to be living here.

Edie on March 11, 2013 at 9:51 am

    As the owner, it is inappropriate to accept tips. That is a standard etiquette rule. You knew that running a business would be difficult and you are expected to provide exceptional service and not expect extra for doing so. Since the wait staff don’t have to get minimum wage, it is they that should be accepting tips, not your husband.

    Dina K on March 11, 2013 at 10:47 am

      Dina, it sounds as if Edie and her husband don’t employ anyone else. Yes, lets be etiquette legalists and oppress the hard workers in society then we can rant when some people realize they can do better taking a handout than working. Go work as a server and then come back and stand on your etiquette soap box. Etiquette is based on kindness and concern for others, not “rules” that oppress hard and deserving workers.

      Italkit on March 11, 2013 at 1:18 pm

      Dina, we don’t have any staff, we do all the work ourselves. Joe not only gives great service, he also entertains the customers, makes them laugh and helps with their questions (it’s a small tourist town). They love him and love to tip him. We are rated #1 in town on TripAdvisor out of 19 restaurants. The reason for that is because the food is good, the service is great and the prices are low. We don’t make a killing, we make a living, being on our feet for 12 hours a day. Thank God that most of our customers don’t think like you and tip us even if we are the owners. They feel we deserve it!

      Edie on March 11, 2013 at 7:31 pm

    Edie, Europeans don’t tip because service is ALWAYS added to the check. It’s usually itemized but they probably don’t notice. I would start a policy of adding 18% as policy but state it clearly and that it’s in lieu of tipping. YOu’re the owner. you can do anything you want, including slipping regulars a small discount if you think this will offend them. What’s your profit margin? I’ll bet if you clear 30% you’re doing well.

    Italkit on March 11, 2013 at 1:14 pm

I do exactly as you do, Debbie. I am a “20 percent tipper.” If it is a small check, I always leave an extra few dollars. Waiters and Waitresses (I refuse to use the term “Waitperson”) work hard and deserve a good tip – unless they are complete drones. Pickup food at a restaurant? Tipping is optional, and I rarely leave a tip in this situation.

Victoryman on March 11, 2013 at 10:21 am

I have tipped or take-out 15% and when arrived at work 30 miles away always missing is salad, or bread or ? When I comp;ain I am told I should check the order before I leave! Open all the wrappings to check? I think not. One time while waiting for my order at another place the air-head at the take-out desk was busy entertaining her friends in her booth and on the phone. I appeoached her to ask if the bag above on the shelf was my order and she rudely gave it to me. I omitted the tip on the credit card but when I received my bill she had added $5.00 on the tip-line. I called to have it charged back and was told they never had any complaint about her before. Last time for me there! IMO the help IN the kitchen does the majority of work on take-out orders, the others walk it to the cash register.

Rochelle on March 11, 2013 at 10:25 am

Depends on what mood I’m in. Funny, isn’t it, wait staff are supposedly a victim class and are entitled to tips, regardless of the quality and or lack of service. I’ve never gotten a tip in my occupation, no matter what I’ve done or how many extra days or weeks I worked on a project with no extra pay. But, then, my typical employers, bankers, are also supposedly a victim class, according to them, and shouldn’t have to pay people who work for them. Maybe once I quit doing work for lenders, I can work for Muslims. Somebody, please, call me a waaaambulance! Oh, I wish I wuz in de lan of cotton …

Pray Hard on March 11, 2013 at 10:40 am

I tip if the food is delivered because the drivers are usually paid minimum wage. When I pick up food I may leave the change in a jar on the counter.

It comes right down to a lot of intagibles like friendliness, speed of service, and personal touches and asking you if you need extra sauce.

rjkatz on March 11, 2013 at 10:44 am

I was tought that tipping was for rceiving great service, I would like to know when tipping becamw manitory.

P.S. Youare not cheap, I don’t tip for carry out either.

William Ward on March 11, 2013 at 10:56 am

I don’t know, Debbie, this tipping on take-out is a bit of a slippery slope.

Sometimes I will leave a dollar or two on a takeout order if it is rather large and has a lot of modifications. Depends on what I’m getting exactly for takeout and whether or not the order is correct and presented in a prompt, courteous fashion. I wouldn’t consider myself cheap nor anyone else if a tip wasn’t given.

As for full service, having worked as a waiter myself, I believe it is customary to tip waitstaff AT LEAST 10% of the bill for fair service, 15% for good service, and 20% for excellent service. A bit more if you or your family (especially small children) leave a huge mess.

If you can’t or won’t tip at least 10%, then either get takeout or pop a Lean Cuisine in the microwave.

BTW, if you stiff a waiter, he or she likely had to pay to wait on you. Servers at full service restaurants have to tip out anywhere from 3 to 6 percent to cover bussers and bartenders.

Tip a delivery driver? Unless it’s the mailman or UPS guy, most definitely, especially if the weather is bad.

As for owners of restaurants and hair salons, I don’t think they should be condemned if they accept tips when serving. People who refuse to tip an owner or manager who served them are likely basing their decision on the presumption that business owners are rolling in the dough and eat filet mignon every night, bathe in Perrier, etc.. If they only knew…

Alan on March 11, 2013 at 11:53 am

I worked as a server and then a bartender for several years in a nice restaurant. Your waitress friend sounds like some of the waitstaff I’ve known over the years. They are the kind who are creepy about tips. Always talking about who tipped, who didn’t, how much….etc. Of course their going to tell you to tip on a take out order. I was fine taking a tip for handing someone a bag, but it didn’t phase me if I didn’t get a tip. Why would I get tipped? If someone’s going to get tipped it should be the guys/girls who cooked the food. Anyway, my point is, if you make your living waiting tables stop whining about tips to everybody. You chose the job and more often than not, very nice people are giving you some pretty healthy tips that folks in normal low paying jobs would kill for.

Holly on March 11, 2013 at 12:04 pm


Federale on March 11, 2013 at 12:08 pm

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