[wikipedia]Tipping is an important part of restaurant etiquette and is certainly a sensitive topic. Tipping behavior can be confusing to recent immigrants and can be confusing to students who are just beginning to patronize upscale restaurants on their own or are going to bars for the first time. This page presents guidelines you can follow or ignore, but by reading it you will at least get the local business and consumer perspectives. Many students in Davis rely on tips for their livelihood, so you can think of tipping as supporting higher education. Note that this page is about gratuities. You may be looking for Cow Tipping, as the rates at which bovines get tipped vary from region to region. Unlike humans, bovines prefer to get tipped 0%.

  1. General principles
  2. Flat 15% vs. Service Quality
  3. Mandatory Service Charges For Large Groups
  4. Tipping for Drinks
  5. Tipping on Discounted Items
  6. Tipping for Delivered Food
  7. Tipping a Barista
  8. Tipping an Owner
  9. Tipping During a Non-Traditional Meal Service
  10. Tipping on Tax

General principles

The rule-of-thumb is that one should give a minimum tip of 15%, which is approximately double the tax. Others feel it should be less for poor service and more for excellent service. In some countries, tipping is never done. Many establishments have all the workers pool their tips, and then divvy them out again. Some industries have grown to expect tips (restaurants, hotel staff, etc.), yet other industries rarely get tips. Some think this is unfair.

The state of California is generally respectful of employees rights, and provides a number of tipping related [WWW]legal guidelines. Independent of tips, all workers must receive minimum wage. Many (especially those who work in service industries) like this system because some can make a substantial income from tips.

Flat 15% vs. Service Quality

Variable argument: This may encourage the server to provide better service. Fixed argument: Perhaps the server is working as hard as they can, but just aren't any good. Their living costs are fixed (they can't pay less to their landlord for crappy service, can they?), so they should get the same regardless.

2005-10-28 10:22:45   Here's my practice:

I consider the Tip to be a feedback mechanism. If I routinely tip the same amount, the server will never get any feedback. If I tip the same amount and give verbal feedback, the server will not listen because they know they get tipped the same amount anyway. Consequently, money speaks. —DomenicSantangelo

2007-01-28 18:12:21   I tip based on quality of service. I judge the quality to my personal standards and leave what I think is an accurate. Hell I tip on Shirley Temples, which is a soda with grenadine, it still comes from a bartender so I tip. I can't wait to go to a non tipping country and tip. —StevenDaubert

I heard that the IRS taxes servers based on the assumption they're tipped 10%. So if you don't leave at least 10%, the server could actually lose money by waiting on you. In my opinion, you should always tip at least 15%. —CharlesMcLaughlin

I have a handy card that shows 15% and 20% for all whole numbers between $1 and $100. I always tip 15%, but I'll sometimes give 20% on what looks like a really busy day, especially if the waiter handles the extra work relatively well. —TerryCliff

Mandatory Service Charges For Large Groups

I think this is a reasonable policy. First, 15% gratuity is the rockbottom minimum tip you should give provided the waitstaff doesn't majorly screw up. Second, most waitstaff get paid peanuts by the restaurant, and make their money primarily from tips. The 15% surcharge guarantees that the waitstaff get just compensation for a particularly heavy workload. If you disagree with these policies, you have these options (1) eat at McDonalds, (2) go to a foreign country where the waitstaff get decent salaries and never receive tips, (3) complain to restaurant owners and tell them to raise the salaries of the waitstaff— by simply holding back a tip, you're focusing your annoyance at the wrong people. That is, you exploit workers who are already exploited by their management. As for the 15% gratuity charge, if you feel that your party of 8 or more has not received adequate service, you're well within your right to complain to the management. Any restaurant in their right mind will waive the charge. Remember, you're the consumer and a restaurant would rather calm an upset customer than have their reputation smeared. CraigBrozinsky

If such policies were not in place the server would make less money than if the party weren't there. A big top takes more time to manage as a server, and the other tables in his/her section can suffer because of it, probably costing the server additional tips. Large groups are usually not paid for by a single individual, so in many groups there will usually be the one person in the group who will contribute less than their fair share. As a result a server would get a smaller tip because of the cheapskate in the group. A server is very likely to get more money off of 2 four tops than a single eight top. —RogerClark

OK, my observation is on the poor comparison. A mechanic is paid for the parts AND the labor as 2 separate charges. At a restaurant food and service are combined into a single charge and are not as easy to separate. The other issue is that mechanics charge around $70-75/hr for labor. While that labor rate covers overhead as well as wages, I am sure a mechanic doesn't work for minimum wage. - RogerClark

Fixed gratuities for parties of 8 or more are used because quite often a waiter will be servicing only one table if it is 8 or more. no tip or a small tip could mean thats all they get for the night. tips are often taken into account when calculating how much a waiter makes in salary. to the comment that they are already making a wad of money for having you eat there, the gratuity never goes to the restaurant but actually goes to the waiter. this practice usually is only reserved for upscale places. usually i tip well and if there is decent service 15% is less than what i give. my revenge is that if they put the charge I don't add the extra 3% i would normally give. -MattHh

[WWW]Note (6) that these are considered the employer's property and not the employee's property. The employer may give the workers 10%, 5%, or nothing at all if they choose.

Tipping for Drinks

I typically leave an extra buck per drink. depending upon the place and the service. if it is a really nice place, I typically leave less. Though when loaded I have left lots more. —rocksanddirt

I've been working in bars for a long time and I would say in general bartenders are happy with a dollar a drink. For beer, wine, and your typical vodka/tonic style drinks this seems to be the norm. Those drinks are simple and quick to prepare. If the bill is $9 and you pay with a $10 bill leaving the buck as change is pretty typical. On drinks that require more time (blended drinks, mojitos, flavored martinis) tipping more is a good idea and always appreciated. I think it also kind of depends on the situation. If your sitting at the bar and getting served promptly, hanging out, eating, and/or having fun you should tip accordingly. If your at a bar later at night, its usually busier and your just coming up, ordering drinks and then moving on. Tips are going to be less in this situation. There are a lot of variances to consider, how quick the service is, how good the drink is, how many different types of drinks were ordered, and how often you frequent the establishment.

I understand that tipping is completely optional. I get the whole "we should be happy about getting any tip in the first place," logic. There are always going to be people that don't tip, its part of the industry. My suggestions above should generally get you standard service in most places. I always tip more than that,(usually a couple bucks a beer, and $3-$5 on the more intricate stuff) but I'm biased so I won't attempt to argue that this should be the standard. Although I, of course, think it should be. Whats unique about bars as opposed to other service industry occupations is that the tip doesn't usually end the experience. Most times you will be coming back up to bar for additional beverages. Consequently, your tipping is noticed whether it be bad or good. If good, the service gets quicker, the drinks get stronger, and sometimes free drinks "appear." If bad or nonexistent, it starts to take longer each time and you get looked over. As a matter of pride I never short-pour a drink (less booze) because of tipping, but it does happen. If you leave a waiter a bad tip, chances are you won't see them again for a while, but when you leave a bartender a bad one they see you again much sooner. You would be surprised how much quicker your getting served when your leaving 2 or more dollars a drink. My point is that tipping in a bar can be very beneficial to the customer. If your not a good tipper or don't believe in it thats fine, just don't be surprised about the level of service you receive. A convincing argument could be made that service should be standard whether you tip or not. But that will never be the case, its too uneconomical. Serve more people that tip, make more money. I'm not saying that the its justifiable for the level of service to drop drastically (it does happen) but there will always be a decline in service at a bar if your a bad tipper. Personal feelings on your rights to tip or not tip don't matter, your current economical situation doesn't matter, if you tip its rewarded if you don't things can take a turn for the worse. jarrettnoble

Thanks! Also, how much should you tip a server at a restaurant if you bought an expensive wine? For example, if you like to tip 20% for food, get $100 worth of food and two $50 bottles of wine ($200 bill). —CraigBrozinsky

Tipping on Discounted Items

Happy hours are happy for the customers, but sad for servers. During happy hour, customers tend to order twice as much food, work the servers twice as hard, and innocently tip based on the discounted food. That means the server is getting one-fourth the tip they would for doing the same work at a sad-hour. Make sure to tip based on the normal price of the food, and do the same when using coupons.

Tipping for Delivered Food

*I have a friend who is a delivery driver, and he says that anything over $5 is exceptional.

Tipping a Barista

Question: If you plan on tipping a barista with change, like $5 for a $4.50 mocha, should you wait till she gives you the change and put it in the cup, or tell her to keep the change? —ApolloStumpy

Tipping an Owner

Tipping During a Non-Traditional Meal Service

Tipping on Tax

It is standard practice to not tip on tax. However, sometimes its just easiest to calculate the percentage of the total bill. Techniques like doubling the tax inherently are not tipping on the tax.


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This page does have relevance to the community. Many Davis residents work in service industry jobs where tipping is involved. Furthermore, I would venture a guess that about 99% of the Davis community are involved in interactions where tipping would be appropriate. Relevance measures a document's applicability to a given subject or query. - If relevance is defined in this way, then
- Any community members inquiry on tipping in relation to other objects within the community creates applicability
- which therefore creates relevance.
The wikizens are merely trying to create a forum for the eternal question on when a tip (if any) is appropriate and at what percentage that tip should be. As long as people tip in Davis and there are people to receive these tips there will be relevance to tipping in the community. jarrettnoble

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