Restaurant Tipping

Old May 7th, 2007, 04:38 PM
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Restaurant Tipping

Ran out for a quick meal tonight with friends and stopped at a chain restaurant. We waited at the door for about 10 minutes while one member of the staff after another passed us without making eye contact. The restaurant was about 50% full. Finally a host appeared and seated us. The service was OK and our meals appeared quickly ( our waitress must have referred to us as "you guys" about 10 times which is a particular irritation to my English teacher wife). Ordinarily this isn't a problem but the meal game before our salads. We asked them to hold the meals so we could eat our salads first and then waited about 15 minutes for our salads. Naturally when the meals returned to the table there were cold. It was Monday for sure.

We waited for the manager to visit our table (as he did around us while we were waiting) but he didn't appear. When our checks arrived we noticed that this chain's register generates a little calculation at the bottom of the receipt that calculates a 15%, 18% and 20% tip including the sales tax in the calculation. Our friends say they always calculate the tip EXCLUDING the sales tax and we always just calculate our tip with the grand total. My question: is there a right way to this? We look at each other and didn't know for sure. Fodorites?
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Old May 7th, 2007, 04:40 PM
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I have also heard that you do not include the tax when figuring out the tip.
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Old May 7th, 2007, 04:50 PM
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Assuming you are talking about tipping in general (not this specific occasion) I'm sure there will be ALOT of discussion here but there is a simple answer--there is no "right way"
There is a bigger difference in choosing 15 vs 18 vs 20% than whether or not you include the tax as part of the amount you based the tip on. That will only affect the total amount by a percent or 2)

Now, did you mean this to be a discussion of how much to tip in this situation where the service is bad? that's a whole other can of worms.
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Old May 7th, 2007, 05:02 PM
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I don't know where you live... but your statement does not hold in my home city where it is a whopping 9.2%!!
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Old May 7th, 2007, 05:12 PM
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Suze, the math holds even when the tax is that high!
If your tax is 9%, you don't actually add 9% to the tip, you just end up tipping on a higher base amount.
So if the tax is 9% and you tip a total of 20%, the added amount is just 20% of an extra 9% (adding a total of 1.8% to the bill)
So it still makes MORE of a difference if you are a 15/18/20% tipper than what amount (pre or post tax) you base it on .
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Old May 7th, 2007, 05:40 PM
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You do not tip on the tax - why give the server a % of money that is going to the goverment? You tip only onthe actual cost of the food/drink.

Separately, in this instance I would have said something to the manager - and sent back the now cold main courses for fresh ones.

In this case I would have left a smaller tip - and told the server why. (And I'm always a good tipper - but believe at some point the tip needs to reflect the lack of service.)

(Although I don;t know what the chain was. And in some you're lucky if they don;t spill the food on you. I've had that happen at Houlihan's - with not even an apology. The manager was astonished when I told him I was deducting the cost of my dry cleaning from the bill - and paid in cash to be able to do so.)
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Old May 7th, 2007, 06:54 PM
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Let me try to add some clarity on whether you tip on the bill before or after taxes.

Federal law requires that employers in a restaurant withold a certain percentage of a server's sales, the same way employers withold a certain percentage of the paycheck of someone working straight salary. This sales total, from which the amount of tax is witheld, is the amount BEFORE taxes. In other words, Federal law requires an employer withold the same amount of money whether the server is working in Delaware (no sales tax) or New York City (about 10%). On that basis, I tip on the amount of the sales before taxes.
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Old May 7th, 2007, 06:57 PM
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I agree that you tip on the amount before taxes, assuming you tip a specific percentage generally.
But frankly I'd have left about 10% of the bill and explained on my way out why. Don't give me the excuse that it was the kitchen's fault -- not the server's. A server has to be an idiot to bring the meals before the salads without realizing it.
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Old May 7th, 2007, 07:06 PM
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Fifteen percent on the before tax amount is just fine unless the service was horrendous (which calls for less) or superb (which calls for more).

Also, round up. A 15% tip on $104 is $15.60--round up to $16.

When service is lame, stupid, inattentive, rude, inept, or down right lousy PLEASE tip less or everybody will get the same rotten service on the theory that a tip isn't something to be earned.
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Old May 7th, 2007, 07:08 PM
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Ok, so let me get this right... Let's say you have a 100.00 tab and tax is 8.00. So the tip is 20.00 on the pretax amount and 21.60 if you calculate it using the tax.
Is 1.60 really that big of a deal?
The bad service is a bigger deal IMO.
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Old May 7th, 2007, 07:09 PM
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Sales tax? Who cares? I've never dined with anyone who excludes it.

Tip 15% of the total bill if the service was mediocre, and 20-30% if better than that.
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Old May 7th, 2007, 07:19 PM
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The other responses are pretty much on track with my own approach.

I NEVER tip based on the food and drink plus the sales tax. That's ridiculous, why should some outside variable be part of the calculation?

I find it insulting that some chains "help" you by indicating the tip amount including the sales tax. To me, it is just a thinly-veiled attempt for them to justify a lower wage structure for the servers.

I tend to tip pretty generously. If the service is good, around 20%. If it is great---more---especially if the server's personality genuinely shines.

On the other hand, even if the service is mediocre, I generally still leave 10%, writing it off to a bad night or problems sometimes beyond the server's control, e.g. kitchen issues. I suppose if service was overtly bad, and maybe deliberate, I might leave nothing, but wouldn't that without speaking to the management. I haven't encountered that before.
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Old May 7th, 2007, 07:32 PM
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I'm with nyer and TX--why bother worrying about the tax? That's one of those nitnoid "rules" designed for the inumerate, in my very humble opinion. Besides, some bills have different tax amounts for drinks, bottles and food, and no way am I fooling around with that kind of math after dinner, to save a measly $1.60 on $100.
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Old May 7th, 2007, 07:38 PM
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If the bill is $20.- pre-tax, I leave usually $3.50 or $4.- if service is good to very good. Lower than that standard of service, I use my discretion and involve the manager if needed.
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Old May 7th, 2007, 07:39 PM
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It's catalog math. Even this Geometry drop out can figure out tip amounts, LOL.
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Old May 7th, 2007, 07:50 PM
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My sister was a waitress and is now a manager of a restaurant ( in CA) and said most people tip on the tax. This is how I tip unless service is bad.
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Old May 7th, 2007, 08:23 PM
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I guess I'm not clear how anyone can determine if someone else was tipping on the tax or not.
If the bill was $ 85 before tax and $92 after tax, but the customer left $16, how do you know they were tipping 17% of the taxed amount or 19% of the untaxed amount? And what difference does it make anyway? The waiter is still getting the same $16 either way.
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Old May 7th, 2007, 08:25 PM
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Interesting how some people would be glad to save $1.60 on a box of laundry soap can't be bothered when it is a tip on the tax for a $100 meal.

Knock, knock. Anybody home? $1.60 is $1.60 in both instances.

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Old May 8th, 2007, 07:15 AM
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My average bill at restaurants is closer to 30.00 or 40.00, so the 'tip' on tax would be closer to 50 cents.
So say the total bill is 44.85, I just tip 10.00.
I have never calculated a tip to the penny... even when I am penalizing for poor service. For the same bill with poor service, I would tip 5.00.
I just see this as a non-issue.
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Old May 8th, 2007, 07:40 AM
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Count me as another one on the side of TxTravelPro: Who's taking the time to calculate whether the tip is $1 more than it should be (if you exclude the tax).
I base my tip on the total bill. A night out to dinner shouldn't turn into an algebra class.
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