12/11/2012 04:18:00 PM

Tipping Survey Results: How Much Do You Give, Who Makes the Most?

The money you spend on gifts isn't the only dent in your wallet during the holidays. It's also tipping season, and you'll likely lay out a hefty chunk of change for the servers at all of those celebratory meals, not to mention the cash that you'll stuff into envelopes for your super, nanny, hairdresser or other helpful professional. The etiquette around this can be tricky to navigate, so we surveyed 1,719 people to see what's normal, what's stingy and what's extreme. Click through the slide show to see the results of our annual Tipping Survey, and let us know your thoughts in the comments.

63 comments :

  1. Many years ago we stopped at a Howard Johnson for breakfast. It took 20 minutes to get a waitress to take our order and 32 minutes to get simple thnigs like oatmeal,coffee, toast, scrambled egg. I left three pennies as a tip, as a sign I was extremely annoyed. To leave nothing might be taken that i forgot. I didn't forget, I made a loud statement!

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    1. You make a loud statement as an ass....that's for sure. Waitresses make about $2.10/hr - who knows what could have been going on behind the scenes? Maybe a cook was out sick, or another waitress & maybe your poor waitress had to carry twice the amount of tables. What a jerk you must be! Seriously! If you're in that much of a hurry, you should have grabbed an cereal bar from your pantry. So wrong to punish the waitress. You should have talked to management; perhaps they would have taken something off of your bill but, your waitress should not have been held responsible for that. I hope you stay home & eat.

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    2. I absolutely agree!! You proved nothing except that you are mean. I am not a waitress but I eat out very often. I see how hard they work!! Dont be such a mean bully! Stay home.

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    3. That's bullshit! Do you know Wtf a T.I.P. is?

      Its time these bloody restaurants put the god damn price on the menu and pay the staff - I didn't choose the waitresses job for her and if there were other issues with prompt service, perhaps she/he could come and give you a heads up! You know, above and beyond the call of duty - that's when I can understand tipping... Not because of this nasty abstract 'tradition' #tipzero! (Btw - anonymous because I can't be bothered to log on) catch me on twitter @rocmon if you feel the need to flame!

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    4. To B Roth:

      YOU ARE NOT AN ASS, nor any of the other names you may have been called. I have spent over 50 years in the restaurant business (in management).

      Clearly the waitress should have greeted you immediately, and seen to it that you had your beverages immmediately. She should also have keep you informed that there may have been a problem in the kitchen. She should have also let the manager know there was a problem in the kitchen. There are too many managers who walk around in their ties and jackets doing nothing when they should be in the kitchen helping the cooks to get caught up.

      A three cent tip (I actually only leave two cents)will get the waitress angry and one might hope that, that anger is directed toward the kitchen staff or the management. In the long run leaving a tip like that can have a very positive effect on future service.

      Robert Hayes Halfpenny

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  2. One thought - the nanny is likely to have only one customer, with a great deal of contact time (at least with the children), while most of the others have a few or even many customers, each with limited contact time. It would be interesting to know, for each type of recipient, how many of those "average" tips they receive.

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  3. i once left a penny tip to a gentleman who was flamboyant (not that it's bad, but he was flaunting it) and didn't take orders down on paper. the first time, he got my order completely wrong. the next time he put my plate in front of me, then promptly left. so i took the plate into the pick up area and set it in front of him and told him that he should think about writing orders down so this doesn't happen. he wouldn't come out to our table anymore, the manager did. the manager told me they like the staff to remember orders and not write them down. i never went back to the establishment any more...oh, i was the one who paid for the entire dinner party of 5.

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    1. At many fine dining establishments, servers are not allowed to use pen and paper unless parties of 6 or more.

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  4. I always tip 20% + on pretax. I see no reason to tip someone for what I pay the governor.

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    1. I absolutely agree on tipping pre-tax and wish most people were aware of what they are basing their tip on. But this is not the worst part. When restaurants add automatic gratuities (for example for parties over 6) they inevitably use post-tax amount. Unfair.

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    2. Where wine and Sommeliers are concerned most times the dining establishment is already taking a REALLY hefty mark-up on the wine ... sorry, but in my opinion this should cover their Sommelier ... I do not believe in tipping 20% on alcohol ... if I choose a $50 bottle or a $200 + bottle, I'm not going to tip any differently ... everything done to open and serve a moderately priced wine as opposed to an expensive bottle is identical. Furthermore,if I order wine and the stemware is not appropriate to the wine, I will consider deducting for this.

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    3. Regardless of the cost of your bottle of wine, the server is taxed on his/her income (TIPS) via sales. Hourly wages can range from $2.13 to $7.00, thus tips ARE income. You decide not to tip on a $100 bottle of wine--your server will be taxed on $15.00 of that sale.

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    4. Dear Anonymous: You are a good tipper. Our daughter worked as a waitress in a well-known restaurant. She was usually tipped well. She always said "If you can't tip your server, stay home." My husband is a very generous tipper and so am I.

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    5. Why aren't tips just part of the price listed/advertised... Why is it still even called a tip when it has absolutely nothing to do with ensuring promptness? Bunch of sheep... No wonder so many people use iPhones! Bahhhh, bahhhh - stupid americans!

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  5. I would leave a restaurant(or a store)if there were available staff who were either rude or nonchalant about serving me.

    I have had bad service in restaurants that was not the server's fault; they were overwhelmed by having to big a section or brow-beaten by a-hole managers. Having once assumed that position (the former), I have much sympathy for servers who try hard but are not really cut out for that kind of work (I wasn't). I would give encouragement ("you tried your best") as well as a good (20%)tip.

    As for tipping household staff, we annually tip our elderly Mom's companions several hundred dollars at Christmas. We trust them implicitly and they are worth it.

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  6. In this day and age, someone admitting he stiffed a waiter in part because he seemed gay is absolutely nauseating. When you stop "flaunting" your machismo maybe he'll stop "flaunting" his "flamboyance." If there's any justice he spat in your food- maybe you got a little gay in you.

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    1. Really? You think there's EVER justification for that? You're not doing your position any favors with statements like that.

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    2. These comments are the reason, well, one of them, that I got out of the restaurant industry. Seriously guys: it's just food. If you're so hung up on what you're paying and to whom (I.e., the governor, the sommelier, etc.), do us all a favor and stay home. Especially if you're not only a cheapskate, but a bigot to boot!

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    3. You need to reread the comment. He was "flamboyant" about not needing to take down his orders and then got it wrong. I think you made a big leap as to intent.

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  7. I work in fine dining. Most restaurants "Pool" their tips which means that what you give to the waiter is shared with the bar, busboys, runners, kitchen, hostess and sometimes the dishwasher. If you stiff a waiter it hurts people who had nothing to do with your service or even your food. I know people have issues with bottles of wine but there is a lot that goes in to that too. Where I work we have a Sommelier who works really hard to create a great wine program for us but he is not always there. The servers have to pour the wine and act as the Sommelier would and someone has to wash the glasses, in our case by hand, so customers where I work tip on the full price of the bottle.

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    1. If you don't stiff the waiter, the bad service will continue. If enough people stiff a bad waiter, the bar staff, busboys, runners, hostess, etc. will bring pressure on that bad waiter either directly or through managment. Either the waiter will improve and people will stop stiffing the waiter, or the waiter will be forced out, or the staff will continue to get less tip money and managment will continue to lose customers. You should never have to give a full tip for bad service.

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    2. Why do people turn childish when it comes to tipping? If you have that big of a problem with service, you need to bring it to the attention of the manager, and let him or her deal with the situation. It's a business transaction, ultimately, and you're punishing innocent people in a very personal way.

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  8. Can we please do away with tips already? It's demeaning to the recipient and uncomfortable for the giver. Moreover, tipping has lost any connection to service since everyone gives about the same amount (as we all know, and this article shows), and anyway for each of the few who that tip commensurate with service there's some bozo who comes along and tips 50% to show off what a big swinger he is.

    Tipping is a ridiculous throwback to the old days of class hierarchy. Do servers really want this? Here's an idea: you can have a 20% tip (on the post-tax, even) but then don't get upset when I call you "boy" and snap my fingers in the air when I want you to refill my drink. Or would you rather just get paid more in salary and be treated like a modern, professional employee?

    Its time to raise the prices, raise server's salaries, and do away with the insulting ritual of tipping. Its 2012 for goodness' sake!

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    1. I think tipping is more important than ever. With the severe lack of customer service these days those that actually serve the public well should be compensated for it.
      People that are not cut out for service should not be getting paid the same amount as a person that is Top In Personal Service (TIPS) that's what it stands for. When a service is being provided and the server does a good job and services the patron in a timely and efficient manner, they should be compensated justly.
      On the other hand if the server is providing poor service, their pay should reflect their performance, or lack thereof.
      The entitlement mentality is the antiquated ideal that needs a modern day overhaul. People are not entitled to a comfortable base salary just because they are in the service industry. Tips attempt to ensure prompt and excellent service. If they fail to serve appropriately, they don't get their TIPS and are paid the low base rate. If they continue to service poorly, they loose their job. If they shape up and serve properly, they get more money. I wish more jobs were that way to be honest, would make people work harder and stop expecting standard pay for substandard work.

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    2. Yes! Tipping is rediculous, raise the salaries of service providers to a respectable level. I resent tipping for average service. I am happy to tip for great service, but it is a rare thing.

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    3. I really can not understand or agree to why we should pay more gratuity, when customer service is poor. When will this rediculous custom end? In Japan you do not tip and you get much better service than here in the U.S. Our system is faulty.

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  9. I see no need to "gift" people who are just doing their job for which I am paying them anyway. If Christmas involves gifts, then in my opinion gifts are EXCHANGED. If it is not an exchange, then it has nothing to do with the Christmas season. Just another worker entitled to something extra.

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    1. This is for all you people who balk at tipping, or find excuses to tip less, because you don't want to tip in the first place.
      As stated earlier, waiters make as low as $2.13 an hour, and receive NEGATIVE paychecks. Tipping is for service that you don't get at home. If you have a problem with this time honored tradition then you are, in a word, CHEAP. This is the system and until another one comes along do the right thing and tip 20%. If you can afford to go out to dinner, have a bartender make your drinks and interact with you, sit down at a table and have your waiter do your bidding like a servant for a couple of hours, then you can afford to tack on $30 for a tip to your $150 dollar dinner. I am so tired of listening to the cheap people out there whine about tipping for service, and their perceived slights by service staff that justify a lower percentage. The people who undertip are usually the hardest to please as well. Complaining about food that is cooked correctly,(because they don't know how the dish is supposed to be prepared). Taking it out on the waiter's tip % if the food doesn't come out of the kitchen with McDonalds like speed, or it comes out too fast, or the table next to them is too loud,or it's just too expensive when they get a look at the check.
      HEY, you're the one who chose to eat at that restaurant in that price range.
      I say just stop whining and tip like the majority of society does out there.
      P.S. (If any of these cheap people ever waited tables they would change their tune in a heartbeat)

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    2. If you don't believe it tipping, then stay home and learn to cook. How rude. Seriously. I'd be ashamed to show my face.

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    3. All of you who keep saying the minimum wage is as low as $2.13/hr should look it up sometime. Yes, it may be as low as that for the salary portion of their wage but that plus tips must add up to at least $7.75/hr or the employer must make up the difference.

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  10. As a former waitress myself, we expected a 10% tip. The prices of meals increased, and so did our tips. Somewhere along the line, servers decided they needed more than inflation increase so it became 15%, then 18%, and I have been charged as high as 22% with a note "for your convenience.". I have a real problem with this. I do not value waiters more highly than teachers, and I see no need to pay them an hourly rate higher than my child's teachers make and they have a degree.

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    1. Many people don't realize that servers get paid as little as $2.13 per hour as a base wage. Tips are the primary source of compensation for these service workers, and by the time the government takes their allocated share (income taxes are calculated based on a percentage of the servers gross SALES), they don't get an actual paycheck at all. Bottom line is that when you eat out and expect someone to "wait on you", you should expect to pay for that service.

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    2. you have no clue as to the taxation system in this country as far as tips are concerned. wait staff should be reporting tips to their employer (if it is a cash only establisment it will be under-reported.) therefore the irs says take 8% of gross sales and it to wages (this is allocated among staff receiving tips) 8% is way less than 15% they are receiving. why as a taxpaying american should i give them some entitlement (it's bad enough with obama) next time you are in a restaurant, count the number of tables a waiter handles, count what you believe to be the gross bill of people eating at that persons table multiply conservatively 10% for tips and you will be able to establish that the waiter is probably earning more than $10.00 an hour. if a restaurant can establish than a waiter is making more than $1.90 an hour in tips the restaurant may reduce the minimum wage by the $1.90 an hour in tips. (since i eat in restaurants about five days a week these waiters are doing vey well for high school and college students.) i know from upscale restaurants that it is not unusual for waiters to earn more than $70,000 per year
      these waiters are not going to give up a good thing.
      please note that in restaurants it is difficult for waiters to hide tips since it goes on a credit card and on to their individual payroll

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    3. I don't know about that. You have to remember the restaurant is only 'busy' during peak hours and that means they're not getting 8 hours of this for 5 days a week. More likely 2-3 hours of peak tipping. It's hardly a $70k job. If it were, you'd see them driving much nicer cars and buying houses instead of sharing an apartment.

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  11. Exactly!...When did the standard 15% for years and years become 20%??? Service people think way too highly of themselves and bartenders are the absolute worst. You get a dollar for shlepping a drink to me...two dollars if you talk to me...three dollars if you introduce me to a friendly conversationalist...five dollars if she's HOT. Most bartenders are clueless. I can stay home and drink for A LOT less if I wanted to BE ALONE and get drunk!!!

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    1. I tip my waiters, wherever I am, 15%. I am not a rich person and I do not see why it should become a burden on me to give more. I think that the the responsiblity of the owner of the establishment to pay his waiters and waitresses a better salary and not put the burden on his clients. His clients are the people that make his establishment successful.
      I feel bad for the staff, but nevertheless, I will not raise my tipping to more than 15%. I do not mean to be aggressive, I just feel that I too have hardships and I live with them. My salary does not go up just because the economy is bad. In fact I know some people, and a very good friend of mine that took a 10% yearly gross salary cut just so she would not risk the chance of losing her job. And from now on, I will be tipping before the tax is included. I agree with that thought. I am tipping the staff not giving more to the government that is taxing me already way over my comfort zone.

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  12. I never tip a straight percentage and always on quality of service. If the waiter is on top things and adds to the experience with knowledge, humor and care I'll tip as high as 1/3 of the bill. But at a few top restaurants where I've had waiters with big city attitudes who act like I'm a bother to them, serve stingy wine pours, or are unapologetic about screw ups, I have no problem leaving them a note on a $5 stating my reason objectively.

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  13. We always leave 18% pre-tax on any meal no matter what.If the service is bad they will likely see it in a review I may post on a site like this one and never see us again.Word of mouth is another great way for people to be on the alert about bad service.

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  14. TIPS SHOULD BE PRETAX AND NOT A STANDARD 20% UNLESS GREAT SERVICE

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  15. I would much prefer that the United States do what all other countries do, have the employers pay their staff a normal wage and also pay for their health insurance. To me, it is really wrong that staff are paid so little, have to depend on tips and don´t have any health insurance. Totally, totally wrong! I really don´t know of any other country that one have to figure out what a meal will cost by including such a high tip. It is should already be added to the bill as they do in other countries. Then, if you are really satisfied with the service, you add an extra tip to show your appreciation.

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    1. Health insurance isn't in the bill of rights. Why do people think that? Owning a car, or a house isn't either. Health insurance is overpriced because of the unbroken ring of corruption between HMO's, lawyers, and pharmaceutical companies. They're all making a mint and instead of addressing THAT issue we just blindly demand that the US Tax payer fund this roman orgy. Ridiculous. Sorry for the rant, but I revert to original statement, healthcare and health insurance is not a right. I'm all for charitable giving to help those less fortunate, but it shouldn't be treated like a God given right.

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  16. Sorry, if I get an attitude, bad service, cold food when it should be hot, really poor quality of food, incorrect order and no seemingly sincere apology and correction - you are NOT going to get a tip from me.

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    1. Poor quality of the food has nothing to do with a waitress. Even cold food might have nothing to do with a waitress. All you are doing is looking for an excuse to tip less. So you want a waiter to make an apologize to things they don't control.

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  17. Until this country begins to have fair wages for waitstaff, dishwashers, bus people and cooks, you should always tip. While some restaurants may be changing this and paying their staff better, most are paying the waitstaff as little as possible (like the above suggestion of $2.13 an hour) and then expect the rest to be paid in tips. Yes, "in this day and age so-on and so-forth" but we still have a lot of the same problems our grandparents and great-grandparents had. Tip your waitstaff.

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    1. Agreed. I'm a good tipper and will usually even tip incompetent servers. When my friends ask why, I tell them that just because the server's probably not cut out for this line of work, they still have to eat or may have kids they have to support. I vote with my feet though and don't return to restaurants that continually deliver poor service.

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  18. Service jobs are just that... service. If someone wants to work in a service industry, then their compensation should be based on the quality of their work. Tips are also considered somewhat of a "commission" on sales, since the more the server can suggestively sell, the more they make. If restaurants paid a salary, there would be less incentive for exceptional service... and even less incentive for suggestive up-selling. So the tipping custom benefits both the server and the restaurant - which is what you're going to find in a capitalist driven society.

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  19. If restaurants had to pay higher salaries for the waitstaff, the cost of the food would have to go up. Either way, you pay for having someone serve you. Better to pay commensurate with quality of service than a "service fee" that's automatically built in.

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  20. The whole system is awkward and geared to benefit restaurant owners on the back of their employees and customers. It differs from state to state but... Restaurants pay a minimum wage to their servers and in addition servers receive tips. Than on every paycheck, server's gross sales is calculated and their tip is prorated to a particular percentage. Many years ago, for what I know in my state, that figure was 6% which was reported as servers personal income and tax liability. In another word, regardless if you tip or not, server will pay the tax for your meal, because you paid for the meal. Government calculates figure of 6% knowing that some guests did not tip. Furthermore, servers share their tips with other members of the team, bus boys, bartenders, hostess...
    So every time you go to the restaurant, you are served by person with minimum wage, no health insurance and the one who will pay the tax on the price restaurant owner will receive. How bad that is?
    In my mind, if I am unhappy with the experience at the restaurant, I should not pay the price of the meal, so that message goes where it belongs, not to the server. Unfortunately, expecting for this to be corrected, in U.S. would be too much. But at least, public should be informed how the whole system works so at least they could address their problems to the correct recipient, not to the messenger in many cases.

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  21. I don't recall any letter or government decree that increased the standard tip from 15% to 20%.
    For some years I have tipped 15% on the post tax amount and as restaurant prices have gone up so has the amount of the tip.
    I will continue this practise until someone can give me GOOD reason why I should increase my tip from 15% to 20%.

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  22. Wow, it seems like a lot of people are angry about going out to eat and tipping.

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  23. I was surprised that tipping car valets was not included in this article, especially since they are the norm at most medium-to-upscale dining establishments. I was annoyed that my husband recently gave a $10 bill to a valet for a $6 parking charge and said "keep the change" - that amounted to a 66% tip which I considered out of line. My general habit is $2 tip for valets for the most part and that's still a generous percentage if valet tips are based the same way. Are they? What do other people do?

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  24. Let me begin by stating that I have been a restaurant employee for 10+ years. To those of you whose argument is that restaurant owners should pay their tipped employees a higher wage- that wage is set by the government. In order for wait staff to be paid a "living wage," the price of each of your meals would have to go up at minimum $5 per plate. To those of you who think that your server is in high school or college- where are you eating?! I am a professional server. That means that I have put a number of years into serving, plus I have educated myself on your dietary needs, and I can answer every question you may have about every ingredient in every dish you may order. I also can tell you about the region your wine came from, or the history behind it. You will never have to ask me for more bread, or more water, because I always bring it before you notice it's necessary. So, if you think all I do is bring food to your table, or put wine in your glass, go ahead, tip me 10-15%. If you have heard my message, thank you, and I will appreciate your 20% +. Happy Holidays.

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    1. Pompus jackass, how about you fetch me another beer just shut your self-important oversized ego up!

      Math is easy, increase the prices by 20% and get that greedy low life owner to pay you ubove board the same amount you evade taxes on!

      Stupid americans!

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  25. I work at Dennys so mostly elderly people who order off the value meal BUT i also wait on a lot of families. Now when i run my ass off and have 5 people and get 5 dollar tip its very frustrating. I work days so i gotta be quick and good. Never fails to piss me off when i hear how great i was and they leave a crap tip. Food took 30 min? Um i don't cook it they make the same no matter what, but did you see me go to the line ten times to check on your food or here me when j brought and i said we have long ticket times today? I'm good at my job i have to work days I'm a single mom plus I'm in a small town where chilis & the outback are about as fine dining as it gets. I love what i do been doing it for 20 years. That being said if you don't have the funds to tip eat at home or fast food. Tips are not extra money for severs its how we feed or children pay our rent. The couple bucks we make an hour that's gas to get to and from work! Tip or stay home! Suda Billinger out!

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    1. Suda billinger, ur out of line... You don't like my 'crap tip' get a friggen real job!

      I'm not obligated by law to tip you anything... How about you tell me when I sit down how much I need to stuff into your panties to get a good atitude and pleasant and courteous service?

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  26. I live on the upper west side and have a 20 person building
    house staff,how much should I give for year end gifts.
    I tip during the year to handymen and plaster painter when
    they fix something in my apt. $5-$10.

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  27. I agree on tipping based on pre-tax amount. I usually give 15% minimum unless service is really terrible. Why should we pay tips on a government charge? People need to think about that for a minute.

    A year and a half ago, a waitress at Nom Wah restaurant in NYC came after us and said we made a mistake and should tip based on post tax. After we stated that it's supposed to be based on pre-tax, she actually got nasty about it. Meanwhile, the owner, Mr. Tang, sat on the sidelines and never came to intervene. Suffice it to say, we have not been back since.

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  28. I usually leave more in the lesser establishments and less in the upscale ones. The reason is due to the unreasonable mark up on the wine at upscale places. The wait staff and chefs work just as hard at these smaller places but because the check is much less do not do well on tips.

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  29. I just had to chime in to say that the acronym TIPS is not Tops in Personal Service, but To Insure Prompt Service. That's all.
    Thank you!

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  30. Tipping is so degrading, its like begging for your pay. Just pay us a real wage and tip for those moments of exceptionally good service.

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  31. Thanks for commenting Billy, it really is a nice app, one that I use now for all of my IRC needs message goes here

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