We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

When Should You Not Tip Your Waiter?

By Ken Black
Updated Feb 22, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGEEK is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGEEK, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Generally, you should not tip your waiter only when your are extremely unhappy with the service. Though the standard is to tip 15% of the total bill for good service at lunch and 20% of the total bill for good service at dinner, these are highly subjective. In other words, your tip should depend on what you think is appropriate, not what the social standards may be.

Sometimes, restaurants may offer exceptional service and the servers should be rewarded accordingly. If a server goes out of the way to correct an issue, or provides exemplary service in other ways, a 20% tip may balloon even higher, depending on your tipping style.

In some cases, to really send a message, it may be good to leave some sort of tip, even if you're tempted not to leave one at all. Those who decide to not tip may be sending a mixed signal in some ways. For example, many restaurants allow tips to be left on a credit card, and the waiter may not see your tip until the end of the night, long after you've left and he's forgotten about you. In other cases, if you decide to not tip your waiter, he may think it was simply an oversight.

To truly send a message that is understood nearly universally by waiters, leaving a small tip, such as 1 US penny, if in the United States, is a good way to express your displeasure with the service. This sends the unmistakable signal that, yes, you meant to tip, but a tip of any substantial value was not warranted.

For those who really want to offer some constructive criticism, leaving your reasons for not tipping could be a good idea. In this way, even if you decide to not tip your waiter with money, you can leave service tips in a very literal way. Of course, this may be redundant, and in most cases, the waiter will know where things went wrong. It may be his or her fault, and he or she was having an off day, or it may be the fault of the kitchen.

In general, if there is a problem with the service and you cannot figure out who is responsible, it is always good to ask what the problem is. It may be the kitchen, the server, or something beyond anyone's control. Determining what the problem is before deciding on your tip is always a good idea. That way, you make sure the wrong person is not punished.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By anon945415 — On Apr 12, 2014

I went to Hooters tonight because I wanted to relax, watch some sports, and have a nice time. My waitress was "OK." My food was correct and everything but she rarely checked on me, forgot me numerous times, was flirting with nearly all of her customers (slow service) and I was walking around the whole restaurant trying to find out where I could pay my bill.

She completely forgot about me and I'm guessing believed that because I wasn't a regular meant that I didn't matter. I bet she'll have a new mindset next time she gets some new customers. I feel bad because I'm a waiter myself, but I know how it's supposed to be done.

I don't care if you come every day or if this is your first time. I treat everyone the same. Even if I know you're not going to be long, I still check on you and make sure you're doing well. She just completely blew me off and the more I watched her mingle, the angrier I got.

By anon944302 — On Apr 07, 2014

People who don't tip are ignorant and selfish. Stay home if you can't tip, or if you do choose to go out to eat and don't believe in tipping, get up and ask the manager every time you need your drink filled or some extra butter or an extra lemon wedge or whatever else you are demanding. In other words, if you can't play by the rules, eat at home!!

By anon354163 — On Nov 06, 2013

It's about me. It's my money. If the service is bad (e.g., not making me feel welcome/wanted or satisfied = no tip.), the food can be garbage and the service mediocre and I will still tip generously.

I hate when you can tell they are expecting a tip. That ticks me off. I don't care that they make 2 dollars an hour. We don't live in a communist country where we have to evenly distribute wealth.

I'm sick of feeling bad for someone. I went out to eat because

I wanted to relax and have a good night out. I expect the establishment to provide that if they want to stay a profitable business, e.g., service.

Like I said, if the food is bad but the service is kind or at least includes smiles, I leave a tip. But God, I hate when they expect it and don't work for it or care. It's a job and a damn good one if you do it right.

By anon338468 — On Jun 14, 2013

I've been reading this from the UK and noted that America seems to be almost unique in the tips making up a wage to the minimum wage. Why aren't people challenging the ridiculous policy of such a low wage? In the UK, the minimum wage is over £6 per hour (approx $10) so tipping is only for occasions when the service has been really good. A normal minimum wage is then guaranteed to the server. Why aren't servers demanding that they get a normal minimum wage like other sectors?

The system in America seems to discriminate against servers or bartenders, etc., compared to other hourly workers. British people who visit the US will often not realize that servers can be paid $2 per hour legally with the expectation that tips make up the difference in their wage -- most would think that this should be illegal (It is in UK). I think it is the system itself that needs changing so that all waiting staff have a proper minimum wage (eg $8-10 per hour) and then tips!

By anon332025 — On Apr 26, 2013

I don't know. I am a waitress and it truly saddens me to read some of the comments. Trust me, we are humans just like you. Most of these statements smell of disrespect. Soon all restaurants will be buffets because everyone will be ashamed of working in such a disrespected profession.

By anon329620 — On Apr 11, 2013

@anon 329556: On behalf of servers, I thank you for doing mostly carryout. In the same way that bad attitudes can emanate from servers, they can emanate from guests, especially if you have the attitude that all servers except military stink, and in returning to the same restaurants, you are getting the service that you've paid for.

We remember the people who don't tip, especially if they give us a hard time. And we tell each other. So it could be related to that. Maybe try a fresh start at a new place, where you don't make such hyperbolic assumptions about the waitstaff!

By anon329556 — On Apr 10, 2013

I don't have to tip someone who doesn't earn it. Money doesn't grow on trees! And tell me, are there even any good waiters left? It seems like most of them expect it when they are never around when you need something, or get your check so you pay, for that matter. Have they ever read a book about serving manners? No, because they already know everything -- like snatching my salad plate before I'm done, and not setting the table with silverware before we sit down. Duh!!

The best waiters are those from military background, who do things right the first time, and who have manners. I don't get that kind of service most of the time, so my prince and I do carry out mostly. We work hard for our money, too!

By anon329398 — On Apr 09, 2013

No question about it! I feel tipping is a way to encourage the staff to stay or quit, frankly. Most servers are either good or they are bad. Yes, everyone has bad days, but when they are only providing 50 percent of the smiles and nice service, then they should expect 50 percent of their normal tip.

I usually leave 20 percent when I go out, and that's for fairly decent service. Extra good service gets more, but no question about it - if I get crummy service I'll leave 5 percent or just a couple of bucks.

The best way to get bad wait staff to go find a different job is by tipping them badly. The next time you go into the restaurant, you don't want them there. If they are constantly getting crummy tips, they will find a new job!

This is especially if it is a restaurant you go to often and usually tip well. If they complain to the other waitstaff about their tip, they will get told that "no - s/he usually tips well, it must have been you!"

Another thing is the next time you go in, make sure to ask to not have that server. It makes a big point.

By anon325767 — On Mar 18, 2013

I'm confused. What is a tip? Ws it 'To insure promptness'?

Why isn't the full price expected clearly displayed on menus and price lists? Why the last minute ambiguity? Is it because people generally in a tight position will tend to error on the side of caution and thus overtip?

Especially in today's world of equality, everyone should get the same great service and the price for the services should be inclusive of all taxes (government and retarded bribe surcharges).

By anon323164 — On Mar 03, 2013

"Pathetic. Just pathetic." I agree; it is pathetic to not tip. First step is admitting the problem.

By anon323049 — On Mar 03, 2013

Pathetic. Just pathetic.

It is not required to tip. Not tipping is not the same as not wanting to pay for a product.

You have already paid for a product. The service is in the bill and is more than enough for the two minutes of service.

As for this idiotic idea that waiters "don't earn anything", there are no states in the United States where they do not get paid minimum wage. A waiter who doesn't make enough tips is required by law to have it met to minimum wage by their employer.

The only way a waiter is not making minimum wage or above minimum wage is if they are not declaring their tips.

By anon322166 — On Feb 26, 2013

Wow these comments from the waiters/waitresses. I'm generally a good tipper. I consider 15 percent my minimum baseline and always leave 20-25 percent if the service is above average, maybe more if exceptional.

I understand that you guys make the majority of your salary from tips, but please also understand that the majority of you really don't go above and beyond either. You sound so entitled to these tips that it makes me want to start being more strict and start tipping less.

In America, if you don't like your job, then you have the freedom to advance yourself and find another one. All I hear from waiters/waitresses on this site and in general is complaining.

By anon316291 — On Jan 28, 2013

Anyone here ever try tipping over 20 percent? It's really amazing how good the service becomes when you go back again and again. Your favorite drink is ready by the time you sit down. Your food is piping hot just the way you like it. It really works. Trust me. Tip over 20 percent regularly and you will get exceptionally good service. And if by chance, something does go wrong, the restaurant will bend over backward to make it right. And yes after correcting the issue will get that over 20 percent tip still from me,

I am blessed to work in a good job and make decent money. I tip well in appreciation for those that work hard for me to enjoy a dinner. Or sometimes, in a coffee shop cafe where I may be there eating drinking and working on the laptop for a couple of hours.

There are many things that can go wrong that you don't see as a diner: like a convention ended and every server got six tables of four, all at once. So they run like crazy, getting drinks, bread, orders, etc.

Wonder why your food was slow? You walked in five minutes after those six tables were seated, and the kitchen has 24 plates to make.

People have bad days at work. If I have a bad day, my productivity stinks, so I go home, chalk it up to the winter blues or whatever. But I still get paid the same.

If I have a really bad experience, I ask for the manager, or write the restaurant online. If I keep getting bad service, I just don't go back! But rarely will I ever tip less than 15 percent and most times much more.

A small cafe where your total bill might be $10? I leave at least $3. And yes, I tip the cabbie, the bellman at the hotel, the valet as well.

If you hate the practice of tipping, then don't utilize services where it is customary to do so. There are plenty of places you can eat where it is not required or asked of you.

By anon315329 — On Jan 23, 2013

I've been working in restaurants for over 10 years now. I began as a server and have moved up into management and I have done nearly everything in between and I can tell you that servers have it worst of all, without a doubt. Their income is uncertain based on so many more things than you might realize Is it raining? Is there a big playoff game this weekend? Is it a holiday? Is it really hot or really cold outside? Did a cook call out? Anything can impact a server's pocket, and the majority of these things won't be their fault.

The problem is that those who have never worked in a restaurant truly don't get what it's like on the other side, and yes, it is OK to call them "entitled" at times.

You wouldn't go to the store to buy a TV and demand it for free because it was a busy day and you had to wait in line, but just last weekend, a man in my store demanded his to-go order for free because he had to wait in a line behind other customers to order and then wait another 15 minutes for his food. Customers dining in restaurants can be downright rude at times. They tend to be sarcastic and insulting, too. Like the man who once told me I was an "idiot" to my face.

To sum it up: tip your server!

By anon312558 — On Jan 08, 2013

What a load of baloney in these comments. Clearly all Americans on this site. The rest of the world copes just fine without this appalling practice of yours. Tipping is the American way of disrespecting wait staff, under-paying the (non-tip earning) kitchen staff and causing huge confusion (to wit, these comments!) and dissatisfaction all around.

True story from a New Zealand cafe: an American tourist tries to leave a tip; waitress refuses it robustly with the words "We don't want that sort of thing spreading in New Zealand". You American waitresses need to grow a pair and get this stupid practice stopped.

By anon310527 — On Dec 24, 2012

If someone gives you bad service, they are still doing work for you. They are bringing out food, drinks, and cleaning your table. If something goes wrong in the process, this article says to leave a penny? This makes me not want to read any more advice on wisegeek.

By anon309493 — On Dec 17, 2012

Wow, there's a lot of anger on this message board.

In general, I tend to default to 18-20 percent tips. This is because, as noted repeatedly, a server's entire income is based on tips. If the service (not the food, mind you, but the service and responsiveness) is slow/somewhat unfriendly/otherwise mediocre, 15 percent is pretty fair.

It has to get pretty bad before it's fair to knock it down to 10 percent --as in, actually incompetent. The only reason I've ever not left a tip was when service wasn't just bad, but downright *hostile*. (I'm not entirely sure what would possess a server to be actively rude, drop your food on the table so that some of it falls off, slam your drinks down so hard that some spills out, etc., but this has happened.)

By anon306973 — On Dec 02, 2012

Waitpersons should be paid what the job is worth. This should be up to the market. Restaurants should just price their products accordingly and quit hiding behind tipping. This is how all other (non-government) jobs/businesses work. If one performs a job poorly one will be paid less or lose the job. If one is good at the job, that person will demand more money - from the employer. Playing this game with the end consumer will never work and employers/owners are happy to stay out of it and let the fight be between waitpersons and patrons.

Restaurant owners have continually (and, so far, successfully) pushed their costs/profits into the tip category. What was recently 15 percent for excellent service is now supposed to be 20 percent. I feel for the waitpersons, but your real battle needs to be with the restaurant owners and not with the public. The public is weary of this game and waitpersons will take the brunt of this battle. I really do not think waitpersons can win this battle with the public. In fact, they risk a backlash that will actually reduce tipping.

I do not receive tips. Yet I am expected to perform my job in an outstanding way every day no matter how I feel or what someone says to me. If I do not, I will lose my job. When I feel I am undervalued I ask for more money. If I do not get it, I go somewhere else. Employers need to respect the labor market too.

Waitpersons, you certainly work very hard and deserve what the market will bear. Please push this pay argument where it belongs - with your employers. You have little chance to win with the public.

By anon304383 — On Nov 19, 2012

This article is disgusting and people who believe they shouldn't tip should be... well... Servers in America make 4.23 an hour and rely on tips as their main income, since most of the time, our checks are under 50 dollars every two weeks because the check is there to pay taxes.

Do you do your job and then wait to see if someone will pay you for it? No. So why should I have to hope someone will pay me to do mine?

Yes, if the service is awful, at least leave 10 percent, because then the server won't have to pay support staff, like bussers, bartenders and the like from their own pockets but will probably not be receiving much or anything for themselves.

But I have seen servers, great servers, at fine dining restaurants get stiffed on $110-$200- even $300 dollar checks because people don't believe in tipping or are just plain cheap. Yes, some people just don't want to tip because they want a nice meal but don't want to pay for the service.

It is a service, just like when a car mechanic fixes your car, or a plumber fixes your sink. They charge you for labor. And the parts. Do you refuse to pay him for the labor because you don't want to, don't believe in it or because you feel he wasn't friendly to your liking? No. You pay it. So why is tipping a server any different?

Pay for the service you volunteered to received by eating out. Factor it in when ordering your food if it is pricey. Tip accordingly to the service you received: 10 percent for awful, 15 percent for fair and 20 or more if it was exceptional.

Especially at places like Benihana, Melting Pot and other, more unconventional service practices, you shouldn't tip less than 18 percent. They are not only serving you, but making your food in front of you, and still making the same as regular servers.

Think about that the next time you want to cheap out and not give a tip. Be a stereotype. Don't believe in paying for a service? Leave your job and title on your receipt so they can use your services at your profession and not pay you, so you know how it feels.

Servers aren't entitled to tips. But like I said, if it is horrid service, fine. But also remember you aren't the only person there. And you aren't their only table. Give them a reasonable amount of time. And when you wait, 5 seconds can feel like a minute. Calm down.

One day you will be out on a date, the service is great, and you don't leave a tip, and you might get me. And I will definitely call you out on it and embarrass you.

By anon301904 — On Nov 06, 2012

To anyone who plans on leaving a penny at a place, plan to never return there. Word spreads quickly about things like that and you will certainly not get better treatment by leaving a penny like a big old jerk. You might however, get some *extras* with your meal.

By anon301650 — On Nov 05, 2012

Well, you can tell who the waitstaff are on here. We tip great if you are a good server. If you aren't, don't expect a great tip.

If you make our life miserable (there are times when we have gone out and wished we had just stayed home the service was so terrible), then you don't get anything. I've had situations in which waitstaff has taken more than 20 minutes to take my order and found them in the back chatting it up. Sorry, but if you do that to me, you don't get anything. Just because you are a server, doesn't mean you are entitled to the customer's tips.

I hate people who are too cheap to tip, but you should never tip for truly bad service, such as the server forgetting about you after you are seated, the server being rude, the server not coming over more than once if you clearly need something. Stuff like that.

We once had a great waitress and the other person she was waiting on didn't leave a tip at all because they didn't believe in it. Guess who tipped her extra? But I guess since I don't believe in tipping for bad service then I am just a cheapskate. And whoever made the Walmart analogy, that's not even a logical one.

I agree with this article very much. I will make sure to start leaving a penny and talking with the manager instead of leaving nothing. Waitstaff are way too entitled. Maybe if you are always missing out on tips, you need to re-evaluate yourself.

By anon301613 — On Nov 05, 2012

"People on here are calling customers entitled? To the food and service they just paid for? Yes, they are!"

Part of the service you are paying for includes a tip. If you are not tipping properly, then you are not paying for service, you're stealing it based on others who don't act like jackasses just because someone has a different job from them.

And just because a job doesn't require a high school diploma, doesn't mean that it's any less worthy of pay. In this economy, it's especially weird to get elitist about such things.

By anon301304 — On Nov 03, 2012

People on here are calling customers entitled? To the food and service they just paid for? Yes, they are! To me. it seems like servers are the ones acting entitled. Where I come from, they take home twice as much as me, and gripe about it. Just because your job's not easy, you are not entitled to the contents of other wallets. Waitressing is a job you don't even need a high school diploma for, so as a general rule that is a job you should make crappy money doing. Do you hear the guy at McDonalds griping about making no tips ever? I guess he doesn't have to carry that heavy food all the way to the table but he has to take your order, make the food and keep the store clean and running throughout the day.

I've done both kinds of jobs, as well as worked in a few factories, and they can all be extremely difficult and stressful.

The job I'm doing now certainly requires much more physical effort. With no real qualifications, who's to say one deserves more than the other? I'll tell you what: if you're a server and after tips you take home less than minimum wage on an average night, which I have never even seen happen once, then you can complain. If you're making thrice that, then you know where to shove it.

By anon300613 — On Oct 30, 2012

You had better believe that if I ever am in a restaurant and I witness a customer nearby being disrespectful and rude to their server, or if the server mentions that you left a bad tip, that I will be confronting and embarrassing you in front of everyone. Let's see if you like a taste of your own medicine. When I am off the clock and in public, all bets are off!

By anon295550 — On Oct 06, 2012

After reading this post I was a little, (no, a lot) upset! I have been waiting tables for about 20 years. I have a theory: if you don't believe in tipping then eat fast food! It takes a very patient and special kind of person to serve people all day every day.

Serving is a choice. I do understand that. However, I also understand that many people take for granted the fact that servers are the people who make it possible for others to just sit back, relax, and be waited on after a long hard day.

If you do not like the service you get at Wal-Mart, you still pay for your goods, right? You do not take part of the cashier's paycheck with you and then call to complain do you? No, instead you pay or put your items back and then call and complain right? If this sounds logical, then you should do the same with your server!

I suppose this post upset me most because it emphasizes bad service and how to deal with it, however, not once does it state that great service should be rewarded as drastically as bad service should be acknowledged. To me, this seems like an entitled attitude and rather than emphasizing the rewards that excellence deserves, they only focus on flaws and how to exaggerate those!

By anon291320 — On Sep 13, 2012

"Tips" does not stand for "to insure prompt service". It should be "ensure" anyway.

In states where servers make $2/hour, tips are considered part of their wages. Employers are *supposed* to make up the difference if their tips don't equal minimum wage, but that doesn't always happen for various reasons.

If you go out to eat, realize that the tip should be part of what you plan to spend. If you're unhappy with your service, bring it up with a manager before stiffing your waiter, and sometimes, in turn, all the other support staff who contributed to your meal.

By anon283509 — On Aug 04, 2012

First of all the statement saying a customer doesn't have to leave a tip if you don't like the service, is inadequate.

Servers work very hard doing their jobs, running around for eight-plus hours trying to make a living. And guess what, everybody? It is required by our American government to tip. Did you ever wonder why waitresses and waiters only get paid 2.83 an hour that is taxable? Hello! Wake up America and maybe try working in our shoes for a moment and then you'll appreciate the hard work we do so that you can have your luxury of eating out.

Also there is a lot that can, will and does go wrong on a given night, and that is expected when there are new cooks in the kitchen (because the previous ones got fired, or quit because of the long, crappy hours that involve the kitchen cooks, and the pay, even with a degree, doesn't make it worth it for most chef's sanity). Let's face it: a culinary job is long hours, crappy to decent pay with a lot of stress. And therefore, it is the servers' job to make everything perfect for people, besides running around like chickens with their heads cut off!

Also keep in mind that, because serving is very demanding, that people quit and leave all the time, and that is why you may be faced with a new server, more often than not. So if you think that you shouldn't tip even if it's below average, at least be understanding and considerate of the service that is provided to you. The government makes it law that we get paid 2.83 hourly plus tips, whether we get them or not. Obviously eating out is a luxury, so if you can afford it, then you can also afford to tip!

By anon281438 — On Jul 23, 2012

I hate serving. However, until I can move forward, it is a job, and I need money to survive. I hope to find a new job or go back to school, but until then, I am stuck serving. I try very hard to be pleasant to everyone, even customers who are not so pleasant back, and I must say after running around waiting tables and doing sidework for ten hours a day, it is very disappointing when someone does not leave a tip.

I'm not sure I understand why serving is set up this way, with a low pay and a reliance upon money from customers, but it is the way it's set up, and I just want to be able to get by.

It is always discouraging when you try very hard and don't see any reward, especially when you are fulfilling even the most ridiculous, unnecessary requests. As a server I do almost anything the customer wants. I please the customer, I get at least a decent tip. And especially after being a server, I tip well when I eat out. Even if my server is somewhat inadequate, I understand what it is like to work long shifts answering to every person's need, trying so hard to do your best. People tend to scorn waiters/waitresses. It is a very dirty job, but someone has to do it if you want to eat at a regular restaurant. So many people are so eager to look down upon waitresses, but if you don't tip them and there were no waitresses, you certainly wouldn't have the opportunity to have someone there at every beck and call, taking care of your *every* need.

So unless your server is exceptionally rude or negligent, it is hard to understand why you don't tip him/her at least something. Servers work very hard all day for almost no money. So you can say that it isn't a server's right to receive a tip, but let me tell you every stingy customer I've come across seems to have no problem running his/her server into the ground for no compensation after a meal. A server is working for a customer, and is it so unreasonable to not tip someone for catering to your wants?

By anon278282 — On Jul 05, 2012

No way is anon278048 a real server.

By anon278281 — On Jul 05, 2012

"It's not your right for someone to leave you a tip just because you served them." Yes, it is.

By anon278048 — On Jul 03, 2012

I'm a waitress in the UK, and it's not a surprise if a table doesn't leave a tip. We do get a decent wage over here, so it's not too bad. But I've been reading through these comments, and to see that some servers spit in people's food because the customer did not leave a tip absolutely disgusted me. If I found out someone had spat in my dinner, I'd have their head on a plate, and I'm a waitress myself! It's not your right for someone to leave you a tip just because you served them.

Our jobs are draining, we do long hours for not a lot of money, we're on our feet all day, we have people talking to us like crap, treating us like slaves and generally looking down on us because we work a menial job. I had a man today ask me to pass him his beer, because he was too lazy to sit up and pick it up himself. He was sitting a foot away from his drink, mind you. Did he leave me a nice tip? Nope.

The way I see it, we should not go to work and expect people to tip us. It is nice when we get a tip, but there is no excuse for someone to put something vile and disgusting in someone's food. And also you can get fined for it and sacked if you get caught, so is it really worth it for a couple of pounds?

If you don't like the fact you're not earning enough money, or getting enough tips, get another job. Simple as that. If not, get over it and stop moaning. End of story.

By anon277225 — On Jun 28, 2012

The idea that a food server would intentionally pollute (spit in) someone's food over not tipping is what is insane -- and illegal I am sure.

Says more about what type of person the food server is than the non-tipper, if you ask me.

By JudiSunshine — On Jun 25, 2012

"Do you really think the price of your meals won't go up drastically?"

Yes, they would. But most bad tippers are dumb people, so they won't get it.

By JudiSunshine — On Jun 25, 2012

anon257751 is someone who clearly has enjoyed lots of spit in his/her lifetime!

By anon276620 — On Jun 25, 2012

The answer to the OP question is: "Never, if you plan to return to that restaurant, because if you do you'll be eating spit."

Only jerks don't tip.

By anon276319 — On Jun 23, 2012

I love how sites like this encourage people to treat waiting staff like a piece of excrement on their shoe. No, really. "Really send the message home." Surprisingly, we speak the same language as you (Shock. Horror. I know). If you are unhappy, tell us you are unhappy. Let us try and fix whatever is making you unhappy, instead of trying to be passive-aggressive and drop what is honestly the most subtle hint I have ever heard of (quite honestly, I would just assume you are too tight-fisted to tip more).

In the restaurant where I work, in we pull tips which are then passed to the owner, who divides them among the kitchen, the bar, the floor, management and even the cleaning staff. This is a fair system.

I generally enjoy my job. I get to meet lots of nice people and chat away to them, as well as take care of them for an evening. And to the best of my ability, I try to take care of all my customers throughout the evening in the same manner. However, there are things out of my control which can lead to "bad service." For example, food. Your server is not the chef. We do not cook the food. If there is anything wrong, I am more than happy to fight in your corner with the kitchen staff. However, the length of cooking time and overall quality of the food comes from the kitchen. We have little to no input whatsoever when it comes to the food. All we can do is apologize for the food and do our best to get something for you which meets your standard.

Preparation time: Just like life, there things in a restaurant that take longer than others to prepare. So for example, if you order five Irish coffees and three mojitosm then it's common sense that you make the vodka and coke on the next check first. Yet time after time, I hear the phrase, "Excuse me, we were here first". Yes, yes you were. You also ordered a total of eight drinks and they ordered one. Kindly deal with it or as anon65925 put it, "suck it up".

All of this seems, to pass the buck to customers and for that I apologize profusely because when it comes to truly diabolical service, there is not an excuse. However, please do remember you aren't the only people in the section. Chances are there are 20, maybe even 30-plus other people in the server's section, and chances are something will be overlooked (we are human). So, instead of getting ticked off and throwing a fit like a spoiled child not getting their own way, tell us. Let us fix it, and more importantly, don't go into such a tantrum that you ruin your own night.

Whether you believe it or not is up to you, but we want you to have a good night; we want you to have such fun you come back again. An example: on my first shift I took a little bit of time getting to know a group of slightly older ladies who were in my section. Since that night, every week they come in and request to sit in my section. I love coming into work on a Saturday because I get to see my favorite customers again and again. I want all my customers to be my favorite customers.

Treat your server like a human being, and who knows? You might actually enjoy yourself.

From pretty much every waiter you've ever heard of.

By anon275337 — On Jun 17, 2012

Tips:" to insure prompt service." Then why tip at the end? Shouldn't it be at the beginning? It only makes sense.

Oh wait, that's right, because half of you don't tip anyway, or leave poor tips, and you wouldn't want to expose yourselves so quickly. You'd best believe that your server tries to give you the best service possible; it's how servers make their money! Tip outs to other employees are insanely high, and we don't have paychecks (that goes to taxes).

By anon275335 — On Jun 17, 2012

Let me say that there are a lot of horrible servers out there! I am a server myself, and I understand, people! Why should you tip when your server takes your order, maybe drops off your food, and does little else? Maybe you should, and maybe you shouldn't, but probably you should leave something.

A lot of you do not realize that your server makes $2.13 an hour, maybe. A server cannot make more than minimum wage and still receive a check. That means if tips exceed that, then they receive checks with a zero dollar amount that say void. If you go out to eat and leave your your server, let's say $8 on an $80 check, then your server must claim a higher amount. The norm is at least 12 percent, plus tip out, which can be as much as 10 percent of the sales.

For those of you who do not believe in tipping, I honestly believe there is something wrong with you. If you do not tip your server, you are actually giving yourself a discount. You may not have to tip, but you sure do enjoy someone waiting on you hand and foot. Now why do you suspect a server's wages are so low? Maybe because you are supposed to tip! If all of us servers made a proper wage, then the price for the food you to order (but never make yourselves) would go up in price. You choose.

By anon257751 — On Mar 28, 2012

I tip only when the server provides good service and make sure I get what I order. If I order a steak with medium rare, he/she better makes sure that is what I order. If it is the kitchen's problem, she/he should have made sure it is like that before taking the plate to my table.

I went to different restaurants many times a month. When waiters or waitresses do not tend your table frequently, they should not expect customer to leave a tip. I hosted some foreign clients and they gave my clients attitude problems because the servers could not understand my clients' poor English and kept on asking what they wanted to order by repeating the same question. When someone asks you what is in a salad, don't just say it is a salad. It is a privilege to be tipped, not a right to be tipped. Regarding to wages, if you are a waiter or a waitress relying on tipping as your income, you should report your employers to the labor board or apply for partial unemployment if you can not make enough without tips.

By anon212036 — On Sep 04, 2011

Currently I am a server, and really actually enjoy my job. I enjoy meeting new people each day, and I never have the same day twice. The money is usually pretty good, because I put in the work required to make good money.

On leaving your server a note for anything but to say thank you: It is not proper. If you have a problem with a server, or their place of business, ask someone to speak with the manager. That is why they are there.

I had a table the other day that said I was a fantastic server and they had a great time, told the manager on the way out they had a wonderful time, then practically stiffed me on a decent sized bill and wrote me a nasty note, and stole items off of our table. I know when I maybe have not had the right chemistry with a table for one reason or another, and the note was shocking.

Leaving someone you have been in contact with for one hour a note about this, that, and the other? I was pretty shocked.

If you don't want to tip because you don't want to, don't feel like it, you are too cheap to, don't know how to, or whatever other reason, that is your choice, but wrecking the day of another person in the middle of their shift is pretty mean. At least a manager could ask the employee about it at the end of a shift.

By anon210178 — On Aug 29, 2011

How dare any of you debate a person's right to a living wage?

How dare any of you play with a human's ability to survive, based on your own shallow, self-entitled dementia?

If I met anyone who didn't leave a tip I'd smack the crap out of them and then go to their job and take 20 to 95 percent of their paycheck and shred it into non-existence.

I am pretty sure 100 percent of the evil, self-entitled, undiagnosed schizos who condone treating another human like an insect - aren't fabulous at their desk jobs either. I'm pretty sure they'd shut up about how to treat a waiter if their bosses own docked 20 to 95 percent of their pay for being lazy, crappy workers -- which they probably are.

Anyone who thinks this topic is debatable, has their head so far up their rear ends, that it's amazing they can even breathe.

By anon189796 — On Jun 24, 2011

Because of criminals like some of these posters, I avoid restaurants as much as I can. I had very bad experiences and some good ones, but you never know when someone will spit, pee or poo in your drink or meal and when they will put AIDS infected blood or other gross stuff in it.

Therefore, I would only go to restaurants which have cameras and no places for waiters to hide while serving food. Yet because of these problems, I cook at home 99.99999 percent of the time and when I go out, I am very careful where I go to and choose rather open kitchens where i can see what is happening to my meal. Honestly, I hate waiters, because they are evil. My relatives used to work in restaurants a lot and she told me stories, oh my. No eating out for me!

By anon176878 — On May 17, 2011

Anyone who believes that servers should not be tipped is either insane or unbelievably ill-informed. Speaking as a server, I don't get a paycheck. I may be "paid" an hourly wage of $2.15, but I never see that money. Every cent goes to taxes, but sometimes, if I'm really lucky, my paycheck might not be void and I'll get around 5-10 dollars in two weeks. If all people were so ignorant, I wouldn't be in college right now. Sometimes it amazes me how rude and stingy people can be.

By anon162013 — On Mar 22, 2011

I am a server, and I pay 18.75 percent taxes of my total sales. I don't claim to be the best or worst server in the world. There is a lot of labor and stress involved with this kind of job. I thank everyone who does leave a generous tip, as it is helping me to pay my way through college and the cost of living of survival.

By anon159730 — On Mar 13, 2011

I don't think people should get tips for doing their jobs.

Why don't you tip your cashier at the grocery store, or the guy at the cell phone store even if they go out of there way to help you. But it is expected for you to tip a waiter or waitress.

If you can't just get paid for doing the job your hired for, don't do the damn job and find a different career!

By anon151783 — On Feb 11, 2011

You all are missing the point. I have waited tables for many years, and have several close friends who own restaurants. First off, the employer is not cheap, the federal government has set a separate minimum wage for employees that receive tips, so blame the government, not the restaurant owner.

And let's say they did start paying the waiters $8-$10 per hour. Do you really think the price of your meals won't go up drastically?

Second, tipping is a payment of being waited on pretty much hand and foot. If you want 10 refills of iced tea, we do it. You want more butter, we get it. You want to change the your dish to something that's not on the menu, we plead with the chef for you.

Being waited on is a service, so if you don't want to tip, go to McDonalds or a buffet. If you get normal service, you should tip at least 15 percent, above average 20 percent. If you get poor service you let the waiter know by leaving 5-10 percent. Even though it was poor service, it was still service! They would pretty much have to hit on my wife, or cuss me out to not get a tip at all.

And I can't speak for everyone, but I have never messed with anybody's food or drinks because they pissed me off. I am not saying it doesn't happen, but it is very rare, and I have never worked with anyone who has done something that appalling. If you are a repeat non-tipper, I may not give you the best service, but I would never stoop to messing with anybody's food.

And I don't want to hear, I am a nurse and clean up crap all day, or I'm an accountant and have to be nice to people and I don't get tips. Well I am a firefighter/paramedic, and I have to be nice to people, clean up poop, vomit, put out fires, but I also make a nice salary, with insurance and a pension. Show me a waiter who gets any of that, and walk a week in their shoes and see if it doesn't change your mind.

By anon149004 — On Feb 03, 2011

I am shocked at the attitude in America to the basic fact that all workers are entitled to a basic fair living wage.

In no way should servers have to rely on tips - at the end of the day it is the restaurant owners who are the cheap skates. Why do servers put up with such appalling work conditions? I thought the American way was work hard and be rewarded, not work hard and be ripped off.

I have had superb service in America and would happily pay the tip - in the UK the tip would very rarely be above 10 percent, but we have fair wage legislation which while not perfect, does help. However, I have also had lousy service and if someone will not do their job properly it is not my responsibility to subsidize them. Stop taking $2.50 and hour and make the restaurants pay you a living wage.

By anon131908 — On Dec 04, 2010

This is crazy. I will not allow someone to make me feel sorry for them or threaten me in order to make me give them a tip. A tip is payment for good service. Take some of my advice: be a good server, take care of the people you want a tip from and it will happen.

By anon128911 — On Nov 21, 2010

Careful! A lot of the people who go out to eat simply don't have to (and many times have seriously debated about whether they have enough money to) go out to a restaurant. More and more customers are choosing fast food. To insist on a 20 percent tip and threaten to spit in food if you get no tip may result in your unemployment, one way or another.

It is true that restaurants should pay at least minimum wage to all employees. Tips, by their very nature are optional. Servers may complain about their wages for the work they do, but there are four diners for every server who has a just as horrible, if not more horrible job. Be grateful for any tip these days!

By anon123032 — On Oct 30, 2010

Here's an interesting tidbit of advice for you non-and poor tippers: Servers will remember you. Speaking as an ex-server, I remembered every person who would "stiff" me and the next time I would see them, would purposely spit in their food, taint it, or put other things that are too gross to be mentioned on here. So, the next time you are tempted to not tip your server for either lousy service or because you're too cheap, you have been warned.

By amypollick — On Aug 02, 2010

@Anon100558: I understand where you're coming from. My husband was a server for many years and he is a good guide on when to lower a tip. I try to tip well and generously, and leave extra for exceptional service. I know servers live on their tips.

Sometimes, though, the service can be really unreasonable. At one restaurant, our waiter was downright rude to us. He ignored repeated requests for more water (we ordered regular entrees, but I'm diabetic and water is my beverage of choice), and pretty much yelled at us when he finally did get around to filling our glasses, and when my friends asked for fresh bread, he slammed the basket on the table in front of us. He was too busy serving drinks and flirting with the cute chicks at the next table over.

My friend got really upset and went to see the manager. He paid for our dinner that night. Needless to say, this guy didn't get a tip. I've never had such poor service--anywhere.

The case usually has to be pretty egregious for me not to tip at all, but this little jerk took the cake.

By anon100558 — On Jul 30, 2010

So, being on both sides of this debate (as a server and someone who eats) I think I can explain this. Yes, if you get poor service, it is the diner's prerogative to leave a lower tip. However, you need to understand the cost to the server for leaving a lower tip and whether your discomfort during the meal warrants the effect it will have on the server's life.

Yes, a server earns a paycheck. However, the server never sees this paycheck. Restaurants are not legally required to pay servers minimum wage. In my experience, it has been about $2.30 an hour. The reason we never see a paycheck is because the money earned from that $2.30 goes to cover our taxes. Therefore, a server's disposable income to cover all living costs comes exclusively from tips he/she earns.

So, if a server was courteous, quick with requests, and generally took care of you, but maybe he/she was slow to get the final bill out to you, you might want to reconsider giving that lower tip. This is not to say I haven't left a penny tip before. When a server takes 45 minutes to get me a beer because she's bringing rounds of shots to her friends at the next table over, she's clearly not interested in getting a tip.

Just realize, your server does not make a lot of money, and despite whatever kind of day he/she is actually having, he/she earns his/her living on always having a good day in front of the customers. Remember, if you chose to not tip, this person has spent the last hour or so tending to your needs (to some level of acceptability), which has taken away their ability to tend to someone else who might have given them a tip.

Besides, for as common as you may think bad, sub-par service is, in my own observation, there is a much higher prevalence of people tipping 10 percent on good service. People are cheap and will find it easy to try to come up with justifications to give a lower tip.

Put yourself in the situation of a server. You might be earning 25-30k a year. Your paycheck is never constant and is based entirely on people's generosity and subjective evaluations of your work. You've got bills to pay, and perhaps children to feed.

You're strung out, but you've got to put on a good face for the customers. You want to give people good service, but how many times can you honestly be the best you can be for the table that orders water and fills up on the free breadsticks when you know that your six-top across the restaurant who all ordered fillets can make sure you can pay rent this month if you play your cards right. You know you don't have enough energy or time for all of them, so it comes down to a game of survival and numbers.

There are bad servers out there who just don't care. But in general, no server wants to give bad service, but sometimes it happens for reasons that are a lot more situational than disposition to the server.

Like I said, it's the diner's prerogative to give the lower tip. Just know what you're taking away from the server and try to have at least a consideration for his/her situation before dropping that percentage down.

I think the whole system is dumb, to be honest. Restaurants should raise the price of their meals and offer a paycheck to their servers, eliminating the need for tipping. Then, it doesn't matter if you sit there and order water all night; the server does not heirarchedly distribute quality of service based on food ticket size.

By anon92476 — On Jun 28, 2010

I think that i should not have to pay for the food and the servers paycheck. Servers now think that we have to tip them no matter what. It just upsets me when you get bad service, and they still get mad about no tip.

The employer should pay them better. It's expensive as it is now. Now i hear they want 18 percent. Not from me. Then they say, well don't go out to eat. It's my money and I worked hard for it. I do my job,and i don't tell my customers to pay me on the side.

By anon76751 — On Apr 12, 2010

Being a waiter/server is a stressful, difficult job. It is easy to have tunnel vision when you are the guest at a restaurant--thinking it is only about you.

I hate it when I am at another table and then one of my other tables asks me for a napkin, or some other random thing. Wait your turn!

The other thing that I really want people to understand is that when you leave a lousy tip, you are not just hurting the waiter. Tipping is more than just proper etiquette. If you leave a below 15 percent tip, you are probably actually taking money from the server! This is because servers don't have a choice -- at the end of our shifts, we must tip everyone who helped us make your dinner a success. This includes at least the bussers and bartenders, but many restaurants are now making it mandatory to tip out the chefs, expos, and even the hostesses. So this money will come out of our "check out" at the end of every night's work.

We will have to tip out about 10 percent when it's all said and done. At some restaurants waiters only keep 1/2 of their tips due too increased tip sharing. This is how the following restaurants operate in california (that I know of based on experience): Tahoe Joe's, Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Sizzler, Denny's, Applebees, and Outback.

I've been waiting tables for 10 years, and I'll never understand that when someone receives efficient, prompt, and kind service they decide to not reciprocate the favor with a proper tip.

If this is a money issue, people should go out to eat less--until you can afford dinner plus tip--or just order less so that your tip will be less.

Again, we must tip out our co-workers who help make dinner great for you. This is based on total sales--this includes what you order. Please try to understand this, and then tell as many people as you can. By the way: I am not advocating tipping above 10 percent if the service was bad, I totally understand that point. But if you get what you order in a timely manner, the waiter is informative, punctual, and is doing his/her best you shouldn't be a jerk about it.

By anon67809 — On Feb 26, 2010

The tip is an acronym for "To Insure Promptness". The giving of a tip for poor service or fine food served.

anyone who adds a surcharge to my ticket will not get anything but a stiff middle finger.

By anon65925 — On Feb 16, 2010

Servers are not entitled to tips! It's this thinking that gets us horrible service. I've been a server, and I know how miserable the job can be, so I have to be really displeased to not leave a tip - like when my server reluctantly gave me water, made it very obvious she wasn't looking on me when I tried to get her attention, didn't bring us the dessert we ordered, and then brought us the bill without even asking if we wanted anything else.

I left her about eight percent a note on why. There is no excuse for such horrid service - it's your job, suck it up.

By anon51239 — On Nov 04, 2009

Are you crazy? Never ever leave nothing. if you get bad service leave 15 percent.

WiseGEEK, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGEEK, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.