Chatter about tipping wait staff has the Internet all a-buzz.
In San Francisco they want to add an automatic 25% gratuity to restaurant tabs. In some parts of New York City (this is not a hoax or a joke) Persian restaurants add an automatic tip to the bill if the customer is from India or Pakistan because the waiters claim those folks notoriously under-tip or don’t tip at all.
Several years ago my friend Lisa and I met for lunch in Mississauga and were served by a terrific waiter who was efficient and charming. In our pre-Christmas shopping haze, as we split the bill we completely forgot about adding a tip. I realized our mistake when I was almost home and called the restaurant and asked to speak to the manager. I couldn’t recall the server’s name and despite explaining where we sat and what we ate, the manager couldn’t (or didn’t want to) figure out who our server was. I planned to mail a cheque or give them my credit card number so they could charge a tip to me. But it wasn’t meant to be. I felt terrible that this excellent waiter was stiffed.
I tend to tip 20% for good service, 15% for okay service and 10% or less for lousy service. Leaving no tip at all doesn’t make a statement, it makes you seem like a cretin. Plus, if the service was really lousy, I will speak to the manager. But it always makes me bristle to see “a gratuity has been added to your bill, as per house policy”. That happens a lot in Las Vegas where cheap tourists must be notorious for withholding tips. If the meal isn’t good, that’s not likely your server’s fault – another subtlety people sometimes forget.
Adding 25% to a restaurant bill seems presumptuous to me. Not all restaurants are worthy and not all servers deserve such a compliment. I prefer to make the decision on my own based on merit. And I’ve never forgotten to tip again.