That is a good question. The photograph of the receipt in question is shown above; and at the bottom of that receipt is a suggestion to leave a gratuity of either 20 percent, 25 percent, or — believe it or not — 30 percent.
In the not-so-distant past, gratuities for waitstaff of restaurants in the United States ranged from ten percent to 15 percent before the latter became the accepted norm, which then eventually crept up to 18 percent — and then, apparently to 25 percent — before seeming to reach the unofficial current plateau of 30 percent for servers.
Require employers to pay tipped employees full state minimum wage before tips
Require employers to pay tipped employees a minimum cash wage above the minimum cash wage required under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act — $2.13 per hour
Minimum cash wage payment is the same as that required under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act — $2.13 per hour
Not Tip at All?
What if the server offers substantially lousy service and does not deserve to be compensated at all? Do members of society have an obligation to leave a gratuity to that person regardless of the lack of service provided?
A tip should be deserved, not expected; earned, not required — regardless of the amount. If you are a service provider, did you offer a service of value to your customer — and did you do it exceptionally well? If so, that is how you will get a tip out of a customer. If not — well — that is up to the customer to decide. Not you…
…and increasing a gratuity to as much as 30 percent as a potential default will not always guarantee better service at a restaurant. Should restaurants increase the prices of the food to adequately cover the wages of their servers and leave tipping to be purely optional at the discretion of the patron instead of having it considered an acceptable societal obligation?
Some people believe that the word tips is derived from the acronym to insure proper service. Perhaps — but politeness and respect towards the service provider goes a significantly long way towards ensuring proper service; and that can be far more effective. Most people deserve to be treated with respect and addressed politely. Respect and politeness can be far more valuable than mere money. Throwing money at someone who does not earn or deserve your respect — let alone perform the service in question properly or at all — should be considered insulting to a person with moral character.
Similar to giving away vouchers for free but you must pay for the envelope in which they came — which was a workaround for nefarious sellers seeking to bypass the rules, restrictions, terms and conditions of frequent travel loyalty programs — is the day coming where food in the restaurant will be free of charge and the mandatory tip will be 100 percent of what the bill would have been?
I understand the argument that service personnel — mainly in the United States — depend on gratuities due to low and even sub-standard compensation paid to them by their employers. They do deserve to earn a living and be compensated for their work. If those service personnel choose a job or profession which is reliant upon gratuities, then they need to perform their role as best as they possibly can — and unfortunately expect the occasional deadbeat to not leave a well-deserved tip. Others may argue that service personnel earn more than people think as a result of gratuities — but I am not about to tackle that debate here at this time.
Also, I have tended in general to tip more generously in recent months due to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic — regardless of whether I dined in or took food out to go — because employees of restaurants and other dining establishments did not even know how long they would have a job, let alone not earn enough money to pay their bills. That does not mean that I rewarded bad service — nor does that mean that I condone the tipping culture in the United States in general. Their problems are technically not my problem, as I should not be asked to support employees of restaurants simply because they are not paid enough in wages; but I am trying to do my part to ensure that the economy is not as bad as it could be because of the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic.
As for a gratuity of 30 percent as a default, I am vehemently opposed to paying almost a full third of the total bill as a tip to a server unless my overall experience in the restaurant was excellent or outstanding — I hope that that does not become the new normal in terms of dining experiences in the United States — and I am interested on reading your thoughts and opinions on this issue as well.
Gratuities and tips have long been controversial with regards to travel and dining — to the point of contentiousness from all sides of the issue, as evidenced by the following articles which I wrote for The Gate over the years…