30 Percent Gratuity: The New Default Tip at Restaurants?
Almost a year has passed since you were asked in this article as to whether a gratuity of 25 percent became the new default at restaurants — noting that during that time, the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic emerged with a vengeance — and many readers of The Gate weighed in with their opinions on this controversial topic…
30 Percent Gratuity: The New Default Tip at Restaurants?
…but in response to a photograph of a receipt which was featured in this article titled What is Wrong With This Photograph? Part 61: Reader Edition, Jeannine — who is a reader of The Gate — asked the following question in the Comments section of that article: “When did it become ok to suggest a 30% tip?”
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.
The Department of Labor of the United States provides a useful tool which is called Minimum Wages for Tipped Employees for 2019 that allows you to view which states:
- 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…
- 25 Percent Gratuity: The New Default Tip at Restaurants?
- Do You Leave a Tip or Gratuity for Taking Out Food From a Restaurant?
- Should Breakfast Attendants at Hotels Receive Tips and Gratuities From Guests?
- Should Flight Attendants Receive Tips and Gratuities From Passengers?
- Should Customers Pay Servers By the Hour as a New Concept Pertaining to Tipping and Gratuities?
- Should Gratuities and Tips in Restaurants Be Discontinued?
- Tips and Gratuities: Your Thoughts, Please
- How Much Should You Tip Around The World?
- No Tipping Policy Pared Down at One Restaurant Chain
- Comparing Tipping to Paying Taxes? Get Real…
- When Is a Tip Not a Tip? When It is Mandatory
- Hey, Marriott: I Will Tip When I Darn Well Feel Like It
- Should the Practice of Tipping Be Abolished?
- Tipping the Hotel Maid: Yes or No?
- Tip: Charge the Charge to Tip the Tip Separately From Charging the Tip as a Charge
- Bad Service at a Restaurant: Should You Leave a Tip?
Other than as indicated and where specified, all photographs ©2015 and ©2019 by Brian Cohen.