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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Dear Bitchy Waiter

Dear Bitchy Waiter,

I have read that the tip is calculated on the before-tax amount of a restaurant bill (or other service), but that always seems rather cheap, so I usually tip on the gross amount (i.e., food, drinks, and taxes). Which is the correct way? Do waiters feel snubbed if the tip is based on the before-tax amount?

I Wanna Be a Good Tipper

Dear I Wanna Be a Good Tipper,

First off, thank you for your concern and desire to make sure that you tip your server in a way that will make him or her happy. Many people do not put such thought into their tipping and will simply throw a few dollars onto the table regardless of the total of their bill. I suppose the correct way to tip would in fact be to look at the total before taxes and then figure out 20% of that amount. However, using the total with the tax included does not make a huge difference so I would simply use that number and then round up to the next dollar. Here in New York City, the sales tax is about 8.25% and what a lot of people do is look at the tax amount and then double it making for about a 17% tip. This is fine too except for when you sit at the bar and the drinks do not have tax on them.

Of course the best way to ensure that you are tipping correctly is to do it this way. Look at your total (with tax) and put that number into your calculator (there is probably a calculator function of your cell phone.) Let us say the total is $79.32. Now hit the divide button, then the number two and then the equal button. You should now have a figure that reads $39.66. Round up to the nearest dollar making the total and even $40.00. This is the tip. It's much easier to do this than trying to figure out 15, 17 or even 20%. Math is hard. If this also is too complicated here is another, even easier, method.

Say your total is $32.56. Imagine that the word "total" is actually the word "tip." Round up to the nearest dollar making it $33.00. This is the tip. This way is very simple and will guarantee that your server will be satisfied and also that he will remember your face the next time you come into the restaurant. Should you choose to use this method to calculate your tips, please email me to find out the address of my job so that you can sit in my station. I will love you forever if you use this method. You will be my best friend. I will marry you and have your babies.

The Bitchy Waiter

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Just Plain Tired said...

If people tipped according to your math there's be a glut of wannabe waiters running around looking for work in this field. But seriously, I remember what my grandmother used to say about tipping. "Always tip well, for you never know what kind of day the waiter/waitress had and how much shit they put up with."

Practical Parsimony said...

Okay, I suddenly am looking for a job as a waiter where this method is used. That letter was hilarious!

Becoming Mommy said...

I used to have customers who tipped like that. Or even better, ones who added zeros to the gross total.

Man, I miss the money from waitressing....Not smelling like old food, but the fast money.

And, no. I know what you're thinking and I didn't do that to get my tips.

Toni said...

I love it. I usually do 20% of the total with tax, then round up to the nearest dollar, just because it's easier than trying to subtract the tax and blah, blah, blah. Our sales tax is only 6% anyway so it's not like it makes a big deal. If I get really good service, I'll usually leave like a 30% or 40% tip though.

Jennifer Scavone said...

In most every other country besides america, (australia... europe), tip is already adjusted in the check so you dont have to fish for bills to put on the table. That is the problem with american eateries.

Kalei's Best Friend said...

Never thought of rounding up.. When I tip I look at the total bill, then double up the tax( ours is 9.75) and then I will add a bit more depending on how attentive the wait staff was, quality of food... Let's just say, if I am happy, the waitstaff will be very happy. Otherwise I just double up the tax.. I will from now on round up, seems easier.

M said...

Dear Bitchy Waiter:

Love, Love, LOVE your blog. Makes me laugh out loud every time.

The email link will not work on my computer, so I hope it's alright to pose my question here.

I am trying to decide between two restaurant jobs. One is a casual, fun place, with a Western kind of atmosphere. The other is a shirt-and-tie, never speak loudly, linen tablecloth kind of place. The first may be more fun to work at, but I'd take the other job in an instant if I'll make more.

In your experience, do people actually tip more at a restaurant where the bill is usually more? Or is it about the same ratio of generous diners to douchebags everywhere you go?

Bitchy Waiter Wanna Be

SkippyMom said...

How many times does it have to be said - waiters are paid a minimum [if not better] wage in AUS and EUR and therefore tipping is not required. Not so in the states where waiters are paid around 2.30 US/per hour to cover taxes on tips and it is not going to change anytime soon. It isn't a "problem" - it is just the way that it is and if people feel that it is a "problem" then don't go out to eat.

Funny post Bitchy. I always tip on the after tax amount [never occurs to me to look at the before tax on my check] and it starts at 20 percent and goes up from there. As a former server a few extra dollars to make a tip 30 or 40 percent is no skin off my back and makes the person who took care of us know they did a great job. I always, always, always make sure we have plenty to tip when we go out - and if we think we might be short the 20-25 percent [or more] then it is one less bourbon for me or we skip the dessert.

SkippyMom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jes said...

first of all, that's hilarious (and a great way to make someone's day! if you can afford it- do it!)

but to all the people who find calculating 20% difficult:

say the total is 24.52, move the decimal one place to the left, now you have 2.452. that total is 10%, so double it: 4.904 would be 20%. now, i don't care who you are, 4.90 is crap. round that shit up a few bucks just to be awesome. that's how you tip.

the end.

Joe said...

Someone said that the problem with American restaurants is that the tip isn't added in. But I find that I dislike a required tip. No matter what, I'm going to tip, unless it's the worst service EVER known to man. But, although I'll always tip - and well, I like deciding for myself what I'll leave.

Jennifer said...

I think you need to teach my husband a tipping lesson hehe. He is probably the worst tipper you will ever meet. Before he met me, he wouldn't leave a tip at all. No matter how good the waiter/waitress was. I will definently show him your blog, hopefully it will help :)

Rachel said...

I've asked this to other waiters and waitresses, but how do you feel about leaving a cash tip vs. putting the tip on the credit card. I rarely carry cash, but when I know I'll be dining out or at a bar, I make it a point to get cash. I sort of assume it's more helpful and satisfactory for them. Or does it not even matter?

Noni said...

Visit your blog,,so fun reading your your blog comments

Tesakana said...

Now I know how to tip.

Sharlene T. said...

That has to have been the greatest tipping article, ever... you should be taking care of our deficit spending problems, as well... have a great day!

sven said...

it's a little frightening to see insessant escalation of anything. i think it's great to be generous, but america is overinvested in the language of cash. this simmers to a super problematic boiling point in tipping protols. the fringes continue to remind us that tipping is not a legal mandate and alternatively a 100%or better tip will invariably make a waiter's day. all of the exotic calculus that happens in between delineates the cheap and the dorks. at nicer restaurants the waiter will always be offended if the tip is less then 20%of the total bill. the c shift at a 24hr diner probably feels more gratitude when 15%of $30is rounded up to $5. if you really wanna do good, give that c shift server a sawbuck and listen for that heavenly chorus singing halleluiah.the surly foodie at chez cher is probably already talking shit about you anyway, although it is important to note, that fine dining servers often have to litereally pay for the dubious pleasure of waiting on cheapskates. i recently worked at a restaurant where the tipout to support staff was no less than 12.5%of total sales!

Krissy said...

**If you ever want to leave a 20% tip, just divide the total by five. Works every time**

Example: Your bill is for $29.45. Round up to the next dollar ($30.00)and divide by five. Your tip will be $6.00