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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Discussion About Race and Tipping

This post is a little different. Someone sent me a news story about a restaurant in Queens that is being sued by two patrons because they had a tip added to their bill. When they asked the manager why they had an 18% tip added to their check, they were told, the gratuity is added to “Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi customers because they never tip." Ouch.

As servers, we all know there are certainly specific groups of people who seem to tip less overall. Maybe it's a cultural thing and yes it is definitely a stereotype, but maybe stereotypes are based in some small truth, right? I myself fit many of the stereotypes of the gay man: I like Barbra Streisand, I use my hands when I talk and I have an impeccable eyebrow situation. Stereotypes? Yes. True? Yes, girl (snap, snap). Of course, I have had amazing tips from people who I may have expected shit from and shitty tips from people I thought would leave more. We can never tell and it's part of our job. However, I have never heard of someone flat out adding the tip to someone because of race. Not only is it insulting, it's incredibly ballsy.

Let's discuss this topic today. It's a road I seldom take because any time one discusses race, it's a slippery slope, but let's try it. Do you believe there are certain races that tip less than others? Do you change your service when you have a table of African Americans as opposed to a group of Asians or Hispanics? It's touchy, I know. As for me, I honestly try to give the same level of service to every table because if I get a crap tip, I want to know that is was because of them and not me. If I deliberately give less than stellar service to a table of black women, then don't they have a right to give me a 10% tip and thus perpetuate the stereotype? (See, I told you it's touchy.) Race and tipping is the elephant in the sidestand. Seldom is it talked about at work, so let's talk about it here.

I want to know what you think about the Queens restaurant adding the gratuity to those people. And what are your thoughts on different races and they way they tip? Please comment. Do it anonymously if you want, but please keep it respectful.



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Kalei's Best Friend said...

Now that is definite discrimination..I have never heard of something so ludicrous... btw did you hear about the UCB bake sale? here's a link :,0,4217221.story
apparently, the students thought of selling cupcakes at different prices according to race... and they had the lowest price designated for Blacks... highest for whites, etc....
I am sure that if that restaurant continues w/adding 18% to certain groups they will soon be out of business...

Anonymous said...

Thanks to the craptastic tipping habits of a certain race, we instituted the "18% gratuity will be added to parties of 6 or more" policy. It is printed, very clearly, on our menus. However, we truthfully only use it when we deem it necessary. But, it's right there in print to cover our asses when we do use it.

Obviously, not ALL people of this certain race need the help, but sadly, for our experience, the great majority do. We even have a friend, of this race, who constantly complains about her "people" perpetuating the stereotype. Once, when she was at our establishment, a group of this certain race closed out there $120 tab, and left our bartender a dollar. A fucking dollar. This friend literally chased outside after these assbags, and banged on their car window, yelling that they had BETTER get back in there and give that girl a tip. (I would love to tell you exactly, word for word, what she said, but I'm certain it would be offensive to others.) The one guy did come back and give her $20. Our bartender was shocked, but grateful to the woman who spoke up for her.

I completely understand what your saying about changing your level of service for certain groups. Sometimes, it's REALLY hard not to. We have to constantly remind our servers not to do it. When you get right down to it, they're still spending money, which allows us to pay those servers their salary. And, on nights when our servers have to deal with particularly difficult non-tipping groups, we ALWAYS give them something extra at the end of the night.

Yep, we're cool like that. I would LOVE to have you work for us, Bitchy. I think it would be a win-win for both of us. :)

Jennifer said...

I had this issue arise when I served in Florida about 10 yrs. ago. Most of our customers were British through the winter, and apparantly gratuity is already added to checks in Europe. They were not trying to be cheap, they genuinely were unaware of tipping procedures in the U.S. So most servers would automatically add gratuity on all British checks...but I am like you, I just give great service and rely that I will get a good tip. Serving can be a gamble...but I've been doing it almost 20 years, if you do it right the odds will always be in your favor :)---Restaurants who have a high volume of foreign customers should state on the check that gratuity is not included, most cases could be a simple misunderstanding of our customs.

Anonymous said...

Oh bless your heart, BW. Love you for this chance to say how I feel.

First, I'm a Black woman. I married a Black man. I have a Black family. I really love Black people. I worked in rurual, suburban and urban areas. I've worked in large chains. Small chains. Everything in between. But when I notice Black people are about to sit in my section- I let out a deep sigh because I know it's going to be 100% dramatic and an 8% tip.

Have Black people left me 20-30% YES. But in general, Black people don't tip well. Now maybe the fact is they don't tip ME well. Hell, maybe they leave you lots of money.

But even going out with my Black friends- I notice the waiter has this look of.. "Oh lord. Here we go again" look on her face. Sometimes I want to be upset, but I really get the frsutration. Because sure enough, I always end up tipping on top of their crappy tip.

I think culturally Black people aren't great tippers. There are rules to the exception and I pray everyday these folks sit in my section.

For me, the best tippers are normally middle aged White people with kids. The ones who make their kids say Please and Thankyou 95 times before you can take the order.

As for the Queens situation. Honestly- If Jesus Christ walked in there with his homeboys, I'm adding 18% to be safe. If Allah, Buddha or whomever walks in there.. it's 18% as well. But DAMN SURE adding it if 20 Black people walk in there.

Anonymous said...

I use to work in a cafe/lounge and they also served hookah, so younger people would come (at least 6 at a table) and smoke one $16 hookah, drink the free water available and they stay till way into the night. Of course I added gratuity on their checks. I add gratuity on all young people's checks, its not discriminating against their age, its cause I work hard from 6pm to 4 am to get a bullshit tip? Same goes with tourist!

Practical Parsimony said...

The British know about our tipping customs. They just feign ignorance, hoping they can get away with no tip! Promise!

The UCB bake sale was to point out the inequity between races and their treatment, not to discriminate.

Stereotypes are ALWAYS based on a kernel of truth. That is why stereotypes are so annoying.

Kalei's Best Friend said...

I see your point on the UCB bake sale unfortunately it was taken the opposite way...
Your comment about British tipping- well how uncool is that?

Mango said...

Living in New Orleans with a black majority population we get a bigger cross section of black population so I see a greater percentage of blacks that tip appropriately. Church people and rural people are the WORST! I know a server that works in rural north Louisiana and she thinks 15% is a great tip! Too many times the church people leave nothing but a bible thumping pamphlet. God paper don't pay for cocktails, g-dammit.

Anonymous said...

My daughter is a hair stylist. Ethnic hair takes longer to wash, dry and style. She can spend hours with one client while other stylists can do 2-3 non-ethnic hair clients in the same amount of time. Like waiters, they rely on tips. "Ethnics" tend not to tip, or if they do, very poorly. Needless to say, she gives everyone the same great service and bites her tongue. (and by the way, some salons charge higher prices for ethnic hair, hers does not)

Vicki said...

WOW! I can't even believe that the manager would say that to the customers. Logically you wouldn't admit that to the people because you would want to avoid a discrimination lawsuit--I guess that guys a f*cking idiot. (Excuse my language.)

I would NEVER let my servers add a tip onto a bill unless it was a big party--meaning 10 people or more. And if I found out my servers added a tip onto a bill because of someone's race they would be fired immediately. Some people don't tip as well--is it because of race or circumstances? I don't know, but just adding a tip onto a bill because of someone's race is wrong. Unfortunately bad tips are part and parcel of being a server.

Anonymous said...

I love that last post. Thanks for saying that, anonymous black woman!
I love black people too. just hate it when they don't tip. bad tippers know what they're doing, which is what makes it even worse. I chased down these two cheap mexican nurses out to the sidewalk in san diego one time. They had left me 0 for tip. They were probably NAs actually. Nurses are paid. Anyway they said they were going to come back tomorrow to give me the tip cause they didn't have it. How embarrassing for them. I said yea right. Have a great day.

Speaking of race, there's a good story on called Paying It Forward. another good server blog

Krissy said...

I'm with anonymous #2!

Anonymous said...

That's an amazing story about the girl banging on the car window! Although it could have been dangerous it was awesome.

As for the restaurant that's being sued, they should have simply told the patrons that there is auto grat on every check, without bringing up the subject of race. Duh. Then they wouldn't be getting sued.

California Girl said...

at the risk of repeating a story, my GF on Key Biscayne is a terrific waiter working in a fine dining establishment. One evening she had to wait on a private party of Chilean bankers in a private room. Particulars were, expensive meals, lots of expensive wine which she had to decant & pour etc etc. There were 2 waiters.

Several thousand dollars later, they left her & her partner a 10% tip to split. She was so insulted she actually went into the parking lot and asked the man who paid the bill if she had "given bad service?" or if he "were displeased" with her or what? He said "No." She said, "Then why did you leave such a small tip? I worked the entire evening on your table alone."

He actually gave her more money and she didn't get fired or even reprimanded by mgmt (if they even knew).

This wasn't a race or ethnicity issue. It was just about bad tipping. I love her willingness to address a wrong.

Anonymous said...

I feel bad for saying this, but sometimes I cringe when I see Indians in my section. Not all of them are bad. But most are bad tippers ( like10%) and can be demanding, like they modify their food or complain a lot. Also they like to go out to eat right before we close. I don't know if it's a cultural thing, but I feel guilty for hating on them.

Gallo said...

sonI dont think at all you should change the service in regards to race, that is discrimination. The problem is not "race" but idiosincracy. Europeans (Portugal, Spain, France...) or japanese will never tip. Because for one in Europe people are overpriced as waiters and do not expect tip (a good reason why service is shitty); In Japan it is offensive, so its in Hong Kong, where as when you go to Mexico people will expect a tip (at your discretion). In CAnada for example thats another story. People EXPECT you to tip despite the service, even if the waiter in a bar brings you one drink, which you pay at the server, right away) they will ask you for the tip no matter what.

It is according to the cultural ways you are raised and also if you are a cheap bastard.

Anonymous said...

I hate to admit this...BUT the stereotypes came about for a REASON. When I see a black man at my bar...I know it's going to be a big flirt fest about my fine, big, butt, a complaint about how the beer just isn't cold enough, how the food is average (of course it are at a SPORTS BAR, this is not fine cuisine) and then the big no tip or 5-10%. Bitch bitch bitch, flirt flirt flirt, cheap cheap cheap. I am surprised occasionally, but it's rare. I am part Asian. Those little bastards don't tip either but they don't talk all crass all night. Women pretty much don't tip the bartender much UNLESS they have been a server, bartender themselves. I could go on, but it al just sounds so bad. I like to see business men from the east coast...New York or New Jersey at my bar. THEN I know it's gonna be fair to really good.

Anonymous said...

i agree with the person that said the church and rural ethnic group do not tip.....soooo very true.....i worked Lake City Florida for a few years at a Red Lobster and i have never in my life received such bad tips.......i am from Pennsylvania and have been serving for 30 years.....never had a problem in Pa but Lake was a routine night when people walked out on their checks ( of course the servers fault)...left no tip or a 5 -10% tip....i hated that place.....and yes most of them were afro-american,,,,,,thank god, i am back in Pa and work at a great, baptist, thanks

Pierre said...

What irks me is that people who don't tip don't get that even if they don't tip, the government assumes they did and the server gets charged taxes on the expected tip.

So when you're not tipping, you're not just saying "I'm too cheap to tip" or "You're not worth my tip", you're saying "Thanks for running around for me for the last hour, now pay some money out of pocket because I don't tip".


Bitchy Bartender said...

lol @ the Anonymous post about your friend running out to the parking lot to demand other customers tip the bartender. I had a co-worker at a bar who I had a system with. One of us would get all dressed up to go hang out at the bar while the other was working. Guys would walk up and hit on whichever one of us was sitting at the bar, and then buy drinks... and if they didn't tip, whichever one of us were pretending to just be a customer would say "um... aren't you gonna tip her?" and usually it would shame them into doing so, because they didn't want to blow their nonexisting chance by appearing cheap.

Anonymous said...

I waited tables in the South back in the late 80s and early 90s, so we didn't have a significant number of Indians/Pakistanis, etc. We did have a large percentage of African-Americans patronize the restaurant where I worked and the fact was, they were almost always poor tippers. One of my best server friends was black and he would complain about waiting on them them more than anybody! I always gave them the same friendly and good service as anybody else though, sometimes they would surprise you! Plus I didn't want poor service to be a justification for them not tipping me.

Anonymous said...

I am not Indian, but my fiance is and I also have quite a few Indian/Pakistani/Bangladeshi friends. There are two girlfriends in particular that I go out for breakfast with quite often. Over time, I began to notice that they would only tip $1 on a $12 or $15 tab so now I always tip extra when I eat out with them because I know they will not be leaving a good tip. It's easier than telling them they're bad tippers and explaining why they should tip more. I want to stay friends with them, after all.

Also, my fiance's parents are the WORST. They try to bargain everywhere they go and they tip 5% to 10%. It's completely embarrassing.

It's a stereotype about Indian people, but it's certainly couched in some truth. Adding 18% to the bill probably is discriminatory, but maybe it will make people think about the reason why tipping is important. If you want to go out to eat then be prepared to tip at least 15%. If you aren't willing to do that then you better learn how to make chicken tikka masala yourself.

Stereotypes exist for a reason said...

It's not about skin color, it's about the way they present themselves. You either present yourself like you care (you pull your pants up, you wear clothes that fit that don't need thrown out from stains and holes, you speak correctly, and use societal manners) or you present yourself like you don't give a damn (these people get labeled things like "ghetto" "white trash" "ESL" and "Canadian" in quotation marks because we aren't actually talking about Canadians here). Regardless of the color of your skin, you most likely fit into one of these categories- you give a damn or you don't. In general, I try to give tables the same great service every time and hope to be surprised by the ones that fit into the latter category, and occassionally I am (particularly by rural men on the first day of hunting season and ethnic men with families). Have I ever been left a Jesus pamphlet? yes. I have ever been stiffed? yes.

Only twice have I ask a table why they were tipping me poorly. The first was because they were part of a large party with an auto grat and half the check asked to have it removed. As politely as possible I said "Can I ask what I did wrong that you feel that way?" and the response was she(white woman) "didn't believe in tipping anyone 20%" The other half of the check actually added a couple of bucks ontop of their 20% because they were embarrassed. The second was a 5 top (1 shy of large party) of urban men (mixed races, but dressed like rappers) who ran up a $198.15 tab, paid with $200 and when I brought their change said "oh that's for you". Less than politely I said "um...thanks" and he replied "I saw that". I said "What do you want me to say, I have to tip out more on your check than what you gave me. I lost money because you sat in my section". Later he came back for a receipt (which my manager wisely printed without asking me because she knew I was furious) so that his boss could reimburse it all. But he couldn't leave a damn tip! This was at a casino btw! If you can gamble, you can f'ing tip!

Old people I just expect 10% and am pleasantly surprised for more. Tipping has changed in their years and they only eat half of what they get anyway and we don't have a senior citizens discount. When they leave $100 tip on a hamburger, I thank them. I would never add a tip based on race, but I feel like the tip should just be added in our country in general. I don't have huge problems with foreigners but maybe 40% tip poorly. they know our customs and anyone who stiffs you, is doing it on purpose. No the restaurant shouldn't have told them gratuity was added because of their race, but I do understand the compulsion.

digressions said...

I agree that the manager was pretty stupid to TELL them that they were being discriminated against, and I would be pretty pissed off too. I am Canadian, and as a server, also a good tipper, typically around 30-40%. I occasionally travel in the U.S. and if anyone ever told me they were auto-gratting me because I am Canadian, I would pay it but I would also make sure they know that I *would* have left a lot more had they not judged me like that. I certainly would not return.

It's certain that stereotypes do exist based for a reason, but I learned a long time ago to give the best service possible and just hope for the best. I learned this when two young girls (maybe 12 years old) parked themselves in one of my booths, ordered water and one breakfast to share. I
was, admittedly, NOT happy about this and I'm sure it showed. Bill - $6. Tip? $6! By the time I noticed, they were gone, and I still feel bad about not being a little more friendly with them. Because of them, I try my best with tables of all races/ages now...unless they are regulars who I have 'killed with kindness' before and still got stiffed... those people can suck it, and the only priority I have for them is getting them out as fast as possible.

Krissy said...

This is my experience. 

I honestly believe tipping, all comes from knowlage because before I became a server, I was ignorant towards tipping. I didn't know how much to tip if any. Most of the time I left nothing because I simply didn't know. No one ever taught me tipping etiquette. I honestly thought leaving a tip was an option. It never crossed my mind that it was neccessary. I feel really bad when I think back on all the servers I cheated because I used to eat out a lot and I can remember leaving nothing. Flat out nothing! I know. Shame on me. But I educated myself once I started working as a server. I've even taught others in my family what's acceptable and what's not. 

Mark W. said...

I did my time at a "upscale" mexican food restaurant in Salt Lake City. In that one restaurant, the general consensus was that mexicans (specifically mexicans, not latinos- there's a difference) and native american indians were the worst tippers without exception.

Anonymous said...

To be completely honest, I have found that black people tip the worst. I can usually expect that no matter what the bill is, or how much I worked, I will be tipped no more than $5. With that being said, I also think that white college girls are horrible tippers. I get very annoyed whenever I have a group of college girls sit in my section. Even worse, is when a young couple sits at one of my tables..I can tell immediately whether or not I will get a good tip (it all depends on whether or not the girl is nice/makes eye contact/etc.). And I know everyone says gay men tip great, but not in rural Virginia!

I wish I could say that I give the same great service to all of my tables..but I don't. I am a small white woman, with a huge smile. When I smile a lot and am overly sweet to a table that I expect a poor tip from, I usually get a poor tip. They seem to "tip" me with their compliments on how great I am, or how pretty I am. Well thanks, but that doesn't pay my bills! However, I noticed that when I don't smile and don't go out of my way to be a great server, I actually get better tips from them. Maybe they think I'm being "fake" when I smile and it annoys them? I wish I knew. By the way, I never give a table crappy service, I just don't act as chipper.

Estrellita said...

Both of my parents are white. My father is a lousy tipper because he is a cheap man. My mother, in spite of the fact that she once waited tables, has become a lousy tipper and pain in the ass customer over the years. She crawled right into the Red Hat way of dining out without joining the Red Hats. Age and gender are definitely factors in the nightmare customer that she is. Actually, I wouldn't want to wait on anyone in my family. Cheap asses.
The server was an idiot to explain the reason for the added gratuity. Lie. 18% is added to all checks. Stick with that story. I have been in this business for 22 years. People from Argentina are bad tippers. British people suck too. German and French people aren't much better. The post church crowd tips for shit. All of the above are white.
As for other races/nationalities, people from the Caribbean are awful tippers. People from India do not tip well. Mexicans are hit or miss. Some know how to tip because they have worked in the business. Others have no idea how to tip. Oddly, the Mexican people from lower income brackets are better tippers (because they are here to work). Wealthy Mexicans who are here on vacation are very shitty tippers. The same can be said of Peruvians, Brazilians, and Colombians. They work or they are spoiled, snotty cows Greeks and Persians are either very generous or very sucky. There is no middle ground with them.
Lawyers are usually lousy tippers. Doctors are as well. People with 'old money' don't tip for shit. People with 'new money' have actually worked so they are better tippers. Japanese people are big on doing everything correctly. They are always good for at least 18%. It has been my experience that they generally tip 25%.
Now for the tough part. African Americans, Jewish people, and lesbians live up to the shitty tipper stereotype 99% of the time. LPGA attendees are a nightmare unless they bring their gay male friends. Then it's tipapalooza. My worst nightmare would be a table of African American, lesbian Red Hats who had just left a synagogue. The ideal table would be gay Japanese men who are in the restaurant business. It hasn't happened yet, but I can dream, can't I?

Bob said...

So, here's my take:

Years ago, while working in a restaurant, a friend came to me and complained that [and this was said in whispers, dontcha know]: "Black people don't tip."

She proceeded to tell me about "them".

I politely reminded her that she could not make such a generalized statement unless she had, in fact, waited on every single Black person on the planet and received a lousy tip, or no tip.

Then I explained my logic:
She's in her station and gets double-seated. At one table a lovely white couple, the other a lovely Black couple.

She has it in her head that the Black couple will tip less, so she, perhaps subconsciously, perhaps not, does not give the same level of service she gives to the lovely white couple.

Now, the lovely Black couple notices her being extra nice to the white couple, and they're annoyed--as well they should be--so, at tip time, they show their displeasure at leaving a less than spectacular tip.

My friend thinks it's because they're Black, I think it's because she stereotyped them all the way into giving them lousy service.

Dee said...

I work at an Asian restaurant, and I have discovered the secret to working with our Indian clientele: be what we would consider "rude". The friendly eye contact/greeting? Skip it, they find it offensive. Say Hello and be quiet and let them summon you when they need something. For me it has worked out surprisingly well and they do tip better. What I consider rudeness they consider subservience, and they do tip for that.

Anonymous said...

Being in this industry 20 plus years, I can attest to the following...Brits, Australians, French and Germans don't tip...
10% is considered a "win" and usually the case.
Asians also are cheap, and take FOREVER to eat and pay. If Asians sit at your table, you've lost that table for the night!!!
I, too, give the same service to matter what race, nationality, creed, color...I also figure, I'm not going to give them a reason to to me poorly....

suzybel56 said...

Unfortunately it's a cultural thing. Certain ethnic groups do not tip, others tip very little. This is the 21st century and America...these groups need to learn to abide by the norm. I think the printed hint on the menu is a great idea and ENFORCE it!

Token well behaved Brit said...

Can I clear up the reason that Brits (and possibly other Europeans) sometimes think that its ok to give 10% or less?

Its because in the UK we actually pay the serving staff a proper wage and they have the same legal minimum wage as everyone else. Yes, they are not making huge wages but they are making as much as anyone in retail or lower end office work before tips. The price of the service is included in the food prices.

We still have the same skinflints who won't leave any tip (especially for bar/pub meals). Its usually customary to leave around 10% tip in the UK.

I've even had a server come back to the table to ensure that we did mean it when we said the left over was the tip (it was about 15%) when I was out with a table of 10 friends.

Yes, people should be able to work out that the rules in the US are different and check the standard tipping percentages before travelling. Most Brits who I have gone out with the US and tipped badly actually hadn't bothered to check and didn't realise. Sucky of them but not necessarily deliberate.

Some of course are just skinflints.

sally said...

When I was waiting tables I always found white, middle-aged groups of men to be the best tippers. Next of course would be almost anyone who had worked in a restaurant.

I worked in a very busy sports bar/restaurant back in the day that catered to many professional sports teams, and typically the players did not tip. AT All. We would comp them every time to encourage repeat business and they still never left a dime for us servers. But we didn't care because we would be compensated 20% by management--so that in the future we would be happy about having to wait on cheap ass linebackers.(This was when 15% was a really good tip.) And yes, most of them were black.

maxi said...

Another Brit here. Though I travel to America frequently (my grandmother lives in NYC) I had no idea that servers in the US could work for as little as $2.50ph til I found these blogs. Also had no idea that these big chains estimated the tips a server should have made and works out their tipping out/taxes.

A good tip in the UK is 10% and is purely for the service. I can give excellent service and receive nothing (generally from the old or young - geez I hate waiting on 16/17/18 year olds I get nadda unless there are 8 of them and then I can autograt).

I haven't noticed any culteral stereotypes though even in the UK if we get Europeans we know we'll get nothing (I waited on a table of Germans and got 12p) but they know we get paid a decent minimum wage and tipping is not standard in Germany. Also the town I live in is predominently white so I don't get to encounter non-whites. And obviously we don't get latinos or mexicans over here!

I think there should be a note in the restaurant/bar stating the state min wage for the servers so we realise what the deal is. We're not really being cheap, we just don't realise how shit you guys get paid!

Anonymous said...

Love your blog Bitchy!

So, I found myself waiting tables in a small family style restaurant in the-middle-of-nowhere Nevada. I loved it! I made great money & could support my son. Most of my customers were locals. Some of them came in 3 times a day! They tipped pretty average, a buck on a cup of coffee was pretty normal. All races. I had one couple, middle aged white folks, who were the worst! I was lucky if I got a dollar on a $30 early dinner. Oh well, everybody got the same service from me. What surprised me about them is one time before Christmas, they actually gave me a 14 ft freezer as a tip! I still have it & am glad I wasn't ever mean to them for their crappy tipping. Fast forward 10 years; now as a retired server/trainer, I know good service & of course tip well. My husband & I were at an upscale asian restaurant in Sacramento, CA. & had the server from hell! Bad service, Bad attitude & when my husband paid the bill with a $100 dollar bill, the waiter miscalculated (?) the change & kept $8. So my husband only leaves another $2. We leave & as we are getting to our car, out comes this waiter SCREAMING at us that we were shitty tippers & we should stay home! Oh HELL no! He was running back in & I was hot on his heels! I went straight to the manager to complain. He didn't seem to care so I asked for the owners name & number. They said he would be in the next day so I called him.
He said "yeah, yeah, I heard all about this & I fired him." Needless to say, I didn't beleive him. I waited a few days & called the restaurant & asked to speak with "the server". sure, hang on, he's right here... I knew it!! Never went back there & made sure I told everyone I knew not to go also. bottom line, give good service, you get good tips (for the most part) If you are a bad server, you will get stiffed or a very low tip. Sorry, that's how it is.
*White, 44 year old woman, former server.

Anonymous said...

I work as a bartender in a hotel that sees a diverse range of customers, and I think adding the tip for any reason besides party size is wrong, wrong, wrong. Treating one table better than another based on race is, too. I treat all my guests the way I want to be treated when I go out to enjoy drinks, always. On the topic of stereotypes, I love to see black people at my bar, believe it or not. They usually treat me like a human (eye contact!) and they usually over tip. Might be because I'm black, I don't know. Might be because I act like I'm glad to see them. The customers who almost always undertip, and keep me running are Canadian. I don't know why that is, but they tend to take up a lot of my time. See also Brits, who're often very condescending and say rude things about Americans. Every once in a while I'll get younger Asian American women who act really snotty and won't tip for good service, and they'll usually try to get me fired for not having the vodka they want, or something trivial like that. But most people, I find, are good. Why not give people the same good service, no matter where they're from? At least you can say it wasn't your fault they didn't tip.

Anonymous said...

I've been waiting tables at a popular chain restaurant for a couple of years now, I'm a total people pleaser and actually feel a little guilty if someone runs out of a beverage before I can refill it. Serving has made me like the general population a lot less and it has made me bitter...but I will save that for another day. The people that tip the absolute worst are Indian, Chinese, redneck white people and younger ghetto black people. I pretty much know I'm getting a shit tip when someone ask me how much a lemonade cost, including the tax. I still give them great service regardless, and sometimes I'm wrong. I normally know how much someone is going to tip upon the first glance. The Indian people are the most annoying though, they order appetizers, the most expensive entrees and dessert, the other day two thirty something Indian guys ran up a 70.00 tab at lunch (no alcohol either)! That is a large tab for two people considering our average entree is 12.00. They tipped 2.00...2.00...really? Geez...I would rather you stiff me on a twenty dollar tab than leave me 2.00 on 70.00....I worked my butt off on that table. Not all Indian people are like that..but 95% that I have waited on are. I have one Indian family that comes in and request me once a week...they tip me 25-30% so they make up for it =) Jill

alwaysarealperson said...

Even though this is off the race issue, I think , servers that are thought of as more attractive, are going to get better tips. For example, you have a 22 year old 5'3" female server , weighing 100 pounds verses a 62 year old 5'6" female weighing 170 pounds. My bet is that the 22 year old will get better tips, based on her appearance alone.

Then again, if you are a female & a server, you have to be acutely aware of who you are serving, especially if you are under the age of thirty & tend towards the more attractive side ( by societies standards ) .

If there is a couple ; female & male at your table, and you are a female server, make sure most of your attention is focused on the female. That way, the female won't think you are flirting with her boyfriend, & you won't have to witness the couple get into a huge fight, leave before they are finished eating & also leave without providing a tip.

If it is a group of men at your table, divide your attention equally among them. That way, non of the guys feel " jipped " & you should end up with a decent tip.

With married couples, or at tables where there are sets of married couples, again, direct your attention towards the women. Never leave yourself vulnerable to having any woman thinking you are flirting with their husbands. Your tip will be better for it, when all is said and done.

And, female servers, leave your expensive jewelry at home & your expensive shoes at home (even expensive work shoes ) . Expensive work shoes might be acceptable if you are working at an exceptionally snobby restaurant. If women at your tables see your expensive jewelry, or shoes, your tip will suffer. Plus, the other female servers will become jealous & yes, you will become a " target " for them. Meaning the other female servers will go out of their way to see that you are out of a job , & out of a job, pretty quickly at that.

Additionally, you don't want to come off as a flirt with the male servers or male bartenders. The other female servers will see that & again, ensure that your job doesn't last long.

For any server, regardless of gender, find out as much about the restaurant owners & managers as you can before you start working there. For instance , are the owners going through a divorce ? If so, you might want to not take that job, because even if they don't know you, they will attempt to put you in the middle on any issue. It only gets worse if they are going through a divorce & have kids to boot. Basically, steer clear of appearing loyal to on person. Actually, be cordial to everyone, but don't get enmeshed in the family stuff.

Or you might want to know ahead of time if the restaurant owners also own a strip club or two. That way you can be prepared if the strippers show up periodically, & if some of the men from the strip clubs show up from time to time. Knowing that things might get rowdy ahead of time, or that you can expect behavior that isn't quite mainstream , before it happens , can be useful.

to be continued

alwaysarealperson said...


Of course, having information about who works at the restaurant & any alliances that exist , can come in handy as well. Like, are any of the servers, bartenders, managers etc family members of the owners ? Are any of them good friends with one another ? That sort of thing.

Having the scoop can prevent you from pissing off the wrong people, maybe get you the sought after stations & have the host / hostesses seating people at your tables / in your station, that they know tip well.

In our experience too, and sorry, we are * not * racist in any way, if you work for Turkish or Kurdish people, be aware that your derriere & breasts are fair game 100% of the time. Not to mention, the words slut, whore , c_nt etc are used heavily by Kurdish & Turkish people. 98% of the time, in a Kurdish or Turkish restaurant, you will end up feeling less than human, & if you are a woman, you are dirt that they will walk all over.

Something to consider too, is that, at least in the SF Bay Area, the cities, or areas that you probably will get better tips in are Sunnyvale, Mountain View, Burlingame, & Palo Alto ( but near California ave in Palo Alto ).

People in Saratoga, Los Gatos, Menlo Park, San Mateo, San Carlos, Los Altos , & in may sections of San Jose tend to be poor tippers. In Saratoga & Los Gatos, my guess would be is that they got rich by being penny pinchers. San Jose ; some of them are penny pinchers in order to keep as much money as they can & others are just never taught protocol.

In other words, it's not entirely race that dictates how much you will earn in tips.

Rennifer said...

It took most of my 15 year serving career to really understand that the largest determiner of my tip was likely to be my customer, not me, my service, or my winning smile. This was a very freeing moment for me because it allowed me to gladly wait on every guest equally as the tip represented them, not my effort or self. I might sway them by a few percentage points but I was not likely to turn a 10% tipper into a 22% tipper. By the same token, I rarely did anything to deserve a 40% tip and if I received one,it was likely that that person worked somewhere in the industry; again, not a reflection on me or my service beyond the fact that I performed satisfactorily.

I have never been a fan of the auto-grat, however, and would almost always rather take my chances on the group tipping over 15%. If I worked at a restaurant where my tip average was below the auto-grat I'd see things differently, but it's a slippery slope from auto-grat to becoming an hourly worker and much as I loved serving, I never would have done it for $8 or $9 per hour.

I found over time that people's tips, no matter the race, tended toward the norms of the specific restaurant more than anything else. If I wasn't happy with a tip average (over time) then I needed to switch restuarants. To this day I'd shudder at a 6 top of middle aged white women (yes I'm one) with their $20 bills in hand faster than I would at people of any specific race or color.

Coffey said...

@Anonymous at 9:42 re: "I think culturally Black people aren't great tippers. There are rules to the exception and I pray everyday these folks sit in my section.

Sadly, I'm going to have to agree with you... and yes, I'm also Black. While I'm not a waiter, I'm a frequent diner and have seen it all too well. And several times from groups of Latinos as well (not sure if it's a common occurrence with them though, so only speaking from what I've seen personally and from listening to the bartender/server @ a fave local spot vent about it & show me the bills after they shamelessly filed out without leaving a tip).

I've also dined w/ other people in my community (always women) who will find any excuse in the book not to tip accordingly and it pisses me off and will end with me browbeating a decent tip out of them! I once had a waitress mouth "Thank you" to me once @ a chain restaurant, because she overheard a couple of other Black women I was dining with, bitch about why they shouldn't have to leave a tip... Which resulted in me telling them they needed to leave a reasonable tip, because they had no VALID reason not to, and to do otherwise would make them look like assholes.
I do find that when I've dined with other Black men, tipping is never an issue...

Either way, co-signing these behaviors suck, but some stereotypes, in relation to certain scenarios, are based on some semblance/kernel of truth. And yes, there ARE exceptions.

I'm a firm believer in staying my ass home, if I don't have enough to at least tip %20 to 25%.

Coffey said...

P.S. I'm also of the opinion that all people, regardless of race or ethnicity, should be given the benefit of the doubt and served without bias or incident. I'm just commenting on my folk, because I know how some can be... and as I stated before, there're MANY exceptions, as lousy tipping def shouldn't be relegated to specific groups of people. I've heard of servers and bartenders getting stiffed by extremely wealthy diners and bar patrons.

Darkheart said...

I find this whole 'different races tip differently' incredibly interesting.

See, I'm a waitress (and have been for a few years) in Australia. It's not customary to tip here. Though I do admit, I don't work in a restaurant or anything, just some small cafes. However, if someone tries to give me more money than they owe me on the bill I'm genuinely shocked.

Of course, if I'm out with friends I still like to leave a tip if the service was good. But, in Australia, the service has to be damn good if you want a good tip.

Anonymous said...

We work in a mostly white area of the Midwest fellow servers think blacks don't tip as well. I tend to disagree because there are shitty tips from white folks. But what I think really odd is the servers call these black table Canadians so they don't sound racists. Geez poor Canadians.

maxi said...

I'm pleased to see all the American servers here say they give good service to whoever they wait upon. I can honestly say that I rarely received what I think as good service when in America. I tend to think the servers see me as British, heave a sigh and give me minimal service cos they don't think I'll tip... and of course that makes me disinclined to tip them!

HOWEVER, this has been in NYC. I have dined in Alabama (with friends from the state) and received some really friendly service (once my cards weren't working. I was soooo embarrassed but the server was lovely and said as I was a visitor the restaurant would pay for the meal! Luckily my friend paid for me).

Anyway, it is really annoying when servers barely acknowledge me or bartenders pretend not to see me. Or perhaps I smell??? ;)

Adam hawthorne said...

Assuming that this incident really happened, which I doubt it did. I don't think anyone is stupid enough to say such a thing.

But should this have been an issue if the customers had planned on leaving a decent tip? If they felt that eighteen percent was too much because they intended to leave less than that, they should have just talked to the manager. Eighteen percent is what you're supposed to leave (or twenty, or more) so if they didn't like their service, it's the customer's job to get something comped on their meal... ....and then still leave a decent tip.
Their server still deserves a tip, even if s/he did a shitty job. They might not have gotten their food quick enough, but they still got it. So the job might not have been up to their standards, but it still got done. If they never got the food, then the job didn't get done, and that's different.
If anyone should pay for dissatisfied customers, it's the restaurant. And from their they can figure out if the server was to blame or if the customers were just dicks, and they can take appropriate measures (discipline, or whatever).

So either way, they should have left a tip. Assuming, of course, that it happened. It's the strangest thing.... ...sometimes people embelish an incident or lie about things that didn't happen so they can profit from lawsuits.

Anonymous said...

Personally I cringe when any women sit in my section..and I'm a female. They tend to be very rude and tip horribly. Either they don't know how to tip because they are used to the whole old fashioned times of men doing it for them or they don't like other women...

Glamour Diaries said...

Awesome post! Thanks for saying out loud what most of us are thinking!

I've been a server at the same restaurant & sports bar for almost two years here in Canada. And I do enjoy it!!

You really can't judge a book by it's cover. But when we've had these bad tipping experiences that are repetitive with seemingly certain races, it's kind of hard not to cringe when an Indian family or Chinese family sits in your section.

Once had this Indian family of four who appeared to have money because they were all well presented, well mannered, and drove an Audi. You know, if we're judging covers, well I'd say this family wasn't hurtin' for cash. Anyway, bill is about $130. Tip? $5. While the family is on the way out the door, the little boy (must of been about 14 years old) comes up and discreetly informs me that his "dad is a terrible tipper" and continues to walk out the door. How sad is that?! A fourteen year old knows better and is probably ashamed of his father!

But there's another sweet Indian family, whom I love that comes in regularly, they own their own restaurant and they always tip great!! They obviously know what it's like ....

Here's my thing though, and it might be cliche, but what can ya do, right: whether people are black, brown, white, purple, young, old, family with children, look rich, look like trailer trash - I just stay consistent! I provide all of my tables with the best service that I can give them. Usually it does pay off too.

If someone told me the tip was included because of my race, yeah, I'd be pissed! I would give some cash to the server and walk out on the bill. F that restaurant!!!!

Some Sort of Fairy said...

Bitchy, you did a fantastic job bringing up this very touchy topic and mananging to avoid the crazies and oversensitives who come out of the woodwork when this is brought up.

I never worked for tips, so I can't personally say anything on that subject. But I served thousands of people at my old bakery-cafe and learned that social class and income have as much to do with demeanor towards servers (which in turn tends to inform ideas about tipping) as race, gender, and age.
It's like what my friend, a former server and hotel desk clerk, said: "I'm not judging you because you're [race/nationality], I'm judging you because you're poor." The rich can certainly be jerks who think you're beneath them, but many low-income people suffer from a sense of entitlement that stems from the bitterness of being in poverty. That can get turned on service workers when those types figure out how to cheat the system (i.e. complaining to get a free meal). Entitlement really knows no class.

Out of all the groups I dealt with, white sorority girls and student athletes were my absolute LEAST favorite. (I worked near a large public university.) The most spoiled, rude, pushy, self-absorbed, vapid human beings I encountered were typically in one of those categories, to the point that I'd almost rather deal with the bum who'd fallen asleep in one of our chairs.

Anonymous said...

That is crazy. I used to be a waitress in a predominately black area and the tips were awesome. Never less than 20% and when I moved to a predominately white neighborhood and restaurant I had to get another job to supplement what I lost in tips. The service didn't change so I tried to work harder and the tips were still awful. The customers were rude and they always tried to relate to my ethnicity (black). Yes, I have a big curly afro( i almost always wear it in a ponytail or bun at work), yes I can comb it, yes I wash my hair, can I please just get you a drink. I have been told several times that my service was great but they don't like my hair so they aren't going to tip me. I have people who ask to sit in my section but will only tip me a dollar on a twenty dollar order. I have the most regular customers of any of the waitstaff and they all get better tips than me. I am tired of being addressed as homegirl when someone wants my attention. So when I see minorities come sit in my section I am relieved because I know that I wont have to put up with the bull and I will get a great tip. But in my experience middle aged to older white women and teen to college year white kids are the absolute worse. They need something every 3 seconds, everything was awful, they want a discount, aren't ever coming again, but will be back in their usual seat next week.

witchy baiter said...

Lots of great insights here but @Rennifer wins for me. Unless you're giving really lousy service the tip has everything to do with the sensibilities of the customer and very little to do with what the server does or doesn't do right. With very few exceptions I always tip what I think of as a "round up 20%", i.e. a $35 bill gets $7 but a $38 bill gets $8. I know people who always tip 15% to the penny no matter what. And we all know people who look for excuses to under tip or not tip at all. Bad performance by a server rarely causes generous tippers to hold back (unless the service is blatantly rude or lazy, and I do mean blatantly) but exemplary service NEVER causes lousy tippers to tip better. It's practically encoded in people's DNA. Which is why (as BW and many other astute people have pointed out) it would seem to make the most sense to try to give equal service to everyone.

It's been a very long time since I was waiting tables (which, by the way, was before Sir Bitchy Waiter had served his first chicken fried steak) but the thing that amazed me most about my years slinging potato skins, smiles and contempt is that after about six months in I could gauge within 30 seconds of interacting with a table what kind of tip I would get. I don't mean ballpark gauge; I meant within 15 cents. It was uncanny. It's really the great talent of the server: prognostication. Severs are sociologists. (See also: the popularity of Bitchy Waiter.) The way you treat me in my first half minute of interaction tells me everything I need to know. And while all this talk of giving every table the same service regardless of race/gender/age/nationality) is all well and good, the truths are these: 1. most waiters have limited resources in any busy restaurant situation 2. in the vast majority of cases the people who are shitty tippers are the same people who will take the most time from a waiter (see above: predicting tips; if a table wastes a lot of your time in your first or second visit you can be sure they will continue to do so throughout their stay) 3. it would be foolish indeed to give equal service to those folks you know (know = can ascertain based on your waiterly intuition) goddamned well are going to fuck you than those you know (also know = can ascertain based on your waiterly intuition)are going to tip you decently. Given the immutable nature of tipping (another shout out to @Rennifer here), any other approach is financial and time management suicide.

Anonymous said...

Im Aussie, correct me if I am wrong but tipping is a custom not a certainty. its expected but shouldn't be enforced?

Anonymous said...

living in az i find natives to be the worst tippers by FAR.. i have had at least 10 tables of natives leave NO tip whatsoever (mind you i have only been serving 3 yrs) idk if it is a regional thing but the best tip i have ever received was from a black man (about 60%)... i had a black woman the other day covered in tattoos looking scary as sin but she was the sweetest ... 3 dollars on ten tipping one-top ever

Byron said...

That has to be one the most discriminatory acts I've ever heard of. No restaurant has the legal right to add gratuity based on race, culture, ethnicity etc. Yes, as a former server myself, I do realize that not all patrons tip well...however, that's the life of a server. In my state, patrons aren't legally obligated to pay gratuity anyway. If they want it taken off, the manager has to oblige them by doing so.

Anonymous said...

this reminds me of the opening scene in the movie "Crash" - - 2 black guys walk out of a restaurant, one is complaining about the poor treatment by their waitress - how she figured they wouldn't tip because they were black. So man 1 asks man 2, "so how much did you tip her?" to which man 2 says, "nothing!" The whole first half of the movie was like that. Stereotypes.

Maria said...

I first read this post yesterday, then went to work my closing shift at a steakhouse.

20 minutes to close, this four top walks in & insists on sitting in a closed down section, so I have to take them on the other side of the restaurant, at a table made for 8 people, and re-clean the section after they leave.

I serve them for over an hour, bring them each a dozen refills of their 1/2 lemonade, 1/2 Sprite ("That don't cost ext-a, do it?"), make sure they all have their exta ranch and mo nakkins, am genuinely nice the entire time, even laughing & joking with them when they ask me for advice on Christmas gifts.

When 3 of the 4 of them have finished their food, and I am clearing plates, they tell me that one T-Bone, that is 2/3 gone, was "burnt crisp" and she can't eat it. I offer her a brand new one; she declines.

I bring out their checks, one for each couple, and point out that they will not be paying for the woman's less than satisfactory steak.

One gentleman says, "Oh, they separate? Dass okay, I guess we can add."

I apologize, remind him that the ladies referenced separate checks earlier in the meal, and promise to return quickly with a combined check (lest he be forced to contemplate elementary arithmetic), and bring out a check for $69.86, formerly $89, before the comped steak.

Twenty minutes after I leave his change, they finally leave (with the inedible steak in a box for lunch tomorrow), leaving me a giant mess and three singles.

This is not the only group of people that tips so poorly, so regularly, in my restaurant, but I cringe to see them in my section more than the elderly female 10 tops with their separate checks, twenty dollar bills, and Sacajawea dollar tips, for a very simple reason: I have to bust my ass for less than 5% nearly every single time.

If I am quoting properly, an earlier commenter said it nicely: when they're in your section, you know it's going to be 100% dramatic, for less than a 10% tip.

At least with the little old ladies, I can get their waters with lemon & Sweet N Low, and be done with the hard part. I may get a dollar each, but I didn't run to the table 83 times, being kept away from the rest of my section.

Amber said...

I'm of the school of thought that tipping should either be done away with and servers should be paid a set and fair wage by their employers, or that tipping should no longer be voluntary for /anyone/ and should be added to /all/ checks.

As far as race goes, I've been waiting tables for three years, and in my experience the stereotypes are all so reliably true, I can literally recite my table's orders before they even open their mouths. It doesn't mean there aren't those who deviate from those stereotypes, or that I give anything less than my best service to ANY table that I serve, it just means that when my 6-top of Indians all order water with no ice, and share one vegetarian entree, I don't let my expectations get too high.

Anonymous said...

All true. I work at a restaurant that is patronized by a very multi-cultural clientele and it's hard to walk out without having at least a $100/person check. I've also worked at many casual restaurants as well. 98% of the time I'm badly tipped by black people. The other 2% was when I had a black person specifically say to me that they "knew that other black people tip shitty" so they were going to tip me well. And they did. But what a shame that this is a cultural stigma that they are aware of and make almost no effort to change and yet there are complaints about inequality while receiving affirmative action benefits. I'm no hater, there are many educated, worldly, NICE black people where I live NOW, but fact is fact.

Another issue I commonly face has been stated above as well. GIRLS. I'm the youngest server where I work and weigh the least. I also don't really give a shit about the guy you're with except for the card he's laying down with the bill. But it almost never fails, I can spot an insecure girl from a mile away by the snotty look I get walking to the table. It SUCKS. Good advice above, pay 90% attention to the girl (if you're a girl server!) and you can probably win her over by the end of the meal. Extra work, but worth it.

Anonymous said...

I'm from Canada, and I can definitely say we don't automatically expect a tip on any service, at least where I've worked.

I completely agree with BW, I provide the best service I can, no natter what kind of tip I expect. Then I know it isn't my fault and can complain about a bad tip, ha.

That being said, if I make 15% of my sales, I've had a great night. Which is kind of sad, but my restaurant gets a, 'culturally diverse' crowd let's say. And a ton of 17 - 22 year old kids, who never tip more than 5%.

10% is pretty much the average earn for servers at my restaurant, 15% for the bartenders.

We're not Per Se, but we're far from a dive, so it's pretty depressing to leave a 9 hour shift an almost a grand in sales with less than $100.

Mike Taylor said...

How about this : Post up your prices clearly indicating "tax and service included. No other charges are due".
Then include your service charge in your prices AND pay it out fairly to your employees (tax and benefits deducted if you will).
End of argument, end of mistrust and doubts about tip-profiling service quality.

Anonymous said...

I'm black and not afraid to admit that I don't tip well. It's not because I'm cheap, it's not because I'm not generous, or it's not because I have a problem with the waiter or waitress. I just don't agree with tipping, period. Many jobs don't pay well; however, it's not the customer's problem. I don't get paid well for what I do; however, I don't expect a doctor, lawyer, superstar, or anyone else to add to my income. Don't buy what you can't afford. Get a second job. Maybe try switching jobs if possible. I hate that society makes customers responsible for the income of others. I didn't hire you; your boss did. I rather servers get paid more and the cost of food is increased than making the customer responsible for paying for what they've eaten and paying for service that should be given freely. It's your job!

Anonymous said...

unfortunately, the last poster who says he is black and does not believe in tipping-we live in a society that has decades old customs and mores of decent behavior toward others and tipping service workers is one of them-its called class. I thank him for his honesty- I have a few black patrons that actually tip 15% but they are very few. Most tip a dollar for each person. That is why you receive 5 dollars tip on a 100 dollar tab-start counting how many were at the table-you will see. The Black servers I work with told me this-and are very harsh on black patrons-who often also make sport of running the waitress to death-increasing the chances of a mistake and another free meal at Red Lobster.

allergictostupid said...

To the person who wrote that they "do not agree" with tipping, so they don't tip...that person makes 2-4$ an hour, probably with no benefits. You are keeping people from feeding their kids, and paying for their education, which is WHY I work a waitressing job-so I can go to school and still raise my own son. You are also perpetuating stereotypes. Do you also find it funny to send someone with an aching feet and back running around for every little thing you can think of? I think you probably do. How would you feel if your boss spoke to you like you were there servant, made you jump through all kinds of hoops, and you had to smile in his face like you really actually like him...and then you found out that you weren't getting paid for that day? Because that is what every server who has ever waited you has had to feel like. If you don't believe in the way things are done in this country, by all means, write your congressmen, senators and the president; don't take it out on us, we can't fix it. And take a trip to a restaurant in Germany, and see what happens to service when tipping is NOT expected. Oh, and maybe you can't get out of your crappy job because karma is punishing you for being a horrible person. Just a thought!

Anonymous said...

I never actively gave bad service to a person of a color different than my own. I have given bad service to people who are inappropriately dressed and obviously have no manners on purpose. Or someone who has the wrong tone of voice when they speak to me, or the wrong body language that I interpret as attitude. I waited tables for 8 years, and have had plenty of experiences where the myth has been perpetuated. My favorite is the black table that only tips $2, no matter their check, because they were taught by their grandparents how to tip. Depending on the kind of restaurant the tips can be figured out, not by check amount, but by the income average of those who dine. I have worked in fine dining, where the check average was $150 for a couple. I loved this job, and I was rarely disappointed with the tips. However, working also in a restaurant where the check average was $35 for a couple taught me to gauge my guest from dress, langauge, enunciation, needyness, and body language. White black asian arab hispanic, or whatever. young or old, business, or someone pulled from the people of walmarts website all mattered because a couple dollars over the span of the night mattered because the check average was so low and I only made $2.13 an hour.

My best story for you is the time that because of rotation and divided dining rooms this occured. I am not making it up to prove a point, but it does do it. I am a white female. Rotation fell so that one post lunch rush occured where I happened to be sat all the black tables in the restaurant. It just happened, it didn't matter to me. However, one of the guests sat with an attitude and I was trying to figure out what I had done in the span of a second to piss her off. She asked for the manager while I took her drink order. I went to get him explaining that I had no idea what was wrong. She yelled at him for seating her in the black section of the restaurant and he tried with no success to explain how rotation works and it just happened. After she stormed out, the hostesses were from then on instructed to seperate the black people as much as possible.

It's not about the color of someone's skin, but how they treat others. You form an inital opinion of someone within the first ten seconds of meeting them based on color and relative likeness to yourself. However, in the first 30 seconds, their attitude and politeness, can be extremely clear when you serve them. I'm posting anonymously only because in the future if I am googled, and a potential employer sees this post and views it in a negative light, which it is not intended. I would be screwed.

Anonymous said...

I am Indian and I tip 20-25% and up depending on service. If I just have apps and a drink or something I've even tipped 50-100%. My parents tipped well (in India and here) and so do all my other Indian friends. I remember for one exceptionally bad service I tipped 15% and wrote a note on the bill about the reasons why, also letting the waiter know what he would have gotten for better service. Did he give me bad service because I'm Indian? I guess I shall never know.

I had to stop tipping US-style when I lived in Switzerland and France because I think waiters thought I was an idiot for doing so. Of course servers in Switzerland made 18+ francs an hour and up so tipping was not really necessary like it is in the US.

However, if I am charged an automatic 18% gratuity then I leave no additional tip. I just do not agree with this policy unless we're dealing with large parties or something and because I tip well. Of course if the waiter was exceptional then I might leave an additional tip but usually waiters at these restaurants get less from my bill than what I would have left them. I know I'm one person but I think other people regardless of race, etc. might feel the same way. In the end a sure 18% might work out better than a perhaps 25% but still...

To witchy baiter who talked of having a talent for figuring out what a table would leave as tip. Well, I do believe that is a talent...of creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. You also said that you then waited on people accordingly.

Doesn't it make sense then that you are tipped proportionally because you are treating some tables better than others based on your magical tip-deducing powers? So yes the table you were responsive, proactive and friendly to is most likely going to tip more. And the others should not, especially since they see you being much nicer to others than you are to them.

I do believe servers in the US need to be better paid. As someone else said I would rather you raise the price of my entree by $10 than have the expectation that there will be a tip. It's not about restaurant policy or asking for a raise...there needs to be a change in laws and governmental policy. Isn't there a union or something? It's criminal that servers get so much below minimum wage. I tip well because of that but there does need to be a change in the industry so that a tip is a nice extra not the way that someone pays their rent.

Discrimination of any sort is not okay. We all have crap jobs and are under or unappreciated and many jobs are a crapshoot. But adding a gratuity or lying about the reasons for it are not okay.

is it okay then to charge some people more than others? Or to serve some people and not others? That is a slippery slope. Would you be okay if restaurants decided that gay people are too annoying to serve? There is a reason that the lunch counter sit-ins happened and that civil rights happened.

You want to make a decent wage? Lobby the government, create a movement, be vocal (like this awesome blog) so that you can make a constant, consistent living wage not dependent on customers who might or might not be good tippers.

Emma said...

Where I live and serve, it's the natives (what most people call native american/indians/etc here) who don't tip. We're talking $1 on $110 for 8 people, and hashbrowns ground into the carpet by the kids, who run wild through the restaurant. We have one regular native man who always leaves 20-30%, but other than that you count your blessings when you make enough to cover tip out (which is only 2% for us). And to the poster above who said he doesn't believe in tipping, chew on this- servers pay a tip out to the kitchen/dishwashers/hostesses based on their sales. By not tipping, you're costing your server money. I know people who work in restaurants with 8% tip out!

Emma said...

Where I live and serve, it's the natives (what most people call native american/indians/etc here) who don't tip. We're talking $1 on $110 for 8 people, and hashbrowns ground into the carpet by the kids, who run wild through the restaurant. We have one regular native man who always leaves 20-30%, but other than that you count your blessings when you make enough to cover tip out (which is only 2% for us). And to the poster above who said he doesn't believe in tipping, chew on this- servers pay a tip out to the kitchen/dishwashers/hostesses based on their sales. By not tipping, you're costing your server money. I know people who work in restaurants with 8% tip out!

Anonymous said...

To the black gentleman who replied honestly that he doesn't tip, think about this good sir: While you're not forced to tip, I sure as hell am. To bussers, bartenders, hosts, sometimes even the expo. If you don't tip because of bad service that's fine. But to consciously stiff someone is inconsiderate and rude, especially since you're causing me to lose money.

I'm curious as to what you do for a living?

Anonymous said...

I'm a white woman, married to a black man. So I have nothing against Africans. But I have noticed in my 3 years of serving that EVERY TIME I've had a black person at a table. I have been tipped a dollar whethr the check be $20 or $60. Maybe because they are racist, maybe because they are poor. I don't give them any different quality of service than I do whites. Still get stiffed almost every time. I love my husband, when we go out to eat he does NOT stiff people. He is also well educated and a military member on top of a giving person. I hate to say it, but the way I've seen clearly uneducated blacks treat fellow servers and the way I've been tipped by them I wish I could ask the hospos not to put them in my section... I would rather them keep their welfare money and $1 tip than deal with them. I don't think it is as much as a race thing, as it is the way you were raised and being educated. I was raised to be GIVING and am educated enough to know that if I CAN'T afford a tip then to stay the fuck home. Good story for you guys though: I had a black guy and his two white friends come in one night. The black guy was wearing a Rolex (probably fake) and they were all dressed niced. They offered to buy me a shot of Patron (which obviously I had to decline), they racked up a huge bill buying shots and left me $2. I tore up the restaurants copy and didn't claim the $2. Obviously, he needs the money more than I did. Serving is a shit job.

Mary Ann said...

So interesting that you want to be off the race issue but use the term jipped
which is a racial slur by the way.

KB said...

I think it's interesting that you said people don't talk about race in the restaurant--at my restaurant, it's practically all anyone talks about! I work at a chain restaurant and I'd say about 60-70% of our customers are black. Most of our servers and cooks are black. But people are super super discriminating against black customers at times, for instance if the cook is making a salmon he'll ask, "is this for a white or black person?" (& if it's for a black person he would cook the salmon longer--well done).

I treat all of my customers equally. I can't stand being a poor server so I ALWAYS try to do my best and have the same attitude at every table. I have definitely received poor tips from white tables before. Just last weekend a white family of 6 left me $5 on a $100 tab. Unfortunately at my restaurant, I barely pause at these things. People are EVIL.

However I have rarely been completely stiffed by a table of non-black people. I'm not sure what it is, culture or whatnot. I think the worst (no) tips are from young, black couples, who come in 30 minutes before we close.

The best tips are probably from older folks, white or black. Middle-aged. Unfortunately I think the worst tips I get are from the tables who run me the most/complain the most. Which is sad because I spend the most time trying to please those tables, and they put me in the weeds with my other, more patient tables.

sierra said...

After being a hostess for two years I finally became a waitress. I love it and I am great it. I Work in a Mexican restaurant in Phoenix. Everyone there always told me that Native Indians do not tip. I didn't believe them but later found this true. Tonight at work I had a table of five, they were Native Indians. I bent over backwards to make sure everything was perfect. They also got the kids meal for free, we have kids eat free on Sundays. I got zero dollars on a 70 dollar bill. I am a college student making 4.80 an hour. I tip out my busser and bartender based on MY SALES NOT tips. At that point I am tipping out of pocket. I normally would think it was just that table, but it is with every native table we get. It is irritating and sometimes I wish I could just Make a slight note on the receipt that mentions something about a tip, but I don't want to seem rude. I'm a hard worker and it makes me feel horrible when I lose out of money that I worked hard for.

Anonymous said...

I love that this thread of comments is so honest. Many people refuse to acknowledge differences among us, which sincerely pisses me off, almost as much as getting stiffed does. Thanks guys, for keeping things human. Now, if you know what's best for you, leave a 20% tip.

davidhume1711 said...

I am a cab driver in Tampa. I came to this site after googling "why are college girls so cheap?" I get that they're students and might be living on shoestrings, but if that were the reason, you'd expect the same with college boys. But no, they're average tippers. Sometimes black customers surprise me, but college girls are uniformly horrible tippers. As for black customers, I experienced this back when I was a server as well, but a much higher proportion of my customers now are black, and with a greater sample size comes more definite conclusions. After college girls, the worst customers are black women. They never ever tip, are rude, and to top it off, I often spend fifteen minutes collecting them to find that they're only going a mile. So, rude, bad tippers, and lazy on top of it all! As for black men, they sometimes tip but, to be frank, I often don't care if they even pay the fare, as long as I'm still alive and in one piece at the end of the trip. Terribly stereotypical I know, on the other hand, of the three people who've tried to rob me, they've all been black men. In truth, I don't think poor tipping has anything to do with race, I think it's all about education. When educated black people ride with me, they tip well. When white trash ride with me they often tip poorly, or bolt on the fare!

davidhume1711 said...

It doesn't help anything that Oprah told her viewers a few years ago that one way to weather the recession was to tip less or not at all. Until then I liked Oprah. I thought she was hot. Now she seems pretty ugly to me. Can anyone explain that?

Anonymous said...

First of all - Yes, I am an Indian American, yes I have tipped generously for some good service provided, and yes sometimes I don't tip at all or just leave the change of 14 cents because I don't want to carry the coins and throw them in my Lexus' cup holder. So let the "generous-ones" bash my race as much as they want, but the very meaning of the word gratuity is to give something voluntarily.

The custom of tipping here is so backwards that even people working in fast-food restaurants expect them and leave a mug dangling at the cashier's counter. The pizza companies have started charging for delivery and yet the drivers expect to tip them - for what - just to bring the pizza to my door? At the coffee shops, I stand in a line to order my cup of joe and they want me to tip them for doing their work? Should I just tip because someone waits on me, asks me how's everything, and finally asks if I would like to spend more of my money in their restaurant?

Even the stinking Indian restaurants are charging 18% gratuity for parties of 6 or more. Why, is it because they have to work more when attending to a table of 6 or more? Sometimes I feel like dividing the group into three and make them work thrice as much.

Anonymous said...

I feel ya. Sorry to say, but I hate all Indians. They want everything for free and I am always pissed when I see them seates in my section

Anonymous said...

I just googled a certain question because of my serving experience this evening.

I'm from MA, but have served in Philly the last three years. This year, I have moved back to MA, to live with my family and save some money. I have moved back and now work at a Mexican restaurant. Though it is generally a busy restaurant, there are some concerns, and unfortunately it has to do with two many components. #1 the bad tips for a job well done and #2 the race and/or stereotype that comes with that poor tip.

I have been a server for more than 5 years. While serving in Philadelphia, I have noticed an incredible racial divide in how people treat one another. Generally a white server, has to oblige to the extreme courtesies and overcompensate to a table of a certain race.

Before serving, I was completely 100% accepting/ non-judgmental of all races. I have dated people from many different backgrounds. It was until I began working in the restaurant industry, where I started to become infuriated.

This evening particularly, I had a section full of people who happened to be Indian. They alter the menu that is provided. They don't call you by your name, but shout at you from across the dining room, while raising their hand at you like you are some kind of servant. And ultimately, they tip like absolute (excuse my French) SHIT.

This evening in particular, this table of four (all Indian) asked for everything off the vegetarian menu. While they ordered, they insisted that they don't eat meat. So, the vegetarian entrees that they already ordered through me, must NOT includ any meat. Well that's somewhat comical....Why would a chain restaurant have a vegetarian menu, if the items selected as VEGETARIAN had meat? Anyone want to answer that question for me???

Now to the best part.... The Father figure of the table ordered a dessert for his son because it was his birthday. We, unlike many others, do not give a free dessert away because it is your birthday. We sing, we make a scene, we put in a candle, and we give you your dessert. Unless it is for a small child, the dessert has to be paid for. The father figure ordered $30 worth of alcoholic drinks for HIMSELF throughout the night. Meanwhile after the bill was given to the table, he glanced at the bill and was OUTRAGED that he had to pay $5.49 for his son's dessert. I told him in a very honest, yet kind manner that we do not give away free dessert. The bill was $98.43, yet I received a $8.57 tip. BULLSHIT.

Servers receive $2.63 an hour in MA. It is 2013. People know how they should tip, they just don't want to. So when I see people who are of another race, roll out of the restaurant in their BMW after I received that type of tip, how can I not be angry?

Since the day I was born, my mother always told me to tip 20%. I remember going out to lunch on half-days in middle school telling all my girlfriends to tip 20%. I understand bad service and not wanting to tip nicely, but seriously....I might as well have shoved cake in the son's face. Good riddance you frugal &*%$#!

Anonymous said...

Black people are ignorant. Its as easy as that. They think white people owe them something because they were slaves for so long but. Theyre not getting shit from me. Most of them live off the welfare anyway so the money they spend on dinnet is mine anyhow. Just because they don't have jobs doesnt mean they can complain about their service and jeaporsise those with a job.

Anonymous said...

Always drinking something "fruity" lying about it being their birfday yes birfday and making going out the biggest production ever. Take off the bluetooth amd put down the cell phone and order and talk to me like a normal human you animals

Rp02 said...

And if you are a server in Miami, Avoid Avoid the Brazilians, most of them wont leave a dime for tip even if is added to the bill. And they always come hungry and want everything super fast, LOL ,poor creatures :-D

Anonymous said...

I hate to say this but indians are the worst customers ever!! they complain a lot, demand a lot and leave the least amount for tips. Who other people goes to a restaurant eats around $50.00 and gives $2.00 for tips?

Anonymous said...

Yes..i agree its rasist...but imagine working 12 hour shift in an indian resturant..and an indian table of 4 comes in.the final bill is $300 and they tip u $10 on that instead of $60(even with excellent service)..and that kind of shit happens every day!

Anonymous said...

Fuck indians!! ass fucks!!...i am an indian myself..but i hate them..does that make me a rasist?...some r 1 in 50

Anonymous said...

I have been working as a Bellman in a ★★★★ hotel in Toronto since 2005. I have seen it all. Different types of people from all over the world and with all different types of reasons to visit our hotel. Once you exit the boundries of Canada, U.S. and Mexico, the rest of the world generally do not tip. People from most countries do not tip. People from India Almost always do not tip and I understand, because in India there is no tipping culture. Now, here comes the real stereotype...

Most North Americans of Indian ancestry also do not tip. In fact, they are so cheap that they know perfectly well that they Should tip and they don't tip and on top of all of that, they Demand top notch first-class service. That's fricken hypocracy and so frustrating. What's up with that? When will these North-Americans of East Indian decent start to develop and have some class?

R said...


R said...

Black people don't tip well, and they, especially the women love to be passive aggressive because they think something is owed to them for what their ancestors went through. Even black servers don't want to wait on them. They take forever to order, then they change their order a couple times, they think drinks from the bar can just be sampled and taken off the bill, they basically suck as human beings and nobody takes them seriously.

Zu Byerly said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Zu Byerly said...

Rewrite on that last sentence: Race does not represent socioeconomic class. Unfortunately, Europeans allow their media to ignore that there's any individuality within minorities. Only Europeans are humanized. Propaganda's purpose is to brainwash.

Anonymous said...

I'm a black female college student and I have never tipped less than 20% before. Ever since I read an article about restaurants making servers share tips a couple years ago, I have always made sure to tip in cash so that if he or she wants, the server could pocket all of it and not have to share with anybody. I did this even when I got bad service, because I figured someone might be having a bad day or they might be very busy. When I go out with friends, who are white (there are very few black people at my school, and none in my major) , or share a cab, I have always supplemented the tip with cash because they are all either universal $3 tippers or 15%. I honestly try to do the right thing, regardless of service. I had no idea restaurants had special code words for black people or that regular people (not die hard racists) would actively avoid us.
I will still carry cash for the amazing servers at the ihop near my school, but I don't think I'll feel guilty anymore if I don't pay a $3 fee to get cash from an atm so that I can tip everybody in cash. I will also leave a bad tip for bad service and not feel guilty about it. My white friends do it, so why shouldn't I?

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whatsgoingonhere said...

Indians seriously never tip. People from the third world always take advantage of the honor system. That's part of why the place they comr from is so screwed up. In my opinion.

ginger p said...

I am a black female who tips 18 - 25% on average. Why? It's customary. I also could never do food service, so I am understanding of how trying the job can be. I think it's rude to not tip. It is honestly embarrassing to be in a party with member who don't tip. I don't know - it just seems...illmannered? I've also tipped more to make up for the rudeness of members of my own party. That's happened once or twice

I think it is pretty funny that posters on here say to focus on the women because men usually did request imput when the check came out. My husband will say, "So, whatcha think she deserves?" I say what I always do: "15-20% is customary" and that is what he leaves.

I am generally treated very well when I dine out; but, I have had one occasion where I tipped below standard: 1. Waitress was MIA. I gave her $2 on a $50 plate.
2. I took a friend and her 2 children out to eat. Outback Steakhouse. Bill was $100-something. Waitress asks me if I was going to pay with coupons? LOL. How tacky.
So, I said, "Uh, well, I was going to pay with actual money...?" Titters around the table. Even the 9 year old was laughing.

I think I embarrassed her. She apologized. I said, "I mean, it's whatever. Just have never had anyone ask me that." In the end, I left no tip because the comment honestly did get under my skin. I did have this fleeting thought: "...wonder if she asked me that because we're a black tabl" You don't want to assume a racist motive, but Im not stupid. I do know how black patrons are perceived. Look at this thread. C'mon.

Maybe 3 days prior, I took my husband to a restaurant. Tab came to $98. I gave a $20 tip. Easiest money the waitstaff ever made because I don't care about anything but my drinks. I don't need my ass kissed. I don't have 101 requests. Just keep my glass full. All I ask.

Sometimes, assumptions are funny, though.
I once stopped at Chilis after work (i was in scrubs) and did have one waiter assume I'd want to order a margarita. I was like, "Oh, my god - how'd you know I was a lush?"
He was all, "Honey," So gay. I love gay people. "I saw the scrubs and guessed."
We laughed. I said, " is Friday and my mouth is ready. You don't even want to know - just understand tgat El Presidente has been calling my name since, like, 10a."
He was so funny! He said that teachers and nurses or health care personnel are the heaviest drinkers because the job is so stressful. Lol. Too funny. Too true, as well. Lol

Anonymous said...

I'd hate to sound like a jerk but I will be honest no matter how I sound. The best tippers are white middle aged men. A group women, of any color, that are on their lunch break, need to be on separate checks, are having waters with lemon and all are having either a soup, salad or both are always a guaranteed *expletive up my *expletive. Some blacks tip well enough but never if they look thuggish/ghetto. Hispanics, if they sound All American will generally tip like any white person, but if you can hear the accent in their voice you may very well be screwed (good example is if they pronounce fries as frice). Haven't waited on a lot of Indian/Pakistani or Native Americans. By far and away the worst tables to have are Romani Gypsies. They DO NOT tip and will oftentimes invent reasons for why their meal should be comped. I have never seen a table wrecked like when gypsies eat at a table. You'd think they would have had to have purposely done it. The truth is they are just animalistic like that. They're hands down the worst. I'll be honest. I usually have to have a few deep breaths when I wait on anyone that isn't white. Even if they're white I won't feel great about them unless they look at least middle class. My feelings regarding this isn't from their color or looks, it is the behavior that's displayed by people of color that has taught me. I always give good service though because you truly never know. There's been nights were I was ten percented all night long and then my best tip came from a middle class black couple. There is the norm that you experience from any given race. Then you have the anomalies. One never knows.

Rachel Hooton said...

You sound like a big pussy. Educating your friends & family about tipping would help a lot more than you just compensating for them the 1 out of 50 times they go out. But (gasp!) You still want to remain friends with them! Are you all such delicate flowers? Grow a pair & tell them to grow up! Thanks from your fellow servers :-)

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MPA2000 said...

If Blacks are bad tippers, it is because the service sucks. If you think Blacks suck as tippers then your service is going to suck and you aren't going to get a tip.

It's called a Feedback Loop

MPA2000 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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Anonymous said...

I know this is an older article, but I just stumbled onto your site and I LOVE IT.

I was going to suggest you revisit this topic and open it up to ANY service industry where tipping is considered culturally appropriate. Specifically, I'd like to share what's going on at most ski resort children's group lessons.

First, it IS customary to tip your instructor between 15-20% of the cost of the lesson at the end of the day. Most instructors are pleased with at least a $20, but of course are more pleased with $40. The younger ones (or newer employees) get paid around industry minimum ($12-14/hr). In essence, they get paid a tiny, fixed percentage of the total cost of a single lesson, regardless if there's one kid in the group, or five kids, or even 10. Instructors get their flat $14/hr rate, and the rest goes directly into the pockets of the resort executives and shareholders. This is why instructors really need the tips. The corporate website does a crappy job of making ticket buyers aware of the gratuity custom, even though they claim, year after year, that they will make it a more prominent feature at the point of sale.

As for race, the same exact stereotypes (which are based in truth) shared on this forum are true of what ski and snowboard instructors see as well: ethnic minorities will not tip, and for whatever reason many white Southerners don't tip at all, either. Having lived in the Deep South myself, I have to admit that our family had no idea about the expected tip, and I'm so embarrassed even all these years later that we didn't tip our kids' instructors.

It's also very true that, besides never tipping, that Mexicans cannot seem to arrive anywhere close to on-time, forcing the ski school to try to locate an instructor who still has room in his/her group to accommodate the latecomer. They create a bunch of confusion and stress all because they refuse to show up at the specified time, preferring to show up 45 minutes late or more. Then they have the nerve to act annoyed and in a hurry for the ski school to take their kid so they can go ski themselves, while supervisors have to chase down groups, put the kid in the group, then pray that it's a good fit, skills-wise. They also demand Spanish-speaking teachers even though our company's website says very clearly that lessons are in English only, and a guaranteed Spanish-speaking teacher will mean paying for a private lesson (at a cost of $1,000).

Since Mexicans won't pay that much for a lesson, they'll unceremoniously dump their petrified, confused, Spanish-speaking-only young child (many as young as 3) alone in a strange new country, in ski school for 6 hours straight, even though he/she can't understand a word anyone says. I can't IMAGINE myself as a parent thinking it's okay to travel to Japan, for example, and leave my child alone all day with smiling strangers who will attempt to teach him this intensive, fast-paced, inherently dangerous sport...while my kid is unable to understand a word of Japanese!

As for blacks...they never tip. They are also rarely spotted on the mountain, and the few that are spotted will have sullen scowls rather than smiling faces. It seems that they believed they'd come to the Big Mountains and dominate this sport like they dominate others...and discover that skiing/riding is harder than it looks. If they can't be the best and become at least an intermediate-level skier in a couple hours, then screw it.

Asians, like the blacks, are often bad tippers for a different reason. Like blacks, the Asians quickly learn their little genius doesn't have an edge over the other kids, but in the area of IQ...and how hard can skiing be? They'll try to push their kid into a more advanced ski group where he doesn't belong. Many times, the Asian kid is timid and afraid of disappointing the pushy parents, and ends up being the one slowing the rest of the group down all day long.

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Anonymous said...

I simply don't have time to read all of these at the moment because I have to go get ready to attend my own restaurant job. I'm old...did this for twenty some years and now fiinding myself back at it for various reasons. Adding gratuity to a table should be the servers decision. Not to use race as a reason but definitely for messy children! That is one of the reasons I was happy to no longer wait tables but now it is my only option for the current time. I have children and never left a mess for my server! Wait...let me say that again....NEVER! Just plain rude! You will also notice the ones who do....are ....yes....of a different "culture, diversity, planet" etc. I serve at a Chinese buffett....can you imagine that mess? The only children I like in my section are still on the tit!

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