Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Tipping Point

I need a littlel tipping advice. Typically, when I'm out at a restaurant, I tip 20%. Not only because I think it's a good tip, but because it's easy to figure out. I know some people just double the tax, but that's only 15-16%, which I don't think is enough. Sometimes, if we're out with the kids, I'll tip a bit more, just to compensate for the hassle of the whining of impatient children and crumbs on the floor.

The dilemma I have is about tipping for takeout. I'm just not quite up to speed on it. I figure, I'm paying for the food that's prepared. All the hostess has done is take the bag that someone brought out from the kitchen, and put it in my hands. Does that deserve a tip? Doesn't the cost of the meal (which is way more than the actual cost of the food) cover the labor of both the cook and the hostess? And what about the host who goes back and gets the food for me? Does that deserve a tip? And if so, how much? 20%? Definitely not. 10%? Still too much I think. But then if it goes any lower, than what's the point of tipping?

The reason I write this is because the other night we got carryout from Macaroni Grill. I used a gift card as payment. The guy gave me the receipt, along with his copy, as if I'd given a credit card. I started to sign it, and then said, "Oh wait, I don't need to sign this do I? It was a gift card." He looked at me with this patronizing glare and said, "No, but I'll need my copy of the receipt back then." It was after I walked out that I realized he was mad about the tip.

Em and I have had this conversation before. Her sister, who was a hostess at one time, says yes, you should tip the hostess. Others I've talked to say no.

So which is it, gentle readers? What's the appropriate thing to do? I don't want to be blacklisted from all of our favorite take-out places.


At 5:30 AM, Anonymous Mike said...

I say give them nothing. They dont ask for tips at McDonalds and they are doing the same thing. I hate that I usually feel obligated to give a tip because there is a tip option on the receipt and usually end up giving a couple of dollars. When I go to one of the local pizza places to pick up a pie their receipts have a tip option and I actually started going to another place instead because they dont print a tip option on their receipts. Wish I got a tip at my work everytime I did my job.

At 6:38 PM, Blogger Nicole said...

It drives me bonkers that so many establishments are jumping on the tip bandwagon. Lately it seems that there is a tip jar near the cash register everywhere -- from Starbucks to the pizza place to the UPS store! And like Mike, I think it's wrong to expect a tip for simply doing your job. FOR WHICH YOU GET PAID! Why doesn't everyone just list the price they want to receive for a product or service, and then this whole tipping nonsense wouldn't be such a dilemma.

My tipping guideline goes something like this...

Getting my hair done: 10-15% (The cut/color is so expensive that's all I can afford! Plus, I REFUSE to spend over $150 total.)
Massage: 10-15%, depending on how good it was
Manicure: about $3
Pedicure: about $5
Being served at a restaurant: 20%
Delivery: about $5
Takeout/fast food (yes, they should be in the same category): absolutely nothing!

At 10:10 PM, Blogger McSwain said...

As a former restaurant manager, I feel safe in saying there is no tipping requirement for take-out, but most people do leave a few dollars (not 15%).

However, take-out from a sit-down restaurant is NOT the same as take out from a fast food establishment. Fast food employees are paid a higher hourly wage because they don't make tips. The employees who take your order, ring you up, and box and bag your food for you at a sit-down restaurant are employees who work for tips--when they're busy with your order, which can be more work than a dine-in table, they can't be making tips elsewhere.

As for Starbucks, fast food, etc.--I don't tip.

At 12:39 PM, Anonymous gorillabuns said...

i waited tables in grad school so i feel sorry for anyone who works in food services. i usually tip around 10% for take-out. hell, i even tip sonic carhops for my 44 oz diet coke.

i guess i'm a sucker. it's hard to make a living in these places...

At 11:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I usually tip a dollar or two for takeout, particularly if it's from one of the Chinese places around here. They package up everything so neatly! I figure the service isn't worth a full tip, but I'm paying for their time and thoughtfulness in including napkins, utensils and extra sauce, all snug in a bag. If we're at the airport, we tip the skycaps about $1 per bag.

– Texas T-bone

At 10:08 PM, Blogger Carolyn said...

After reading your comments, and talking with a few other people this week, I've come to the conclusion that I may need to start tipping a bit more. But here's my solution. If the restaurant has waiters/waitresses that would wait on me if I dine in, then I'll tip on carry out ... and 10% seems to be a good amount, since half of the work done while I'm dining in is done by those other than the waitress, and yet I'll tip 20%. If the restaurant doesn't have waiters/waitresses, then no tip for carryout (or eating in for that matter ... tip jars be damned! )

At 7:48 AM, Blogger Amy said...

wait, wait, wait. The statement about wait staff being paid less because they work for tips is true. But I was a hostess years ago and we got paid a flat hourly rate because we did NOT get tips. We handled all take out orders and I never thought someone should tip me for it (although some did). I worked at a sit-down restaurant, so this would apply to a Macaroni Grill sort of place. Hostesses who 'fetch food' are getting paid far more per hour than a waitress. I don't tip for take out. If I was going to tip, I'd sit down and make them at least earn it!

At 10:55 AM, Blogger Antonio said...

I say %10 or nothing. You shouldn't be obligated to pay someone for what amounts to 30 seconds to a minute of effort on their part.

At 9:02 AM, Blogger undercover celebrity said...

I just faced this situation a couple of nights ago at Chilis. They're really pushing the whole Chili's To Go thing -- they even have a separate counter in the back for take out orders, and also a separate entrance and reserved parking spots. But they have gone so far as to post a very official look plaque that says Tips are Appreciated.

And, based on our previously mentioned conversations, it just made me mad inside. I did all the work. I called in the order. I circled the parking lot looking for a spot (because the three reserved spots are always full). I got out of my car, made my way through the crowd. I stood in line and listened to the two 16 year olds behind the counter gripe with the manger about a demanding customer WHILE I stood there and waited!

So, yes, I appreciate that 16 year old who walked 5 steps to the kitchen and put my strofoam container in a plastic bag, but really, between the two of us... pretty sure I deserve the tip.

My thought: I firmly believe in good tipping at a restauruant when the waiter/ress has demonstrated their attentiveness, but if you want me to buy your food for take out -- not taking up any of your seats, but still delivering revenue... then I think it is completely mandated that the restaurant bring my food to me when I arrive to pick it up.

I mean, I suppose I could walk back to the kitchen and get it myself... but really. We're talking normal business practices. I don't tip the grocery store bagger -- it's just assumed that if I buy groceries, they'll put them in bags so I can take them home.

ERGH. Ok, obviously this topic gets me fired up. But really, I just can't give into this particular social/cultural pressure.

At 3:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There’s nothing that bugs me more than a 15+% tip being expected. Maybe I’m a chip off of my Grandfather (rest his soul) but a tip is for service.

This is what I tip at restaurant:
20% - Great service
15% - Good service
10% - Average par service
$1 (or less if it’s just me) – For an occasion like this, I don’t get up and just walk out. Instead, I walk over to the manager and tell him/her, “The buck tip I left, was not an accident”. I proceed to tell him of the total lack of attention, fill in the blank. Most give the appearance of gratefulness, so that they may remedy the situation.

Tip Jars – Don’t get me started! Who doesn’t have a tip jar?!?!



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