28 Jun
Here’s A Bad Tip

Dear Mouthy Housewives,

Help!  I find when I go out for my much-needed, much-appreciated mommy night outs with my girlfriends, a few of my friends are a little too stingy with the tipping.

I often find other gals will have a few pinot grigios and eat two peanuts, which is fine, but that makes their portion of the  bill sometimes as little as around $15 bucks, and leads some of them to leave tips of less than even $3. I find less than 20% unacceptable for good service, not to mention, when I’m cackling in a hard working wait server’s booth for half the night, I usually kick in much more than that.

So, I feel uncomfortable that my friend thinks it’s perfectly acceptable to leave a tip of less than a few bucks!  We might not  have big huge dinners, but with mousy appetites and chatty mouths, I feel like  we’ve curtailed  the server’s chances  to generate more tip money– tips are how servers make most of their money, and let’s face it, times aren’t great. The last time I went out with a friend, I wound up leaving a $10 tip for the two $4 beers I had because I felt badly. Another time, I ordered food when I wasn’t really hungry and my muffin top so did not need that quesadilla!

I’m not Bill Gates, but I feel like I wind up compensating for certain friends over and over.

What should I do? I love my friends, but I’m kind of embarrassed and I’d like to keep going back to my favorite places and not get branded a cheapo!


Big Tipper
Dear Big Tipper,

So, you and your friends have different ideas about tipping etiquette.  They are going with the 15ish percent of the bill rule, and you are at the 20 percent mark with some extra thrown in for nursing a drink.

The problem is that neither side is clearly in the right.  Of course if you’re a pinot-glass-is-half-full person, neither side is clearly in the wrong, either.

In most places, it is perfectly acceptable to tip 15% and there is no need to do a calculation of how long you sat at the table, how much business the waitperson lost by your hogging the table or how quickly the Earth spins on its axis.

You could of course try to cajole or pressure your friends a bit.  When the bill arrives, grab it and then do a mathematical mumbo jumbo along the lines of, “Okay, so this is $80, let’s just say $100 with tip and let’s throw in another $10 since we hijacked this table for hours.”

You’ll get immediate feedback.

It’s possible that your friends are on a budget and are purposefully being judicious about not ordering a lot and tipping accordingly. Or it’s possible that they just never considered the issue and are just too pretty to do math.  If they happily throw in their share, great!  But if they resist, accept the tip that they consider fair and either make up the difference yourself or try to let it go.

Or you could try to befriend women with heartier appetites.  I’m available.

Good luck,

Marinka, TMH


And don’t miss our previous posts on tipping etiquette!

15 Responses to “Here’s A Bad Tip”


Comment by Jessica.

My boyfriend would probably write a letter like this to me. He’s a big tipper – he at least tips 25% each time. And, I’m a little more on the “conservative side” and start with 20% – more if they were truly really good at their job.

But, these also aren’t times where we’re high-jacking the table for hours, which I totally get. In that case, I’m on your side. But, when we sit down for a short 40 minutes or so and have a decent sized meal, I don’t feel the need to leave a $20 tip!


Comment by The Flying Chalupa.

Great closing line, Marinka. Amen to hearty appetites.

I’m of the opinion that if you order some wine and peanuts, then tipping peanuts is acceptable. I get that times are tight for waiters, but times are tight for everyone.


Comment by Princess Schmamy.

I’m on a completely different side, I live in the Netherlands and the Dutch are generally fairly cheap AND the wait staff are paid a salary and do not depend on tips. Most of the time I would rather pay a higher tip (10% is almost over tipping) for better service because the service? Non-existent. I also think that 25% is kind of crazy. That’s got to be some AMAZING service.


Comment by Betty Herbert.

Wow, a 25% tip would be really rare here in the UK – we’re just getting the hang of the tipping thing altogether.

I do sympathise, though – I’m conscientious about tipping and always aim for the 15% mark (10% is more standard in the UK). This once led to a stand-up row with a friend’s mother, who insisted we left a £2 tip for a £80 bill. My mother was a waitress. I know how much tips are appreciated.

On the other hand, big tips are a bit shocking over here. I once had a waitress chase me down the street (in actual fact, this was on my wedding day), because I’d tipped her £50 and she was convinced I’d made a mistake.

It seems to me that tipping gives you pleasure, so you should keep up with your own scheme and not worry about your friends.

Karin Reply:

I too had a waitress chase me down for leaving too much of a tip in the UK too! I find that refreshingly honest.


Comment by Plano Mom.

“It seems to me that tipping gives you pleasure…”

Right on, Betty. You cannot control another person’s behavior. You can mention to your friends that this is how you feel and how you tip, ONCE, then let. it. go. Do you really want to dump your friends only because you think they’re cheap?


Comment by Kelly P.

I like Marinka’s tactic of verbalizing the expectation of tipping. It occurs to me that it might be worth having a girl’s night IN every once in awhile (if it’s feasible) to save money for your cost-conscious friends and alleviate the issue of holding a table for the whole night.

Meredith L. Reply:

I couldn’t agree more. If you are appalled at your friends’ tippage, and no one’s chowing down anyway, I say offer to host a Moms’ Night In. Everyone brings a bottle, and they’re still paying less than if you all went out and tipped 70% or whatever.


Comment by Amelia Sauter.

As a bar wench, I can tell you that most people tip $1 per drink ($2 if you’re really lucky) no matter what the cost of the drink or the amount of the bill. For some reason, the % rules don’t seem to apply to drinks. I know how awesome it is to get a good tip, so when I’m drinking at a bar, I typically leave $2 per drink. When I eat at a restaurant, I leave a 25%-30% tip if service is good, and only 20% if service is crummy. The better you tip, the better service you will likely get the next time you come in. And you make your server’s day a little brighter. Their jobs are not easy.


Comment by N and Em's mom.

I like to think that I’m a fair tipper- 20-25% for great service. If I’m at a breakfast place, I’ll tip more because there are too many waitresses getting $1 for refilling coffee a bazillion times. I would feel bad about my friends tipping if I was tying up a table in a full restaurant for the entire evening because this substantually reduces the amount of money the servers make. You can get appetizers and a decent glass of wine in most restaurants, so try to tip the cosmic scales by finding new or less well-known establishments or go out on a slow night when your business will be appreciated.


Comment by rojopaul.

Loved Marinka’s mathematical mumbo jumbo advice. My girls’ nights out generally involve us just splitting the bill equally between the amount of people there. However, we generally don’t drink a lot of alcohol so I know that can be an issue if someone orders a cocktail and someone else doesn’t. But when we share appetizers or a dessert, most items are roughly the same, so it’s an easy way to deal with it. With the fam, we’ll do 20% as a general rule, but for the GNO where we are monopolizing the table for awhile, and if the server is great, 25% seems reasonable.


Comment by I'm a big ol' b with a captial B!.

Tipping is all about service for me. I will tip well for servers who do a great job (and yes, I do factor in sitting at a table for hours as well). However, I also DON’T tip well for servers who never show up, take forever, bring the wrong stuff, etc. It’s a two way street. There was one time I didn’t tip ANYTHING because my server actually kept coming to our table and kept saying, “I’m sorry, I’m slammed.” But she never did ANYTHING AT ALL. Instead, I found the server who helped us the most and handed the tip to her. It was ridiculous.


Comment by ec.

Ya know, I am with you. Just drinks, I pay them the full 20%. Once me and a friend had 2 drinks at Cheesecake F and I felt bad for hogging the table so I tipped them like a meal. She was a college student – she deserved it. If I could not afford it, I would not go out – but I do – and I can – so I spread it as much as I can. So if others can’t? maybe it balances out.


Comment by Poker Chick.

I have the SOLUTION!

See what happens in a teetoling get-together. Do you have the same issue?

My guess is your friends are neither cheap nor broke, they’re just DRUNK and not thinking clearly! I like Marinka’s suggestion. They’ll probably appreciate someone figuring their share out for them.

Just a hunch…


Comment by Poker Chick.

And that should be tee-totaling; not teetoling. I should stop commenting on blogs after drinking.

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