I guess my first foray into the mail bag last week actually inspired a few more of you to write in. Most of the letters received were from President Obama fans who wanted to opine on my recent take on the $75B mortgage rescue bailout. Judging from the insults regarding my physical appearance (I knew I shouldn’t have put my photo on my personal info page), let’s suffice it to say that many of you disagreed with my point of view. Sorry folks, but I have an obligation to call ‘em like I see ‘em.
And bald is beautiful, folks. Don’t knock it until you tried it. As they say, sticks and stones…
Fortunately, this week I did have one positive letter in the mailbag that was not from my Mom or Dad. Naturally, I thought it would be just and appropriate to highlight that letter. Not to mention less embarrassing.
And with that, today’s letter comes from Courtney, who writes:
I absolutely love your blog! I’m hoping that you can help educate people regarding tipping. I am a waitress who works in Colorado Springs, Colorado, at a restaurant with a full bar. I know that the economy is really in the dump right now, but I just can’t understand why my customers seem to have trouble grasping the standard 20 percent tipping rate for decent service. My average tip rate continually hovers around 15 percent or so, but it can range anywhere between 10 and 20 percent. I think customers need to stop penalizing their servers, don’t you? If you can’t afford to tip 20 percent, then you should stay at home! Thanks for listening, Len, and spread the word!!! Twenty percent, please!! Your servers need to make a living too, you know!
Hi, Courtney, and thanks for taking the time to write. Since you are a self-declared fan, allow me to issue you your very own official Len Penzo dot Com fan number! Your number is 3.
For the record, my Mom is 1 and Dad is 2.
Unfortunately, I have to take issue with your assertion that the standard tipping rate for “decent” service is 20 percent. I assume that by “decent” service you mean “expected” service. If that assumption is true, I think you are absolutely crazy to assume that any server should expect a 20 percent tip for expected service.
Sorry, but I am just not going to endorse this “tip your server 20 percent for average service” campaign that is being pushed on diners by restaurants with increasing aggression. What is going on?
As long as I can remember, the standard tip for expected service has been 15 percent. Lately, though, I have begun to notice that, because of tip inflation, the majority of dinner bills now have “suggested tip” ranges for 15, 20 and 25 percent.
Up until a couple years ago, listed ranges were 10, 15 and 20 percent on every dinner bill. Nobody should feel guilty for leaving a 15 percent tip for expected service.
Personally, I tip 15 percent for par service. If the service was excellent, then I tip 20 percent. If the service was below average, it’s 10 percent. There are exceptions. For example:
1. I usually tip closer to 20% on breakfast bills for average service because the overall bill tends to be significantly less.
2. Whenever I have a coupon I always base my tip upon the undiscounted bill total.
3. I have been known to tip as high as 35 percent for truly outstanding service.
4. If the service is truly poor, I leave a single dollar on the table to ensure that the server knows I didn’t simply forget to leave a tip.
When properly administered, tips provide an accurate gauge of feedback to the server and help encourage superior performance. Folks that always leave a flat 20 percent tip regardless of the level of service received, however, end up doing everybody else a big disservice.
Finally, Courtney, I completely disagree with your statement that if people can’t afford to pay 20 percent tips then they should just stay home. After all, 20 percent of zero is zero, isn’t it? I know if I had to choose between 15 percent of something or 20 percent of nothing, I would gladly choose the former.
I’m sorry for the lack of love, Courtney. Do you still want your number?
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